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Battle of the Duisburg Convoy
Part of World War II
HMS Aurora.png
HMS Aurora, the British flagship
Date November 8 – November 9, 1941
Location Mediterranean Sea, southwest of Calabria
Result British victory
Belligerents
United Kingdom United Kingdom Italy Italy
Commanders
United Kingdom Captain W.G Agnew Italy Captain Ugo Bisciani
Strength
2 light cruisers
2 destroyers
2 heavy cruisers
10 destroyers
7 merchant ships
Casualties and losses
none 1 destroyer sunk
7 merchant ships sunk

The Battle of the Duisburg Convoy was fought on the night of 8-9 November 1941 between an Italian convoy sailing to Libya with supplies for the Italian Army, civilian authorities in Libya, and the Afrika Corps and a British Naval squadron which intercepted it. The convoy was named "Beta" by the Italian naval authorities, but is now often referred to as "Duisburg Convoy" after the German steamer Duisburg which was the largest ship in the convoy. The Royal Navy's Force K annihilated the Convoy sinking all the merchant ships and the destroyer Fulmine with no loss and almost no damage (Lively suffered some splinter damage). The destroyer Libeccio was sunk the next day by British submarine HMS Upholder while picking up survivors.

Contents

Italian Forces

  • Convoy
    • Two German (Duisburg and San Marco) and three Italian (Maria, Sagitta and Rina Corrado) cargo ships, (carrying 389 vehicles, 34,473 tons of munitions, 223 soldiers)
    • Two tankers (Conte di Misurata and Minatitlan, carrying 17,281 tons of fuel)

British Forces

Force K under command of Captain W.G. Agnew

Battle

Italian destroyer Fulmine, sunk in the battle

The British discovered via ULTRA cryptography that the Axis were about to send a convoy to Libya. The presence of the convoy was confirmed by air reconnaissance (piloted by Adrian Warburton). Force K left Malta to intercept the convoy. The British had the advantage of radar which the Italians lacked. The convoy was surprised at night and attacked. The distant covering force, despite being only nine nm away, did not interfere due to confusion, firing ineffectively some rounds in the dark. Force K sank all the merchant ships and the destroyer Fulmine as well as damaging the Maestrale, Euro and Grecale. The British retired to Malta at high speed with ineffective pursuit by the covering force.

Convoy Load

From pp. 49-50 of USMM reference On S/S Duisburg (7,889t): Italian forces: 2,495t various materials 78t ammunition German Forces: 1,426t various materials 170 motor vehicles and trailers Total 4,741t Italian Army personnel 21 German army personnel 57

S/S San Marco (3,113t) Italian forces: 487t various materials 528t ammunition and artillery material German Forces: 1,602t various materials 470 motor vehicles and trailers Total 2,852t Italian Army personnel 10 German army personnel 21

M/S Rina Corrado (5,180t) Italian forces and civilian administration: 4,167t various materials 621t ammunition and artillery material 3 motor vehicles 807t Fuel in barrels Total 5,598t Italian Army personnel 5

S/S Sagitta (5,153t) Italian forces: 667t various materials 67 motor vehicles and trailers 1,754t Fuel in barrels German Forces: 614t Fuel in barrels 6t various materials Total 3,338 Civilians 21

M/S Maria (6,339t) Italian forces: 3,107t various materials 360t ammunition and artillery material 102 motor vehicles 1 Motorboat Total 3,788t Italian Army personnel 109

Tanker Minatitlan (7,599t) Italian forces 6,692t Liquid fuels Luftwaffe 2,254 Gasoline

Tanker Conte di Misurata (5,014t) Italian Navy 5,160t Bunker

Total Convoy load 34,473 21 Civilians 145 Italian Army 78 Wehrmacht

References

  • J Green and A Massignani - The Naval War in the Medditerranean 1940-1943, Chatham Publishing 1998 - ISBN 1-86176-057-4
  • Regia Marina.net
  • USMM La Difesa del Traffico con L’Africa Settentrionale dal 1 ottobre 1941 al 30 settembre 1942
  • USMM La Bataglia degli Convoy

Coordinates: 37°08′N 18°09′E / 37.133°N 18.15°E / 37.133; 18.15

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