Thursday, January 07, 2010
15 June 1942: a desperate fight
By 7am, the British had two fleet destroyers disabled: the Bedouin and Partridge. The British destroyers had disabled one Italian destroyer, the Vivaldi. The Italian admiral sent his three other destroyers to help the Vivaldi, leaving the two cruisers to fight the remaining British ships. The cruiser Cairo and the Hunt class destroyers were able to shield the convoy, but were unable to join the action at this point. The Cairo and destroyers headed back towards the convoy and laid down smoke to shield the merchant ships. By 8:40am, the Italian admiral ordered a withdrawal and the Harpoon convoy survived for a while longer. The convoy had maneuvered, however, and that had slowed progress by three hours. When the AA defence ships had been drawn into the surface battle, that left the convoy exposed to air attack. That came in the form of 8-Ju-87 divebombers. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.