Battle of Calabria: Wikis

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Battle of Calabria
Part of the Mediterranean Theater of World War II
Cesare firing her guns.jpg
Italian battleship Giulio Cesare firing during the battle
Date 9 July 1940
Location Near Calabria, Italy
Result Inconclusive
Belligerents
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Australia Australia
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Italy
Commanders
United Kingdom Andrew Cunningham Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Inigo Campioni
Strength
1 aircraft carrier
3 battleships
5 light cruisers
16 destroyers
2 battleships
6 heavy cruisers
8 light cruisers
16 destroyers
Casualties and losses
1 light cruiser damaged
2 destroyers damaged
1 battleship damaged
1 heavy cruiser damaged
1 destroyer damaged
Artigliere and Camicia Nera, Italian destroyers of the Camicia Nera class, during the battle

The Battle of Calabria, (known to the Italian Navy as the Battle of Punta Stilo) was a naval battle during the Battle of the Mediterranean in World War II. It was fought between vessels of Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) on one side and vessels of the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy on the other. The battle occurred thirty miles to the east of Punta Stilo, the "toe" of Italy (Calabria), on 9 July 1940. It was one of the few pitched battles of the Mediterranean campaign during World War II involving large numbers of ships on both sides. Both sides claimed victory, but in fact the battle was a draw and everyone returned to their bases as soon as possible. After the battle a massive propaganda effort on the part of the Allies tried to convince the Italian forces that the Allies had won outright; Italian propaganda also depicted this battle as an Axis victory.

Contents

Origins

When World War II opened, it was much to the surprise of the Italian forces who, like many in Europe, did not expect conflict until 1941 at the earliest. At the time their forces in Libya were ill-equipped for war, and the Italian fleet was forced to start large supply operations in order to bring them up to fighting condition.

On 6 July a convoy of four merchant ships left Naples on their way to Bengazi, while attempting to fool the Allies into thinking they were making for Tripoli. The next day their escort force joined them from Taranto after being informed that the Allies had recently left port in Alexandria. A fifth cargo ship also joined them from Catania. The escort of the convoy consisted of three groups; directly protecting the cargo ships were eight destroyers and four torpedo boats, while a second group sailed 35 km to the east and contained six heavy cruisers and another twelve destroyers. Finally the main battle group contained two battleships (Giulio Cesare and Conte di Cavour), eight light cruisers and another thirteen destroyers.

Meanwhile the Allies were involved in a similar convoy action. The fleet sailed from Alexandria bound in the direction of Malta where the destroyers would deliver supplies and a limited number of specialist reinforcements. Two convoys were arranged to take off fleet stores and civilians from Malta to Alexandria. Two groups of merchantmen were arranged, one at 13 knots and another at 9 knots. Protecting them were three groups of ships, one with five cruisers and a destroyer, Force A, another, Force B, with the battleship Warspite and five destroyers and the main battle group, Force C, with the battleships Royal Sovereign and Malaya, the aircraft carrier Eagle and eleven destroyers (One, HMS Imperial had to return to Alexandria with a burst steam pipe on the early hours of 8 July.)

On the night of 8 July, Italian command deciphered Allied radio signals and told their fleet to prepare for action about 65 miles south east of Punta Stilo. Some sources suggest that the Italians had turned to avoid battle as they were moving north when encountered, but in fact they planned to keep the action close to Italy and were deliberately moving north in order to draw the Allies closer to their airbases. During the initial positioning the Italians suffered technical problems on three destroyers and two light cruisers, so these ships were formed up with several additional destroyers and sent to refuel in Sicily. In order to make up for these "losses", another destroyer group was called for from Taranto. At this point, the Italian fleet had 16 destroyers.

Meanwhile the Allies were having problems as well. The day before the battle, land-based bombers of the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) from the mainland had attacked their fleet and hit Gloucester's bridge, killing the captain and many bridge crew, six officers and eleven ratings. In addition, three officers and six ratings were wounded. For the rest of the battle, she would be commanded from the emergency station. While a serious enough blow, it was perhaps more damaging to the Italians, who were convinced that their aircraft had inflicted serious damage to a good deal of the Allied fleet and had reduced their fighting power considerably. Rome radio claimed several ships as being struck, some set on fire, and one sunk.

Unlike the dive-bombers favored by the Germans, Italian bombers operated in formations at high altitudes during the first stages of the war. The Italian aircraft usually dropped their bombs together at about twelve-thousand feet. At Calabria, the Italians carried out the ultimate test of the claims of pre-war air-power theorist concerning massed bombers being able to sink modern warships. However, fast-moving ships proved to be a far more difficult target than anticipated. In addition, ship Captains waited until the bombers released their sticks of bombs and, in the remaining seconds, took evasive action. While hundreds of bombs were dropped by the Italians, the single hit on the Gloucester represented the outcome of the air attacks.[1]

Cruiser engagement

At noon on 9 July the two fleets were 90 miles apart. Vice Admiral Cunningham could not close the distance to engage with the significantly slower Royal Sovereign and Malaya (18 knots vs 28 knots) and took Warspite in on its own. Meanwhile, at 13:15, Eagle launched several sorties by Fairey Swordfish against the Italian heavy cruisers, with no success.

The Allied cruiser group was spread out in front of Warspite and at 15:15 they caught sight of the Italian main battle force and the two groups opened fire at 21,500 metres. Italian rangefinding equipment was better than the Allied, and within three minutes they had found the distance even though they were firing at extreme range. Although the Allies' rangefinding was not as good and they had trouble with their rounds falling short, the Allied gunlaying equipment was better and they were able to place their rounds in much tighter groups. Generally the gunnery of the two forces was fairly well matched. After only a few minutes the range was down to 20,000 metres and the Allied guns became useful.

However, by 15:22, the Italian fire came dangerously close to the Allied cruisers and Vice Admiral John Tovey decided to disengage. At this point splinters from a 6" shell fired by the cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi hit Neptune, damaging her catapult and the reconnaissance aircraft beyond repair. The cruisers continued to open the range and by 15:30 fire ceased.

Battleship engagement

One group of Italian light cruisers, mistaken for the very latest heavy cruiser Zara class, was on the Allied side of the battle line and was soon within range of the charging Warspite. Once again the Allied rounds fell short, and neither of her targets, Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto di Giussano, received any damage in the initial salvos. However by this time Warspite was also out of position, and she circled in place in order to allow Malaya to catch up (Royal Sovereign was still well to the rear).

Www2mR060Calabria.GIF

The Italian commander, Vice Admiral Inigo Campioni, decided to take on Warspite, and started moving his two battleships into position. At 15:52 Giulio Cesare opened fire at a range of 26,400 metres. Conte di Cavour did not fire, a decision many have questioned. Their strategy was to have only one ship targeted at a time, as it was learned during the Battle of Jutland that with more than one ship firing at a single target it became very difficult for the rangefinding parties to tell which rounds were theirs. Conte di Cavour was responsible for Malaya and Royal Sovereign, which were further back and did not enter the engagement.

Warspite, not aware of the Italian firing patterns, split her guns between the two ships. During the exchange one of Giulio Cesare's rounds fell long and caused damage to Warspite's escorting destroyers (Hereward and Decoy) which had formed up on the far side of the action. At 15:54 Malaya started firing, well out of range, hoping to cause some confusion on the Italian ships. Meanwhile the Italian heavy cruisers came into action and started firing on Warspite at 15:55 but had to break off as the Allied cruisers returned.

At 15:59 two shells from Giulio Cesare fell very close to Warspite. Almost immediately after one of Warspite's 381 mm rounds hit the rear deck of Giulio Cesare, setting off the stored ammunition for one of her 37 mm anti-aircraft guns. Two seamen were killed and several wounded. The fumes from the burning ammunition were sucked down into the engine room, which had to evacuate and shut down half of the boilers. Giulio Cesare's speed quickly fell off to 18 knots and Conte di Cavour took over. Giulio Cesare and Warspite were well over 24,000 metres (26,000 yards) apart at the time of the hit, setting the record for naval gunnery against a moving target that stands to this day.

It would appear that Warspite was in an excellent position to deal some serious blows to the slowing Giulio Cesare but she once again executed another tight turn to allow Malaya to catch up. With her guns suddenly silenced during the turn, the rangefinders on Malaya discovered what the Italians had been intending to avoid, that her rounds were falling 2,700 yards short of Giulio Cesare and they had been watching Warspite's rounds.

At 16:01 the Italian destroyers generated smoke and the battleships got under cover. There is some debate about this point today, the Allied position being that the battleships were leaving battle, the Italian that they were attempting to make a torpedo attack with their destroyers from within the smoke.

Final actions

The Italian heavy cruisers were a serious threat and could have evened the battle between the main battleships, but with Warspite in the battle the Allied cruisers returned and the Italians turned to restart their initial fight with them.

At 15:58 Fiume re-opened fire on her counterpart in the Allied line, Liverpool and soon two groups of Italian cruisers were in combat with the main Allied cruiser battle group. Firing continued as both groups attempted to form up and at 16:07 the Italian cruiser Bolzano was hit three times, temporarily locking her rudder and suffering two fatalities. A near miss on the destroyer Vittorio Alfieri caused minor damage.

Meanwhile the mechanics on Giulio Cesare were able to repair two of the four damaged boilers, allowing the battleship to reach 22 knots. Admiral Campioni, considering the possibilities of his remaining battleship, Conte di Cavour against three enemy battleships and an aircraft carrier, decided to withdraw the battleships towards Messina.

Over the next hour both fleets attempted to make torpedo runs with their destroyer groups without success. At 14:40, the Italian air force made an attack with 126 aircraft, reporting damage on Eagle, Warspite and Malaya; because of some misunderstanding, 50 of the Italian aircraft attacked the Italian ships, without damage. The battle ended at 16:55 with both sides withdrawing.

One final victim was the destroyer Leone Pancaldo, sent to Augusta in Sicily, which was hit by a torpedo launched from a Swordfish at 09:40 the next day.

Result

After the battle both fleets turned for home. This allowed the Italians to claim a victory of sorts, as their cargo ships were already past the action by this time and sailed safely for Libya. Meanwhile, the Allied ships also reached Alexandria along with their escort. However, Allied gunnery proved superior and while the damage to Giulio Cesare was light and repaired within a month, the Allies claimed that they had suffered no damage at all and eventually it seems the Italians came to believe them. While the battle was a draw, it was an Allied win from the propaganda point of view.

One question is why the Italians did not send their two remaining battleships at Taranto, both ready for action and only a few hours from the scene. The answer appears to be that they were afraid to send them out without the destroyer escort, which had been sent out earlier to make up for "losses" in the main fleet. These two ships would have tipped the balance of fire well onto the Italian side.

Even without these ships the fleets were fairly even. The Italian superiority in aircraft due to the nearby land-based aircraft of the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) should have been overwhelming. In fact they played almost no part at all, with the exception of the damage to Gloucester, yet their battle reports were inflated to the point of claiming damage to half of the Allied fleet.

Order of battle

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Allies

RN Ensign

Force A was made up of the 7th Cruiser squadron and HMAS Stuart under Admiral Tovey; Force B commanded by Vice Admiral Andrew Cunningham who was the Commander in Chief of the entire Mediterranean Fleet; and Force C commanded by Vice-Admiral H. A. Pridham-Wippel.

The destroyer HMS Escort was sunk in the Western Mediterranean where Force H was providing a feint and demonstration against Sardinia to distract the Italian fleet from the sailing of the Allied convoys. HMS Escort was torpedoed on 11 July by the Italian submarine Marconi during Force H's return passage.[6]

Regia Marina

Kingdom of ItalyItalian force commanded by Vice Admiral Inigo Campioni.

References

  1. ^ Miller, War at Sea, pg. 113
  2. ^ "HMAS Sydney (II)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Sydney_%28II%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008.  
  3. ^ "HMAS Stuart (I)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Stuart_%28I%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008.  
  4. ^ "HMAS Vampire (I)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Vampire_%28I%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008.  
  5. ^ "HMAS Voyager (I)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Voyager_%28I%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008.  
  6. ^ G. Hermon Gill "Royal Australian Navy, 1939-1942" (1957)

Sources

  • Miller, Nathan: War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995. ISBN 0-19-511038-2 (Pbk.).

External links

Coordinates: 37°40′N 17°20′E / 37.667°N 17.333°E / 37.667; 17.333


Battle of Calabria
Part of the Mediterranean Theater of World War II
Date 9 July 1940
Location Near Calabria, Italy
Result Indecisive
Belligerents
 United Kingdom
 Australia
File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946) Italy
Commanders and leaders
Andrew Cunningham File:Flag of Italy (1861-1946) Inigo Campioni
Strength
1 aircraft carrier
3 battleships
5 light cruisers
16 destroyers
2 battleships
6 heavy cruisers
8 light cruisers
16 destroyers
Casualties and losses
1 light cruiser damaged
2 destroyers damaged
1 battleship damaged
1 heavy cruiser damaged
1 destroyer damaged
and Camicia Nera, Italian destroyers of the Camicia Nera class, during the battle]]

The Battle of Calabria, (known to the Italian Navy as the Battle of Punta Stilo) was a naval battle during the Battle of the Mediterranean in World War II. It was fought between the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) and the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. The battle occurred 30 miles to the east of Punta Stilo, the "toe" of Italy (Calabria), on 9 July 1940. It was one of the few pitched battles of the Mediterranean campaign during World War II involving large numbers of ships on both sides. Both sides claimed victory, but in fact the battle was a draw and everyone returned to their bases as soon as possible. After the battle the Allies claimed to have achieved some sort of "moral ascendancy" over the Italian Navy; conversely, the Italian propaganda depicted the clash as a victory of their own.

Contents

Origins

When Italy entered WWII, their forces in Libya were ill-equipped for offensive operations, and the Italian fleet was forced to start large supply convoys in order to bring them up to fighting condition.[1]

On 6 July a convoy of four merchant ships left Naples on their way to Bengazi, while attempting to fool the Allies into thinking they were making for Tripoli. That evening two torpedo-boats from Catania and another freighter met them off Messina and the next day their escort force joined the convoy from Taranto after being informed that the Allies had recently left port in Alexandria. The transports carried 2190 troops, 72 M11 tanks, 232 vehicles, 10,445 tons of supplies and 5720 tons of fuel. The convoy's escort consisted of three groups; eight destroyers and four torpedo boats directly protecting the cargo ships, a second group sailed 35 miles to the east consisting of six heavy cruisers and another four destroyers. Finally, the main battle group consisted of two battleships (Giulio Cesare and Conte di Cavour), eight light cruisers and another 16 destroyers.[2] A substantial number of the Italian destroyers didn't take part in the battle due to mechanical problems and the need to refuel.[3]

Meanwhile, the Allies were involved in a similar convoy action. The fleet sailed from Alexandria bound towards Malta where the destroyers would deliver supplies and a limited number of specialist reinforcements. Two convoys were arranged to take off fleet stores and civilians from Malta to Alexandria. Two groups of merchantmen sailed, a fast convoy at 13 knots and slow one at 9 knots. Protecting them were three groups of ships, one with five cruisers and a destroyer, Force A, another, Force B, with the battleship Warspite and five destroyers and the main battle group, Force C, with the battleships Royal Sovereign and Malaya, the aircraft carrier Eagle and eleven destroyers.[4] One of them, HMS Imperial, had to return to Alexandria with a burst steam pipe on the early hours of 8 July.[5]

At 14:40 on 8 July two Italian Cant Z.506 from Tobruk spotted the British fleet and shadowed it for nearly four hours. Admiral Campioni ordered his fleet to defend the convoy by turning eastward and preparing for action. The Italian Supreme Command, however, was reluctant to risk its warships in a night time encounter, and they ordered the fleet to avoid contact.[6] During the initial positioning the Italians suffered technical problems on three destroyers and two light cruisers, so these ships, with several additional destroyers, were detached to refuel in Sicily. In order to make up for these "losses", another destroyer group was summoned from Taranto. At this point, the Italian fleet had 16 destroyers.[3][7]

Meanwhile the Allies were having problems as well. From 10:00 to 18.40, 72 land-based bombers of the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) from the mainland had attacked their fleet and struck HMS Gloucester's bridge, killing the captain, six officers and eleven ratings. In addition, three officers and six ratings were wounded. The forward fire control and the steering equipment was destroyed, and for the rest of the battle, she would be commanded from the emergency station.[6][8] The damage to Gloucester, while serious and necessitating her withdrawal from the frontline, was the only damage to allied ships by two series of substantial Italian air attacks[9]

Unlike the dive-bombers favored by the Germans, Italian bombers operated in formations at high altitudes during the first stages of the war. The Italian aircraft usually dropped their bombs together at about twelve-thousand feet. At Calabria, the Italians carried out the ultimate test of the claims of pre-war air-power theorist concerning massed bombers being able to sink modern warships. However, fast-moving ships proved to be a far more difficult target than anticipated. In addition, ship Captains waited until the bombers released their sticks of bombs and, in the remaining seconds, took evasive action. While scores of bombs were dropped by the Italians, the single hit on the Gloucester represented the outcome of the air attacks.[10]

At 15:10 on 8 July, Cunningham's fleet steamed toward Taranto, in order to cut Italian's return route. At dusk, Cunningham changed course from 310º to 260º and slowed the fleet speed. During the first hours of 9 July, they took a 305º course, to avoid the Italian air recce while keeping their fleet between the Italian squadron and the Gulf of Taranto.[11] By 12:30, the Italian Supreme Command was clueless about the situation of the British fleet. Campioni told his fleet to scramble by 14:00 about 60 miles south east of Cape Spartivento in search of the enemy. Campioni eventually received reports of the British position at 13:30, and six Ro.43 flying boats launched shortly after by the Italian cruisers spotted the British warships 30 miles closer than supposed.[7]

Cruiser engagement

At noon on 9 July the two fleets were 90 miles apart. Vice Admiral Cunningham could not close the distance to engage with the significantly slower Royal Sovereign and Malaya (18 knots vs 28 knots) and took Warspite in on its own. Meanwhile, at 13:15, Eagle launched several unsuccessful sorties by Fairey Swordfish against the Italian heavy cruisers, which they took for battleships.[7] At 13:10, the Italian Supreme Command had instructed Campioni to engage one of the two enemy forces facing him, but in fact they had planned to keep the action close to Italy and were deliberately moving north in order to draw the Allies closer to their airbases. By 14:00, however, Cunningham plans to cut off the Italian fleet from Taranto had succeeded.[3]

The Allied cruiser group was spread out in front of Warspite and at 15:15 they caught sight of the Italian main battle force and the two groups opened fire at 21,500 metres. Italian rangefinding was better than the Allied, and within three minutes they had found the distance even though they were firing at extreme range. Although the Allies' rangefinding was not as good and they had trouble with their rounds falling short, the Allied gunlaying was better and they were able to place their rounds in much tighter groups. Generally the gunnery of the two forces was fairly well matched. After only a few minutes the range was down to 20,000 metres and the Allied guns became useful. However, by 15:22, the Italian fire came dangerously close to the Allied cruisers and Vice Admiral John Tovey decided to disengage.[12] At this point splinters from a 6" shell fired by the cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi hit HMS Neptune, damaging her catapult and the reconnaissance aircraft beyond repair.[13] The cruisers continued to open the range and by 15:30 fire ceased.[12]

Battleship engagement

One group of Italian light cruisers, mistaken for the very latest heavy cruiser Zara class, was on the Allied side of the battle line and was soon within range of the charging Warspite. Once again the Allied rounds fell short, and neither of her targets, Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto di Giussano, received any damage in the initial salvos. However by this time Warspite was also out of position, and she circled in place in order to allow Malaya to catch up. Meanwhile, Royal Sovereign was still well to the rear.


The Italian commander, Vice Admiral Inigo Campioni, decided to take on Warspite, and started moving his two battleships into position. At 15:52 Giulio Cesare opened fire at a range of 26,400 metres. Conte di Cavour did not fire, a decision many have questioned. Their strategy was to have only one ship targeted at a time, as it was learned during the Battle of Jutland that with more than one ship firing at a single target it became very difficult for the rangefinding parties to tell which rounds were theirs. Conte di Cavour was responsible for Malaya and Royal Sovereign, which were further back and did not enter the engagement.[14]

Warspite, not aware of the Italian firing patterns, split her guns between the two ships. During the exchange one of Giulio Cesare's rounds fell long and caused damage to Warspite's escorting destroyers (Hereward and Decoy) which had formed up on the far side of the action.[15] At 15:54 Malaya started firing, well out of range, hoping to cause some confusion on the Italian ships. Meanwhile the Italian heavy cruisers came into action and started firing on Warspite at 15:55 but had to break off as the Allied cruisers returned.

At 15:59 two shells from Giulio Cesare fell very close to Warspite. Almost immediately after one of Warspite's 15-inch (381 mm) rounds hit the rear deck of Giulio Cesare, setting off the stored ammunition for one of her 37 mm anti-aircraft guns. Two seamen were killed and several wounded. The fumes from the burning ammunition were sucked down into the engine room, which had to evacuate and shut down half of the boilers. Giulio Cesare's speed quickly fell off to 18 knots and Conte di Cavour took over. Giulio Cesare and Warspite were well over 24,000 metres (26,000 yards) apart at the time of the hit, which was one of the longest-range naval artillery hits in history.[Note 1]

It would appear that Warspite was in an excellent position to deal some serious blows to the slowing Giulio Cesare but she once again executed another tight turn to allow Malaya to catch up. With her guns suddenly silenced during the turn, the rangefinders on Malaya discovered what the Italians had been intending to avoid, that her rounds were falling 2,700 yards short of Giulio Cesare and they had been watching Warspite's rounds.

At 16:01 the Italian destroyers generated smoke and the battleships got under cover. There is some debate about this point today, the Allied position being that the battleships were leaving battle, the Italian that they were attempting to make a torpedo attack with their destroyers from within the smoke.[16]

Final actions

At 15:58 Fiume re-opened fire on her counterpart in the Allied line, Liverpool and soon two groups of Italian cruisers were in combat with the main Allied cruiser battle group. Firing continued as both groups attempted to form up and at 16:07 the Italian cruiser Bolzano was hit three times by 6" shells from HMS Neptune, temporarily locking her rudder and suffering two fatalities at the torpedo room. A near miss on the destroyer Vittorio Alfieri caused minor damage.[17]

Meanwhile the mechanics on Giulio Cesare were able to repair two of the four damaged boilers, allowing the battleship to reach 22 knots.[18] Admiral Campioni, considering the possibilities of his remaining battleship, Conte di Cavour against three enemy battleships and an aircraft carrier, decided to withdraw the battleships towards Messina.[19] Cesare was out of action for 30 days.[17]

Over the next hour both fleets attempted to make long-range torpedo runs with their destroyer groups without success.[20] At 16:40, the Italian air force made an attack with 126 aircraft, reporting damage on Eagle, Warspite and Malaya; because of some misunderstanding, 50 of the Italian aircraft also attacked the Italian ships, without damage. The battle ended at 16:50 with both sides withdrawing.[21]

One final victim was the destroyer Leone Pancaldo, sent to Augusta in Sicily, which was hit by a torpedo launched from a Swordfish at 09:40 the next day and sank in shallow water.[9][17] (She was refloated and returned to service in December 1941.[22])

Result

After the battle both fleets turned for home. This allowed the Italians to claim a victory of sorts, as their cargo ships were already past the action by this time and sailed safely for Libya.[23] Meanwhile, the Allied ships also reached Alexandria along with their escort. However, Allied gunnery proved superior and while the damage to Giulio Cesare was light and repaired within a month, while the Italian salvoes were too widely dispersed due to technical reasons, not to be overcome until the end of the conflict.[24] Although the battle was indecisive, Allied sources claimed that the Royal Navy asserted an important "moral ascendancy" over their Italian counterpart.[25] One question is why the Italians did not send their two remaining battleships of the Vittorio Veneto class at Taranto, both almost ready for action and only a few hours from the scene. Both capital ships were still undergoing trials, and the Littorio had suffered an electrical mishap on one of her main turrets. Littorio and Vittorio Veneto would have tipped the balance of fire well onto the Italian side.[26]

Even without these ships the fleets were fairly even. The Italian superiority in aircraft due to the nearby land-based aircraft of the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) was ineffective. In fact they played almost no part at all, with the exception of the damage to Gloucester,[6] yet their battle reports were inflated to the point of claiming damage to half of the Allied fleet.[27]

Order of battle

Allies

Force A was made up of the 7th Cruiser squadron and HMAS Stuart under Admiral Tovey; Force B commanded by Vice Admiral Andrew Cunningham who was the Commander in Chief of the entire Mediterranean Fleet; and Force C commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Pridham-Wippell.

The destroyer HMS Escort was sunk in the Western Mediterranean where Force H was providing a feint and demonstration against Sardinia to distract the Italian fleet from the sailing of the Allied convoys. She was torpedoed on 11 July by the Italian submarine Marconi during Force H's return passage.[32]

Regia Marina

Italian force commanded by Vice Admiral Inigo Campioni.

Notes

  1. ^ The German battleship Sharnhorst achieved a hit on the British aircraft carrier HMS Glorious at approximately the same range the previous month. See: Navweaps.com

References

  1. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 65
  2. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 67
  3. ^ a b c Greene & Massignani, p. 72
  4. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 66
  5. ^ HMS Imperial ( D 0 9 )
  6. ^ a b c Greene & Massignani, p. 68
  7. ^ a b c Greene & Massignani, p. 70
  8. ^ HMS Gloucester - Town-type Light Cruiser
  9. ^ a b Cunningham, Admiral Sir Andrew B. (28 April 1948). "REPORT OF AN ACTION WITH THE ITALIAN FLEET OFF CALABRIA, 9th JULY, 1940." (pdf). London Gazette. HMSO. http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/LondonGazette/38273.pdf. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Miller, War at Sea, pg. 113
  11. ^ Greene & Massignani, pp. 68-69
  12. ^ a b Action off Calabria - Initial skirmish
  13. ^ Smith, Peter Charles (1980). Action imminent: three studies of the naval war in the Mediterranean theatre during 1940. Kimber, p. 66. ISBN 0718301978
  14. ^ O'Hara, p. 40.
  15. ^ Jordan, John (2008). Warship 2008. Conway maritime press, p. 34. ISBN 1844860620
  16. ^ Action off Calabria - The battleships enter the fight
  17. ^ a b c Action off Calabria - Cruisers and destroyers
  18. ^ Capital Ship Surface Actions World War 2, by Terry A. Gardner, EMC(SW) USNR ret
  19. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 75
  20. ^ Greene & Massignani, pp. 74-75
  21. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 77
  22. ^ Whitley, M J (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms & Armour Press. p. 164. ISBN 1-85409-521-8. 
  23. '^ Sadkovich, James (1990). Reevaluating major naval combatants of World War II. Greenwood Press, p. 137. ISBN 0313261490
  24. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 79
  25. ^ Hill, J. R. and Ranft, Bryan (2002). The Oxford illustrated history of the Royal Navy. Oxford University Press, p. 358. ISBN 0198605277
  26. ^ Greene & Massignani, p. 69
  27. ^ Knox, MacGregor (1986). Mussolini unleashed, 1939-1941: politics and strategy in fascist Italy's. Cambridge University Press, p. 146. ISBN 0521338352
  28. ^ "HMAS Sydney (II)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Sydney_%28II%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  29. ^ "HMAS Stuart (I)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Stuart_%28I%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  30. ^ "HMAS Vampire (I)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Vampire_%28I%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  31. ^ "HMAS Voyager (I)". Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Voyager_%28I%29. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  32. ^ G. Hermon Gill "Royal Australian Navy, 1939-1942" (1957)

Sources

  • Green, Jack & Massignani, Alessandro (1998). The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943, Chatam Publishing, London. ISBN 1885119615
  • Miller, Nathan: War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995. ISBN 0-19-511038-2 (Pbk.).

External links

Coordinates: 37°40′N 17°20′E / 37.667°N 17.333°E / 37.667; 17.333


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