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Force K was a British Royal Navy task force of the Second World War. It operated out of Malta and was responsible for intercepting convoys carrying supplies to the Italian and German forces in North Africa, including Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps.

Force K was created on 21 October 1941 following Operation Sunflower, the German invasion of North Africa in the Spring of 1941. Allied submarines and aircraft could not inflict significant damage to Axis convoys supplying their forces in Africa, so Winston Churchill established Force K. At its inception the Force consisted of two cruisers, Aurora and Penelope, and two L-class destroyers, Lance and Lively.

In November 1941, Force K successfully destroyed an entire Axis convoy, forcing the Italians to consider Tripoli ‘practically blockaded’. Soon after, Force K was reinforced by the arrival in Malta of Force B with two light cruisers, Ajax and Neptune, and two K-class destroyers. These were so effective that during November 1941 the Axis supply line suffered 60 percent losses. However in December 1941 ships from both Forces ran into a mine field while pursuing a convoy, sinking one cruiser, damaging another, and sinking one destroyer.[1]

Following this, and with a resurgence of the aerial bombardment of Malta, surface ships were withdrawn from there. Only HMS Penelope remained, as she was too damaged to leave. Frequent air attacks while she remained in harbour earned her the nickname "HMS Pepperpot". She was eventually withdrawn, ending Force K's deployment.

See also


  1. ^ BBC - History - The Siege of Malta in World War Two


  • Eric Groves : Sea Battles in Close-Up Vol II ( 1993) . ISBN 0 7110 2118 X
  • Stephen Roskill : The War at Sea 1939-1945 Vol I (1954) ISBN (none)


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