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15 March 1941: Recent Heavy Raids May Be Prelude to Invasion

15 Mar

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3 Wellington bombers arrived today

3 Wellington bombers arrived today

ANTI-AIRCRAFT DEFENCES MAY NOT BE ENOUGH SAYS WAR OFFICE

Recent heavy bombing attacks on Malta have raised concerns in London. The War Office sent a telegram to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief today, saying: “Persistent attacks on your aerodromes might be a forerunner of invasion.  Therefore in view of recent German low-flying attacks, we would welcome your opinion whether you consider adequate the scale of weapons now allocated to aerodrome defence.  We would further be glad to know if you think light automatic fire can still be regarded as an effective deterrent against these types of attack.”

MALTA AIRFIELD SECURITY MUST BE UPGRADED

MOST URGENT From: Air Ministry                     To:  War Office             Copy:  Governor & C in C Malta

An increase in the establishment of the Kings Own Malta Regiment is urgently required for the anti-sabotage protection of the RAF aerodromes in Malta. The existing strength consisting of one company is inadequate in view of increasing RAF liabilities.  War Office approval is now requested for the raising of a second company locally consisting of six officers, six WO1/Sergeants, 12 corporals and 144 privates.  Also to increase the first company to a total of 24 junior NCOs.  Experience in the employment of these troops on anti-sabotage as opposed to anti-aircraft duties indicates the necessity of additional junior NCOs to supervise the greater number of posts into which troops must be organised.

A policy has been agreed between the Officer in Charge RAF and the General Officer Commanding Malta, endorsed by the Air Ministry, that these Kings Own Malta Regiment companies should remain under the Royal Air Force for anti-sabotage duties only.”

A note covering the telegram was added to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief:  “Is this [new Rifles] company covered by the expansion authorised in our War Office telegram of 8 March? If not, do you agree its necessity and can you raise the personnel in addition to the existing expansion programme?”  Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie replied immediately: “The policy of the employment of Kings Own Malta Regiment for anti-sabotage protection on RAF aerodromes is under consideration. I request no action on the Air Ministry recommendation pending further recommendations from us.”

GOZO FISHING BOAT TRAGEDY

A fishing boat from Gozo was destroyed today when it struck a mine in Grand Harbour. Four civilians were killed, three seriously injured and three slightly injured in the explosion.  The magnetic mine was lying off Marina Pinto in Grand Harbour.  Early investigations into the tragedy have suggested that the boat was taking an irregular short cut when it struck the mine.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MARCH TO DAWN 16 MARCH 1941

Weather  Storms until evening.

0705-0750 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve approaching enemy fighters which attempt to intercept Wellington bombers arriving from the UK. The pilot of one of the Wellingtons signals from north west of Gozo “Am being attacked”.  He does not reach Malta and it is later confirmed that he has been shot down.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and chase off the raiders.  In a dog fight one Hurricane sustains slight damage.

0950-0956 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft on weather reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are airborne but bad weather hinders interception.

1213-1236 hrs Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which dive-bombs Hal Far dropping four bombs across the aerodrome from 4000 feet, causing no serious damage or casualties. It also attempts a machine-gun attack but is driven off.  Two of the bombs do not explode.

1445-1459 hrs; 1625-1629 hrs Air raid alerts for enemy aircraft on weather reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are airborne but bad weather hinders interception.

0140-0225 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy aircraft which cross the coast individually and carry out attacks. Low cloud makes it difficult for the raiders to locate targets.  Some bombs are dropped near Iz-Zebbieh causing slight damage to civilian property but most fall in the sea.  Poor visibility also prevents Malta night fighters from taking to the air. 

Civilian casualties  Gozo  Emanual Borg, age 46; Carmel Costa, age 35; Saviour Grech, age 50; Saviour Rapa, age 74.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Wellingtons, 1 Maryland from the UK. 0750 hrs Maryland approaching from UK reports seeing an enemy convoy midway between Pantelleria and Cape Bon. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Trapani.  Maryland patrolled area between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping to pass information to submarines.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (3.7” Ack Ack).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  17 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

 

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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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