Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The failure of the June 1942 convoys

The operation to run two convoys to Malta in June 1942 was a failure. 17 merchant ships had been sent in two convoys, one from either end of the Mediterranean Sea, but only two ships arrived at Malta. Of the remainder, six were sunk and nine had turned back in the face of attacks by surface ships, submarines, and especially, aircraft. The main problem at Malta was fuel for aircraft. The continued air attacks were rapidly depleting the remaining stocks. Fortunately, the submarines Parthian and Clyde were able to bring in "aviation spirit, ammunition and special stores". In two operations, the aircraft carrier Eagle flew in 59 Spitfires. The fast minelayer Welshman, having a large internal volume for cargo, brought more "special stores". The situation had improved enough by late June that Admiral Harwood ordered the 10th Submarine Flotilla to return to Malta. One fruit of the Harpoon convoy was the presence of the minesweepers at Malta, and they were able to make headway on clearing mines. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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