Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 1045 July 11, 1942

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. At dawn, Australian 26th Brigade pushes forward along Tel el Eisa ridge, displaces the remaining Italian troops and overruns German Signals Intercept Company 621 (up to now providing Rommel with priceless intelligence from Allied radio communications). Another column of tanks and motorised infantry raids South towards Miteirya ridge, overrunning an Italian battalion infantry, before returning to the El Alamein “box” in the evening. In all, 1000 Italian prisoners are taken.

In the Mediterranean 60 miles off Beirut, Lebanon, South African Naval Forces armed whalers HMSAS Protea and HMSAS Southern Maid plus a land-based Fleet Air Arm Walrus flying boat (700 Naval Air Squadron) combine to sink Italian submarine Ondina with depth charges.

North Atlantic. At 3.52 AM 50 miles Northeast of Trinidad, U-203 sinks Panamanian tanker SS Stanvac Palembang (5 dead, 45 survivors in 3 lifeboats picked up by US submarine chaser USS PC-8 next day and landed at Port of Spain). 325 miles West of the Portuguese island of Madeira, U-136 is shadowing Convoy OS-33 with U-116, U-201 and U-582. U-136 is detected by Free French destroyer Léopard, British frigate HMS Spey and sloop HMS Pelican and destroyed in 4 depth charge attacks (all 45 hands lost). At 7 PM 8 miles off the Dominican Republic, U-166 sinks unarmed Dominican schooner Carmen with the deck gun (1 killed, 7 survivors reach the coast in a lifeboat).

Convoy PQ 17. Most of the surviving ships arrive in Soviet ports with 64,000 tons of lend-lease supplies. The convoy has lost 24 ships with 116,000 tons of war materiel including 430 tanks, 210 aircraft and 3350 other vehicles. Soviets are disappointed at the amount of materiel received and refuse to believe that the convoy has been scattered and mostly sunk. Stalin will later accuse Britain of lying about the fate of the convoy.

Baltic Sea. 10 miles off the East coast of Sweden, Soviet submarine S-7 sinks Swedish coastal freighter SS Luleå carrying iron ore to Germany. During the afternoon, 44 RAF Lancaster bombers fly at low level in formation over the North Sea, then split up and fly across the Baltic Sea, reaching Danzig at dusk and returning to England overnight (a round trip of 1,500 miles, the most distant target yet attempted). They are not intercepted by German fighters. 24 Lancasters find Danzig and bomb the U-boat yards (2 shot down by anti-aircraft fire).

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