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Malta does not have enough rifles to arm its new conscript troops. The number of new recruits now enrolled in the Island’s military forces will soon reach 2000, after conscription began on 3 March. Between July and September last year the Governor and Commander in Chief put in five orders for 3830 rifles but none has yet received War Office authorisation.
With the rise in infantry strengths since conscription the Island’s stocks of rifles are now considered very low and insufficient for tactical requirements. Stressing the urgency of the situation, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie as asked that if the required weapons are not at present available in the UK, the Commander in Chief Middle East be instructed to supply a proportion immediately, with the balance despatched from India.
SEA INVASION THREAT LOWERED; PARACHUTE THREAT REMAINS HIGH
Military chiefs in Malta have now decided that an attempted landing by night from the sea is unlikely. The Island was placed on high alert on 28 March following intelligence reports of Italian vessels patrolling in the vicinity of Malta. The threat level for sea attack has now been lowered. However precautions against parachute landings are still in place as the threat is still considered high.
The attention of all ranks has drawn to the great importance of surveying the localities occupied by their units and detachments, in order to discover the likely breeding places of flies, sandflies and mosquitoes, and to deal with these effectively. Such measures are believed effective when taken at this time of year, on account of the prodigious fertility of these insects, and their rapid rate of multiplication.
All regimental officers have been asked that, in the interest of their men and of themselves, they possess a working knowledge of such preventative measures. Advice can be obtained from medical officers or from the Field Hygiene section.
MALTA NEEDS A REST CAMP
The Governor and Commander in Chief proposes to establish permanent rest camp in Malta. The facility is believed necessary as the strength of the British Garrison on the Island now numbers nearly 12000.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 APRIL TO DAWN 18 APRIL 1941
1535-1630 hrs Air raid alert for six Italian CR 42 fighters which patrol off the coast of Malta at 19000 feet. Ten Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage as the CR 42s turn back when still two miles offshore. The Hurricanes have landed to refuel when a single JU 88 crosses the Island at 26000 feet. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims. Four of the Hurricanes take off again but the bomber recedes before they intercept.
2047-2210 hrs Air raid alert for 15 enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the south west. Five raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on the St Paul’s Bay area. Searchlights illuminate two targets and intense fire from the anti-aircraft guns drives the raiders out to sea.
0330-0405 hrs Air raid alert caused by the return of two Wellington bombers.
0416-0530 hrs Air raid alert for one twin-engined enemy bomber which approaches from the north and drops bombs on the St Paul’s Bay area. One farmhouse is damaged; three sheep, two goats and a donkey are killed. Searchlights illuminate the raider for a short period; no anti-aircraft gun claims. One Hurricane night fighter is airborne but the searchlight illumination is too brief for an attack.
OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 17 APRIL 1941
ROYAL NAVY Regent sailed for Kotor to attempt to bring off Mr Campbell, British Minister to Yugoslavia.
AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland patrol of the eastern Tunisian coast.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT 5 more NCOs attended a bomb reconnaissance course.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (500kg).
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