Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 463 December 6, 1940

Since September, 80,000 Italian troops have fortified a line of 7 camps to protect their forward supply line at the port of Sidi Barrani (running Southwest from Maktila on the Egyptian coast). However, British forces in Egypt have received Matilda tanks and Hurricanes fighters sent at Churchill’s request from England. Middle East Commander-in-Chief General Wavell plans a 5 day raid (Operation Compass) through a 15 mile gap in the Italian camps between Nibeiwa on the coastal plain and Sofafi on the escarpment inland. British 7th Armoured Division, British 16th Infantry Brigade and Indian 4th Infantry Division (Western Desert Force under General Richard O'Connor) leave Mersa Matruh at 7 AM, traveling all day and night to cover half the 70 miles to the Italian camps.

British submarines are active in the busy Straits of Otranto between Italy and Greece. HMS Regulus hits a mine and sinks (all 55 hands lost). 40 miles off Brindisi, HMS Triton damages Italian steamer Olimpia and is counterattacked by Italian torpedo boats Altair and Andromeda without damage.

German armed merchant cruisers Komet and Orion intend to raid phosphate mining operations and drop prisoners on the Allied-run island of Nauru in the South Pacific (a German colony until WWI). 200 miles South of Nauru, they stop phosphate freighter Triona with shellfire (3 crew killed). 54 crew, 6 women passengers and 1 child are taken prisoner before Orion torpedoes Triona.

At 10.48 PM 400 miles West of Ireland, U-43 sinks Norwegian SS Skrim (all 23 hands lost).

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Bristol again. In the last 4 days, 256 people have been killed and 229 injured.

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