Sunday, January 27, 2008
Admiral Harwood arrives in the Mediterranean
A replacement for Admiral Cunningham finally arrived on 20 May 1942. The new commander was Admiral Sir Henry Harwood, the commander of the cruisers that fought the Admiral Graf Spee in 1939. Admiral Harwood agreed with the commanders that what was needed were long range aircraft with endurance sufficient to allow them to find Axis convoys at sea so that they could be attacked. Just between 1 April and 13 April, there had been 26 convoys that passed east of Malta. Only five were seen by reconnaissance aircraft soon enough to allow them to be intercepted. Admiral Harwood wanted 12 Consolidated Liberators for this role, but they were not available for this sort of role. In early May, a destroyer force from Alexandria was almost wiped out by air attack while they stalked a convoy. They put to sea on 10 May, but where attacked by air on 11 May. Only the Jervis eventually returned to Alexandria, while the other three destroyers, the Lively, Kipling, and Jackal, were all sunk. The Jackal was torpedoed by the Jervis after an attempt was made to tow the ship. The Jackal had a fire in one boiler room that could not be extinguished, so the decision was made to torpedo the ship so that the lone survivor might escape back to Alexandria. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.