Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 512 January 24, 1941

Operation Compass. 80 miles West of Tobruk, British tanks attack an Italian fort at Mechili in the Libyan desert. However, the British expect a speedy capitulation and are surprised by vigorous defense by Italian tanks of the Babini Armor Group. Losses are about equal on both sides and the British withdraw.

In the Indian Ocean 300 miles East of the Seychelles, a Heinkel He114 seaplane from German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis bombs and strafes British SS Mandasor (carrying 2,000 tons of pig iron & 1,800 tons of tea from Calcutta, India). As Mandasor steams away radioing for help, Atlantis stops her with shellfire (6 crew killed). Atlantis’ launch rescues 82 survivors, driving off circling sharks with machinegun fire, and then sends Mandasor to the bottom with scuttling charges. The He114 seaplane capsizes in choppy water and has to be sunk, robbing Atlantis of spotting capabilities. 4 Allied cruisers search the area without success.

New British Ambassador to USA Lord Halifax, previously British Foreign Secretary, arrives in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, aboard battleship HMS King George V.

At 9.48 PM 200 miles West of Ireland, U-123 sinks Norwegian steamer Vespasian with 1 torpedo (all 18 hands lost).

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