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Saint-Didier and Ouied Yquem (not Chateau)
Posted by: Laurent Rizzotti (IP Logged)
Date: March 18, 2004 01:55PM

It seems to me that the French cargo was called Oued Yquem.

At least I used this name to help a Turkish searcher sometime ago. And it also used in the book available with the url given by michel.

Here is a chronology of the 1941 supply attempt of Lebanon:

Data comes on a French magazine, 'Le Fana de l'aviation' n 359 (12/99), about the British naval blocus of Syria, that was performed by about 30 planes (Blenheim, Swordfish, Albacore and Beaufighter) based at Chypre.

1/7/41 : French cargo Saint-Didier (2800 t) leaves Salonika with four AA batteries on board. Three French destroyers arrive from Beyrouth in Salonika to search supplies and reinforcements.

2/7/41 : a Blenheim searching it sees the Turkish cargoe Tenihasar off Cape Khalidonia and is unsure of its identity.
At 4h45 another French cargo, the Oued Yquem, leaves Salonika for Beyrouth with 3 AA batteries onboard.

3/7/41 : Swordfish crews of 815 Sqn confirm Tenihasar is a Turkish ship.

4/7/41 : a Swordfish of 815 Sqn finds the Saint-Didier at the entry of the Antalya Gulf. She bears Turkish colors but is positively identified and attacked with the torpedo carried by the plane, that misses. The British plane flies over Turish land to espace AA fire. Three other Swordifsh attack during the afternoon and miss but the cargo has engine problems and her speed is reduced to 5 knots. Her master decides to stop in the Turkish harbour of Antalya, where she arrives at 17h10. Four Albacore of 826 and 829 Sqn find it at 18h40 at the entry of the port, at 150 m of a Turkish ship.
All planes attack together and drop 4 torpedoes in front of AA fire. The first near-misses bth the French and Turkish ships and explodes in the port near some sailing ships, two of them sink. The three other hit the Saint-Didier, that sinks. 13 men are killed, 33 wounded.
An Albacore of the four that attacked St. Didier was lost during a forced landing near Larnaka (on Cyprus if i'm not wrong). Its code was L7133 and it was the only loss of the 22 sorties of the day against the French ship. AA guns onboard the cargo fire during the attack and even after the torpedoes' hits but I don't know if they hit something.
The 3 French destroyers of Salonika sail back to Beyrouth with 450 soldiers and 90 t of supplies onboard. Lack of fuel limits their speed to 19 knots (they are able of 35) thus increasing the danger of aerial attack.

5/7/41 : Oued Yquem is seen by a Beaufighter but is out of range of Swordfish based at Chypre and arrives at Rhodes.

6/7/41 : Swordish watch all day long 3 ships at anchor on Turkish waters, off Cape Anamur. At 8h40 a Beaufighter strafes Oued Yquem off Rhodes, wounding 7 men. The ship returns to Rhodes then Castellorizo (both Italian bases), reinforces his AA (by putting in position some of the guns of its cargo) and waits for Vichy orders. At 23h, none is arrived and it sails again for Beyrouth.

7/7/41 : on the morning the 3 destoyers are seen and shadowed by Beaufighters. at 8h15, a Swordfish of 815 Sqn finds the Oued Yquem between Grambousa Island and the turkish shore. His torpedo misses and explodes on the Turkish shore. 8 torpedo planes are ready to go at Chypre but two Axis raids hit the nicosie airfield at 9h10 and 10h45, destroying an Albacore. The destroyers join the Oued Yquem at 350 km west of Nicosie and the cargo receives order to sail west towards Castellorizo. They are seen at 12h30 by a Beaufighter and then lost of view.
Middle of the afternoon, 2 Blenheim of 203 Sqn find and bomb the Oued Yquem in the Pincea Bay, without success. At 19h a Malta-based Sunderland strafes the cargo but AA fire drews it away.

8/7/41: the four French ships are returning to Salonika. Oued Yquem is strafed around noon by a Beaufighter (4 wounded) and in the veing is seen but not attacked by 2 Swordfisg in Turkish waters. Swordfish P4082 of 815 Sqn crashes on the return to Nicosie.

In the following days all four ship will arrive in Salonika. The Syria campain ends shortly later without a new try to send reinforcement ships

My Turkish correspondant gives me two sites about the St-Didier:


Subject Written By Posted
  French tanker loss 1941 David Asprey 03/18/2004 03:31AM
  Re: French tanker loss 1941 michel 03/18/2004 08:30AM
  Re: French tanker loss 1941 David Asprey 03/18/2004 01:07PM
  Re: French tanker loss 1941 David Asprey 03/18/2004 01:11PM
  Saint-Didier and Ouied Yquem (not Chateau) Laurent Rizzotti 03/18/2004 01:55PM
  Re: Saint-Didier and Ouied Yquem (not Chateau) David Asprey 03/18/2004 03:12PM
  Re: Saint-Didier and Ouied Yquem (not Chateau) michel 03/18/2004 10:51PM
  Re: French tanker loss 1941 hans rapp 11/21/2004 04:05PM

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