World War II Day-By-Day: Day 500 January 12, 1941: Operation Compass. As the Italian defenses at Tobruk are the same as Bardia, Australian 6th Division plans to use the same tactics to pierce the wire and anti-tank ditches at a weak point and peel back the lines of gun pits from the inside. However, they have to wait while British 7th Armoured Division repairs as many Matilda tanks as possible and for fuel and ammunition to be brought up. Matildas are moved forward on heavy artillery tractors to preserve their tacks and engines. HMS Protector lays anti-torpedo nets at Bardia and departs for Alexandria with 1058 Italian POWs.
British aircraft based on Malta attack the airbase at Catania, Sicily, to prevent German and Italian bombers from attacking British shipping in the Mediterranean and the island of Malta. They are trying to protect damaged British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious which limped into Valletta, Malta, for repairs due to Stuka attack.