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29 August 1940: Malta’s First Convoy On Its Way

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CONVOY WITH URGENT STORES EXPECTED WITHIN DAYS

SS Cornwall (1)

SS Cornwall (1)

A convoy consisting of British cargo ship Cornwall, freighter Volo and the RFA oil tanker Plumleaf sailed from Alexandria at 2045 hrs today with urgent stores for Malta. Cruisers Gloucester, Kent and Liverpool and destroyers Jervis, Juno, Dainty and Diamond are acting as close escort.

During the passage of the convoy, codenamed MF2, reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet will pass through from Gibraltar to Alexandria, to divert attention from the convoy and also to act as additional cover in case of surface attack.

In all, a massive fleet is expected to put to sea from Alexandria, in addition to the convoy and escort. They include the battleships Malaya and Warspite, the carrier Eagle, cruisers Orion and Sydney, and destroyers Decoy, Defender, Garland, Hasty, Hereward, Hyperion, Ilex, Imperial, Stuart, Vampire, Vendetta and Voyager. This heavier force will keep its distance from the supply convoy, ready to meet any possible interception by the Italian navy.

Known as ‘Operation Hats’, vessels sailing from Gibraltar are the battlecruiser Renown, battleship Valiant and aircraft carrier Illustrious, with cruisers Calcutta and Coventry (all bound for Alexandria) and Sheffield, plus destroyers Encounter, Faulknor, Firedrake, Forester, Foresight, Fortune, Fury, Hero, Velox and Wishart, Gallant, Greyhound, Griffin, Hotspur, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian – the latter seven bound for the Mediterranean Fleet.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 AUGUST TO DAWN 30 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

0837-0928 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy bombers closely followed by 12 CR42s approach from the north in three formations at high altitude and fly south over the Island. The bombers turn south south east and circle away in a large sweep. The fighters linger. Four Hurricanes are scrambled and ascend to 23000 feet before attacking them. They are immediately counter-attacked by CR42s from above. Meanwhile the bombers fly in and drop some 30 high explosive and incendiary bombs on the Hamrun, Marsa and Luqa areas, including several on the Marsa to Zurrieq road. Five land on the Race Club, seven on Marsa Club, eight on the golf course, five on the Poor House, eight on Addolorata, three on Luqa village and fourteen on Luqa aerodrome. Six civilians are slightly injured and properties damaged. One building in the Marsa Club area is destroyed by a direct hit. One Bren carrier and two military vehicles are slightly damaged. Four unexploded bombs are reported and dug out, including two on Luqa aerodrome which are exploded later in the day.  

0845 hrs  Six Wellington bombers land at Malta.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 29 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB 1 HE 250lb near Luqa; 3 HE 130lb Marsa Sports Ground.

(1)  www.clydesite.co.uk

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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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28 August 1940: Air Force in Malta to Expand

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EXPANDED AIR FORCE WILL NEED GUNS AND GROUNDS

The Air Force based on Malta is expected to expand significantly, according to a telegram from the War Office to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief. The plans have raised concerns among military chiefs on the Island who will need further facilities to be developed to meet the needs of a greater force.

AOC Malta Air Commodore Forster Maynard (r) with Flt Lt G Burges.

AOC Malta Air Commodore Forster Maynard (r) with Flt Lt G Burges.

The Air Officer Commanding has already requested further dispersal areas for aircraft beyond the existing airfields. Such expansion would also require additional anti-aircraft protection.

Lt Gen Dobbie has written to the War Office strongly recommending that 12 Heavy and 10 Light Ack Ack guns now in transit on board fast ships be allotted to Malta, in addition to a similar number which have already been allocated and are expected to arrive imminently. He Also stressed that manning of the Heavy guns will require 27 Ack Ack Battery currently also in transit via “Operation Serenade” is posted to Malta. Light guns can be manned from local resources, if the War Office agrees to the commissioning of six additional Royal Malta Artillery officers to train immediately.

In a separate development, a secret and personal telegram from Vice Admiral Malta has confirmed that the following are expected to arrive Malta shortly by ship: 416 boxes Bofors ammunition, 16 Bofors barrels, 100 Bren guns, 10 Bofors guns, eight 3.7” Ack Ack guns, three predictors, two height finders, ten 4.5” Ack Ack barrels.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 AUGUST TO DAWN 29 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

1030-1044 hrs  Air raid warning for five enemy aircraft which approach the Island at 20000 feet to within six miles of the coastline, then turn away eastward. Four Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept. The raid does not materialize.

2110-2151 hrs  A searchlight co-operation exercise with Hurricane fighters is interrupted by an air raid warning for two enemy aircraft which approach to within ten miles east of the island. They circle for half an hour then turn away to the north east. The Hurricanes do not engage.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 AUGUST 1940

AIR HQ  One Sunderland reconnaissance westward of north African coast from Salita Island to 60 miles west of Algiers.

1st HEAVY REGIMENT, ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY  Construction begun of mantlets for 8 inch guns at Fort Campbell. A second machine gun post is completed and a third started.

 

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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Tuesday 27 August: 100 More Heavy Guns for Malta

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WAR OFFICE TO STRENGTHEN ACK-ACK FORCE

Mobile Bofors gun (c) IWM A20199

Mobile Bofors gun (c) IWM A20199

Military chiefs in London have decided to significantly strengthen anti-aircraft forces in Malta. In a Top Secret telegram to the Governor and C in C today, the War Office announced plans to increase Ack-Ack defences to 112 Heavy and six Light guns by April 1941. The majority of Heavy guns will be static, but the War Office expects to send twelve mobile Bofors out of a total of 42 which will be required.  

Lt Gen Dobbie will be expected to recruit and train personnel for eight Heavy and eight Light guns by January 1941 and a further eight Heavy and eight Light guns by April 1941. Manning personnel for the remainder will be posted to Malta from the UK.

Work on developing suitable gun sites is to be arranged to meet the January and April deadlines. Further details are set to follow regarding accommodation for the new troops but in the meantime, the Island’s Commander in Chief was asked for an immediate response to the plans.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 AUGUST TO DAWN 28 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine; cloudy.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Nubian, Mohawk, Janus and Hero sailed. A floating mine was sunk by C306 two miles off Delimara.

AIR HQ  0330 hrs Sunderland L8159 of 230 Squadron reconnaissance of Kithera was forced to land and detained by the Greeks; the crew are likely to be interned. 1000 hrs One Hudson photographic reconnaissance of Tripoli.   French Latecoere with French crew reconnaissance west of Malta to 10 miles NW of Cape Bon.

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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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26 August 1940: Blenheim Runs Out of Fuel Trying to Reach Malta

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BLENHEIM DITCHES IN THE SEA

RAF Blenheim

RAF Blenheim

Another Blenheim aircraft was lost today trying to reach Malta. The bomber set out from Gibraltar for Malta early today but was seen ditching in the sea 55 miles from Dingli. The aircraft is one of the latest Blenheims stopping off at Malta en route for the Middle East.

Blenheim T2058 was piloted by Warrant Officer G H ‘Pee Wee’ Cluley. It is thought he ran out of fuel near Pantelleria and was attempting to land there but fell short and came down in the sea.    

A Swordfish, a Sunderland and HMS Nubian were sent immediately to search the area but found nothing. Further aircraft continued to search throughout the afternoon but there was no sighting. WO Cluley has been listed as missing.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 AUGUST TO DAWN 27 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine; cooler.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Janus arrived. A floating mine was sunk ten miles off St Elmo by Beryl.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A canteen was opened in an empty house at St Paul’s Bay. Several women from the district have offered to help run the canteen.

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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25 August 1940: New Curfew Stops Maltese Attending Mass

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St Publius chCURFEW EXTENDED

The end time of the overnight curfew is to be extended by one hour. The curfew will now ban all persons in Malta from proceeding more than five yards beyond their doorstep between the hours of 8.30pm and 6am (although movement within town or village limits is to be allowed up to 10pm). Breach of curfew can incur a penalty of up to 15 days in prison. However, the new restriction has attracted widespread protest from people who say they can no longer attend Mass before work, as is their custom. (1)

MALTA NEEDS MORE ORDNANCE PERSONNEL

From: Governor & C in C                       To: War Office

The Governor and C in C wrote to the War Office stressing the pressing need for the additional Ordnance Officers and RAOC Other Ranks to deal with increases in the Island’s Garrison. Ordnance Command Headquarters has seen a massive increase of work and responsibilities as a result. The personnel will also be needed to oversee additional storage depots for ammunition and stores expected to arrive within days. Lt Gen Dobbie described the increase in personnel as ‘absolutely essential’ and requested immediate postings to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 AUGUST TO DAWN 26 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 25 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  A floating mine was sunk 2 miles off Zonkor Point.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  The Adjutant reconnoitred the Marsa for a possible stone supply.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta, 1981

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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24 August 1940: Air Battle Heard Across the Island

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SEABORNE RAIDING COMPANY MUST BE RAISED IN MALTA

Proposals by the War Office in London to send a new seaborne raiding company to operate from Malta have been scrapped. A telegram to the Governor and C in C gave the reasons as “urgent demands elsewhere and lack of suitable opportunities for the employment of such a small force from Malta”.

However, the War Office has given garrison commanders such as Lt Gen Dobbie the option to raise their own independent companies from local recruitment. Additional manpower would be allocated to make up the shortfall and instructors could be sent out from UK to assist with training.

Lt Gen Dobbie has already stated in previous correspondence that, to be effective against the enemy in Sicily and Tripoli, any seaborne force would have to be considerable and would have to co-ordinate its operations with the Mediterranean Fleet. He will now consider the new War Office proposals.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 AUGUST TO DAWN 25 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine; windy.

Fiat CR42

Fiat CR42

1211-1240 hrs Air raid warning for six enemy bombers escorted by sixteen fighters which cross the Island from the east and drop bombs on Hal Far and Kalafrana, causing slight damage to RAF buildings and serious damage to one Swordfish aircraft. Four Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders, as do Ack Ack guns. The air battle can be heard across the Island. One enemy CR42 bomber is reported brought down into the sea; a parachutist is spotted bailing out, is rescued and taken prisoner. Other enemy bombers are believed damage; one is thought to have been brought down near Hal Far, where rifle fire is heard. One Hurricane is hit in the main spar by an explosive bullet. Another crash lands at Luqa due to a punctured tyre but is not seriously damaged.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Renzo Bocconi, 75a Squadriglia, fighter pilot of Fiat CR42 baled out from his damaged aircraft, landed in the sea, was rescued and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 24 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Osiris arrived.

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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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23 August 1940: Destroyer From Malta Sunk

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MAIL LOST AT SEA

It has been reported today that troops’ mail sent to UK on Wednesday has been lost at sea due to enemy action.

HMS Hostile

HMS Hostile

HMS HOSTILE SUNK

A Royal Navy destroyer heading from Malta to Gibraltar was sunk today 18 miles off Cape Bon. It is believed that HMS Hostile hit a moored mine which struck the ship’s bottom and exploded. The Commanding Officer and four of the crew were killed, and three crewmen injured. Two destroyers from the convoy picked up survivors and brought them back to Malta.

Reporting on the incident, a Board of Inquiry concluded that the western part of the channel between Cape Bon and Pantelleria must be considered mined and recommends ships should be rerouted accordingly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 AUGUST TO DAWN 24 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine; windy and dusty.

0835 hrs Seven Blenheim aircraft land at Ta Qali.

0837 hrs Air raid alert for six enemy bombers escorted by sixteen fighters which cross the coast and bomb the Hal Far area, causing some damage to RAF property. One unexploded incendiary bomb is reported by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.    

1120-1150  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy bombers; they cross over Ghallis Tower heading south. Malta fighters are scrambled but do not engage.

2105 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 23 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY Nubian returned to Malta with defective lubrication system to main engines. Hostile was mined off Cape Bon: survivors returned to Malta in Mohawk. Hero also returned. Proteus left on patrol.

AIR HQ 1600-1845 hrs French Latecoere seaplane reconnaissance between Malta and a point ten miles north east of Cape Bon.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB 1 incendiary near Hal Far.

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Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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