Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Alexandria attackers

Six men attacked Alexandria harbour on the night of 18/19 December 1941. This was the most successful human torpedo attack of the war. The men belonged to the Tenth Light Flotilla. The submarine Sciré carried three of the torpedoes "to a position about 1-1/2 miles north of the eastern harbour of Alexandria". They traveled about five miles to the harbour entrance and arrived at a time when the boom was open for destroyers to enter. They were attacked by patrol craft, which dropped depth charges, but they were able to continue. The protective nets around the battleships did not deter them and they were able to plant their explosive charges. The charge for the Queen Elizabeth could be attached as intended, but they were not able to do that for the Valiant. The third charge was placed near the tanker Sagona. They left the charge on the harbour bottom, beneath the battleship. Of the six men who attacked, the two were taken prisoner on the Valiant, after being found on the buoy. The other four were found ashore after they were not able to make contact with the submarine Zaffiro, which was "to pick them up off Rosetta". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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