11 February 1941: Malta Ack-Ack Strength ‘Dangerously Low’

11 Feb

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Malta’s anti-aircraft gunners are being overstretched, leaving the Island vulnerable, according to the Governor and Commander in Chief in a telegram to the War Office today:

“Owing to non-arrival of specialist, anti-aircraft batteries or reinforcements, and the failure of recruiting in Malta, …[I] have had to improvise. 8 Heavy Ack Ack guns are being manned by personnel from the Field and Searchlight regiments and drafts from other Ack Ack Regiments, making the latter at dangerously low strength.  Five Light Ack Ack guns are manned by detachments from the Infantry.  The situation now is 86 heavy guns manned, 8 unmanned, and 49 light guns manned, 3 unmanned.  This is stretching all units to the extreme limit and I must introduce a system of relief which will reduce the number of guns in action.”

Lt Gen Dobbie proposes the introduction of conscription in Malta to improve the situation but this would not have an impact until mid-May at the earliest, and then only if anti-aircraft specialists in the form of one heavy and one light Ack Ack battery arrive soon. Until then, a number of guns essential to the proper defence of the Island will have to remain unmanned.

Stressing the urgency of bringing Malta’s Ack Ack batteries up to strength, Lt Gen Dobbie said: “the current establishment on the Island is inadequate to give reasonable relief to current serving personnel.”


Reconnaissance pilot Flying Officer Adrian Warburton of 431 Flight (now 69 Squadron) has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Malta. The award was announced today by the London Gazette with the following citation:

“This officer has carried out numerous long distance reconnaissance flights and has taken part in night air combats. In October 1940, he destroyed an aircraft and again, in December, he shot down an enemy bomber in flames.  Flying Officer Warburton has at all times displayed a fine sense of devotion to duty.”

F/O Warburton might never have survived to earn his award, had it not been for his observer/navigator, Sergeant Frank Bastard, whose Distinguished Flying Medal for saving both their lives was announced in the same edition of the London Gazette:

“This airman was observer of an aircraft the pilot of which was injured and rendered unconscious causing him to fall forward over the control column. Sergeant Bastard, however, managed to take over the control and flew the aircraft level until the pilot recovered.  He subsequently assisted the pilot, whose left arm was useless, by manipulating the throttle when landing on the aerodrome.  His actions were instrumental in saving the aircraft and crew.  He has also been engaged in numerous combats with enemy fighters and has at all times displayed exceptional keenness and set a fine example.”


Weather  Fine; clear and warm.

1610-1700 hrs Air raid alert for four enemy bombers which approach from the south west and cross the Island. Before the air raid warning is heard in the area, two JU 88s and one JU 87 swoop down on St Paul’s Bay and machine-gun the Sunderland mooring sub-station causing minor damage; no Sunderlands are at the mooring.  One petrol lighter in the Bay is slightly damaged but serviceable. 

Six Hurricanes are airborne and engage. Light automatic machine guns on the ground open fire and succeed in silencing the rear gunner of one JU 88 as well as damaging the aircraft.  An aircraft is seen in flames over the sea; two crew bale out.  The bomb rack falls off one of the enemy aircraft and the rack and bombs are hit by an Ack Ack shell.  Pieces of the rack are later gathered up in the Pembroke area. 

2012-2029 hrs  Air raid alert for three approaching enemy aircraft. One Hurricane is scrambled.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Della Grazia and the raiders retreat.

2055-2155 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft which do not cross over the Island. Explosions are heard to the north east of Gozo

2300-2315 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by returning friendly aircraft.

2352-0006 hrs  Air raid alert; no raid materialises.


AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Wellingtons; 7 Whitleys. Operations from Malta by Wellington bombers and Swordfish overnight. Wellingtons attacked aerodromes in Comiso and Catania; five tons of bombs dropped starting fires and destroying aircraft.

LUQA  Five Wellingtons arrived from UK.


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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in 1941, February 1941


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