Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 537 February 18, 1941

Since mid-January, South African 1st Division has advanced into Southern Ethiopia from Kenya, as a diversion from General Cunningham’s main attack into Italian Somaliland. After a 3 day battle, they capture the Italian fort of Mega 70 miles inside Ethiopia protecting the main road to the capital Addis Ababa (taking 1000 Italian prisoners).

Free French besiege El Tag fort at Kufra oasis in the Sahara Desert, Libya. They fire 20 shells per day from a 75mm field gun at 3 km, out of range of the defenses, as well as lobbing in 81 mm mortar rounds from 1.5 km. This will wear down the Italian defenders over the next few days.

German aircraft drop mines in the Suez Canal, which is temporarily closed to shipping. This delays the arrival of British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable in the Mediterranean.

At 2.27 AM 140 miles South of Iceland, U-96 sinks British SS Black Osprey carrying 4500 tons of steel and trucks from USA to Britain (25 killed, 11 survivors picked up by Norwegian steamer Mosdale). At 9.33 PM 330 miles South of Iceland, U-103 sinks British MV Seaforth carrying produce from West Africa to Britain (47 crew, 2 gunners and 10 passengers abandon ship in lifeboats but are never found).

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