Monday, September 17, 2007

Another convoy to sail on 6 February 1942

Admiral Cunningham announced his intention to send another convoy to Malta that actually sailed on 12 February 1942. The operation was complicated by the Axis occupation of airfields in Western Cyrenaica that has been used to provide air cover to convoys. There were few servicable fighters at Malta, which was further risk. Four fast transports were escorted by the old AA cruiser Carlisle and 8 destroyers. They divided into two groups that would be near Tobruk at dusk later on the 12th. They would join and head to the northwest, to stay clear of land-based aircraft in Cyrenaica. The Breconshire would simultaneously sail with three other merchant ships with Force K as their escort. The attempt started to go wrong by late on 13 February, when Clan Campbell was hit by one bomb. The ship was diverted to Tobruk. The escort was strengthened the next day by 3 cruisers and 8 destroyers. All ships were sunk or damaged, so that Force K returned to Malta by itself. Only the Clan Campbell was able to return to Alexandria, of the transports that had originally sailed for Malta. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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