March 3rd, 1941 (MONDAY)UNITED KINGDOM: London: The Chiefs of Staff estimate that one German armoured division and three motorised divisions could reach the Bulgar-Greek border by March 6, with an infantry division arriving by March 11. This is thought to be the maximum strength that the Germans could field until April 15.
This morning SS ATHELTEMPLAR arrives at anchorage off Methil, Fife, with her flag at half mast. Mr S. Hill, Second Officer of the ATHELSULTAN, bombed off May Island three weeks previously and returned to North Shields for repairs, was instructed to travel up to Methil to bring the ATHELTEMPLAR back to the Tyne. She too was to spend a further period under repair at Smith’s Dock having the entire amidship accommodation rebuilt.
Mr S. Hill, Second Officer of the ATHELSULTAN, bombed off May Island three weeks previously and returned to North Shields for repairs, was instructed to travel up to Methil to bring the ATHELTEMPLAR back to the Tyne. She too was to spend a further period under repair at Smith’s Dock having the entire amidship accommodation rebuilt.
FOWEY detached from giving anti-aircraft cover to EN79 at Duncansby Head, and
CURAÇOA took over from Buchan Ness. EN79 did not continue without incident: With Tiumpan Head in sight, where part of the convoy should have
detached to continue south whilst most made for Loch Ewe, they followed in error
(one of the dangers of following ships closely, with most attention focussed on
maintaining position). INDIAN STAR was dispatched to round them up, and, in the
process, collided with MAURITZ, another ship in the convoy.
MAURITZ then proceeded to Stornaway for repairs. TEWKESBURY was repaired following the convoy reaching Loch Ewe at 1300 on 3 March, and then joined the ocean convoy OB295 for the usual tense journey to the dispersal point at 19º West. These convoys were vast, covering many square miles of ocean, and so communications across the entire convoy, in which it was vital to maintain radio-silence, relied upon signal lamps and flag hoists, often took much time. Real threats to the convoy had to be dealt with quickly if catastrophe was to be averted, and this overall necessity to be constantly at the ready led to misunderstandings, and false alarms, caused by imagined periscopes, unrecognised aircraft, etc. Once a ship opened fire it was difficult to propagate the order to cease fire, and so there was a great danger of being caught in friendly fire from excited gunners firing at anything that moved. Friendly fire was also a considerable hazard when a convoy was under attack by low flying aircraft. From dispersal the voyage continued uneventfully, and the crew were able to relax a little and enjoy the tropical clime, but still they had to be wary of potential surface raiders. TEWKESBURY unloaded her coal at Buenos Aires and then steamed up the River Pirana to Rosario to load beef.
The pilots of the RAF who flew convoy protection missions must have dreaded the task: During the passage of EN79 friendly aircraft overflew the convoy four times giving the correct recognition signal. On each occasion the ships in the convoy opened fire with machine-guns. One ship fired rockets, and HMS WOOLSTON who was in the vicinity also opened fire.
By the end of the war 17 out of the 35 ships comprising EN79 were sunk.
Many in the convoy were coasters, so, in fact, 65,778 grt of shipping was sunk out of a total of 96,123 grt.
(Bernard de Neumann)
Corvette HMS Trillium completed Greenock and departs for workups at Tobermory.
Corvette HMS Begonia commissioned.
Minesweeping trawler HMS Inchcolm launched.
Corvette FS Alysse (ex-HMS Alyssum) launched.
GERMANY: U-125 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: Moscow: The USSR warns Bulgaria that its does not approve of its pro-Axis regime, saying that the German occupation will only escalate the war.
GREECE: As German troops in Bulgaria reach the border, Italian air force planes bombard the earthquake zone of Larissa.
Athens: During the early morning there are no less than four meetings between the Greek and British military staffs, trying to agree on a defensive strategy. In the event of an attack on Macedonia the British urge a quick pull back to the Aliakhmon line whereas Papagos clings to the more advanced Nestos line, "If the Yugoslavs should fight, that is where we Greeks should stand", declared Papagos. Dill snapped, "General, you will have to fight that battle."
Wavell arrives later in the morning in Athens, and some time later Maitland Wilson, the commander-designate of the British forces in Greece, arrived at Tatoi airfield.
EGYPT: Cairo: Free French Headquarters to General de Gaulle:
I am happy to inform you that the garrisons of the Kufra Oases surrendered at 9:00 A.M. on March 1, after a three-week siege. The capture of these enemy positions by Free French forces, is one more step toward final victory. Vive le France!
Signed, De Larminet.
LIBYA: General Erwin Rommell Commander of the Afrika Korps, moves the advance force of the 5th Light Division forward and beings construction of a defence line 17 miles (27 kilometres) west of Aghelia. (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: Submarine depot ship HMS Forth arrived Halifax NS for service.
Destroyers HMCS Skeena and St Laurent arrive Halifax NS for refit. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: Destroyers USS O'Bannon and Nicholas laid down (Dave Shirlaw)
PUERTO RICO: Pan American World Airways Sikorsky S-42A, msn 4206, registered NC15376 and named “Dominican Clipper, sinks after an accident in San Juan Harbor. Two are killed and 25 injured.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-97 lost a man overboard in the Bay of Biscay. [Bootsmaat Artur Mei].
Sloop HMS Enchantress successfully locates submarine HMS Taku damaged and adrift in the Atlantic. With corvette HMS Gladiolus and tug HMS Slavonia, Enchantress successfully escorts Taku into Londonderry on 10 March.
refuelled from the German supply ship Charlotte Schliemann at Las Palmas, Canary
Islands. (Dave Shirlaw)
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