13 August 1940: Malta Government to Control All Imports

13 Aug

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Malta’s Governor and C in C, Lt Gen Dobbie, has today put forward proposals for keeping the Island supplied while the fortress is under siege. In a message to HM Government in London, he made it clear that co-ordination is now essential, saying: If the ability of this fortress to resist attack is not uniformly strong, weakness at one point will affect the whole. It is thus of paramount importance that all reserves should be maintained at a uniform standard, eg advantage of the presence of stocks of ammunition and military stores for a specific period would be greatly diminished if reserves of essential foods and materials for the local population are not maintained for a similar period.

Wembley Store (2)

Wembley Store (2)

The supply of Malta now relies entirely on convoys from the Eastern Mediterranean but, with the dangers they face, supply runs must be kept to a minimum. As a result, shipping space must be used to the best advantage, so that only essential supplies are brought to the Island at the right time and the in right quantities. In addition, the Island needs to hold a reserve sufficient for at least six months, with an extra two months in hand, in order to sustain the Island in the event of the loss of a convoy. These time frames are supported by Vice Admiral Malta and the C in C Mediterranean.

To achieve effective supply runs, Lt Gen Dobbie proposes to co-ordinate all requirements for the Island, including those of the Services, of the Government and the civil population. The Government will assume responsibility for importation of all foodstuffs and other materials which are essential to the life of the community, so that the correct quantities are ordered and arrive when they are needed. Local importers – whose supply chains have been disrupted since the siege began – will be formed into pools, allowed to purchase supplies and to apply a small profit in selling to retailers.

The Governor stressed that stores for the civilian population and for the Armed Services must have equal priority. He therefore proposes that Government requirements for items such as building materials, coal, wheat and refrigerated substances be co-ordinated with the needs of the Services to ensure availability and to avoid wasting capacity on convoys. Though essential items will take precedence, the Governor also recognised that some space must be allocated for such items as books and toiletries which are deemed necessary to preserve morale on the Island.

Subject to the agreement of HM Government, Lt Gen Dobbie will telegraph an itemised list of the supplies needed immediately to bring Malta’s stocks up to a level sufficient for eight months, assuming that the next convoy will take two months to reach the Island. He then proposes a rolling programme of supply convoys to keep the level of stocks at the required minimum.


In a separate development today, the Welfare Branch of the War Office in London cabled the General Officer Commanding, Malta asking for a list of items needed to support the welfare of troops on the Island, including sports gear, games, wireless, books, woollen comforts and cigarettes.


All Italian street names in Valletta, Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa have now been translated or replaced with English names. (1)


Three Swordfish destroyed: crews missing

Three Swordfish destroyed: crew missing

Two Swordfish aircraft were reported missing and a third crashed ditched in the sea off Malta tonight after a bombing raid on Sicily. The aircraft were with six others sent from Malta on a mission to attack shipping in Augusta. They faced intense fire from coastal batteries. Two of the Swordfish were shot down; Acting S/Lt D Edmondson and his Telegraphist/Air Gunner are believed killed. It is believed the crew of a second aircraft were picked up by the Italian Navy. Lt A F Hall’s Swordfish was also hit by Ack Ack fire but managed to reach a point four miles off the coast of Malta, near Ta Silch, before ditching in the sea. The crew survived and were rescued from their dinghy.


Weather  Fine and hot.

0857-0937 hrs  Air raid alert for a reported formation of enemy aircraft approaching Grand Harbour. No raiders cross the coast.

Military casualties  Acting S/Lieutenant D S Edmondson, pilot, 830 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY   2100 hrs Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm took off to carry out low-bombing and torpedo attacks on shipping in Augusta; results doubtful. Despite intense fire from coastal batteries six returned safely; two were reported missing and the crew of one picked up by the Italians. A third crashed four miles from Ta Silch; the crew were saved. PM A floating mine was reported off Torri L’Ahmar.  

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 3 Swordfish. 1500 hrs One Hudson reconnaissance of Augusta.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  Unexploded incendiary bomb found broken up in the dining room at San Pietru. It had passed through the corrugated iron roof and a table, and stuck in the concrete floor. Pieces were removed.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO saw Brigade Commander at HQ to discuss employment of reinforcements.

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd, 1992

(2) The Wembley Store, Valletta – still open for business


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