More comments on the Sonnenblume convoys. They're not meant as corrections, either the Italian officials have details that Rich's sources hadn't, or a way exists to resolve the contradiction, which is the interesting part. Call it providing additional data points.
Also, the Italian official history doesn't differentiate between the Sonnenblume and other convoys (it does list particular operations later on).
RichTO90 wrote:Sonnenblume 3 (22-26 February):
German transporters Reichenfels and Marb and probably the Italian Cità di Agrigento (?), and the freighter Menes (5609 BRT), escorted by the destroyers Freccia, Saetta and Turbine left Naples on 22 February and was joined by an Italian convoy of the freighters Sabbia (5788 BRT) and Silvia Tripcovich (2365) escorted by the torpedo boat Montanari, but Sabbia is torpedoed by HMS Ursula the same day and Silvia Tripcovich is torpedoed, probably by HMS Ursula off Sfax on 23 February. They are also joined by a high-speed convoy en route comprised of the Italian liners Esperia (11398 BRT), Conte Rosso (17879 BRT), Marco Polo (12272 BRT) and Victoria (13098 BRT), escorted by the destroyers Camicia Nera and Baleno, the torpedo boat Aldebaran and Orione and a screen comprised of the light cruisers Giovanni delle Bande Nere and Armando Diaz with the destroyers Ascari and Corazziere, that had sailed from Naples on 24 February. En route Menes was torpedoed by HMS Regent on 23 February (?) and Armando Diaz was torpedoed by HMS Upright on 25 February. The combined convoy arrived at Tripoli on 26 February.
That entry is a mess to reconcile.
Cocchia has the convoy with Sabbia and Silvia Tripcovich escorted by Montanari, leaving Trapani at 19:30 on the 21st. Both are torpedoed in the evening of the 22nd but proceed. Silvia Tripcovich disappears without traces during the night (22/23 Feb), the escort claimed the submarine as sunk, but the claim wasn't confirmed. So that one is a match even though the convoy is not mentioned as joining anything.
Menes had sailed from Naples to Tripoli on the 17th (Arta, Heraclea, Menes, Maritza escorted by Freccia, Saetta, Turbine) and reached Tripoli on the 20th (no losses). It was torpedoed around the date you list but at the time it was on its return trip
: left Tripoli at 8:00 on 21 Feb along with Heraclea and Maritza, with the same 3 escorts as on the way in (only Arta remained behind, going back with another convoy 3 days later), torpedoed at 14:30 the same day and taken in tow by Saetta, headed back to Tripoli at 3.5 knots which it reached at 8:000 on the 22nd. Freccia attacked the submarine and claimed it as destroyed though the claim was not confirmed.
Reichenfels is shown as leaving Naples at 19:00 on the 23rd, along with Marburg, Ankara and Kibfels, escorted by Aviere, Geniere and Castore, arriving at 20:30 on the 25th with no loss.
I didn't find any mention of the Città di Agrigento (a small liner) in the preceding days, or until mid-April, though the Città di Bari - a cargo - made a trip and was sunk in harbor by air attack in early May.
The fast convoy with Esperia, Conte Rosso, Marco Polo and Victoria is accounted for, leaving Naples 24 Feb 20:00 and arriving in Tripoli 26 Feb at 15:45.
Summary: the German version has 3 convoys joining and reaching Tripoli on the 26th, the Italian version has 3 convoys sailing separately within 3 days and arriving with 2 days of each other. Menes being part of the Sonnenblume convoys seems clearly an error, Città di Agrigento probably one as well. On the other hand, the Italian source mentions two ships unaccounted for (Ankara, Kibfels). So at least both sources agree on how many ships were sent.
RichTO90 wrote:Italian Convoy (24 February):
The Italian freighters Navi Honor and Santa Paola left Palermo for Tripoli and Arta, Nirvo, and Giovinezza left Tripoli for the return to Naples on 24 February. There were no losses.
Perfect match on the return convoy, but Navi Honor and Santa Paola are listed as leaving Palermo on the evening (18:00) of the 25th i.e. after nightfall, picking up the Caucaso (small steam-powered tanker) from Bizerte in the morning of the 26th and reaching Tripoli in the morning of the 28th.
Two months later (see the Swordfish examples I provided in a previous post) there was such heavy Italian traffic in Vichy French international waters, both reinforcements to Libya and phosphates being shipped to Italy, that it came under R.A.F. attack. I believe that Italian and Italian-chartered ships were already plying that route (Sfax from Bizerte, then to Sicily & Italy) in February but don't quote me on this as I didn't bother to check the relevant sources prior to writing this.
RichTO90 wrote:Sonnenblume 4 (25-27 February):
The German freighters Wachtfels, Leverkusen and Alicante, and the Italian freighter Giulia, escorted by the destroyer Vivaldi and torpedo boats Calliope, Orsa, and Procione left Naples at noon on 25 February, probably arriving 26 or 27 February? There were no losses.
Perfect match, listed as leaving at 12:30 on 25 February and arriving 27 February at 18:30.
I love it when a plan comes together...
RichTO90 wrote: (Note that Leverkusen had suffered a fire in Naples circa 10 February that had destroyed much of its original cargo, including 13 tanks of 5. Panzer-Regiment. It was reloaded after repairs, but evidently was no longer carrying tanks, since it is explicitly stated that they came in on Sonneblume 8 – see below.)
is the kind of information that I'd really like to have (is there a drooling emoticon anywhere?)
Convoys #5 & 6 are perfect matches
RichTO90 wrote:Sonnenblume 7 (5-10 March):
The German freighters Ankara, Kybfels, Marburg and Reichenfels, escorted by the destroyers Vivaldi, Da Noli, Malocello, Folgore and Lampo, left Naples on 5 March, were joined by the torpedo boat Centauro from Tripoli en route, and arrive at Tripoli on 7 March. A returning convoy leaves Tripoli on 5 March with the German freighters Castellon, Ruhr and Maritza, escorted by the auxiliary cruiser Ramb III and the torpedo boat Orione and Pegaso, arriving at Tripoli by 10 March. There were no losses.
This is a confusion from two entries. The return convoy is as listed, arriving in Naples on 7 March.
The incoming convoy is a match for departure date and strength, but it stayed in Palermo from the morning of 8 March to the morning of 9 March, arriving in Tripoli at noon on 10 March.
Given how the information is displayed in Cocchia, I'm pretty sure that this is a case of the Der Seekrieg author switching lines. From personal experience, this kind of mistakes occurs distressingly often when adapting a chronological list from one format to another.
RichTO90 wrote:Sonnenblume 8 (Transportstaffel) (7-9 March):
The German freighters Alicante, Arcturus, Wachtfels, and the Italian Rialto, escorted by the destroyers Fulmine, Baleno and Turbine leave Naples on 7 March loaded with the tanks of Panzer-Regiment 5., arriving at Tripoli on 9 March. At the same time a return convoy leaves Tripoli with the German freighters Adana, Aegina, Arta, Heraklea and the Italian Amsterdam, escorted by the destroyer Tarigo and the torpedo boat Aldebaran. There were no losses.
Same confusion as above. The incoming convoy left Naples on 7 March, returned to Naples due to a "naval alert", leaving again in the early afternoon of the next day, and arriving in the evening of the 12th at Tripoli after a brief stop at Trapani.
The returning convoy left Tripoli on 9 March, reaching Naples in the early morning of the 12th.
RichTO90 wrote:Sonnenblume 9 (Transportstaffel) (9-11 March):
The Italian freighters Andrea Gritti and Sebastiano Venier, escorted by the torpedo boats Alcione, Pallade, Polluce, Clio and Centauro leave Palermo on 9 March and arrive undisturbed at Tripoli on 11 March. A simultaneous Italian convoy with the tanker Tanaro and the freighters Caffaro, Fenicia and Capo Vita on the way from Trapani to Tripoli escorted by the auxiliary Attilio Deffenu and torpedo boat Papa, were attacked off the Tunisian coast by HMS Utmost and Unique. On 9 March Utmost missed Deffenu but sank Capo Vita (5683 BRT) an on 10 March Unique sank Fenicia (2584 BRT). But they are forced to ignore a northbound convoy of small ships by due to orders to conserve torpedoes at Malta.
The Andrea Gritti & Sebastiano Venier convoy had left Naples in the evening of 6 March, stopped in Palermo in the morning of 8 March. Left the following evening, as indicated. The small nitpick here being that Palermo was indeed where the convoy started its crossing from, but not where it had been formed (and loaded).
The second convoy (Tanaro, Caffaro, Fenicia, Capo Vita) is listed as leaving Palermo 6 March 20:00 for Bizerte. Submarine attacks forced its rerouting to Trapani, which it left again in the evening of 8 March. Caffaro is grounded on the Colombaia reef (off Palermo), the others proceed, escorted by the lone Deffenu (presumably, Papa had remained behind to help Caffaro), and at noon of 9 March Capo Vita is hit by torpedoes and explodes (no survivors). The remaining Fenicia + Tanaro and their escort turn back to Susa, but the Italian Admiralty directs them to Tripoli instead. on 10 March, slightly south of the Kerkennah (Tunisia), Fenicia is sunk by another submarine attack. In the late afternoon, Deffenu reaches Tripoli while Tanaro seeks shelter in Trapani (the western tip of Sicily).
Match on the following Italian liners to Tripoli and back, Sonnenblume 10, 11 and 14.
For the return convoy of 16 March listed as part of Sonnenblume 12, I show Alicante instead of Ruhr. Also, there was another Italian convoy that day (16 March) doing Naples -Tripoli, apparently it wasn't part of Sonnenblume.
Ditto for the 19 March: in addition to the Sonnenblume 13 convoys listed, the Securitas and Agata (escorted by light DD Mosto) sailed Palermo - Tripoli, the German Preussen & Iserlohn escorted by the auxiliary Città di Tunisi sailed Tripoli to Naples, while the German Ankara escorted by the light DD La Farina sailed Tripoli to Naples via Trapani. None suffered losses.
RichTO90 wrote:Possible Italian Convoys (26-30 March):
On 25 March the submarine HMS Rorqual laid a minefield west of Cape Gallo, Sicily. On 26 March a convoy ran into it and the steamer Verde (1432 BRT) and the tanker Ticino (1470 BRT) were sunk. On 28 March the torpedo boat Generale Antonio Chinotto also sinks in the minefield. Then on 30 March Rorqual sank the Italian tanker Laura Corrado (3645 BRT) with torpedoes and gunfire and on 31 March the Italian sub Capponi.
My list shows none of these, the 26 March losses look like coastal traffic. The Laura Corrado was, I suspect, tasked with picking up fuel from the French in Algeria. There was a deal in which the French were "fined" a certain amount of fuel which they managed to translate into some kind of sale, and that could be the Italian tanker assigned to picking up the oil. I would have to look it up. Anyway, none of these appear in Cocchia's list of convoys between Italy and Italian North Africa.
There are other Italian convoys listed in that period, however. Presumably not Sonnenblume.
RichTO90 wrote:Sonnenblume 15 (28 March):
On 28 March HMS Utmost attacked a Tripoli bound convoy with the German freighters Adana, Samos, Heraklea, Ruhr, and Galilea, escorted by the destroyers Folgore, Dardo, and Strale, sinking the Heraklea (1927 BRT) and damaging the Ruhr (5954 BRT).
Left 26 March from Naples, Ruhr was towed to Trapani by the Dardo, two tugs from Trapani, and a covering force from Messina concisting of the light DD Sagittario, Circe, Alcione and 2 MAS.
Match on Sonnenblume 16 and the returning convoy attacked by HMS Upright, as well as the Italian convoys.
RichTO90 wrote:Note that by 1 March 14 German freighters and 4 Italian liners had made it to Tripoli. From then to the end of March another 46 freighters were used to move the tanks of 5. Panzer-Regiment, supplies, and roughly 3,000 more men.
For February, my hand count, figure is the date of departure but all reached Tripoli before 1 March.
: Esperia, Conte Rosso, Marco Polo, Calitea (5) the same (24)
: Leverkusen (6), Ankara, Arcturus, Alicante (8), Adana, Aegina, Kibfels, Ruhr (12), Castellon (15), Arta, Heraclea, Menes, Maritza (17), Ankara, Reichenfels, Kibfels, Marburg (23), Alicante, Arcturus, Wachtfels, Leverkusen (25).
So that's 8 liners and 21 German freighters. On their second return trip the Italian liners had 3,750 civilian refugees and 1,860 "repatriated military" (presumably wounded) from Cyrenaica.
Then you have to factor out errors in sources like Cocchia listing Kibfels sailing Naples to Tripoli on 16 February while it was in fact a return trip.
: Brindisi (2) Conte Rosso, Marco Polo, Victoria (12)
: Castellon, Ruhr, Maritza (1), Adana, Arta, Aegina (3), Santa Fe (4), Ankara, Kibfels, Marburg, Reichenfels (5), Allicante, Arcturus, Wachtfels (7), Castellon, Ruhr, Maritza, Leverkusen (12), Adana, Aegina, Heraclea, Galilea (14), Marburg, Reichenfels, Kibfels, Ankara (16), Arcturus, Santa Fe, Procida, Wachtfels (19), Castellon, Alicante, Maritza, Leverkusen (22), Adana, Samos, Heraclea, Ruhr, Galilea (26)
So that's an additional 4 liners and 39 German freighters. In other words, the totals for February and March match, only the breakdown differs (e.g. your sources might count "unloaded by 1 March" instead of arrived by 1 March")
I hope this helps, and that should also go some way to answering Jon's question (which is just as well as it took me a while to write and I don't feel like tackling another