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.

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.

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