Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 1018 June 14, 1942

Malta resupply convoys.
Operation Harpoon. In the morning, convoy from Gibraltar to Malta is attacked South of Sardinia by Italian SM.79 torpedo bombers, which sink Dutch MV Tanimbar (5 killed) and damage British cruiser HMS Liverpool (15 killed, 22 wounded; HMS Liverpool is towed back to Gibraltar by destroyer HMS Antelope). In the evening as the convoy enters the Strait of Sicily, all British escort warships turn back for Gibraltar except cruiser HMS Cairo and some destroyers. Unbeknownst to the British, Italian cruisers Raimondo Montecuccoli and Eugenio di Savoia plus destroyers Ascari, Oriani, Malocello, Premuda and Vivaldi leave Palermo, Sicily, to intercept the convoy.
Operation Vigourous from Alexandria, Egypt. Dutch freighter SS Aagtekerk heads to Tobruk with mechanical problems and British corvettes HMS Primula and HMS Erica leave Tobruk to meet her. 40 Ju87 and Ju88 bombers sink SS Aagtekerk (3 killed) and cause minor damage to HMS Primula. In late afternoon, Ju88 bombers from Crete sink SS Bhutan (1 killed) and damage freighter Potaro in the main convoy. Italian battleships Littorio and Vittorio Veneto, cruisers Trento, Gorizia, Garibaldi and Duca d'Aosta plus 12 destroyers sail from Taranto, Italy, to intercept. For the first time, they are equipped with radar. Overnight, German motor torpedoboats from Derna, Libya, attack the convoy. S-55 sinks British destroyer HMS Hasty (13 killed, survivors taken of by destroyer HMS Hotspur) and a torpedo from S-56 blows a hole through the bows of cruiser HMS Newcastle (returns to Alexandria, then under repair in New York until November).

Germans execute 50 citizens of Heraklion, Crete, in reprisal for yesterday’s British Commando raid on the airfield. They are commemorated today (along with 12 civilians killed on June 3) by Heraklion’s Avenue of the 62 Martyrs.

Libya. With the centre of the Gazala Line collapsing and the Southern ‘boxes’ gone, the Allied coastal ‘boxes’ (which have seen little action and are mostly intact) are abandoned to avoid being cut off. British forces hold Rommel at Rigel Ridge, allowing 1st South African Division to withdraw along the coast road to Tobruk. This road is too small for British 50th Division also, so they attack South into the desert through the Italian Brescia and Pavia Divisions before turning East to go around the German armour and back to Egypt.

Operation Pastorius. German saboteur George Dasch changes his mind about the sabotage mission and calls the FBI New York Office. Using the name "Pastorius", he informs them of the saboteurs arrival from Germany and says he will call FBI Headquarters when he gets to Washington.

Caribbean. At 8.54 AM 1942, U-172 sinks American SS Lebore (1 dead; 39 crewmen, 6 gunners and 49 rescued from Norwegian liner Crijnssen sunk on June 11 by U-504 all survive). At 7.12 PM 200 miles Southwest of the Cayman Islands, U-504 sinks Latvian SS Regent (11 killed, 14 survivors). American tanker SS Victory Sword sees the sinking and saves herself from attack by turning away at full speed and radioing distress messages.

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