Document Reference NumberD2
TitleRecords of German Air Raid of Allied Ships at Tripoli Harbour on 19 March 1943.
DescriptionMaterial relating to an air raid which took place at Tripoli harbour during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, on 19 March 1943. During the surprise air raid, Allied ships were attacked by the Luftwaffe at Tripoli Harbour in their first mass attack using the Motobomba circling torpedo.
Date18 March - 11 April 1943
Extent1 box; 1 file and 26 items
ArrangementThe collection has been divided into two series. Reports and Narratives features official reports and accounts of the events of the air raid. Correspondence and Communications contains letters and naval communications which were sent during and in the aftermath of the attack.
AdminHistoryThe attack began at 18.47 on 19 March 1943 as 12 planes began to bomb H.M. and Merchant ships in Tripoli Harbour. The H.M.S. Derwent was torpedoed by a German Junker Ju 88 bomber and lost four crew members. A number of enemy planes were shot down during the attack.

One of the German planes crashed in close proximity to the S.S. Ocean Voyager. The Ocean Voyager, a British cargo ship, which was carrying a cargo of petrol and ammunition, was set alight and eventually exploded. The debris of this explosion caused considerable damage to the other ships in Tripoli harbour, which is discussed within the collection.

Following the initial attack, efforts were made by the navy officers and by laymen present in the harbour to extract survivors from the burning ships. A number of individuals involved in this effort were later decorated for their actions, including Captain George Stronach, Chief Officer of the Ocean Voyager.

The collection features multiple reports, narratives and correspondence detailing the events of the attack and actions undertaken in the immediate aftermath. The documents also detail the names of ships in the harbour during the attack along with casualties and fatalities. Communications sent to the Naval Officer in Command at Tripoli from ships during the air raid are also present, including the H.M.S. Aphis, Derwent, Easton, Gamtoos, Gloxinia, and Hektor.
AccessStatusAvailable for general access
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