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ISLAND VULNERABLE TO ATTACK FROM THE SEA
British Prime Minister has responded strongly to the issues raised in Gov C in C’s telegram to War Office of 19 September in which he says that the infantry garrison of Malta would be ‘dangerously weak’ if the Island were attacked from the sea.
In a note to the Chief of Imperial General Staff, Sir Winston Churchill said: “The telegram confirms my apprehensions about Malta. Beaches defended on an average battalion front of 15 miles, and no reserves for counter-attack worth speaking of, leave the Island at the mercey of a landing force. You must remember that we do not possess the command of the sea around Malta. The danger therefore appears to be extreme. I should have thought four battalions were needed….”
And to Secretary of State for War the Prime Minister wrote: “Do you realise there is no command of the sea at Malta, and it might be attacked at any time by an expeditionary force of twenty or thirty thousand men from Italy, supported by the Italian Fleet?” (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER 1940
Weather Fine with scirocco.
1045 hrs Three Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa. One crashes on landing and is badly damaged. Passengers Major General Freysburg, staff officer Lt Colonel Stewart and the crew escape unhurt. The aircraft is badly damaged and cannot be repaired with materials currently available on the Island.
1725-1740 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 1940
AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Sunderland.
KALAFRANA Two Sunderlands 228 Squadron arrived from Middle East for a prolonged stay, bringing a maintenance party of 16 and an important Naval officer en route for Gibraltar.
2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS Platoon training began again.
(1) Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications 2008
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