7 August 1941: Axis Fighter Numbers in Sicily Back to Full Strength

07 Aug

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HMS Cachalot

HMS Cachalot

The fate of the crew of HMS Cachalot was confirmed today in a report to the War Cabinet in London.  The submarine was rammed on 1 July by an Italian torpedo boat as she was returning to Alexandria from ‘club run’ to deliver urgent supplies to Malta.  According to unconfirmed Italian reports, HMS Cachalot was sunk and her crew taken the crew prisoner.

The War Cabinet also heard how attacks from Malta continue to have an impact on Axis shipping and military installations on both sides of the Mediterranean:

“HM Submarines Upholder and Utmost each sank a large enemy merchant vessel in the central Mediterranean. HM Submarines Utmost and Unique made successful forays on railway communications in southern Italy. 

Blenheims and Beaufighters from Malta continued their offensive against enemy shipping and aerodromes. A ship of about 8000 tons inTripoli harbour received a hit which was followed by a violent explosion, and a ship of about 5000 tons alongside was set on fire.  During this attack two hits were made on a building believed to be Air Headquarters.  Two ships in Lampedusa harbour were also hit, and a schooner of 800 tons was sunk off Misurata.  A convoy consisting of six merchant ships and six destroyers was attacked off Lampedusa by seven Navy Swordfish from Malta.  Two ships (8000 and 6000 tons) were sunk and, on the following morning, 8 Blenheims hit two similary ships, probably sinking one and severely damaging the other.  It is possible that a destroyer was also damaged.

Beaufighters attack

Beaufighters attack

Beaufighters attacked the aerodromes at Borizzo, Sicily and Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy, destroying two bombers and about ten fighters, and damaging many others. Navy Swordfish obtained ten direct hits on the submarine base at Augusta, Sicily, on the night of 5-6 August.  Large fires were caused on the submarine jetty.  Malta reconnaissance aircraft have maintained a constant watch on enemy shipping and aerodromes, and in the course of their patrols have bombed Messina, where a cruiser was narrowly missed, and machine-gunned enemy bombers at Zuara, destroying one and severely damaging at least three others.

The enemy have shown no inclination to approach Malta by day, but four night attacks were made, though no serious damage resulted. On the night of 5-6 August three of the ten raiders were destroyed by Hurricanes and on the following night when three aircraft approached the island one of them was shot down.”


Weather  Squally.

AM  Enemy rescue aircraft with fighter escort carry out several searches between Sicily and Malta. Hurricane fighters remain on patrol throughout.

1113-1128 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by enemy rescue search as above. Patrol withdraws without approaching the coast.

2322-0012 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching from the north. One crosses the coast alone, the other two together.  250 kg high explosive bombs are dropped on Naxxar, Salina, Zonqor Point and Gudja.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate the raiders and there are no engagements.


AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 6 Wellington. Departures 3 Beaufighter. 69 Squadron Photo-reconnaissance of Comiso reveals that the number of fighters has returned to its previous high of 53.  Photo-reconnaissance Comiso, San Giovanni, Reggio, Tripoli.  Reconnaissance of Homs, Misurata, Lampedusa. 105 Squadron 8 Blenheims sent to attack convoy scored direct hits; one aircraft damaged but all returned safely. 38 Squadron  6 Wellingtons successfully attacked Tripoli damaging harbour facilities and causing fires.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Two shifts of 100 men each on working parties unloading convoy ships during the night.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion providing working parties day and night for unloading of convoy ships.


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Posted by on August 7, 2016 in 1941, August 1941


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