Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 582 April 4, 1941

Libya. Just before dawn, German and Italian troops moving along the coast road capture Benghazi unopposed. They push out East onto the Green Mountain but are held up all day by 3 companies from Australian 9th Division. German 5th Light Division remains stationary in the desert while fuel is brought forward. Unaware, British continue to fall back in disarray and begin to occupy the old Italian defenses in the desert at Mechili. Luftwaffe destroys a convoy of 21 trucks carrying 1,600 gallons of petrol, worsening the fuel shortage of the British armour.

Eritrea. After mopping up at Asmara, Indian 5th Division heads 50 miles East towards the Red Sea port of Massawa (while 4th Indian Division is sent back to bolster Allied defenses in Libya). Briggs Force approaches Massawa along the coast from the North, having advanced cross-country from Keren. 6 German and 7 Italian freighters are scuttled at Massawa, while RAF bombing sinks Italian torpedo boat Acerbi.

Ethiopa. 11th African Division marches on towards the capital Addis Ababa.

German raider Thor and British armed merchant cruiser Voltaire engage in a 55-minute gun duel 900 miles West of the Azores. Thor uses half her ammunition to sink Voltaire from 9 km (74 killed, 195 rescued from the burning Voltaire or picked up out of the water by Thor).

U-94 and U-98 resume the attack on convoy SC-26, 250 miles South of Iceland, sinking 3 steamers between midnight and 3.44 AM (36 crew killed, 70 survivors picked up by destroyers HMS Veteran and HMS Havelock). At 7.56 PM, U-76 sinks SS Athenic (all 40 hands rescued by corvette HMS Arbutus) but SC-26 convoy escorts destroyer HMS Wolverine and sloop HMS Scarborough locate U-76 and begin depth-charging.

At 8.06 PM 500 miles Southwest of Iceland, U-97 sinks British MV Conus (57 crew and 2 gunners lost). At midnight 75 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-124 sinks British SS Marlene (13 crew lost, 47 crew make land at False Cape, Sierra Leone).

British Trinculo class mooring vessel HMS Buffalo sinks in a British minefield off Singapore (32 killed). Italian bombers sink Greek torpedo boat Proussa and SS Sussanna off Corfu. German bombers sink Free French sloops Suippe and Conquerant at Falmouth, England.

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