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Monthly Archives: December 2015

24 December 1940: No Midnight Mass for Christmas in Malta

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Safi ChurchCHURCHES HOLD DAYLIGHT LITURGY FOR CHRISTMAS EVE

There is to be no Midnight Mass in Malta tonight, due to the continuing curfew.  The lack of the tradition services so much a feature of Christmas in churches across the Islands will be a sombre reminder of the war.  Instead of the late night services, most churches opened their doors this afternoon to hold a special liturgy to mark the holy festival.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 DECEMBER TO DAWN 25 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Wet and cold. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 24 DECEMBER 1940

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  An Italian smoke float was removed from the water near a defence post at Ghain Tuffieha by the Royal Engineers and taken away.    

 

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

 

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23 December 1940: Christmas Appeal Raises Nearly £700

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HMAS Sydney

HMAS Sydney

TARGET EXCEEDED IN THREE WEEKS

The Special Constabulary’s Christmas party appeal closed today, having exceeded its target in just three weeks.  Launched on 5 December, the appeal was designed to raise funds to provide Christmas parties to the children most affected by the war.  The events are being held across Malta and Gozo in the run-up to Christmas. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 DECEMBER TO DAWN 24 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Very cold and unsettled. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 DECEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  HMAS Sydney arrived for docking and refit. 

AIR HQ  Wellingtons bombed Castel Benito airfield and Tripoli harbour.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Small mail arrived from the UK; some of the letters were very old.  Xmas rations were issued.  Officers of the unit attended a beach flare demonstration; star shells were also fired. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  At the request of Royal Artillery HQ six 6in Howitzer cartridges have been remade to give four charges, the No 1 charge being required for short range.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Practice of Lyon light training, A & D Companies. 

 

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

 

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22 December 1940: Royal Navy Chief Tours Malta Dockyard

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HMS Dainty

HMS Dainty

ADMIRAL CUNNINGHAM HEADS FOR ALEXANDRIA

Royal Navy Commander in Chief Mediterranean left Grand Harbour aboard his flagship HMS Warspite early this morning after a successful visit to Malta.  Admiral Cunningham spent just 40 hours ashore, during which time he held top level talks with the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief, Lt Gen Dobbie.  The strategic importance of Malta and the imperative for regular supply convoys were key topics on the agenda, along with the challenge for Naval dominance over Axis forces in the Mediterranean.  Outside of the talks, Admiral Cunningham made a point of visiting the dockyard, where he heard about the yard workforce’s response to the challenges of enemy air attacks.

Warspite put out from her berth in Grand Harbour at 0700 hours this morning.  She is expected to rendezvous off Malta with two destroyers, Dainty and Greyhound which have been sent to Malta help screen the Admiral’s flagship as she heads for Alexandria.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 DECEMBER TO DAWN 23 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Very cold and unsettled. 

No air raids.

0847-0912 hrs  Air raid alert for two separate enemy formations approaching the Island.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled to intercept; no claims.  Raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 DECEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Olympus sailed for Gibraltar after completing refit to join 8th Submarine Flotilla.  HMS Havock arrived for refit.

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.   

KALAFRANA  230 Squadron arrived from Middle East en route to UK.  Sunderland L2159, 230 Squadron, left for Gibraltar and UK.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  An officers mess built in the HQ quarry opened for use.   

 

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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in 1940, December 1940

 

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21 December 1940: Ammunition Supplies Poorly Labelled and Wet

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SS Clan Forbes

SS Clan Forbes

CONSIDERABLE WORK NEEDED BEFORE AMMUNITION SERVICEABLE

Ammunition unloaded from a recent convoy will need considerable remedial work after some supplies were found to be inadequately labelled and others affected by moisture.  According to the RAOC which manages ammunition stocks, many packages were incorrectly marked.  As a result a large quantity of 3.7in gun of different types have been mixed together during unloading of the merchant ships SS Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser.  Due to the urgency of unloading the ships at maximum possible speed, the problems only came to light once the supplies had reached their storage depots.

The Inspecting Ordnance Officer has concluded that considerable work will be needed not only to sort these into the correct types and batches before they can be issued to troops for the defence of Malta.  Many boxes containing cartridges were also found to have become wet in transit.  These will also need to be unpacked, examined and cleaned before issue.

The bulk of the ammunition has been stored at Mosta, Targa and St Clements, with small amounts at Gargur and St Michael’s, Valletta.  However, some issues have also been made direct to the Royal Artillery.  Steps will have to be taken to ensure that ammunition in each location is checked and brought up to usable standard.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 DECEMBER TO DAWN 22 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Very cold. 

No air raids.

1440 hrs  A mine is reported 100 yards from the shore at Ghar Lapsi floating towards Wied Zurriek.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 21 DECEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Norwegian tanker Hoegh Hood and destroyer Havelock arrived, the latter to remain for refit.    

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.    

KALAFRANA  Sunderland L5803, pilot F/Lt Burnett, left for UK for overhaul.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Completion of storage of ammunition received from SS Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser.  There were forty different types received: 48000 rounds each of 40mm and 3.7in gun; 8700 rounds of 6 in Howitzer; 60,000 rounds of 25 pounder; 13000 contact anti-tank mines; 58000 grenades 36M; 5½ million rounds SAA; 18 tons gunpowder. 

 

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Posted by on December 21, 2015 in 1940, December 1940

 

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20 December 1940: Med Fleet Commander First Visit to Malta

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NAVY CHIEF ARRIVES WITH LATEST CONVOY

HMS Warspite

HMS Warspite

The Royal Navy Commander in Chief Mediterranean arrived in Grand Harbour today aboard his flagship Warspite on his first visit to the Island since the outbreak of war with Italy.   Admiral Cunningham is in Malta to discuss the supply situation with the Governor and Commander in Chief, Lt Gen Dobbie, and Vice-Admiral Malta Sir Wilbraham Ford.

HMS Warspite arrived with a large supply convoy, codenamed MW5, which set out from Egypt on Monday in two operations to make the 1000 mile journey through the Eastern Mediterranean to Malta.  Freighters Lanarkshire and Waiwera with their Royal Navy escort formed the first part of the supply convoy; the second included merchantmen Pontfield, Rodi and Volo plus Naval escort, joined later by freighters Devis and Hoegh Hood with escort.  Meanwhile, Warspite was on patrol with the Mediterranean Fleet providing distant cover for the passage of Convoy MW5 to Malta.

Large crowds turned out on the bastions overlooking Grand Harbour to welcome the arriving ships.  Although there were two air raid alerts during the day, no Italian aircraft approached close enough to the Island to disrupt the approach of the convoy.

With the arrival of MW5, a number of empty supply ships lying at Malta left Grand Harbour for Alexandria.  Merchantmen Breconshire, Clan Ferguson, Clan Macauley and Memnon sailed this afternoon escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser Calcutta, destroyer Wryneck and three corvettes.  A second convoy also left Malta this afternoon for Gibraltar, including merchantmen Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser, accompanied by battleship Malaya and five destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 DECEMBER TO DAWN 21 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Very cold and damp. 

1055-1150 hrs  Air raid alert; no air raid develops.

1600-1610 hrs  Air raid alert; no air raid develops. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 DECEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Destroyers Griffin, Greyhound, Gallant, Dainty and Hasty dock for refuelling.  Aircraft carrier Illustrious launched two air attacks on Tripoli with fifteen aircraft each. 

ARMY HQ  1100 hrs Command exercise ended.

 

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Posted by on December 20, 2015 in 1940, December 1940

 

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19 December 1940: RAF Malta Lacks Essential Facilities

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British Air Council in Session 1940

British Air Council in Session 1940

RAF FACILITIES CANNOT MEET PRESENT DEMAND

Lack of facilities on Malta are restricting the effectiveness of air operations from the Island, according to a report to the British War Cabinet today.  The comments came in a memorandum to the Cabinet by the Secretary of State for Air, in which he reported on the damage caused by RAF bombing operations over Axis targets.  Introducing his report, the Secretary of State outlined the difficulty of obtaining accurate data, due to the understandable playing down of raid damage in the Axis press, combined with a tendency for RAF pilots to underestimate their success.

Referring to operations from Malta on Italian targets, he commented:  “Several reports refer to the small amount of damage to Naples.  But we have only carried out 14 sorties and dropped 13 tons of bombs on this city.  The major difficulties of operating from Malta, with only one small aerodrome and an improvised maintenance service, have precluded a heavier scale of attack.”

From a close examination of all the evidence available on the results of RAF raids over both Germany and Italy, the Air Staff have concluded that the effect of British bombs on the enemy has been greater relatively to the size of the force at the country’s disposal than the results of German attacks on Britain.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 DECEMBER TO DAWN 20 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Very cold and wet. 

0737 hrs  Two mines reported at Paradise Bay are made safe.

1130-1150 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Private Louis Gatt, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Corporal Charles Moxon, 2nd Bn The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 DECEMBER 1940

ARMY HQ  0700 hrs  Command exercise began.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Command exercise dispositions: A Company two platoons St Andrew’s area and one platoon Tigne area; B Company (vulnerable points) guards at Cable & wireless, Gargur Battery, Mosta Fort, Mosta Fort Magazine, Muesum and Rabat stations, Dingli and Id Dweira, one platoon in reserve at Mosta Fort; C Company (anti-parachutists) Posts TV 1-8 manned, one platoon in reserve at Sherwood Camp; D Company (anti-parachutists) Posts PB 1-7 and IT 1-5 manned, one platoon in reserve at Gomerino; HQ Company defence of Bn HQ area.  Telephone communications between vulnerable points and HQs are not considered satisfactory; direct communication is therefore essential.

 

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Posted by on December 19, 2015 in 1940, December 1940

 

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18 December 1940: Malta Dockyard Men Awarded George Medal

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George Medal

George Medal

LONDON GAZETTE ANNOUNCES MEDALS FOR DOCKYARD WORKERS

The London Gazette today announced the awards for gallant conduct to two workers at Malta Dockyard.  B J Lewis, Chargemen of Fitters, and Frank Mallia, Chargeman of Labourers were both awarded the George Medal which recognises civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action.  These are the first such awards to the Island’s civilians since the Medal was instigated on 24 September 1940 by King George VI.  The London Gazette citation read:

“During an enemy air raid on the area of the Corradine a bomb scattered splinters and debris dangerously near to a gun and its crew, one of the crew being killed.  To protect the equipment from further damage volunteers were called for to erect round it splinter plates, weighing three-quarters of a ton each.  Lewis and Mallia volunteered immediately for this service and Mallia’s exemplary coolness and his leadership inspired his gang to undertake the task.

On the following day these men and their gangs underook the transport and re-erection of a gun, a task which in normal times would have taken fully four days using all available daylight.  They did it in five days and three hours in spite of frequent aerial bombardments, with no protection beyond their steel helmets.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 DECEMBER TO DAWN 19 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Very cold and wet. 

1035-1045  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1255 hrs  A mine is reported at Mellieha by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1305 hrs  A mine is reported off Mqabba by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment. 

1326 hrs  A mine explodes of Marfa east; no damage.

2330-2359 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber approaching the Island.  Bombs are dropped on the Dockyard, breaking glass and frames of doors and windows in the Torpedo Depot, Msida and in the Dockyard Police quarters at Pieta. Bombs also fall on Zabbar areas and in the sea off Grand Harbour.  Further bombs on the Tigne area and near the Army ranges break windows at St George’s Barracks, used by Navy evacuated families.  The bomber is picked up by searchlights and pursued by a fighter, before being shot down in flames off Benghaisa.

0145-0159  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  Searchlights are illuminated but do not locate the raider.  No attack develops.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Giulio Molteni, 193a Squadriglia, 87o Gruppo, 30o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi SM 79 bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 DECEMBER 1940

Nil report.

 

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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in 1940, December 1940

 

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