Battle of Cape Bon

13 Dec 1941


ww2dbaseIn mid-Dec 1941, the Italian 4th Cruiser Division, consisted of light cruiser Alberto da Giussano, light cruiser Alberico da Barbiano, and torpedo boat Cigno set sail from Palermo, Sicily, Italy, carrying just under 2,000 tons of aviation fuel for the Axis forces fighting in North Africa. The division was under the command of Contrammiraglio Antonino Toscano. En route, Italian aircraft spotted the presence of the British 4th Destroyer Flotilla, which was consisted of British destroyer HMS Sikh, British destroyer HMS Maori, British destroyer HMS Legion, and Dutch destroyer Hr. Ms. Isaac Sweers, which was under the overall command of Commander G. H. Stokes. Italian Navy leaders determined that the British flotilla did not have knowledge of this supply run and would not react, but the British, with the ability to decode Italian code, was indeed in possession of such knowledge, and dispatched the flotilla to intercept. The Allied destroyers intercepted the Italian ships at 0325 hours on 13 Dec off Cape Bon, Tunisia. In darkness, the Italian ships did not detect the Allied destroyers were catching up to them astern, while the Allies were using radar, thus having a clear picture of the Italian formation in front of them. The destroyers fired their torpedoes at short range in complete surprise. Both Italian cruisers were sunk within five minutes of the battle, killing 900. Torpedo boat Cigno survived a fight with Dutch destroyer HNLMS Isaac Sweers, rescued about 500 survivors, and escaped to safety. 1,020 Italians were killed, including Contrammiraglio Toscano.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Jan 2011

Battle of Cape Bon Timeline

12 Dec 1941 Italian cruisers Alberto da Giussano and Alberico da Barbiano departed Palermo, Sicily, for Tripoli, Libya with 135 men and 950 tons of various types of fuel.
13 Dec 1941 British destroyers HMS Sikh, HMS Maori, and HMS Legion and Dutch destroyer HNLMS Isaac Sweers defeated Italian light cruisers Alberto da Giussano and Alberico da Barbiano and torpedo boat Cigno off Cape Bon, Tunisia at 0325 hours. The two Italian cruisers sank (1,020 killed, 645 survived) with nearly 2,000 tons of aviation fuel meant for Axis forces fighting in North Africa.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
29 Mar 2024 02:57:47 AM

Was there a RAAF fighter shooting the italians in the water?

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