Battle of Cape Cherchell

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Battle of Cape Cherchell
Part of the Spanish Civil War
Principe Alfonso.jpg
Republican cruiser Libertad
Date September 7, 1937
Location Mediterranean Sea, off Cherchell, Algeria
Result Republican tactical victory
Republican convoy lost
Belligerents
 Spanish Republic Bandera del bando nacional 1936-1938.svg Nationalist Spain
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Spain (1931 - 1939).svg Miguel Buiza Fernández-Palacios Bandera del bando nacional 1936-1938.svg Manuel Vierna Belando
Strength
2 light cruisers
7 destroyers
1 heavy cruiser
Casualties and losses
1 cargo ship grounded
1 cargo ship interned
1 heavy cruiser seriously damaged

The Battle of Cape Cherchell was a naval battle between the Nationalist heavy cruiser Baleares and the Spanish Republican Navy light cruisers Libertad and Méndez Núñez in the Spanish Civil War, several miles north of the Algerian city of Cherchell. In the early morning hours of September 7, 1937, Baleares unexpectedly met a Republican convoy consisting of two merchant ships escorted by Republican cruisers and destroyers. Baleares was beaten off and badly damaged in the engagement, but the merchantmen were lost when they tried to slip away along the Algerine shoreline.

The biggest danger for the convoy was not the Baleares itself, but Nationalist shore-based aircraft that might have appeared once the Nationalist cruiser had radioed the convoy's location. Because of this, the four destroyers quickly broke off the engagement and continued to escort the merchant convoy.

While these ships steamed ahead, Republican cruisers Libertad and Méndez Núñez engaged Baleares. A crashing volley from the Libertad smashed Baleares' electronics, temporarily disabling the cruiser's main guns. But the Nationalists repaired the damage and the Baleares renewed her pursuit.

The warships met again in the afternoon, Libertad scoring two more hits on critical areas of the Baleares. Baleares then limped off to wait for her sister ship Canarias. The retreating Republican ships were later attacked, ineffectively, by several Nationalist warplanes, most of them Italian bombers from the Aviación Legionaria, a squadron of the Regia Aeronautica which fought in Spain under Franco's orders.

During the engagement the captains of the two freighters escorted by the Republican fleet had panicked and changed course to the south to seek shelter in Algerine waters. One of the steamers ran aground in Cherchell, while the remaining ship eventually reached Bona, where she was interned by French authorities.[1]

The Republican fleet commander Miguel Buiza was demoted after this battle.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alonso, Bruno (2006). La flota republicana y la guerra civil de España. Ed. Renacimiento, pp. 81-82. ISBN 84-96133-75-3 (Spanish)
  2. ^ Thomas, p. 758

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 36°54′25″N 2°12′12″E / 36.90694°N 2.20333°E / 36.90694; 2.20333