Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 571 March 24, 1941

Libya, North Africa. At 6 AM, German 5th Light Division attacks Allied position at El Agheila. Immediately, Australian anti-tank gunners destroy a German armoured car but the British armour (Bren gun carriers and captured Italian M13 medium tanks) is no match for the Panzers. Rommel uses dummy tanks mounted on Volkswagen chassis, obscured by dust raised by the Panzers, to deceive the defenders about the size of his force. Under orders to retreat if attacked, 2nd Armoured Division falls back 30 miles to Marsa Brega. Additional German losses are only 2 tanks damaged by mines.

German and Italian ships continue leaving Massawa, Eritrea, due to British advances in East Africa. British sloop HMS Shoreham intercepts German SS Oder (scuttled by crew). Italian freighter SS India cannot escape the Red Sea due to Royal Navy patrols and puts into port at Assab, Eritrea, which is still in Italian hands.

750 miles West of Land’s End, England, U-97 sinks Norwegian SS Hørda at 4.43 PM (all 30 hands lost) and Italian submarine Veniero sinks British SS Agnete Maersk (all hands lost). Further South, U-106 sinks British SS Eastlea 40 miles East of Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands (all 37 hands lost).

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