|HMS MOHAWK||Tribal Class Destroyer|
|Left: Mohawk at Malta. She had 3 pennant numbers during her life. L31, F31 and G31|
|HMS Mohawk was built in 1936 launched in 1937. In July 1940
she took part i the Battle of Calabria and, in March 1941, the
Battle of Cape Matapan. In the battle of the Tarigo convoy, also known
as the Action off Sfax, on 16 April 1941 she was hit by 2 torpedoes
fired by the Italian Destroyer, Tarigo, and sank with the loss of 43
lives just off the Kerkennah Islands off Tunisia.
In mid April 1941, a five ship convoy left Naples for Tripoli. It consisted of 4 german troopships and an Italian Ammunition ship. The convoy was escorted by a Navigatori Class Italian destroyer Luca Torigo (Image 2 below) and two Folgore Class Destroyers, Baleno and Lampo.At least three of these destroyers were equipped with radar. The encounter took place as the Italian convoy was in shallow waters surrounding the Kerkennah Islands off Tunisia. The convoy was engaged by the British Force and the battle took place at short range. Some 2000 yards down to only 50 yards between the warships. Due to the British radar, the Italians were surprised in a night attack sinking all the ships and three destroyers one of which, the Lampo, was later salvaged after a four month ordeal. The flotiila commander, Captain de Cristofaro, on board Luca Tarigo. lost a leg in the battle and died of his wounds. The Luca Tarigo, now under the command of an ensign, hit HMS Mohawk with 2 torpedoes, and Mohawk was scuttled and sank to a depth of only 12 meters.
The result of this attack marked the end of the relatively unopposed Axis transportation of men and meterial to Libya, which had been going on since June 1940.The British had been forewarned of their passage by intercepted messages and, on the 15th, the convoy was sighted and shadowed by a British Maryland reconnaissance plane (image 1 below). Two Italian SM.79s that were ordered to provide air cover did not arrive, due to the continuing bad weather. On the night of the 16th, the convoy was intercepted by the British 14th Destroyer Flotilla - HMS Jervis (flagship) (Image 3 below), HMS Janus, HMS Nubian and HMS Mohawk - commanded by Captain Philip Mack. Italian divers, disguised as fishermen, attempted to retrieve documents from the Mohawk in April, May and June 1941. Later evidence revealed that what was found was essential to a successful Italian raid on Alexandria on 19 December 1941 using manned torpedoes.
Axis casualties vary in the telling, ranging from 350 up to 1800 men. As troop ships were involved, the number is probably in the extreme.
I would be interested to find out if the Mohawks radar, if she was so equipped, fell into Italian hands?