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OPERATION CRUSADER LAUNCHED
‘Operation Crusader’ was launched today as the Eighth Army, under the command of Lt General Sir Alan Cunningham, crossed the Egyptian frontier into Libya. Their mission: to attack Rommel’s Panzer forces surrounding Tobruk.
The city has been under siege since April 1941. Allied troops have held on largely thanks to the small ships sent in by General Cunningham’s older brother, Admiral Sir Andrew Brown Cunningham, Commander of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean. Rommel’s troops and equipment are also now significantly weakened following the destruction of some 80 per cent of Axis supply convoys in the last month, thanks to naval and air operations from Malta. Those same forces will now intensify their attacks to prevent any further emergency supplies getting through.
Malta’s role in the war in North Africa is entering a critical phase.
WAR OFFICE CHECKS MALTA’S TANK STOCKS
Lt General Dobbie replies to a query from the War Office checking the number of tanks currently on the Island. He confirms the present holding as six. Four of them are Matildas Mk II, British infantry tanks and the other two are MKIVB Light Tanks. The Matildas named by their operators after the naval escort destroyers which accompanied them to Malta: Faulknor, Gallant, Greyhound and Griffin.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 18 NOVEMBER 1941
1205-1211 hrs Air raid alarm. Two Macchi fighters approach the Island from north on reconnaissance.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER
LUQA 107 Squadron Six Blenheims attacked convoy; good results. 18 Squadron Three Blenheims shipping search SF11 patrol. One Blenheim special search for merchant vessel(s). 104 Squadron Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Brindisi. Four Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.
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