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

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