Wednesday, October 03, 2007
The start of the Second Battle of Sirte
At 12:30pm on 22 March 1942, Admiral Vian's cruisers and fleet destroyers formed a screen between the approaching Italian fleet and the convoy. The old AA cruiser Carlisle and the Hunt class destroyer Avon Vale were to lay smoke to obscure the convoy. The other five Hunt class destroyers provided close cover to the ships in the convoy. Admiral Vian had planned a trick maneuver to be used to allow the convoy to escape. The striking force would attack the Italians with torpedoes as they approached the line of smoke. Simultaneously, the convoy would turn away. The British spotted the first Italian ships at 2pm, when they saw two 8-inch gunned cruisers, one six-inch gunned cruiser, and four destroyers. They had thought that there were three battleships, but were mistaken. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.