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Monthly Archives: October 2015

31 October 1940: Air Battle For Malta Reviewed

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JU 87 dive-bombers disappeared from skies after losses

JU 87 dive-bombers disappeared from skies after losses

AIR HQ MALTA REPORTS ON FIRST FOUR MONTHS AT WAR

For the first month of the war with Italy, SM79 bombers carried out raids and reconnaissance unescorted by fighters. When successes against them by our fighters started, the tactics changed and no bomb was dropped by day on Malta for a continuous period of five weeks. During this time the Italians sent strong formations of up to twenty fighters carrying out offensive patrols in an evident attempt to neutralize Malta’s fighter effort. Their efforts met with little success and Malta’s few fighters were instructed that, unless bombers were included, action against fighters was to be avoided and only stragglers were to be attacked.

The next phase began when day bombing was resumed by large formations of 10 to 15 bombers, escorted by 20 to 25 fighters. This presented a difficult problem but Malta’s few fighters tackled the attacks courageously, with the occasional success against the enemy. The attacks were not sustained but they were followed by dive-bombing attacks by JU 87s, also heavily escorted by fighters. On the third dive bombing attack, two bombers and one fighter were shot down by Hurricanes. Since then no further dive bombing attacks have taken place. Enemy air activity was almost negligible during the first half of October.

In view of the night bombing during moonlight in the early weeks of the war, a night fighter effort has been worked up. On the first occasion it was called into action, a Hurricane carried out a determined attack on a SM79 which was last seen flying very low and apparently in great difficulty.

There were no further night attacks for several weeks.   The next attempt did not materialize: the enemy aircraft were caught in searchlights and turned back before reaching the Island. Several more weeks elapsed before another attempt was made by some four bombers working in pairs, raiding Malta by moonlight. A Hurricane shot down one bomber in flames and damaged a second so seriously that it probably did not return to base. The remaining bombers approached the Island but returned before crossing the coast.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Gusty with occasional rain.

No air raids.

HMAS Vendetta

HMAS Vendetta

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 31 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Vendetta ready for sea on completion of refit.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Wellingtons.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. A working party of 60 technical NCOs and airmen were temporarily detached to Luqa to assist in special offensive operations being carried out from there, leaving only a skeleton staff of English personnel in workshops at Kalafrana.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strength 29 officers, 842 other ranks, 2 RAOC (attached).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  This month A and B Coys moved to new positions at Ta Qali and Dingli. Range practices have been held and NCOs completed a course on hand grenades. Signals have improved communications in the Ta Qali area. Progress was made in construction of rear defences at posts in the unit’s area. There has been a considerable amount of sickness throughout the unit, among the officers; jaundice has been prevalent at Ta Saliba.

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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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30 October 1940: Ta Qali To Become Fighter Station

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Ta Qali

Ta Qali

TA QALI TO BE HOME TO NEW SQUADRON

The former Malta airport at Ta Qali is to be re-opened as a RAF fighter aerodrome. Air Headquarters Mediterranean issued instructions for Wing Commander J R O’Sullivan to proceed to Ta Qali airport with a small headquarters staff for the purpose of forming a temporary one squadron fighter station with immediate effect.  At 0900 hrs today, W/Cdr O’Sullivan left RAF Station Hal Far for Ta Qali with 14 airmen, including three senior NCOs, accompanied by a detachment of 17 men of the King’s Own Malta Regiment for guard duties.

By tomorrow, a maintenance party of 261 Squadron consisting of 24 airmen including three senior NCOs will arrive from RAF Station Luqa for the purpose of maintaining Hurricane aircraft operating from Ta Qali as a temporary measure. The majority of these personnel will continue to be accommodated at Luqa and will proceed daily to Ta Qali for duty. Several buildings at Ta Qali will be taken over for temporary accommodation: Torri Combo will operate as the Officers Mess, the Pottery as Barrack Rooms and Institute. Senior NCOs will be accommodated by 8th Bn Manchester Regiment in Chateau Bertrand until further notice. It is planned that Ta Qali airport buildings will be converted to offices, sick quarters and an armoury.

Ta Qali has not yet been iused for RAF operations. Teenager Charles Grech who lives near the airfield described what he saw: “It was obstructed with old buses, wrecked cars, lorries and hundreds of 50 gallon oil drums filled with earth. They were dispersed all over the airfield in order to prevent gliders or transport aircraft from landing there, in case of an airborne invasion…we once noticed there was a biplane looking very much like a Gladiator parked on the grass on one side of the airfield…this was a dummy made of wood and sack-cloth and it was set up as a decoy to give the enemy the impression that the airfield was operational in order to divert attacks from other targets, thereby giving Luqa and Hal Far airfields a respite.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep completed by Oropesa. Otus returned to harbour with defects.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland left for Middle East with important passengers.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 0515 hrs  Bn took part in Southern Infantry Brigade training exercise. Bn HQ and No 6 Platoon under war conditions and standing to until 0830 hrs.

(1)  Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech, trans Joseph Galea de Bono, Midsea Books 2002

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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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29 October 1940: Malta Fighter Relief Fund Closes

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Fighter plane fund enough for two Spitfires for Malta

Fighter plane fund enough for two Spitfires for Malta

FUNDING FOR TWO FIGHTERS RAISED IN 3 MONTHS

Malta Fighter Plane Fund was declared a resounding success as it closed to donations today. The fund was launched on 30 July as an expression of gratitude to the RAF for their defence of Malta. The intention was to raise enough money to fund the building of a new fighter aircraft but that £6000 target was reached in less than three weeks.

It was decided to keep the fund open to pay for a second aircraft. Collection boxes across the Island and fundraising events such as concerts and football matches have brought the total to £12900 within three months. The Anglo-Maltese league have been congratulated on the success of their initiative. The funds will now be forwarded to the Minister for Aircraft Production, Rt Hon Lord Beaverbrook, in London.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Gale and slight rain.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 29 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; no result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. French Latecoere on 5½ hours patrol. One Sunderland RAAF arrived from Gibraltar with Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and other officers en route for Middle East.

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

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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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28 October 1940: Malta on Alert as Italy Attacks Greece

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ITALY ATTACKS GREECE

Mussolini issued ultimatum then attacked

Mussolini issued ultimatum then attacked

News has reached Malta that Italy has attacked Greece. It is reported that at 3am yesterday the Italian Government presented the Greek Government with an ultimatum which expired at 6am today but by then Italian troops in Albania had already attacked Greek frontier forces. Sea and air attacks have also been reported. Athens has suffered at least one air raid and the Italian navy has attacked the Island of Corfu.

Mussolini’s ultimatum claimed that Greece had assisted the British forces against Italy. It also demanded permission for Italian armed forces to occupy selected strategic points in Greek territory for the duration of the war against Britain, and for the free passage of troops to occupy these points.  

Rejecting the ultimatum, Greece ordered a general troop mobilisation and appealed to Britain for assistance in line with promises made last year to give all possible help in the event of such enemy action.  This move by Mussolini is entirely unexpected even, it is said, by Axis leaders including Hitler. The move is considered to place Malta at heightened risk of attack by Italian forces in the near future.  

Malta could become base for raids on Italy

The British War Cabinet was called to an emergency meeting at 5pm today to discuss the situation and their impact on the war in the Mediterranean. Greece had been proposed as a base for Allied air attacks on Italy. In view of the new developments, attention is now turning to Malta as a possible base for such raids. This possibility had already been considered but the scheme was delayed as it was considered dangerous attract undue attention to the Island until air defences could be strengthened. A squadron of Wellingtons destined for the Middle East could be detained in Malta temporarily in order to attack the Italian Government in Rome.  

Malta-bound troops diverted to Crete

A battalion which was about to set sail for Malta will now be sent instead to Crete. The War Cabinet has agreed that in the circumstances the Island will have to manage without these reinforcements. The Mediterranean Fleet has also been diverted to focus on the prevention of Italian troop landings on Crete.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 28 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Otus began trials after a long refit.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. French Latecoere on 6 hours patrol.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Enemy mine recovered in Gnejna Bay.

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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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27 October 1940: Extra Malta Fighters Drive Off Italian Raiders

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Hurricanes fly in to MaltaEXTRA NUMBERS IN THE AIR GAIN THE UPPER HAND

A greater fighter force in the air over Malta is succeeding in driving off Italian raiders. For the second time in a week, eight fighters were scrambled to meet the enemy. At the first warning of an approaching attack this morning the six Hurricanes and two Gladiators took to the air. As four of the eight Italian Macchi 200 fighters turned over the coast near Ghar Dalam to head for the airfields, they were intercepted by four Hurricanes and engaged in a fierce dog fight, severely damaging an enemy aircraft. No bombs were dropped or damage done on the Island during the raid. Last Sunday the same number of Malta fighters intercepted an approaching formations with the result that the raiders turned back for Sicily without making any attack.

Rev Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta, wrote in his diary:

“the Italian air attacks, which started off in great style, and for the first month were most distinctly unpleasant, have almost died away. About every five days we have a warning, and we go to our shelter in the Crypt, or wherever we may happen to be. We hear planes, but no guns; and after half an hour or so the ‘All Clear’ is sounded, and we hear that enemy planes approached but were driven off. Last Sunday the siren sounded just as Mattins ended, and we were not released for over an hour. But I was told afterwards that it was an exercise! However, I am not certain.

Today (Sunday), we had a warning at 10 o’clock, which lasted 25 minutes; and we had a happy service after. We were told that an enemy plane had been brought down, but shall not know for certain till tomorrow. I often wonder when they will strike at Malta; and whether it will be made by Germans; or whether they may try a tip-and-run bombardment from the sea.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

0958-1025 hrs Air raid alert for eight Italian Macchi 200 aircraft which fly from the north to the south of the Island at 18-20000 feet before crossing the coast. Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled. The Hurricanes engage four of the raiders over Ghar Dalam. One enemy aircraft is believed brought down but not confirmed. One Hurricane’s tail is damaged but it lands safely. The raiders turn away with no bombs dropped.

1100 hrs A enemy formation of three enemy aircraft approaches from the north to within 30 miles of the Island then turns away, possibly searching for one of the aircraft force-landed during the previous raid.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 27 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 2 Blenheims. Departures 2 Sunderland. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA and Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil reports by all aircraft. French Latecoere seaplane reconnaissance Malta to 20 miles north of Lampedusa to 40 miles west of Tripoli to 40 miles west of Lampedusa to Malta; nil report.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance Alexandria to Doro Channel to Kea to Kithera to Malta; reported a convoy of three merchant vessels, two destroyers and one cruiser identified as British. One Sunderland left for Middle East and one arrived from Middle East. One Sunderland RAAF left for UK with 3 passengers and mail. French Latecoere on 5 hours patrol.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT Mail and parcels arrived.

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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26 October 1940: Hoarding and Fuel Shortages Affect Life in Malta

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Buses run for only a few hours a day

Buses run for only a few hours a day

COINS AND FUEL IN SHORT SUPPLY

Rev Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta, observes the shortages emerging in Malta in his diary for October 1940:

“We are much bothered by the hoarding of silver. It is almost impossible to obtain change for half-a-crown. The Government issued an Ordinance making hoarding illegal; but it had little or no effect. Now, another Ordinance has just been issued giving authority to the Police to search houses. But I doubt whether anything will be done…It was said in the Council of Government last week that unemployment is now at its lowest for many years; but the Maltese will oppose any suggestion of Taxation – even self imposed – to the death. There is a lot of money about, and there are many rich people. There is also much real poverty…

We are apparently very short of petrol. For months petrol was not rationed then, soon after Italy came in, private cars were forbidden, but a good many exceptions allowed. Then suddenly all private cars were withdrawn from the roads including taxis and hired cars, and the buses allowed to run during only a few hours of the day. As at least half the population is now living in the country towns and villages, transport is a great problem; and further restrictions are threatened. I should have thought that during those early months the Government might have built storage tanks; but one must not judge without knowing the facts. I am inclined to attribute the sudden panic to Germany’s seizure of Romania. It is even possible that some tankers were just about to start from Galatz for Egypt and Malta and have been held up.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine with fresh north westerly breeze.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 26 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Skua Fleet Air Arm reconnaissance of area between Malta and Tripoli; nil report.

AIR HQ Reconnaissance of north eastern and southern Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Sunderland 228 Squadron and Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil reports by all aircraft.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  2 platoons posted to form D Company. 18 recruits from depot posted to B Company.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT A mine was reported by J2 floating towards the defence post. It proved impossible to beach and the post was evacuated overnight.

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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25 October 1940: Cemetery Under Bomber Path Closed to Public

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Addolorata Cemetery

Addolorata Cemetery

ADDOLORATA CEMETERY OUT OF BOUNDS

Addolorata Cemetery has been closed to the public as a safety measure. Only priests and persons who are part of a funeral cortege will be permitted access for the foreseeable future.

The cemetery lies on a direct line between Grand Harbour and Luqa, placing it under the bombing path for enemy air raids. As the area has been repeatedly attacked from the air it is considered unsafe for the general public. The measure comes as a blow to the morale of the Maltese who regularly visit and tend the graves of their dead – practice which has increased since the onset of war.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Cold, wet and very windy.

No air raids.

0900-1730 hrs Submarine sanctuary conditions are in force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 25 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY French submarine Narval left for her second patrol between Kerkenah and Lampedusa. Skua FAA reconnaissance Malta to Tripoli but returned due to bad weather.

AIR HQ Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA and Sunderland 230 Squadron; nil reports by all aircraft.

KALAFRANA Operations resumed at Kalafrana by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal Bomb disposal course completed.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Strength 28 officers; 891 other ranks.

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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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