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6 December 1941: Night Bombing Over Malta

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LAST BATTLE FOR P/O HUTT

The fate of Pilot Officer D F Hutt of 40 Squadron, reported missing after last night’s attack on Naples, is explained by a returning Regia Aeronautica pilot:  

“During the night between 5th and 6th December 1941 twenty Wellingtons from 40 and 104 Squadrons attacked the Royal Arsenal at Naples. Maresciallo Patriarca from 356a Squadriglia, 21o Gruppo took off from Capodichino airfield to intercept the incoming bombers. At 21:35 he spotted Wellington R1066 of 40 Squadron, flown by Pilot Officer D F Hutt, and engaged it in a long fight, firing 408 rounds of 12.7 mm ammunition before he finally shot it down.  Two members of the Wellington crew baled out near the port, Hutt included, but four others were killed.  Patriarca landed at Capua almost out of fuel, and with the tail of his fighter damaged by return fire.” (1)

German Junkers JU 88

German Junkers JU 88

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 DECEMBER TO DAWN 7 DECEMBER 1941

2308-0659 hrs 18-20 enemy aircraft approached the Island singly from east and south as intruder raids over aerodromes.  Bombs dropped on edge of Luqa, near Ta Qali, and Naxxar.  Bofors engaged low flying aircraft at approx 2,000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged illuminated targets by height control.  Searchlight operators identified two JU88s – Luftwaffe.

The RE Bomb Disposal Officer is called to Luqa on another high priority mission to defuze three unexploded bombs hampering air operations.  They are German.

2056 hrs  Air raid alarm.  14 enemy aircraft crossed coast, two only dropping bombs, one stick of six north of Rabat and others in sea.  The raids were of two kinds: (a) nuisance raids and (b) intruder raids – enemy aircraft following in our returning bombers.  Heavy Ack Ack barraged on one occasion only.  Searchlight operators identified two JU88s.

Military casualties  Gunner Thomas Hines, 26th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 6 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Five Albacores attacked Castel Benito aerodrome with bombs and incendiaries.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 12 Wellingtons, 1 Whitley, 1 Cathay and 1 Halifax from Gibraltar; 2 Marylands from 201 Group.  Departures  Four Beaufighters for 108 MU.

LUQA  S/D Flight: one Wellington special shipping search.  69 Squadron Photo-reconnaissance over Catania and Gela, another over Tripoli and Castel Benito.   One Maryland SF 6 patrol; three Marylands special search, including one in Kefalonia area, a second in Zante area.  18 Squadron: one Blenheim SF 11 patrol.  Six Blenheims attacked barracks at Homs.  107 Squadron: one Blenheim SF 11 patrol.  40 Squadron: ten Wellingtons attacked Royal Arsenal at Naples.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 3 (German 50kg). 

(1) Biplane Fighter Aces From the Second World War by Hakan Gustavsson.  Read more at http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se

 

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Posted by on December 6, 2021 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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5 December 1941: All Night Raids – Aircraft Believed German

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Breconshire

Breconshire

EYE-WITNESSES DESCRIBE LUFTWAFFE AIRCRAFT; UNEXPLODED BOMB IS GERMAN 50KG

German aircraft are believed to have been responsible for attacks on Malta overnight.  Air raids started at ten in the evening and the final all clear did not sound until 0530 hrs this morning.  20 minutes later another raid started, lasting for over an hour.  Reports have been coming in of bombs dropped on Luqa and Hal Far airfields.  Rumours are spreading that the attackers were not Italian, but German. 

First thing in the morning, the Bomb Disposal Officer is handed a Priority report of an unexploded bomb near an artillery battery at Targa Gap.  He heads straight for the location, up on the Victoria Lines.  The bomb is a 50kg: it is German. 

REINFORCEMENT REQUEST REFUSED

From: The War Office                                           To: Governor and C in C Malta

Regret NO increase in personnel can be allowed except by corresponding decrease elsewhere.  If you are prepared to do this cable details.

A DASH FOR OIL

The recent increase in Royal Navy forces operating from Malta has left the Island short of fuel.  As soon as darkness fell, the fast transport ship Breconshire sailed from Grand Harbour with an escort, to make a run for Alexandria to collect supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1941

2145-2229 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft dropped bombs in sea.

2201-0533 hours  Air raid alarm.  Bombs dropped Luqa, Hal Far, Ta Qali and other areas.

0550-0652 hrs  Air raid alarm.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Anthony Farrugia, age 49; Zabbar  Clementa Pullicino, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Eddy detonated a “Red” mine in position 045 degrees St. Elmo 3/4′.  Breconshire, escorted by Kingston and Kimberley, sailed for Alexandria at 1700.  Ajax, Neptune and Lively sailed on operations at 2000.

Beaufighter

AIR HQ  From Gibraltar: 18 Blenheims, 7 Beaufighters, 3 Beauforts.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol.  One Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims SF 2B patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance Unit 2 on recce Comiso and Gela.  One Maryland on photo-reconnaissance Augusta and Crotone.  One Maryland photo-reconnaissance Lybian aerodromes.107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol.

Two Beaufighters BF/Flight patrol over Pantelleria for protection of aircraft arriving from Gibraltar.  One Wellington S/D Flight special shipping search.  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron and ten Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked Royal Arsenal at Naples. P/O Hutt [40 Squadron] failed to return.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 1 (50kg high explosive).

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Posted by on December 5, 2021 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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4 December 1941: Ammunition Supply Unusable – Sabotage Suspected

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VITAL AMMUNITION SUPPLIES NOT FIT FOR USE

Lt Gen Dobbie

A million rounds of ammunition recently arrived in Malta are not fit for use against the enemy, according to the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief.  In an exchange of telegrams with the War Office in London, Lt Gen Dobbie has raised serious concerns about the state of the supplies and questions the security of manufacture and packaging in Britain’s factories. 

Aerial reconnaissance has shown that German aircraft are amassing in Sicily and Malta’s gunners cannot be asked to defend the Island against a determined Luftwaffe with faulty ammunition, he says.  Every consignment will now have to be checked before issue, and that will take extra manpower.

From: Gov & C in C Malta                                                      To: The War Office

First.  100% inspection of 100000 ctg SA Ball .303” Mark VIIIZ straight in stripless belts indicates that probably nearly one million rounds will be unserviceable or fit for practice only due to corrosion of contents of sealed linings.  Sabotage at filling factory suspected; detailed report follows by cable.

Second. Above necessitates 100% examination of total holdings (4½ million rounds).  This vital for defence of fortress as all [is] now suspect.  Present RAOC staff unable to cope with existing ammunition repair and inspection work.  Essential that one inspecting Ordnance Officer and four RAOC ammunition examiners (2 Corporals, 2 Privates) be sent at once by air (repeat air) to carry out above special 100% inspection of SAA and other vital inspections of ammunition in Malta. 

FINDINGS OF INITIAL INSPECTIONS

100% examination carried out of 100,000 [units] packed in boxes…with original seals results: 8.1% unserviceable; 11.7% fit for practice only, 80.2% serviceable.  Defects: metal linings rusty internally; packing pieces damp and rotted; belts rotted and can be torn with fingers; cartridges corroded and incapable of extraction from belt.  All above defects are far worse at bottom of linings than top.  Cause of defects ingress of water source unknown.  No acidic reaction.  No external rust or signs of damp on labels.  Sabotage at filling factories (before linings sealed) suspected. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1941

1345 hrs Air raid alarm.  Caused by return of Blenheim.

MILITARY CASUALTIES  Sergeant Robert George Kidby, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

P31 HMS Uproar

P31 HMS Uproar

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  P31 [submarine HMS Uproar] returned from patrol off Colonne, having most probably sunk a cruiser.

LUQA  One Blenheim 107 Squadron SF 2B patrol.  One Blenheim 107 Squadron SF11 patrol.  Four Blenheims 107 Squadron attacked marshalling yards at Messina.  Sergeant Kidby failed to return.  One Beaufighter BF/Flt attacked motor transport on road east of Sirte.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF1 patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF6 patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 9 patrol. 

TA QALI  Acting Wing Commander Powell-Shedden appointed officer commanding Ta Qali. Malta Night Fighter Unit – No 1435 Night Fighter Flight  – formed as separate entity under Squadron Leader I B Westmacott.  Establishment awaited.    All night operations cancelled – bad weather conditions – no flying.    

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Posted by on December 4, 2021 in 1941, December 1941

 

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3 December 1941: Malta Flying Ace Awarded DFC

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Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

SQUADRON LEADER GEORGE F POWELL SHEDDEN DECORATED

London Gazette, December 1941: Distinguished Flying Cross

“This officer has been engaged on operations almost since the war began.  He served with a fighter squadron in the Middle East theatre of war until June, 1940, when he returned to this country and took part in the Battle of Britain.  In July, 1941, Squadron Leader Powell Shedden was posted to Malta where he formed the night flying unit which has since performed sterling work in the night defence of Malta.  By his great and energetic organising ability, together with his courage and initiative in the air, Squadron Leader Powell Shedden has contributed materially to the successes obtained.  He has destroyed at least 5 enemy aircraft 3 of which were during the Battle of Britain.”

Squadron Leader Powell Shedden is to be promoted to Acting Wing Commander with effect from 4 December 1941.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1941

2110 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One unidentified enemy aircraft, probably Italian piloted German aircraft off its course crossed the coast near Delimara.  No engagement took place as it was thought the aircraft might try and land but it receded north.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 3 DECEMBER 1941

HMS Olympus takes in supplies in Manoel Creek

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with stores and passengers.  Upholder returned from patrol off Colonne, having unsuccessfully attacked returning cruisers and Mantovani

HAL FAR: No enemy air activity – conditions bad.

LUQA:  All operations cancelled (owing to bad weather).

 FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with (12 x Thermos).

 

 

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Posted by on December 3, 2021 in 1941, December 1941

 

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2 December 1941: Bomb Disposal Man Risks Life 19 Times

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Lt G D Carroll, RE

Lt G D Carroll, RE

BOMBS MUST BE CLEARED FROM THE OPERA HOUSE

“I had to get the bombs out.  I couldn’t carry them: depending as they did on vibration to explode, they could go off and destroy me…”  Lt George Carroll, RE Bomb Disposal Officer Malta, 1941-42

Malta’s Bomb Disposal Officer Lt Carroll and his squad have been working for a month without a break, dealing with 533 unexploded bombs, including over 450 “Thermos” anti-personnel cluster bombs.  Today Lt Carroll headed into central Valletta, to begin his greatest challenge yet: to remove 19 highly-sensitive Thermos bombs from the Opera House. 

As Bomb Disposal Officer he must carry out the dangerous operation himself – to avoid unnecessary loss of life.  He has spent hours in the past month devising a method of lifting and transport the bombs safely out of the building, one at a time.  Every single one could kill him.  

From War Diary, Fortress Engineers Malta, Appendix F:

“On 1st Nov 1941 the Police of Valletta unwittingly risking their lives, stored 19 complete Thermos bombs, and 15 fuzes from same (complete with detonators) in a lower basement room of the Royal Opera House. Removal of the complete bombs was inconvenient at the time owing to demands of more bombs lying in the open. The basement was heavily sandbagged, and research and experiment commenced to devise a means of removing the bombs when opportunity presented itself. The detonators were unscrewed and removed.

Opera House, Valletta

The Thermos bomb is designed to explode under movement induced by vibration or handling, after impact.  Falling on hard ground, the mechanism of the fuze may become so distorted as to act progressively on handling, and not instantaneously.  This was the state of the bombs in the Opera House.

After much experimenting, a self closing grab was devised, which could be slid over the bomb without disturbing it.  This grab was suspended from a cord, passing over pulleys on a curtain railway, leading to outside the room.  Pulling on this cord caused the grab to close round the bomb and lift it in a horizontal position.

By means of a second cord the suspended bomb was caused to travel along the curtain railway, until it was opposite to the basement window.  In this position a further cord was affixed which passed outside the window, over pulleys, and was operated from cover by a party in a shelter across the street. By balancing the tensions of the two cords, one suspending it and the other pulling out of the window, the bomb was manoeuvred over a tray carrying sand, resting in the bottom of the window bay, and lowered into it.

Thermos bomb

Lying in the sand, the grab was slid clear of the bomb and the tray hauled to street level by means of a third tackle, operated by the outside party.  When clear of the building this lifting tackle was allowed to run out from the face of the Opera House, lifting the tray with it, until the latter was free to be lowered into a sandbag emplacement built in the roadway.  By means of a spilling loop the bomb was then thrown into the emplacement onto 2′ of sand therein.  Steel plates lined the emplacement to economise in sandbags and the bombs were blown up in it singly.

The 19 bombs were taken out on two successive days.  The bombs were in two shelves. The afternoon of the first day was spent shifting the curtain railway.  The system did not work perfectly, for two bombs which were in most remote positions fell out of the grab, due to indirect and uneven lifting. They did not explode and were picked up again by the grab.

The Lieut. Governor wrote thanking us for this successful operation.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO DAWN 3 DECEMBER 1941

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 2 DECEMBER 1941

0034 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

1848 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.  Bombs in sea.

ROYAL NAVY  Force “K” arrived, having intercepted and sunk one destroyer, one tanker and one merchant vessel.  Four Albacores left for operations, but returned owing to weather.

LUQA  Two Marylands 69 Squadron SF 1 patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 9B patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF6 patrol.  Two Beaufighters attacked petrol tankers and lorries on road between Sirte and Homs.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 7 (Thermos).

(1) Extract from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010

 

 

 

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Posted by on December 2, 2021 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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1 December 1941: Luftwaffe Chief Arrives Sicily to Neutralise Malta

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Alvisa da Mosto: sunk by Force K today

Alvisa da Mosto sunk by Force K today

RAID SUMMARY NOVEMBER 1941

  • No of air raid alerts 76 (including 40 night alerts)
  • Days without air raid alerts 6
  • Total time under alert 35 hours 13 mins
  • Average length of alert 28 mins

ENEMY IN THE WINGS

German high command is determined that the threat from the Island will not continue unchallenged. For months now, the Island’s forces have continued to disrupt the Axis war efforts in North Africa, seemingly unhindered by the Italian Regia Aeronautica.  Axis air force supremo Field Marshal Kesselring arrived in Sicily today.  His orders are clear: Malta must be neutralised. 

Reports have been submitted from Malta’s Chiefs of Staff catalogue the many successful offensive operations launched from Malta in November:

General Staff War Diary  Great success was obtained by Malta’s Striking Force of HM Ships and the usual excellent work maintained by submarines and the RAF.  It has been gratifying to see that the building up of the defences of the Island has made it possible for Malta to turn so successfully from the defensive to the offensive.” 

Royal Navy War Diary  “Force “K” has made seven sorties; one is still in progress, two were mere diversions and two abortive.  The remaining two were extremely successful: ten merchant ships and two destroyers were sunk 9-10th November and two important merchant vessels in the operation of 24th November. 

Twelve submarine patrols from Malta have been carried out.  Tenth Flotilla have sunk seven ships – two cruisers, three destroyers, one submarine and one merchant vessel – and First Flotilla one merchant ship.  Fleet Air Arm 828 Squadron have carried out ten bombing, four mining and one torpedo operation; 828 Squadron one torpedo and one mining operation.  Hits are claimed on one cruiser and at least one merchant ship.” 

Air HQ War Diary  “Marylands of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes almost daily.  Wellingtons of 40 Squadron have carried out 19 operations and of 104 Squadron 22.  In total 332 tons of bombs have been dropped, causing considerable damage at Naples, Benghazi and Brindisi. 

Blenheims of 18 and 107 Squadrons have carried out 36 operations, 28 against shipping.  Four merchant vessels were set on fire, aerodromes in Sirte, Mellaha and Tamet were attacked and three sweeps on petrol tankers made on Libyan roads.  Hurricanes of 126, 185 and 249 Squadrons carried out attacks on Gela and Comiso aerodromes, setting enemy aircraft on fire.  Offensive patrols against enemy air ferry services were also made. 

Swordfish of 830 Squadron have carried out eight operations, either mining or against shipping.  Albacores of 828 Squadron have attacked Augusta, Regusa, Gela, Tripoli, Castel Benito and Licata, causing much damage in at least two locations.  On two nights Fulmars bombed and machine-gunned an aerodrome in Sicily.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 DECEMBER TO DAWN 2 DECEMBER 1941

No air raids. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 1 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  0330 hrs Working in conjunction with Wellingtons from Malta Force K sinks Italian merchant ship Adriatico (1976 tons) 60 miles north of Benghazi.  1800 hrs Force K sinks destroyer Alvise da Mosto (2125 tons) and tanker Iridio Mantovani (10540 tons), already bombed and damaged by Blenheims from Malta. (1)  Force “B” arrived, having had no luck [in pursuit of enemy convoy] and sighted nothing.

LUQA  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 1 patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Castel Benito, Mellaha.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 6 patrol.  Two Blenheims 18 Squadron SF 11 patrol.  Six Blenheims 18 Squadron attacked one destroyer and one tanker 6-7000 tons.  Four Blenheims 107 Squadron attacked one destroyer and one tanker 3-4000 tons.  One Beaufighter BF/Flt attacked motor transport on road east of Sirte. [RAF Blenheim bombers sank the Capo Faro (3,476 tons).] 

(1) Force K also sank auxiliary cruiser Adriatico (1,930 tons). Read reports by Force K on the operation.

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Posted by on December 1, 2021 in 1941, December 1941

 

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30 November 1941: 1000th Air Raid Alert for Malta

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Macchi 202

Macchi 202

NEW MACCHI 202 STEPS UP ENEMY RECONNAISSANCE

The employment by the enemy of the new Macchi 202 as a reconnaissance machine has now made it possible for him to recce the Island much more frequently, as these machines are very fast and always fly too high for interception by our own fighters.  It must be assumed that these machines were equipped with cameras in similar manner to our Photo Reconnaissance Unit Hurricanes and Spitfires.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 1 DECEMBER 1941

0835 hrs  Two Macchi fighters crossed the Island. No damage or casualties; no bombs dropped. This is the 1000th air alert on the Island since the first raid in June 1940.

0832 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two recce Macchi’s crossed at 17,500 ft.  No engagement.

1140 hrs;  1658 hrs;  1725 hrs  Air raid alarms; raids do not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  0500 hrs Ursula and Regent sailed for Gibraltar and United Kingdom to refit. Olympus arrived from Gibraltar with petrol and stores. 

LUQA  0724-1110 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron special search Ionian Sea. 0844-0945 hrs Photo-reconnaissance unit 2 on reconnaissance Comiso, Gerbeni, Catania, Gela. 1146-1545 hrs Two Marylands search B to shadow convoy. 1345-1745 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 6 patrol.  One Blenheim 18 Squadron and one Blenheim 107 Squadron SF 11 patrol.  Six Blenheims 107 Squadron despatched to attack convoy.  Failed to locate target.  Six Blenheims 18 Squadron attacked convoy in central Ionian Sea.  One Wellington S/D Flight shipping search central Ionian Sea.  Two Beaufighters B F Flight attacked motor transport along road east of Misrata.

8th BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battle practices have been held on the Battle Practice Range, Pembroke. Rifle Companies and 4 Platoon took part, testing platoon in the attack. B Coy 2 Kings Own Malta Regiment are under command of the unit and training at Ghain Tuffieha camp.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1.

 

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Posted by on November 30, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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29 November 1941: Air Crew Missing After Libya Strike

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ALBACORE FAILS TO RETURN TO HAL FAR

Albacore

Albacore

One Albacore has been reported missing after an air strike on a Libyan target last night by 828 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, based at Hal Far.  Five Albacores carried out the successful night raid on the Italian Regia Aeronautica base at Castel Benito near Tripoli.  Despite fierce enemy opposition, bombs were dropped among dispersal areas, destroying at least one aircraft and starting fires across the airfield.  The pilot of the missing Albacore has been named as S/Lt Walshe; his observer is S/Lt Lewis.

SECOND NAVY STRIKE FORCE FOR MALTA

Allied intelligence has discovered that Rommel’s fuel stocks are fast running out.  Seeing a real opportunity to cut off his supplies entirely, the Admiralty in London decides on an all out offensive against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean.  Malta is now to be at the spearhead of that attack. 

HMS Ajax

Already the base for Force “K”, Grand Harbour now sees the arrival of a second Strike Force “B” – including Ajax, Neptune, Kimberley and Kingston – carrying with them from Alexandria welcome supplies for Malta.  The Island is now equipped with four cruisers and four destroyers.

As if on cue, Axis supply ships set out from various Italian ports heading for Libya, closely observed by Malta’s reconnaissance pilots.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1941

1057-1106 hrs Air raid alarm.  One recce Macchi crossed at great height.

1710-1728 hrs Air raid alarm.  Two recce Macchi’s crossed at great height.

1937-1939 hrs Air raid.

Military casualty  Sergeant George Tolcher, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Force “B” arrives, consisting of HMS Ajax flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H B T Rawlings Commanding Seventh Cruiser Squadron, with Neptune, Kingston and Kimberley.  Force “K” arrives.

AIR HQ  Two Wellesleys headed in from Heliolopolis, one crashed in the sea; the crew was saved.

LUQA  0800-1127 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron special search.  0815-1140 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 10 patrol.  0905-1030 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  Returned owing to bad weather.  Two Blenheims 18 Squadron SF 11 patrol.  Six Blenheims 107 Squadron attacked shipping in Navarino Harbour.  One Wellington S/D Flight special shipping search.  Ten Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked administrative buildings at Benghazi. 

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Posted by on November 29, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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28 November 1941: Luqa Leads the Attack

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AIR AND SEA HUNT FOR AXIS SHIPPING

69 Squadron are on the trail of the enemy.  At 0645 hrs this morning one Maryland takes off from Luqa, followed by a second five minutes later.  Their task is to search for shipping: the hunt is on again for Axis convoys attempting to supply Rommel’s North Africa campaign. 

RAF Maryland aircraft 1941

Within minutes, a third of their Maryland pilots takes to the air on SF 9B patrol.  His return at 1116 hrs triggers the air raid alarm, but spotters recognise the friendly aircraft before the Island’s gunners open fire.  In the afternoon, while Force “K” sails from Grand Harbour, another two Marylands are airborne; one to take over the SF 9B patrol and a second to cover SF 6.  They return to base soon after dark. 

Also on patrol are two Blenheims of 107 Squadron, operating in SF 2B, and one Wellington S/D Flight, also engaged in a shipping search. 

Meanwhile Luqa’s bombers are on the attack.  Six Blenheims, four from 18 Squadron and two from 107 Squadron, attack a tanker in the bay of Navarino.  Eleven Wellingtons from 40 Squadron launch a heavy raid on Benghazi.

TOTAL WAR

The Commanding Officer of 8th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment addresses his Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants.  He reminds them in no uncertain terms that the Battalion is engaged in a total war, pointing out the grave responsibilities which they all carry.  He orders all Officers and NCOs to ensure the men are ready, and fully trained in the correct techniques for seeking out the enemy, employing their weapons, and the use of covering fire. 

HARBOUR BOOM

There have been few enemy raids on Malta, and even fewer bombs dropped, in recent weeks  but the night rest of civilians is still being disturbed by explosions.

“We have a new horror…depth charges are let go in Sliema Harbour immediately below our drawing room window. At first it was very secret, but now we know in part. They are only small charges, 6 lbs I am told; but they shake the Cathedral to its foundations, the glasses rattle, and pieces of plaster fall down from the walls and ceilings.

These big detonations go on from nightfall almost every night, and continue at intervals of perhaps 15 or 20 minutes till dawn. We have not fathomed the exact reasons. Obviously they are a defence against attack by E-boats – but why have they only lately been in operation? Today we were given a possible explanation. It was said that at the Harbour attack [in July 1941 – see article, R], the boom was damaged, and also the listening apparatus; the latter may not yet have been replaced, perhaps owing to lack of parts. These depth charges may be a substitute.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 29 NOVEMBER 1941

1116 hrs  Air raid alarm; caused by return of Maryland.

1844-1858 hrs  Air raid.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 NOVEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Six Beaufighters and one Sunderland arrive from Gibraltar.

(1)  Extract from diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on November 28, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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27 November 1941: A Letter from Home

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HMS Utmost

HMS Utmost

A LETTER FROM HOME

After a day of intensive activity at Luqa, Corporal Jack Turner can at last have a few minutes to himself.  After weeks of waiting, he has received a letter from his home on the Isle of Man.  Ever conscious of security and the censor, Jack’s father knows he cannot tell or ask his son about the war. Still, contact with loved ones and simple reassurance that all is well are precious to those separated by thousands of miles.  

Stamped: airgraph service not available to Malta, forwarded by Air Mail: Upton, Nov 4th 1941

Dear Jack

I received your letter this morning, and am glad to know you are safe and well.  Your telegram arrived last Monday week and I replied by wire last Wednesday.  Pleased to know you had a good trip out, it must have been an exciting time.  Have written to [Mrs K] and sent the money for the Insurance and will forward it to her every 4 weeks.  I will also write and give her your message.  Will be writing to Betty in a day or two when I will forward your letter on to her.  We are all well at home and each of us send our love to you.  The weather has been on the cold side, but of course we can expect that now.  There is no fresh news to tell you, only let me have a letter when you can.  Cheerio and all the best.

Love Father. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 28 NOVEMBER 1941

0049-0129 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft came in from north and crossed the coast between Grand Harbour and Madalena.  Ack Ack barraged on three occasions claiming one enemy aircraft destroyed. 

1106-1125 hrs  Air raid alert.  Recce raid by two enemy fighter aircraft.  Heavy Ack Ack barraged at 24,000 feet.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned from patrol off Del Armi, having sunk Trieste (2)Sokol returned from patrol of Navarino having got two hits on a convoy after they left harbour.  Five Albacores attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.

HAL FAR  Night 27/28th Nov Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack Castel Benito aerodrome. Two small fires were started – one on the eastern side and one on the western side of the aerodrome.  Weather 8/10 to 10/10 cloud over target.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  18 Squadron  Four Blenheims attacked walled enclosure 11000 yards east south east of Mellaha aerodrome. Two Blenheims on SF11 patrol.  One Blenheim search for merchant vessels.  107 Squadron  Five Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessels in Argostoli Harbour. Did not find target.  One Wellington S/D Flight on special shipping search.  Twelve Wellingtons 40 Squadron and nine Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked Royal Arsenal at Naples.  

 (1)  With thanks to Ivor Ramsden of the MANX AVIATION AND MILITARY MUSEUM – a collection of militaria, civil and wartime aviation dedicated to the memory of those from the Isle of Man who served in a military capacity on the Island or overseas. 

(2) HM Submarine Utmost severely damaged Trieste, but did not sink her.  The hit on Trieste and a light cruiser by an a/c torpedo did cause the Italian navy to return the supply convoy to Italy.

 

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Posted by on November 27, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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