Corfu Incident 1946

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Peter H
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Corfu Incident 1946

Post by Peter H » 08 Nov 2007 05:16
The facts are as follows. On October 22nd, 1946, two British cruisers and two destroyers, coming from the south, entered the North Corfu Strait. The channel they were following, which was in Albanian waters, was regarded as safe: it had been swept in 1944 and check-swept in 1945. One of the destroyers, the Saumarez, when off Saranda, struck a mine and was gravely damaged. The other destroyer, the Volage, was sent to her assistance and, while towing her, struck another mine and was also seriously damaged. Forty-five British officers and sailors lost their lives, and forty-two others were wounded.

An incident had already occurred in these waters on May 15th, 1946: an Albanian battery had fired in the direction of two British cruisers. The United Kingdom Government had protested, stating that innocent passage through straits is a right recognized by international law; the Albanian Government had replied that foreign warships and merchant vessels had no right to pass through Albanian territorial waters without prior authorization; and on August 2nd, 1946, the United Kingdom Government had replied that if, in the future, fire was opened on a British warship passing through the channel, the fire would be returned. Finally, on September 21st, 1946, the Admiralty in London had cabled to the British Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean to the following x effect: "Establishment of diplomatic relations with Albania is again under consideration by His Majesty's Government who wish to know whether the Albanian Government have learnt to behave themselves. Information is requested whether any ships under your command have passed through the North Corfu Strait since August and, if not, whether you intend them to do so shortly."

After the explosions on October 22nd, the United Kingdom Government sent a Note to Tirana announcing its intention to sweep the Corfu Channel shortly. The reply was that this consent would not be given unless the operation in question took place outside Albanian territorial waters and that any sweep undertaken in those waters would be a violation of Albania's sovereignty.

The sweep effected by the British Navy took place on November 12th/13th 1946, in Albanian territorial waters and within the limits of the channel previously swept. Twenty-two moored mines were cut; they were mines of the German GY type.
HMS Saumarez,subsequently scrapped,from: ... x_23.shtml


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