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28 November 1940: Convoy Bombed as Ships Head for Harbour

28 Nov

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SS Clan Forbes

SS Clan Forbes

CROWDS COME OUT TO WELCOME ARRIVALS

After surviving a sea battle yesterday, Malta’s latest supply convoy was attacked by enemy aircraft as it neared its final destination. At around 2 o’clock this afternoon, a formation of ten bombers escorted by ten fighters approached the convoy from the east, split into two groups and unleashed two payloads of twelve high explosive bombs over the ships as they approached Grand Harbour. However, no damage was caused and Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser, with HMS Manchester and Southampton docked safely and began to unload stores, ammunition and personnel.

A buzz of excitement had spread through Valletta since early this morning, following rumours that ships have been sighted on the horizon. Just as the ships were spotted approaching the Harbour, air raid alert sounded and most of the population headed for cover. 

But as soon as the ‘all clear’ sounded, hundreds dashed to the Upper and Lower Barrakka gardens and the bastions overlooking the Harbour, ready to welcome the convoy as it steamed into port. The crowds sang and shouted, and waved handkerchiefs. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 29 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Cool.

0906-0926 hrs  Air raid alert for eight to twelve Italian CR42 fighters which approach from the north at 23000 feet, circle Malta and then fly away to the north. Malta fighters are scrambled and a Hurricane shoots down one CR42 into the sea in flames, 20 miles north of the Island.  Four Wellington bombers take off during the raid.

1053-1111 hrs  Air raid alert for an unknown number of enemy raiders which approach the Island and drop several bombs in the sea to the north of Malta. They are engaged by Fleet Air Arm.  Three Blenheim aircraft approaching Malta during the raid land safely at Hal Far.

1329-1430 hrs  Air raid alert for six Italian CR42 fighters which approach from the north and spit into two formations over Valletta. One formation comes in over Delimara and is chased out by Malta fighters.  Another formation of ten bombers at 17000 feet escorted by ten fighters at 19000 feet then approaches from the east, splits up and bombs a convoy approaching Grand Harbour.  No ships are damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on land between San Rocco and Verdala Barracks.  Anti-aircraft guns launch a heavy counter attack and Malta fighters are scrambled.  Several dogfights follow: one CR42 and one enemy bomber are shot down into the sea by fighters.  A second CR42 is probably shot down by fighters. The Italian crew of the bomber are rescued and taken prisoner.  They confirm that their aircraft was a SM79 and was destroyed by a Malta fighter.

SS Clan Fraser

SS Clan Fraser

The convoy of two destroyers and two merchant vessels arrives safely in harbour.

2308-2320 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the east coast of the Island but when illuminated by searchlights it retreats immediately.

Enemy casualties  Sottotenente Gaio Del Cerro, pilot, and Sergente Luigi Conte, air gunner, of SM79 bomber, 194a Squadriglia, 30o Stormo, shot down and taken prisoner; Sergente Giovanni Lozzari, 2nd pilot, and Ovidio Venanzi, 194a Squadriglia, 30o Stormo, shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 NOVEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Operation ‘Collar’ successfully completed. Decoy and Hotspur arrived for refit but were sent out to escort Gloxinia into harbour, as she had one engine broken down. Griffin arrived for repairs.  Hire transports Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser arrived with guns and military and naval stores. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Fourth convoy arrived with ammunition in large quantities. Unloading began.

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

 

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1 Comment

Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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One response to “28 November 1940: Convoy Bombed as Ships Head for Harbour

  1. Antony DeBono

    November 28, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    I cannot remember the church bells giving the “all Clear”; thaws done by means of the sirens which gave a steady note.

     

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