Monday, December 28, 2009

The first air attack on the Harpoon Convoy: 14 June 1942

The Italians were known to have 20 bombers and 50 torpedo bombers based on Sardinia. The Harpoon convoy was within range by dawn on 14 June 1942. The British had the disadvantage of having the wind from the rear, which meant that the Argus and Eagle would have to turn to launch aircraft. The first wave of attackers consisted of "two groups of Italian fighter-bombers" at 10:30am. At 11am, the convoy was attacked by 28 SM79 torpedo bombers and 10 Cant bombers. The cruiser Liverpool took a torpedo as did the Dutch merchant ship Tanimbar. The Tanimbar quickly sank. The Liverpool had sustained an engine room hit and was reduced to 3 or 4 knots. The Liverpool was towed by a destroyer and escorted by another. The plan was to send her back to Gibraltar. The convoy was not attacked until evening. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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