Sunday, May 28, 2006

Minelaying in the Mediterranean Sea in August 1941

The cruiser minelayer Manxman carried out an operation to lay mines south of Livorno (Leghorn) on the night of 24/25 August 1941. For part of the trip, the Manxman wore a disguise as a French light cruiser. She left Gibraltar in disguise, but removed it at sunset on 24 August. The British were being meticulous about adhering to international law, which thought that carrying out hostile acts in disguise was unsporting. After laying mines, the Manxman escaped at 37 knots, and then reassumed her disguise. She was back in Scotland by 30 August.

Admiral Somervilled, commander of Force H, carried out a diversionary operation to draw any potential attention away from the Manxman. On 24 August, he had ten Swordfish from Ark Royal "set fire to some cork woods and bomb a factory near Tempio in Sardinia". The Italian fleet was drawn out, thinking that another Malta convoy was at sea. When Force H returned to Gibraltar, they figured that they had cause the convoy to turn back. This is based on teh account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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