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jimmywrangles_1

The Battle of Cape Spada.

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The Battle of cape Spada 19 July 1940

 

0700 : A Division of 4 British destroyers under Commander Nicolsen in HMS Hyperion are sailing off the Western coast of Crete, breakfast is being served and the morning watch is about to be relieved.
Hyperion heads a column of 4 destroyers including HMS Hasty, Hero and the I class Destroyer Ilex on a mission to find an enemy Uboat spotted the previous day, as part of this mission they are skirting the coast of Crete while 40 miles into the Aegean gulf the second part of the squadron HMAS Sydney under Captain Collins and HMS Havoc complete the battle group.

 

0730 : Lookouts aboard HMS Hyperion spot two Italian cruisers emerging from the morning mist just 10 miles ahead, Captain Nicolson orders full speed and turns his ships away, he's outgunned and he knows it and to make matters worse the Italians are the very high speed light cruisers Bartolomeo Colleoni and the Giovanni dalle Bande under Vice admiral Ferdinando Casardi.
Capable of over 37 knots the Italians have a speed advantage over the British and both carry 8 X 6 inch guns in 4 twin turrets, sensing an easy victory and out of range of the destroyers guns the Italians open fire and begin the chase.


0733 : Captain Nicolson radios HMAS Sydney immediately and begins a long run to the North drawing the enemy towards the Sydney.
Aboard HMAS Sydney Captain Collins orders his men to breakfast while the Sydney works up to full power, Sydney,a modified Leander class light cruiser with a rated top speed of 32.5 knots and 8 X 6 inch guns now began her run to the south towards the two Italian cruisers 40 miles away.

Meanwhile in the port of Alexandria Admiral Andrew Brown Cunningham (ABC) has just received a message from the Sydney stating that they were engaging two enemy cruisers.
Not aware of the type or size of the cruisers only knowing that Sydney was outnumbered two to one Cunningham paced the deck filled with worry unable to do anything to help.

 

0829 : Dodging shells and outraged by the Italians all the British can do is run and hope to survive when a lookout suddenly reports gun flashes out of the haze to the North.
HMAS Sydney has arrived.
Speeding out of the murk at an unbelievable 37 knots,her forward 6" guns blazing, battle ensign streaming behind her she flashed past the beleaguered British destroyers close enough so that sailors aboard could hear her machinery screaming.


0830 : The hunters are now the hunted, the Italians turn away with HMAS Sydney and 5 destroyers in hot pursuit, making smoke the Italian cruisers are sporadically hidden from Sydney who is forced to continually shift fire from one target to another as they become visible.

 

0921 : Sydney receives a hit to the funnel and suffers one light casualty from a shell splinter.

 

0923 : lookouts aboard Sydney now report that one of the cruisers (Bartolomeo Colleoni) has slowed to a stop and is out of action, leaving Ilex and Hyperion to finish her off they continue chasing the remaining cruiser scoring multiple hits.

 

0959 : Hyperion and Ilex finish off the doomed Italian with torpedoes and rescue 555 survivors despite being bombed by the Italian air force during the rescue.

 

1037 : Sydney calls off the chase as the Italian cruiser pulls away from them with superior speed.

Sydney now escorts the destroyers back to Alexandria under almost constant air attack and on the 20th of July totally out of ammunition they make port to the cheers of the entire assembled Mediterranean fleet.

 

15 months later HMAS Sydney and all hands are lost during an engagement with the German Commerce raider Kormoran.

Salute to Australia's most famous warship.

 

Lest we forget.

 

 

Edited by jimmywrangles_1

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