Battle of Cape Bon


Battle of Cape Bon

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Cape Bon


caption=Cruiser "Da Barbiano", sunk by Allied destroyers near Cape Bon
partof=World War II
date=13 December 1941
place=Mediterranean Sea, Cape Bon, Tunisia
result=Allied victory
combatant1=
combatant2=
commander1=
commander2=†
strength1=4 destroyers
strength2=2 light cruisers
1 torpedo boat
casualties1=None
casualties2=2 light cruisers sunk
900+ dead|

The naval Battle of Cape Bon took place on December 13 1941 during the Second World War, between two Italian light cruisers and an Allied destroyer flotilla off Cape Bon, Tunisia. The loss of the two cruisers was a serious setback for the Regia Marina.

Background

The control of the Mediterranean was disputed between the Italian Regia Marina and the British Royal Navy, supported by ships of Empire navies and other allied navies. This was critical for the supply of the Italian and German forces in north Africa and for the maintenance of Malta as a British offensive base. Without Malta, Britain could not intercept Italian convoys and thus prevent the supply of Axis armies. At times, supply was so serious that warships were used as fast transports by both sides.

When Italy declared war in June 1940, it had one of the largest navies in the world but its strength was limited to the Mediterranean, whereas the British could replace most losses by redeploying ships. This led to caution on behalf of the Italian command and a tendency to avoid battle.

The British had advantages in that they possessed radar and Italian naval codes had been broken.

The action

The Italian 4th Cruiser Division, commanded by Contrammiraglio Antonino Toscano and consisting of the two "Da Giussano" class light cruisers "Alberto da Giussano" and "Alberico da Barbiano" and the torpedo boat "Cigno", sailed from Palermo bound for Tripoli, carrying an urgent supply of aircraft fuel (nearly 2000 tons) for Libya. The fuel was so important that fuel tanks were even put on the decks of the ships.

In the meantime, the British 4th Destroyer flotilla – four destroyers (HMS "Sikh", HMS "Maori", HMS "Legion" and the Dutch destroyer "Isaac Sweers") commanded by Commander G. H. Stokes – was bound for Malta.

The British flotilla was spotted by an Italian aircraft but Regia Marina HQ judged that the British would not be able to reach Cape Bon before the 4th Cruiser Division was passed. However, the British, with intercepted signals from "Ultra", ordered their destroyers to intercept the Axis cruisers.

On December 13 at 03:25 the forces met. Arriving from astern in the dark and using radar, the Allies achieved surprise, launching torpedoes and opening fire. Both Italian cruisers were sunk – "Alberico da Barbiano" a towering inferno. The action was over quickly and the British flotilla left. "Cigno" rescued 500 survivors, while others reached the coast or were later saved by Italian anti-submarine motorboats (MAS). Over 900 men lost their lives, including Admiral Toscano.

External links

* [http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/2855.html Dutch destroyer "Isaac Sweers"]
* [http://www.regiamarina.net/engagements/capebon/capebon_us.htm Italian description]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Battle of Cape Passero (1940) — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Cape Passero (1940) partof=the Mediterranean Theater of World War II caption=British light cruiser HMS Ajax . date=October 12 1940 place=Mediterranean, southeast of Sicily result=British victory… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of the Mediterranean — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Mediterranean caption=Mediterranean Sea partof=World War II date= 10 June 1940 – 2 May 1945 place=Mediterranean Sea result=Allied victory combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Taranto — This article is about the 1940 battle. For other battles, see Battle of Taranto (disambiguation). Battle of Taranto Part of the Mediterranean Theater of World War II …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Crete — Part of the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II …   Wikipedia

  • First Battle of Sirte — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=First Battle of Sirte caption=Italian battleship Caio Duilio partof=World War II date=17 December 1941 place=Gulf of Sirte, Mediterranean Sea result=Tactically inconclusive combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom… …   Wikipedia

  • Cap Bon — ( ar. كاب بون) also watan el kibli [ [http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article 9357652/ Britannica Concise ] ] , Cap Bon is a peninsula in far northeastern Tunisia. It is located at around coord|36|45|N|10|45|E |region:TN |display=title,inline.… …   Wikipedia

  • Naval Battle of Casablanca — Part of World War II, Operation Torch …   Wikipedia

  • List of World War II topics (B) — # B 17 Flying Fortress (video game) # B 17 Flying Fortress # B 17, Queen of the Skies # B 24 Liberator # B 29 Superfortress # B Reactor # Błyskawica radiostation # Błyskawica submachine gun # Børge Mathiesen # BA 10 # BA 11 # BA 20 # BA 21 # BA… …   Wikipedia

  • British World War II destroyers — At the start of World War II, the Royal Navy operated a range of destroyer classes. Some of these were legacies of World War I (including those acquired from the United States), some were designed during the inter war years and the rest were the… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Tunisia-related topics — This is a partial list of topics related to Tunisia. Geography * Cap Bon (also known as Sharik Peninsula) * Ras ben Sakka (northernmost point of Africa) * Strait of Sicily Landforms Gulfs * Gulf of Gabès * Gulf of Hammamet * Gulf of Tunis Islands …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.