Operation MG2

'MG2' was a British unsuccessful naval operation to intercept and destroy an Italian convoy carrying troops, weapons and supplies from ports in the south of Italy to North Africa for the Axis forces fighting in that theatre (10/12 May 1942).

While the US light fleet carrier Wasp and the British fleet carrier Eagle were reinforcing Malta from the west in 'Bowery' and 'LB', the British intelligence services learned that an Italian convoy was being despatched to Benghazi, and this led to 'MG2', in which the destroyers Jackal, Jervis, Kipling and Lively were to intercept and destroy the convoy.

On 11 May the British destroyers were sighted by Axis aircraft and turned back in accordance with their orders, which appreciated the fact that there was inadequate British air cover in the area to shield the ships from a concerted Axis air attack. Even so, there followed heavy and very accurate air attacks by a specially trained force of 31 Junkers Ju 88 bombers based at Heráklion in Crete after completing a special course of training in attacks on ships.

Lively was the first to be succumb to the German air attack, and then at 20.000 both Kipling and Jackal were hit, the former sinking. Jervis tried to tow Jackal, which was badly on fire, but early on 12 May she had to be sunk. Jervis alone returned to Alexandria, carrying 630 survivors from the lost ships.

The whole episode was another reminder to the Royal Navy of the consequences of seeking to use surface ships in waters where the Axis forces had air superiority.