Operation MD2

This was a British naval convoy support undertaking, simultaneously with 'MD3' (ii), by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham’s Mediterranean Fleet (18/20 April 1941).

‘MD2’ was designed to support the passage of the 9,776-ton commissioned fast transport vessel Breconshire carrying urgently needed supplies from Alexandria to Malta, and also to facilitate the passage from Malta to Alexandria of the ME.7 convoy of four empty ships (8,039-ton City of Lincoln, 8,917-ton City of Manchester, 7,347-ton Clan Ferguson and 10,496-ton Perthshire) escorted by the light anti-aircraft cruisers Calcutta and Phoebe, and the destroyers Diamond and Nubian.

The undertaking started on 18 April with the departure from Alexandria of the main strength of the Mediterranean Fleet in two groups. Under Cunningham’s command, the first group comprised the battleships Barham, Valiant and Warspite, light cruiser Gloucester, and destroyers Jaguar, Janus, Jervis and Juno, and under Vice Admiral H. D. Pridham-Wippell the second group comprised the fleet carrier Formidable, light cruisers Ajax and Orion, paravane-equipped destroyers Hasty, Havock and Hero, and fleet destroyers Defender, Encounter, Griffin, Havelock, Hereward, Kimberley and Kingston.

The ships refuelled at Souda Bay on the north coast of Crete on 19 April. Escorted by the Australian light cruiser Perth and paravane-equipped destroyer Hotspur, Breconshire departed Alexandria some 12 hours after the the main force. After refuelling, the main force steamed to the south-west at 16.30 to meet Breconshire, which reached Malta safely on 20 April.