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Monthly Archives: June 2015

23 June 1940: Operation to Clear Med for Malta Convoys Postponed

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France Signs Armistice at Compiegne

France Signs Armistice at Compiegne

FRANCE SIGNS ARMISTICE WITH GERMANY

Fleet clean sweep of Mediterranean postponed

It has been announced today that France has signed an armistice with Germany.  As a result a vital operation to free up shipping lanes for convoys to Malta has been postponed. 

The fleet was expected to sail today from Alexandria and Malta to carry out Operation BQ.  The objective was a sweep in force of the area between southern Italy and Libya, destroying enemy shipping in the central Mediterranean.  The operation is needed to facilitate the movement of essential convoys between Malta and Alexandria. 

However, at 2153 a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering the proposed Operation to be deferred ‘in view of the political situation’.  Movements in the Mediterranean are now on hold, pending the evacuation of Allied citizens from French territories.  Operation BQ vessels were ordered to return to port immediately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JUNE TO DAWN 24 JUNE 1940

Weather  Cloudy; moderate westerly wind. 

1235-1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three formations each of five bombers and another of four fighters approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on Valletta, causing slight damage.  12 bombs fall 150 yards north east of Tigne fort; others between Corradino and Luqa, as well as in the sea.  Three civilians are injured by broken glass in Luqa village.  One Macchi 200 is brought down by a Gladiator, the enemy pilot baled out.  He is observed parachuting down towards Sliema; he lands in the sea where he is rescued and taken prisoner.  He is taken to Imtarfa Hospital.

2130 hrs  Sentries of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers are watching the quarry near Naxxar Gap and also near St Andrews’ Church in a bid to catch the person responsible for recent mystery lights at night, or at least to clearly identify their points of origin.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Lamberto Molinelli, 88a Squadriglia, 6o Gruppo Autonomo, pilot of a MC 200 fighter aircraft, taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 23 JUNE 1940

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 HE 250lb Zabbar.

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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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22 June 1940: Hurricanes and Swordfish Land in Malta

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Fairey Swordfish

Fairey Swordfish

HURRICANES FOR MALTA

Six Hurricane aircraft have arrived in Malta to join the Fighter Flight.  Early this afternoon two Hurricanes landed from Bizerta after a difficult journey across southern France and along the North African coast.  As dusk fell, two more completed the same journey, followed by two more in the early evening.  The six aircraft were all that reached Malta out of twelve Hurricanes and twelve Blenheims that set off from the UK on 18 June.  They join recently arrived Hurricanes from Egypt and will significantly strengthen the Island’s defences.

Twelve Swordfish of 767 Deck Landing Squadron from Toulon have also arrived on the Island and are now under the operational control of the Air Officer Commanding, Mediterranean, with the agreement of the Commander in Chief.

GLADIATORS CLAIM FIRST SUCCESS

Italian Airmen Captured

Malta’s Gladiators claimed their first confirmed ‘destroyed’ enemy aircraft today.  The success came during this evening’s raid.  The two serviceable Gladiators were scrambled at around 1900 hrs.  According to Flt Lt G Burges:

“Timber Woods and I were on the 1600 to dusk watch when the alarm went off.  We took off and climbed as hard as we could go, as was the custom.  We did not attempt to maintain close formation because if one aircraft could climb faster than the other then the additional height gained might be an advantage.  Ground Control, as usual, gave us the position and course of the enemy.  The enemy turned out to be a single SM79, presumably on a photographic sortie.  It came right down the centre of the Island from Gozo, and on this occasion we were 2000-3000 feet above it.  Timber went in first but did not see any results.  I managed to get right behind it and shot off the port engine.  I was told this happened right over Sliema and Valletta and caused quite a stir in the population.  The aircraft caught fire and crashed in the sea off Kalafrana.”

The pilot and one crewman were rescued from the sea and taken prisoner.  The remaining four crew did not survive. (1)

MYSTERY LIGHTS INVESTIGATED

Malta forces today launched an investigation into reports of mysterious flashing lights along the Victoria Lines.  A working party of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers was ordered to make a thorough search of the area between Naxxar caves and the quarries, looking for anything suspicious.  Two men were found in one of the caves and taken for questioning.  Police confirmed the men’s activities were legitimate and they were later released.  However, searches of the area continue.

In a separate incident this morning a car owner near Luqa was seen changing the vehicle’s number plates.  The new number 6057 was notified to Infantry companies and the vehicle will be monitored.   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1940

1915-1930 hrs  Air raid alert.  One three-engined SM 79 approaches the Island and is attacked by a Gladiator.  The enemy raider bursts into flames, splits into two and falls into the sea off St Thomas’ Bay.  Of the crew of seven, the pilot and assistant pilot are able to bale out and parachute into the sea, where they are rescued and taken prisoner.  The remaining five crew five were killed.

2247 hrs  A light is reported just above the quarry to the left of Naxxar Gap.  Two officers investigated but found nothing.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Francesco Solimena, 53o Gruppo, pilot of SM79, and Sottotenente Alfredo Balsamo, crewman, 34o Stormo, 216a Squadriglia, shot down and taken prisoner.  Giovanni Mauro, Gianpiero Mencione, Remo Trovlusci and Remo Turrisi crewmen of SM79, 216a Squadriglia, 34o Stormo, shot down and died.   

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY  HM Submarines Otus and Olympus at Malta for refit. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A court of enquiry, president Capt R Cooke, today assembled at Ghain Tuffieha camp to enquire into the circumstances in which Pte R G Bond became deficient of one suit of battle dress and two towels.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 incendiary Sliema.

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

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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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21 June 1940: Two Gladiators Lost

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One of two Gladiators still in service (NWMA Malta)

One of two Gladiators still in service (NWMA Malta)

TWO GLADIATORS A WRITE-OFF

Two of Malta’s precious Gladiator aircraft were irreparably damaged in separate incidents today.  One crashed into an obstruction on the aerodrome during take-off from Hal Far this morning.  The pilot, Squadron Leader A C Martin made a violent uncontrollable swing to the right and hit a packing case.  The pilot was unhurt. 

This afternoon, two Gladiators were taking off from Hal Far when aircraft N5524 piloted by Flying Officer P Hartley lost a wheel when taking off and overturned on landing.  The pilot was shaken and slightly injured.  Both aircraft have been declared a total write-off.

Now only two Gladiator fighters remain in service to defend Malta.

MALTA NEEDS MORE RADAR

The Governor and Commander in Chief Malta today applied to the War Office for a further set of Radio Direction Finder (RADAR) equipment.  Lt Gen Dobbie told London that additional provision is needed to ensure adequate warning of air raids continuously throughout 24 hours.  This would avoid unnecessary casualties as well as establish confidence among civilian workmen during working hours, he said.

The existing main RDF system was installed on Dingli Cliffs in 1939 and can detect aircraft flying at 10000 feet from a distance of up to 70 miles.  A mobile second system operates nearby in support of Dingli but is considered insufficient for current and future needs. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JUNE TO DAWN 22 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine; light variable wind.

0905-0928 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft flies over Kalafrana and Hal Far, believed to be on reconnaissance.   

2220 hrs  A Royal Engineers officer reports seeing a metallic object floating in the entrance of St George’s Bay.  A party of Royal Engineers take a boat out to investigate but lose sight of the object.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 21 JUNE 1940

KALAFRANA  AC Tong transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A trade testing board, president Capt E A Wavish, today assembled at Ghain Tuffieha camp for the purpose of classifying Pte E R D Bylett, shoemaker. 

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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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20 June 1940: Malta’s First Night Raids

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NIGHT BOMBING TERROR

Sentries report mystery signal lights during enemy raids

Fort St Elmo

Fort St Elmo

At just before midnight tonight Malta’s population was awoken by the wailing sound of the air raid alert.  The alarm heralded the first night time air raid on the Island since the start of hostilities earlier this month.  The raider dropped bombs in the sea off St Elmo.  It was later reported that the 40,000 ton floating dock berthed beneath Corrodino Heights had been sunk. Malta’s searchlights were in action, as well as Anti-Aircraft batteries.

Two hours later the alert sounded again for a formation of ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped bombs on Marfa and Gozo, as well as in the sea off St Paul’s Bay.

Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral wrote in his diary: “It was full moon and we had been anticipating night trouble for days. It was highly unpleasant. I heard the drone of a plane about 11.55 pm, which I think must have woken me. It got louder and louder till it seemed to be overhead; and there was no gunfire. One of ours, I thought. Suddenly there was a frightful crump, and a blast of gunfire…Had I any hair on the top of my bald pate, I should say that I felt it standing on end.” (1)

MALTA TROOPS NEED RELATIVES TO BE REASSURED

The Governor today sent a message to the War Office asking for a notice to be placed in the UK press stating that all casualties are notified immediately to next of kin.  The message is in response to concerns expressed by Malta forces that their relatives may become unduly worried by recent publicity of Italian bombing raids over the Island.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JUNE TO DAWN 21 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine. 

1232-1243 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft passed over St Thomas’ Bay and St Julians at approximately 13,000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  No bombs were dropped.

2215 hrs  Capt Taylor of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers reports that lights seen near a defence post this evening were signaling.  The origin appears to be a nearby quarry but further investigation reveals nothing.

2217 hrs  Capt Taylor again reports signalling, this time coming from the right of Salina Palace Hotel, which is the location of the England for Ever Hotel.  Capt Taylor searched all houses in the vicinity but found nothing.  While the search was being conducted an enemy aircraft was heard passing overhead.  A special watch is to be kept on the quarry and the hotel area. 

2334-0005 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft flies over Malta and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara.

0010 hrs  A red Verey light is reported, operating from the direction of Hal Far.  A patrol sets out to investigate.

0045-0057 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft are spotted by searchlights: Ack Ack open fire and they are driven off.  One enemy aircraft flies over the Island and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara.

0130-1037 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea near St Elmo and near the floating dock, causing no damage.

0205-0245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten enemy aircraft in two formations approach Malta from the north, dropping four bombs on Gozo followed by others in the sea off St Paul’s Bay. 

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Felice Farrugia, age 47.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 20 JUNE 1940

KALAFRANA  AC S Mangion and AC Bonnici to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.  1 recruit examined for fitness for RAF.  AC Abela transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa, from Fra San Diego Institute, Hamrun.

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

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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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19 June 1940: First Raid Free Day

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King George VI

King George VI

KING GEORVE VI SENDS MESSAGE OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO MALTA

“I have already heard of the gallant spirit and fine bearing of the Maltese people since they have been brought within the battle zone and I have no doubt that they will be worthy of upholding their great traditions in this struggle in which they are now actively engaged.”

HURRICANES DELAY THREATENS MORALE IN MALTA

From:  Governor and C in C Malta          To:  War Office                  19/06/40

Air Ministry informed AOC here on 17th that six Hurricanes were to be sent to Malta forthwith but since then the execution of plan has been deferred.  Hope you will press for these aircraft to be sent here before it is too late for them to refuel Marseilles.  Most important for maintenance of civil morale here and for defence generally.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1940

1300 hrs  Two Hurricanes and one Hudson aircraft arrive in Malta.

1955 hrs  Two Hurricanes arrive in Malta.

2345 hrs  2/Lt Salmonson 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers reports a light flashing near a Company defence post.  Further investigation leads to the home of a couple who are still up and about late at night.  The flashing lights are caused by opening and closing of their door.  The situation is to be monitored.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE 1940

AIR HQ  Air fields at Hal Far and Kalafrana are notified that the Station air raid warnings should not be sounded except when the general alarm system is heard, when ordered to by Headquarters and when every aircraft has been identified.  Instructions from HQ to observe for aircraft or for fighters to stand by or scramble is not to be taken as an instruction to sound the station air raid warning.    

KALAFRANA  Cpl N McKay to Imtarfa; Pte J Barbara, Kings Own Malta Regiment, to ADS Tarxien.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 2 HE 250lb Ta Qali aerodrome.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A quiet day allows sandbagging and defensive works to be completed undisturbed.

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Posted by on June 19, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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18 June 1940: Malta Now Under Siege

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MALTA COMMAND CONFIRMS ISLANDS UNDER SIEGE

A conference of military commanders today was informed that Malta is now officially under siege.  Strict economies will be necessary in order to conserve vital supplies for military and civilians alike. 

In a Special Order of the Day, His Excellency Lieut-General W G S Dobbie, CB, CMG, DSO wrote:

“The decision of His Majesty’s Government to fight on until our enemies are defeated will be heard with the greatest satisfaction by all ranks of the garrison of Malta.  It may be that hard times lie ahead of us, but however hard they may be, I know that the courage and determination of all ranks will not falter and that with God’s help we will maintain the security of this Fortress.  I call on all Officers and Other Ranks humbly to seek God’s help, and thus in reliance on Him to do their duty unflinchingly.”

HMS Grampus

HMS Grampus

Following the Vice Admiral Malta’s report on Saturday, the Commander in Chief Mediterranean has decided that all submarines should be moved to Alexandria.  Submarines Orpheus, Grampus, Rorqual and Odin have been ordered to sail direct to Alexandria from patrol.

ITALIAN MYSTERY DROP

An aircraft was observed today dropping a possible bomb over a ridge at Kalafrana.  The aircraft was described as large and silver, with two or three engines and high wings.  It was believed to have Italian markings. 

However, evidence later came to light that cigarettes and chocolates had been dropped over the Island.  A warning was issued not to consume any such items but to conserve them and hand them in to the Malta Infantry Brigade for examination in case they are poisoned.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JUNE TO DAWN 19 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine. 

0500-0710 hrs  1st Bn Dorset Regt report seeing signalling from an unidentified lamp.  An Army patrol sent to investigate met with some 50 sportsmen, Special Constabulary and local inhabitants with guns searching for the same party.  No-one was found.

1118-1123 hrs  Air raid alert.  One large unidentified aircraft crosses the Island from north to south and then north west.  It drops one bomb from 15000 feet, 400 yards north east of the Officers’ Mess of Hal Far.  The bomb explodes some ten minutes after impact.  It is also observed dropping possible bombs over a ridge near Kalafrana.   

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY HM submarine Orpheus currently off Malta.  Vice Admiral Malta was instructed to sail Masirah from Bizerta to Malta without escort at his discretion.

KALAFRANA  13 recruits medically examined for fitness for RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 HE 250lb Ta Qali aerodrome, 1 HE 250lb Ta Karach; 1 incendiary Della Grazia. 

 

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Posted by on June 18, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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17 June 1940: Hurricanes for Malta

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TWO HURRICANES ON THE WAY

The Air Officer Commanding, Middle East, has ordered two Hurricanes now at Tunis on passage to Egypt to proceed immediately to Malta.

MILITARY SUPPLIES FOR MALTA

From: War Office                        To: Governor & C in C Malta                                        17/06/40

With reference your communication dated 3 June clothing and necessaries, shoes, canvas and field dressings have been despatched and are en route to Malta.  A consignment of motor cycles was despatched at the end of May, along with 770 bicycles: resume this covers your requirement.  Camp kit not yet available.  Remaining items will be shipped first available opportunity.

Admiral Sir Wilbraham Ford, Vice Admiral Malta

Admiral Sir Wilbraham Ford, Vice Admiral Malta

MALTA CONVOYS TO BE PROTECTED

Commander in Chief Mediterranean informed the Vice Admiral Malta that he hopes to cover the movement of ships to and from Malta and the Eastern Mediterranean in the near future.

MYSTERY GUNSHOTS AT ST ANDREWS

At 2300 hours this evening 2nd Lt E N Lewis of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers heard five shots from the direction of St Julians Police Station.  He went to investigate and heard from the guard at St Andrews Barracks that shots had been heard, and flashes seen, from the direction of St Andrews Church.  A guard from the Kings Own Malta Regiment and a command post also reported hearing shots from a westerly direction.  The Inspector of Police at Sliema set up a search with eight other personnel but found nothing.

Concerns have been voiced about sentries firing shots unnecessarily at night.  Several firing incidents have been traced back to ill-considered responses to unauthorised lights and even glow worms.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine; north west wind.

0625-0700 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy bombers escorted by two Macchi 200 fighters in two formations which approach the Island from the south south east. The raiders approach at 16000 feet then swoop into a shallow dive, increasing speed.  One formation attacks Luqa and Ta Qali, where bombs fall close to the water reservoir and cause slight damage to a water main.  11 bombs are dropped between Corradino and Luqa and another 34 near Ta Qali aerodrome, where two fail to explode.  Two Gladiator fighters intercept but no results are reported.  The Gladiator pilots report enemy fighters to be ‘windy’.

0815 hrs  Two unexploded High Explosive bombs are reported by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

1400-1426 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which attack a destroyer three miles south of Delimara at 15000 feet but drop their bombs in the sea.  

1515-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  No attack.

1525-1545 hrs   Three enemy aircraft approach from the east and drop bombs on the Ta Qali area: four near the reservoir, eight in the centre of the airfield and four opposite the Consezione Church.  One raider is believed brought down by Ack Ack fire.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Coral and Diamond attacked and claim to have sunk an Italian U boat off Grand Harbour in position 92 degrees St Elmo light 3.8 miles. 

KALAFRANA  Cpl Sharples, RAF, transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 incendiary near Polverista Gate, Cospicua; 1 HE 250lb near Kirkop.

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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in 1940, June 1940

 

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