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

29 Aug

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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.


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.


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


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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in 1940, August 1940


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