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.

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.

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