The Italian Almanac

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HMS Manchester

HMS Manchester Found

Italian divers have found what's left of the biggest ship the Italian Navy sank in the Second World War. The British Navy's light cruiser HMS Manchester lies at a depth of 84 metres not far off the Tunisian coast near the town of Kelibia, the magazine 'Focus' reports in its current edition. 'Focus' has a four-page spread on the first photos of the wreck, the history of the HMS Manchester and its demise amidst the largest Axis air attack on a Mediterranean convoy.

The HMS Manchester, which had served with distinction off Norway, Denmark and the Soviet Union, was part of a large convoy Winston Churchill sent to relieve the strategic island of Malta. Desperate to cut off this lifeline to the beleaguered islanders, 1,200 fighters and bombers of the Luftwaffe and the Italian Royal Air Force strafed and bombed the convoy for three days south of Sardinia. The Manchester was crippled by two Italian motor torpedo boats and scuttled off the Tunisian coast. Some 568 of the 700-strong crew survived. Many were rescued by a nearby warship but many captured by the Vichy French in Tunisia.

Axis bombers sank several ships during the so-called Mid-August Battle including the aircraft carrier Eagle. HMS Manchester was the subject of a documentary on British television in 2002 called Running the Gauntlet.