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Battle of the Gulf of Gabes
Part of the Battle of the Mediterranean of World War II
HMS Javelin 1941 IWM FL 10524.jpg
HMS Javelin
Date19th - 20th January 1943
LocationMediterranean, Off Gulf of Gabes
Result British victory
 United Kingdom  Kingdom of Italy
Commanders and leaders
Commander Michael Townsend Unknown
2 destroyers 4 Minesweepers
7 merchants[1]
Casualties and losses
7 wounded 4 minesweepers sunk
Entire convoy sunk
500 captured[2]

The Battle of the Gulf of Gabes or also know as the Battle of the Tripoli Convoy was a World War II naval battle which took place on the night of 19 January 1943 in the Gulf of Gabes between British and Italian forces. The battle ended with the complete destruction of the Italian convoy and escorting minesweepers.[1]

The British Royal Naval destroyers HMS Kelvin and HMS Javelin were patrolling the area of the Gulf of Gabes off the Tunisian coast blockading the area with their mission as part of a task force, was to cut off supplies to Axis forces during the Tunisian Campaign. Kelvin along with HMS Nubian had forced the Italian torpedo boat Perseo to retire damaged and then sunk the merchant ship the 4,537 ton D'Annunzio on 15 January 1943.[2]

On the night of January 19/20th 1943 Javelin's Type 271 radar detected a number of ships heading directly towards the Tunisian coast by way of Tripoli. Javelin and Kelvin moved to an area of interception and sent star shells into the air illuminating the lead ships. Realizing this was an Italian convoy protected by minesweepers of the Regia Marina the British opened fire and the battle commenced.[2] The Italians under heavy fire, attempted to fight back but little damage was inflicted by them and soon they were burning wrecks.[2] The convoy was then picked off one by one and by the morning of January 20th the destruction was complete.[2] Kelvin had expended 300 rounds of her 4.7 inch guns and Javelin 500 rounds.[3]

The convoy was wiped out; among them the Italian minesweepers RD 31, RD 36, RD 37 and RD 39. The steamer Ennio and two tankers Sportivo and the Fianona, carrying vital fuel were destroyed.[1] Over 500 survivors were picked up the next day and both Javelin and Kelvin arrived safely at Malta the next day.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tomblin pg. 104
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 O'Hara pg 205-7
  3. 3.0 3.1 Langtree, pg 157


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