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HMS Edinburgh, HMS Hermione and HMS Euryalus escorting the convoy

During World War II, Operation Halberd was a British naval operation in September 1941 to escort a convoy from Gibraltar to Malta.

The convoy of nine merchant ships sailed on 24 September 1941, with a close escort under the command of Rear Admiral Harold Martin Burrough. It was also accompanied by Force H, under the command of Admiral James Sommerville. This consisted of the one aircraft carrier (HMS Ark Royal), three battleships (HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney and HMS Prince of Wales) to protect the convoy against Italian surface ships. The British warships also included five cruisers and 18 destroyers.

The Italian fleet attempted to intercept the convoy on 26 September but did not make contact with it as they turned away after learning that the Royal Navy force included several battleships and an aircraft carrier.[1] HMS Prince of Wales, followed by the slower HMS Rodney, attempted in vain to intercept the Italian force.[2] HMS Nelson was hit in the bows by a torpedo launched from an Italian torpedo bomber on 27 September south of Sardinia and seriously damaged. On the evening of 27 September Force H turned back and sailed for Gibraltar. The Italian Airforce lost 21 aircraft to RN Fleet Air Arm fighters and the AA guns of the Royal Navy.[3]

The merchant vessel Imperial Star was hit by another aerial torpedo the following day and scuttled. The convoy arrived at Malta on 28 September and delivered 85,000 tonnes of supplies to the island.

Notes

  1. ^ The Italian Navy in WW2, Sadkovich, p181
  2. ^ The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean Convoys, p28
  3. ^ The Italian Navy in WW2, Sadkovich, p182

References

See also

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