Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 653 June 14, 1941

Operation Exporter. British destroyers HMS Jervis and HMS Griffin bombarded Sidon, Lebanon, in support of Australian 7th Division. 2 French destroyers emerge from Beirut at 4.20 PM to engage but are chased off by New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Leander and the destroyers. 8 German Ju88s try to bomb the British warships but they are engaged by 8 Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks of 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, flying from airfields in Palestine, which shoot down 3 Ju88s.

Operation Battleaxe. CIC Middle East General Wavell believes incorrectly that Rommel has most of his armour engaged in the siege of Tobruk. During the day, British armour, reinforced with tanks from the Tiger convoy, moves forward in Egypt to within 25 miles of German positions on the Libyan border. In fact, Rommel has the newly arrived 15th Panzer Division on the border and he orders up reinforcements when he learns of the British movement, leaving 5th Light Division to prevent any break out from Tobruk. Overnight, German artillery bombard Tobruk.

At 3.46 AM 700 miles West of Ireland, U-751 sinks British SS St. Lindsay (all 34 crew, 5 gunners and 5 Royal Navy passengers are lost). South of Sardinia, British submarine HMS Clyde sinks Italian SS Giovanni Bottigliere.

Operation Tracer. British aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Victorious, escorted by cruiser HMS Renown and 7 destroyers, sail from Gibraltar and fly off 47 Hurricane fighters to Malta. Only 43 Hurricanes arrive safely.

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