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24 September 1941: Lack of Luftwaffe in Mediterranean Leaves Malta Free to Attack

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Spanish Mole, Tripoli, after a raid (AWM MED0210)

Spanish Mole, Tripoli, after a raid (AWM MED0210)

LUFTWAFFE ABSENCE LEAVES AXIS CONVOYS VULNERABLE, BRITISH WAR CABINET HEARS

The absence of German aircraft in the Mediterranean has left Axis convoys vulnerable to attacks from Malta, the British War Cabinet heard today in its latest progress review. According to the report, for three months it has not been possible for the Germans to allocate adequate aircraft for the protection of the important supply route between Tripoli and Sicily, or for attacks on Malta.  In the face of heavy commitments in other theatres such as the Eastern Front, the German Air Force is facing a shortage of suitably trained air crews.  Luftwaffe command has been forced improvise, such as using a long-range bomber reserve training unit on operational duties.

During the past week Blenheim and Swordfish aircraft from Malta have sunk or seriously damaged 45000 tons of enemy shipping between Sicily and the African coast. An enemy destroyer was also seriously damaged off Tripoli.

Reconnaissance aircraft from Malta have continued to search for enemy shipping convoys which were subsequently attacked on every possible occasion by Naval and RAF aircraft, with the following results:

  • Laden schooner, total loss
  • Laden schooner, blew up (explosion destroyed attacking Blenheim)
  • 24000 ton liner hit repeatedly by Blenheims, last reported stationary
  • Destroyer direct hits amidships, badly damaged
  • 8000 ton merchant vessel (MV) 2 hits by Blenheims, damaged
  • 3000 ton MV, sinking and on fire
  • 8000 ton MV, sunk
  • Small MV hit by torpedo, probably sunk

On five nights Wellingtons made 33 sorties against Tripoli and dropped a total of over 50 tons of bombs. These attacks were principally directed against the harbour and, in addition to a number of hits on the Spanish and Karamanli Moles, many bombs were seen to fall on shipping lying alongside.  The barracks and buildings near the wireless telegraph station also were successfully bombe.

Two Blenheims made a good daylight attack on heavy motor transport and petrol tankers on the Misurata-Sirte road, resulting in considerable confusion, and the destruction of one petrol tanker and serious damage to 30 other vehicles; one Blenheim is missing. Another attack by 11 Blenheims was made on the barracks at Homs and Misurata causing serious damage.  Hits were also made on motor transport dumps and petrol lorries, and troops were sprayed with machine-gun fire with good effect.  Two of our aircraft collided over the target and a third crashed.

Enemy bombing activity has been on an extremely small scale. The only attack on Malta was on the night of 19-20 September, when one out of six aircraft crossed over the Island and dropped some incendiaries which did no damage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and fresh.

0005-0035 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the west. Two only cross the coast and drop high explosive bombs on the Bajda Ridge area.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no engagement.

0047-0058 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William E Law, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Squadron Leader Theophilus J S Warren, RAF, 107 Squadron; Flying Officer John T Waterfall, RAFVR, 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 13 Beaufighter, 2 Blenheim, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina. 38 Squadron 2 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  6 Wellingtons attacked Palermo Harbour. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Marsala and Licata harbours and eastern Ionian Sea. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked transport on Misurata road.  S/Ldr Warren failed to return; a search was carried out but was unsuccessful. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish laid mines outside Tripoli Harbour and dropped bombs on a barrack block.  A diversion created by Wellington bombers was very effective.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 5 (2 x 150kg; 3 x 2kg incendiary)

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  E Company began formation; HQ at 21 Ghain Dwieli Street, Paola. 

 

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Posted by on September 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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23 September 1941: Work on Air Raid Shelters Weeks Behind Schedule

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shelters diggingPROGRESS ‘DISAPPOINTING’, SAYS GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF

Work on providing adequate air raid shelters for Malta’s population is weeks behind schedule. In a telegram today to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief outlines the present level of shelter provision and the challenges preventing their rapid completion:

“The estimated date by which each person in Malta would be provided with two square feet of rock shelter [can now] only be tentative. The position now is that only 1516 out of 76599 persons in the Public Works area are not covered by Government rock shelters, while the whole population of that area is already covered, if Government concrete and private rock and concrete shelters are taken into account.  In the area under the Supervisor of Shelter Construction, 54631 persons still require accommodation in Government rock shelters, but only 11571 persons have no cover, taking into account all forms of shelters.  The population of this area is 167366.

It is now essential that two square feet per person for the whole population in the Public Works Department area will be attained by the end of September and in the Supervisor of Shelter Construction’s area by the end of November.

Failure to obtain this result in June and August as previously estimated is due partly to exceptionally hard rock being encountered in certain areas and partly to the transfer of miners to services mentioned in my telegram of 30 August. Moreover, experience in actual raids showed the necessity for at least three entrances cum exits to each shelter, owing to the danger of such entrances and exits being blocked by direct hits or debris.  It was therefore considered advisable to provide additional exits and entrances simultaneously with the work of constructing shelters, and not to wait until each shelter was finished.

Progress made is rather disappointing but the whole system of control of the labour force is now under review and I will report results later. The revised estimate of the dates of completion of the two square foot programme does not affect previous financial estimates of expenditure to the end of December.

Work in Gozo is proceeding satisfactorily. 107 shelters are already in hand out of the total of 140 which will be required.” 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Rain mid-day.

0123-0130 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber which approaches the Island and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara Point. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions. 

Military casualties  Sergeant Peter F Bold, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) 38 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Walter F P Brown, RAF, 38 Squadron; Sergeant William J Poole RAFVR, 38 Squadron; Sergeant James C Sheridan, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Robert H Toshack, Royal Canadian Air Force, 38 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Catalina, 5 Maryland. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  One Wellington failed to return. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands reconnaissance Kerkennah, Kelibia and special mission. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked transport on Misurata road.  S/Ldr Warren failed to return.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Training Exercise Without Troops for officers and warrant officers was held in the Rabat area on the subject of ‘Reconnaissance and taking up of machine-gun positions in defence’.

 

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Posted by on September 23, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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22 September 1941: Malta Free French Air Crew Killed on Spy Mission

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Free French F/Sgt Georges Blaize (1)

Free French F/Sgt Georges Blaize (1)

SPECIAL OPERATIONS HEINKEL CRASHES INTO SEA

The Heinkel 115 used for clandestine operations from Malta crashed today with the loss of the crew and one passenger. The Heinkel which has been at Kalafrana since June took off just after midnight for its latest secret mission but appears to have got into difficulties and was forced to make an emergency landing on the sea, some 20 miles off the coast of the Island. 

The crew have been named as Free French pilot F/Sgt Georges Blaize and flight engineer Sgt Raoul Gatien. Also on board and acting as observer was Fleet Air Arm S/Lt Reginald Drake, who was attached to Naval air station HMS Grebe in Egypt but operating from Malta. 

Rescue aircraft and the high speed launch from Malta set out to search for the stricken aircraft. They found wreckage strewn over the sea and the bodies of S/Lt Drake and F/Sgt Blaize.  There was no trace of Sgt Gatien.

The Heinkel is the second aircraft to be lost on Special Operations from Malta; last Tuesday a Swordfish crashed while transporting a secret agent to North Africa. Only yesterday Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief referred to the Heinkel as the only aircraft based on the Island dedicated to the service of the Defence Security Officer (maltagc70.com 21 September 1941). The Heinkel, which still carried its German markings, was stored under cover at Kalafrana and used only at night.

PILOT NURSES DAMAGED AIRCRAFT THROUGH 200 MILE FLIGHT

A Blenheim pilot landed his badly damaged aircraft at Luqa airfield today after a tense 218 mile flight across the Mediterranean. Sergeant Williams’ Blenheim was one of six sent to attack German barrack blocks and fuel dumps at Homs in North Africa.  During the attack Pilot Wing Commander D W Scivier AFC made a sharp turn, coming up underneath Sgt Williams, whose aircraft propellers sliced through the fuselage of W/Cdr Scivier’s Blenheim, which plunged into a steep dive and crashed with the loss of the entire crew. 

Sgt Williams’ Blenheim was also badly damaged in the collision. He managed to keep the plane airborne and nursed it gently back to Malta.  Sgt Williams and his crew, observer Sgt R Scholefield and wireless operator/air gunner Sgt A Tuppen are being treated for shock.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rain mid-day.

0153-0214 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but does not cross the coast. Bombs are dropped in the sea eight miles from shore.

0338-0355 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the coast over Dingli, drops bombs on Balzan causing two slight casualties and damage to houses before turning south over Luqa and receding, dropping more bombs in the sea off Delimara.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Georges Blaize, Royal Air Force; Sub-Lieutenant Reginald G Drake, Royal Navy; Flight Sergeant Raoul Gatien, Royal Air Force; Leading Airman Kenneth Pimlott, HMS St.Angelo; Flight Sergeant Leonard Martin Barnett, observer, Royal Air Force, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Brian Gray BFM, wireless operator/air gunner, Royal Air Force, 105 Squadron; Wing Commander Donald William Scivier AFC, pilot, Royal Air Force, 105 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Spitfire, 1 Sunderland. Departures 2 Wellington. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons attacked a liner.  5 Wellingtons attacked motor transport depots near Tripoli.  Sgt Secomb failed to return. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland patrol east Tunisian coast.  1 Maryland photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Comiso.  1 Maryland on search for a convoy. 105 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked barrack blocks and fuel dumps at Homs. 107 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked barrack blocks and fuel dumps at Misurata. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked convoy off Kuriat, firing two torpedoes hitting one merchant ship amidships and another in the bows.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion was visited by a representative of the Times of Malta who took photographs and interviewed officers and men. He also watched various types of training going on in the Battalion.  Weapons training courses are underway: in time all ranks will have fired the rifle and also whichever automatic weapon they are most likely to use in battle.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 3 (2kg incendiary).

(1)  See also website: Les Francais Libres

 

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Posted by on September 22, 2021 in 1941, September 1941, Uncategorized

 

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21 September 1941: Malta is Centre for MI6/SOE Operations in North Africa

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Heinkel seaplane

Heinkel seaplane

ISLAND’S ROLE MUST BE PROPERLY RESOURCED, SAYS COMMANDER IN CHIEF

Following the loss of a Malta-based Swordfish while transporting a secret agent to North Africa, the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office to express his concerns at the ad hoc arrangements currently in place for such missions:

Most Secret and Personal: The following is for Chiefs of Staff from the Governor of Malta:

The Defence Security Officer’s organisation covering MI6 and Special Operations Executive activities from Malta is and must continue to be largely ineffective unless and until much more satisfactory arrangements are made for the transport of agents. This applies especially at the present time to those sections concerned with Tunis and Tripoli, but it is to be emphasised that similar difficulties will arise with the infiltration of agents into the Balkans and Italy unless local arrangements are greatly improved.

At present the means of transport at the direct call of the Defence Security Officer are quite inadequate and he is largely dependent on such help as the Flag Officer in charge of Malta, or the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Mediterranean, can give. Naval help is confined at the moment to an ex-Italian MAS [armed motor torpedo boat], which has definite limitations, and to submarines.  These latter of course can only be used when on their normal patrol.  I am informed seriously of the hope to send motor torpedo boats (MTB) with special engines here when a MTB flotilla is based on Malta but the date of this is still indefinite.  The Tunis and Tripoli problem is at present mainly an air matter and as such the RAF is the primary service which can provide the necessary assistance.  This however can only be done at the expense of other operations.

Valuable aircraft have already been lost, with highly trained crews. When, for local or technical reasons, Heinkel aircraft are unsuitable – or until aircraft resources available for the Defence Security Officer are adequate – the only way to land agents in most cases will depend on RAF or Fleet Air Arm (FAA) aircraft being made available by the AOC Mediterranean (with the consent of the Flag Officer Malta for FAA aircraft).  With the very limited number of Swordfish at his disposal, the AOC Mediterranean thus has to decide the relative importance of this work as opposed to his more normal operations of attacking ships.  It is obvious that a very clear instruction is needed which will guide him in deciding their relative importance.  Such an instruction is lacking at present.

The only aircraft resources available for the Defence Security Officer in Malta at present consists of one Heinkel seaplane together with such assistance as the Services can provide. Other Heinkels are expected later, but aircraft resources for the Defence Security Officer are at present entirely inadequate and will not be sufficient for some considerable time as at present envisaged.  (It is to be emphasised too that seaplanes have their limitations and effective results will depend on the availability of land planes and seaplanes or amphibians, fast MTBs and submarines, each in their proper sphere according to weather and local requirements.)  He cannot work effectively unless these facilities are adequate.  The present state of affairs means that vitally important work of this organisation, especially in Tunis and Tripoli, will not be effectively done for some months unless either

  • RAF or FAA aircraft are used as required at the expense of their proper work; in this connection it is emphasised that highly trained and specialised crews, also aircraft, are being hazarded when the task could well be done by other highly specialised operation crews and aircraft. There are very definite limits to this in FAA as the Swordfish is the only suitable type in Malta.
  • Suitable aircraft with crews are instantly sent out here expressly for this work.

I strongly favour alternative (b) but would point out that if the work of this organisation in Africa is to be effective and to give the expected help to the contemplated operation, then aircraft must be sent out immediately (repeat immediately). I am advised that the authorities in England responsible for this work have complete details of the type of aircraft which are needed to meet the special conditions for work in these areas.

I repeat that the business at present is on an extremely unsatisfactory footing and we need a clear guidance as to policy. I hope that this, and material assistance, will be forthcoming immediately.  Failing this the effectiveness of this important service cannot fail to be gravely prejudiced.  Flag Officer Malta, AOC Mediterranean and the DSO agree with this telegram.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather   Very cool.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Leslie F E Aldridge, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour.  1 Maryland on search for convoy.  1 Maryland patrol of eastern Tunisian coast. 105/107 Squadrons 2 Blenheims attacked a convoy. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish attacked convoy within sight off Lampedusa.  Two torpedoes were fired in conditions of poor visibility, but the target proved to be Lampion Rock; the convoy was not located.  One Swordfish crashed on landing at Hal Far with its torpedo still on board. The missile exploded, killing the pilot Lt Aldridge and seriously injuring the wireless operator L/A Pimlott. 

TA QALI  A Blenheim force landed at the aerodrome having been damaged by enemy action. Three Swordfish landed at the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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Posted by on September 21, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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20 September 1941: Submarine Raid on Axis Troopship Threatens Libya Campaign

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HUNDREDS OF AXIS TROOPS PERISH IN ATTACK BY 10TH SUBMARINE FLOTILLA

Neptunia and Oceania

Neptunia and Oceania

Submarines of 10th Flotilla returned to base at Manoel Island today from their most successful attack to date on Axis convoys.  Flotilla Commander George W G Simpson received information on 17 September from British intelligence that a fast convoy of transport ships was heading out of Taranto towards Tripoli, carrying troop reinforcements for the German Afrika Korps.  Submarines Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright were ordered to put out immediately. 

Early next morning off Misurata Unbeaten located the convoy of three 20000 ton troop ships, Oceania, Neptunia and Vulcania, escorted by five Italian destroyers. Upholder fired four torpedoes: two hit Neptunia tearing large hole in her side, and one hit Oceania, destroying her propellers. The submarine then dived to evade counter-attack.  While the escorting destroyers closed in to pick up survivors, Upholder withdrew to reload.  She returned to the damaged Oceania and launched another torpedo which finally sank her.  The troopship Vulcania was attacked by the submarine Ursula but escaped and managed to reach Tripoli escorted by the destroyer Usodimare.

Meanwhile Neptunia tried to make way with a destroyer in attendance but came to a shuddering halt. Upholder closed in and launched two more torpedoes which sank the stricken troopship within minutes.

It is reported that at least 400 of the German troops were killed in the engagement. The scale of the Axis losses in the Mediterranean has caused the Italian Foreign Minister to question the possibility of sustaining the military campaign in North Africa: “the Mediterranean situation is dark, and will become even more so because of the continued loss of merchant ships. Commander Bigliardi, who is in the know and is a reliable person, says that in responsible naval circles they are seriously beginning to wonder whether we shouldn’t decide to give up Libya, rather than wait until we are forced to do so by the complete lack of freighters…”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1029-1118 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach the Island from the north and cross the coast over Grand Harbour at 23000 feet while three others circle 35 miles off the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled but the Macchis recede rapidly over Delimara evading engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright returned from convoy interception east of Tripoli.  Upholder sank one ship of the Neptunia class and damaged a second whose fate is not known.  Ursula got one hit on Vulcania.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini and Comiso. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim reconnaissance east Sicilian coast. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a merchant ship off Kerkennah Bank.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on September 20, 2021 in September 1941

 

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19 September 1941: Freighter Survives Western Med to Deliver Fodder

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horse-donkey-farmEMPIRE GUILLEMOT ARRIVES UNDER ‘OPERATION PROPELLER’

The freighter Empire Guillemot docked safely at Malta today after completing the hazardous passage through the western Mediterranean.  The merchant ship was carrying essential supplies fodder to feed Malta’s horses and donkeys.  With the shortage of fuel on the Island, the animals are providing much-needed transport for civilians.  However, Malta cannot grow crops to feed them, especially now that cultivated land is given over entirely to food production for the population.

Empire Guillemot left the UK last Saturday and passed through the Straits of Gibraltar disguised as a Spanish vessel. Under ‘Operation Propeller’ she left Gibraltar, adopting a new French disguise, and headed for Bizerta before turning north towards Sicily. 

As the freighter approached Malta, she hoisted British colours and none too soon, as her night-time passage took her close to an Italian convoy which was being attacked by Swordfish aircraft. Fortunately, the Fleet Air Arm pilots had been alerted to her presence. Empire Guillemot entered Grand Harbour safely this morning.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1412-1440 hrs Air raid alert for ten enemy aircraft approaching the Island in two formations. Six Hurricanes 249 Squadron and eight 185 Squadron are scrambled.  The raiders come within a short distance of the coast but do not cross it and there are no interceptions.

0508-0545 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft approaching the Island; some bombs are dropped in the sea. One raider crosses the coast and drops incendiaries on land near Dingli causing no damage or casualties.  Two Hurricane night fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Empire Guillemot arrived safely under Operation Propeller.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Comiso.  1 Maryland special search. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims on shipping sweep.  2 Blenheims attacked shipping at Tripoli. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish carried out a sweep off Kerkenah. For an enemy convoy. Three possible hits are claimed, resulting in one merchant vessel probably and one possibly being damaged.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO attended a lecture at 10 Heavy A A Brigade HQ on the anti-aircraft defence of the Island and afterwards visited the Gun Operations Room.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (50kg).

 

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Posted by on September 19, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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18 September 1941: Malta Aircraft Launch Round the Clock Offensives

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AOC Malta co-ordinating attacks on Axis convoys  (c IWM CM3068

AOC Malta overseeing attacks on Axis convoys (c IWM CM3068

SWORDFISH, BLENHEIMS AND WELLINGTONS ATTACK DAY AND NIGHT

War Cabinet Report for the Week 11-18 September

On 13 September a reinforcement of 45 aircraft for Malta was flown off HM Aircraft Carriers Furious and Ark Royal, escorted by units of the Gibraltar force.  One Hurricane crashed on taking off from Furious, the pilot was killed; two were damaged on landing.

On 11 September, naval Swordfish operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta sighted a southbound convoy consisting of seven merchant vessels and six destroyers, 75 miles north of Kerkennah Island. Thereafter a series of night and day attacks was successfully carried out by Swordfish, Blenheims and Wellingtons with the result that three merchant vessels, total 24000 tons, were probably destroyed and all the other merchant vessels, total tonnage 26000, were hit on one or more occasions.  Three Blenheims were shot down in daylight but the crew of one was rescued by HM Submarine Utmost.

During an offensive sweep of the central Ionian Sea, three Blenheims attacked a small convoy 100 miles south-west of Cape Matapan. A 3000 ton merchant vessel was hit at least twice and seriously damaged. 

On three nights a total of 24 Wellingtons from Malta bombed Tripoli. On one night six aircraft reported hits on ships lying alongside Spanish Quay, and many other bursts were seen on or near ships in the harbour.  Swordfish and Wellingtons also laid mines in and outside the harbour and around the North Mole.

On the night 11-12 September Wellingtons dropped 16 tons of bombs on Palermo and straddled the dry dock containing a merchant vessel. On 17 September five Blenheims bombed two munition factories at Licata with very good effect; many direct hits were made on each target, and three large sheds and one other large building in the centre of the installation were demolished.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY   Upholder sank the 19,500-ton transports Neptunia and OceaniaTriumph damaged Italian steamer Ardor (8960grt off Cape Cimiti in the Adriatic. The tanker was able to proceed into Crotone Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 2 Beaufort. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol and reconnaissance Tripoli.  1 Blenheim reconnaissance Crotone, Augusta and Syracuse. 107 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked shipping at Tripoli. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish attacked a northbound convoy with torpedoes and bombs, stopping one merchant vessel. 

 

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Posted by on September 18, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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17 September 1941: Malta Faces Acute Water Shortage

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Two Blenheims lost today

Two Blenheims lost today

MILITARY UNITS WARNED TO CUT USAGE OR FACE CUT OFF

The water situation in Malta is now acute. In spite of repeated orders on the subject, it appears that certain military units are still greatly exceeding the authorised limit of 12 gallons per head, per day.

The Governor and Commander in Chief has issued an urgent personal appeal to the fighting services requesting their co-operation in ensuring that water consumption is kept to a minimum. Commanding Officers of all units are ordered to take the necessary steps to ensure that the limit is not exceeded in future.  If this does not happen, troops are warned that the water supply of the offending unit will be cut off during certain hours.  

TWO BLENHEIMS LOST IN ATTACK ON CONVOY

Two Blenheim aircraft and their crews were lost today during an attack on Axis shipping. The Blenheims were among four sent to attack a convoy of the coast of Tunisia heading towards Tripoli.  The Blenheims swooped for a low level attack on a schooner.  Pilot F/Sgt J Bendall’s aircraft collided with the schooner’s mast and crashed into the sea.  The pilot and his crew, wireless operator/air gunner Sgt A Brown and observer Sgt C Hill were all killed instantly.

The second Blenheim of P/O Peter Robinson was hit by anti-aircraft fire and burst into flames, killing all three of the crew including observer Sgt B F Brooks and wireless operator/air gunner Sgt F Burrell.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Jack Bendall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 105 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Alexander Brown, RAF, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Charles H Hill, RAFVR, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Bernard F Brooks, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Frank Burrell, RAF, 107 Squadron; Pilot Officer Peter E C Robinson, RAFVR, 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Blenheim, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol, photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Comiso; Blenheim special search. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim searched for Swordfish aircraft.  4 Blenheims attacked a convoy.  P/O Robinson and Sgt Bendall failed to return. 107 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked Licata. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish attacked a southbound convoy off Marittimo hitting one merchant vessel and slowing the convoy.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on September 17, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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16 September 1941: Malta Swordfish Lost on Clandestine Mission

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Swordfish missing after raid

Swordfish missing after raid

MALTA AIRCRAFT WAS DELIVERING SECRET AGENT

A Malta-based Swordfish aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm is believed to have crashed today while undertaking a secret mission to North Africa. Pilot Lt C B Lamb, with S/Lt J E Robertson took off in the early hours of this morning.  Their passenger is believed to have been a secret agent who they were to land in the Vichy French territory of Tunisia.  A message has been received to indicate that they survived the crash but it is believed they are currently being held for interrogation.

Lt Lamb previously served as a Swordfish pilot aboard HMS Illustrious. He was among the first wave of aircraft when the successful attack was launched on the Italian fleet at Taranto in November 1940.

MALTA AIRMEN RECEIVE POSTHUMOUS MEDALS

Posthumous military awards were announced today for two Malta airmen who were killed as a result of their aircraft crashing on return from a mission over Sicily on 10 August.

London Gazette, 16 September 1941: The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Distinguished Flying Medal: Sergeant Campbell Clark, 69 Squadron (deceased), Sergeant Richard Saxby Mutimer, 69 Squadron (deceased)

Sergeants Clark and Mutimer have displayed a high standard of ability throughout the 40 operational missions in which they have participated as wireless operator-air gunner and air observer respectively. Sergeant Clark showed great keenness to engage the enemy, using his guns with damaging effect, while Sergeant Mutimer always willingly co-operated with his pilot when the opportunity for offensive action occurred. They have damaged or destroyed three Italian flying boats and, in one machine gun attack on an enemy aerodrome, destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged several.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Cool and overcast.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Aircraftsman James Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright proceeded for interception of a fast convoy to east of Tripoli. Triumph sailed for special service and patrol in the Adriatic.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Crotone, Augusta, Catania and Syracuse. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish laid 6 mines in the entrance to Tripoli harbour.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Main body of the Battalion moved to Gozo for a month’s training and left a small rear party in Malta. Battalion headquarters in the Citadel, Rabat; A Company at Xewkija, B Company at Nadur, C Company at Gharb, D Company at Rabat, E Company at Xghajra.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (2kg incendiary)

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  D Company and B Company take over Hal Far from 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion left Gozo and returned to Malta aboard Royal Lady. A and E Companies went to Ta Qali with two mortar detachments and one section of carriers.  Bn HQ Signals and Carriers at Ta Saliba, 2 Platoon valley posts, C Coy St Paul’s Bay, B Coy Victoria Lines, D Coy Strickland House, HQ Coy less detached details Ghain Tuffieha Camp. 

 

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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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15 September 1941: Gozo Family Mourn Loss of Three Seamen

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SS Newbury (1)

SS Newbury (1)

SS NEWBURY SUNK – ALMOST ENTIRE CREW LOST

Three members of the same Attard family from Gozo lost their lives today when the freighter on which they were serving was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic. Carmelo, Coronato and Giuseppe Attard were serving together as Fitter/Trimmers on the 5000 ton steam freighter SS Newbury which was carrying a cargo of coal from Cardiff to Buenos Aires.

The freighter was lagging behind the rest of her convoy when she was spotted by a German u-boat, U94. The submarine closed and launched torpedoes, one of which struck Newbury.  At the order to abandon ship an attempt was made to launch lifeboats but almost all the crew perished, including the Attards.  Many Maltese are currently serving in overseas military and naval units, and the Merchant Navy but it is unusual for members of the same family to serve on the same vessel.

EXTRA MEDICAL STAFF

Malta needs more medical staff, according to the Governor and Commander in Chief. The additional staff are required to cope with the needs of a greatly increased garrison.  Lt Gen Dobbie has writing to the War Office asking that ten more regimental medical officers, as well as one ear and one eye specialist be posted to Malta at the earliest opportunity. 

The ten regimental medical officers are to operate in charge of areas: three with mobile reserve battalions and the remainder maintained in immediate touch with battalions. All will assist in enabling medical aid posts to function as camp hospitals.

SHORTAGE OF MOTOR TRANSPORT GREASE

Stocks of grease for motor transport use are now running low. Troops have been asked to use utmost economy in utilising the grease and to restrict their orders for supplies from stock to the minimum necessary.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Overcast with light rain.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Fusilier James Pollock, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 12 Hurricane, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington.   38 Squadron 10 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland special patrol.

HAL FAR  Pilot Officer R A Innes became Commanding Officer of 185 Squadron.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Advance party left Gozo for Malta.

(1)  Clyde built ships World War 2

 

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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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