1943-07-27 Article 059 [30SQN] Pacific Raid – Japs Blasted At Gasmata [f]
THE SUN – Tuesday 27 JUL 1943
PACIFIC RAID – JAPS BLASTED AT GASMATA
Grim Munda Fight
From a Sun War Correspondent
Somewhere in Australia, - The R.A.A.F. dealt its heaviest blow against Japan at Gasmata (New Britain) last Thursday, when the Japanese base was hit with 24,000lb. of bombs and strafed with 24,000 rounds of cannon and machine-gun fire.
The raid was carried out by Australian – manned Beaufort bombers, Beaufighters and Boston attack planes, with Kittyhawk fighters as escort.
Anti-aircraft fire was intense, but although the attack was made in daylight, all our planes returned.
Some were damaged by shellfire, one Beaufighter having its wing-tip blown off, but made the return trip safely.
Today’s communiqu� from General MacArthur’s headquarters, in its assessment of damage caused by the raid, says that the radio station was destroyed and grounded air-craft, the runway, dump areas and enemy personnel thoroughly strafed. Anti-aircraft positions were also silenced.
Another belated report states that Allied light surface units, presumably patrol torpedo boats, on Wednesday sank five enemy supply barges near Finschhafen, at the head of Hu Di Gulf. Finschhafen was bombed by a Liberator on reconnaissance on Sunday morning.
The enemy-occupied villages of Adaoet and Lingal, on Selaru Island (Tanimbar group) were bombed by Australian-manned Hudsons, direct hits being scored among buildings.
In the Solomons, the Japanese are holding grimly to Munda, despite constant air and land bombardment, and continued pressure by American ground troops.
Air Battle With 60 Planes
On Saturday more than 200 planes of the South Pacific Command dropped more than 186 tons of high explosives on the enemy’s defences – the heaviest weight dropped on a single land target since the Americans began their offensive 26 days ago.
Gun positions on Biboto Hill, a mile north-east of Munda, were given special attention.
General MacArthur’s headquarters also reports an air battle off Rendova Island on Sunday between U.S. fighters – Airacobras, Warhawks and Wildats – and 60 enemy planes attempting to attack Allied positions.
The atackers consisted of 30 dive-bombers with an escort of 30 Zeros, eight of which were shot down. We lost four planes, but three pilots were saved.
An 8000-tons Japanese transport sighted near Buka was bombed by a reconnaissance Liberator. Six 500 lb. bombs fell within 40ft. of the vessel, but damage could not be assessed.
Over Bougainville Island, another Liberator on reconnaissance was jumped by seven Zeros. One of the attackers was shot down and the remaining six fled on the arrival of a formation of Warhawks.
Catalinas on night patrol bombed the Japanese airfield at Vila, on Kolombangara, across Kula Gulf from Munda. Results were not reported.
Daring Raid In Bad Weather
From Allan Jones, with the Allied Forces in New Guinea
The R.A.A.F. mission against Gasmata last Thursday comprised the greatest force Australia has used in the air war against Japan.
Its objectives were buildings and the airstrip used by the Japs as a refuelling point, and more recently by their night-fighters.
The raid was made in wretched weather, but the Beaufort pilots swooped through a break in the overcast skies and landed all their bombs on the strip or along its edges.
Flying beneath a screen of Kittyhawk fighters, Bostons dive-bombed the Government buildings and flattened the radio station.
“I saw a bomb explode against the station with a great burse,” said Cecil Norman, of Canterbury, Melbourne, a Kittyhawk pilot. “Next time I looked the building had collapsed.”
Beaufighters made their strafing passes from as low as 20ft.
They flayed buildings, machine-gun posts and dump areas among the trees, and set on fire what appeared to be the only sound aeroplane on the ground.
“It was raining like the very devil,” said Flying Officer Peter Nicholson, of Northam, W.A., “but I am pretty sure that aircraft went up in smoke.”
BOMB ON BOAT INJURES WAR CORRESPONDENT
Delayed message from Clay Gowran, Chicago Tribune correspondent with the United States Army in the Solomons.
Rendova, July 22 – Osmar White, Australian war correspondent with the South Pacific forces, was injured late yesterday afternoon when Japanese dive-bombers attacked and hit with a 500lb. bomb a small vessel on which he was to leave Rendova harbour for Gaudalcanal.
White was standing at the door of the wheel house. The first bomb fell 12ft. away from him, smashed through the decking, then exploded.
The concussion fractured both White’s legs.
Several members of the crew standing a few feet from him were killed.
The wounded arrived at Guadalcanal this morning. Surgeons say White will be evacuated by air to New Caledonia, thence to Sydney.
[Osmar White, correspondent of The Sun News-Pictorial, had just completed a tour of forward positions near Munda, New Georgia. A vivid dispatch recording his experiences at a forward post was published yesterday.]