Operation Hurry

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Operation Hurry
Part of Club Run of the Battle of the Mediterranean
Date 31 July-4 August 1940
Location Action in Cagliari, Kingdom of Italy
Result British victory
Belligerents
 United Kingdom  Kingdom of Italy
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom James Somerville

United Kingdom Andrew Cunningham

Operation Hurry was the first operation executed by British troops in a series of events that have come to be known as Club Run. The goal was to ferry twelve Hawker Hurricanes and two Blackburn Skuas to Malta, where they were needed to defend the garrison.[1]

Background[edit]

On 11 June 1940, Italy began the Siege of Malta, the first step in their plan to gain control of the Mediterranean. Their plan was to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns, cities, and Allied shipping supplying the island.[2] After over a month of bombardment, the troops on Malta were beginning to run low on supplies (including aircraft) to help fight off the attackers, and some doubt was expressed whether Malta was worth the supplies it required, and some even planned on letting Malta work on the few supplies it had left.[3] Despite the uncertainty, the decision was finally made to supply Malta.

Movement[edit]

The troops were informed of their mission, and the mission began. Between 0800 and 0830 hours on 31 July 1940, Force H (including HMS Ark Royal) left Gibraltar, heading for Malta.[1][4]

In order to hamper air resistance during the transportation, an air attack was planned on Cagliari, alongside Operation Spark, which was meant to distract the Italians by reporting a suspicious boat off the coast of Minorca.[1]

On the way to make the attack, Force H was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft. The attacks, which took place on 1 August at around 1800 hours, took place northwest of the coast of the Gulf of Bougie. The attacks were successfully repelled. On 2 August, at around 0230 hours, nine torpedo bomber Reconnaissance aircraft armed with bombs, and three bombed with mines, took off from the Ark Royal, however, due to inclement weather, one plane crashed, losing its entire crew. This problem forced the pilots to wait until full daylight to take off, when the weather was better. The attack was fought off with considerable anti-aircraft fire, however, the pilots still managed to hit four of the hangars, and destroy or damage several aircraft. They also successfully laid three mines around the edge of the harbor. All but one aircraft returned from this mission, the sole loss being taken as prisoner after an emergency landing.[1] Operation Spark was also reported as successful.[1] :53

After the operation, many of the forces of Force H, including HMS Hood, HMS Valiant, HMS Ark Royal, and HMS Resolution, left Force H to take part in the Battle of Dakar.[5]

All of the aircraft successfully reached Malta.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Titterton, G. A. (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: September 1939-October 1940. Psychology Press. p. 52. ISBN 0714651796. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Holland, James (2003). Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege, 1940–1943. New York: Miramax Books. p. 417. ISBN 1401351867. 
  3. ^ Shankland, Peter; Hunter, Anthony (1961). Malta Convoy. London. p. 92. 
  4. ^ Jones, Ben (2012). The Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 147240422X. 
  5. ^ Smith, Peter Charles (2008). The Great Ships: British Battleships in World War II. Stackpole Books. p. 122. ISBN 0811735141. 
  6. ^ J., Rickard. "Operation Hurry, 1-4 August 1940". Military History Encyclopedia on the Web. Retrieved 3 June 2014.