Operation Enormous

'Enormous' was a British programme of naval bombardments of Axis positions in and around Mersa Matruh, a logistics and communications chokepoint on the Egyptian coast of North Africa (11/22 July 1942).

The first stage of this daylight operation, which was designed to degrade the capability of the Axis forces advanced toward Alam el Halfa and El Alamein in 'Ada', involved the escort destroyers Beaufort, Dulverton, Eridge and Hurworth on 11 July, when a ship driven out to sea by Fairey Albacore single-engined bombers of the Fleet Air Arm’s No. 820 Squadron was also sunk.

The next day’s attack involved the destroyer-supported cruisers of Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian’s 15th Cruiser Squadron of Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham’s Mediterranean Fleet, and was intended as a major blow to the lines of communication and supply for Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel’s Panzerarmee 'Afrika' after it had compelled General Sir Claude Auchinleck’s 8th Army to retreat and there was a very real British perception that Rommel’s forces might penetrate as far to the east as Alexandria.

More shore bombardments were undertaken by cruisers and destroyers in the period up to 22 July.