Saturday, January 12, 2008

The war against Axis shipping to North Africa in April and May 1942

With Malta being so heavily bombed, all anti-shipping sorties had stopped by April and into May 1942. Because of this, the Axis forces were able to ship supplies in relative safety during this period. In all of April and May 1942, only 13 German Italian merchant ships were sunk in the Mediterranean Sea, and all but one of these were due to British submarines. A large number of RAF anti-shipping sorties were flown in April and May, but the 750 sorties only sank one ship. The German air superiority over the Mediterranean, coupled with the Axis advance to Gazala meant that less of the Mediterranean could be searched for targets by the British aircraft. One disastrous attack mounted on 14 April 1942 cost the RAF five Beauforts and one Blenheim with no targets sunk. By the middle of May, 2,500 tons of supplies reached Benghazi every day. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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