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December 24, 1943
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

CENTRAL PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Seventh Air Force): 18 B-24's, staging through Ellice, bomb Wotje. The 396th and 820th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium), 41st Bombardment Group (Medium), transfer from Hickam Field to Tarawa with B-25's. They will fly their first mission on 19 Jan 44 and 28 Dec respectively.

Gilbert Islands - Escort carrier USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) claiming 642 sailors, is sunk by a Japanese submarine. General "Howlin' Mad" Smith blames the Army's slowness for the sinking of an American carrier with all hands. The ship had been forced to stay in the area an extra day to provide cover.

CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force): Eighteen B-24's bomb a Tien Ho Airfield. The B-24's and eighteen escorting fighters claim twenty interceptors shot down. One B-24 is lost over the target.

SOUTH PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Thirteenth Air Force): During the night of 23/24 Dec, single aircraft carry out harassing strikes against Buka, Kieta and Faisi. During the day, twenty-four B-25's attack the Buka Passage Seaplane anchorage. Eighteen B-24's bomb Vunakanau; Six others hit Lakunai; fighter cover for the strike fights a fierce air action with interceptors, claiming 25 shot down; Seven Allied fighters are lost.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Fifth Air Force): The pre-invasion bombing effort against Cape Gloucester reaches its peak as nearly 190 B-24's, B-25's, and A-20's pound the area in a day-long bombardment; P-39's hit a disabled destroyer offshore; and Japanese forces in Arawe area are hit by A-20's. A-20's also sweep the NE New Guinea coastline. B-25's bomb Atamboea on Timor.

RNZAF: Twenty-four RNZAF Kittyhawks from 16 Squadron and 17 Squadron participate in a fighter sweep over Rabaul. This mission was the most successful day in the history of the RNZAF with 14 enemy aircraft claimed as destroyed with 7 claimed probably destroyed and 14 claimed as damaged. A total of seven Kittyhawks were lost: five pilots missing and two were injured. Lost is P-40N NZ3134 (MIA) P-40N NZ3174 (MIA), P-40N NZ3162 (MIA), P-40N NZ3196 (MIA), P-40N NZ3199 (pilot survived), P-40N NZ3135 (pilot survived) and P-40N NZ3140 (MIA). Also, PV-1 Venturas from 1 Squadron on armed reconnaissance bomb barges and troops on northern Bougainville and claim two fighters shot down east of Cape Saint George.

USN: sixteen F6F Hellcats from VF-33 plus eight F6F Hellcats from VF-40 participate in a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Lost are F6F 09028 (pilot survived). Also lost is SOC-1 Seagull 9938 (survived).

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