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HMS Ark Royal under attack at Spartivento

On this day 27 November 1940

Published: 27 Nov 2012

FAA Battle Honour – Cape Spartivento

Night action against Italian Battleships and Cruisers off Cape Spartivento, Sardinia, 27 November 1940, during Operation Collar.

The objective of Operation Collar was to combine the movement of a number of ships from the Mediterranean Fleet based at Alexandria and the smaller Force H based at Gibraltar. Their combined aims were to redistribute British Naval Forces. A westbound convoy from Force H included soldiers and aircrew heading to Alexandria and some merchant ships heading to Malta; an eastbound one was also heading to Malta and still more ships were heading out to the Atlantic.

On 27 November off Cape Spartivento, Force H from Gibraltar, tackled a large Italian fleet head-on. There were two attacks by Swordfish torpedo bombers from 810 Squadron, based on the Ark Royal on the Vittorio Veneto and other attacks on Italian cruisers. Ark Royal was equipped with Blackburn Skuas, Hawker Hurricanes and Fairey Swordfish. Despite having superior forces, the Italians withdrew and the effect of the attacks was to lead to even less activity on the part of the Italian Fleet, already reduced following the Battle of Taranto on 11/12 November 1940.

FAA Squadrons: 700, 800, 808, 810, 818, 820

Image of Ark Royal courtesy IWM (Non Commercial Licence)


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