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The War Office looks likely to turn down a recent urgent request from Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief for additional personnel to man the Island’s anti-aircraft guns. In a telegram to Lt Gen Dobbie today, London’s war chief said:
“We understand that you consider that the new anti-aircraft establishments for Malta do not provide a sufficient scale of reliefs for personnel on the Island. The current manpower situation makes it imperative that he numbers of Royal Artillery personnel be kept as low as possible. It is suggested therefore that one relief heavy and one relief light anti-aircraft battery be raised in Malta and formed as Royal Malta Artillery batteries to enable you to give batteries periodical rests. Do you agree?”
With recruitment in Malta already unable to provide the numbers needed to defend the Island, General Dobbie was unwilling to accept the War Office argument and wrote an immediate firm response:
“Malta needs more Heavy Anti-Aircraft personnel – 20 more per battery – to provide proper reliefs for gunners. This increase would also contribute to some extent to reinforcement in the event of casualties, bearing in mind the difficulty of sending reinforcements to the Island during an emergency. I consider it most desirable to raise the personnel numbers of these batteries to completely meet the need for resting and retraining. I do not believe it will be possible to raise and train the necessary troops from local recruitment in less than nine months. The officers must be Royal Artillery.”
AMMUNITION USAGE FOR WEEK ENDING 18 MAY
- 4.5” HE 189 rounds
- 3.7” HE 1152 rounds
- 3” HE 98 rounds
- 40mm 129 rounds
AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1941
Weather Cloudy; very poor visibility.
0713-0736 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber with a small escort of ME 109 fighters which carries out reconnaissance across the Island at 26000 feet. Malta Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.
0825-0845 hrs and 1654-1708 hrs Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 MAY 1941
AIR HQ 139 Squadron 5 Blenheims patrolled 90 miles south east of Malta for possible ships detected by RDF; nothing seen. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands patrol eastern Tunisian coast. Maryland patrol eastern Sicilian coast AM reports hospital ship 70miles from Malta.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg).
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