Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 521 February 2, 1941

East Africa. 5th Indian Division captures Italian fortifications defended by 8,000 troops and 32 field guns at Barentu, Eritrea. Indian troops have advanced over 100 miles from Sudan since January 19, capturing 6,000 Italian POWs, 80 field guns, 26 tanks and 400 trucks.

In the Indian Ocean, British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (escorted by cruiser HMS Hawkins to the Suez Canal, to replace HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean) launches aircraft to drop mines in the harbour and attack shore installations at Mogadishu, Italian Somaliland (Operation Breach).

Operation Compass. Australian troops advance on the coast road West of Derna, Libya, and find Italians forces have withdrawn. General O'Connor receives permission from General Wavell in Cairo to send elements of 7th Armored Division across the desert to cut off the Italian retreat.

British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (escorted by battleships HMS Renown & HMS Malaya and cruiser HMS Sheffield) launches 8 torpedo bombers which unsuccessfully attack the hydroelectric Santa Chiara Dam on Tirso River, Sardinia. 1 Swordfish of 810 Squadron is shot down and all 3 crew are taken prisoner.

Naval trawler HMT Almond hits a mine and sinks off Falmouth (19 killed).

Overnight, in the Indian Ocean, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis stops Norwegian tanker Ketty Brøvig (carrying 6370 tons of fuel oil and 4125 tons of diesel oil from Bahrain) with shellfire. Ketty Brøvig is taken as a prize ship (all 52 crew taken prisoner) and will refuel cruiser Admiral Scheer and several other raiders.

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