Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 519 January 31, 1941

Sahara Desert, Southeastern Libya. Free French forces have advanced from Chad to attack the Italian garrison at Kufra in the Sahara Desert. British Long Range Desert Group (attached to Free French) sends “T patrol” (30 men in 11 trucks) forward to reconnoiter but they are spotted by Italian aircraft at Bishara, 80 miles Southwest of Kufra. T patrol hides in a small wadi at Gebel Sherif where they are ambushed by Italian “Saharan company” motorized infantry (3 trucks destroyed, 1 man killed, 3 taken prisoner, 4 walk back across the desert).

Eritrea, East Africa. 4th Indian Division flanks Agordat, held by 4 Italian infantry brigades & 2 companies of tanks. Some defenders try to retreat under cover of darkness but 1,000 are taken prisoner and 43 field guns captured.

In the Adriatic Sea off Fiume, Croatia, Italian torpedo boat Francesco Stocco breaks in 2 after hitting a mine laid 3 days ago by British submarine HMS Rorqual. The 2 halves remain afloat and are salvaged.

After dark, 350 miles Southwest of Ireland, Italian submarine Dandolo sinks British tanker Pizarro with torpedoes (23 crew killed, 6 rescued).

Overnight, in the Indian Ocean, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis stops British SS Speybank (carrying manganese, monazite, ilesite, carpets, tea and shellac from Cochin, India, to New York) with shellfire. Undamaged, SS Speybank is taken as a prize ship and sailed to Bordeaux, France, where she will be converted into an auxiliary minelayer and renamed Schiff 53/Doggerbank.

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