Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 601 April 23, 1941

Greece. From the town of Ioannina, German troops rush down the West (Ionian) coast towards Delphi and the Peloponnese peninsula, both of which flank Allied positions at Thermopylae and threaten the evacuation. Luftwaffe wreaks havoc as Allies retreat South. Bombers destroy 13 RAF Hurricanes on the ground at Argos, Peloponnese peninsula, and the remaining fighters are removed to Crete. Dive bombers continue pounding shipping, sinking Greek torpedo boat Kios, minelayer Nestos, hospital ship Policos and the hulks of decommissioned WWI battleships Kilkis & Limnos plus 12 freighters & 1 tanker. Greek torpedo boat Doris is scuttled to prevent capture. King George II of Greece, his brother Crown Prince Paul and Prime Minister Emmanuel Tsouderos leave Athens for Crete on a British Sunderland flying boat. The King instructs that his wine cellar should be distributed to the Allied troops (1 bottle for each soldier, 2 for officers).

Libya. Rommel visits Carrier Hill at Tobruk and finds the Italian Fabris Battalion missing (captured in the Australian raid yesterday). Worried by Allied patrolling at Tobruk and on the Egyptian frontier, Rommel requests more troops and air cover. Instead, he is sent General Paulus (Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of the Operations Section at OKH) to look over his shoulder and remind him of the limitations on resources. Luftwaffe bombers attack Tobruk habour in waves, sinking more ships but anti-aircraft guns and RAF Hurricanes shoot down 6 German aircraft.

British air reconnaissance spots an Afrika Korps convoy from Naples to Tripoli, with Italian destroyer escort. British destroyers HMS Jervis, Jaguar, Janus & Juno attempt to intercept but they cannot find the convoy. Overnight, HMS Juno sinks empty Italian troopship Egeo sailing alone from Benghazi to Tripoli.

German armed merchant cruiser Thor returns to Hamburg, Germany, after covering 57,532 miles in 322 days at sea. Thor has sunk 11 merchant ships (83,300 tons) and beaten 3 British armed merchant cruisers, sinking one.

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