Wednesday, May 31, 2006
At the close of Halberd
The opportunity was taken during Operation Halberd to run three empty merchant ships west, from Malta, to Gibraltar. They encountered aircraft and an Italian MTB, but arrived safely. Force X steamed along the coast of Tunisia and then turned to join Force H for the voyage back to Gibraltar. The torpedoed Nelson had preceded the two groups that arrived on 30 September and 1 October 1941. The ships were attacked by Italian submarines along the way, but took no hits. They did sink one Italian submarine, the Adua. The nine British submarines that provided cover had no success, either. Utmost had fired torpedoes at three Italian cruisers near Naples, but was lucky to escape, as she was almost rammed by a destroyer. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.