Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 611 May 3, 1941

Libya. Italian torpedo boat Canopo and Italian steamers Birmania & Citta D' Bari are sunk by RAF bombing at Tripoli. British submarine HMS Triumph sinks Italian coastal steamer Tugnin F. with gunfire off Mersa Brega but submarine HMS Usk does not return from patrol between Sicily and Tunisia (all 30 hands lost). General Morshead’s defense in depth has contained the German breakthrough at Tobruk and he goes onto the offensive to pinch out the German salient. After dark, Australian troops and British light tanks attack under a creeping barrage from artillery and British destroyers HMS Decoy & Defender in the Mediterranean. Their advance is held up by German machinegunners (preventing the infantry from keeping up with the barrage) and the attack is called off at 3.30 AM with 150 Allied casualties.

Iraq. Iraqi artillery on the plateau begins shelling RAF Habbaniya at dawn. The muzzle flashes allow spotters to locate the guns which are then bombed and strafed. RAF again bombs the air force base at Rashid airfield near Baghdad (previously RAF Hinaidi) and an Iraqi Savoia SM 79 bomber is shot down heading for Habbaniya.

Ethiopia, East Africa. 29th Indian Brigade, 5th Indian Division (which has advanced South from Eritrea) attacks up the Falaga Pass towards Italian fortifications at Amba Alagi. Although the attack is a feint, Italian troops are diverted from other approaches and British artillery causes several hundred Italian colonial troops surrender.

At 3.25 AM 200 miles Southwest of Iceland, U-95 sinks Norwegian MV Taranger (1 killed, 32 survivors escape in lifeboats). At 10.23 PM 75 miles off Sierra Leone, U-103 sinks British SS Wray Castle (1 killed, 56 survivors).

At 2.24 AM, British cruiser HMS Gloucester hits a mine and at 1.25 PM she is attacked by Italian bombers (a bomb hits the stern but does not explode). HMS Gloucester suffers only minor damage and will arrival at Gibraltar tomorrow.

Liverpool Blitz. Overnight, Germans bomb Merseyside docks, sinking numerous freighters. A deflated barrage balloon ignites freighter SS Malakand, loaded with 1000 tons of shells and bombs. The explosion completely destroys part of Huskisson Dock (4 killed). The ship’s anchor weighing 2 tons lands 1.5 miles away outside Bootle General Hospital. Luftwaffe also bombs Portsmouth, damaging cruiser HMS Sirius which is under construction.

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