23 August 1941: Malta’s Offensive Role in Mediterranean Exposed

23 Aug

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Sir Archibald Sinclair

Sir Archibald Sinclair


An exchange of telegrams today between the British Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, and Air Marshal H P Lloyd, Air Officer Commanding, RAF Mediterranean, acknowledges for the first time [openly] that Malta is not merely a fighter base but is being used for bombing operations. Hitherto, it has been generally understood that Malta, apart from being a Fleet Air Arm base, possessed only defensive aircraft.

The Secretary of State wrote:

“Heartiest congratulations to you and all ranks of squadrons operating under your command on the magnificent success of air operations from Malta. The brilliant defence of the Island by Hurricanes, the audacious attacks of Beaufighters on enemy air bases, the steady and deadly slogging of the Wellingtons at the enemy’s ports; the daring and dexterous reconnaissances of the Marylands, culminating in the tremendous onslaughts of Blenheims and Fleet Air Arm Swordfish on Axis shipping in the Mediterranean are watched with immense admiration by you comrades in the RAF and by our fellow-countrymen at home.  You are draining the enemy’s strength in the Mediterranean.  Good luck to you and good hunting.”

Showing continued caution, Malta Air Chief Air Marshal Lloyd replied in less explicit terms: “The hunting is certainly good and hounds are in excellent fettle.”


Weather  Sunny and hot.

2354-0020 hrs  Raid no 824  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach separately from the north. The first crosses the coast north east of Grand Harbour and large numbers of incendiary bombs on Corrodino.  The second drops incendiaries north east of Ta Silch, on Safi and on St George’s Barracks as well as in the sea.  A line of fires extends from Grand Harbour to Luqa aerodrome but they quickly burn out.  Five small incendiaries fall within Dockyard area; the resulting small fires are quickly extinguished and there is no appreciable damage. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate the raiders and there are no engagements.


ROYAL NAVY  Unique returned from patrol northwest of Tripoli, having sunk 14,000 ton Esperia.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron Maryland patrols south of Pantellaria and around Lampedusa. 38 Squadron 10 Wellingtons sent in three waves to attack the north west of Tripoli, causing several fires. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims sent to attack a convoy scoring hits on ships scores hits on several smaller vessels.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish took off to attack a merchant ship off the Tunisian coast but all aircraft overheated and developed engine trouble and returned to base.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 9.


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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in 1941, August 1941


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