Operation Baritone (i)

This was the British naval delivery of Supermarine Spitfire fighters to Malta (16/18 August 1942).

The elderly fleet carrier Furious had returned to Gibraltar on 12 August at the end of ‘Bellows’, and at once loaded both Hawker Hurricane fighters from the transport carrier Argus and 32 Spitfire fighters shipped from the UK in the 7,069-ton freighter Empire Clive and assembled ashore.

Furious sailed once again on 16 August escorted by the light cruiser Aurora, light anti-aircraft cruiser Charybdis, fleet destroyers Antelope, Eskimo, Keppel, Laforey, Lookout, Lightning, Malcolm, Venomous, Wishart and probably Tartar, and escort destroyers Bicester and Derwent. On 17 August, in an undertaking whose RAF element was ‘Headlong’, Furious flew off the 32 Spitfire fighters, of which 29 reached Malta, the ships returning to Gibraltar on 18 August.

During the same period the British submarines Otus, Rorqual and Clyde delivered aviation fuel, torpedoes and ammunition to Malta.

The Italian submarines Alagi, Ascianghi, Asteria, Bronzo and Porfido were on patrol in the area but made no contact with the British forces.