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March 31, 1944
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

FRIDAY, 31 MARCH 1944

BURMA-INDIA (Tenth Air Force): In Burma, 9 B-25s hit the Pinlebu area; 10 P-51s hit Japanese positions near the "Broadway" airstrip; 12 P-40s bomb the Warong area while others patrol around Sumprabum; near Katha 3 B-25s and 6 P-51s hit a warehouse, railroad cars and track at Zawchaung. HQ 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Group arrives at Bally, India from the US. The 9th Photographic Reconnaissance, 20th Tactical Reconnaissance and 24th Combat Mapping Squadrons will be assigned on 25 Apr; the 40th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron will be assigned on 18 July.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, Seventh Air Force): B-24s from Eniwetok bomb Truk in a predawn mission. B-25s from Eniwetok hit Ponape while others, flying out of Tarawa, pound Maloelap and Jaluit. 431st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy), moves from Tarawa Atoll to Kwajalein Airfield with B-24s.

SOUTH PACIFIC AREA (SOPAC, Thirteenth Air Force): 23 B-25s bomb a Ratawul supply point; 11 P-40s hit Vunapope and 26 P-39s and P-38s bomb the NE part of Rabaul with incendiaries; Fighter sweeps over Rabaul and New Ireland continue. twenty-five fighter-bombers pound the Numa Numa supply area.

Father Benson writes in Prisoner's Base and Home Again:
"March 31st. Day of a thousand fires! incendiaries everywhere. The last sentence describes what seemed like a deliberate attempt to set the whole of the Gazelle Peninsula on fire. There had been no rain for a week and the blistering sun had turned the vegetation to tinder. The planes came early. Being on the coast we were hit by the first wave of bombers and when we came out of our shelters there were fires everywhere."

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, Fifth Air Force): 60+ B-24s, with P-38 support, pound Hollandia for the second successive day; 3 airfields in the area are thoroughly blasted and a large number of enemy aircraft destroyed; US aircraft claim 14 interceptors shot down; 120+ A-20s and B-25s hit supplies, enemy troops, and coastal targets in the Tadji, Wewak, and Hansa Bay.

USN - American F6F Hellcat conduct a fighter sweep over Palau. Mine laying aircraft are used for the first time to block Japanese shipping from escaping the Allied invasion. Lost is TBM Avenger 25273 (1 rescued, 2 MIA). On Bougainville, lost is TBM Avenger 25286 (rescued).

RAAF: Lost is Walrus HD865 (3 survived, 1 MIA).



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