Battle of the Atlantic: The Germans have become active against the convoys again, and their efforts are producing results. Recently, OB-289 was devastated by U-boat attacks. While U-boats gain fame, the Luftwaffe also contributes greatly to the blockade effort at this point in the war, as they prove today.
Convoy OB 290 is heading west and is south of Iceland when the Germans attack. The convoy disperses after the first U-boat attacks, but that does not help its ships.
U-47 (Kptlt. Günther Prien) starts the ball rolling at 01:37. Prien goes to work as only he can:
- 5254-ton Belgian freighter Kasongo (sunk, 6 deaths)
- 3636-ton Norwegian freighter Borgland (sunk, all survive)
- 3197-ton Swedish freighter Rydboholm (sunk, 28 survivors)
- 8106-ton British freighter Diala (1 dead, damaged, makes port).
The Rydboholm becomes a flaming wreck, abandoned by its crew. The derelict eventually is sent to the bottom by the Luftwaffe. In all, Prien's U-47 helps to sink three ships of 12,087 tons.
Prien calls for help (he is a master at stage-managing convoy destructions). Help indeed is available, both from other U-boats (U-73, U-97, Italian submarines Michele Bianchi and Barbarigo) and the Luftwaffe.
Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors of I,/KG 40 first arrive around noontime. There are multiple attacks throughout the afternoon. The attacks are pressed home at wavetop level with great daring. This is a classic action, the type you think about when reflecting on Condor attacks at sea (if you ever do that sort of thing, like me).
The Condors get credit for sinking:
- 7181-ton British freighter Mahanada (three deaths)
- 4659-ton British freighter Swinburne (all survive)
- 4966-ton British freighter Llanwern (25 deaths)
- 4340-ton Greek freighter Kyriakoula (all survive)
- 2580-ton Norwegian freighter Solferino (3 deaths)
- 4368-ton Dutch freighter Beursplein (21 deaths, the ship sinks on the 27th after the crew finally abandons ships).
In addition, 5273-ton British freighter Melmore Head is damaged. The crew abandons ship, and it later is towed into Rothesay Bay and beached. Another victim is 4758-ton British freighter Leeds City, which eventually is towed into the Clyde. A third damaged ship, 7915-ton Dutch freighter Suriname, makes it into St. Michaels apparently under its own power. Swedish 4719 ton freighter Samuel Bakke is bombed and strafed (and also may have shot down a Condor), but is able to continue with the convoy to Halifax.
Also joining the attack on Convoy OB 290 is Italian submarine Michele Bianchi (Capitano di corvetta Adalberto Giovannini). Captain Giovanni makes the Bianchi one of the more aggressive Italian boats. Today, it sinks 6803-ton British freighter Baltistan. There are 51 deaths and 18 survivors from Baltistan. Some accounts place this sinking on the 27th.