Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SITREP April, 1941 The Middle Sea

As for most of the period from 1940-2, in Spring 1941 the War in The Mediterranean was in the balance.  The Royal Navy had damaged but not eliminated the Regina Marina at Taranto.  The Luftwaffe arrived earlier in 1941 and its presence was felt immediately with the heavy damage inflicted on the carrier HMS Illustrious, but now its focus has been redirected to Greece (and then Russia).

Both sides ran convoys.   The British reinforced Greece from Egypt and Malta from both Gibraltar and Egypt.  The Axis ran supplies and troops from Italy to Tunis, a shorter distance but under threats from air, surface, submarine and mine attacks.  Ashore, Wavell's British army was depleted to garrison Greece and Rommel began an offensive in March leading to the siege of Tobruk.

I'm not sure exactly which convoy action we will fight on Friday, as it will depend on the number of players involved.  However, one options is as follows:

Royal Navy (4 destroyers)

Ultra decrypts have revealed that elements of the 15th Panzer Division are about to embark for Tripoli.  Correspondingly you have been ordered to Malta with your powerful destroyer flotilla to intercept this movement. At 1430 on 15th April Sqn Ldr E.A.Whitley and Flt Lt Potter in a Maryland reconnaissance plane report sighting a troop and ammunition convoy. Covered by rain and low cloud you duly sail from Grand Harbour to make the interception.  You reach the interception point off Sfax just after midnight. As you approach the coast you slow to 20 knots and  start zig zagging searching for the convoy.

Regina Marina (3 destroyers and 5 transports)

You are escorting a troop and ammunition convoy carrying elements of the 15th Panzer Division from Naples to
Tripoli. It's two days into your journey, and for much of it you have been shadowed by RAF reconnaissance planes.  You have requested air support but have seen no friendly planes in the skies above you, and consequently expect the worst so have ordered your escorts to action stations. You are now at a point just off Sfax on the North African coast when at 0220 the convoy is suddenly taken under fire from behind...

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