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2 September 1940: Malta’s First Convoy Docks Safely

02 Sep

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SHIPS UNLOADED IN RECORD TIME

Malta’s first convoy arrived safely today and was unloaded in record time. It was at first light this morning that the advance ships of supply convoy MF2 with its protective force of Operation Hats sighted the Island. The tugs Jaunty and Ancient went out to help the supply ship Cornwall into Grand Harbour.  

HMS Valiant enters Malta (NWMA)

HMS Valiant enters Malta (NWMA)

She was later joined by a second cargo ship Volo and HMS Valiant. At 1130 hrs the Vice Admiral Malta was able to report the safe arrival of the Island’s first convoy. Much needed Royal Artillery personnel disembarked from Valiant including three officers, twelve fire control operators, one equipment repairer, six gun fitters, two instrument mechanics, twelve height finders and four gun position officer assistants. Also on board were eight heavy and ten light Ack Ack guns and miscellaneous stores.

During the morning an enemy aircraft was overheard reporting three Royal Navy cruisers off Malta. An hour later one ship reported that she was being shadowed and decided to remain at 30 miles off Delimara. At 1450 hrs Italian aircraft launched an attack. Fulmars scrambled from Illustrious shot down one SM79, damaged another, and chased two SM79s as far as Italy. One Fulmar had to make forced landing at Hal Far; the Telegraphist Air Gunner was slightly wounded.

Troops from Malta’s Infantry Brigades joined the Dockyard stevedores at 1300 hrs to unload the convoy, expecting to work a twelve hour shift. However, the unloading was completed in just four hours, allowing the ships to leave harbour without facing any Italian air attacks. As well as the guns and ammunition, Malta now has much-needed supplies of general stores and fuel.

MORE GUNS DUE IN APRIL

Malta looks set to receive further massive reinforcements of defensive artillery. In a cable to the Island’s Army Headquarters today, the War Office in London has confirmed plans for an additional 112 heavy and 60 light anti-aircraft guns for the Island. The extra artillery is expected to arrive in Malta in April 1941.

However, it is still unclear how many of the additional forces will be posted from the UK and how many Malta would be expected to recruit from the Island itself. Final figures for reinforcements from Britain will be confirmed pending the Island’s reply.

In a separate exchange of telegrams, the War Office proposes increases in the senior structure of Ordnance Services on the Island.   The measure is designed to meet demands created by the growth of the Malta Garrison, which now stands at 12000 personnel, with a further 1000 expected within a few weeks.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine and clear.

1212-1227 hrs Air raid alert for six enemy bombers and fifteen fighters which cross the Island and travel eastwards in cloud, then head for Grand Harbour. They drop high explosive bombs in the sea, apparently attacking a destroyer lying offshore. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage.

1533-1545 hrs  Enemy aircraft are engaged in low dive-bombing attacks on Naval units to the south east of the Island. Two seaplanes aim bombs at a destroyer off Delimara Point and turn away from the Island. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage.

1800-1835 hrs  Air raid alert. Four destroyers are reported passing Delimara on a south-westerly course. Six enemy aircraft identified as JU87 dive bombers are seen over Grand Harbour and are followed by another formation. They turn away to dive-bomb Naval ships off the Island. Bombs are dropped near a destroyer off Fort St Elmo. The Navy claims to have shot down at least five enemy aircraft. Malta Hurricanes were unable to take off in time as they had just landed and were refuelling. Five take off later but do not intercept. No raiders cross the Island.

0500 hrs  Look-outs of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers report the sound of a Motor Torpedo Boat or similar, off the coast. A destroyer is despatched to investigate.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1940

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. 0600-1630 hrs Sunderland on reconnaissance between Malta, Sicily and Zante. No enemy movements to report. 1610-1850 hrs One Skua reconnaissance Syracuse, Augusta, Messina: nil report.

KALAFRANA Three Sunderlands on patrol; one returned to Alexandria. One draft of 18 locally trained airmen left for Middle East.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT Six recruits enlisted.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion sent parties to assist in unloading of supply convoy. 

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS Construction of accommodation at Ta Qali continues. Unloading party to be at docks at 1315 hrs. Returned 1800 hrs having completed a 12 hour job in four hours. Major G A French and four ORs arrive back from schools of instruction in Egypt and Palestine.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT 10 officers and 11 Other Ranks rejoined from ME courses. 52 Other Ranks unloading stores from HMS Valiant.

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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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