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SWORDFISH SHOULD BE DEFENDING MALTA
The Governor and Commander in Chief today wrote to the War Office asking that the Admiralty and Air Ministry be approached to cease offensive raids from Malta by Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm against objectives in Sicily. The Governor is supported in his request by the Vice Admiral Malta and the Air Officer Commanding, Malta. In a telegram to London today he gives the following reasons:
- They cannot be strong enough to produce appreciable results.
- They are likely to bring about retaliation by greatly superior Italian air forces.
- This retaliation in view of the very meagre forces of fighters in Malta is likely to have a bad effect on civil morale and this constitutes the greatest of all dangers to the defence of Malta.
- All Swordfish and other bombers should be kept for their chief role in the defence of Malta, of reconnaissance, and attacking hostile ships near Malta – especially in the case of a seaborne attack.
The Governor added that until Malta’s air defences in the shape of fighters are considerably increased, it is a false policy to provoke aircraft attacks on Malta, and fritter away the Island’s very slender resources on tasks which can produce only meagre results.
The War Office replied that all three Service Ministries in London agreed that the employment of these aircraft can from now on be left to the discretion of commanders local to Malta.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1940
Weather Fine with a strong wind, moderating towards evening.
0800-0820 hrs Air raid alert. One S79 bomber crosses the coast over Valletta, followed later by one formation of three CR42 fighters and another of four CR42. The bomber is attacked by a Hurricane before the enemy fighters can intervene. The raider’s starboard engine is set on fire and it crashes into the sea in flames, off Delimara. The enemy fighters fly on towards Luqa where ground troops on the aerodrome open fire and split the formation. Malta fighters are airborne and engage the raiders in a dogfight over the Island, directly above the HQ of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment. Two enemy aircraft are hit. No bombs are dropped.
1543-1555 hrs Air raid alert sounded due to a Sunderland Flying Boat arriving at Kalafrana.
2248 hrs 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers report signalling of six dashes from a hill behind one of their defence posts which is observed being answered by two dashes from the sea. A manned rifle is trained on the source.
Military casualties Private Frederick Kellond, 2nd Bn The Devonshire Regiment
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 9 JULY 1940
ROYAL NAVY Vendetta, Diamond and Jervis sailed for Alexandria with fast convoy MF1, including El Nil, Rodi and Knight of Malta. Flying boat L5807 reported two battleships, four cruisers and ten destroyers at 0732 hours in position 37 degrees N, 17 degrees E, steering 330 degrees. A further large force of cruisers and destroyers was reported in the vicinity.
AIR HQ Aircraft casualties One Hurricane slightly damaged. 0500 hrs Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report.
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. One recruit medically examined for the RAF.
2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT Sgt F G Kellond died from a gunshot wound at the Military Hospital, Imtarfa.
3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT One recruit attested.
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