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‘OPERATION ROCKET’ REINFORCES MEDITERRANEAN FIGHTER STRENGTH
43 Hurricane fighters flew in to Malta today in the latest operation to reinforce Allied fighter strengths in the Mediterranean. They include 25 of the faster Mark II fighter model.
29 of the Hurricanes began their journey in packing cases loaded onto HMS Argus in the Clyde. The aircraft carrier arrived at Gibraltar a week ago, followed next day by the carrier HMS Furious with another 48 Hurricanes Mark II from the UK. 33 fighters were landed at Gibraltar. 24 were transferred to the carrier HMS Ark Royal ready for passage eastwards for Malta, along with another 20 on board HMS Furious.
The aircraft carriers embarked on Wednesday, escorted through the western Mediterranean by the battlecruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield and six destroyers. Arriving at the launch point this morning, the 44 Hurricanes took off to fly the remaining distance to Malta, escorted to the Island by eight Blenheims from Gibraltar. One Hurricane was found to have defects and forced to return to its carrier. The remaining 43 landed safely, divided between Malta’s three main air fields.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JUNE TO DAWN 7 JUNE 1941
Weather Fine and warm.
2005-2030 hrs Air raid alert for three unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east to Kala Bay. 15kg bombs are dropped on Kala Bay and searchlight site, on Gudja and Zabbar.
2354-0120 hrs Air raid alert for several formations of three or more aircraft which approach from the north west and circle the Island. One aircraft crosses the coast and drops 15kg bombs on Ta Qali and near St Andrews, and between Salina Bay and Wardia. “Bn HQ on Xlejli Tower sways – possibly mines dropped in sea or earth tremors. No explosions are heard or flashes seen. Later bombs are heard to explode to the east of Valletta.” Two Hurricanes are scrambled but searchlight illuminations are prevented by cloud and there is no engagement.
0210-0300 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome, setting fire to a Blenheim aircraft, and on Kirkop. A large number of 15kg bombs land on the Safi area. Bombs are also dropped in the sea off St Julians and to the north of Ta Qali. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 6 JUNE 1941
ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Five aircraft in operations against Tripoli.
AIR HQ Arrivals 43 Hurricanes. 46 Squadron arrived from UK. 69 Squadron 4 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.
HAL FAR 17 Hurricanes landed at Hal Far from Gibraltar.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT 50 men of various units who have come off the convoy ships are to be temporarily attached to the Battalion, to be employed until the convoy sails. Their job is to provide guards and light anti-aircraft gunners for the vessels.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 2 (500kg).
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