View « Operation Pedestal 1942 Convoy for Malta » on YouTube


6 thoughts on “View « Operation Pedestal 1942 Convoy for Malta » on YouTube

    1. The timeline of their passage through the Mediterranean:

      August 10-11 night

      Entered Gibraltar in heavy fog
      August 11

      4 torpedoes from German U-73 sink carrier Eagle, 260 men lost, all but 4 planes lost
      Carrier Furious flies off 36 planes for Malta, turns back as planned.
      Destroyer rams and sinks Italian submarine.
      40 German bombers attack convoy
      Stuka bombers
      Stuka bombers

      August 12

      20 Junker 88s attack convoy
      Submarine attacks
      100 German & Italian planes attack.
      Deucalion sunk by aerial torpedo
      Carrier Victorious hit by dud torpedo
      Italian submarine forced to surface by depth charges
      30 Junker 87s attack.
      Carrier Indomitable hit three times; destroyer
      Foresight damaged by aerial torpedo and had to be sunk
      Cruisers Cairo and Nigeria torpedoed by Italian submarines.
      Cairo abandoned.
      Nigeria returns to Gibraltar
      Ohio torpedoed by Italian submarine and on fire. Manages 13 knots after repair.
      20 Junkers 88s attack.
      Gunners on Almeria Lykes shoot down 2 planes.
      Empire Hope bombed, high octane gas on fire, abandoned and sunk by escort.
      Clan Ferguson hit and explodes.
      Italian sub rescues 53 survivors.
      Brisbane Star crippled by aerial torpedo.
      Cruiser Kenya damaged by torpedo from Italian submarine.
      Torpedo hit on SS Ohio

      Torpedo hit on SS Ohio
      SS Santa Elisa in peacetime

      August 13

      Passed through minefields between Africa and Sicily around midnight.
      8 Italian torpedo boats make 15 attacks
      Cruiser Manchester hit, sinks by evening
      Santa Elisa (US) hit by torpedo, entire ship on fire and abandoned
      Almeria Lykes (US) torpedoed, sinks immediately
      British Wairangi and Glenorchy torpedoed, on fire. No survivors from Glenorchy
      Rochester Castle torpedoed but keeps going. It is now 4 AM.
      Fighters from Malta fired on by convoy because communications out.
      12 Junkers 88s attack.
      Waimarana hit, aviation gas on deck bursts into fire, ship explodes and sinks, 80 of 107 crew killed.
      Wreckage starts fires on Melbourne Star.
      60 Stuka dive bombers attack, focus on Ohio. Near-miss buckles plates and forward tank fills with water.
      Junkers 88 crashes onto Ohio.
      Junkers 87 bounces off the water, crashes onto Ohio.
      Ohio avoids mines, torpedoes and circling torpedoes.
      2 bombs straddle her, lift her out of the water. Boilers blown, she is dead in the water at 10:50 AM.
      Dorset disabled by 3 near misses, engine room flooded, high octane gas on fire, abandoned.
      12 Italian torpedo bombers attack.
      Port Chalmers catches torpedo in paravane (submerged floats meant to catch mines).
      Bomb nearby sets Kenya’s forward engine room on fire; fire put out.
      Fighters from Malta provide some air cover.
      Rochester Castle, Port Castle, Melbourne Star steam on to meet escort from Malta, reach Grand Harbour in Valetta at 6 PM.
      Junkers 88 attacks on Ohio. Ohio nearly split in two as bomb hits in same area as torpedo.
      Destroyer tries to tow Ohio, but Ohio wants to go sideways.
      Crew abandons ship.
      Italian torpedo bombers attack.
      August 14

      Brisbane Star arrives Malta
      Frederick Larsen, Jr., third mate and Francis Dales, Cadet-Midshipman from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, crew members on the Santa Elisa volunteer to man guns on Ohio during tow. [Text of Distinguished Service Medal Citation below]
      Weight of Ohio keeps breaking tow lines.
      Constant air attacks by 20 bombers.
      Bomb destroys rudder and makes hole in stern of Ohio. Decks awash.
      Finally, successfully towed while “sandwiched” by two destroyers.
      Two destroyers “sandwich” Ohio
      Two destroyers “sandwich” Ohio as she is towed
      August 15

      Ohio arrives Grand Harbour 9:30 AM to cheering crowds.
      On Malta the convoy is known as “Il-Konvoj ta Santa Marija” because it arrived on St. Mary’s feast day, according to our correspondent in Malta.

      SS Ohio enters Malta
      SS Ohio enters Malta
      August 17.

      Germany reports that all the tankers in a recent Mediterranean convoy were sunk and not one of the transports reached their destination in Egypt.
      In August 1942, 35% of Axis convoys to North Africa did not get through.

      In September 1942, Allied forces sank 100,000 tons of Axis shipping, including 24,000 tons of fuel destined for Rommel, leaving him desperately short of supplies during his assault at El Alamein on October 26, 1942.

      [Combination of two nearly identical Citations]

      Distinguished Service Medal
      The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the
      Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal


      Frederick August Larsen, Jr., Junior Third Officer
      Francis A. Dales, Cadet-Midshipman,
      U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
      For Heroism Beyond the Call of duty
      [Their] ship was a freighter [SS Santa Elisa] carrying drums of high-octane gasoline, one of two American ships in a small British convoy to Malta. Orders were to “get through at all costs.” Heavily escorted, the convoy moved into the Mediterranean, and before noon of that day the enemy’s attack began.

      From then on the entire convoy was under constant attack from Axis planes and submarines. Assigned the command of an anti-aircraft gun mounted on the bridge, Larsen contributed to the successful defense of his ship for three days. At 4:00 AM on the morning of the fourth day, torpedo boats succeeded in breaking through and two attacked from opposite sides.

      Sneaking in close under the cover of darkness, one opened point blank fire with four .50 caliber machine guns, sweeping the bridge. The other fired a torpedo into the opposite side of the freighter.

      The explosion of the torpedo ignited the gasoline cargo and the American ship was in flames. Reluctantly orders were given to abandon her. Two hours later, the survivors were picked up by a British destroyer, which then proceeded to take in tow a tanker that had been bombed and could not maneuver [SS Ohio].

      After five hours of constant dive-bombing, the tanker was hit again — her crew abandoned her — and the destroyer was forced to cut her loose.

      But the cargo she carried was most important to the defense of Malta, and it had to get through. The rescue destroyer and another destroyer steamed in — lashed themselves on either side of the stricken tanker — and dragged her along in a determined attempt to get her to port. The tanker’s decks and superstructure had been almost completely wrecked by the incessant bombardment.

      But Larsen’s anxiety to get into the fight caused him to take inventory of her armament. He found an anti-aircraft gun mounted abaft the stack which needed only minor repairs to put it into action. The young cadet of his own ship, Francis A. Dales, a British Gunner’s mate, and three of his men volunteered to help him. Though the ships were then constantly under attack; they boarded her, repaired the gun and manned it, with Larsen taking the trainer’s position, and the gunner’s mate and the cadet alternating as pointers. The shackled ships, inching along and making perfect targets, were assailed by concentrated enemy air power.

      All that day wave after wave of German and Italian bombers dived at them and were beaten off by a heavy barrage. Bombs straddled them, scoring near misses, but no direct hits were made until noon the next day, when the tanker finally received a bomb down her stack which blew out the bottom of her engine room. Though she continued to settle until her decks were awash, they fought her through until dusk that day brought them under the protection of the hard fighting air force of Malta.

      The magnificent courage of this young third officer and cadet-midshipman constitutes a degree of heroism which will be an enduring inspiration to seamen of the United States Merchant Marine everywhere.

      Malta Convoy, Peter Shankland and Anthony Hunter, New York: Ive Washburn, Inc., 1961
      Our Tanker Fleet, Irving Crump, New York: Dodd, Mead & Compant, 1952
      Pedestal – The Malta Convoy of August 1942, Peter C. Smith, London: William Kimber, 1970
      Red Duster, White Ensign – The Story of Malta and the Malta Convoys, Ian Cameron, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1960
      Map of Mediterranean based on Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia
      Malta Convoy, Peter Shankland and Anthony Hunter, New York: Ive Washburn, Inc., 1961
      Red Duster, White Ensign – The Story of Malta and the Malta Convoys, Ian Cameron, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1960
      Pedestal – The Malta Convoy of August 1942, Peter C. Smith, London: William Kimber, 1970
      He’s In the Merchant Marine Now, John Scott Douglas and Albert Salz, New York: Robert M. McBride and Co.,1943

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