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Monthly Archives: June 2016

20 June 1941: Malta Attacks Wreak Havoc on Axis Convoys

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WAR CABINET STILL IN THE DARK ON AXIS PLANS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

Allied submarines have inflicted considerable casualties on enemy shipping in the Mediterranean, according to a report the British War Cabinet. The statement was part of the weekly report provided to the cabinet today on the state of the war in the Mediterranean.  However, the Cabinet remains concerned at the lack of new intelligence to indicate German intentions in the eastern Mediterranean or Middle East.

RAF capacity in Malta and North Africa has benefited from a considerable reinforcement of aircraft, brought through the western Mediterranean and flown off to Malta from HM Aircraft Carriers Victorious and Ark Royal, covered by Gibraltar-based ships.

69 Squadron Marylands locate Axis shipping

69 Squadron Marylands locate Axis shipping

Reconnaissance flights from Malta have covered the coasts of Sicily and Tunis, the Aegean Sea and Naples. Two Blenheims were despatched to attack a merchant vessel of about 5000 tons off Pantellaria, and scored five direct hits.  The attack was carried out form a very low level and one of the aircraft was lost after striking the ship’s mast.  Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm have also attacked shipping and on 13th June bombed Tripoli, causing fires to break out in the harbour area.

In the past week, Italian aircraft have approached Malta on several occasions but there have been no serious attacks; bombs were dropped on two nights bombs, without serious damage. On 12th, nine fighters and two rescue float planes were destroyed by Hurricanes, of which three were lost.

MALTA AMATEUR DRAMATIC CLUB TO CLOSE

Malta Amateur Dramatic Club has announced the decision to close for the immediate future. The Club’s theatre in South Street, Valletta, can hold only 70 patrons but has found it difficult to attract audiences since the reduction in bus services, which now run only in the morning and afternoon.  In view of the strict curfew, shows have been starting at 3pm.  At the start of each performance, directions have been given to the nearest Air Raid Shelter should the play have to be interrupted because of enemy air activity. The last play to be performed will be “On Approval” by Frederick Lonsdale.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JUNE TO DAWN 21 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 8 Blenheim. Departures 1 Hudson. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance; F/O Warburton machine-gunned aircraft on aerodrome at Misurata, with success. 82 Squadron 5 Blenheims searched for reported convoy without success.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor toured our defence posts and expressed satisfaction with his findings.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  25 pdr moved into position near Addolorata.

 

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Posted by on June 20, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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19 June 1941: 6000 Extra Troops for Malta

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Every serviceman must have rifle and bayonet

Every serviceman must have rifle and bayonet

REINFORCEMENTS ALLOCATED FOR MALTA BUT LIKELY TO BE DELAYED

Thousands of extra troops plus equipment and stores will soon be on their way to Malta, according to a telegram received from the War Office today. Marked ‘most secret – for officers only’, the message has been warmly welcomed by the Governor and Commander in Chief as well as all military commanders across the Island. 

The move follows an extensive review of the position of Malta after the successful German invasion of Crete. The strengthened Axis position in the Mediterranean places the Island firmly on the front line of the Allied campaign in southern Europe and North Africa.   Lt Gen Dobbie’s presentation of the challenges facing Malta (maltagc70 5 June) received a positive response two days later from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself (maltagc70 7 June).  Since then things have moved rapidly to provide the Island over 6000 extra troops and new RAF fighter squadrons to secure its future:

ARMY

  • Two infantry battalions total 1798
  • One HQ light anti-aircraft regiment and four batteries total 432
  • 173 Tunnelling Company total 225
  • And to replace troops intended for Malta but currently held up in the Middle East: two heavy anti-aircraft battery and one further light anti-aircraft battery total 679
  • Additional replacements for troops sent in WS7 but not arrived Malta total 1187
  • Additional replacements for troops sent in WS9 but not arrived Malta total 308
  • Additional replacements for troops prepared for WS10 but not arrived Malta: Royal Artillery 100; Royal Engineers 49

RAF

  • New fighter squadrons total 187
  • Servicing Blenheims 177
  • Operations room 18
  • Technical and other 62
  • General reinforcements 744
  • Equipment and stores: details to follow

However, although the reinforcements have now been allocated to Malta, the arrival of many is likely to be significantly delayed due to a lack of transport to bring them to the Island. According to the War Office telegram, the capacity currently available is at most 4600 and may be as low as 2000.  Malta’s Governor & C in C GCiC was therefore asked to cable the order of priority for the despatch of the above, showing each unit separately.  He responded immediately:

  1. Two RAF fighter squadrons, 200 servicing Blenheims and operations room total 619
  2. One infantry battalion total 899
  3. One HQ light anti-aircraft regiment and four batteries total 432
  4. Medical officers 32
  5. Replacements from WS7
  6. Replacements form WS9
  7. Two heavy anti-aircraft battery and one further light anti-aircraft battery total 679
  8. One infantry battalion total 899

In view of the proposed increases in infantry troops, Lt Gen Dobbie plans to increase the number of infantry brigades to three. In addition to the present Northern and Southern Infantry Brigades he will form a Central Infantry Brigade made up of three battalions.  Additional officers to form a Brigade HQ would be required for the new brigade, which would cover the harbour sector and Luqa aerodrome.

Lt Gen Dobbie ends by saying that it is essential that every man posted to Malta, including RAF personnel, brings a rifle and bayonet.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1018-1038 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber escorted by 15 fighters which approach at very high altitude, then cross the Island from east to west, apparently on reconnaissance. Four heavy anti-aircraft guns engage, firing pointer rounds; no claims.

Military casualties Sergeant John N Harrison, pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Leslie R MacDonald, RAFVR; Sergeant Lancelot N Rowbotham, RAFVR; all 82 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Maryland, 3 Wellington, 1 Sunderland. Departures 3 Wellingtons. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance.  One fired on an aerodrome near Misurata, making two runs to machine-gun eight SM 79 bombers, setting three on fire.  1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance Comiso reports 5 Macchi 200s and at Gela 12 medium unidentified fighters. 82 Squadron 4 Blenheims sent to attack a merchant ship; one returned with wireless failure and a second landed in the sea near Malta, cause unknown.  The crew were not found.  The remaining two attacked the enemy ship scoring near-misses.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (15kg).

 

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Posted by on June 19, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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18 June 1941: Malta Submarine Stealth Missions in Med

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HMS Unbeaten

HMS Unbeaten

HMS UNBEATEN HAS NARROW ESCAPE

Submarine HMS Unbeaten has narrowly escaped destruction on her current patrol on the hunt for enemy convoys as part of Malta’s submarine flotilla. Unbeaten’s second war mission since arriving in the Mediterranean began a week ago, when she was despatched to patrol south of the Straits of Messina and the east coast of Sicily. 

Early on Monday morning Unbeaten sighted a significant Axis convoy including three merchant ships and a large liner acting as troop transport at the southern entrance to the Straits.  The submarine quickly closed on the convoy and her commander Lt E A Woodward ordered the attack.  Four torpedoes were fired at the transport ship, two were reported as on target. 

Seeing the torpedo tracks, an escorting Italian Cant aircraft dropped two bombs which just missed the submarine. Nine depth charges were then dropped towards Unbeaten and she dived rapidly to evade impact, remaining deep underwater for over two hours to avoid further attacks.  

Having continued her patrol, this morning Unbeaten received orders to intercept and attack a Vichy French destroyer heading south through the Straits of Messina towards Beirut.

MINES

Since 1st March (besides those previously reported) ten magnetic and thirteen acoustic mines have been detonated off Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JUNE TO DAWN 19 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0915-0929 hrs; 0959-1013 hrs  Air raid alert for fifteen enemy aircraft which approach to within 25 miles north of St Paul’s Bay. Nine Hurricanes are scrambled and the raiders recede north.  The all-clear sounds but the raiders turn south again and repeat their tactics but are driven off again.

1634-1706 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of six and three Italian Macchi 200 fighters which approach the Island in the St Paul’s Bay area. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and intercept the second formation 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, shooting down one Macchi 200 and a second probable.  One Hurricane catches fire due to a Glycol leak and has to make a forced landing in the Mosta area.  The pilot Sgt Livingston bales out but too low for his parachute to open fully and he is killed.

2002 hrs  Six Blenheim bombers arrive.

2035 hrs  Four Blenheim bombers arrive.

0457-0502 hrs  Air raid alert caused by the approach of Wellingtons returning to base.

Military casualties  Sergeant Alexander Livingston, pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 261 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 10 Blenheim. Departures 2 Bombay. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance.  F/Lt Warburton special operation in Beaufighter crashed on take-off; aircraft destroyed but crew unhurt.  82 Squadron Arrived Malta. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Senior Royal Artillery officers visited the Battalion to establish where Bofors and Light Anti-Aircraft guns might provide ground assistance.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on June 18, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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17 June 1941: RE Tunnelling Company Posted to Malta

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TUNNELLERS TO CREATE UNDERGROUND WAR HQ

173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, is being mobilised for posting to Malta at the earliest opportunity. 173 was one of several tunnelling companies created during World War I to dig and maintain mines and other underground military facilities.  They have been sent to Malta in response to a request from the Governor and Commander in Chief last month (maltagc70 8 May 1941) for additional personnel experienced in rock mining.  One of their first priorities will be to create a new underground combined War HQ, an operating theatre and stores for essential commodities which have proved vulnerable to heavy enemy bombing.

Commodore Muirhead-Gould

Commodore Muirhead-Gould

AUSTRALIAN NAVAL COMMODORE LAUNCHES APPEAL TO HELP MALTESE

More than £700 has been subscribed at a cocktail party held by an Australian naval commodore to help the Maltese people, according to the Sydney press today. The party was organised in as part of an appeal for funds to support air raid victims in Malta.

Launching the appeal, Commodore Muirhead-Gould told the press: ”Although Malta has not been set on fire because of its stone buildings, the casualties there from more than 640 raids have been heavier than might have been expected… More than 30000 people have had to evacuate their homes and are living in camps or underground caves. They need our assistance and the need is urgent and vital.”

The appeal is being organised by a committee of Australian naval officers who have happy memories of service in Malta. They intend to promote the campaign in Australia through the press, radio, films and printed circulars and hope to raise £10,000 for Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0210-0421 hrs  Air raid alert for six unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east. Four of them cross the coast at various points, and drop 15kg bombs on Iz-Zebbieh, Hal Far, Luqa, Ta Qali, Rabat and in the sea off St George’s Bay.  27 of the anti-personnel bombs are dropped close to the headquarters of 8th Bn Manchester Regiment at Ta Saliba.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire two barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Master Gunner Antonis Fiteni, Warrant Officer II, 4 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Operation to attack enemy A/S vessels in Lampedusa, but were forced to turn back owing to bad weather.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Bombay. Departures 9 Hurricane, 1 Blenheim, 2 Hudson, 2 Bombay, 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  New anti-aircraft guns for ground defences under occupation at Tal Handaq and Ghakba.

 

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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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16 June 1941: Major Supply Convoy Planned for Malta

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Malta's submarines need torpedoes

Malta’s submarines need torpedoes

STOCKS OF FOOD, FUEL AND AMMUNITION LOW

Plans are being drawn up for a major convoy for Malta. Stocks of food on the Island are now running low and as a result of prolonged air attacks, anti-aircraft shells and aviation fuel are nearly exhausted.  Mines and torpedoes for submarines are also needed.

Malta has been under siege for a year and with German forces now installed in Greece and Crete the problems of supplying the Island have increased. The evacuation of Crete also resulted in Allied ship losses, leaving the Mediterranean Fleet less equipped to provide protective escorts for supply convoys.  The Luftwaffe and Italian air force now have bases in Crete and Libya to launch attacks on eastern convoy routes from Alexandria, along with those in Sardinia and Sicily to attack western routes via Gibraltar.

Fully committed to the defence of Malta as a key Allied base in the Mediterranean, the British Government and military commanders are now fully committed to supplying the Island, whatever the risks. Security is a high priority in plans for the convoy, which it is hoped will be underway within a month. 

WELLINGTONS LOST

A Wellington bomber flying in from Gibraltar crashed within yards of Malta’s shores today. The Wellington, piloted by Sgt E Beattie, was heading in to land at Hal Far aerodrome when it developed difficulties and crashed into Kalafrana Bay.  The rescue launch rushed to the scene but none of the crew survived.  The Wellington was one of four due to arrive from Gibraltar today.  A second aircraft failed to arrive at Malta; the cause is as yet unknown.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JUNE TO DAWN 17 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0958-1005 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which approach to within 35 miles east of the Island, apparently in an attempt to intercept a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft. 11 Hurricanes are scrambled and the raiders turn back.

0250-0319 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly. The first turns west and drops bombs near Gozo, receding north.  The second raider approaches to within five miles of St Paul’s Bay, dropping bombs in the sea.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate the raiders and there are no engagements.

Military casualties Sergeant Evan B Beattie, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant John R Bolton, RAFVR; Sergeant Leslie B Butler, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, RAFVR; Pilot Officer Donald Cameron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunner Joseph Saliba, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Cyril R Sanders, Wireless.Operator, RAFVR.

Civilian casualties  Marsa  Louis Farrugia, age 42.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 16 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unique successful attack on 20000 ton merchant ship; two probable hits. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish in operations against Tripoli.  8 Swordfish attacked shipping in Lampedusa Harbour; turned back due to low cloud. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington (one landed in sea off Kalafrana and was lost). Departures 8 Hurricane, 1 Blenheim, 1 Hudson. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on reconnaissance.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (15kg).

 

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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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15 June 1941: Thousands in Malta Have No Air Raid Shelter

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WE MUST PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH SHELTERS, SAYS MALTA GOVERNOR

Over 50000 Maltese civilians currently have no access to an air raid shelter, according to reports out today. 5000 men are currently employed in the construction of some 400 public rock shelters, to add to the 473 currently in use.  Altogether these will offer shelter for 138000 people.  In addition 27000 are still using concrete shelters and 62700 using private shelters. 

Out of a civilian population of 270000 (without including the military garrison), this still leaves tens of thousands without any sort of shelter: over 12000 in Birkirkara alone. In Hamrun and Marsa half the population have no access to shelter; Qormi, Zejtun and Mosta are in a similar position and Rabat, Zebbug and Siggiewi not much better.  There have been several incidents of civilians turning up to their local shelter and being unable to enter, some suffering injury or being killed as a result:

The shelter in South St is 'choked with beds'

The shelter in South St is ‘choked with beds’

“I went from my house at Hamrun to the strong shelter in Zerafa Street, Marsa. There was no place for me within, and I had to stand on the stairs near the entrance without any rock to protect me…I was told afterwards that the other shelters in the vicinity…were also filled to the limit.” (1)

Those lucky enough to get inside a shelter face overcrowding and discomfort, according to the Malta press:

“Even when after a lot of trouble one manages to get a very small space in a shelter one has got to put up with a lot of inconvenience such as having to stand in a very crowded shelter for hours and hours, and having to bear the cries of children and put up even with free fights… The shelter at the bottom of South Street, Valletta, is absolutely choked with beds so that people with more consideration for others who have not brought a bed down with them find it very difficult to find a place to stand inside the shelter.”

Well aware of the situation, the Governor & Commander in Chief is becoming increasingly concerned about the delay in shelter provision, which is now largely due to a shortage of suitable manpower. He recently applied to the War Office for miners to be sent to Malta to help speed up all the underground works needed on the Island.  In another telegram today, he outlined the current situation and stressed the increasing urgency:

“The tempo of shelter construction has increased and about 5000 men are now employed in the work. The space of two square feet allotted to shelters provides standing room but it is not adequate for long periods in shelters especially during all-night raids…It will be necessary after the present programme is completed to extend space in shelters considerably.  This will be particularly important if we are subjected to a sustained series of raids or to prolonged bombardments…

We have no choice but to press on with the digging of shelters with the maximum force of miners available. Ever since the entry of Italy into the war, provision of shelters has been the question of greatest interest to the whole population, who have allowed [the Government] no rest in their constant suggestions of ways of speeding up construction.  The fact that casualties have been so exceedingly small is mainly due to the protection afforded by shelters…If we are to face a long period of bombing attacks we must provide the people not merely with cramped accommodation in shelters but with adequate room for maintenance of health and spirits during any periods of continuous all-night raids.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JUNE TO DAWN 16 JUNE 1941

Weather  Cloudy; rain overnight.

No air raids.

Civilian casualties Tarxien  Francis Abela, age 22.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 15 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Bombay, 2 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellingtons, 28 Hurricanes left for Middle East; 7 Hurricanes turned back after losing lead Wellington in cloud. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on reconnaissance.

HAL FAR  5 civilians injured by the explosion of a land-mine in Hal Far creek.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981

 

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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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14 June 1941: Malta Airfields Booby-Trapped Against Parachutists

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BOMB DISPOSAL OFFICER TO LAY EXPLOSIVES

Military commanders are conducting tests to booby-trap Malta’s airfields to prevent the landing of enemy aircraft and parachutists. The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer has been asked to put his knowledge of explosives to use in an experiment to assess the potential.  He is overseeing a team from 24 Fortress Company which is digging a series of camouflets in a quarry adjacent to Luqa aerodrome.  The camouflets will contain naval depth charges which would be primed once the alert is raised that an invasion is underway.  A test will be undertaken to assess the potential effectiveness of the booby-traps to defend the aerodrome.

HMS Victorious

HMS Victorious

HURRICANE REINFORCEMENTS FOR MIDDLE EAST LAND IN MALTA

43 Hurricane fighters landed in Malta today along with four Hudsons as part of ‘Operation Tracer’, the latest initiative to deliver reinforcements to the Mediterranean. Originally 48 aircraft were loaded aboard the new fleet aircraft carrier HMS Victorious which sailed under escort for Gibraltar on 31 May.  On arrival, 26 Hurricanes were transferred to HMS Ark Royal and 22 remained on Victorious.  Both vessels left harbour early yesterday, escorted by the battlecruiser Renown and seven destroyers. 

Four Hudsons few out from Gibraltar to meet the carriers at a rendezvous point to the south of the Balearic Islands. 47 of the Hurricanes successfully took off from their carrier in four formations, each led by one of the Hudsons.  One was observed turning away from its formation and heading towards North Africa, presumably suffering from engine trouble. 

The last formation to take off encountered navigational problems and as a result ran very short of fuel. One crashed in the sea before reaching the Island, with the loss of its pilot.  The fuel shortage caused two others difficulties on landing.  One managed to alight safely at Luqa, the second crashed in Wied ik Kbir, killing the pilot.

The Hurricanes were divided between the three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali. 21 of the Hurricanes were refuelled departed today for the Middle East.  Another 13 are expected to leave within days; the remaining nine will stay in Malta.       

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JUNE TO DAWN 15 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

1500 hrs  Orders are issued to infantry battalions to man all anti-aircraft positions as of 1600 hrs today until further notice.

2130 hrs  Anti-aircraft positions ordered to stand down.

0315 hrs  One Bombay crashes into the sea off Marsaxlokk with the loss of all crew.

Military casualties  Sergeant Robert MacPherson, pilot, RAF Volunteer Reserve, 260 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 14 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 43 Hurricane, 4 Hudson. Departures 1 Wellington, 1 Sunderland, 21 Hurricane.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands on reconnaissance.

HAL FAR  11 Hurricanes arrived at Hal Far from Gibraltar.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  24 Fortress Company began work in quarry at Luqa for trial of naval Depth Charges for mining all aerodromes as protection against parachute landings.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Defence scheme for Luqa aerodrome issued; 100% manning of anti-aircraft guns ordered. Bn mounted guard duty over a crashed aircraft in Wied il Kbir. 

 

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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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13 June 1941: BBC Puts on Programme for Malta Troops

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BBC microphone picDEDICATED MESSAGE BROADCAST TO AID MORALE

The BBC is to introduce a special weekly message programme on its Empire Services network for troops serving in Malta. According to the War Office, the 20 minute programme will start next Wednesday 18 June at 7pm local time.  The BBC is expected to make an announcement on the Empire News shortly.  Malta’s Commander in Chief Lt Gen Dobbie has warmly welcomed the news.

11 ENEMY AIRCRAFT SHOT DOWN IN 24 HOURS

A total of 11 enemy aircraft were shot down by Malta’s defenders yesterday, it has been confirmed. Most of the engagements took place out across the sea in the direction of Sicily and the local alarm was not sounded.

Searches continued today for survivors of yesterday’s air battles. Fleet Air Arm Fulmars and power boats searched for pilot P/O R H Munro who has been missing since his Hurricane went down during a dogfight yesterday morning.  Wreckage of two aircraft was seen floating on the surface but there was no trace of the missing pilot.  Meanwhile enemy aircraft carried out searches throughout the day between Malta and Sicily for missing Italian airmen.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JUNE TO DAWN 14 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Midshipman John Collis Creasey, RNR, HMS Jade.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 13 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 4 Marylands on reconnaissance.

ARMY HQ Northern Infantry Brigade  A training exercise was held to test the defences of Imtarfa Hospital.

 

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Posted by on June 13, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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12 June 1941: Enemy Fire on Rescue Missions Kills Naval Officer

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A Cant rescue flying boat was also attacked

A Cant rescue flying boat was also attacked

JADE ATTACKED DURING SEA RESCUE

Royal Navy trawler HMS Jade was attacked by two E boats in the early hours of the morning while she was on a mission to rescue a missing RAF pilot. Jade was sent out from Malta to search for Hurricane pilot P/O R Munro, whose aircraft crashed into the sea during a dogfight with Italian Macchi 200 raiders this morning.  She was 17 miles off the Sicilian coast when she encountered the E boats which both immediately fired torpedoes which just missed the trawler. Jade’s guns opened fire and a fierce gun battle followed with the E boats at close range, during which one of Jade’s crew was killed.  The trawler returned fire, constantly raking the E boats with machine-guns and damaging both, one seriously. The missing pilot was not found.

The encounter follows an incident earlier today when Hurricanes sent to intercept an enemy formation reported as approaching Malta fired on a red cross flying boat before seeing its identification markings. Once the pilots realised the situation they withdrew but the Cant aircraft was already ablaze and ditched in the sea. 

TROOPS PREPARE PLANS TO RECAPTURE TA QALI

New plans have been put in place recapture of Ta Qali should it fall into enemy hands following an enemy invasion. Malta’s Northern Infantry Brigade is responsible for the area and has issued orders to 4th Bn the Buffs for immediate action to recapture the aerodrome, the retention of which is vital for the defeat of any incursion.

Two areas of high ground overlooking the airfield are identified as key to its. Tal Virtu is marked out as the best strategic point from which to recapture these bluffs.  In the event of an enemy take-over, 4th Bn The Buffs are instructed to assemble in positions around Tal Virtu, with one platoon in Mdina, posted on the roof of a building or buildings from which fire can be brought to bear on any parachutists descending on the town itself.  The chief entrances to Mdina will be blocked, with the exception of the main gate which will be defended by infantry personnel.

REINFORCEMENTS AND SUPPLIES ARRIVE

HM Submarine Rorqual arrived in Malta today from Alexandria with urgent reinforcements and supplies. Three officers and 21 other ranks disembarked. Also unloaded were two tons of medical stores, 62 tons of aviation fuel (enough for 3 days) and 45 tons of kerosene.  147 bags of mail were also delivered.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 JUNE TO DAWN 13 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0925-0956 hrs Air raid alert for an enemy aircraft on reconnaissance over Grand Harbour, escorted by Macchi 200 fighters, which passes over Luqa and Hal Far before leaving to the south west. The raiders are heavily engaged by anti-aircraft fire which splits the formation. 18 Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage and shoot down five enemy fighters into the sea.  Two Hurricanes also crash into the sea; P/O R Saunders is rescued, badly wounded.  The second, P/O R Munro, does not survive.  A third Hurricane is damaged on landing.

Noon  A formation of enemy aircraft is reported approaching the Island.  Hurricanes of 46 Squadron are scrambled and intercept.  They fire at a Cant flying boat before seeing that it is marked with red crosses, and evidently searching for casualties.  The Hurricanes immediately turn away but the flying boat catches fire and the crew bale out as it dives towards the sea.  In the ensuing dogfight four enemy fighters are confirmed destroyed.  One Hurricane crashes into the sea; the pilot Sgt N Walker is rescued. 

Evening  Another flying boat approaches the Island and is attacked and shot down by Hurricanes.

0220 hrs  While searching for the Hurricane pilot missing after this morning’s raid, HMS Jade is attacked by two E boats 17 miles south of Cape Passero, Sicily.  Both E boats fire torpedoes which miss Jade; a spirited encounter ensues at close range; one of Jade’s crew is killed by machine-gunfire. Jade returns fire, constantly raking the E boats with machine-guns and damaging both, one seriously.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Roich H McKenzie Munro, pilot, RAF, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Mary Barberi, age 74.

Enemy casualties  Sottotenente Vittorio Bertoccini, pilot of CR 42 fighter, 74a Squadriglia, 23o Gruppo Autonomo.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 12 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish despatched to attack Tripoli Harbour and quays. Two returned with engine trouble; the remaining four dropped 2000lbs of high explosive bombs and 100lbs of incendiaries over Spanish Quay and buildings, starting several fires.  

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 4 Marylands on reconnaissance.  One Sunderland en route to Malta from the Middle East attacked an Italian submarine 240 miles off Malta; the submarine crash-dived.

HAL FAR  One Fulmar force-landed in the sea; crew picked up safely and returned to Hal Far.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Vigorous training by parachutist-fighting platoons.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (50kg).

 

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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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11 June 1941: One Year On Malta Defenders Destroy 215th Raider

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MALTA HAS HIT BACK

In the year since Italy has entered the war, Malta defences including fighter planes and anti-aircraft guns have brought down 155 enemy planes and 60 others badly damaged.

MAIL COULD BE DELAYED IN FAVOUR OF SUPPLIES FOR MALTA

Mail for Malta from the UK may have to be delayed if the Island is to receive urgently needed stores, the War Office warned the Governor & C in C today.  Following severe delays in mail deliveries at the end of last year, a new system has been operating by which most first class postal matter and all postcards have been despatched to Malta direct by Wellington service aircraft.  However, the recent urgent need for special supplies to the Island can only be met using the same aircraft capacity.  As a result, Lt Gen Dobbie will have to decide whether such deliveries must take precedence over the mail.  However, any decision will have to take account of the fact that the total allowed on Welllingtons from Gibraltar to Malta and the Middle East is limited to 100lbs per aircraft.

HMS Unique

HMS Unique

SUBMARINES AND SWORDFISH LAUNCH ATTACKS FROM MALTA

Report to the British War Cabinet to 8th June

On 3rd June HM Submarine Unique sank a laden 1000 ton merchant vessel in Lampedusa Harbour.  Early on the morning of 28th May a party from Upright carried out a landing four miles south-est of Punto Stilo Light, Calabria, and blew up the railway line.

On the night 7-8th June, seven Swordfish of the Feet Air Arm, operating from Malta, laid mines in Tripoli Harbour; as a diversion a bombing attack was also carried out, as a result of which several large fires were started at the west end of the harbour.  On the following night, Swordfish dropped flame floats, as it was thought the harbour might be covered with inflammable oil as a result of the sinking of MV Barmania, but no fires resulted; bombs were also dropped and a merchant vessel was fired.

Successful reconnaissances over the Ionian Sea and off the Eastern Tunisian Coast were carried out by Marylands from Malta. There are indications that the German air forces in Sicily have been drastically reduced. 

The enemy carried out a series of small night raids on Malta and some damage was caused to Luqa aerodrome; Ta Qali and Hal Far were also attacked by day. On the night 5-6th June, a HE 111 was held by searchlights and probably destroyed by a Hurricane; on another night two BR 20s were shot down into the sea.  Four Hurricanes intercepted four SM 79s fifty miles south of Malta, two of which they destroyed and badly damaged the others.  Another SM 79 with an escort of ME 109s attempted a reconnaissance of the Island and was also shot down into the sea 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JUNE TO DAWN 12 JUNE 1941

Weather  Strong winds.

0620 hrs  Air movement monitoring picked up two enemy aircraft patrolling four miles to the south of Malta. Hurricanes are scrambled and attempt to intercept; no claims.

0845-0930 hrs Air raid alert for an Italian SM 79 bomber on reconnaissance, escorted by ten ME 109 fighters approaching the Island from the north, then turning to cross the coast over Kalafrana towards Hal Far. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage heavily, breaking up the formation.  The ME 109s sheer off northwards and take no further part in combat.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the SM 79 bomber to the east of Filfla.  In the engagement, one Hurricane and the SM 79 crash into the sea close to one another off Benghaisa.  An extensive search recovers only one body, that of the Italian airman.  Pilot F/Lt Burnett of 46 Squadron is missing.

1407-1420 hrs; 1436-1453 hrs; 1540-1612 hrs; 1623-1640 hrs  Air raid alerts triggered by a total of 22 enemy aircraft in five formations patrolling 30 miles north of the Islands. Hurricanes are scrambled on each occasion and the raiders turn back before engaging or reaching the Island.

0200-0230 hrs  Air raid alert for three unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east to Zonqor Point. Two raiders cross the coast.  20 bombs are dropped off St Thomas’ Bay, in the sea two miles east of Kalafrana and also to the north west of Anchor Bay.  Nine red Very lights are seen fired from the sea east of Delimara Point.

0319-0338 hrs  Air raid alert for a single unidentified enemy aircraft which approaches from the north east and crosses the coast over St Paul’s Bay, dropping bombs between Ta Qali and Mosta, as well as eight east of Valletta.

0352-0410 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but turns back before reaching the coast.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Norman Whitmore Burnett, pilot, Royal Air Force, 46 Squadron; Squadron Leader Michael L Watson, Royal Air Force, 82 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  General Haining and party passed through Malta. Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Beaufighter, 1 Sunderland, 1 Cunliffe Owen Flying Wing.  69 Squadron  4 Marylands on reconnaissance.  1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance of Gerbini aerodrome, revealing 12 ME 109s and 3 SM 79s; also Catania aerodrome, identifying 20 twin-engined aircraft and 10 Italian fighters. 82 Squadron 2 Blenheims attack convoy; 1 shot down.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A demonstration was given on the use of Italian hand grenades.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A practical demonstration at Ghain Tuffieha of Italian grenades revealed them to be a poor weapon.   

 

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Posted by on June 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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