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.

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.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Status and some idle thoughts

In case you had figured this out, I have a situation going that is leaving me with little time to write. I would hope that I will eventually have more time again. My plan includes acquiring more of the Official History books from the war in North Africa, if not other theaters, as well. I would summarize those and comment on them, as well as books such as Harry Klein's Springboks in Armour: The South African Armoured Cars in World War Two. I also would like to acquire some more of the basic source books for the war in North Africa, as well as more information about British armoured fighting vehicles, if not German, French, Italian, American, and Russian.

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