Thursday, June 01, 2006
More about Halberd
The Mediterranean Fleet went to sea in support of Operation Halberd. Admiral Cunningham had hoped to draw the German airforce to the battlefleet, away from the convoy. No one noticed that they were even at sea, so they broke radio silence. The Italians had reacted by sending as much of their fleet to sea as they had fuel. They were already suffering from a scarcity of fuel oil for their ships. The Italian-centric view had thought that this might be an attempt to get revenge for the attack on Gibraltar, and they had hoped to send all five of their battleships to sea, but in the event, they only sent the two Littorio class ships out, because of the fuel limitations previously mentioned. After Cape Matapan, the Italian fleet was operating under restrictions, and in the even, they did not close to within sight of Force H. The Regia Aeronautica showed skill and courace in attacking the British force, and the navy was disappointed in having done so little. The SM79 torpedo bombers continued to be a factor while Italy was in the war on the Axis side. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official history.