Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 458 December 1, 1940

At 8.20 AM, Norwegian liner Oslofjord, in use as an Allied troopship, sinks on a mine in the River Tyne, Northeast England (1 killed, 179 survivors).

200 miles West of Ireland, escorting convoy HG-47, Canadian destroyer HMCS Saguenay is torpedoed by Italian submarine Argo destroying the bow (21 killed). HMCS Saguenay reaches Barrow in Furness for repairs (until May 22 1941).

German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer sinks British SS Tribesman in the Atlantic 500 miles West of the Cape Verde islands (8 killed, 14 crew rescued and taken prisoner). British warships leave Freetown, Sierra Leone, and the island of St. Helena to search for Admiral Scheer.

At 8.22 PM, U-37 sinks British SS Palmella 200 miles West of Porto, Portugal (1 dead, 27 crew and 1 gunner picked up by Spanish trawler Navemar and landed at Lisbon).

Convoy HX-90 is left undefended 340 miles West of Ireland when its ocean escort leaves but the coastal escort does not arrive due to bad weather. At 8.12 PM, U-101 attacks sinking British tanker Appalachee (7 killed, 32 crew picked up by corvette HMS Heliotrope and landed at Londonderry) and damaging steamer Loch Ranza (beached by a tug in Rothesay Bay and repaired at Glasgow until May 1941).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 457 November 30, 1940

Greeks continue to push Italians back into Albania. Greek 3rd Army Corps has advanced 20 miles North since taking Korçë on November 22. After 7 days of hard fighting, they capture parts of Pogradec on Ohrid Lake in Southeastern Albania on the border with Macedonia. They advance no further in this sector and the front line will run through the center of town. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Italo-Grecian_War_1940-1941_-_political_map_of_operations.gif

In the Indian Ocean, 2500 miles West of Australia, German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin shells British SS Port Wellington (carrying 5600 tons of frozen meat, butter, eggs, cheese and wheat and 1,750 tons of steel) without warning (2 crew killed). 80 crew and 7 women passenger are taken prisoner. Pinguin’s First Officer returns to the burning ship to get clothes for the women, who are in their nightgowns and the Port Wellington is scuttled. Pinguin now has 405 prisoners on board.

Minesweeping trawler HMT Chestnut hits a mine and sinks (no casualties) in the Thames Estuary off Northeast Kent. British motor torpedo boats MTB.30 and MTB.31 patrolling the Dutch coast meet a German convoy anchored off the River Schelde. MTB.30 is hit by gunfire while MTB.31 damages German steamer Santos by dropping a depth charge alongside.

At 2.04 AM, 400 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-101 sinks British SS Aracataca (carrying 1600 tons of bananas from Jamaica to Britain) after several attempts. 36 crew are killed and 34 survivors are picked up by 2 British merchant ships. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/682.html

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 456 November 29, 1940

Overnight, German destroyers Galster, Lody and Beitzen sail again from Brest, France, to raid shipping off Cornwall, England. They sink British tug Aid, French tug Abeille and British barge BHC10. Royal Navy destroyers HMS Javelin, Jersey, Jackal, Jupiter and Kashmir engage the German destroyers 20 miles South of The Lizard peninsula, Cornwall. 2 torpedoes from Lody destroy the bow and stern of HMS Javelin (46 killed) which has to be towed back to Devonport for repairs until December 28, 1941. The German destroyers escape back to Brest with only minor damage and no casualties.

Minesweeping trawler HMT Calverton sinks on a mine in the mouth of the Humber Estuary (2 killed), in the same minefield as HMT Manx Prince yesterday.

Italian submarine Delfino attacks Greek destroyer Spetsai without success in the busy sea lanes South or Piraeus near Athens, Greece.

At 10.38 AM, New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Leander shells a factory and wireless station at Banda Alulu, Italian Somaliland (98 6-inch rounds). Italian aircraft unsuccessfully attempt to bomb Leander from high altitude.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 455 November 28, 1940

Operation Collar. After yesterday’s engagement 20 miles South of Sardinia at Spartivento, Royal Navy’s Force H turns back to return to Gibraltar and hands over convoy ME4 to Mediterranean fleet to continue East. At 2.30 PM, freighters SS Clan Forbes & SS Clan Fraser arrive at Malta escorted by destroyers HMS Decoy & HMS Hotspur. Destroyers HMS Defender & HMS Hereward and cruisers HMS Manchester & HMS Southampton escort SS New Zealand Star on towards Alexandria, Egypt.

Liverpool is heavily bombed overnight. A parachute mine destroys Edge Hill Training College, Durning Road, which collapses on a large underground shelter holding 300 people. Boiling water from the central heating system pours into the basement and the air is poisoned by fractured gas mains. 166 men, women and children are killed and many more injured.

Minesweeping trawler HMT Manx Prince sinks on a mine in the mouth of the Humber Estuary. The crew is rescued by minesweeping trawler HMT Cortina.

Italian destroyers Pigafetta, Da Recco, Pessagno & Riboty shell Greek positions on the island of Corfu, covered by torpedo boats Bassini & Prestinari.

At 10.25 AM 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-95 stops Norwegian SS Ringhorn with the deck gun after missing with 2 torpedoes. Ringhorn (carrying 1300 tons of coal) does not sink and the crew reboards and takes her back to Belfast, arriving on December 1. In the same area, U-103 sinks Greek SS Mount Athos at 8.42 AM (19 lives lost) and British SS St. Elwyn at 8.24 PM (24 killed, 16 crew picked up by British merchant Leeds City). U-104 disappears a few miles off the North Coast of Ireland, presumably sunk on a minefield (all 49 hands lost). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/681.html

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 454 November 27, 1940

Operation Collar, Battle of Spartivento. 10 AM; spotter aircraft from HMS Ark Royal & Italian cruiser Bolzano find Italian warships & British Force H (from Gibraltar). Holding aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in reserve, British are outgunned by heavier fire & longer range of the Italian ships which close for battle. 11.30; British gain the advantage when battleship HMS Ramillies and cruisers HMS Berwick & Newcastle arrive from the East (Malta). Italian Admiral Campioni’s orders are to avoid combat with equal forces. He orders a withdrawal but Italian cruisers are already engaged. At 12.22, there is an exchange of fire lasting 54 minutes from 23–14 km, as the Italians lay smoke and turn away. HMS Berwick is hit at 12.22 & 12.35 by Italian cruiser Fiume (7 dead). British start to pursue but are turned back by shells from Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto at 29 km. Italian destroyer Lanciere is crippled by cruiser HMS Manchester but is towed to safety. http://www.regiamarina.net/detail_text_with_list.asp?nid=37&lid=1&cid=3

Northwest of Ireland, U-95 sinks British SS Irene Maria (all 25 hands lost) at 1 AM, U-103 sinks British MV Glenmoor (31 killed, 2 survivors picked up by destroyers HMS and HMS Havelock) at 7.56 PM, and U-104 damages British tanker Charles F. Meyer and sinks British SS Diplomat (14 killed, 39 crew picked up by destroyer HMS Active).

At 3 AM, 400 miles East of New Zealand, German armed merchant cruisers Komet and Orion shell New Zealand liner Rangitane carrying 201 crew, 111 passengers including 36 CORB nurses, 14,000 tons of food and 45 bars of silver from Auckland to Liverpool (8 crew and 8 passengers killed). Due to distress messages sent by Rangitane, there is no time to plunder the cargo after transferring the remaining 296 passengers and crew. Komet sinks her with a torpedo. http://www.btinternet.com/~thebells/rangitane/story.htm

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 453 November 26, 1940

Operation Collar. As a distraction for convoy ME4, aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, cruisers HMS Glasgow and Gloucester plus 4 destroyers from Alexandria, Egypt, raid the Italian seaplane base at Port Laki on the Agean island of Leros at 6 AM. However, Italian Navy is aware of the convoy ME4 and escort warships moving from Gibraltar to Malta. 2 battleships (Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare) and 3 cruisers (Fiume, Gorizia and Pola) plus 11 destroyers leave Naples and 3 more cruisers (Trieste, Trento and Bolzano) plus 3 destroyers depart Messina, Sicily. They rendezvous South of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea at 6 PM and sail West to engage the British fleet South of Sardinia. They will be joined by 4 torpedo boats, 7 submarines and 10 motor torpedo (MAS) boats.

At 5.20 AM, 8 Fairey Swordfish from British aircraft carrier HMS Eagle bomb the capital of Italian-held Libya, Tripoli. Royal Navy does not attempt much deception, naming the strike Operation Tripe.

Free French armed patrol coaster Medoc (under Polish Commander Stankiewicz) is sunk by a German aircraft torpedo in the English Channel. All 41 crew (3 Poles, 38 British) are lost.

10 more US Navy destroyers are assigned to the Britain under the “destroyers for bases” deal struck by Churchill and Roosevelt. Although these old destroyers have numerous problems, they significantly increase Royal Navy’s ability to escort convoys and patrol the British coast.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 452 November 25, 1940

Operation Collar. Admiral Somerville’s Force H departs Gibraltar (battlecruiser HMS Renown, aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, cruisers HMS Sheffield and Despatch plus 11 destroyers) to escort convoy ME4 to Malta. They sail North of the convoy to screen against attack by the Italian fleet and will hand over the convoy to Mediterranean fleet warships (from Malta and Alexandria, Egypt) between Sardinia and Sicily on November 27.

500 miles East of New Zealand, German armed merchant cruisers Orion and Komet (accompanied by tanker Kulmerland) sink tiny New Zealand steamer Holmwood carrying 17 crew, 12 passengers including 9 women and children, 1,370 sheep and 1 horse from the remote Chatham Islands to the main Islands. The crew and passengers are taken off. Many of the sheep are taken on board the 3 German ships and slaughtered. The horse is killed on board Holmwood which is then sunk by shellfire. http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/orion.html

British liner SS Patria is blown up in Haifa Harbour, Palestine (now Israel), by Jewish paramilitary group Irgun which aims to prevent her from deporting Jewish refugees to Mauritius. The refugees are from Central Europe and have been refused entry to Palestine by the British Colonial Office. However, 213 of the 1771 refugees and 50 of the 130 British crew are killed.

2 minesweeping trawlers sink in the Thames Estuary. HMT Conquistador collides with another vessel and HMT Kennymore hits a mine (4 killed). Further North, motor launch ML-111 hits a mine and sinks (2 killed) 10 miles off Grimsby in the Humber Estuary.

In the Bay of Biscay 10 miles South of Lorient, France, British submarine HMS Talisman torpedoes a German tanker (which comes to a halt but does not sink) and captures French trawler Le Clipper (which is then used as a spy vessel to observe German submarine movements).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 451 November 24, 1940

Operation Collar. Convoy ME4 from Britain passes the Straits of Gibraltar bound for Malta and Alexandria (merchant ships SS New Zealand Star, SS Clan Forbes and SS Clan Fraser, escorted by cruisers HMS Manchester and HMS Southampton carrying 1,370 RAF personnel to reinforce the garrison at Malta). Destroyer HMS Hotspur and 4 corvettes join to escort the convoy at Gibraltar. Mediterranean convoys are escorted from Gibraltar to Malta by Admiral Somerville’s Force H and then onwards to Alexandria, Egypt, by Admiral Cunningham’s Mediterranean fleet. Battleships HMS Ramillies and HMS Malaya, cruisers HMS Newcastle, Coventry and Berwick plus 5 destroyers are on their way from Alexandria to pick up the convoy in mid-Mediterranean.

Hitler continues to solidify alliances in Central Europe. Slovakia, a puppet state ceded from Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement, joins the Axis. Prime Minister Vojtech Tuka signs the Tripartite Pact.

German destroyers Galster, Lody and Beitzen leave Brest, France, overnight and cross the English Channel to attack shipping off Cornwall. They sink Belgian trawler Marguerite Simonne 12 miles off Land’s End and Dutch steamer Apollonia (15 lives lost) off Penzance. British destroyers HMS Javelin, Jersey, Jackal, Jupiter and Kashmir search unsuccessfully for the German destroyers which return to Brest the next day.

Anti-submarine trawler HMT Amethyst (captained by the Hon. William Rous, later the 5th Earl of Stradbroke) hits a mine and sinks in the Thames estuary (7 men wounded, all hands rescued by anti-submarine trawler Le Tiger).

German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer sinks British steamer Port Hobart near the Azores, taking the crew prisoner.

From 6 PM to midnight, Luftwaffe drops 156 tons of high explosive bombs and 12,500 incendiary canisters on Bristol, destroying large parts of the medieval city (Castle Park area), historic buildings (17th century timber framed Dutch House and St Peter’s Hospital), and four churches (St Peter’s, St Nicholas, St Mary-le-Port and Temple) and damaging 10,000 homes. 207 civilians are killed, 689 injured and 1400 made homeless. Lord Mayor of Bristol says “The City of Churches had in one night become the city of ruins.” http://www.bristolblitzed.org/?page_id=63

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 450 November 23, 1940

100 miles off the North coast of Ireland, U-100 sinks 6 merchant ships in convoy SC-11 between midnight and 8 AM and then another from the same convoy at 9 PM (24,601 tons of shipping, 119 merchant seamen killed). 78 survivors are rescued by convoy escorts, sloop HMS Enchantress and destroyers HMCS Skeena & HMCS Ottawa. 4 men float in a lifeboat for 2 days until picked up by a Norwegian steamer and landed at Belfast. During the attack, U-100 is depth charged by a destroyer but escapes with minor damage. http://www.uboat.net/ops/convoys/convoys.php?convoy=SC-11

250 miles West of Ireland, U-123 sinks 4 merchant ships in convoy OB-244 between 4.16 and 9.14 AM (20,885 tons of shipping, 119 sailors killed). 65 survivors are rescued by convoy escort sloop HMS Sandwich and landed at Liverpool on November 27. 6 other survivors make land on Barra Island in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. U-123 collides with submerged wreckage from one of its victims, damaging the periscope and conning tower and forcing U-123 to return to Lorient, France. http://www.uboat.net/ops/convoys/convoys.php?convoy=OB-244

Germany continues to shore up support in the Balkans, to protect vital Romanian oil supplies and for offensives against Greece and USSR. Romania joins the Axis, seeking protection against the Soviet Union which has already taken Bessarabia. In Berlin, Romania’s fascist leader Ion Antonescu signs the Tripartite Pact.

Luftwaffe bombs the docks at Southampton overnight, damaging British troopship Llandovery Castle and paddle minesweeper Duchess Of Cornwall.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 449 November 22, 1940

Greek 3rd Army Corps finally takes Korçë, 10 miles inside Albania, after a week of heavy fighting against Italian 9th Army. They take 2000 prisoners and capture 135 field guns and 600 machineguns. However, the Greeks are poorly motorised and have no armour, allowing the Italians to withdraw and regroup.

On the coast of Morocco near the Spanish-held city of Melilla, British destroyers HMS Faulknor and HMS Forester approach Vichy French destroyer Boulonnais and freighter MV Charles Plumier. Boulonnais withdraws allowing MV Charles Plumier, which was a French armed merchant cruiser from 1939 until the surrender in May 1940, to be captured. She will be renamed HMS Largs, commissioned into the Royal Navy in November 1941 and will serve as Command Ship for almost every major Allied amphibious landing in Europe including Operations Torch, Husky and Overlord.

Just after midnight 365 miles West of Ireland, U-123 torpedoes British SS Cree. Cree is carrying 5500 tons of iron ore from Freetown, Sierra Leone, and sinks immediately with all 45 hands lost. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/662.html

British motor launch ML.127 sinks on a mine in the Thames Estuary (all 11 hands lost).

Italian aircraft bomb Alexandria damaging British tanker Zahra.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 448 November 21, 1940

German raider armed merchant cruiser Pinguin shadows British refrigerated freighter Port Brisbane all day in the Indian Ocean, 1000 miles West of Australia. Port Brisbane, carrying a cargo of 5000 tons of frozen meat, 3000 tons of wool, butter and cheese from Adelaide to Britain, is armed with two 6-inch guns. Well after dark, Pinguin approaches Port Brisbane and, seeing her armaments, shells her to a standstill (killing the radio operator). After scuttling charges placed on board fail to do the job, Pinguin sinks her with a torpedo. 60 crewmen and 1 woman passenger are taken prisoner. 27 crew escape in a lifeboat and are picked up by Australian cruiser HMAS Canberra, which has been sent to locate Pinguin. However, Pinguin gets away. http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/pinguin.html

At 7.40 AM, 200 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-103 surfaces and fires torpedoes at convoy OB-244 sinking British SS Daydawn (2 killed, 36 crew picked up by the British corvette HMS Rhododendron) and Greek SS Victoria (all 27 crew picked up by destroyer HMS Castleton). A ship in the convoy tries to ram the U-boat but U-103 dodges the attack and fires a torpedo at the ship which glances off and does not explode.

A German aircraft inadvertently bombs the British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, with no casualties. It is probably returning from Coventry, dumping unreleased bombs, and there are no indications the Germans know the importance of the site. Diplomatic section suffers a direct hit, damaging the telephone exchange and typists’ room and a bomb damages the nearby vicarage. A bomb lands near Hut 4, lifting it off the foundations. 3 other bombs fail to explode. http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/archive/index/november1940.rhtm

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 447 November 20, 1940

Hungary joins the Axis. Hungarian Prime Minister Count Teleki and Foreign Minister Count Csaky sign a protocol in Vienna, joining the German-Italian-Japanese Tripartite Pact.

British cruiser HMS York delivers anti-aircraft guns to Piraeus near Athens, Greece, and returns to Alexandria, Egypt. British bombers sink Italian steamer Ardita III in the Red Sea off Assab, Eritrea. Off Brindisi, Italy, Italian torpedo boat Confienza sinks after colliding with Italian armed merchant cruiser Capitano A. Cecchi.

In the Indian Ocean 1000 miles West of Perth, Australia, German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin spends all day chasing British steamer Maimoa (carrying 5,000 tons of frozen meat, 1,500 tons of butter, 1,500 tons of grain, 16 million eggs) finally stopping her with shellfire from 12 miles. Maimoa is scuttled and all 87 crew are taken prisoner.

Overnight, Birmingham in the English Midlands is bombed again. 116 aircraft drop 132 tons of high explosive bombs and 296 incendiary canisters.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 446 November 19, 1940

Off the coast of East Anglia, German bombers sink minesweeping trawler HMT Fontenoy. German motor torpedo boats S-38, S-54 and S-57 venture into the Thames Estuary. They are attacked by British destroyers HMS Campbell and HMS Garth, sinking S-38.

British cruiser HMS York arrives at Suda Bay, Crete, disembarking a battalion of troops to reinforce the garrison there.

Overnight, England’s second largest city Birmingham is bombed. 357 German aircraft drop 403 tons of high explosive bombs and 810 incendiary canisters. At the same time, RAF bombers attack the Skoda armament plant at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, doing little damage. The Skoda works will remain undamaged until almost the end of the war. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/23/a6743423.shtml

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 445 November 18, 1940

Overnight, RAF bombers raid Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr, bombing the Scholven/Buer hydrogenation plant, making aviation base gasoline, and Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG plant, converting bituminous coal to synthetic oil.

12 miles off the coast of East Anglia, German bombers attack a convoy in the North Sea damaging 3 freighters. Sloop HMS Lowestoft shoots down a Heinkel bomber.

U-65 continues raiding shipping off the West coast of Africa, sinking British tanker Congonian 125 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, at 6.02 PM (1 killed, 35 crew picked up by cruiser HMS Devonshire and landed at Freetown on November 29). 250 miles Northwest of Ireland, Italian submarine Baracca sinks British SS Lilian Moller (all hands lost).

British cruiser HMS York departs Port Said, Egypt, with a battalion of troops for Suda Bay, Crete, and anti-aircraft guns for Piraeus, mainland Greece.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 444 November 17, 1940

Overnight, RAF bombers raid Hamburg for the second night running.

12 Hurricanes and 2 Skuas fly off British aircraft carrier HMS Argus destined for Malta but many get lost en route. 6 Hurricanes crash in the sea (1 pilot rescued by a Sunderland Flying Boat) and 1 Skua crash lands on Sicily (pilot and observer taken prisoner).

Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding is removed as commander of RAF Fighter Command, despite his brilliant performance conserving fighters and pilots in the Battle of Britain. Nonetheless, he will be rewarded with a peerage in 1943 as Baron Dowding of Bentley Priory. Newly appointed Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal replaces him with rival (and advocate of big-wing tactics) Sholto Douglas.

40 miles North of Ireland, U-137 sinks 2 ships in convoy HG-46; British MV Saint Germain at 8.14 PM (all 18 crew picked up by corvette HMS Mallow) and Swedish SS Veronica at 8.40 PM (17 crew killed, 3 survivors on a raft picked up after five days by a fishing trawler). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/658.html

3 days after leaving base at Lorient, France (and traveling 300 miles West), torpedo mechanic (Mechanikergefreiter) Fritz Pfeifer is washed overboard from U-123. Despite losing one of the torpedo crew, U-123 will go on to sink 5 ships in 2 days.

There is heavy fighting between Greek 3rd Army Corps and Italian 9th Army near Korçë, Albania.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 443 November 16, 1940

In Albania, Greek 3rd Army Corps breaks through the defenses of Italian 9th Army near Korçë in the Morava Mountains. 500 miles away, residents of the town of Menton on the French Riviera 1 mile from the Italian border mock their Italian neighbors with a sign “This is French territory. Greeks, do not advance any further”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes%27_Cemetery

250 miles Southwest of Sierra Leone, U-65 sinks British SS Fabian with a torpedo and the deckgun (6 crew lost). 33 survivors are questioned then given food and water by the Germans, who also treat 2 wounded men, and then picked up by British tanker British Statesman and landed at Freetown.

30 miles North of Ireland at 8.15 PM, U-137 sinks British SS Planter (killing 12 crew and 1 passenger, a displaced seaman hitching a ride home to Britain). 59 crew and 1 gunner are picked up by destroyer HMS Clare and landed at Liverpool. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/656.html

British anti-submarine trawler HMT Arsenal sinks after colliding with Polish destroyer Burza 4 miles south of the village of Toward in the Clyde River estuary, Scotland. Arsenal’s crew is rescued by destroyer HMS Arrow and tug Superman. Arsenal’s depth charges explode, damaging HMS Arrow (under repair in the Clyde until January 14 1941). Burza is also repaired in the Clyde, completed January 27 1941.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 442 November 15, 1940

19 days after the Italian invasion from Albania, Greeks have cleared the invaders from their soil. Reinforced with troops from the border with Bulgaria, Greece now has a numerical advantage. Greek forces go on the offensive, taking advantage of confusion caused by the Italian retreat to attack their defenses on the Albanian border. In addition, Greece receives reinforcements from Britain. A convoy of 5 transports and numerous British war ships leaves Alexandria, Egypt, for Pireaus, Greece, with 4230 troops, 700 trucks and other vehicles, plus petrol and supplies, arriving safely tomorrow.

200 miles Southwest of Sierra Leone, U-65 sinks British SS Kohinur at 3.11 PM (17 killed and 68 escape in lifeboats). Norwegian tanker Havbør stops to pick up the Kohinur survivors. Only 31 have been taken on board when Havbør is torpedoed by U-65 at 6.16 PM which ignites her cargo of 11,500 tons crude oil, killing 28 of her crew and all 31 rescued from Kohinur. (The remaining 36 survivors from Kohinur are picked up next day by British merchant City of Pittsburg and taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone). 5 of Havbør’s crew jump overboard and swim away from the burning oil holding onto a plank (1 dies of burns the next day, 4 are found on November 24 by British SS Baron Ardrossan and taken to Freetown). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/654.html

British tug HMS Guardsman sinks on a mine in the mouth of the Thames Estuary (2 crew lost).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 441 November 14, 1940

A clear moonlit night provides ideal conditions for Operation Moonlight Sonata, a major Luftwaffe raid on the ancient industrial city of Coventry in the English Midlands. At 7.20 PM, 13 Heinkel He-111 bombers (of Kampfgruppe 100) drop marker flares to illuminate the city. 437 He-111s (of Luftflotte 3) follow, flying multiple sorties in small groups all night and returning to bases in France to reload. They drop 450 tons of high explosive bombs (to damage water mains and crater roads, hindering firefighting efforts), 50 parachute mines (to blast off rooftops over a wide area) and 36,000 incendiary bombs (to ignite the old wood timbered buildings). RAF night fighters lack radar and are ineffective; only 1 He11 is shot down by anti-aircraft fire. The raid is a devastating success, destroying 60,000 buildings (including the cathedral), killing 600 civilians and injuring 1000 more. German propaganda gloats, using the term “Coventrate” for the strategy of leveling British cities. It is a strategy that will come back to haunt Germany.

German bombers raid Alexandria, Egypt, sinking Egyptian steamer Zamzam.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 440 November 13, 1940

In Berlin, Hitler and von Ribbentrop continue lecturing Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov about the imminent conquest of Britain and how to divide up the British Empire. However, British intelligence knows of Molotov’s visit and, after a dinner at the Soviet Embassy, RAF bombing forces Molotov and von Ribbentrop into a shelter deep underground. Conversation again turns to England, which “is finished” according to Ribbentrop. Molotov replies “if that is so, why are we in this shelter and whose are these bombs which fall”?

Greek troops manage to clear Northern Greece of Italian forces, pushing them back to their starting point in Albania.

At 9.08 PM, 100 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-137 torpedoes British SS Cape St. Andrew which sinks while under tow by rescue tug HMS Salvonia (14 crew and 1 gunner were lost). 53 survivors are picked up by the tug and landed at Greenock. Also in the North Atlantic, 2 men are washed overboard from destroyer HMS Garland in heavy weather.

British submarine HMS Tigris sinks tiny French trawler Charles Edmonde 100 miles West of Bordeaux, France.

British destroyer HMS Decoy is damaged by Italian bombers in Alexandria Harbour (8 killed, 3 wounded). HMS Decoy will be repaired at Malta until February 1941.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 439 November 12, 1940

Operation Judgement. The 3 undamaged Italian battleships Vittorio Veneto, Andrea Doria and Giulio Cesare and most of the cruisers depart Taranto for the safety of Naples further North. The British bombers plan to return to Taranto and follow up yesterday’s attack but Admiral Cunningham cancels the raid at 6 PM due to bad weather. Consequently, damage to the Italian fleet is not as decisive as hoped. Battleships Littorio and Caio Duilio will be repaired and returned to service by Spring 1941 and only Conte di Cavour is unsalvageable. For a full analysis

Worried by the speedy German victory over France plus German moves into Romania and Finland, Stalin guesses (correctly) that Germany plans to invade USSR. At 11.05 AM, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov arrives in Berlin to probe German intentions and to assert Soviet interests in the Balkans and the Dardanelles. He meets with German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop and, after lunch, with Hitler. They both assure Molotov that the war against Britain is going smoothly and that Germany has no interests in Soviet territory. As a distraction, they encourage USSR to invade Iran to gain access to the Persian Gulf and, thus, the Indian Ocean.

The last Vichy forces in Gabon surrender at Port Gentil on the coast 70 miles South of Libreville. Former Vichy Governor of Gabon, Georges Pierre Masson, helps negotiate the surrender and then commits suicide fearing the consequences of his own indecision. On August 29, Masson had publicly declared loyalty to DeGaulle’s Free French, only to switch back immediately to Vichy under pressure from the Naval commander at Libreville.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 438 November 11, 1940

Operation Judgement. At 11 PM, 21 Fairey Swordfish (11 with torpedoes and 10 carrying bombs) attack the Italian fleet at Taranto, taking off from British carrier HMS Illustrious escorted by 4 cruisers and 4 destroyers 170 miles Southeast. 6 Italian battleships and 3 cruisers lie at anchor in the outer harbour (Mar Grande). Torpedoes sink 1 battleship Conte di Cavour and damage 2 others, Littorio and Caio Duilio. 2 cruisers, 21 destroyers and 16 submarines rest in the smaller inner harbour (Mar Piccolo), protected from torpedoes. However, bombing of the inner harbour is ineffective. 2 Swordfish are shot down (1 crew of 2 killed, 1 crew of 2 taken prisoner). The remaining 19 Swordfish return safely to HMS Illustrious by 2.30 AM next morning.

In a daytime raid, 10 Corpo Aereo Italiano Fiat BR.20M bombers attack Harwich, England, escorted from bases in Belgium by 42 Fiat CR.42 biplane fighters (other fighters including German Bf109s abandon their escort duties due to bad weather). RAF Hurricanes from 257, 46, and 17 Squadrons intercept them over the Thames Estuary, shooting down 3 BR.20Ms & 3 CR.42s and badly damaging 2 more BR.20Ms (no Hurricanes lost). Winston Churchill quips "They might have found better employment defending the fleet at Taranto."

Destroyer HMS Vega hits a mine and is badly damaged 5 miles North of Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, while escorting a convoy in the Thames Estuary. HMS Vega will be towed to Sheerness for repairs, completed November 14 1942. Minesweeping trawler HMT Stella Orion hits a mine and sinks in the Thames Estuary (no casualties). 200 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-103 is depth charged by British corvette HMS Rhododendron but U-103 escapes with no damage.

In the Bay of Bengal, British SS Automedon radios a “Raider Attack” signal when ordered to stop by German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis which then shells her to a standstill (7 crew and 1 gunner killed). 87 people, including 20 survivors rescued from the sinking of British freighter Anglo-Saxon, are taken prisoner. Atlantis captures top-secret Royal Navy documents including fleet orders, details of Naval and Royal Air Force deployment in the Far East, port defense layouts and Merchant Navy decoding tables and cipher pages (plus essential provisions such as whiskey, beer, cigarettes, fresh and frozen food).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 437 November 10, 1940

French West Africa. Fighting for control of Gabon continues between Free French forces and defenders loyal to the Vichy regime.

Greek troops push Italian forces in Epirus back toward Albania. Further East, Greek 2nd Army Corps harries the retreating Italian Julia Division through the Pindus Mountains. Julia Division loses 5000 men killed or taken prisoner before escaping back to Albania.

Monitor HMS Terror leaves Malta for Suda Bay, Crete, to serve as a guard ship.

Anti-submarine trawler HMS Kingston Alalite sinks on a mine off Plymouth (6 lives lost).

After dark in the Bay of Bengal, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis boards Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob by posing again as British auxilliary cruiser HMS Antenor. After a standoff between the boarding party and the crew (both well armed), Ole Jacob’s captain surrenders without any shooting for fear of igniting the 11,000 barrels of high-octane aviation fuel on board. Ole Jacob is sent to Japan with her crew and Teddy’s crew, arriving on December 6. She will then be sent to Bordeaux, France, arriving July 19 1941. Signals from Ole Jacob attract Australian cruisers Canberra, Capetown and Durban which are hunting for the German raider but Atlantis escapes. http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/atlantis.html

Overnight, British gunboat HMS Aphis shells Italian positions at Sidi Barrani, Egypt.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 436 November 9, 1940

Gabon,West Africa. Free French forces under General Koenig fight their way into the Vichy-held capital Libreville. Free French Westland Lysanders from Douala, Cameroon, bomb the airfield at Libreville allowing Koenig to overcome Vichy defences and capture the airfield. Illustrating the irony of these fraternel conflicts, Vichy sloop Bougainville is sunk off Libreville by shellfire from her sister ship, Free French sloop Savorgnan de Brazza. Vichy armed merchant cruiser Cap Des Palmes tries to scuttle herself but is captured by Free French sloop Commandant Domine.

Former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain dies of bowel cancer at the age of 71.

Sebastiano Visconti Prasca is relieved as commander of Italian operations in Greece after the failure of the offensive and ongoing rout of the Alpine Julia Division in the Pindus Mountains. He is replaced by General Ubaldo Soddu who is no better and will be removed in a few weeks.

Before dawn in the Bay of Bengal, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis poses in the dark as British auxiliary cruiser HMS Antenor. Atlantis sends a boarding party onto Norwegian tanker Teddy, carrying 10,000 tons of fuel oil and 500 tons of diesel oil, which is captured without a shot (all 32 crew will be sent to Japan on another captured Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob). This allows Atlantis to refuel and extend her voyage.

Swedish SS Vingaland, damaged yesterday by German bombers West of Ireland, is sunk by Italian submarine Marconi (19 survivors were picked up by British steamer Danae II).

American steamer City Of Rayville sinks on a mine laid by German auxiliary minelayer Passat 20 miles off Cape Otway, South Australia (1 killed). 39 crew escape in 2 lifeboats and make landfall at Apollo Bay.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 435 November 8, 1940

Italians abandon the stalled invasion of Northern Greece and begin the retreat from the Kalamas River in Epirus. In the Pindus Mountains, remaining elements of the Italian Julia Division do not get the message but retreat anyway after learning of the coming Greek offensive from radio broadcasts from London.

Gabon,West Africa. Late in the evening, Free French forces (French Legionnaires plus colonial troops from Senegal and Cameroon) under General Marie Pierre Koenig land North and South of the capital Libreville and meet stiff resistance from defenders loyal to the Vichy regime. Libreville is also pressed inland by Free French troops from Cameroon.

Operation Crack. Aircraft from British carrier HMS Ark Royal, escorted by cruisers HMS Berwick and HMS Glasgow, attack the Italian seaplane base at Elmas near Cagliari, Sardinia. This is part of complex movements of several convoys with warship escorts through the Mediterranean (Operation MB8), including troops and anti-aircraft guns for Malta. The raid is also designed to distract from the planned attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto (Operation Judgement).

British WWI-era tug HMS Muria hits a mine and sinks off Isle of Thanet, just North of Dover, England (all hands lost). German bombers attack a convoy in the Thames Estuary, sinking or damaging several merchant ships. Convoy escort destroyer HMS Winchester shoots down 2 Ju87 dive bombers. HMS Winchester then hits a mine and, while anchored to make emergency repairs, she is bombed again and damaged by near misses (under repair in London until June 6 1941).

300 miles West of Ireland, Swedish steamer Vingaland is damaged by German bombers. Dutch submarine O-22 disappears in the North Sea 40 miles Southwest of the Norway, either lost on a mine or sunk by German submarine chasers UJ.117 and UJ.1102 (Dutch crew of 42 and 3 British sailors are lost). http://www.dutchsubmarines.com/boats/boat_o22.htm

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 434 November 7, 1940

Ahead of landings at Libreville, Free French troops on cargo ships Fort Lamy, Casamance and Nevada arrive off the coast of Gabon, escorted by British cruisers HMS Devonshire and HMS Delhi and sloop HMS Milford. 50 miles Southwest of Libreville, Vichy French submarine Poncelet fires a torpedo which fails to explode at HMS Milford. Poncelet is forced to the surface by depth charges from HMS Milford and bombed by 2 Supermarine Walrus biplanes from HMS Devonshire. As the crew of 60 is taken off by the British ships, Poncelet is scuttled by her captain Commander de Saussine who chooses to go down with his ship.

British minesweeping trawler HMT William Wesney hits a mine and sinks in the North Sea, 13 miles East of Harwich (5 crew killed, 7 survivors rescued by sloop HMS Sheldrake and 2 trawlers). Free French minesweeping trawler Poulmic sinks on a mine near Plymouth (11 crew killed, 7 survivors). British submarine HMS Swordfish leaves Portsmouth to patrol off Brest. As she performs a trim dive, she hits a mine and is blown in half, sinking immediately in the English Channel, 7 miles South of the Isle of Wight (all 39 hands lost). http://www.divernet.com/Wrecks/159214/a_wrecks_diver_dream_of_heaven.html

7 German torpedo boats depart Trondheim to attack an Allied convoy off Kinnaird Head, Northern Scotland. T.6 sinks in a British minefield 40 miles from the target (T.7 and T.8 rescue the survivors). The remaining torpedo boats return to Trondheim

The war comes to Australia. 6 miles off Wilson's Promontory, South Australia, British steamer Cambridge (sailing from Melbourne to Sydney) sinks on a mine laid by German auxiliary minelayer Passat. 1 crewman is killed and 57 survivors are rescued by Australian auxiliary minesweeper Orara. http://www.divetime.com/divesites/Oceania_and_Pacific/Australia/Victoria/Wilsons_Promontory/SS_Cambridge_66525.html

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 433 November 6, 1940

At 12.25 PM off Cape St. Vincent, Portugal, British destroyer HMS Encounter mistakes HMS Utmost for an enemy submarine and rams her. HMS Utmost reaches Gibraltar tomorrow and will be taken to Malta for repairs, completed in February 1941. HMS Encounter will require repairs at Gibraltar until November 23.

Comandante Faà Di Bruno, the first Italian submarine operating in the North Atlantic, shells British steamer Melrose Abbey 200 miles Northwest of Ireland. Canadian destroyer HMCS Ottawa and British destroyer HMS Harvester force the submarine to dive with shellfire and then sink her with depth charges (all 57 hands lost).

Minesweeping whaler HMS Sevra hits a mine and sinks off Falmouth, Southwest England (no casualties).

In Greece, Greek 2nd Army Corps starts pushing Italian Julia Division out of the Pindus Mountains while, further West, Italian forces continue to batter fruitlessly against the Greek defenses on the Kalamas River.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 432 November 5, 1940

German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer has been in the North Atlantic since November 1 waiting to attack Allied convoys. Using German radio intercepts, she vectors in on convoy HX-84 (38 merchant ships from Halifax Nova Scotia to Britain). Late in the afternoon, Admiral Scheer appears over the horizon and the convoy escort, armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay, sails out to intercept her despite being hopelessly outgunned. Jervis Bay is sunk within 15 minutes by shellfire from Admiral Scheer’s 11-inch guns (190 killed, 65 survivors picked up by Swedish merchant Stureholm). The convoy scatters but 5 more British ships are sunk (208 merchant sailors killed). Jervis Bay’s Captain Fegen will be awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for protecting the convoy and preventing the loss of more ships. http://www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3326.html

Free French invasion of Gabon. Free French forces capture the strategically important town of Lambaréné from the Vichy French garrison. Since October 27, they have advanced 200 miles from their starting point in Cameroon and now threaten Gabon’s capital Libreville. Meanwhile, Free French commanders Colonel Marie Pierre Kœnig and Major Philippe Leclerc sail from Douala, Cameroon, with French Foreign Legion, Senegalese and Cameroonian troops to attack Libreville from the sea.

At 2.55 AM, U-99 sinks British tanker Scottish Maiden (carrying 3000 tons of diesel oil and 6500 tons of marine fuel oil) 180 miles Northwest of Ireland. 16 crew are lost and 28 survivors are picked up by destroyer HMS Beagle and landed at Liverpool.

Greece. Greek Cavalry Division led by General Georgios Stanotas begins the destruction of Italian Julia Division in the Pindus Mountains.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 431 November 4, 1940

150 miles West of Ireland, U-99’s battle with British convoy escorts continues through the night. While HMS Patroclus is picking up crew from HMS Laurentic, U-99 torpedoes Patroclus at 00.22, 00.44 and 1.18 AM and then dives to avoid return fire from the Patroclus’ deck gun and a Sunderland flying boat. U-99 surfaces and sinks HMS Laurentic at 4.35 AM, with a torpedo that explodes her store of depth charges, and HMS Patroclus at 5.25 AM (56 killed). British destroyer HMS Hesperus arrives and unsuccessfully depth charges U-99 until giving up the chase to pick up survivors from HMS Patroclus and HMS Laurentic.

Greece. In the Pindus Mountains, Italian Julia Division is trapped in the Vovousa valley, under attack by Greek 2nd Army Corps which has been brought in to reinforce the sector. Julia calls for help but they are too far away from reinforcements which are dispatched from Albania. Further West on the Ionian coast, Italian troops cross the Kalamas River and secure a bridgehead but are unable to breakout and outflank the Greek defenses further inland.

British cruiser HMS Ajax continues shuttling reinforce between Alexandria, Egypt, and Crete, to reinforce the garrison at Suda Bay. Ajax departs Alexandria with Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney with 14th Armoured Brigade HQ, anti-aircraft guns and troops.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 430 November 3, 1940

The tide turns on Italian forces in Greece. In the Pindus Mountains, Greek Pindus detachment begins a counterattack against the Italian Julia Division, retaking the villages of Samarina and Vovousa. Further West in Epirus, Italians bring up light L3/35 tankettes and medium M13/40 tanks to attack the Greek defenses on the Kalamas River. The tanks get stuck in the hilly, marshy terrain and are unable to support the infantry, who are slaughtered in front of the Greek machineguns. http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?122512-October-28-1940
At 9.40 PM, U-99 sinks British SS Casanare (carrying 1500 tons of bananas) 150 miles West of Ireland (9 crew killed). Casanare send a distress messages which brings British armed merchant cruisers HMS Laurentic and HMS Patroclus to their doom. U-99 hits HMS Laurentic with 3 torpedoes at 10.50, 11.10 and 11.30 PM (49 killed) but Laurentic does not sink. HMS Patroclus picks up 368 officers and ratings who have abandoned ship from HMS Laurentic, instead of hunting the submarine.

British submarine HMS Sturgeon sinks small Danish steamer Sigrun in the Oslofjord, Norway.

After 57 consecutive nights of bombing, London is not attacked. An average of 165 German planes each night has dropped a total of 13,600 tons of high explosive plus many incendiary bombs.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 429 November 2, 1940

100 miles Northwest of Ireland, British destroyer HMS Antelope brings U-31 to the surface with depth charges (2 dead) and U-31 is scuttled by the crew. As HMS Antelope takes off 43 survivors, she collides with U-31 causing structural damage (under repair until December). U-31 was previously sunk by a Bristol Blenheim of on March 11, 1940 and refloated later in March. U-31 is, thus, the only German submarine to sink twice in WWII. http://www.sharkhunters.com/U-31%20German%20Submarine.htm

Turkey declares neutrality in the war between Greece and Italy but keeps 37 divisions on the Bulgarian border and warns Bulgaria not to attack Greece. Delaying tactics by retreating Greek screening forces in the Epirus region, between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea, have slowed the Italian advance. The Italians reach the main Greek defensive line on the Kalamas river between Elia & Kalamas and here they are stopped. In the Pindus Mountains, the Pindus detachment of Colonel Davakis continues to encircle the Italian Julia Division, but Davakis is badly wounded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konstantinos_Davakis

Departing from Suda Bay, Crete, for Alexandria, Egypt, British cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Coventry are attacked by Italian bombers, which again score several near misses but do no damage. Destroyer HMS Intrepid (ironically returning from a minelyaing mission) hits a mine off Hartlepool, Durham, damaging both her engines (under repair until Christmas). Minesweeping trawler HMT Rinovia hits a mine and sinks 10 miles South of St. Austell, Cornwall (15 crew lost). http://wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?138689