Operation Squawk, 31 August-1 September 1940

Operation Squawk (31 August-1 September 1940 was a deception operation carried out as part of Operation Hats, a major fleet movement in the Mediterranean, and was designed to convince the Italians that Admiral Somerville’s Force H from Gibraltar was heading for Genoa, when in fact it was heading for the Sicilian Narrows as part of a plan to get reinforcements to Malta and Alexandria.

The fleet that left Gibraltar on 30 August was the largest British fleet to enter the Mediterranean since the start of the Second World War, containing most of Force H along with powerful reinforcements heading for Alexandria and the Mediterranean Fleet.

Operation Squawk was carried out by the destroyers Velox and Wishart. At 21.50 on 31 August, as the fleet passed to the south east of the Balearic Islands, these two destroyers were detached from the fleet. For the next ten minutes the two forces continued on to the north east, as if they were heading for the Gulf of Genoa, but at 22.00 Somerville’s main force turned to the south east, leaving the two destroyers to continue on to the north of the Balearics.

That night the two destroyers began to broadcast radio signals as if they were the entire fleet, in the hope that any Italian radio monitoring service would report that Somerville’s fleet was heading for Genoa. This attempt at deception may well have succeeded, for on the morning of 1 September Somerville reported that his fleet was not being shadowed.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 July 2008), Operation Squawk, 31 August-1 September 1940 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/operation_squawk.html

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