Friday, October 05, 2007
The Second Battle of Sirte
The Italian fleet had closed with the Malta convoy a couple of hours before they were expected. Very soon after the Italians were sighted, Admiral Vian invoked the special plan, where his striking force headed northward "while the convoy and its close escort turned away south-west". The Italians closed in line abreast, initially. This allowed all ships to quickly close the range. At 2:42pm, the Italians turned and formed a battle line. The ships in sight were now recognized as cruisers, so Admiral Vian turned towards the Italians. The Italians turned away, rather than fight. Admiral Vian turned back to the convoy, which had been under heavy air attack from Ju-88's. The escort had fired off much of their ammunition, so Admiral Vian dispatched the Jervis, Kipling, Kelvin, and Kingston to their aid. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.