Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back in North Africa in April 1941: plans for the bombardment of Tripoli

In early April, a plan had been considered that including sinking the old battleship, now target ship, the Centurion, to block Tripoli harbour. Admiral Cunningham ruled that out, since the ship was not already in the Mediterranean, and she probably could not have made the trip from the straits to Tripoli, without attack and damage. Admiral Cunningham did not want to bombard Tripoli with ships. Admiral Cunningham still thought that the best option was for the RAF to bomb Tripoli with Wellingtons. The commanders in Britain, as well as Churchill, kept pushing for a bombardment, and the admiralty was willing to sacrifice the battleship Barham and a C-class cruiser as blockships. These grand plans were being proposed just as the crisis point had been reached in Greece, and the commanders were forced to concede that the only option left was withdrawal. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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