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Work on providing adequate air raid shelters for Malta’s population is weeks behind schedule. In a telegram today to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief outlines the present level of shelter provision and the challenges preventing their rapid completion:
“The estimated date by which each person in Malta would be provided with two square feet of rock shelter [can now] only be tentative. The position now is that only 1516 out of 76599 persons in the Public Works area are not covered by Government rock shelters, while the whole population of that area is already covered, if Government concrete and private rock and concrete shelters are taken into account. In the area under the Supervisor of Shelter Construction, 54631 persons still require accommodation in Government rock shelters, but only 11571 persons have no cover, taking into account all forms of shelters. The population of this area is 167366.
It is now essential that two square feet per person for the whole population in the Public Works Department area will be attained by the end of September and in the Supervisor of Shelter Construction’s area by the end of November.
Failure to obtain this result in June and August as previously estimated is due partly to exceptionally hard rock being encountered in certain areas and partly to the transfer of miners to services mentioned in my telegram of 30 August. Moreover, experience in actual raids showed the necessity for at least three entrances cum exits to each shelter, owing to the danger of such entrances and exits being blocked by direct hits or debris. It was therefore considered advisable to provide additional exits and entrances simultaneously with the work of constructing shelters, and not to wait until each shelter was finished.
Progress made is rather disappointing but the whole system of control of the labour force is now under review and I will report results later. The revised estimate of the dates of completion of the two square foot programme does not affect previous financial estimates of expenditure to the end of December.
Work in Gozo is proceeding satisfactorily. 107 shelters are already in hand out of the total of 140 which will be required.”
AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER 1941
Weather Rain mid-day.
0123-0130 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber which approaches the Island and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara Point. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.
Military casualties Sergeant Peter F Bold, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) 38 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Walter F P Brown, RAF, 38 Squadron; Sergeant William J Poole RAFVR, 38 Squadron; Sergeant James C Sheridan, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Robert H Toshack, Royal Canadian Air Force, 38 Squadron.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 1941
AIR HQ Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Catalina, 5 Maryland. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. One Wellington failed to return. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands reconnaissance Kerkennah, Kelibia and special mission. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked transport on Misurata road. S/Ldr Warren failed to return.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT A Training Exercise Without Troops for officers and warrant officers was held in the Rabat area on the subject of ‘Reconnaissance and taking up of machine-gun positions in defence’.
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