Operation MC8

This was a British naval operation to transfer two battalions of the Cheshire and Hampshire Regiments, together with important stores, from Alexandria to Malta (19/23 February 1941).

As it was known that major elements of the Italian fleet were at sea escorting important convoys across the Mediterranean to North Africa, a significant British naval strength was deemed essential and the battleships Barham and Valiant, together with the fleet carrier Eagle and nine destroyers, departed Alexandria on 19 February to provide distant cover for a transport force comprising the light cruisers Ajax, Gloucester and Orion, and destroyers Mohawk and Nubian, carrying the troops and some supplies. After the troop-carrying cruisers had reached Malta, a return passage to Alexandria was undertaken with two empty ships (the 9,776-ton commissioned supply ship Breconshire and the 10,492-ton merchant vessel Clan Macaulay), escorted by the cruisers Ajax and Orion, and destroyers Havock and Hotspur.