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Monthly Archives: September 2015

30 September 1940: 1000 Troops Disembark in Malta

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HMS Gloucester enters Malta (1)

HMS Gloucester enters Malta (1)

FIRST MAJOR REINFORCEMENTS SINCE JUNE

HMS Gloucester and HMS Liverpool detached from the remaining ships of Operation MB5 this evening and headed for Malta to deliver personnel, guns, ammunition and other stores for Malta. The two cruisers entered Grand Harbour at 2200 hrs tonight. For most of the troops, this was the end of a long journey round the African Cape to Egypt and from there through the Eastern Mediterranean. These are the first reinforcements since Italy declared war on the Allies in June.

The new personnel are:

  • Royal Army Service Corps 3 officers 16 OR
  • Royal Artillery 27 Ack Ack Battery: 7 officers, 247 other ranks (OR)
  • Royal Artillery: 1 officer, 1 OR
  • Royal Corps of Signals: 49 OR
  • Royal Engineers: 3 OR
  • 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment: 5 officers 221 OR
  • 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment: 4 officers 112 OR
  • 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment: 3 officers 164 OR
  • 8th Bn Manchester Regiment: 7 officers 72 OR
  • 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers 9 officers 147 OR

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 1 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  South westerly wind; heavy seas.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY Operation MB5 successfully completed. Liverpool and Gloucester arrived and sailed after disembarking stores and personnel.

KALAFRANA One draft of 18 locally trained airmen left for Middle East. Due to a heavy swell, the Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons were forced to operate from St Paul’s Bay. Marine Craft and other services were sent from Kalafrana in support. Two Sunderlands on long reconnaissance patrols obtain important information and photographs. They also shadow an enemy fleet.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Reinforcements arrived Bn.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Reinforcements arrived Bn. Officers names as 2/Lt P E H Dale, 2/Lt L T Morris, 2/Lt E E Lushington, 2/Lt K H R Johnson. Strengths now 29 officers, 850 Other Ranks, 2 RAOC. 1 officer, 52 Other Ranks 8th Bn Manchester Regt attached.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND Strength: Royal Malta Artillery 3 officers, 126 other ranks; Royal Engineers 1 officer, 6 other ranks; MAC 2 members.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB A drawing showing the method suggested for adapting German and Italian bombs for use as anti-tank mines was forwarded to the Assistant Director of Ordnance Services.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS Reinforcements arrived by warship, disembarked and taken by bus to Pembroke. Kit will arrive tomorrow.

(1) www.naval-history.net

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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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29 September 1940: Troop Convoy for Malta Attacked

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HMS Liverpool

HMS Liverpool

CONVOY UNDER ATTACK

HM cruisers Gloucester and Liverpool came under threat today as aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica launched an attack on the convoy as they headed for Malta. The attacks were fought off by ships’ guns and aircraft from the carrier Illustrious.

It has emerged that Italian naval command had also picked up reports of the movements of Operation MB5 and has ordered its fleet to put to sea. Five battleships and seven heavy cruisers and four light cruisers and 23 destroyers set sail from Taranto and Messina in an attempt to intercept the convoy.

SLEEPING IN CLOTHES IN CASE OF A RAID

From the diary of the Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Valletta

“What is the most important commodity a shortage of which would be most felt? In the economic sphere wheat, of course. Meat is not provided in the island to any extent, but the Maltese do not eat much of it. We used to get our beef, alive, from Romania; I do not think that any has come for months, and if Romania gets swallowed up by Germany there will be none. From the military point of view, I suppose petrol for the planes (of which we now have a much larger number, including some bombers who use us as a base) and heavy oil for the Navy, whose ships come in surreptitiously to re-fuel occasionally. Ammunition for the army one supposes was provided long ago. The gas manager tells me that he has coal for about 18 months at the present rate of consumption. Electric batteries for torches ran out for a time but were replenished before Italy came in.

St Pauls Anglican Cathedral

St Pauls Anglican Cathedral

I cannot obtain the pleasant pale blue type-ribbon which we have used for so many years – but I suspect the carelessness of the agent, who once before forgot to order it. Paraffin, which is much used for cooking ran very short a year ago. It was a great nuisance, and I hope it will not happen again; the poor who have no gas suffered a good deal.

We waste a great deal of time! An air raid a day keeps concentration away. We sleep in the Crypt; eerie, but one need not get up to go below in case of an alarm. The full moons of June and July were highly unpleasant; but in August, by the grace of God our enemies did not bother us. Here the moon is so bright that one can see to read at midnight. She is waxing now; shall we have attacks? It is also very cool in the Crypt; and it has been a cool year – another thing to be thankful for. For a fortnight I slept in my clothes – a form of funk, I think. Perhaps I had an idea that I might be called out for casualties. Also I took an old hat and kept it down below! This and a couple of iron bars, doubtless with the thought of being buried under fallen stone.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 1940

KALAFRANA Two Sunderlands on twelve hour reconnaissance patrols.

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Saturday 28 September 1940: Reinforcements Embark for Malta

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British troops embark at Alexandria (1)

British troops embark at Alexandria (1)

TROOP SHIPS LEAVE ALEXANDRIA Operation MB5 set sail from today with much needed reinforcements for Malta. Cruisers HMS Gloucester and HMS Liverpool are carrying over 1000 troops and essential guns to increase the Island’s defences. The Mediterranean Fleet, including aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and warships HMS Orion, Valiant, Warspite and York, and Australian RAN cruiser Sydney, have also embarked to provide cover for the two cruisers and engage any Italian warships attempting an attack.

INFANTRY TIME LOST IN GUARDING WRECKS

Major General commanding troops Malta has written to RAF HQ asking for debris of wrecked aircraft to be removed more quickly, in order to release Infantry guards of their task of guarding the debris, with as little delay as possible

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 29 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

0200 hrs  Summer time ends; all clocks and times of troops ‘stand to’ are adjusted back one hour.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from Alexandria. One Sunderland on 12 hour reconnaissance patrol.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Practice ‘Man Marsa’ out to various posts.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  High explosive 1 x 250lb Luqa; incendiary x 1 Luqa.

(1) Liveblogging World War II

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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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27 September 1940: Formation of 25 Bombs Airfields

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MALTA STRONGER THAN EVER SAYS TIMES OF LONDON

In a special feature article the Times Naval Correspondent writes in positive terms about the Island’s prospects:

“Malta as a fortress is, perhaps, stronger than it ever was, and it would be a bold enemy who would attempt its reduction and capture. But it is one of the most thickly populated places in the world, and thus an attractive target to an enemy who counts terrorism among his weapons…Malta stands or falls by sea power, and the spirit of its people, while Britain holds command of the sea, the prowess of the garrison on land and the staunchness of the people are assured of constant support, which is all they need to beat off any foe.” (1)

RAF Blenheim

RAF Blenheim

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 28 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine, with some cloud.

1030-1100 hrs Three Blenheim and three Wellington bombers land at Luqa.

1701-1723 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy formations, one of six SM79s and one of three SM79s, all accompanied by 12 to 15 fighters, which approach at 17000 feet from the north over Madliena and bomb the Hal Far and Luqa areas. There are three direct hits on hangars and buildings at Luqa; incendiary bombs cause several fires. Twelve bombs land on the runways but do not hold up operations. One Hurricane awaiting repair is written off; one unserviceable Glen Martin is damaged by an incendiary. Sandbag pens prevent serious damage to other aircraft. One unexploded bomb is removed. Malta fighters are scrambled and engage, along with anti-aircraft guns. One enemy CR42 fighter is reported shot down by fighters, the baling out 150 degrees from Delimara. The RAF set out in a boat to search. Two SM79 bombers hit by Ack Ack fire are not expected to reach base. The tailfin of one Hurricane is also damaged in combat.

Four enemy submarines are reported by a flying boat 20 miles south of Delimara, steering east. Voyager, Jade and Beryl carry out a search without any result.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual returned with a defect.  

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. Aircraft casualties 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left for Middle East. One Sunderland sent out to search for a Blenheim was forced to land in the sea off Sicily. No trace has been found.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT Exercise No 1 Anti-Parachutist Scheme. This month the unit has been constructing winter quarters and anti-parachutist posts. The unit has sent parties to Strickland House to assist in the removal of petrol stores. Training has consisted of platoon training, foot drill and weapon training. Living conditions have been improved, with concerts and outdoor sports. Food has greatly improved and the arrival of mail appreciated by all.

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

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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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26 September 1940: Malta Resists All Italian Attacks

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AXIS POWERS HAVE LOST INITIATIVE

Italian air attacks have not defeated Malta

Italian air attacks have not defeated Malta

Australian press report on the war in Malta, Thursday 26 September 1940

“Before the entry of Italy into the war, it had been considered very doubtful by defence experts whether Malta could be held against Italian attack from the air. Today, Malta is able to resist all attacks and the Italian air force rains its bombs harmlessly upon Malta, which is still a British naval base and which never sees an Italian warship. The Mediterranean, far from being a Roman sea, has become a closed lakes in the reeds and unfrequented corners of which lurks the Italian Navy…Within the last week, a series of talks have been held at Rome in which the Axis powers had been credited with making new plans; but everything that has been suggested as a possible decision or intention of the Axis powers marks the loss of initiative.”

GOVERNOR & C in C FRUSTRATED THAT MAIL STILL NOT GETTING THROUGH

Lt Gen Dobbie is mystified as to the reasons why mail has not been delivered to troops in Malta for many weeks. Today he expressed his frustration in a brief but strongly worded message to the War Office:

“In the last week ten (repeat ten) opportunities for mail to be transmitted here. Eight from United Kingdom and two from Middle East. Amount of mail received nil (repeat nil).”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 27 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA   One Sunderland arrived from Gibraltar and one from Middle East.

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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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25 September 1940: Bomb Disposal Squads Clear 32 UXBs

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RAF AND RAOC CLEAR AIR FIELDS

Bomb disposal teams from the RAF and RAOC have cleared 32 unexploded bombs (UXB) across the airfields of Hal Far and Luqa. The bombs were dropped in air raids on 15 and 17 September and have been cordoned off since then; none has exploded in that time   The RAF dealt with 13 UXBs within the aerodromes. RAOC officers Captain R L Jephson Jones and Lt W M Eastman RAOC with their staff of Royal Engineers concentrated on those outside the perimeter of the airfields.

The bombs all carried German Rheinmetal fuzes. Armed with information from Bomb Disposal Headquarters in the UK about these fuzes, the bomb disposal squads was decided that the majority of the bombs could be defuzed; the remainder were blown up. Once rendered harmless, some of the bombs were kept by the RAOC while the rest were collected by the Royal Navy and dumped at sea.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

1132-1219 hrs  Air raid alert for one formation of eight enemy Macchi 200 fighters which fly over the Island at 20000 feet. Three Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled and engage the raiders in a dog fight at 22000 feet, shooting down one Macchi which crashes on land near a military defence post at Delimara, killing the pilot. The Fort reports incendiary bombs near the anti-aircraft searchlight half a mile away. Ack Ack guns also engage the enemy: one aircraft is believed damaged but is not seen to crash.  

Enemy casualties  Maresciallo Gino Lagi, 79th Squadriglia, 6th Gruppo, 1st Stormo, pilot of Macchi C200 shot down and died.

Narval Free French submarine joins Allied ops at Malta (1)

Narval Free French submarine joins Allied ops at Malta (1)

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  French submarine Narval sailed on first patrol under Free French colours. Rorqual sailed on patrol.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  CO expressed appreciation for work done by A and B Coys digging up unexploded bombs.

(1)  Expedition Scyllas

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Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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24 September 1940: Three More Supply Ships Expected at Malta

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Unloading WelshmanWARSHIPS TO BE UNLOADED AS FAST AS POSSIBLE

Infantry Battalions have ordered to stand by again for unloading of supplies. Three warships are expected to arrive in Malta within days carrying quantities of armour and ordnance stores. Two are estimated to dock in daylight and the third after dark.

Unloading parties of one officer, two NCOs and 50 men will be formed and report to Hamilton Wharf in the Dockyard at specified times. Battalions are asked to find as many men as possible with experience of stevedore work for the unloading parties. Each will work for shifts of four hours. The objective is to unload the ships in the shortest possible time – and hopefully to replicated the efficient unloading of the convoy on 2 September.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine, with scirocco.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland arrived from Middle East.   One Sunderland left for Gibraltar with Naval passenger.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS Information received that reinforcements may arrive very soon. Final instructions received regarding Northern Infantry Brigade exercise No. 1.

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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