Taranto - Operation Judgement

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Ewen Scott, Mar 31, 2020.

  1. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Can anyone please help?

    I’m looking for a detailed map of the route taken by the Swordfish on the night of 11/12 November 1940, from launch point to the point off Taranto where they broke formation to begin the attack. Most of the diagrams I’ve come across seem a bit woolly about this.

    Alternatively, I’m looking for the position that HMS Illustrious launched the Swordfish raid on the night of 11/12 November 1940. The nearest description I have found is 40 miles west of Kappo Point on Cephalonia / Kefalonia. Trouble is Kappo doesn’t appear on modern maps. I think it might be Cape Shira (Shirz?) which is a distinctive promontory on the west coast of the island.

    The run to Taranto was said to be 170 miles, but from where I believe the launch point to be it seems more like 200 miles. But from reading some accounts the 170 might be from the point at which the aircraft completed their form up and set off for Taranto, which would be some miles from the carrier.

    Any information would be helpful

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  2. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    OK. My search has continued and I’ve found more information. Kabbo Point is 1.6 miles north of Cape Gheroghambo (which is now known as Cape Gerogombos - At least I’m 99% sure that that is the new name). It is described as a tongue of land pointing west in the sea with a few extra rocks of the end of it.

    When you look at Google Maps there is just a spit of land where it seems the description says it should be.
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Isn't a tongue and a spit of land the same thing?
  4. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    And your point is?
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  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Not exactly. TONGUE - a narrow point of land, which may be solid rock OR a sand spit, jutting out to sea
    SPIT - has to be sand or shingle, often just a temporary feature joined to the mainland at one end which can be destroyed (and often is, for example Spurn point) in heavy seas/by storms.

    I don't think that the exact geographical DESCRIPTION matters in this case, it's the LOCATION which is crucial to the post in question.

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  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Have just found the spot on Google Earth - should it be Gerogompos?

    The TONGUE of land (rocky - not a spit) can be seen further north up the coast.

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  7. Kiwi REd One

    Kiwi REd One Junior Member

    According to CAMPAIGN 288 - TARANTO 1940 The Fleet Air Arm’s precursor to Pearl Harbor by ANGUS KONSTAM, ILLUSTRATED BY PETER DENNIS published by Osprey

    "Shortly before 8.30pm on 11 November, the aircraft carrier Illustrious reached ‘Point X’ – the position chosen by Rear Admiral Lyster from which to launch the air strike on Taranto. The Italian port lay 189 nautical miles to the north-west. The carrier group turned into the wind for the launch, and increased speed to 30 knots."

    Also found this map which might assist somewhat:
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  8. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Yes that is the spot. The map I found on the net spelled it Gerogombos but as you say Google Maps has it as Gerogompos. Not sure why the Greeks feel the need to keep changing the name, or at least the spelling of it! I would surmise that it was chosen as it is a distinctive landmark on a chart/map.

    I’m also starting to wonder if the discrepancy in the distances to Taranto is in fact down to the difference between nautical and statute miles. 170 nautical miles is approx 193 statute miles which is within the margin of error on the scale of the map I used. I now need to plot it out on a map again. Presumably the navy would be working in nautical miles at the time.

    Thanks for your help. Things are slowly becoming clearer.

  9. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the quote. Another mileage figure to consider! I’ll have to see how it measures out on the map.

    I’d come across that map on my researches but am trying to tie down the detail. It does however highlight something else. The arrival point is not Taranto town but a point offset to the west somewhere in the Gulf. That of course makes perfect sense in that the attack groups approached the harbour from the west and north west with the flare droppers approaching from more of a south westerly direction.
  10. Kiwi REd One

    Kiwi REd One Junior Member

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  11. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Thanks for highlighting that original document. I’ve found its contents republished elsewhere in print and on the Armoured Carrier website. That site is full of interesting info if you are into those ships especially the trials and tribulations Illustrious went through a couple of months after Taranto.
    Armoured Aircraft Carriers in World War II
  12. Kiwi REd One

    Kiwi REd One Junior Member

    Yes the Armoured Carriers site is very good indeed.

    Afraid I don't have much else on Taranto, though the Osprey book on it is pretty detailed. It was printed in 2015 so should still be readily obtainable from UK bookstores like Waterstones (once Covid 19 passes by...)

    Good luck with your further research Ewen.
    Ewen Scott likes this.

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