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MALTA FIGHTER FORCE DOWN TO A SINGLE GLADIATOR
Two Gladiators were damaged in air raids on Malta today, leaving only one serviceable aircraft to defend the Island. The remaining Gladiator may have to face up enemy formations up to twenty strong. Urgent work is in hand to repair two more Gladiators and one Hurricane from recent damage in combat. Air HQ expects the all three will soon be airworthy.
MALTA WILL SOON HAVE MORE GUNS
Twelve heavy anti-aircraft guns with personnel to man them are being despatched immediately for Malta. The reinforcements will travel the long sea route round the African Cape and are expected to arrive on the Island around 10 September. At the same time, plans are under discussion to send another twelve guns through the western Mediterranean, with a smaller cohort of personnel. If the latter ship succeeds in reaching Malta, the supplies brought by the Cape route will be retained in the Middle East.
At the same time it was announced that some of the guns currently installed for the defence of the Dockyard are to be moved to a position to defend the Island’s aerodromes.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1940
Weather Fine and warm.
1235 hrs A London flying boat and a Swordfish drop bombs on a submarine which is at a depth of eight fathoms four miles north east of Valletta. Two 250lb bombs are dropped by the Swordfish and small patches of oil are visible.
1255-1321 hrs Air raid alert for six hostile fighters in two formations. They approach over Madalena from the north and attack the London flying boat. Malta fighters are scrambled and approach the enemy raiders while Ack Ack gunners also open fire. The raiders turn away without dropping any bombs. Two of Malta’s fighters are damaged on landing. The submarine oil patch spreads quickly to 100 feet square.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 JULY 1940
ROYAL NAVY A flying boat claims to have sunk a submarine 1.8 miles off St Elmo.
AIR HQ Aircraft casualties Two Gladiators damaged. 0345 hrs London affected anti-submarine patrol in the Pantelleria area. 0515 hrs Swordfish affected anti-submarine patrol and reported four ships 80 miles from the Island. 0945 hrs Nine Swordfish were then despatched with bombs and torpedoes but failed to locate ships.
KALAFRANA Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol is attacked by CR42 aircraft, one of which he shoots down. He also bombs a submarine off Delimara Point – result unknown.
LUQA Malta’s fighters went up on a practice flight and on landing one of the Gladiators damaged one of its wings. Strength of Station: officers 18; airmen 92; civilians 4.
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