On 23 October 1942, General Bernard Montgomery's British 8th Army launched a massive offensive against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps at El Alamein, Egypt. The German-Italian force was in desperate need of fuel and ammunition, and the German High Command quickly dispatched a convoy to north Africa.
On 28 October, a Beaufort torpedo bomber belonging to Royal Air Force Squadron 47 and piloted by a Canadian, Wing Commander R.V. Manning, spotted the convoy off the coast of north Africa just north of Tobruk. Manning scoured the convoy and found the huge oil tanker Proserpina surrounded by escorts. Despite intense anti-aircraft fire, he executed a perfect low-level attack on the tanker and sank it with one well-placed torpedo.
The Afrika Korps, deprived of its only major source of fuel supplies, was unable to counter the British offensive, and the German-Italian force was obliged to abandon many of its vehicles during the subsequent retreat.