Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 555 March 8, 1941

At 1.19 AM 150 miles South of Iceland, German submarine UA sinks British SS Dunaff Head in convoy OB-293 (5 killed, 34 crew and 4 gunners picked up by destroyer HMS Verity). UA is counterattacked and badly damaged by depth charges from destroyer HMS Wolverine.

A German wolf-pack (U-105, U-106 & U-124) now patrols the coast of West Africa. Reports from cruisers Scharnhorst & Gneisenau guide U-124 & U-105 to British convoy SL-67 but they do not locate the escorting battleship HMS Malaya. At 3.41 AM, U-105 sinks SS Harmodius but is then depth charged by convoy escorts. Between 5.47 and 6.08 AM, U-124 sinks 4 more British steamers and is then driven off. 62 merchant seamen are killed but destroyers HMS Faulknor and HMS Forester rescue over 300 survivors.

As Allied troops sail North from Egypt to Greece, the first tanks for Rommel’s Afrika Korps head South from Italy to Libya. 5th Light Division’s Panzer Regiment departs Naples in freighters Alicante, Arcturus, Wachtfels and Rialto bound for Tripoli, arriving safely on March 10 escorted by Italian destroyers Fulmine, Baleno and Turbine. Remarkably, these parallel convoys of troops and equipment are mostly unmolested by the British and Italian submarines patrolling the Western Mediterranean.

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