Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 543 February 24, 1941

At 7.58 AM 300 miles south of Iceland, U-107 finally sinks British ocean boarding vessel HMS Manistee (all 141 hands lost). U-95, U-96 and Italian submarine Bianchi attack convoy OB-288 (now dispersed & unescorted), sinking 7 merchant ships before dawn. Most crews drown, although all 41 men from SS Waynegate take to the lifeboats and are picked up by Free French destroyer Léopard. In the same area, U-97 sinks 3 British steamers in convoy OB-289 (most crews rescued by corvette HMS Petunia) and damages Norwegian tanker G.C. Brøvig, which loses its bow but is towed to Stornoway by HMS Petunia.

Rommel has deployed 3 Italian divisions and part of German 5th Light Division to Sirte on the Libyan coast, 150 West of the Allied defenses at El Agheila, to block any further Allied advances and conduct reconnaissance raids “to acquaint the British with the arrival of the German force”. A German patrol with tanks, armoured cars and motorcycles ambushes a British and Australian patrol, taking 3 prisoners, near El Agheila.

At 7 PM, 3 Heinkel He111 bombers attack British destroyers HMS Dainty and HMS Hasty in Tobruk harbor. HMS Dainty is hit by a 500kg bomb which explodes in the Captain's cabin detonating the magazine (16 killed). HMS Hasty comes alongside Dainty and takes off 140 survivors (including 18 wounded) before Dainty sinks.

British submarine HMS Regent sinks damaged Italian steamer Sabbia (torpedoed by HMS Ursula 3 days ago) off Tripoli.