Royal Navy damages Italian convoy
Saturday, November 8, 1941 www.onwar.com
In the Mediterranean... The British naval Force K, out of Malta, comprised of two cruisers and two destroyers, attacks an Italian convoy for north Africa sinking 7 transports and 1 escort vessel.
November 8th, 1941
UNITED KINGDOM: Minesweeper HMS Poole commissioned.
Minesweeper HMS Llandudno launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Last night RAF bombers attacked Cologne, Berlin and Mannheim in the heaviest bombing so far in a single night.
The RAF is radically reviewing its bombing strategy after German air defences took a heavy toll of RAF bombers and aircrew tonight. A total of 380 aircraft attacked Berlin, Cologne, Mannheim and the Ruhr; 34 - nearly a tenth - were lost.
GERMANY’s Kammhüber Line, as it is known to the RAF, is responsible. This is a series of ground-controlled interception “boxes” along the most frequently-used routes; in each “box” a night-fighter waits to pounce, so far with great effect.
Berlin: Reliable sources said today that the Gestapo has arrested Bernhard Lichtenberg, the dean of St Hedwig’s Roman Catholic Cathedral here. Renowned for his opposition to the Nazis, he used to close all his services with a prayer for the Jews and prisoners in the concentration camps.
This summer the police questioned him after he preached a series of sermons criticizing Nazi policies and the behaviour of the Gestapo in particular. He was released, but confined to challenge Hitler inside and outside church; together with his colleague the Roman Catholic bishop of Münster, he carried on preaching against the Nazi regime.
Most recently, he wrote to the Reich chief physician, Leonardo Conti, to protest against the authorities “euthanasia” campaign of killing mentally defective and incurably ill patients. “As a human being, a Christian, a priest and a German,” he wrote, “I demand ... that you answer for the crimes that have been perpetrated with your consent, which will bring the vengeance of the Lord on the heads of the German people.”
U-440, U-461 launched.
U-254 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: The Germans occupy Yalta, in the Crimea, and Tikhvin, in the north, completing the encirclement of Leningrad.
Soviet submarine M-120 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
SPAIN: At 0030hrs, U-77 reached the Spanish port of Vigo and was serviced by the German tanker Bessel. The U-boat left harbour at 0525hrs. (Dave Shirlaw)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Last night Force K from MALTA attacks an Italian convoy sinking 7 transports and one escort. Force K consists of 3 light cruisers and 2 destroyers.
Bruno Brivonesi commands the 3rd Division (now comprising heavy cruisers TRIESTE and TRENTO plus four destroyers) assigned as the cover force for a badly-needed convoy, known as the “Duisburg” convoy to the Germans (because the German merchant ship of that name was included in it) and the “Beta” convoy to the Italians. It consisted of seven ships carrying 34,000 tons of material, including 17,000 tons of fuel and 389 motor vehicles, with close escort of seven destroyers. In addition, 64 Italian aircraft (including six seaplanes) plus eight German planes allowed an escort of eight aircraft overhead from dawn to dusk.
The British though, attacked at night with the advantages of radar (which the Italians didn’t) and prior intelligence from Ultra (the British code breaking efforts had cracked the Italian C38m code, which was used for communications between Italian forces at sea and their land-based HQ). Ultra had provided the British with the position and route of the convoy.
Force K made radar contact at a range of 8 miles, and manoeuvred unseen into perfect attack position (not only down-moon, meaning the convoy was silhouetted by moonlight, but also waiting until Brivonesi’s big ships were on the opposite tack, ten miles away and with the convoy between them and the British). The resulting action was a slaughter. The British first opened up— at point-blank naval range, a mile and half to a mile and three-quarters— on the three nearest destroyers of the close escort. They sank one, induced the other to retire at high speed (the third made smoke and tried to attack), and then sank all seven ships of the convoy before Brivonesi could come to the rescue. The Italian admiral chased the departing raiders, straddling enemy ships twice at ranges of five-and-a-half to ten miles, but eventually giving up a stern chase against faster vessels. (Mike Yaklich)
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: 3rd Pursuit Squadron receives 25 P-40Es. (Marc Small)
CANADA: Minesweepers HMCS Gananoque (pictured) and Nipigon commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Martlet aeroplanes from HMS AUDACITY shoot down two Focke-Wulf FW200s during an attack on Convoy ON-76.
During heavy weather a lookout on U-124 broke his arm. (Dave Shirlaw)