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CHURCHILL’S MESSAGE TO MALTA
“I send you on behalf of the War Cabinet heartfelt congratulations upon the magnificent and ever memorable defence which your heroic garrison and citizens, assisted by the Navy and above all by the Royal Air Force, are making against the Italian and German attacks. The eyes of all Britain and indeed of the whole British Empire are watching Malta in her struggle day by day, and we are sure that success, as well as glory, will reward your efforts.”
The Prime Minister’s message came in response to an upbeat message from the Air Officer Commanding, Malta which was read out to the British War Cabinet yesterday. The AOC reported that some 37 enemy aircraft had been brought down by Malta fighters and anti-aircraft guns during the heavy attacks aimed at HMS Illustrious in Grand Harbour. He confirmed that the carrier was never hit during the bombing raids, but near-misses caused her serious damage, putting one engine and one boiler-room out of action, as well as causing extensive damage to the Dockyard area and the surrounding communities.
GOVERNOR BROADCASTS TO THE PEOPLE OF MALTA
The Governor and Commander in Chief, Lt Gen Dobbie, issued his own broadcast to the people of Malta following the recent heavy air raids:
“We are living in stirring times and Malta, like other parts of the British Empire, is taking its share in the momentous happenings.” (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JANUARY TO DAWN 22 JANUARY 1941
0800 hrs Nine Bren guns of C Company, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment take up position to the east of Luqa for defence against low-flying attack.
1410-1425 hrs Air raid alert for a report of a single enemy aircraft approaching at great height. It flies over Grand Harbour, probably on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns at Tarxien open fire; no claims.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JANUARY 1941
AIR HQ 1242-1530 hrs A Spitfire of the Photo Reconnaissance Unit surveys the Sicilian aerodromes and ports at 23000 feet: at Comiso 5 JU 88s, 9 Macchi 200s; at Palermo 12 JU 87s, 30 Macchi 200s or CR 42s, 1 JU 52, 3 JU 86; at Trapani 2 SM 79s, one large unidentified aircraft, 57 fighters; at Catania 48 JU87s of which 14 damaged or destroyed, 4 JU 88s, 3 SM 79s, 6 BR 20s, 11 Macchi 200s of which 2 damaged, 1 S 82. However, interpretation being treated with reserve.
4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT) Battalion ordered to ‘stand to’ at dawn for modified Asia status.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 2 Company began work on four barrack rooms at Bizbizia Ack Ack Battery. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 5 (1 x 750kg, 1 x 250kg, 2 x Ack Ack shells, 1 x Bofors fuze).
(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd, 1992
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