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COSPICUA VOLUNTEERS EXCEED EXPECTATIONS
Malta Defence Volunteers have been praised by their ‘parent’ British regiment today for their excellence and enthusiastic approach to their work. The Volunteer Force in the Cospicua area were put through their paces by 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment in a series of competitions, including ‘best road block’ and ‘best defended village’.
The Cospicua volunteers were judged to have put up a very good performance. According to a senior officer of 1st Bn Cheshires, “they were most keen and seemed to know their job”. The results are especially remarkable considering the Cospicua units have had only two weeks’ training compared to 18 months for most villages.
WAR CABINET REVIEWS WEEK 7-14 AUG
Wellingtons operating from Malta made six successful night attacks on Tripoli, during which they dropped 42 tons of high explosive bombs and over seven tons of incendiaries. Many large fires were reported in the town and near the power station; a direct hit on the power station during one air raid caused a big explosion which was visible from a very long distance. Government offices, the Governor’s Palace and a heavy anti-aircraft position were among other objectives hit. A railway station was destroyed and military transport vehicles on the Benghazi road were attacked with machine-gun fire.
During daylight on 9 August, six Blenheims made many direct hits on blockhouses and barracks at Misurata, and on ammunition and supply dumps at Beurat; these targets were either completely destroyed or blown up. Several lorries attacked on the main road were destroyed or overturned. Malta’s effective attacks on Sicilian air bases may have obliged the Italians to strengthen their fighter defences in that theatre. On 8 August, four Blenheims despatched to attack shipping in Catania harbour were met by a patrol of 30 CR 42 fighters and were obliged to abandon their task.
Naval aircraft, operating under the Air Officer Commanding, Malta, attacked Augusta on 9 August and hit the gasometer. On the night of 10-11 August, these aircraft hit the 13000 ton merchant vessel California at Syracuse with two torpedoes, as a result of which she sank in the harbour. Another night attack by Swordfish was made on the submarine base at Augusta, resulting in a large fire on a quay; other aircraft caused a big fire in the barracks at Syracuse. Blenheims attacked and hit a French collier of 700 tons off Lampedusa, which is believed to have sunk.
On 11 August, three Blenheims attacked a chemical works at Cotrone (95 miles south of Taranto); direct hits were made on tanks and containers, and the target was left in a mass of flames. Three other Blenheims destroyed buildings at Cariati, 30 miles north of Cotrone.
Small formations of Italian long-range bombers operated over Malta on two nights during the week. On 11-12 August, nine aircraft were reported, two of which were shot down into the sea by Hurricane night fighters.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 AUGUST TO DAWN 15 AUGUST 1941
Weather Sunny and hot.
1720-1746 hrs Air raid alert for a small enemy fighter patrol off the north of the Island. Twelve Malta fighters are scrambled but the raiders flee before they can be intercepted.
0239-0326 hrs Air raid alert for five JU 87 and BR 20 aircraft approaching from the north east. A formation of JU 87s crosses the coast from Salina Bay over Ta Qali and recedes northwards. Four 500kg high explosive bombs are dropped near Tal Balal crossroads. The second group of bombers crosses the coast over Zonqor, dropping incendiary bombs near Zebbug. The raiders then head south to Delimara, where anti-aircraft guns open fire and they recede north east, dropping bombs in the sea.
OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 14 AUGUST 1941
AIR HQ Departures 1 Beaufighter, 3 Blenheim, 5 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols of Tunisian coast and Ionian Sea. Photoreconnaissance Tripoli, Catania and Augusta. 38 Squadron 4 Wellingtons two sorties against shipping in Catania scored several hits on merchant vessels and harbour. 105 Squadron 4 Blenheims searched for convoy.
HAL FAR 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 9 Swordfish made a very successful attack on a convoy of five merchant ships and five destroyers. Two merchant ships were torpedoed. One Fulmar patrolled over Catania and Gerbini, dropping bombs on Gerbini. A second Fulmar patrolled over Palermo and Trapani, dropping one high explosive bomb and one flash bomb on the aerodrome.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1515 hrs The Regimental Dance Band made its debut over the Rediffusion service.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.
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