Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 599 April 21, 1941

Libya. Operation MD2. Before dawn, British battleships HMS Warspite, HMS Barham & HMS Valiant and cruiser HMS Gloucester, escorted by 9 destroyers, bombard Tripoli for 49 minutes guided by flares dropped by aircraft from carrier HMS Formidable (Italian torpedo boat Partenope and 6 freighters are damaged). At Tobruk, 24 German bombers escorted by 21 fighters sink 2 British steamers and damage 2 more ships and a quay. RAF Hurricanes (73 and 274 Squadrons) shoot down 4 Luftwaffe aircraft.

Greece. British and ANZAC troops have withdrawn past the fearsome cliffs at Thermopylae which are now held against German attack by a rearguard force. At 6 PM, the first German attempts to cross the valley are broken up by 2 Australian 25-pounder field guns. Luftwaffe aircraft, flying from hastily constructed airfields, attack the cliffs at Thermopylae and harass shipping off the coast. Dive bombers sink Greek torpedo boat Thyella, hospital ships Ellenis & Esperos and several freighters.

At 3 PM 300 miles North of the Cape Verde Islands, U-107 sinks British SS Calchas (24 killed). 89 survivors escape in lifeboats (56 reach Cape Verde Islands, 33 land at St. Louis, Senegal on May 7 after sailing 650 miles).

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Plymouth, England, damaging cruiser HMS Kent and destroyers HMS Lewes & HMS Leeds (HMS Leeds under repair until December).


  1. Erika Tyror-TaylorAugust 31, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    My husbands grandfather James Taylor was killed on the Calchas. This is the first time I have found the sinking on a WW2 website and in the context of what was happening at the time. Thank you for this

  2. Hi Erika
    Information on SS Calchas comes from (as does most info on ships sunk by U-boats). Here's the link and there is a list of crew which might be of interest.