Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Halberd convoy in September 1941

The decision was made on 28 August 1941 to send another convoy to Malta through the western Mediterranean Sea. The operation was called Halberd, and would include a heavy naval force: the battleships Nelson, Rodney, and Prince of wales and the aircraft carrier Ark Royal. There were 5 cruisers and 18 destroyers. The convoy would include 9 merchant ships. 22 Beaufighters and 5 Blenheim fighters were available for air cover. On 27 September, the Nelson was torpedoed by an Italian aircraft (perhaps an SM79 torpedo bomber). No.69 Squadron was providing maritime reconnaissance, and one of their Marylands sighted 2 Italian battleships and 8 destoyers to the ENE. They were about 70nm away. Another force was sighted 20 miles closer: 4 cruisers and 8 destroyers. When the British battleships steered for them, the Italians turned away.

When the concoy entered the Skerki Channel, Force H turned towards Gibraltar. Towards nightfall, small groups of torpedo bombers staged attacks. One hit the transport Imperial Star, which had to be sunk. The convoy reached Malta at about midday. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

No comments:

Amazon Ad