Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 556 March 9, 1941

Overnight, Germans bombing of London damages Buckingham Palace and destroys the underground nightclub Café De Paris, where a bomb comes down a ventilation shaft and explodes on the dance floor (80 people killed including performer Ken 'Snakehips' Johnston who is decapitated onstage). An hour later the club would have been packed with much higher casualties.

Mussolini is desperate for success in the Albanian mountains before the impending German invasion of Greece, after stalemate during the Winter months. He is in the Albanian capital Tiranë, having announced on the radio that he will personally command a “Primavera Offensive”. Following artillery and aerial bombardment, 11 infantry divisions plus 131st “Centauro” armoured Division attack through the Trebeshinë heights between the River Osum and River Vjosë. Pre-warned by the propaganda, well dug in Greek defenders repel the attack. This will continue for a week.

British submarines HMS Unique, Upholder, Upright and Utmost locate an Italian convoy from Palermo, Sicily, to Tripoli (freighters Fenicia and Capo Vita escorted by torpedo boat Papa and armed merchant cruiser Deffenu). HMS Utmost makes an unsuccessful attack on AMC Deffenu but sinks SS Capo in the Gulf of Hammanet, 35 miles off the coast of Tunisia.

The Suez Canal is clear of mines and British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable sails through from the Red Sea escorted by anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Carlisle and sloop HMS Grimsby.

250 miles North of Cape Verde Islands, German cruiser Scharnhorst sinks Greek SS Marathon (carrying coal to Alexandria around the Cape of Good Hope), taking the entire crew prisoner.

British minesweeping trawler HMT Gulfoss hits a mine and sinks in the English Channel 3 miles South of Dungeness, Kent (10 killed).

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