Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shifting to the war at sea

Chapter IV of Vol.III of the Official History now shifts focus to the war at sea in the Mediterranean. In early November 1941, Martin Marylands were still in service in the maritime reconnaissance role. No.69 Squadron RAF had aircraft flying from Malta at this stage in the war. One Maryland returned to Malta on 8 November and reported seeing an Italian convoy headed east. They were "forty miles east of Cape Sartivento in Calabria". Force K was still able to operate from Malta and they sortied a few hours later. They made contact forty minutes after midnight on 9 November. Force K consisted of the small cruisers Aurora and Penelope (6-6in guns) and the Lance and Lively (4-4in guns). They caught the Italians totally by surprise and quickly reduced the destroyer Fulmine to a sinking condition. The six merchant ships were either sunk or left burning. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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