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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:

HMS Cornwall (c) IWM FL8535

HMS Cornwall (c) IWM FL8535

“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.

 

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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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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, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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1 August 1940: Guns On The Way But No Gunners

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GOVERNOR STRUGGLING TO RECRUIT FOR ARTILLERY

3.7 inch gunEight heavy and ten light anti-aircraft guns are on their way to Malta, with more heavy guns to follow. All will be accompanied by supplies of ammunition. Welcoming the news, the Governor and Commander in Chief informed the War Office that there is significant doubt whether the Island will have sufficient servicemen to man the guns.

In a telegram sent today, he reports that the rate of recruitment is slowing considerably in Malta, due to the limit of the local population and requirements of other units on the Island. As a result it has been impossible to build up any reserve forces and no reinforcements are in place to man the new guns. Without additional Royal Artillery or signals personnel from the Middle East, the all-important artillery will sit idle.

MALTA SHOULD LAUNCH AIR OFFENSIVES

Malta should be a base for striking and general reconnaissance air forces, says the Air Officer Commanding Mediterranean. In a message to the Air Ministry in London, the AOC said the forces should be brought to the Island as a matter of urgency. He believes that much of the sea reconnaissance currently undertaken by Sunderlands operating out of Alexandria could be operated successfully from Malta.  

The only attacking aircraft at Malta are Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm and offensive operations from Malta are therefore limited. The AOC proposes that one complete squadron of 15 aircraft would produce results out of all proportion to its size and recommends they be despatched as soon as other commitments allow.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 1 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Aircraft patrol reported one destroyer, two tankers, one large merchant vessel and many smaller ones in Cagliari Harbour, and three submarines leaving harbour.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND  1000 hrs  Two 4.7” naval guns were installed at F Verandah, Marsa, and manned by 3rd Heavy Battery, Royal Malta Artillery. These guns are known as ‘Barker Section’.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers, 743 Other Ranks.

 

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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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31 July 1940: Gladiator Pilot Burned in Dogfight

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FIRST GLADIATOR TO BE LOST IN COMBAT

Gladiator 'Charity' (1)

Gladiator ‘Charity’ (1)

The pilot of one of Malta’s three Gladiator fighters was badly burned today in a hard fought air battle.  All three Gladiators were scrambled when a formation of seven enemy fighters escorting a single bomber was reported heading for the Island.  Flying Officer Peter Hartley led Flg Off Woods and Flg Off Taylor into the attack which quickly developed into a dogfight at 18000 feet over Valletta. 

One of the enemy fighters was quickly shot down and while two others held back to protect the bomber, the rest engaged the Gladiators in a fierce fight.  Flg Off Hartley’s aircraft NN5519 (‘Charity’) was hit in the fuel tank and burst into flames.  Despite suffering severe burns, he managed to bale out and parachuted down off Xrobb l’Ghagin.  His Gladiator crashed into the sea off Fort St Leonardo. 

Flg Off Hartley described the moment he was hit:  “Suddenly the great radial engine in front of me erupted in flames as the forward fuel tank was hit.  Fire soon enveloped the cockpit and, as I was wearing only shorts and shirt, I was quickly in such agony that I would have jumped even without a parachute.”  Flg Off Hartley was picked up by the RAF Air Sea Rescue launch from Kalafrana and taken to Imtarfa Military Hospital.  He is being treated for multiple burns to his extremities, face and neck. 

With the loss of its first Gladiator in combat, Malta’s fighter flight is reduced again, to one serviceable Hurricane and two Gladiators. (1)  

DOCKYARD WORKERS’ RESILIENCE PRAISED BY ROYAL NAVY

The consistently high morale of Dockyard workers through the hardships since the onset of attacks on Malta has been praised in a Royal Navy report.  Despite heavy bombing raids and the effect on the men’s nerves of mass evacuation of families to the countryside, workmen are turning up as normal and working without complaint. 

The first air raids and resulting damage to areas surrounding the dockyard forced entire communities to relocate further inland.  As a result, for some days workmen were absent resettling their families, many finding it impossible to reach work due to a lack of transport.  However, in the past two weeks attendance levels have returned to normal.

However, though the behaviour of the men in shelter during raids is praised, there are still some concerns about responses afterwards, when some workers are showing proving slow to move from shelters. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1940

Weather   Hot and humid with heavy, low cloud.

0943-1005 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy bomber escorted by seven fighters which approach from the east of Gozo.  Three Gladiator fighters and Ack Ack guns engage.  The bomber turns back.  One enemy fighter is shot down in the sea by fighters five miles east of Grand Harbour.  One of Malta’s Gladiators is shot down by enemy fighters and crashes just off the beach near Fort Leonardo.  The pilot, F/Lt P W Hartley, is badly hurt but escapes by parachute.  He is observed descending towards the sea off Delimara.  A power boat is sent out from Kalafrana which rescues the pilot who is admitted to the station sick quarters suffering from burns and other injuries.

1530-1600 hrs  Air raid alert for fourteen enemy aircraft which fly over the Island in two formations at too great a height to be identified.  No bombs are dropped.      

1830-1850 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which fly over the Island above the cloud and retreat without dropping any bombs.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Antonio Chiodi, 75a Squadriglia, pilot of Fiat CR42 fighter, shot down and died when his aircraft crashed into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 31 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Swordfish on special reconnaissance reported an enemy cruiser of Bande Nero class 85 miles south east of Delimara at 1840 hrs.  An air striking force was despatched to make a dusk attack but failed to locate the enemy.  Visibility reported as three to ten miles. 

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Gladiator. 

KALAFRANA  During July 45 local recruits were posted to the Station for initial training and 34 were posted from here to other Units.  A number of airmen were temporarily attached to Luqa to assist in the formation of that Station.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND  During July the harbour defences were increased by two 4.7in. and two 4in. guns at Grand Harbour and by three 4in. guns at Marsamxetto Harbour.  Strength: Other Ranks 925.

(1)  Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications, 2008

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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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30 July 1940: Hundredth Air Raid Since 11 June

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Hurricane colour

APPEAL LAUNCHED TO BUY FIGHTER PLANES FOR MALTA

An appeal was launched today to raise funds for a fighter plane to serve over Malta.  The initiative is a response to recent reductions of fighter strength to critical levels.  The appeal is being organised by the Anglo-Maltese League, in conjunction with Barclays Bank and Allied Malta Newspapers.

Announcing the campaign in the Times, the organisers said:  “None can have failed to appreciate the great service of the Royal Air Force in the air defence of these Islands against the bombing attacks by Italian aeroplanes, nor can any have failed to observe that other territories of the British Empire have subscribes towards providing additional planes for the Royal Air Force.  The Anglo-Maltese League, in full conviction that it is fulfilling the earnest desire of all Maltese and English people in these Islands, has consequently undertaken to open a fund, which has been styled ‘The Fighter Plane Fund, Malta’ in order that a ‘fighter’ may be presented to the British Government for service over Malta and as an expression of Malta’s admiration for and gratitude to the Royal Air Force.”  (1)    

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JULY TO DAWN 31 JULY 1940

Weather  Cloudy, hot and humid. 

1035-1045 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers and nine fighters which approach to within five miles of the Island but then turn back.  Malta’s fighters are scrambled but do not intercept.  No bombs are dropped.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Oswald reported three troopships escorted by six destroyers steering south from the Straits of Messina.  The signal was received too late for air action to be taken. 

  

(1)  Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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29 July 1940: Malta is ‘Most Bombed Spot in the Empire’

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INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT VISITS MALTA SHELTERS

3000 people living in single shelter (NWMA)

3000 people living in single shelter (NWMA)

Malta is the most bombed spot in the British Empire, according to the overseas press.  A correspondent of the Daily Mail who has just returned from Malta described his visit to the Island’s ancient cellars and tunnels, where 10000 homeless or evacuated islanders are now living. 

The biggest shelter has become almost the permanent home of 3000 people.  According to the press, the Knights of Malta who honeycombed Valetta with a vast system of underground chambers did the present inhabitants a good turn, as those chambers have become ready-made shelters impenetrable to the heaviest bomb.

Some who have shut up their shops carry on trade nearby, he reports.  One woman, selling eggs from her own hens, was ready to retreat to the shelter.  When the alarm sirens sound, mothers collect their children and cooking pots, and file to safety.

Malta has been bombed on an average twice daily but residents say that it is not as bad as they expected, and that Mussolini cannot bomb them into submission.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JULY TO DAWN 30 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

0952-1027 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters and two bomber swhich approach from the north in two formations.  Malta fighters are scrambled but do not engage.  Ack Ack guns at Tigne, San Giacomo, San Pietru, Marsa, Spinola, Manoel and HMS Terror engage the raiders.  No bombs are dropped.       

1000-1027 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of five enemy fighters which cross the Island.  No bombs are dropped.    

Military casualties  Private John Foote, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment                                         

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Departures  2 Sunderland.    

KALAFRANA  Two Sunderlands 230 Squadron left for Alexandria.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  A Regimental memorial chapel at Christchurch Pembroke Church was dedicated this morning by the Army Chaplain General Mediterranean, Rev D B L Foster.  The Governor and C in C Lt Gen Dobbie unveiled the badge of the Regiment, dedication plate and memorial tablets to the men who died during the service of the Regiment on the Island.  16 officers and 215 Other Ranks attended the ceremony. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Work began on new RAF barrack blocks.

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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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28 July 1940: Malta Flying Boats Survive Dog Fights

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THREE SUNDERLANDS AMBUSHED ON APPROACH TO MALTA

Sunderland Flying Boat (1)

Sunderland Flying Boat (1)

A Sunderland flying boat on a mission over Sicily today survived a dog fight despite being outnumbered.  Sunderland L5804 was returning from patrol over Augusta and Syracuse when it was attacked by three formations of fighters.  The raiders were used explosive tracer as well as ordinary ammunition, punching large holes in the hull and putting the turret, elevator and rudder controls out of action.  Three members of the crew were wounded in the legs; LAC D A Campbell was badly wounded.  Despite this, the flying boat managed to shoot down two of the Italian fighters.  One was shot down in flames and the other driven out of control, though it was not seen hitting the water. 

The Sunderland turned towards Malta, limping home at an altitude of 10 feet, and chased by fighters until within sight of the Island.  Its engine seized on the approach to Kalafrana and it landed on the water, before beaching near the seaplane base just after 11 this morning.  Repairs on the aircraft began immediately.

A second Sunderland returning from reconnaissance over Cape Spartivento was also attacked by three Italian fighters.  One fighter broke up in the air, a second broke off combat as though damaged.  The third pursued the Sunderland until within range of Malta without causing damage.  A third Sunderland on return from reconnaissance was chased by two fighters to close to Malta but they did not press home an attack.  All the Italian fighters were identified as monoplanes.    

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JULY TO DAWN 29 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1130-1155 hrs  Air raid alert for one bomber and ten fighters which approach the Island from St Paul’s Bay towards Hal Far.  They are engaged by heavy Ack Ack fire.  One raider is brought down and crashes in the sea 15 miles south of Malta.  The rest turn back before crossing the coast.  No bombs are dropped.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 1 Sunderland  0430 hrs  One Sunderland on creeping ahead patrol over the Ionian Sea, then reconnaissance of Augusta and Syracuse, where five flying boats are spotted.  The Sunderland attacked three waterships near Augusta, dropping three 250lb bombs: no result.  A second Sunderland on reconnaissance sighted a submarine off Cape Spartivento and dropped five bombs: no results visible.  One Sunderland on reconnaissance.  All three Sunderlands were attacked; one returned to Malta damaged; repairs began immediately. 

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean. 

(1)  Website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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