Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 567 March 20, 1941

Indian troops advance 100 miles from Berbera to Hargeisa, British Somaliland. British and Dominions troops, under Generals Cunningham and Platt, are now in position to attack the heart of Italian East Africa, Ethiopia.

550 miles West of Nouakchott, Mauritania, U-106 takes over the attack on convoy SL-68. At 11.23 PM, U-106 torpedoes Dutch SS Meerkerk and British battleship HMS Malaya (no casualties). SS Meerkerk is slightly damaged and returns to Freetown under her own steam. HMS Malaya is listing badly due to flooding and sails to Port of Spain, Trinidad, escorted by corvette HMS Crocus (then to New York, USA, for repairs lasting 4 months).

Tankers Bianca and San Casimiro (captured 5 days ago by German battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst) are spotted by British aircraft from carrier HMS Ark Royal and approached by battleship HMS Renown. German prize crews scuttle the tankers but 46 British prisoners are rescued and the German sailors are taken prisoner.

Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel receives Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross from Adolf Hitler.

German bombing sinks British tugs HMS Sir Bevois (9 killed) and Elan plus steamer Mari II at Plymouth. British trawler Bianca is destroyed in the Irish Sea when she snags a German aerial torpedo or bomb in her nets (5 killed).

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