Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 531 February 12, 1941

The balance of power changes in North Africa. Operation Compass is stopped. Following the previous pattern, General O'Connor sends Colonel Dorman-Smith to Cairo to get British Commander-in-Chief Middle East General Wavell’s permission for the next advance. Wavell is under instructions from Churchill to divert troops from Libya to Greece and when Dorman-Smith arrives, he finds maps of the Balkans replacing maps of North Africa on the wall at Wavell’s HQ. British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and CIGS Sir John Dill leave London for Cairo to coordinate military assistance to Greece. Operation Sonnenblume begins. Rommel arrives in Tripoli. Another convoy of Afrika Korps troops leaves Naples aboard steamers Adana, Aegina, Kybfels & Ruhr, escorted by Italian destroyer Camicia Nera and torpedo boat Procione, and will reach Tripoli on February 14.

At 6.18 AM 800 miles West of Gibraltar, German cruiser Admiral Hipper attacks convoy SLS64, sinking 7 steamers (British Warlaby, Westbury, Oswestry Grange, Shrewsbury, Derrynane plus Norwegian Borgestad and Greek Perseus, 116 crew killed). At 7.40 AM, Hipper breaks off, almost out of 203mm shells, as rain and fog hide the scattering ships.

Battle of Keren, Eritrea, East Africa. There is fighting again around Cameron Ridge on the North side of Dongolaas Gorge and in Happy Valley on the South side (Subadar Richhpal Ram of the 6th Rajputana Rifles wins the Victoria Cross posthumously for leading assaults on Acqua Col at the end of the valley on February 7 and 12).

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