First Strike Against Japanese Industry
Today is the anniversary of the first strike mission by heavy bombers against a Japanese industrial target. On April 17, 1943 B-24s of the 11th Bomb Group left their bases on Oahu and on the 20th, they took off in the early morning from Funafuti to bomb the phosphate works on Nauru. They arrived over the target at mid-day and got a nasty reception by Zero fighters. Among the American aircrew was Louis Zamperini, whose story is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand's book Unbroken. His plane, Super Man, was badly shot-up over the target. Far-flung Nauru had the unusual distinction during the war of being occupied by British citizen employees of the phosphate company, being shelled by a German auxiliary cruiser, invaded by the Japanese, and then bombed by the Americans.