With Malta in urgent need of supplies and weapons, the Royal Navy mounted a resupply operation with multiple objectives: The quest to resupply Malta resulted in two distinct operations, one naval formation departing from Gibraltar (Operation Collar) under Admiral James Somerville and the second leaving from Alexandria (Operation M.B.9) under Admiral Cunningham. A second hit at 12:35 destroyed the after breaker (electrical switchboard) room and cut power to the ship's aft section, including the remaining aft turret. On the 27th, Cunningham dispatched the convoy to Malta. All rights reserved. His days of command at sea were numbered. The Italian Battleship Vittorio Veneto firing a broadside at the Battle Of Cape Spartivento. A Net Inceptions project. [1], On the night of 17 November, an Italian force consisting of two battleships (Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare) and a number of other units were about to intercept British cruisers and two aircraft carriers, HMS Ark Royal and Argus, on their way to deliver aircraft to Malta (Operation White). And the Italian military leadership prevailed the feeling that they missed a significant opportunity. The destroyer Lanciere, hit in the engine compartment during the battle, was towed back to Messina. So he reluctantly changed course attempting to reunite with the Battleships. Campioni avoided a fight that could have stopped the Royal Navy. At this time, the Italian destroyer Lanciere was hit by a broadside from HMS Manchester and seriously damaged, although she was towed to port after the battle. At the same time, the battleships Ramilles, the cruiser Berwick, Coventry, Newcastle, and five destroyers (Force D) headed for the Sicilian channel and the rendezvous point with Somerville south of Sardinia. Riccado Nassigh “Le Battaglie Navali Italiane”, Delta Editrice (2011). The British convoy was warned of their approach and immediately turned about and returned to Gibraltar, sending off their aircraft (two Blackburn Skuas and 12 Hawker Hurricanes) prematurely. During the ensuing action, Iachino received Campioni’s order to withdraw. The goal was to reinforce Malta with 12 Hurricane fighters launched from HMS Argus. At 9:45, Bolzano’s seaplane sighted Somerville’s force, heading eastwards. the HMS Berwick obtained two hits by Italian 8 inch shells while the Italian destroyer Lanciere became immobilized by a British shell. This order is similar to the much more fatal one given during the night of the Battle of Cape Matapan. At 13:00, once the Italian fleet regrouped, the Vittorio Veneto opened fired on the British at distances between 28,000 and 32,000 meters. Thus risking his battleships was not an option. In fact, as giant water-spouts erupted around HMS Berwick and HMS Manchester, Holland ordered smoke, and his ships fled southeast to close with Renown. These orders provided him little room for maneuver and dependent on the final decision coming from the high command (Supermarina). After launching two torpedoes from long range, which missed their target, Sirio sent a report of seven enemy warships heading to the east. [2][3], This Italian success in disrupting the aerial reinforcement of Malta seriously upset British plans for a further convoy to supply the island (Operation Collar). Iachino ordered an increase in speed to 30 kn (35 mph; 56 km/h), laid smoke and started to withdraw. [11][12][13], After the battle Winston Churchill demanded Somerville's scalp, having questioned the admiral's offensive spirit ever since his objections to attacking the French at Mers-el-Kébir. He asked for a confirmation which only arrived at 12:56 in vague terms. At 12:07, after a report received from Gorizia's floatplane, it was clear a battle was about to start with evenly matched forces, so the Italian commander ordered the cruiser groups to re-form on the battleships and prepare to depart. In Campioni’s defense, he was responsible for the only two remaining operational battleships. The operation went almost unopposed by the Italians, except for scattered torpedo bomber attacks from the Aegean islands. Meanwhile, Admiral Angelo Iachino, commanding the cruiser divisions, sighted enemy ships and ordered to open fire. It was fought between naval forces of the British Royal Navy and the Italian Regia Marina on 27 November 1940. [1][8], Admiral Somerville deployed his forces into two main groups, with five cruisers under Rear Admiral Lancelot Holland in front and two battleships and seven destroyers in a second group to the south. Giorgio Giorgerini, La Guerra Italiana sul mare: la marina tra vittoria e sconfitta 1940–1943, Edizione Mondadori (2001). The main consequence of Cape Spartivento was ultimately the replacement of Campioni with Iachino as commander of the battlefleet. This resulted in only a few aircraft landing on Malta. It was, however, seen as a missed opportunity by Italian leadership. [8], At 12:22, the lead groups of both cruiser forces came into range and Fiume opened fire at 23,500 m. Rapid fire between the two forces continued as the distance between them dropped, but the Italians outgunned the British. Italian Battleship Veneto: The last met up at Castle R arrived quicker than anticipated last week, work and home commitments meant I had very little spare time for organisation. Freelance Project Manager with a background in Economics. It scored no hits. Situation at 1315 from Renown’s Plot, during the Battle of Cape Spartivento. Cruiser Bolzano, during the battle of Capo Teulada. [10] Both forces withdrew, the battle lasting a total of 54 minutes and causing little damage to either side. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Somerville’s battle force consisted of the battlecruiser Renown, the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, the cruisers Sheffield, Despatch, and nine destroyers. The Italians were organised into three groups, two from six heavy cruisers and seven destroyers and a third of two battleships and another seven destroyers in the rear. Also, scattered air-recognizance and communication transmission delays severely hindered Campioni’s ability to evaluate the situation. However, by this point, the lead cruiser formation had already angled toward the British and was committed to combat. The Italian Navy, however, didn't decline battle if given the opportunity. However, a board of inquiry exonerated Somerville, who enjoyed the strong support of several fellow admirals. [7] The two forces were fairly even; although the Italian ships had better range and heavier fire, the British had an aircraft carrier, which had recently proven itself to be equal to a battleship at Taranto. Recognizance and intelligence reports coming to Rome confirmed enemy movements both in Western and Eastern Mediterranean. Italian agents based in Algeciras immediately reported the ship’s movements to the Navy high command. Campioni decided to provide aid to the cruisers by bringing the Vittorio Veneto within the firing range. The two fleets continued distancing themselves. Comando Supremo is an Amazon Associate and earns from qualifying purchases. The Battle of Cape Spartivento (Italian: Battaglia di Capo Teulada), on 27 November 1940, was the first significant naval action in the Mediterranean after the Raid on Taranto. The two fleets gathered and sailed south-west for most of the day. When Somerville fully regrouped with Force D, he turned back, setting a course to Gibraltar. One Skua and eight Hurricanes were lost at sea, as they ran out of fuel well before they could reach their destination. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Image: Public Domain. From … Following the Taranto raid, the British launched Operation White on 17 November 1940. HMS Manchester receiving fire from Italian vessels during the Battle of Capo Teulada. Four minutes later, Vice Admiral Angelo Iachino, commander of the Italian cruiser group, received order to disengage, although the battle was slightly in their favour. One fought in Russia with the Italian Expeditionary Corp and the other one fought alongside the Partisans. [5][6], Shortly after, at 9:56, Somerville received the report of his own aircraft from the carrier HMS Ark Royal about the presence of five cruisers and five destroyers. The Battle of Cape Spartivento, known as the Battle of Cape Teulada in Italy, was a naval battle during the Battle of the Mediterranean in the Second World War.It was fought between naval forces of the British Royal Navy and the Italian Regia Marina on 27 November 1940, during the Second World War. Battle of Cape Spartivento - WikiMili, The The Battle of Cape Spartivento, known as the Battle of Cape Teulada in Italy, was an engagement between naval forces of the British Royal Navy and the Italian Regia Marina on 27 November 1940, during World War II. From the subsequent British Naval Battle Summaries, available from the Royal Australian Navy. This element, together with the presence of an enemy aircraft carrier, probably convinced Campioni the balance of power was not in his favor. 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