Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 541 February 22, 1941

300 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-48, U-69, U-73, U-96, U-107 and Italian submarines Bianchi, Marcello and Barbarigo attack convoy OB-287. Just after midnight, U-96 sinks British tanker MV Scottish Standard (which was bombed and damaged yesterday by German aircraft). U-96 is counterattacked and depth charged by escort destroyers. British destroyer HMS Montgomery (recently transferred from the US Navy in the ‘destroyers for bases’ deal) sinks Italian submarine Marcello.

Operation Canvas, Italian Somaliland, East Africa. 11th and 12th African Divisions attack Italian defenses at Jilib from Kismayu (South) and Afmadow (West). They defeat 30,000 Italian and colonial troops (many colonials down arms and disappear into the bush) to capture the road junction and open the way to Mogadishu.

Greek King George II and Commander-in-Chief General Papagos meet British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and General Wavell in Athens. Eden offers more troops than are in reality available. Confounding matters, they plan a defense against German invasion from Bulgaria that relies upon Yugoslav neutrality.

British monitor HMS Terror is spotted at midday by a German Ju-88. 5 Ju-88s take off from Sicily at 3.33 PM. At 6.30 PM 10 miles North of Derna, Libya, HMS Terror is holed by splinters from near misses. HMS Terror is abandoned at 10 PM and will sink at 4.20 AM next day after failed towing attempts by minesweeper HMS Fareham and corvette HMS Salvia.

Off the East coast of Africa, German cruiser Admiral Scheer sinks Dutch collier Rantau Pandjang. Distress signals are received by British cruiser HMS Glasgow which sends out an aircraft that spots Admiral Scheer. British warships will search the area fruitlessly until February 25 while Admiral Scheer slips away to the South around the Cape of Good Hope, reaching the South Atlantic on March 1.

500 miles East of Newfoundland, German pocket battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau attack an unescorted convoy of empty vessels returning to USA. They sink 3 British cargo ships and 2 tankers totaling 25,431 tons (10 merchant seamen killed, 180 taken prisoner).

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