11
Oct
08

On This Day, 10-11-2008: Battle of Cape Esperance

October 11, 1942

United States defeats Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance

On this day in 1942, the American Navy intercepts a Japanese fleet of ships on their way to reinforce troops at Guadalcanal. The Navy succeeded in its operation, sinking a majority of the ships.

The battle for Guadalcanal began in August, when the Marines landed in the first American offensive of the war. The ground fighting saw U.S. troops gain a decisive edge, wiping out detachments and regiments in brutal combat. The most effective Japanese counterstrikes came from the air and sea, with bombing raids harassing the Marines and threatening their dwindling supplies. But before the Japanese could reinforce their own ground troops, the Navy went to work.

The battle of Cape Esperance, on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal Island, commenced at night between surface ships; all Japanese reinforcements came at night, an operation nicknamed the Tokyo Express. The Navy sank one Japanese cruiser, the Furutaka, and three destroyers, while losing only one of their own destroyers. In characteristic fashion, those Japanese sailors who found themselves floundering in the water refused rescue by Americans; they preferred to be devoured by the sharks as a fate less shameful than capture.

Unfortunately, the loss of American manpower was greater than that of hardware: 48 sailors from the American destroyer Duncan were the victims of crossfire between the belligerents, and more than a hundred others died when an American cruiser turned on a searchlight to better target a Japanese ship. It also had the unintended effect of illuminating the sailors of the cruiser, making them easy targets.

The American Navy continued to harass Japanese ships trying to reinforce the Japanese position on the island; relatively few Japanese troops made it ashore. By the end of 1942, the Japanese were ready to evacuate the island–in defeat.

“United States defeats Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Oct 2008, 03:55 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6614.

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On This Day

1776 – During the American Revolution the first naval battle of Lake Champlain was fought. The forces under Gen. Benedict Arnold suffered heavy losses.

1779 – Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman, was killed while fighting during the Revolutionary War Battle of Savannah, GA. He was fighting for American independence.

1809 – Meriwether Lewis committed suicide along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee at an inn called Grinder’s Stand.

1881 – David Henderson Houston patented the first roll film for cameras.

1899 – The Boer War began in South Africa between the British and the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State.

1939 – U.S. President Roosevelt was presented with a letter from Albert Einstein that urged him to develop the U.S. atomic program rapidly. Those letters can be found here: http://hypertextbook.com/eworld/einstein.shtml

1958 – Pioneer 1, a lunar probe, was launched by the U.S. The probe did not reach its destination and fell back to Earth and burned up in the atmosphere.

1968 – Apollo 7 was launched by the U.S. The first manned Apollo mission was the first in which live television broadcasts were received from orbit. Wally Schirra, Don Fulton Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham were the astronauts aboard.

2002 – In Cedar Grove, WI, ten people were killed when more than two dozen vehicles crashed on a foggy highway.

Einstein’s first letter to FDR

Albert Einstein
Old Grove Rd.
Nassau Point
Peconic, Long Island

August 2d, 1939*

F. D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
White House
Washington, D.C.

Sir;

Some recent work by E. Fermi and L Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable- through the work of Loiot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America-that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable-though much less certain-that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and the former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust with this task a person who has your confidence who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Department, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government actions, giving particular attention to the problems of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States.

b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining the co-operation of industrial laboratories which have the necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such an early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under- Secretary of State, von Weizacker, is attached to the Kaiser- Wilhelm-Institut in Berlin where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Your very truly, (signed) A. Einstein

http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/pre-war/390802a.html

*The letter was not delivered to Roosevelt until 10-11-1939

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