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Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk
Posted by: Francesco Mattesini ()
Date: June 15, 2012 03:54PM


Operation "Agreement" - Tobruk
Posted by: Francesco Mattesini
Date: 06/15/2012 11:59AM

The attempted landing of the British at Tobruk, September 14, 1942

In the late summer of 1942 there was a big failure of the British naval air and land, gemacht September 14, during an action against the all-important port of Tobruk, the main airport of Axis supplies to the front of the Egyptian El Alamein. The purpose of the operation, code-named "Agreement", was born in Cairo, on the initiative of the Commander in Chief of the Middle East, General Claude Auchinleck, later confirmed by his deputy General Harold Alexander, who fell out of favor with Winston Churchill that blamed a poorly aggressive demeanor.

The understanding of '"agreement" was to reduce, with a demonstration and spectacular, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel pressure on the front of El Alamein and force him to second in the rear of Cyrenaica part of his forces who faced the eighth British Army. The action was planned with an attack from the sea against Tobruk (Operation "Daffodil", backed by action of a column of 83 men Land Mobile Force ( from the desert oasis of Kufra, with 18 Canadian Chevrolet trucks, the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Edward Haselden, commander of the "Long Ranger Desert Group" (LRDG) and creator of the plan "Agreement". Was expected to reach in twenty-four hours, the total destruction of port facilities and naval vessels at anchor in the bay , and all the preparations and logistics depots, including bomb-proof tanks containing gasoline inventories. In this so you would be paralyzed for a long time, the efficiency of the fortress as a port and supply base for the Axis forces , which should forward the shipping supplies at Benghazi, 260 miles back from Tobruk.

The operation "Agreement", was described by the Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, Admiral Henry Harwood, as "hopeless", being born of an urgent request for help from the British 8 th Army, and therefore justified only by the dangerous situation prevailing at that time on the Egyptian front line. The troops, commandos and sappers departments, were loaded on two destroyers SIKH team of the 22nd Flotilla (Captain St John Aldrich Micklethwait) and ZULU (Force A), which put to sea from Haifa on the evening of September 12, and on sixteen torpedo boats (Force C), seven of the 10th Flotilla (MTB.260, 261, 262, 265, 266, 267, 268) and nine of the 15th Flotilla (MTB.307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 314 , 315, 316), which, together with three motor launches ML 349, 352 and 353, sailed the same day in training from Alexandria. Force C, commanded the captain of a frigate J.F. Blackburn.

The two destroyers had on board 380 soldiers, while each of the torpedo boat carrying 160 soldiers, ten for each unit. The motor launches, however, carrying a detachment of 40 saboteurs and explosives for demolition targets. While browsing the torpedo boat to reach Tobruk MTB.268 (Sub-Lieutenant David Souter Cowley), because of engine trouble, was forced to return to Alexandria, after transferring his ten soldiers on the motor launch ML 353.

To make the landing support ship, always on the evening of September 12, sailed from Port Said, D Force, formed by the cruiser antiaircraft COVENTRY (Captain Ronald John Robert Dendy) and four destroyers of the 5th Flotilla type "Hunt", BELVOIR, DULVERTON, HURSLEY and CROOME.

A second naval group, with four other destroyers of the 5th Flotilla HURWORT, BEAUFORT, EXMOOR and ALDENHAM, sailed from Alexandria at 09:25 on 13 September, the group rejoined the cruiser COVENTRY north of the bay of Abukir, and the day of September 14, while being the commando operation against Tobruk, was to cross off Marsa Matruk.

At the same time, another British naval group, formed by the light cruiser DIDO (Captain Henry William Urquhart McCall), the 15th Division, and the five destroyers of 14th Flotilla JERVIS team (Captain Lawrence Albert Poland) JAVELIN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN, and KELVIN, effected a diversion in "Operation Agreement" in the night bombarding the town of El Daba, west of El Alamein.
It was expected that the RAF in the Middle East (Air Marshal Arthur Tedder) give protection to groups escorted by naval and air each way, mainly using the long-range fighters by 252 ° and 272 Beaufighter Squadron.

Meanwhile, the task of the sixteen torpedo boats, which with the three motor-launches formed the so-called C Force, was to enter the harbor of Tobruk, to attack the fleet at anchor and then, by motor launches landed one hundred and fifty sappers destroy the harbor works. The operation was unsuccessful, as the entrance to the port of Tobruk was promptly closed by the Italians with a dam across the landing craft defenses 17 (7 of the 6th Flotilla German), backed by torpedo boats CASCINO, MONTANARI and CASTORE. The result was that when at about 03:00 on 14 September, the British motor torpedo boats approached the entrance of the harbor, to force the obstructions were kontrastiert and finally rejected by the large fire developed, with cannons and machine guns, the torpedo boats and landing craft, which is added, then the shot of the shore batteries.

From dawn, the Italian fighter planes and 5th Air Force bombers and the German Fliegerführer Afrika und X Fliegerkorps and the torpedo boats attacked several times in retreat. Proved particularly effective action at low altitude of the Mc. 200 Italians, 13 ° Gruppo Assalto ( Maggiore Renzo Viale), armed with a 50 kilo bomb wing, burned and sank to 07.30 MTB 312 (Lieutenant I.A. Quarrie) , whose crew was rescued by MTB 266. Always for the greater work of Mc. 200 Avenue was struck by a bomb on the bridge of the destroyer SIKH, the motor launches were sunk ML 352 (Lieutenant GR Worledge) and ML 353 (Lieutenant ES Michelson), which were being loaded with explosives seen by the Italian pilots blow up after being burned, the engine room was damaged in the MTB 313 (Sub-Lieutenant Thomas George Fuller), was immobilized and the torpedo boat MTB 308 (Lieutenant Roy Yates), but whose fate was already sealed .
In fact, a German aircraft Ju 88 - part of a formation of twenty bombers of 2 Squadron of 1 Experimental Wing (II./LG.1), took off at 10.15 from Iraklion (Crete) to the command of Major Gerhard Kollewe - hit from the heat of the gunner of torpedo boats, MTB 308 which crashed on sank, disintegrating, with the entire crew. Died the four men of the German aircraft, which belonged to the 4th Squadron (4./LG.1), and had the crew chief for Petty Officer Karl-Heinz Bruns. The MTB 310 (Lieutenant Stewart Lane), after being attacked by five Italian bomber MC.200 of 8° Gruppo Caccia, commanded by Captain pilot Sansone, was sunk in the afternoon north of Marsa Matruh by a formation of eight Ju 87 German Stuka Squadron (St.G.3). The survivors reached the Egyptian coast, while the ML 353's crew was rescued by the Italian torpedo boat CASTORE, with MONTANARI sent to recover the survivors.

The MTB 314 (Lieutenant HW Sheldrick), who in trying to force the entrance of the port of Tobruk ran aground Marsa Sciausc and was abandoned by the crew (who vainly attempted to destroy it with an explosive charge that is not activated ), then collected by MTB 261 (Lieutenant M. Yeatman), was captured, virtually unscathed, from the Germanic motor minesweeper 6th Flotilla R 10 (Lieutenant Peter Reischeauer). This small ship, after released MTB 314, drove it into port with the German flag on the shore. Renamed RA 10 and placed in service in the Navy as a unit transportation Germanic torpedo, the torpedo boat was sunk April 30, 1943 at Augusta (Sicily) by four fighter aircraft Spitfire of 249 Squadron RAF, took off from Malta.

Meanwhile, the destroyers SIKH and ZULU, with 380 riflemen on board the Navy, had reached their assigned positions off the coast of Marsa Adua in the early morning hours of Sept. 14, but during the landing of the troops were illuminated by floodlights , which was followed by a short distance, the fire of coastal batteries of the Royal Navy "Belotti", "Thrush", "Dandolo" and "Grease" (13 cannons, 120 and 152 mm), and six pieces of 88 mm. of the 76th Battery of 46 Regiment flak Germanic.

The SIKH was shot repeatedly. A grenade froze the helm, and a fire broke out in an ammunition dump at the tower, which then exploded. Another bullet hit the destroyer, first forcing him to slow to ten knots, and then, at 05.20, to stop the burning, unable, for any damage to the rudder, to make any movement.
The ZULU, commanded by Commander Richard Taylor White, who was also hit and damaged by shore batteries, tried to tow the SIKH, but then toward dawn, while he was still reached by artillery shells, was forced to abandon . The SIKH, with a flooded engine rooms and boilers, was then abandoned on the orders of his commander, Captain St. John Aldrich Micklethwait. Shortly after the 06.30 - also being attacked by fighter-bombers of the Italian MC 200 13° Gruppo Assalto (Assault Squadron 13), which struck him on the bridge with a 50 kilo bomb, and fired on the destroyer CROOME who gave him the coup de grace, after having recovered the crew - The SIKH sank exploding. The survivors reached the nearby coast, were taken prisoners.

The ZULU, SIKH after she quit, retire in initially at a speed of thirty knots, joined the destroyer escort arrived in HURSLE, CROOM and his support. So, I reached the cruiser COVENTRY, ZULU that, before reversing the route to Alexandria, had also moved to Tobruk to give protection to vessels that were retreating.

At 11:40 am on September 14, lying north of Marsa Matruk the COVENTRY constituted the main target of a formation of 16 German Ju 88 bombers of the I./LG1 of X Fliegerkorps, took off from Heraklion (Crete), who attacked dive pilot in command of Captain Joachim Helbig. Each aircraft was armed with a bomb of 500 pounds and three 250-pound bombs. The cruiser was hit squarely by four bombs, three of which exploded in the machine rooms and the fourth opened a large gash in the bow, and also targeted by the fire of cannon and machine guns of the Ju 88 that increased damage, remained immobilized, and in that position was photographed by the aircraft of Flight Lieutenant Horst Berger. So, in flames, was abandoned by the crew of the COVENTRY which had to lament the death of 63 men. At 15.15 the destroyer ZULU gave the coup de grace with a torpedo which sank in the evening in lat. 32 ° 40'N, long. 28 ° 17'E.

The raids against the British naval units heading for Alexandria with increasing intensity were followed by German planes of Fliegerführer ofAfrika and the X Fliegerkorps, base in North Africa and Crete, which, excluding the reconnaissance and fighter escort, took them for the whole day a total of 167 aircraft. Of these, 81 had bombers Ju 88, 73 dive bombers Ju 87 and 13 fighter bombers Bf 109, while the Italian side intervened only 26 MC. 200 fighter bombers, 12 torpedo bombers S. 79 of 131° Gruppo but found no targets to hit. Of course, being the largest unit remained in the British naval training, the ZULU constituted the target of most of the 30 bombers Ju 88, I. and II. / LG. 1, taken off in the afternoon from the airports of Crete, but they could not make shots scored against the destroyer, who reacted to the attacks with all his weapons. However, the bombs fell close to the hull at ZULU caused a decrease in speed and put out of use of radio equipment.

But it was fate that crippled the destroyer to work a fatal ending, and what you came for an attack aircraft of the Fliegerführer Afrika, namely the work of a formation of nineteen Ju 87 of III./St.G.3, led by Captain Kurt Walter. At 16.15 a 250 pounds bomb exploded in the engine room of the ZULU, causing flooding of boiler and machinery, and arresting the speed.

The destroyers, landed commandos who were still on board, firing them with almost all hands on Croome, was taken in tow of HURSLEY (Lieutenant William John Patrick Church). But since his was compromised by strong revenue buoyancy of water in the hull, it was finally abandoned, even by the nucleus of men who had been aboard for towing operations. At 21:54 the Zulu, skidded upside down to starboard and sank quickly in lat. 32 ° 00'N, long. 28 ° 56'E, north of Marsa Matruh. This happened before he was able to speak the tug BRIGANT, started from Alexandria, escorted by destroyers BELVOIR and ADENHAM , who had come into port to refuel fighter aircraft and long range of 252 ° and 272 Beaufighter Squadron of RAF. With the ZULU is lost 38 men, including 4 officers.

The British operation against Tobruk, which had been resting overnight, as a preparation for landing, including the bombers of the RAF missions with 91 aircraft, proved a failure, both at sea and on land, since the rapid reaction of the garrison on the night of the Axis had scuppered attempts to infiltrate the fortress, and in particular in the harbor.

In the course of '"Agreement" the only result achieved by the British were represented by the destruction caused by saboteurs, from the desert with jeeps and camion, Barce airport, north-east of Benghazi, where it occurred for the Regia Aeronautica loss 16 aircraft, 7 of whom bombers. Cant. Z. 1007 bis of the 35° Stormo (Colonel Bruno Borghetti), which on June 15, during Operation "Vigorous", had struck and sunk the Australian destroyer NESTOR. Big, however, with heavy losses of men and material caused by Italian troops and aircraft, the attempt of other saboteurs to attack the port of Benghazi and the airport of Benina, to some logistical what to Axis in Cyrenaica, as the Oasis of Gialo, which was surrounded for several days, without being conquered by the tenacious defense of the Italians.

Heavy British losses were suffered in the attack on Tobruk, quantified in about 700 men in killed and prisoners, while those of the Axis forces who defended the fortress were quite minor. In fact, according to data reported in the Journal of the Italian Supreme Command, on the basis of a report from the joint command of Field Marshal Rommel, reported losses of Axis forces in Tobruk in the day of Sept. 14 were represented by "54 dead and 29 injured the staff of the Royal Navy and Battalion "S. Marco ", 16 deaths (1 German) and about 50 wounded (7 German) land between departments." According to other sources the most current and recent Italy-Germans were killed 62 and wounded 119.

As for air leaks in the actions against the British ships, they waren only the Luftwaffe. Three Ju 88, two of which the II./LG.1, were lost in combat, while two Ju 87 of II. / St.G. 3 losses to be collided at the base of El Haggag Quasaba.

Concluding, the British operation, despite the heavy losses, was not entirely useless. In fact, it got the desired result of removing some departments of Axis troops from the front of El Alamein to protect the rear, when the 8th Army in Montgomery, receiving substantial reinforcements of armored vehicles from the United States, was preparing the counteroffensive that began October 23, 1942, would soon reach the recapture of Egypt and a steady advance in Cyrenaica.

Francesco Mattesini

Roma, 15 giugno 2012

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Subject Written By Posted
Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Francesco Mattesini 06/15/2012 03:54PM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Platon Alexiades 06/26/2012 02:13PM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Francesco Mattesini 06/29/2012 10:13AM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Luciano Zengarini 07/24/2012 08:52AM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Platon Alexiades 06/29/2012 12:22PM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk vito 06/30/2012 08:45AM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Francesco Mattesini 06/30/2012 03:25PM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk vito 06/30/2012 04:53PM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Luciano Zengarini 02/10/2013 12:06PM
Re: Operation Egreement - Landing Tobruk Luciano Zengarini 09/25/2013 03:28PM

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