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11 April 1941: Malta Becomes Base for Navy Attack Flotilla

11 Apr

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HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

FOUR DESTROYERS WILL ATTACK AXIS CONVOYS  

Malta is to become a base for Royal Navy attacks on enemy convoys to North Africa. Four destroyers of 14th Flotilla – Jervis, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian – arrived in Grand Harbour early this morning to prepare for attacking operations against essential Italian supply lines.

The four destroyers were refuelled on arrival and embarked immediately to intercept a southbound convoy located by Malta reconnaissance aircraft. However, their first mission was unsuccessful when they were unable to locate the enemy convoy due to a miscalculation of their speed.

Reporting the arrival of the attack force to the War Cabinet in London, the Chief of Naval Staff explained that enemy convoys usually assemble at Palermo, pass round the western end of Sicily and down the Tunisian coast, making Malta an ideal base from which to interrupt the Tripoli supply lines. Three additional submarines have also been sent to work in the area and eight more are expected, making this a very strong strike force. 

The possibility of further operations against Tripoli itself is also being investigated. The primary objective of the Navy is to prevent the enemy from building up a large force in Tripoli.  Beaufort aircraft are also being sent out to attack convoys and Wellingtons will be used to bomb Tripoli Harbour.

MDINA ATTACKED ON GOOD FRIDAY

Enemy bombing over the ‘silent city’ of Mdina tonight has caused angry reactions among the Maltese population. The ancient walled city has no military installations to justify it being a legitimate target. Nevertheless it was struck during a raid by nine Stuka dive-bombers just after 10 this evening.  Some have suggested the bombs had been intended for Ta Qali but authorities consider that Mdina is some distance from Ta Qali and visually distinctive enough not to be hit in error.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 APRIL TO DAWN 12 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

0648-0720 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0935-1020 hrs  Air raid alert for seven Italian CR 42 fighters, followed by a second plot of six, which carry out reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders north of Malta.  Two CR 42s are probably shot down.   

1125-1155 hrs Air raid alert for twelve Messerschmitt fighters and one JU 88 which carry out an offensive patrol over the Island.  Heavy and Light anti-aircraft guns engage and eight Hurricanes are scrambled.  One ME 109 and one ME 110 are confirmed shot down, the JU 88 is probably shot down.  Hurricanes flown by F/O P Kennett and Sgt P Waghorn are shot down into the sea by enemy raiders.  P/O Kennett is spotted offshore and the rescue launch heads for the spot but he is found dead.  Sgt Waghorn’s plane is seen to go down near St Paul’s Bay; he does not survive.  Both pilots arrived in Malta just eight days ago with Operation Winch.

Sgt A H Deacon’s Hurricane is badly damaged in a dogfight with a ME 109; he heads for Ta Qali but cannot land as anti-aircraft guns are still in action against enemy aircraft. Deacon flies on to Hal Far and is able to land but his undercarriage collapses and he is slightly injured.  P/O Mortimer’s Hurricane is also badly damaged in combat; he also has to divert to Hal Far where his aircraft lands awkwardly, causing him some injuries.

2156-2247 hrs Air raid alert for nine JU 87 Stuka bombers which approach the Island at 4-6000 feet singly and in pairs, and carry out a bombing raid on Mgarr, Siggiewi, Mdina and Ta Qali aerodrome. Several civilian houses are damaged at Siggiewi.  At Mgarr three houses are destroyed in St Peter’s Street and 15 badly damaged in Fisher Street.  Five civilians are killed and seven injured – three seriously.  No damage is caused on the airfield.  Some of the raiders are illuminated by searchlights and Malta fighters are scrambled.  One JU 87 is shot down near Il Maghtab church by ground defences: 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers are believed to have shot it down with small arms fire.  One JU 87 is probably shot down by fighters.  

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Peter Kennett, Royal Air Force (VR), 261 Squadron. Sergeant Peter Harry Waghorn, Pilot, Royal Air Force (VR), 261 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Gharghur  Rosaria Mifsud, age 8. Mgarr  Josephine Borg, age 44; Mary Vella, age 36; Saviour Vella, age 60. Siggiewi Michael Sammut, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Jervis, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian arrived for operations against the Tripoli convoy route.  After fuelling, the destroyers sailed to intercept a southbound convoy located by aircraft between Lampion and Kerkennah Bank, and reported as steaming at 15 knots.  The destroyers failed to intercept and from a subsequent signal from Unique, which failed to get through by wireless telegraph, it was apparent that the convoy’s speed had not exceeded 9 knots.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Swordfish engage in night attack.  Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  2 Maryland on sea patrol.  

HAL FAR Two Hurricanes from Ta Qali crash-landed after air battle; one of 2 pilots slightly hurt.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland arrived from Gibraltar with freight.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

 

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

 

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