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Monthly Archives: October 2015

24 October 1940: Anti-Italian Feeling Grows in Malta

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Kingsway or Strada Reale

Kingsway or Strada Reale

ITALIAN PILOT ATTACKED IN VALLETTA

Anti-Italian feeling is growing among some groups of Maltese civilians. Increasing numbers of letters are being sent to newspapers seeking the eradication of Italian language and cultural symbols from Maltese life. One correspondent commented: “Whenever we hear the siren, there are only Italian planes, directed by Italian pilots, dropping Italian bombs…are we going to leave the Italian language on our walls? Are we to continue to write our address in Italian?…Is the Italian language to be continued to flow in our Secondary Schools? Street names are already being changed from Italian to English in response to demand. However, while the Government has sounded a note of caution, some views published in the press have enflamed anti-Italian feelings.

A minority of individuals have taken the matter into their own hands, accusing others of being Italian sympathisers. And only days ago an angry crowd gathered around an Italian pilot prisoner of war who had been taken to Valletta for some shopping. According to one report: “There was a great commotion in Strada Reale and it was only through the great tact of the Police that something very distasteful did not happen…It took the Police a long time to dissuade the crowd not to tear him to pieces.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

1131-1230 hrs Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft approaching from the north. The come within ten to fifteen miles east of Valletta and circle. Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled and the raiders turn away.

Military casualties  Gunner Emmanuel Callus, Royal Malta Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER

ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; four mines swept up in position 141 degrees Delimara 12.3 miles. Reconnaissance Swordfish and Skua Fleet Air Arm (FAA). Skua reported on landing seeing French 10000 ton liner coming out of the straits of Messina.

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties One Swordfish. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA and Sunderland 228 Squadron; Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil reports by all aircraft.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance are Malta-Tripoli-Jerba Island; reported on landing seeing one Italian destroyer and one merchant vessel in convoy. Operational base for Sunderlands transferred to St Paul’s Bay owing to sea conditions at Kalafrana.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT Ack Ack firing practice: the target was towed by aircraft. 10 hits were registered.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Petrol bombs tried out and proved successful. Tar used instead of oil, giving more sustained burning. Work began to prepare 500 to issue to Infantry Battalions.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Ltd Malta, 1981  

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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in 1940, October 1940

 

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23 October 1940: Swordfish Forced to Land Off Malta

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Swordfish

Swordfish

CREW RESCUED BY TRAWLER

The crew of a Swordfish aircraft had to be rescued by a trawler today after their aircraft was forced to land in the sea within sight of Malta today. The Swordfish, of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, was returning from reconnaissance of the Ionian Sea, searching for enemy surface forces. A recovery vessel was sent to the area to retrieve the stricken aircraft. After a thorough search it was concluded that the Swordfish had sunk.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine and fresh.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; no result. 1150-1535 hrs Skua Fleet Air Arm reconnaissance Malta to 25 miles north of Tripoli; nil report.

AIR HQ Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forces by Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish 830 Squadron; nil reports by all aircraft. Reconnaissance Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported one small merchant vessel, possibly hospital ship at 1240 hrs.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. High speed launch returned from Dockyard after repair of damage sustained in air raid on 21 July.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT C and D Coys sent a working party to the Castille for the removal of Ack Ack ammunition.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Work of unloading ammunition completed. Of 45000 cartridges QF40mm 8000 are found to be marked for issue in emergency only. Bomb Disposal One week bomb disposal course started by Inspecting Ordnance Officer with assistance of Lt W M Eastman. The course was attended by two officers and six senior NCOs of the Royal Engineers.

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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in 1940, October 1940

 

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22 October 1940: Malta to Prepare for Gas Attack

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AGas respirator mask in actionNTI-GAS EQUIPMENT ORDERED FROM UK

The Governor and C in C is acting to ensure that Malta is fully protected in the event of an enemy poison gas attack. Items ordered in the early months of this year have still not arrived in Malta and, with the arrival of troop reinforcements, more are already required. It is believed that an earlier shipment has reached Gibraltar but remains there awaiting onward shipment to Malta.

The Island is short of thousands of respirators, face masks and anti-gas capes as well as several items of anti-gas equipment. Malta will be ready to cope with an enemy gas attack only once all orders already placed have been fulfilled.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Thundery with bright periods.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa, four mines were swept up and sunk in position 152 degrees Delimara 9¾ miles.

AIR HQ All patrols cancelled due to bad weather.

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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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21 October 1940: Enemy Losses Over Malta Total 45

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Italian SM 79

Italian SM 79

AIRCRAFT LOSSES FIFTEEN TO ONE IN FAVOUR OF MALTA

The Information Office has released details of the number of enemy losses over Malta since the declaration of war by Italy. A total of 25 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. Another 20 have been severely damaged and therefore probably unable to reach their bases. Malta losses to date have been three fighters and two pilots. The figures follow recent propaganda announcements by Rome radio in which exaggerated and false claims have been made regarding aircraft shot down in Malta and damage on the ground.

TWO HELD ON SUSPICION OF IRA ACTIVITY IN MALTA

Two servicemen of 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers are facing discharge from the service. The two fusiliers are suspected to have engaged in IRA activities while serving in Malta. Governor and C in C has applied to the War Office for authority to apply the sanction which he sees as essential to the security of the fortress. One of the men is at present serving two years imprisonment for involuntary homicide; the other is currently interned in Malta pending discharge and repatriation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1940

Weather   Cloudy with poor visibility and thunderstorms; scirocco in the morning and fresher after an afternoon shower.

0841-0912 hrs Air raid alert for eight enemy aircraft which cross the coast over Delimara at 20000 feet heading for Hal Far. Three Hurricanes are scrambled and engage, along with Ack Ack guns: the raiders are driven off, turning south east then north. No bombs are dropped.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron and Sunderland 228 Squadron; nil reports by all aircraft. Reconnaissance Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil report.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance area Malta-Tripoli-Jerba Island; nil report. One Sunderland 10 Squadron RAAF arrived from Middle East en route for UK.

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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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20 October 1940: Malta Needs Meat

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GOVERNOR ORDERS ESSENTIAL FOOD SUPPLIES

Meat carcasesMalta needs nearly a thousand tons of meat by January according to the latest food order sent by the Governor and C in C to the War Office in London. The order was sent under new arrangements to ensure the Island is stocked with essential supplies while it remains under siege. Three months’ notice are needed so that shipment can be organised and complete the long sea route via the Cape.

As well as 545 tons of meat for the military, the order includes food requirements for the Malta Government under the central purchasing and distribution system established last month to deal with food shortages among the civilian population. The Government has ordered 300 tons of beef, 50 of mutton and 50 of pork, as well as 80 tons of New Zealand butter and 125 tons of New Zealand cheese.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine; some cloud.

1125-1215 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy formations reported approaching the Island from the north. Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled; air raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 20 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance Ionian Sea by Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA): nil report. Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported at 1411 hrs one cruiser and one destroyer at sea. 0741-0917 hrs Swordfish 830 Sqn FAA despatched to locate a submarine off the north west coast of the Island; did not locate enemy.

KALAFRANA Plan to reconnoitre Ionian Sea for enemy surface craft. Easterly sector not patrolled as Sunderland unable to take off due to heavy swell.

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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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19 October 1940: Malta Troops Need News of Relatives

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LACK OF MAIL DAMAGING TROOP MORALE

The continuing lack of a regular mail service to Malta is becoming a serious threat to the morale of troops in Malta. The latest delivery of mail arrived after a delay of three months. British newspapers are also carried by the mail delivery service and are therefore failing to reach the Island before they are obsolete.  

Dunkirk evacuation: Malta servicemen await news of relatives

Dunkirk evacuation: Malta servicemen await news of relatives

The Governor and C in C has reported receiving an increasing volume of enquiries from troops stationed in Malta regarding their serving relatives, particularly those who are served the late British Expeditionary Force following the evacuation of Dunkirk, but also those in Middle East units. However, the sheer number of information requests makes it impossible to deal with each one by telegram.

Today Lt Gen Dobbie has written to the War Office asking for all service casualty lists to date to be cabled to Malta immediately, and from now on every list to be sent by telegram as soon as published.

According to Rev Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: “The dates of posting ranged from June 8th to the last days of August! The second batch also took about three days to sort; and the dates were also June, July and August. All higgledy-piggledy. But it was news even if three months – nay – four months adrift. There were a few copies of the Times for the last days of May and a few issued early in June. In that of June 8th, (received on 2nd October) we discovered that our son Anthony had been Mentioned in Despatches. This is a great joy to us.” (1)

NO INTELLIGENCE CORPS FOR MALTA

The War Office informed the Governor and C in C by telegram today that the formation of an Intelligence Corps Section in Malta “is not considered necessary”.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine; cloudy at times.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ  Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish Fleet Air Arm patrolled Ionian Sea; nil reports.

KALAFRANA  Plan to reconnoitre Ionian Sea for enemy surface craft. Easterly sector not patrolled as Sunderland unable to take off due to heavy swell.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 19 recruits posted from depot.

(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 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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18 October 1940: Malta Must Be Able to Defend Itself

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HMS Regent arrived for repair today after a collision in the Ionian Sea.

HMS Regent arrived for repair today after a collision in the Ionian Sea.

FORCES OUTSIDE MALTA CANNOT PROTECT THE ISLAND

Governor and C in C Lt Gen Dobbie has today rejected suggestions from London that Malta could be protected from outside, instead of implementing his full demands for reinforcements. Military high command has proposed that in the event of an Axis attack a relief force could be sent to the Island within four days (rather than seven as previously estimated), reducing the strength of forces needed in Malta. They have also suggested that the presence of light naval forces at Malta could deter such an attack.

Lt Gen Dobbie’s response to the Chief of Imperial General Staff was swift: “…light naval forces stationed at Malta will not even affect the likelihood of attack, since the Italians are well able to detach sufficient forces to deal with them without unduly weakening their main fleet. But in any case the presence of the light naval forces will not affect the strength of the sea-borne attack if the enemy decided to make it. Consequently the strength of the garrison needed at Malta cannot be reduced on these grounds.

If the [time taken to relieve the Island] were reduced to four days, this would also have no effect on the size of garrison required. It is not so much a question of holding on in certain positions, as of rapid and ruthless counter-attacks to dislodge the enemy whenever and wherever he gains a footing.  The forces which I advised were needed for seven days cannot safely be reduced for a slightly shorter period.

Further, the projected increase of air defences, ie 12 additional Hurricanes and 24 heavy and 16 light guns, though very welcome, is not in itself enough to ensure that the enemy shall not secure air superiority should he really determine to gain it. It will, however, render his task more difficult and force him to employ larger air forces for this purpose. This is likely to constitute some deterrent but cannot be counted on to be completely effective.

In fact the amount of protection from low flying attack against our ground troops which our air forces will be able to afford, if full dress attack is launched, cannot be great. Therefore I cannot advise in answer to the Secretary of State’s query that, in the circumstances he outlines, a smaller defence force is needed.

I recognise that the enemy’s difficulties are very great, especially in ensuring that the British Fleet is kept out of the way for a sufficient time. Our forces here are strong enough to ensure that his effort must be a big one. But if he succeeds in making an opportunity and seizes it with both hands and goes all out, any smaller garrison than I have suggested would be unwise, in view of the very big issues at stake. The above is the unanimous view of the defence committee here as well as my own.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Thundery showers with fine intervals.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Regent arrived for repairs having been in collision with a caique in the Ionian sea. She suffered extensive damage to her forward hydroplanes.

AIR HQ  Northern patrol by Glenn Martin cancelled due to bad weather. Southern and western areas patrolled by one Blenheim 431(GR) flight and two Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm; nil reports.

KALAFRANA  Easterly patrol by Sunderland aircraft not possible due to heavy swell preventing take-off.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Brigade exercise No 2.

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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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