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OPERATION ‘RAILWAY’ PASSES SAFELY THROUGH MEDITERRANEAN
The first phase of a major operation to increase the fighter force on Malta was successfully completed today as 21 Hurricanes landed on the Island. The latest delivery followed the success of Operation ‘Rocket’ three weeks ago (6 June 1941 maltagc70). Having delivered her cargo to the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier HMS Furious returned to port in the Clyde to load up an even larger cargo of 64 Hurricanes and 9 Swordfish. The carrier sailed for Gibraltar on 22 June where 22 Hurricanes for Malta were transferred to HMS Ark Royal. Escorted by cruisers Renown and Hermione plus five destroyers, Ark Royal passed safely through the western Mediterranean to her rendezvous point early this morning. Blenheim aircraft flew out from Gibraltar to the rendezvous to escort the Hurricanes onward to Malta. One Hurricane failed to reach the Island and has been reported missing.
GOZO TO HAVE PAID COAST WATCHERS
Malta’s sister Island of Gozo is to have its own band of paid coast watchers. The measure is part of a move to increase security in the light of an expected Axis invasion which may target Gozo as a possible foothold from which to launch a main attack on Malta. The War Office has agreed to the recruitment of 70 coast watchers for the Island who will be paid from Army funds at a rate of 4 shillings per day. Each watcher will also be issued with one suit of denim battledress.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1941
Weather Hot and sunny.
1010 hrs Hurricanes begin landing at Luqa from Operation Railway.
1146-1220 hrs Air raid alert for a SM 79 bomber escorted by 25 Macchi 200 fighters which approach Grand Harbour from the north. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage, destroying six Macchis confirmed, plus two probable, and damaging the SM 79 and other fighters. Two Macchis are seen to crash; one near Birzebbuga is completely burned out and scattered over four fields. The pilot bales out but the parachute fails to open; his body is found near Ta Karach and an ambulance attends the scene. The second Macchi crashes into the sea; its pilot is rescued and taken prisoner. P/O Barnes, who shot him down, visits the Italian pilot for afternoon tea.
2152-2220 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching from the north. Seven heavy anti-aircraft guns launch a barrage and one aircraft recedes north. The other crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour and drops 50kg bombs between Valletta and Sliema, including Pieta Creek. One bomb demolishes a house in Pieta, where a crater in the road causes a traffic diversion. One gunner is killed and three injured. 50kg bombs are also dropped in the sea off Salina Bay and St Thomas’ Bay. Anti-aircraft guns launch a barrage; no claims. Hurricane night fighters are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate raiders and there are no interceptions.
0305-0350 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and drops 50kg high explosive bombs on Zabbar and Marsa, as well as Ta Qali and in the sea off the north coast. One stick of bombs start a fire at Salvatore Gate which is soon under control. Several unexploded bombs are reported on land. Anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims. Malta night fighters do not intercept due to lack of searchlight illuminations.
Military casualties Lance-Bombardier Frederick J Hopkinson, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Enemy casualties Sergente Alfredo Sclavo, pilot of Macchi 200, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, shot down and died. Sottotenente Neri de Benedetti, pilot of Macchi 200, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, shot down and taken prisoner.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 27 JUNE 1941
ROYAL NAVY A convoy of four liners (same as departed Naples 25 June) arrived in Taranto, but not known whether these were original four. The ships were later attacked in harbour by Blenheim aircraft which claim to have damaged Esperia (causing slight damage) and Neptunia.
AIR HQ Arrivals 21 Hurricane, 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron 6 Maryland reconnaissance missions. 82 Squadron 3 Blenheims made a surprise low-level bombing attack on Tamet aerodrome, setting fire to three aircraft and machine-gunning others, as well as personnel on the ground. 148 Squadron 6 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Tripoli Harbour, especially Spanish Wharf and the main unloading facilities.
TA QALI 10 Hurricanes arrived ex Ark Royal. One overshot aerodrome on landing; pilot uninjured.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 1 (50kg removed for sterilising).
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