Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 474 December 17, 1940

At 6.40 AM, in darkness and heavy seas 5 miles Southwest of the Isle of Wight, British destroyer HMS Acheron hits a mine while running sea trials following repairs. Acheron sinks within 4 minutes, killing 153 crew and 22 shipyard workers (13 crew and 3 shipyard workers survive).

Operation Compass. British capture the coastal village of Sollum and have forced all Italian troops out of Egypt after 7 days of fighting. The unexpected success of this “5 day raid”, including surrounding the major port of Bardia in Libya, persuades General Wavell (Commander in Chief, Middle East) to continue the operation and 6th Australian Division replaces 4th Indian Division which has been sent to defend Sudan. British monitor HMS Terror and gunboat HMS Ladybird bombard Bardia, escorted by Australian destroyers HMAS Voyager and Vendetta. They sink Italian steamers Galata, Vincenzino and Giuseppina D. in Bardia habour.

At a press conference in Washington, President Roosevelt outlines a scheme for USA to provide munitions and equipment to Britain without requiring payment. It will become known as “Lend-Lease”.

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