21 May 1941: 50 Fighters & Bombers Arrive in Malta

21 May

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Blenheim Mk IV

Blenheim Mk IV


The skies over Malta were busy all day today with the arrival of dozens of aircraft from the UK. 46 Hurricanes landed on the Island, along with 22 fighter pilots of 249 Squadron, RAF and Fulmars of the Fleet Air Arm. Operation ‘Splice’ began in Liverpool on 12 May with the loading of 64 Mk II Hurricanes onto the aircraft carrier HMS Furious at Liverpool. The carrier was escorted to Gibraltar, where she transferred 20 of the Hurricanes to HMS Ark Royal; 16 more will remain at Gibraltar.

The two aircraft carriers were then escorted through the western Mediterranean by the battle cruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield and six destroyers of the Mederranean fleet. A total of 48 fighters and four Fulmars took off from Ark Royal and Furious early today to be guided in to Malta by three Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft. En route, one Hurricane crashed off Cape Bon and a second is reported missing. After refuelling, 17 of the Hurricanes departed immediately for the Middle East.

In a separate operation, a detachment of 82 Squadron, Royal Air Force, also arrived in Malta. The Blenheim Mk IV aircraft took off from RAF Portreath in Cornwall to fly direct to the Island.  One Blenheim is reported to have crashed into the Mediterranean approximately off the north coast of Algeria; the pilot Flt/Sgt L Howard and crew Flt/Sgt C G Evans and P/O K G A Marsh are missing.  The rest of 82 Squadron is expected to follow during the next month; its role in Malta is to continue the attacks on enemy convoys and ports in the Mediterranean.


Weather  Fine.

0916-0946 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island from south east to north on reconnaissance at 20000 feet while its fighter escort patrols down the east coast. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber; no claims.

1117-1156 hrs  While numerous delivery Blenheims and Hurricanes continue to come in to land at Luqa, the air raid alert sounds for 15 ME 109 fighters which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on the aerodrome. Two Wellingtons are burned out, one Blenheim, one Hurricane and one Beaufighter damaged.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.

1650-1820 hrs  Air raid alert for four ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and patrol off the coast at 21000 feet for 1½ hours, possibly as a screen for the convoy reported by a reconnaissance Maryland. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interception.

1724-1750 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the Island and is engaged by anti-aircraft fire; no claims. No bombs are dropped.

0339-0420 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north east and drop bombs in the sea to the north east, east and south east of Grand Harbour. Anti-aircraft guns engage and manage to turn the leading raider off course.


ROYAL NAVY A large number of Hurricanes and Fulmars arrived safely from Force H aircraft carriers (Operation Splice).  Foresight left for Gibraltar at 2000 and Fifth Destroyer Flotilla sailed for operations at Crete. Urge sank one destroyer (part of covering force).

AIR HQ Arrivals 249 Squadron from UK.  4 Fulmar; 46 Hurricane. Departures 2 Sunderland; 4 Beaufighter, 17 Hurricane. 252 Squadron four Beaufighters to UK. 139 Squadron Following receipt of information of a small convoy 5 Blenheims were despatched to attack but failed to locate.  69 Squadron  Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast reports two convoys. 

HAL FAR  Four Fulmars and 14 Hurricanes arrived at Hal Far from Gibraltar; all machines landed safely.

LUQA One Maryland escorted Hurricanes to Malta from HMS Ark Royal.  Four Beaufighters 252 Squadron left for Gibraltar; two escorted Hurricanes to Malta.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Four other ranks embarked for repatriation to the UK.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg; 1 incendiary).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Northern Infantry Brigade exercise No 13: practice of formation of a composite battalion including E Company and Battalion HQ. The Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson KC gave lectures on Malta and some particular problems of civil government to officers and some other ranks at Ta Saliba. 


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


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