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January 23, 1944
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

SUNDAY, 23 JANUARY 1944

(CBI) BURMA-INDIA (Tenth Air Force): In Burma, 19 B-24's, in 2 waves, attack shipping at Mergui, claiming a 350-ft (107 m) vessel and 2 small boats destroyed; 6 B-25's and 16 P-38's knock out a bridge at Myittha, damage a bridge at Samon, and damage several trucks and railroad cars; 28 A-36's and P-51's and a single B-25 pound supply dumps at Kamaing and Mogaung, achieving excellent results; Sixteen P-40's hit Myitkyina Airfield, railroad cars at Pidaung, and a railroad bridge at Loilaw.

CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force): 28 P-40's and 9 B-25's from Kweilin pound Kai Tek Airfield and two B-25's heavily damage 3 merchant vessels south of Wenchow.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, Seventh Air Force): 21 B-25's from Tarawa and Abemama hit Taroa; the B-25's claim 3 fighters shot down; 23 B-24's, flying out of Makin and Abemama bomb Wotje at dusk. A single B-24 bombs Mille during return flight after developing engine trouble.

USMC / SOUTH PACIFIC AREA (SOPAC, Thirteenth Air Force): 80 AAF including P-38 Lightnings with USN and USMC fighters escort 60+ USN SBD Dauntless and TBF Avengers on a strike against Lakunai Airfield and Matupi Harbor near Rabaul. After completing their bombing, the formation is intercepted by Japanese fighters. The Allied fighters claim 30+ Japanese aircraft; 3 Allied fighters are lost. Later in the afternoon, 40+ fighters sweep the Rabaul area.

During the night of 23/24 Jan, 7 B-25's hit Tobera and Lakunai. Twenty P-39's strafe targets of opportunity in the Shortland area. 67th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, transfers from Woodlark to Russells with P-39's.

USMC: F4U Corsairs from VMF-212, VMF-321 and VMF-211 escort Dauntless and TBF Avengers from VMTB-143 and VMTB-232 on a strike against Lakunai Airfield and Matupi Harbor near Rabaul. Lost is TBF Avenger 24480, TBF Avenger 06061 (rescued), F4U Corsair 50166 (rescued) and F4U Corsair 49891 (POW). Later in the afternoon, 40+ fighters sweep the Rabaul area including F4U Corsairs from VMF-212, VMF-321 and VMF-211.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, Fifth Air Force): 35 B-24's, with fighter escort bomb Wewak; 50 Japanese fighters intercept; in the ensuing air battle U.S. aircraft claim 12 of the fighters shot down; five US fighters are lost lost is P-40N piloted by Crowley (MIA), P-38H 42-66539 (MIA), P-38J 42-67152 (MIA) and P-38H 42-66852 (MIA); P-39's strafe barges and AA positions at Uligan Harbor and on the Rai Coast, lost is P-39 piloted by McAlarney (MIA). In New Britain, A-20's hit forces and AA positions near Cape Raoult and Gasmata. B-24's hit Flores. 25th Liaison Squadron, V Bomber Command attached to 512th Photographic Wing (Provisional), begins moving from Brisbane to Lae with L-5's.

JAAF: Shot down is Ki-43 pilot Nongo (MIA).

References
NARA "Marine Aircraft Group Fourteen War Diary January 1944" page 9
(Page 9) "23 January [1944] VMF-212 fighters escorted TBFs and SBDs striking Lakunai. In fighting off the intercepting Zeros VMF-212 pilots accounted for fifteen Zekes, one Tony and one Hamp and were credited with probably destroying an additional five Zekes and one Hamp, damaging three other Zekes. Major Donald W. Boyle did not return from the mission. Later in the day VMF-212 fighters participated in fighter sweep to Rabaul, New Britain. They shot down four intercepting Zekes and probably destroyed a fifth. No losses were sustained."



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