Thursday, January 05, 2006
The motivation for the Tiger Convoy
General Wavell sent a message to the commanders in London on 20 April 1941, telling them of his inferiority in armoured vehicles, and that the situation was to get worse. When Churchill saw the message, he decided to make a bold stroke and send tanks through the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt. For such an operation, Admiral Cunningham thought the risks were acceptable. This was despite the increased air threat from Fliegerkorps X. As usual, multiple convoys would run concurrently. One fast and one slow convoy would be run from Alexandria to Malta. Force H would escort the Tiger Convoy to Malta and the Mediterranean Fleet would take over the escort and accompany them to Alexandria. Force H consisted of the Renown, Ark Royal, Sheffield, and 9 destroyers (soon to be involved in the Bismarck operation). There were also reinforcements being added to the Mediterranean Fleet: Queen Elizabeth, Naiad, and Fiji. Based on Malta, there was Gloucester and 5th Destroyer Flotilla. Malta harbour was mined after Gloucester, Kipling, and Kashmir had sailed, so they were not able to return. The Mediterranean Fleet consisted of Warspite, Barham, Valiant, Formidable, Orion, Ajax, Perth, Abdiel, and destroyers. The Breconshire carried fuel and munitions for Malta. The slow convoy to Malta had "two tankers, [and] was to be escorted by two anti-aircraft cruisers, three destroyers and two corvettes". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.