10 February 1941: Malta’s 300th Air Raid Today

10 Feb

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Operation Colossus X Troop

X Troop, No 11 Special Service Battalion


The first British airborne commando operation was launched from Malta today. Eight Armstrong Whitworth Whitley aircraft which arrived on the Island on Friday last took off from Luqa in clear weather at 1800 hours, as dusk fell.  They carried 38 officers and men of a specially trained Commando unit, X troop, of No 11 Special Air Service Battalion.

The unit is to carry out top secret mission to destroy a fresh water viaduct near Calitri, southern Italy, which supplies water to a large portion of the Italian population as well as several ports used by Italian military, including Taranto. The aim is also to test the unit’s capability and equipment, as well as ability of RAF to accurately deliver them to their target.  Six of the aircraft are carrying arms, explosives and rations; the other two are equipped with bombs for a diversionary assault on the railway yards at Froggia.


Precious ammunition delivered by SS Essex has been rendered unserviceable through bomb damage. Essex was hit and badly damaged during the recent attacks on HMS Illustrious in Grand Harbour.  As a result, water has leaked into the ammunition holds and damaged the cargo stored there.  A considerable quantity of 3.7” anti-aircraft shells and 40mm Bofors shells have been under six feet of sea water in the ship’s hold for several days. Some 25-50 per cent of shells are estimated to have been affected but it will take up to eight weeks to assess the full extent of the damage.


Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the C in C Middle East with an urgent order for additional equipment for Malta via the next convoy, including full scale war equipment and additional stocks of components and spare parts for machine guns; unit medical equipment (plus a medical officer if possible); 30 days’ rations for all personnel, to be followed by seven months’ supply; plus galvanated corrugated steel sheets, tubes, tanks, boilers and timber for construction purposes.


Weather  Fine; good visibility.

Enemy aircraft are carrying out continual reconnaissances during daylight hours all round Malta, particularly the south, approaching at times sufficiently close to trigger the air raid alert.

0745-0815 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1840-1920 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which approaches the Island and drops bombs on Hal Far and Kalafrana.


AIR HQ  Eight Whitley aircraft left on a special operation.

LUQA  Eight Whitleys left for Operation Colossus; one failed to return, force landed south east of Naples.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Having completed training on Bofors four officers and 50 other ranks took up fire positions in the Harbouer area.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.


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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in 1941, February 1941


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