The War Illustrated No 170 Vol 7 December 24th 1943

THE WAR AT SEA by Francis E. McMurtrie then intervals between threatening air reprisals a t some vague date in ihc future and trying to persuade the enemy public that U-boats are still sinking shipping in large quantities the German propaganda machine has recently been making much of an alleged secret weapon, said to be \So terrible in its effects that the Allies would willingly call off their bombers rather than have it used against them !This is rather too transparent an artifice to deceive anyone outside Germany. !t must be obvious to most people that if the enemy were in possession o f any such weapon as they h in fat, no time would be lost in making the utmost use o fit. Its non-appearance inaction can only mean either that it has no apparatus being steered by,w ireless until it comes into contact with a ship and explodes. The purpose o f the rocket is to give it greater acceleration. .So far this ingenious device has had nothing like the success o f the torpedo discharged from aircraft, or even of the ordinary type o f bomb. This is scarcely surprising when it is considered that wireless impulses are capable of deflection by a stronger current from another station. As the missile gels farther from the controlling aircraft, the wireless impulse governing it becomes weaker and can be more easily countered by a stronger one, either from the vessel attacked or from some other ship. It maybe imagined that the Germans are experimenting with various forms o f wireless H.M. SUBMARINE TAKU, claimed to bethe most relentlessly hunted vessel in the Servicc. Off the Norwegian coast and in the Aegean she has had hairbreadth c-scapcs, on one occasion surviving“ a perfect avalanche ”of depth charges, and on another having to lie submerged for 36 hours. Oldest man aboard is only 31, and the average age of the crew is believed to bethe lowest in the submarine branch of the Royal Navy. Taku is a vessel of 1,090 tons, with a normal complement of S3. Photo, Planet News existence or that it has not been brought beyond the experimental stage. In the past several novel weapons have been employed by the Germ ans.’ First o f them was th'e magnetic mine, which caused much destruc­tion o f shipping until Lieut.-C mom andcr Ouvry dismantled an intact specimen found on the beach at Shoeburyness (see story, p. 124). Once its principle w as.understood, science very quickly provided an antidote in the shape o f the “degaussing girdle, fitted to all ships passing through waters likely to be mined. Next, the enemy tried the acoustic mine, detonated by the vibration o f a ship’s engines, conveyed through the water by the propeller. This was also speedily countered, as were sundry variations o f the two -types. An acoustic torpedo was another surprise, but it seems to have been overcome in a short time. Lately a good deal has been heard of' the rocket-glider bomb, released from an aero­ plane which controls and directs it towards the target by wirclcssr- So far as can be gathered from reports which have appeared, it consists o f a bomb with a rocket in the tail, attached to a small glider, the whole waves in an endeavour to find one that is proof against interference. Possibly they still hope for success, and are boasting on the chance o fit. But up to now they have not succeeded in inventing anything .which our own scientists have failed to overcome by a counter-device. A s a result o f the Cairo Conference, the Japanese have been left in no doubt that retribution is coming to them. How, when and where, they are at liberty to guess? Their greatest asset is the geographical situation of Japan, separated by thousands of miles of sea to the south and cast from Allied bases. To the westward is the vast mass o f China, large tracts o f which are occupied by the Japanese armies: qnd to the north is neutral Siberia. It has been urged that war in the Pacific is largely a matter o f supply. This might equally be said about modern warfare generally, since the nature o fits weapons is such as to require abundant renewal of munitions and spares for *guns, tanks, air­craft, etc. It would be more correct to say that war in the Pacific is mainly an affair of PAGE 454 bases, upon the I >ss or retention o f wtuch the fortunes of the combatants depend. At the outset o f hostilities Japan’s first step was to securc the principal bases in the Far East arid Western Pacific. One after the other Guam, H ong Kong, Singapore, Sura­baya and Manila fell into enemy hands, in the absence o f Allied naval forces strong enough to defend them .Pearl H arbour, the principal American .base, was rendered temporarily impotent by the lightning air attack o f Dec. 7,1941, that sank or putout o faction seven out o f the nine battleships then comprising the U.S. Pacific Fleet only atone Pearl H arb our escaped serious damage the ninth was under refit elsewhere. T n addition to the bases occupied in the early months o f the war, Japan already possessed the fortified group o f islands known as T ruk, which in configuration bear a general resemblance to Scapa Flow. This unique harb our was practically presented to Japan when the mandate for the ex-German Caroline group, o f which it is a com­ponent. was conferred upon her at the end o f the last war. It is now believed to bethe headquarters of the enem y’s main ficet and is thus one o f the principal objectives of the Allied forces in the Pacific. An advanced enemy Jbasc now seriously threatened is Rabaul, capital o f the large island o f New Britain. This and its companion island, New Ireland, are depen­dencies o f New Guinea, an ex- German territory mandated to Aus­tralia over 20 years ago. R abaul is the ultimate goal o f the steady advance which has been made through the Solom ons since Amcri- M arincs first landed Gin uadai- summer o f 1942. Island has fallen to the Allies, the northernmost. Bougainville icd after the French navigator), now been invaded. Already R abaul is under frequent air attack, many ships in iis h arbour— formerly known as Simpson H aven—having been sunk or damaged. O f late the Japanese have found its uses o ‘ex­pensive that they have been diverting their transport to Kavieng, in New Ireland, some distance to the nortlj- Inward. the New Year the inva­sion o f New Britain itself maybe confidently expected. Simultaneously, Australian troops continue to advance along the coast o f New Guinea. Salam aua and Lae, the enem y’s advanced bases, fell sometime ago, arid the H uon peninsula is now nearly cleared o f Japanese. Most important o f the remaining New Guinea bases Wis ewak, which is also being raided more heavily now that Allied airfields are nearer. A sea,t the U.S. Pacific. Fleet, has landed an expedition in the Gilbert Islands, a British group seized by the Japanese early in the war. These islands arc believed to have been garrisoned by (picked troops, who fought to the last. U.S. Marines landed under heavy lire, and lost, in round figures, 1.100 killed and 2,700 wounded before resist­ance was overcome. (Sec account p.in 474.) After the G ilberts, the next group to be attacked' was the Marshall Islands, another ex-Germ an possession for which Japan was given the mandate. Japanese warships, supply ships and aircraft again suffered heavily, in this affair. From theM arshalls and from New Ireland, when both arc conquered, simultaneous thrusts could be directed Tat ruk. Increasing inferiority in the air is likely to make it difficult for the Japanese to ascertain from which o f the,sc points the attack is likely to come nor is it easy to see how, without bringing their main fleet into action, they can effectively repel it.
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