Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 502 January 14, 1941

British Commander-in-Chief Middle East General Wavell meets Greek Dictator Metaxas and CIC General Papagos in Athens to discuss military aid to Greece. Papagos asks for 9 divisions and air support. Wavell offers only 2 or 3 divisions. The Greeks refuse, not wanting a British presence that will prompt a German invasion but be too small to help stop it. Wavell, Churchill and British War Cabinet are relieved to have fulfilled the obligation to assist Greece while still maintaining forces in Libya.

In the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin captures almost an entire Norwegian whaling fleet (whale oil tanker Solglimt, factory ships Ole Wegger & Pelagos and 11 of their attendant whalers). 20,000 tons of whale oil (worth 4 million US dollars) and 10,000 tons of fuel oil are captured without a shot and with no casualties. 3 whalers escape and warn another factory ship, Thorshammer, which departs with its flotilla of whalers.

100 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Italian submarine Cappellini loses 3 men in a 2 hour gun duel with British auxiliary cruiser Eumaeus carrying troops to Egypt around the Cape. Eumaeus finally sinks (12 crew and 15 naval ratings lost). A Supermarine Walrus from seaplane carrier HMS Albatross responds to distress calls from Eumaeus, dropping life rafts to the survivors and bombing Cappellini (which is badly damaged, requiring 3 days of repairs in the Canary Islands and a return to base at Bordeaux).

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