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11 August 1940: New Shelters Will Aid Civilian Morale

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GOVERNOR PLANS MASSIVE PROGRAMME OF SHELTER CONSTRUCTION

The Governor and C in C has made an urgent request to Alexandria for large quantities of cement, timber and reinforcing material to create air raid shelters. In a telegram to the Consul General in Alexandria, he stressed the need to arrange immediate purchase of the required supplies and their fastest possible transport to Malta. The Governor has made clear his firm belief that the provision of these shelters will be the greatest factor in the maintenance of civilian morale.

St Johns Co Cathedral Valletta

St Johns Co Cathedral Valletta

FIRST SUNDAY FREE OF AIR RAIDS

Malta’s devout Catholic population could attend Mass in peace today as the air raid sirens remained silent. This is the first Sunday since Italy declared war that there has been no air raid alert. Civilians also took the opportunity to take a precious Sunday stroll and visit family.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and very hot.

No air raids.

 

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Posted by on August 11, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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10 August 1940: Lull in Attacks Temporary, Says Admiral

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Malta unsafe as submarine base (NWMA Malta)

Malta unsafe as submarine base (NWMA Malta)

MALTA STILL UNDER THREAT

Despite the recent lull in enemy air attacks, Vice Admiral Malta has warned that it is still unsafe for the Mediterranean fleet to use the Island as a base. Thanks to the recent reduction in the scale of air raids, the dockyard has returned to almost normal working conditions. However, the decrease in attacks is believed to be temporary – and may be due to the enemy’s belief that severe damage has been done to the dockyard infrastructure.

SECRET STORE HOUSES

Plans to establish a six month reserve of stores on Malta ran into difficulties today as the Island lacks suitable safe storage facilities to house such a large quantity of supplies. Underground chambers are seen as the best way to keep stores safe from bombing raids but it will take at least six months to excavate such facilities. Meanwhile the Vice Admiral Malta has approved a plan to use two oil fuel tanks to accommodate service and Government stores. Work is already underway to clean out the tanks ready for the first delivery of supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 AUGUST TO DAWN 11 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and hot.

1820 hrs  An enemy flying boat of unknown type touches down 20 miles east of Delimara and proceeds to patrol 40 miles south of the Island.

1823-1840 hrs  Air raid alert. No enemy aircraft are seen and no bombs dropped.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 10 AUGUST 1940

AIR HQ  0920-1156 hrs One Hudson on photographic reconnaissance of Sciacca and Gela aerodromes. One Breda 88 approached but did not engage. A large landing ground was observed six miles NE of Gela town.  

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Instructions for static defence of Marsa issued to all relevant units.

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Posted by on August 10, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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9 August 1940: Ammunition Shortage Threatens Defence of Malta

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AMMUNITION STOCKS NEED TO INCREASE BY 50 PER CENT

Stocks of ammunition cannot meet Malta’s needs, according to Army Chiefs. The original estimate of 13 ½ million rounds made in 1939 is proving inadequate and should be increased by 50%, they say. The higher demands are due to the addition of three battalions, Royal Artillery units, anti-parachutists and extra light machine guns to the Island’s garrison. With only 9 million rounds currently held in Malta, Army HQ has written to the War Office requesting urgent deliveries to bring stocks up to the required level.

'Elephant' type shelter

‘Elephant’ type shelter (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 AUGUST TO DAWN 10 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 9 AUGUST 1940

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Erecting elephant shelters at Ta Qali and Luqa for winter accommodation.

(1)  Quonset

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Posted by on August 9, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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8 August 1940: 7000 Tons of Supplies on the Way

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STORES FOR MALTA

The co-ordinating committee in Alexandria for the supply of stores to Malta have informed the Island’s Governor that there will be 7000 tons of shipping space available in the next sailing, after providing for Naval, military and RAF requirements. The committee have made the following recommendations:

  • That the Government of Malta should finance the purchase of essential civil requirements.
  • That purchases should be made locally in the Middle East and shipped direct to the Government of Malta.
  • That the British Consul General at Alexandria will act as the Governor’s representative.
  • Freight and insurance charges are to be borne by the British government, details being arranged between the Director of Sea Transport and the Colonial Office.

It is considered that these arrangements should ensure comparative secrecy, since commodities will be stored after purchase and shipped under military arrangements.

Andromeda (1)

Andromeda (1)

WAR OFFICE TO SEND EMPTY FUEL CANS

The War Office notified the Governor and Commander in Chief today that 20,000 empty two gallon petrol cans have been despatched to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 AUGUST TO DAWN 9 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine; very humid.

1302-1330 hrs Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which pass north to south over the Island, to the east of Tarxien. No bombs are dropped.  Malta fighters are scrambled but do not intercept.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 8 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  2000 hrs Proteus arrived and rammed and sank Andromeda when shifting berth.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Private Muscat, B Coy 1st Bn injured by an explosion at Selmun and sent to Mtarfa Hospital.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Reconnaissance of the Marsa area with Fortress Royal Engineers.

(1)  AquaVentureMalta

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Posted by on August 8, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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7 August 1940: Two New Infantry Brigades for Malta

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MALTA INFANTRY BRIGADE DIVIDED INTO TWO ZONES

The Malta Infantry Brigade ceased operations today at Lascaris Barracks, to be replaced by two new Brigades. Infantry will now be operated in two zones: the Northern Infantry Brigade under Brigadier W H Oxley MC with its headquarters at the Melita Hotel and the Southern Infantry Brigade under Brigadier L H Cox MC, based at Luqa. Lt Col E D Corkery MC will be Brigadier i/c Administration, Malta.

Fort Lascaris

Fort Lascaris

The Northern Brigade will include units of 2nd Battalion (Bn) Royal Irish Fusiliers, 8th Bn Manchester Regiment and 1st and 2nd Bns Kings Own Malta Regiment. The Southern Brigade will include units of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment and 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 AUGUST TO DAWN 8 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

1628-1652 hrs  Air raid alert for six aircraft reported approaching over St Paul’s Bay. Malta fighters are up and the raiders turn back before any interception and before reaching the coast. No bombs are dropped.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 7 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Pandora sailed.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Major R F B Hill to be Acting Lieutenant Colonel and assumed command of the Battalion.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Operation Order issued today giving detailed instructions for the defence of Wardia sector.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1800 hrs  Luqa  An order was received for the removal of wire and obstacles from the landing ground; carried out. Mail received from the UK.

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Posted by on August 7, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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6 August 1940: New Air Squadron for Malta

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Gladiators to join new Squadron (NWMA)

Gladiators to join new Squadron (NWMA)

FIGHTERS JOIN FORCES

The two air forces engaged in the defence of Malta are to be amalgamated. 418 Flight and Fighter Flight will combine to form 261 Squadron. Included in the Squadron will be the surviving Gladiator aircraft which have defended the Island since the first air attacks in June.

MALTA TO BE A BASE FOR SEABORNE RAIDERS?

The War Office has written to military chiefs in Malta asking whether the Island could operate as a base for sea-borne attacks on enemy coasts. The message proposes the deployment of a self-contained company trained in coastal raiding tactics.

In his reply, the Governor and Commander in Chief welcomed the proposal, subject to certain provisos:

“Am strongly in favour of suggestion and consider that such offensive raids against Sicily or even Tripoli would have real value. But in order to make them feasible the necessary naval and air forces and equipment would have to be made available from outside sources. Vice Admiral Malta informs me that there are no suitable craft capable of transporting troops at necessary speed here – all these requirements would have to be brought in from outside. Similarly a much stronger force of reconnaissance aircraft would have to be provided. Further we have very little detailed information about suitable objectives…Any enterprise against Sicily or Tripoli will, of course, have to be carried out in conjunction with operations of the Mediterranean Fleet.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 AUGUST TO DAWN 7 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 6 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Pandora arrived with RAF stores.  

AIR HQ  1530 to 1730 hrs  Fleet Air Arm Skua reconnaissance of Messina, Catania, Augusta and Syracuse.   

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Posted by on August 6, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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5 August 1940: Malta’s New Fighter Pilots Lack Experience

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NEWLY ARRIVED PILOTS NEED INTENSIVE TRAINING

The Vice Admiral Malta has claimed that the Island’s new RAF Hurricane pilots lack the required experience to operate effectively against enemy raiders. In a message to the Admiralty Mediterranean, he commented that pilots posted to man the Hurricane fighter flight which arrived on Friday have had very little fighting experience. He suggests that they need at least a week’s intensive training to meet the demands they now face.

General Archibald Wavell

General Sir Archibald Wavell

MIDDLE EAST COMMANDER VISITS MALTA

General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander of British Forces in the Middle East today paid a surprise visit to Malta. He flew in from Alexandria in Egypt last night by flying boat. General Wavell was on his way to the UK.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 AUGUST TO DAWN 6 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine to cloudy.

1148-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters in two VIC formations of six each and four formations of two each, which approach the Island from the north at 20000 feet, then turn south east before departing. Fort Manoel, San Pietru and Delimara batteries as well as HMS Terror engage the raiders but fire only a few rounds as the raiders are too high to target. Two Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage. One is attacked by enemy fighters but escapes in a dive; no reported results. No bombs are dropped.  

 

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Posted by on August 5, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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4 August 1940: Civilian Defence Force for Malta

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GOVERNOR FORMS ANTI-PARACHUTIST FORCE

The Governor and Commander in Chief has created a new civilian organisation to stand ready to repel any possible invasion by parachuting enemy forces. The Malta Volunteer Defence Force will consist of volunteers ready to guard villages against attack. Civilian members have been issued with steel helmets and arm bands; most have provided their own shot guns, with the remainder issued with rifles. The volunteers will not be enlisted or enrolled men, so will not be subject to military law, nor receive any pay. However, the Governor and C in C has asked the War Office in London to fully recognise the new Force to ensure their treatment as bona fide combatants in the event of their capture by the enemy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 AUGUST TO DAWN 5 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine; cloudy.

CR 42 aircraft

CR 42 aircraft

1515-1544 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 enemy CR42 aircraft which approach Malta from the north and cross over the east of Gozo, then over Marfa Ridge, turning south east and then south before passing over Hal Far. They circle round the east of the Island at 21000 feet, evidently trying to lure Malta’s fighters into battle. Two Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not engage and the raiders turn away. Spinola, Delimara, San Pietru and San Giacomo batteries engage the raiders but they are too high for accurate hits. No bombs are dropped.  

Civilian casualties  Zabbar  Felix Caruana, age 26.

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Posted by on August 4, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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3 August 1940: Supplies Will Run Out in a Few Months

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REGULAR SUPPLY RUNS NEEDED, SAYS VICE ADMIRAL MALTA

The Island is running low on essential supplies and is at risk of running out without regular supply runs, according to the Vice Admiral Malta. Reporting on the current status of stocks, he said:

SS Cornwall (1)

SS Cornwall (1)

“Preliminary survey of essential supplies shows certain army and civil stocks are much below the level required to meet six months’ consumption. Some deficiencies will be made up if the British ship Cornwall arrives. It is essential that all services operate a common reserve policy and I recommend that six months’ supply is the minimum level of reserve wherever possible. I also recommend that a convoy runs to Malta at least every two months. This policy would require immediate shipments of supplies to bring reserves to eight months’ stock, which would allow the reserve to reduce to only six months between convoys.”

The Vice Admiral was supported by the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, who agreed that the proper supply of Malta and effective reserves form an essential part of the fortress defence.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 AUGUST TO DAWN 4 AUGUST 1940

Weather Fine; windy.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 3 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Oswald reported rammed and torpedoed off Sicily by an Italian destroyer.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1730 hrs  Guard over the wrecked Hurricane at Luqa dismounted.

(1) www.clydesite.co.uk

 

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Posted by on August 3, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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2 August 1940: Twelve Hurricane Fighters Arrive in ‘Hurry’

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MALTA HAS NEW FIGHTER FLIGHT     

Hurricanes fly in to MaltaTwelve Hurricane fighters flew in to Malta today to strengthen the Island’s air defences. At 0740 hours this morning RAF Luqa received a message to stand by for the arrival of two separate formations, each of seven aircraft.

In ‘Operation Hurry’ the twelve Hurricanes and two Skuas left the Clyde aboard HMS Argus which sailed for Malta on 20 July escorted by four destroyers. The convoy was then joined by two more destroyers, two battleships and one cruiser for the hazardous journey through the western Mediterranean. During their journey, the Mediterranean fleet made a diversionary attack on Cagliari, while a cruiser patrolled the area searching for possible hostile vessels.

The convoy escorted Argus to a point west of Malta from where the Hurricanes took off to fly the remaining distance to the Island in two formations, each guided in by one of the Skuas. At 083 hours the first formation was sighted over Hal Far and within minutes the Skua and Hurricanes were circling over Luqa aerodrome.

The first Hurricane landed successfully; the second plane was circling very low when his engine failed and the aircraft crashed. The Commander in Chief of the aerodrome dashed to the scene of the crash in his car, rescued the pilot, helped him into the car and drove him to the medical incident room at Luqa camp from where he was referred to the Military Hospital at Imtarfa suffering from abrasions and slight concussion. He has been named as Pilot/Sergeant F N Robertson, 66 Squadron. A guard was mounted over the wreck of the Hurricane. The other machines landed safely.

Skua

Skua

Minutes later the second formation of one Skua and six Hurricanes was seen approaching Luqa from the direction of Hal Far. The aircraft circled the aerodrome before the Hurricanes landed safely. As the Skua approached the runway it seemed to wobble and landed heavily on one wheel, skidding along on its left wing for about 200 yards before crashing over the air raid shelter near the control tower. The pilot escaped unhurt and the aircraft is repairable.

The RAF ground crews for the new aircraft arrived separately in Malta aboard submarines Pandora and Proteus.  Declaring Operation Hurry a complete success, the Governor hopes that it will form a model for the future supply of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and hot.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 2 AUGUST 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 1 Hurricane. 1845 hrs One Hudson on reconnaissance Cagliari.

LUQA  Strength of Station: RAF 21 Officers, 121 Airmen; Army 9 Officers, 250 Other Ranks; civilians 4.

 

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Posted by on August 2, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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