MALTA 1941


 

ALEXANDRIA 1941


On the 1st January 1941, PERTH sailed for Crete and then proceed to Piraeus, Greece.  On the 8th she left to
rendezvous
with the "EXCESS" convoy bound for Malta.   PERTH met the convoy south of
Pantelleria on the 10th and when they were
about 60 miles east of Malta came under heavy attack from German aircraft . The aircraft carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS was
severely damaged and suffered 123 killed.

On the 11th PERTH was diverted to a position south of Sicily to assist the cruisers GLOUCESTER and SOUTHAMPTON
which had been bombed .  On arrival SOUTHAMPTON was found to be beyond help so, after her crew was rescued,
she was sunk by torpedoes from HMS ORION.   An eyewitness to the sinking said the noise from the torpedoes striking
SOUTHAMPTON
was horrendous . PERTH arrived at Grand Harbour, Malta on the 14th and moored opposite the carrier
HMS ILLUSTRIOUS
which was berthed at Parlatorio Wharf.

Bombs fall alongside HMAS PERTH (left) and HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (right).

  On the 16th January, Malta suffered an enormous air raid.  Two 1000lb bombs fell between HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and
PERTH
and another fell into the sall gap between PERTH and the wharf, lifting the stern of the 7000 ton ship out of the water and forcing the bows underwater as far back as the anchor hawse pipes.   The explosion bent the starboard propellor shafts a caused a split in the after oil tank seams. Leaks from oil and seawater flooded the shell room and magazine lobby of X Turret and Y Turret was partially blown off her roller bearings and was unable to train.

At the same time another bomb hit the ammunition ship ESSEX which was moored 40 yards astern of PERTHESSEX caught fire and only quick action from some of PERTH's crew prevented her from blowing up.

Bomb falls between PERTH and ILLUSTRIOUS

ILLUSTRIOUS under the floating crane which was positioned to deter low flying aircraft. The ship is down at the stern as the result of previous bomb damage

 

Profiles of German and Italian aircraft used in the Meditteranean in 1941 can be found on the
AIRCRAFT page


PERTH sailed that night to Alexandria for repairs and the rest of the month was spent  patrolling off Crete and in the Aegean
sea with the Battlefleet. On the 27th after patrolling the Libyan coast to Derna, she proceeded in company with HMS Bonaventure to the island of Kastelorizo south of Turkey to land troops.    She then patrolled off Crete and  on the 1st March , came under heavy air attack in the Aegean from Italian bombers. The rest of March was spent convoying troops from Alexandria to Greece.
  

An unfortunate incident occured on the night of 31st March when PO ERA Peter Murdoch was lost overboard.
PERTH
was escorting a convoy at the time and was unable to turn back to search for the missing man.

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