10 November 1940: Massive Convoy Enters Grand Harbour

10 Nov

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A massive convoy codenamed MW3 reached Malta today bringing reinforcements and stores. Ships from Alexandria in the east and from Gibraltar in the west included five merchant vessels.  All reached the Island without major incident.

Illustrious with Swordfish

HMS Illustrious

The main convoy sailed from Alexandria on Monday included Devis, Plumleaf, Rodi, Volo and Waiwera, escorted by cruisers Calcutta and Coventry, and destroyers Diamond, Vampire, Voyager and Waterhen.  The operation was covered by the main Fleet, including the aircraft carrier Illustrious, four battleships, two cruisers and fifteen destroyers.  On the way to Malta Swordfish from Illustrious shot down four Italian aircraft.  Force H aircraft shot down another two. 

At the same time, troops and stores were brought from Gibraltar on board ships which were sailing to join the Mediterranean Fleet. The battleship Barham, cruisers Berwick and Glasgow, and destroyers Gallant, Greyhound and Griffin sailed from Gibraltar on Thursday. 

In all, some 2000 troops disembarked, including Royal Artillery Signal Section, Heavy and Light Anti-Aircraft Batteries, 4th Battalion The Buffs, and Royal Engineers personnel.  Supplies landed at Malta included additional guns and I-tanks for defence of the Island.

“A convoy arrived from Alexandria … a thrilling thing it was… And even so we were not bombed. It is almost incredible. All these ships passed up our narrow Grand Harbour…The battleships fastened themselves to buoys, and the smaller stuff went alongside the Dockyard walls just off the main harbour. Oilers presumable came alongside the big ships for re-fuelling. And yet we were not bombed. For the space of several hours some 16 ships were crowded into a space of about one square mile. Half a dozen resolute airmen could scarcely fail to hit something. What is the explanation? An officer in the inner circle of information said he was as mystified as myself. Either the Italians have cold feet, or they are short of materials. The Staff were saying “Hurry up with those oilers! Get these ships out of here”, while the Italians lay doggo.” (1)

After a rapid turn-around, Convoy ME3 left Malta for Alexandria, comprising the empty ships from previous convoy MF3, including Clan Ferguson, Clan Macaulay, Lanarkshire and Memnon.  They were escorted by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet which had escorted MW3 into harbour, including one battleship, one cruiser and two destroyers.  The monitor Terror and the destroyer Vendetta also sailed with them.

4th Battalion the Buffs were impressed by their welcome to Malta: “The people seemed overjoyed by our arrival. There were a number of representatives from the Malta command to greet the reinforcements.  On arrival at the billets we found everything ready including a hot meal for the men.”  


Weather  Fine.

0945-1010 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve Italian CR42 fighters which fly over Grand Harbour at 21000 feet. Anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no hits claimed.  Malta fighters are held back for an expected formation of bombers which does not materialise.

0708 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy aircraft which circle the Island before turning away.

1615-1745 hrs Convoy enters Grand Harbour, including HMS Barham, Norfolk, Berwick and Glasgow to disembark stores and personnel.

Enemy casualties Tenente Raffaele Brandi, 195a Squadriglia, 90o Gruppo, 30o Stormo, crewman of SM79 bomber missing in action; Sottotenente Umberto Gabrielli, Sottotenente, observer, missing in action.


ROYAL NAVY Operation ‘Coat’ successfully completed with the sailing of Convoy ME3 of four ships and the refuelling of Fleet units. Hero and Hereward remained to refit. 

KALAFRANA  229 Squadron permanently attached to Kalafrana; remainder of Squadron personnel arrived by sea from Middle East. A large draft of approximately 100 men arrived and were accommodated at Marsaxlokk pending disposal to units.  These are the first personnel to occupy the buildings at the new station.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Companies billeted as follows: A and HQ Coys and Bn HA at Attard RAOC camp.  B Coy at the RASC camp near Attard.  C & D Coys at Parris England Farm, Hamrun and Tal Handaq.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Major H D Tanner, Captain W Arthur, Captain S Oliver, 2/Lt G H Lee, 2/Lt E E Talbot and two other ranks arrived from UK.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  New mortars arrived Ta Saliba. E Coy moved to Strickland House. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Arrival of a second convoy with ammunition. Bomb Disposal Officer, Royal Engineers, arrives in Malta from UK.

(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 November 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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