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ROYAL NAVY MONTHLY REVIEWS SEPTEMBER 1941
Between June and the end of September, submarines have sunk a total of 49 enemy ships – an overall 150,000 tons – in the Mediterranean. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF this represented a high proportion of Axis shipping bound for Libya.
12 patrols were carried out during the month by submarines of 10th Flotilla. In addition, Triumph proceeded to a successful patrol in the Adriatic, Perseus to an area off Kefalonia, and Otus and Osiris direct to Alexandria.
Unbeaten carried out a spirited bombardment of a tunnel which caused consternation to the local home guard, and Upright sank a destroyer of the Generale class. The most successful operation was against a fast convoy east of Tripoli, during which Upholder scored one hit on each of Oceania and Neptunia in a night attack and after reloading returned to sink one of them with two torpedoes at dawn. The other ship’s fate is unknown. The Vulcania of the same convoy was intercepted by Ursula which scored one hit on the ship causing it to list slightly and reduce speed.
No bombs were reported as having fallen on the Dockyard or other Naval establishments. No unexploded bombs were dealt with by the Royal Navy during the month.
AIR HQ REPORTS A TOTAL OF 233 TONS OF BOMBS ON TRIPOLI THIS MONTH
During the month sweeps over enemy territory by Malta fighters, some equipped to carry 40lb bombs, were added to the strategy.
Marylands and photoreconnaissance Hurricanes of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes daily as well as making frequent reconnaissances of Sicilian and southern Calabrian ports and aerodromes, and of Tripoli. Naples has also been visited. The excellent photographs, visual and sighting reports obtained have indirectly been responsible for the increased pressure of offensive effort from Malta during the month.
Offensive Operations: Wellingtons of 38 Squadron carried out 26 operations during September, with an average of eight aircraft on each sortie. Over 233 tons of bombs have been dropped on Tripoli during 17 raids, causing considerable damage to harbour installations and the town. Palermo has been attacked five times, Messina twice, Benhazi and Kuriat once each.
Blenheims of 105 and 107 Squadrons carried out 31 operations, 20 of these directed against enemy shipping. Considerable damage was done to the chemical works and harbour installations at Crotone, factories at Licata, transport centres at Homs, barracks at Misurata and a power station at Porto Empedocle. Five sweeps have been made along the Tripoli-Benghazi road during which petrol tankers and other transport vehicles have been bombed and machine-gunned.
Hurricanes (equipped with cannon) of 249 Squadron attacked the railway station at Pozallo, while those of 185 Squadron have carried out three bombing raids on Comiso aerodrome. On one of these raids a Hurricane was lost but the pilot was subsequently rescued.
Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm carried out 16 operations, 13 of these against enemy shipping, and have sunk two motor vessels and one destroyer, as well as damaging others. Mines have been laid on two occasions in Tripoli Harbour and once at Palermo. As a result of torpedo attacks two merchant ships are claimed sunk, one destroyer and three merchantmen probably sunk, seven damaged and a further five probably damaged.
Beaufighters of 272 Squadron were attached to this command during ‘Operation Halberd’ and were used to attack Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes. Searches were also made south of Sicily for torpedo boats.
On 14 nights Fulmars have operated over aerodromes in southern Sicily, dropping small bombs and machine-gunning aircraft on the ground. One Fulmar force-landed in the sea; the crew were rescued.
Defensive Action: 126 Squadron carried out 31 scrambles during the month, 249 Squadron 22 and 185 Squadron 66. The Malta Night Fighter Unit had 22 scrambles and shot down two enemy aircraft. Eleven enemy aircraft were confirmed destroyed, plus one probable and five damaged, against the loss of two Hurricanes.
Enemy Activity: There have been nine day alerts and 20 night alerts during the month. None of these raids was heavy and bombs have only been dropped at night. Damage has been negligible and confined to civilian property.
HURRICANES ATTACKED AS THEY SEARCH FOR MISSING PILOT
Malta fighters were attacked tonight by five enemy aircraft as they helped search for one of their own Hurricane pilots reported missing after a raid. Eleven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron had earlier attacked Comiso aerodrome but as they returned to their base at Hal Far they learned that one of their pilots, P/O Donald Lintern, was missing. Five Hurricanes took off again to escort a Fulmar which was sent to search for the missing pilot. As they circled the area to the north of Gozo, enemy aircraft approached and attacked the Malta fighters. In the ensuing dogfight one of the enemy fighters was shot down. P/O Lintern was not been found and the search was eventually called off.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 1 OCTOBER 1941
Weather Fine and fresh.
No air raids.
Military casualties Sergeant Robert L Kitch, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 200 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald W Lintern, RAFVR, 185 Squadron.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 1941
AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington. Departures 6 Beaufighter, 4 Blenheim fighter. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar on offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania aerodromes dropped high explosive bombs on Gerbini dispersal area. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked a motor transport depot in Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance eastern and southern Sicily, east Calabrian coast and Tripoli. Patrol of east Sicilian coast and shipping search off Tripoli area. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked shipping and motor transport near Misurata and Beurat. 1 Blenheim attacked a schooner. 1 Blenheim on search for shipping north of Crotone.
HAL FAR 185 Squadron 11 Hurricanes attacked Comiso aerodrome, 5 carrying bombs and 6 acting as fighter escort. High explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on buildings and a dispersal area. The aircraft of P/O Lintern failed to return.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT Mobile machine-gun company carried out an exercise to the north west of Rabat.
2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT Strengths 33 officers, 870 other ranks.
2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT Strengths 21 officers, 443 other ranks.
3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT Strengths 18 officers, 708 other ranks. Recruits joined in September: 77.
ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Strengths 18 officers, 8 WO1, 214 other ranks.
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