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February 17, 1944
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology


BURMA-INDIA (Tenth Air Force): In Burma, 38 A-36s and P-51s on armed reconnaissance hit troops and supplies from Lonkin to Kamaing; Six P-51s hit supply areas along roads around Lonton and Manywet; 2 others hit a road junction near Maingkwan; 2 B-25s and 6 P-51s strike a road bridge, railroad station, and rail cars in the Pyingaing area; 2 B-25s and 6 P-51s attack but fail to damage a bridge near Ye-u.

CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force): Four B-25s on a sweep of the Gulf of Tonkin score 2 direct hits on a freighter at Vinh, damage a bridge approach and locomotive at Yen Xuon Station, and destroy a locomotive at Yen Ly Station.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, Seventh Air Force): B-24s from Tarawa and Abemama hit Ponape, Kusaie and Jaluit. P-40s strafe floatplanes off Emidj.

SOUTH PACIFIC AREA (SOPAC, Thirteenth Air Force): 20 P-40s join 40+ USN fighters in covering an attack by 70 USN dive bombers on shipping in Keravia Bay; eight Japanese aircraft are claimed shot down; two USN fighters are lost. Fighters hit Queen Carola Harbor, Kessa Plantation and a bridge north of Kahili.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, Fifth Air Force): Forty B-24s bomb Panapai Airfield and Talasea. 16 B-25s claim two surface vessels and a submarine sunk off New Hanover. 16 P-47's strafe targets of opportunity in the Alexishafen area. HQ 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group moves from Port Moresby to Nadzab.

IJN: G4M1 Betty departs Rabaul with six Allied POWs aboard flying via Truk and then onward to Japan.

USN: Battle of Karavia Bay: during the night of February 17-18, Task Group 38.4, composed of the destroyers USS Farenholt (DD-491), USS Buchanan (DD-484), USS Lansdowne (DD-486), USS Lardner (DD-487) and USS Woodworth (DD-460) conducted a shore bombardment of targets on East New Britain near Rabaul. They fired on gun batteries at Praed Point (141 rounds) and a gun battery at Raluana (56 rounds). Heavy gunfire was observed from Simpson Harbor and Karavia Bay areas. On February 18, 1944 at 1:24am torpedoes were fired through the center of the mine field across the entrance to Karavia Bay. At 1:26am to to the south into Vunapopo bivouac and supply area (244 rounds), cleared Credner Island. At 1:36am observation plane dropped a stick of bombs on Cape Gazelle shore batteries. At 1:37am ceased firing Vunapopo area, shifted to Cape Gazelle shore battery (firing 284 rounds) which had opened fire on the formation. At 1:40am opened fire on Cape Gazelle shore batteries, then passed the center of channel between Duke of York Islands and Cape Gazelle. At 2:00am on the fantail of USS Lardner, the bloomer on the No. 4 gun had caught fire from the heat generated while firing and was quickly extinguished. At 2:30am an unidentified plane reported. Until 5:15am, “bogies” were reported at intervals, singly and in groups (about four) one dropped flares on starboard beam at about 3:10am. One “bogie” approached as close as as 3 miles. Due to heavy overcast and rain squalls, the Squadron Commander felt reluctant to allow the ship to return fire and reveal our presence, at 3:35am cleared St. George's Channel. During the destroyer attack, at least one A6M Zero piloted by Komachi took off from Tobera Airfield armed with two 60 kg wing bombs and made several strafing runs on the first destroyer and made a bomb and strafing run on the second destroyer until all his ammunition was expended then departed. References Siege of Rabaul page 24, Imperial Japanese Navy Aces page 33.

"Operation Hailstone" Task Force 58 (TF-58) under the command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher carrier aircraft aircraft attack Truk Lagoon. 400 tons of bombs and torpedo rained down on the base. After the attacks, forty ships and thousands of men went to the bottom. Sunk are: Gosei Maru, Fujiyama Maru, Hoki Maru, Fujikawa Maru, Hoyo Maru, Tachikaze, Aikoku Maru, Nagano Maru (partial list). Lost is TBM-1C Avenger 25270 (MIA).

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