Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 591 April 13, 1941 (Easter Sunday)

Libya. Rommel has finally received 2 maps of Tobruk’s defenses from his Italian allies (he keeps 1 map and gives the other to 5th Light Division commander General Streich). Rommel decides to concentrate his armour and plan an attack on Tobruk in force, using 5th Light plus Italian Ariete and Trento Divisions from the South at dusk. Allied defenders observe the preparations. After an artillery barrage at 5 PM, German infantry advancing at 5.30 are prevented from blowing the wire and filling anti-tank ditches by accurate British artillery fire. German tanks mill around overnight unable to find gaps to penetrate. Further East, Germans recapture Bardia (unopposed) and Fort Capuzzo, pushing the British out of Libya. Fort Capuzzo has now changed hands 4 times since June 1940.

Balkans. Leibstandarte SS Regiment cuts West through the Metsovon Pass to get behind the Greek Army of Epirus, holding the Albanian front. Too late, Greek Coomander-in-Chief General Papagos realizes the danger and orders a retreat (British General Wilson attributes this to a “fetishistic doctrine that not a yard of ground should be yielded to the Italians”). Italians pursue the withdrawal along the entire front, capturing the towns of Korçë, Permet and Porto Palermo on the Mediterranean coast. Further South, Germans bomb the Greek port of Piraeus sinking Greek destroyer Psara and badly damaging destroyer Vasilevs Georgios I.

In Moscow, Foreign Ministers Matsuoka (Japan) and Molotov (USSR) sign a 5 year Neutrality Agreement. With his Eastern border secure, Stalin transfers forces from Siberia to meet a suspected German attack.

U-108 has tracked British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rajputana for 2 days and missed her with the 5 torpedoes. At 7.43 AM 100 miles West of Iceland, U-108 sinks HMS Rajputana with the 6th torpedo (40 killed, 283 rescued by British destroyer HMS Legion and landed at Reykjavik). At 10.29 PM 75 miles West of Sierra Leone, U-124 sinks British SS Corinthic (2 killed, 37 crew and 2 gunners picked up by Dutch tanker Malvina and landed at Freetown).

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