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23 November 1941: Malta Force Destroys Axis Fuel Supply

23 Nov

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FORCE “K” OUTFOXES ROMMEL’S CONVOY

Rommel fights on in North Africa knowing he is perilously close to running out of supplies, especially fuel.  Desperate to get deliveries into Libya, the Axis try a new tactic, operating a series of small convoys in the hope that Allied naval and air forces will be too stretched to attack all of them. 

HMS Penelope

One such convoy is spotted early this evening by a patrolling aircraft.  Within hours of returning to Grand Harbour, Force “K” is back at sea, sailing under cover of thunderstorms towards its prey. 

The Royal Navy’s radio operators successfully jam Axis signals which could warn the convoy of the attackers’ approach. 

By the time the presence of Force “K” is spotted by the Luftwaffe, it is too late.  Despite being hit by shells, Penelope manages to attack two abandoned Italian freighters, igniting cans of precious petrol piled high on their decks. (1)

BOMB DISPOSAL FOR MALTA: WAR OFFICE CONFIRMS ALLOCATION

From: The War Office                                      To: Governor and C in C Malta.

First. Establishment applicable to Malta now III/20B/2 summarised Lieutenant one, Sgt one, L/Sgt one, Cpls three, L/Cpls (Sapper) two, L/Cpl (driver IC) one, Sappers nine, drivers IC five, att. cook one, total all ranks 24 (half 48). Second. Trades of above group A-D fitter one, Group E Pioneers RE seven, engine hand IC one, Pioneers RE for duty as Batman one, Sanitary one, Timbermen four. Third. Equipment table G1098-104 (repeat 104).

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 24 NOVEMBER 1941

1022 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

1202 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One Macchi approached from north, skirted Grand Harbour area and receded north.

1240 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Caused by return of Maryland.

1708 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Recce raid by two Macchi 200’s.

1904 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four enemy aircraft approached Island, only one crossing coast over Mellieha Ridge.  Two bombs fell in Mellieha Bay and one on land nearby.

Military casualty  Sergeant Walter Shearsby, Royal Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 23 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Force “K” sailed by Admiralty orders to intercept enemy convoy.

HAL FAR  Night 22/23rd Nov. Six Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to lay mines outside Tripoli Harbour. Mines were laid a few miles to the west of Tripoli.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  One Blenheim 107 Squadron and one Blenheim 18 Squadron SF11 patrol. Five Blenheims 107 Squadron attacked landing ground west of B Bu Giarada. One Wellington S/D Flight special shipping search. Five Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked Benina aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1.

(1)  The steamers German Maritza and Procida were lost with all hands; although the crews probably disembarked, the weather made rescue impossible. The Italian escort vessels did not manage any hits on Force K. Crusader Project 

 

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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in 1941, November 1941

 

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