Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 465 December 8, 1940

Operation Compass. General O'Connor’s Western Desert Force moves forward all day and into the night, covering the remaining 35 miles to the line of Italian forts. They move undetected through the gap between camps Nibeiwa and Sofafi and stop at 1 AM next day to rest for a few hours.

At 8.58 PM 295 miles West of Ireland, U-103 sinks British liner Calabria (carrying 4000 tons of iron, 3050 tons of tea and 1870 tons of oilcake from India to Britain) killing 129 crew, 1 gunner and 230 Indian sailors being brought to Britain to crew other ships. 21 crew members are picked up by destroyer HMS Sikh and landed at Londonderry. 75 miles West of Ireland, U-140 sinks Finnish barque Penang at 12.26 PM (all 18 hands lost). Penang is a 3-masted steel sailing ship, built in 1905, carrying 3250 tons of grain from Australia to Ireland. U-140 also sinks British SS Ashcrest at 8.25 PM (all 37 crew lost).

Destroyer HMS Windsor hits a mine off Aldeburgh, Surrey, on the east coast of England. She is towed to Harwich by destroyer HMS Garth and repaired to Chatham until April 24 1941.

Stormy weather prevents German armed merchant cruisers Komet and Orion from landing on the island of Nauru to raid phosphate mining facilities and drop off their prisoners as planned. However, they sink 3 freighters waiting offshore. Orion sinks Triadic (1 killed, 11 crew taken prisoner) and Triaster (64 crew taken prisoner) and Komet sinks Komata (2 killed, 33 crew taken prisoner). The German raiders and their support vessel Kulmerland now have 675 prisoners including 52 women and 8 children.

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