Thursday, May 4, 2017

75 Yrs. Ago Today In The Coral Sea

MON 4 MAY 1942
Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet (Admiral Ernest J. King) directs Coast Guard Auxiliary to organize civilian small craft as coastal pickets.

Battle of the Coral Sea opens as TF 17 (Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher) attacks Japanese Tulagi Invasion Force (Rear Admiral Shima Kiyohide) at Tulagi, Solomons, where elements of the Japanese 3d Kure Special Landing Force have gone ashore (as well as on neighboring Gavutu) to establish defenses. SBDs and TBDs (VB 5, VS 5, VT 5), supported by F4Fs (VF 42) from carrier Yorktown (CV-5) sink destroyer Kikuzuki, minesweeper Tama Maru and auxiliary minesweepers Wa 1 and Wa 2 and damage destroyer Yuzuki, minelayer Okinoshima, transport Azumasan Maru, and cargo ship Kozui Maru. Lieutenant John J. Powers of VB 5 participates all three strikes, receiving credit for one direct hit, two close-misses, and a persistent low-level strafing attack (see 7 and 8 May).
Destroyer Hammann (DD-412) rescues two downed F4F pilots (VF 42) from Guadalcanal; destroyer Perkins (DD-377), however, sent to retrieve downed two-man TBD crew (VT 5) south of the island, does not locate the missing men. The crew, though, reaches Guadalcanal and ultimately sails to the New Hebrides in a schooner with a Chinese crew.

Japanese transports sail from Rabaul, bound for Port Moresby.

Minesweeper Tanager (AM-5) is sunk by Japanese shore battery, Corregidor.

Submarine Greenling (SS-213) sinks Japanese gunboat Kinjosan Maru near Truk, Carolines, 08°44'N, 150°56'E.

Submarine Trout (SS-202) sinks Japanese gunboat Kongosan Maru off southeast coast of Honshu, Japan, 33°32'N, 136°05'E.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Eastern Sword is torpedoed by German submarine U-162 approximately 12 miles off Georgetown, British Guiana, 07°10'N, 57°58'W (see 6 May).

Unarmed U.S. tanker Norlindo is torpedoed by German submarine U-507 approximately 200 miles northeast of Havana, Cuba, 24°57'N, 84°00'W, and sinks, taking five crewmen with her (see 6 May). Eight hours later, U-507 torpedoes and shells tanker Munger T. Ball at 25°17'N,83°57'W; flames, fed by the ship's cargo of 65,000 barrels of gasoline, trap many crewmen. Only four sailors of the 34-man crew survive the inferno to be rescued by Norwegian motor vessel Katy later the same day. Before the day is over, U-507 attacks a third tanker, the unarmed Joseph M. Cudahy, and torpedoes her approximately 74 miles northwest of the Dry Tortugas, 25°57'N, 83°57'W. Of the ship's 37-man complement, 27 perish in the attack (see 5 and 7 May).

Unarmed U.S. freighter Delisle is torpedoed by German submarine U-564 15 miles off Jupiter Inlet, Florida, 27°02'N, 80°03'W, and abandoned by the 34 survivors (30 crewmen and four workaways) of the 36 men that had been on board at the time of the attack. They row to shore, but return to the ship the following day to rig the ship for tow. Subsequently repaired, Delisle is returned to service.

Unarmed U.S. freighter Tuscaloosa City is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-125 at 18°25'N, 81°35'W; the latter's officers, after questioning the survivors, give them directions to the nearest land and wish them well. U.S. steamship Falcon rescues all hands (34 souls all told) and transports them to Cartagena, Colombia.

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