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Monthly Archives: March 2016

24 March 1941: Strain on Malta Pilots Equal to London Blitz

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FIGHTER PILOTS WORKING DOUBLE SHIFTS

From the diary of Flying Officer C D Whittingham, 261 Squadron:

“The convoy is still in, and it means the whole squadron at full strength the whole time, with double the usual shifts. I can only arrange a day off once in six days. In the circumstances the strain on pilots is equivalent to that of last September [London] blitz. We are having a steady flow of casualties, and are equipped with inferior [aircraft] than those which come over in great numbers. God knows why they don’t try to fight us more. I don’t see how we could cope for long, if they did. So far they have only taken obvious opportunities, such as diving on a straggler but they are there always, all the same, and so devilish hard to see, little silver camouflaged things. The Squadron-Leader, Lambert, ought to go down in history for the calm courage and the complete lack of bullshit he shows. A complete inspiration to every member of the squadron, and this who we all know that he was shanghaied here over six months ago – then a ferry pilot – that at heart he has not the liking or the inclination to be a fighter pilot, and in reality hates the life and the Island that with others such as Trumble etc. He could have gone, but has stayed on through sheer willpower, to be the very fine example that he is.” (1)

CIVILIANS LOOTING ENEMY AIRCRAFT

Strongly worded notices have been issued telling the public not to remove parts and equipment from crashed enemy aircraft. Despite previous warnings, civilians have again been rushing to the scene of downed planes and there have been several instances of items being taken as souvenirs.  As well as the serious danger of injury from fire or exploding bomb loads, aircraft parts may provide vital information to the military.  The notices expressly forbid anyone from approaching aircraft and from taking anything from them before police or military authorities have arrived.

ENEMY AIRCRAFT LOSSES 14, MALTA FIGHTERS 6

The War Cabinet today received a report of air raids on Malta over the past two days. In five air raids, three by day and two at night, 14 enemy aircraft have been destroyed compared to six Hurricanes.  In the two daylight raids on the convoy in Grand Harbour, it was confirmed that some of the vital cargo was destroyed by fire when two merchant ships suffered direct hits.  Two Royal Navy vessels were slightly damaged by near misses, one rating was killed and two seriously wounded.  The other attacks caused some damage in HM Dockyard, with slight casualties.

TEN MALTESE CAPTAINS TO LEAD CONSCRIPTS

A new post of Military Liaison Officer is expected to be appointed to assist with the leadership of Malta’s conscripts. The post will be at the rank of Captain, bringing the number of Maltese Captains to nine.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office seeking approval for the additional rank, which is needed following the increase in local troops since the introduction of conscription laws.  The Military Liaison Officer will support the Director of Compulsory Service.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 MARCH TO DAWN 25 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0607-0628 hrs Dawn air raid alert for six unidentified enemy aircraft which approach the Island and dive-bomb the Dockyard, causing some damage to buildings and to ex-Italian vessel SS Adigo.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled but no enemy aircraft are illuminated.  Anti-aircraft guns also engage; no claims.  One Royal Artillery gunner is killed and three slightly wounded.

0858-0935 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 24000 feet, with an escort of three ME 109 fighters. Eight Hurricanes are scrambled and ascend to a suitable height to deter dive-bombing.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1825-1913 hrs Air raid alert for a formation of ten Junkers 87 dive-bombers escorted by 20 ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and carry out a high level bombing attack on Grand Harbour. Eighteen Hurricanes are scrambled and take to the air in two formations but the raiders evade contact.  Anti-aircraft guns open up a barrage and bring down one bomber, damaging another two.

Military casualties  Gunner Stanley Crankshaw, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 24 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland patrolled area between Tunisian coast and Malta.  

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Tallymen supplied to assist with convoy.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Machine gun course started for 12 instructors. During a raid at 1900 hrs several bombs fell in the D Company area, two within 20 yards of their HQ and another 50 yards away.  One bomb fell just 5 yards away but failed to explode.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 flare; 1 x 500kg).

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

(1) Malta – the Hurricane Years, Christopher Shores, Brian Cull, Nicola Malizia, Grub Street 1987

 

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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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23 March 1941: Newly Arrived Convoy Bombed in Grand Harbour

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SS Perthshire was set on fire

SS Perthshire was set on fire

SUPPLY SHIPS DAMAGED

Four freighters of convoy MW6 arrived safely at Malta today guided through the eastern Mediterranean under the Royal Navy operation MC 9. Three merchant ships City of Manchester, Clan Ferguson and Perthshire sailed from Haifa on Wednesday last escorted by destroyers Griffin and Hotspur. City of Lincoln also embarked from Alexandria escorted by the destroyer Greyhound. The ships made a successful rendezvous north of Alexandria and sailed close to western Crete which provided fighter cover.

The convoy was covered by the main Mediterranean Fleet, including battleships Barham, Valiant and Warspite, the carrier Formidable and nine destroyers sailed from Alexandria to cover the convoy which they came upon at noon on Friday, just as enemy aircraft were approaching for attack; no damage was caused.

By 1600 hrs six more cruisers and three more destroyers joined the escort, followed by three more cruisers and a destroyer later that evening. With this heavy protection the convoy approached Malta, which then detached last night under cover of darkness to complete the final leg of its journey to Grand Harbour with a small detachment as protection.  Having negotiated the approach to harbor through a channel cleared of mines, all vessels docked safely just after 0700 hrs this morning.

Within an hour an enemy JU 88 bomber with fighter protection flew over Grand Harbour on reconnaissance. The ships’ presence was reported back to enemy HQ and later this morning a 30 strong attack was launched on the convoy.  Malta’s gunners were ready and a heavy barrage, along with a 12 strong Hurricane fighter force, drove the raiders off before they could press home their attack.  Later this afternoon the raiders were back – their strength increased to 45 – and they launched a fierce dive-bombing attack on the warships and merchant vessels.  One bomb hit the bridge of City of Lincoln; SS Perthshire was hit by an incendiary bomb and set on fire. The cruiser Bonaventure and the destroyer Griffin were both damaged by bomb splinters.

Fourteen Hurricanes were scrambled and destroyed or damaged twelve JU 87s. Hurricane pilot Sgt Frederick Robertson, DFM, had a lucky escape when his aircraft was attacked by a JU 87; the fuel tank was hit, setting his plane on fire but he managed to bale out and landed safely. His aircraft crashed near Rabat.

FOOTBALL MATCH GOES AHEAD DURING AIR RAID

The Army Cup Final was in progress this afternoon when the air raid alert sounded.  The match between the Royal Engineers and 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment was well underway as enemy raiders approached the Island and the decision was taken to continue the game, unless the raid developed directly overhead.  Players struggled to concentrate as the bombers roared over Grand Harbour but the game carried on.  The Royal Engineers won the match by 3 goals to nil.

TROOPS MOVING TO GOZO

Infantry troops are in the process of moving to Gozo to provide defence for the Island in the light of the anticipated enemy invasion. The troop movements have been organised under the guise of a major exercise.  The code name ‘Picnic’ will be used to refer to troops in Gozo.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MARCH TO DAWN 24 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0700 hrs  A convoy of four merchant vessels with escort arrives in Malta.

0750-0825 hrs Air raid alert for a formation of enemy fighters accompanying one JU 88 bomber which flies over Grand Harbour at 24000 feet, evidently on reconnaissance. Ten Hurricanes are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1150-1220 hrs Air raid alert for a formation of 15 ME 109 fighters escorting 15 JU 87 Stukas which dive-bomb the newly-arrived convoy in Grand Harbour. The harbour barrage is put up: some JU 87s dive through the barrage but others release their bombs from above it.  One bomber is observed having difficulty coming out of its dive; it flies out over the coast and is later reported crashing out to sea.  12 Hurricanes are scrambled and take to the air in two formations.  One formation engages the JU 87s and are then attacked by ME 109s.  The bombing raid is not fully pressed home and the JU 87s turn away to sea immediately, with the ME 109s in close attendance.  Most of the bombs fall on land in the area of Corradino Civil Prison and to the east of the target; several people are reported injured.  The shelter of Rear HQ 1st Bn Dorset Regiment is hit by a heavy bomb; no casualties.  No ships are hit.  Ack Ack guns claim one enemy raider destroyed and two damaged.

1540-1620 hrs  Air raid alert for a force of 25 JU 87 Stukas and 20 ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and carry out a dive-bombing attack, dropping 500kg and 1000kg bombs on warships and merchant ships in Grand Harbour. Several land on the Dockyard area, damaging buildings.  One bomb in the grounds of Bighi Hospital causes a camouflet crater, another explodes on a boundary wall; a third fails to explode and is recovered from an officer’s garden.  There is some damage to merchant ships: the bridge of City of Lincoln is demolished by a direct hit.  One incendiary bomb lands in the hold of SS Perthshire; the fire is put out by a scratch firefighting crew collected by Captain K J Body, Staff Captain ‘Q’ and Commander Price, RN.  Some of the cargo is destroyed.  No warships are hit; there is some splinter damage to Bonaventure and Griffin A sergeant of 4th Bn The Buffs who was manning a Bofors gun position is killed, apparently by a delayed action bomb.  Thirteen enemy aircraft are shot down. 

Fourteen Hurricanes are scrambled in two formations, destroying nine JU 87s plus one probable and two damaged. One Hurricane is shot down; the pilot bales out and is rescued.  Anti-aircraft guns destroy four JU 87s and damage four.

Military casualties  Marine James Beazley, Royal Marines, HMS St.Angelo; Stoker 2nd Class Victor Campbell, HMS Bonaventure.

Civilian casualties Dingli  Joseph Zahra, age 27.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 23 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY Convoy MW6 and escort arrived at dawn using the searched channel north of Hurd Bank. The escort left at dusk to proceed to Alexandria.  The convoy was apparently not sighted at sea, but enemy reconnaissance aircraft which came over the Island as they were berthing did locate them.  Severe dive-bombing attacks on Grand Harbour followed which damaged City of Lincoln and Perthshire and caused slight splinter damage to Bonaventure and Griffin.  

AIR HQ Departures 2 Sunderlands. Sunderland patrol of Ionian Sea.  Maryland reconnaissance northern Ionian Sea. 69 Squadron Sea patrol east to Corfu.  

KALAFRANA Two Sunderlands left for the Middle East with passengers and freight.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE Troops continue move to Gozo for an exercise.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Royal Engineers won Army Cup Final defeating 1st Bn Dorset Regt by 3 goals to nil – the sappers are only team to win 3 seasons running. The game continued during a spectacular dive bombing attack on Grand Harbour. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 1 (50kg).

 

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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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22 March 1941: Five Hurricanes Shot Down – Pilots Killed

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Sgt Richard Spyer (2)

Sgt Richard Spyer

“WE THOUGHT WE HAD THE EDGE” SAYS PILOT

Five RAF fighter pilots lost their lives today in the defence of Malta. The five fighters were among eight Hurricanes of 261 Squadron scrambled this afternoon to engage a large force of enemy raiders on a bombing raid across the east of the Island and Grand Harbour.  As the ten bombers turned back for Sicily, the fighters set off in pursuit, intercepting their target some 35 miles to the north of the Island.  14 Messerschmitt 109 fighters escorting the bombers then turned on the Hurricanes.  One pilot whose Hurricane was badly damaged in an engagement managed to return fire on the attacking ME 109 and destroy it.  Four other Hurricanes are missing.  

Pilot Officer John Pain was one of the survivors. “This was one day when we thought we had the edge. It was the first time we had managed to get eight aircraft into the air in one formation in the two months I had been on the Island.”  P/O Pain joined the search for survivors but found only the marks of crashed aircraft. (1)

The missing Hurricane pilots have now been named. Flying Officer James Foxton served as a reconnaissance pilot with 431 Flight in Malta from September until January, when he transferred to 261 Squadron to fly Hurricanes.  Pilot Officer Thomas Garland, Pilot Officer Dennis Knight and Flying Officer John Southwell arrived in Malta just five days ago to join the Squadron.  Sergeant Richard Spyer had a lucky escape on his way to Malta when the Hurricane he flew off HMS Argus ran out of fuel 40 miles short of the Island and fell into the sea; he baled out and was rescued.  Sadly today despite an extensive search no trace of the missing pilots could be found.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0758-0835 hrs Air raid alert for an enemy JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island on reconnaissance, escorted by two ME 109 fighters. Three Hurricanes engage; one of them attacks a raider from close range but without visible results.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1605-1625 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy formations totalling ten JU 88s and 14 ME 109 fighters approaching the Island from the north and north east. The ten bombers cross the Island at 22000 feet and drop bombs in a line from St Thomas Bay to Grand Harbour, the first in the neighbourhood of Bidni and the last on Senglea.  Houses and Dockyard buildings are damaged; part of Verdala Barracks is hit.  A sergeant of 4th Bn The Buffs is killed, apparently by a delayed action bomb.  One civilian is killed and three injured.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders; one ME 109 is shot down.  The tail fins of an enemy aircraft are picked up near Luqa aerodrome. 

Eight Hurricanes follow the enemy bombers as they head back towards Sicily and engage them 35 miles north of Malta. The ME 109s arrive to join the air battle: one Hurricane is shot down by a ME 109 which he then in turn shoots down.  Both aircraft hit the sea.  Four more Hurricanes fail to return.  It is not known whether they lost their bearings in the cloudy conditions or were shot down as they were out of radio range.  The RAF launch heads out to the north east to search for survivors of crashed aircraft.

1820-1850 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north east. They split up north east of the Island and only six approach, proceeding along the north coast.  One crosses the coast, passing over Rinella towards Grand Harbour and then out to sea.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement reported.

2230-2246 hrs  Air raid alert for some three or four bombers which approach singly, passing over the Island. There is a slight mist and no moon.  No searchlights are exposed, nor Malta fighters airborne.  The enemy pilots seem unsure of their location and unable to find target.  They drop bombs in isolated areas between Siggiewi and Gudja, on Hal Far and to the west of Luqa aerodrome, on the Marsa area and in the sea off St George’s.  Bombs are also dropped on the Dingli area. One farmhouse is hit, injuring the farmer and his son; two other civilians are hurt.

Military casualties Sergeant Martin M Boland, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Flying Officer James H T Foxton; Pilot Officer Thomas B Garland; Pilot Officer Dennis F Knight; Flying Officer John S Southwell; Sergeant Richard A Spyer, pilots, Royal Air Force, 261 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Zabbar  Francis Cassar, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY Rorqual arrived to embark mines for operations north west of Sicily.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Sunderland Suda Bay carried out patrol western Ionian Sea then alighted in Malta.  69 Squadron 1212-1600 hrs  Maryland closing patrol northern Ionian Sea for enemy shipping; nil report. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from the Middle East.

TA QALI  No 122 Eucharistic Congress Street, Mosta, taken over for overflow sleeping accommodation for officers.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE Troops move to Gozo for an exercise.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT) Sgt Boland, B Company, Bofors Troop was killed; The Buffs’ first fatal casualty in Malta. A Company gave a demonstation of a company in attack in the area Tal Wied Rini to Gen Scobell GOC who afterwards congratulated them on a fine show.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1800 hrs A small force was despatched to Gozo, consisting of one platoon and one section, both reduced in numbers.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt Runacres posted to the temporary garrison on Gozo.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg).

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1000 hrs  His Excellency Sir William Dobbie awards the Military Medal to Sergeant A Kitney of C Company. Representatives from all Companies attend on the Parade Ground at Battalion HQ.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  One platoon travelled to Gozo for an exercise.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  E Company established in Gozo with HQ in the Citadel, Victoria.

(1) Hurricanes Over Malta, Brian Cull with Frederick Galea, Grub Street 2002

(2)  Battle of Britain London Monument

 

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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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21 March 1941: Areas of Malta Coast Present Danger to Life

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Paradise bayPROTECTED ZONES NOW OUT OF BOUNDS

Several areas of Malta’s coastline have been declared ‘Protected Areas’. Military forces and the public have been warned that entering them may be very dangerous to life and limb.  The areas are a fringe of land following the coast on the north west of the Island around L’Imjiebah, Ghain Zeituna, Tal Imgharka, as well as stretches of land at Paradise and Anchor Bays.

Notices have been issued today to troops stating that all ranks are prohibited from doing so except in the course of duty. Warning notices are being erected in all the affected locations by the Royal Engineers. 

GREEN LABELS WILL GIVE PRIORITY TO MALTA MAIL

Special arrangements have been made to improve mail services following recent extended delays in the deliveries between the UK and Malta. A new green label has been issued to enable relatives in the UK to send a quick reply to letters sent by Air Mail from the Island.  The Postal Authorities in London will give priority to all letters bearing the green label, to ensure the fastest possible delivery.

Green labels will be issued in Malta must be used only for Special Air Mails, ie one sheet of thin paper, as the opportunity occurs. All ranks will be instructed to inform the addressee in the UK that the reply should also be limited to one thin sheet of notepaper and the green label affixed to the top left hand corner of the envelope.  Postage stamps for the appropriate amount must be affixed by the sender in the UK.

SHORTAGE OF BEDDING FOR TROOPS

Stocks of straw for making palliasses for emergency troop bedding are now exhausted. A very limited supply of substitute material has been obtained but it is quite insufficient to cover all demands and supply will be restricted. 

Problems have been identified in keeping palliasses free from vermin. As no repellent is available, measures have been introduced to combat infestation.  The palliasse will be emptied weekly and its contents spread on clean ground to expose them to the sun.  The cover will be turned inside out and placed on the ground to air.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MARCH TO DAWN 22 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0733-0840 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109 fighters which approach the coast and are engaged by anti-aircraft guns before retreating.

1045-1116 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by seven Italian Macchi fighters and two ME 109s which approach the Island in four pairs. The JU 88 drops 12 bombs on both sides of  destroyer HMS Defender as she is carrying out firing practice off Delimara Point, causing several holes above the water line and wounding six, two seriously.  Among them is a visiting senior officer who is wounded in the right leg by an invisible splinter.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; some engage the enemy off the east coast – causing the fighters to withdraw – while others escort Defender into port.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 21 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Defender is bombed while exercising off Delimara Point; some splinter damage.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland patrolled between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information to pass to submarines.   Maryland photoreconnaissance Porto Empedocle. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from the Middle East.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  6 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

 

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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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20 March 1941: German Forces Preparing to Invade Gozo

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Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

INVASION BATTALION GATHERS IN SICILY

Information has been received by Malta high command that Gozo is the expected landing point for an enemy invasion. Reliable intelligence sources have confirmed that a German landing battalion with full boat and ferry equipment is heading for the central Mediterranean.  The force is expected to arrive on 26 March and to be ready for use ten days later.  There are also reported to be a number of flat-bottomed boats in Sicily of the type used for landing troops.  The quantity does not seem sufficient for a landing on Malta but it is thought a landing may be attempted on Gozo.

It is believed the enemy is preparing to carry out a reconnaissance of Gozo on the basis that the Island is undefended, and that therefore a raid on a small scale might be possible. In response, senior military officers from Malta including Administration, Royal Artillery, Royal Irish Fusiliers, Malta Tank Troop and Fortress Royal Engineers are making their own reconnaissance visit to Gozo prior to making suitable provision to defend the Island from invasion.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

1223-1243 hrs  Air raid alert for three approaching enemy fighters which do not come near the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled but the enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary.

1510-1542 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy ME 110 fighter which machine-guns a Dockyard tug off Zonqor. Anti-aircraft guns open fire and the raider is chased off by Hurricanes.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 20 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 1005-1325 hrs  Maryland patrolled between Pantelleria, Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information; convoy notified to Naval authorities.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO took officers and men to reconnoitre positions for the mobile machine-gun company.

 

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Posted by on March 20, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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19 March 1941: Sunderland Flying Boats to Leave Malta

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Sunderland flying boat

Sunderland flying boat

228 SQUADRON TRANSFERS TO MIDDLE EAST

Sunderland aircraft of 228 Squadron RAF are to leave Malta for the Middle East, it has been announced today. Since the entry of Italy to the war on 10 June last year, the flying boats have been based at Kalafrana, launching several successful attacking missions from Malta against Axis shipping.  They have also made a vital contribution to reconnaissance of enemy convoy and fleet movements Malta alongside the Marylands of 69 Squadron.  Concerns have been raised as to whether the few remaining Marylands will be able to cover Italian and North African harbours, as well as the sea routes in between. 

In the past few weeks several Sunderland aircraft have been attacked at their moorings in Marsaxlokk and St Paul’s Bays. 228 Squadron personnel and aircraft are expected to leave Malta within a week.  The Squadron will now have its base in Alexandria, Egypt.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

0948-1000 hrs; 1040-1100 hrs; 1740-1806 hrs  Air raid alerts for three separate enemy patrols around the Island which do not approaching the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled on each occasion but the enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary. Bad weather interferes with carrying out interceptions away from the Island.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron fired four torpedoes in the approach to Tripoli Harbour, covered by a bombing attack. One ship was observed hit by a bomb; one aircraft force-landed in Tunisia.

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 1015-1300 hrs Maryland patrolled between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information for submarines.  

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left with part of 228 Squadron personnel on transfer to Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO spent the morning with the Northern Infantry Brigade, reconnoitring positions for the mobile machine-gun company.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Brigade training exercise to test anti-parachute defences of the Victoria Lines and Ta Qali.

 

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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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18 March 1941: Aircraft Missing After Attack on Tripoli

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Swordfish believed shot down

Swordfish missing after raid

SWORDFISH MISSING AFTER RAID

Two airmen have been reported missing this morning after they failed to return from a bombing mission over Libya. Sub-Lieutenant W E Grant was pilot of one of nine Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm dispatched from Malta last night to attack Tripoli Harbour. Other returning pilots reported that Grant’s aircraft was shot down by the harbour’s defences.  They were unable to say whether the crew had survived.  Missing with S/Lt Grant is crew member Leading Airman W E J Thompson.

ROYAL ENGINEERS REINFORCEMENTS NEEDED

The Governor and Commander in Chief applied to the War Office today for additional officers to strengthen the command of the Royal Engineers in Malta. The current establishment of Fortress Headquarters is four officers and of 24 Company is five.  Lt Col Eaton-Matthews’ recent appointment to higher command as Chief Engineer and the departure of another senior officer to the Middle East has left the Regiment short-staffed in Malta.  The Royal Engineers are responsible for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure and transport for the war effort, as well as for bomb disposal in all areas outside of Navy and RAF premises.  Today’s request is for three officers (sub-lieutenant rank), trained in Field Company work.

In other communications today, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie asked for additional Royal Signals personnel as well as confirmation that RAOC personnel authorised on 5 February last are already on their way to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MARCH TO DAWN 19 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

0622-0643 hrs, 0805-0830 hrs, 1215-1233 hrs, 1511-1535 hrs, 0430-0457 hrs Air raid alerts for enemy fighters which patrol around the Island without crossing the coast. One fighter patrol from Sicily searches the area on the route south east of Malta through which Wellingtons and Hurricanes had passed coming from the Middle East 15 minutes before.  Four Hurricanes were scrambled on five occasions through daylight hours but enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary.  Bad weather interferes with carrying out interceptions away from the Island.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY Abingdon and Fermoy carried out a searching sweep north of the Hurd Bank to see if that area had been mined.  No mines were observed.  The opportunity was taken of sweeping out Regent and Upholder.

HAL FAR 830 Squadron  Nine aircraft carried out an operational flight against Tripoli; one machine failed to return. S/Lt Grant and N/A Thompson are missing.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The men are getting many games of football and hockey, which helps to relieve the monotonous work.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Anti-parachute posts in Bingemma Valley ceased to be manned during the night.

 

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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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