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Monthly Archives: October 2016

31 October 1941: Enemy Attacks Over Malta Show ‘Marked Increase’

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Malta submarine base HMS Talbot

Malta submarine base HMS Talbot

AIR RAID ALERTS ‘NUMEROUS’ IN OCTOBER SAYS INFANTRY CHIEFS’ REPORT

In October enemy air activity showed a marked increase over recent months. Air raid alerts were numerous but the enemy still showed reluctance to cross the coast and come within range of the fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft defences. 

As in the previous month the enemy dropped many bombs in the sea and on remote areas of the Island but a few raiders showed more initiative. Machine-gun attacks were made on aerodromes and on 14 October enemy aircraft were engaged by machine guns manned by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment, who claimed hits and damage to one Macchi fighter. 

The enemy had their main bombing success on 25 October when a Government fuel dump was set on fire by a lucky hit. Nevertheless in view of the number of raids damage to property and persons was remarkably small.

NEW FAA SQUADRON LACKS TRAINING SAYS ROYAL NAVY REPORT

During October fourteen patrols were carried out by submarines of the Tenth Flotilla and seven by submarines of the First Flotilla sailing from Malta. During these patrols, twelve ships were sunk and a further four damaged.  Of these, the five sunk by the Tenth Flotilla totalled approximately 12,000 tons and the two damaged 10,800 tons. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm made fifteen sorties as a result of which eight merchant ships totalling 48,000 tons are claimed as sunk and five merchant ships totalling 34,000 tons are claimed as damaged. 

828 Squadron, consisting of eleven Albacores, was sent from England to reinforce 830 Squadron. Unfortunately, owing to their lack of training in night flying and particularly night torpedo dropping, they are as yet of no value in this respect.  828 Squadron carried out two bombing raids which were in the nature of night flying training.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1941

Weather  Fair.

0132-0229 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers, three of which cross the coast and drop 250kg and 500kg high explosives and hundreds of small bombs on Manoel Island, Pieta Creek and Valletta. Two Hurricanes are airborne at 14000 feet.  One raider is spotted at 11000 feet and illuminated by searchlights.  Hurricane pilot Sgt Mackie dives onto it and delivers two attacks from 50 yards’ range: one from astern, the second from astern and below.   One of the bomber’s crew bales out, possibly the rear gunner as there is no return fire.  The bomber bursts into flames.  The second Hurricane pursues the other two raiders back towards Sicily but is unable to intercept.

0304-0427 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy BR 20 bombers, one of which crosses the coast and drops hundreds of small bombs in the area of the Castille in Valletta. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 31 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Catalina, 1 Cathay, 5 Wellington. S/D Flight 1 Wellington search for convoy. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata.  40 Squadron  5 Wellingtons attacked Naples and Palermo. 104 Squadron 4 Wellingtons attacked a convoy.  9 Wellingtons attacked Naples and Palermo. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata. 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Albacores attacked a railway junction at Canicatti and sulphur factories at Licata, starting fires in both locations.

TA QALI 15 officers and 247 airmen of 40 Squadron arrived from Luqa. Officers accommodated at Xara Palace, Rabat.  7 Marylands and 3 Hurricanes arrived with 69 Squadron.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths officers 33, other ranks 867.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 19 officers, 733 other ranks. Recruits joined during October: 31.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Companies have been issued with new types of grenades no’s 68, 69 and 73.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 27 officers, 9 WO1, 216 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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30 October 1941: No Axis Convoys Seen in Mediterranean For a Week

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REPEATED RECONNAISSANCE FROM MALTA HAS DETECTED NO CONVOY ACTIVITY

British War Cabinet Report for week 23-30 October

HMS Urge

HMS Urge

The British SS City of Lincoln and SS Dunedin Star have arrived at Gibraltar from Malta after having been unsuccessfully attacked on three occasions by enemy aircraft, two of which were probably damaged.  Air reconnaissance has failed to locate the SS Empire Guillemot; she may have been sunk off the Algerian coast.   HM Submarine Urge has reported that she torpedoed two ships off Kuriat Island on the coast of Tunis.

Blenheims from Malta made a number of daylight attacks on objectives in Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Although reconnaissance and sweeps were flown in search of shipping, no convoys were located and there were no reports of the successful attacks which have been a feature of our operations in the central Mediterranean in the past.  Night attacks were made on Naples and Tripoli. 

On two days a total of 16 Blenheims, after an unsuccessful search for shipping in the Gulf of Taranto, attacked targets in southern Italy. A goods train at Cotrone was destroyed, and hits were seen on the railway line and several bridges.  At Cantanzaro factory buildings, sidings and a pumping station were hit, resulting in a large fire accompanied by dense clouds of black smoke, probably from burning oil.  Bombs also fell on factories at Locari and Siderno, where the gas works were hit and a large fire broke out.  Five Blenheims bombed Licta, Sicily, and all bombs were seen to burst in the target area.  Six Hurricanes also attacked a factory and railway sidings at Ragusa.  Two night attacks were made on Naples by a small force of Wellingtons but weather was bad and no results were observed.

Twenty Blenheim sorties were flown over the African coast. The principal objectives were Misurata, the coast road and an enemy camp.  Accurate observation of results was generally impossible, but a building at Buerat was seen to be demolished and two fighters were damaged on the ground at Zuara.

Tripoli was attacked on five nights of the week by a total of 36 Wellingtons. Several sustained attacks were made, lasting on one occasion for five hours and on another for eight.  Hits were seen on the moles, seaplane station and on the railway yards, where there was a large explosion and fires broke out. 

Government and civilian property in Malta was slightly damaged during a night attack by four Italian aircraft. A daylight raid by four bombers, preceded by 27 fighters, resulted in a fuel dump being set on fire and other minor damage.  One enemy fighter was destroyed and a bomber and a fighter severely damaged; one Hurricane was lost.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Cloudy and overcast.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Blenheim, 1 Catalina, 5 Wellington. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland special search.  Photoreconnaissance Reggio Calabria aerodrome and Tripoli. 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 3 Albacores attacked the railway junction at Conicalli, with bombs.  One failed to locate the target and dropped a bomb on main road east of Palermo.  4 Albacores dropped bombs on the sulphur factory at Licata with good results.

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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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29 October 1941: Malta Supply Ship Empire Guillemot Sunk

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  • 18 Wellingtons attacked marshalling yards at Tripoli.
  • 8 Blenheims attacked targets along the Calabrian coast.
De Havilland Flamingo

De Havilland Flamingo

ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS SINKING OF ‘LARGE ENEMY SUPPLY SHIP’

An Italian radio report today appears to confirm the sinking of the supply ship Empire Guillemot.  The vessel was feared lost failed to reach her rendezvous point last Friday, two days after she left Malta.  According to Italian radio, “torpedo aircraft operating south of Malta have sunk a large enemy supply ship”.  The Italians claim that the 5600 ton Empire Guillemot was spotted off La Galita Island near Cape Bon by one of their sloops.  Bombers were alerted to the merchant ship’s position, attacked and sank her.  According to the radio report, there were initially 35 survivors but two have since died. 

DOG NUISANCE

Troops have been warned that the large number of dogs now being kept in some barracks and billets is becoming a nuisance. Their presence is considered undesirable on hygienic grounds.  There have also been reported cases of dogs being hostile and causing annoyance. 

In issuing their warning today, military chiefs have made it clear that there is no wish to deprive troops unnecessarily of the companionship of dogs. However, commanding officers are reminded that under King’s Regulations their number must be limited, they must be healthy and kept under proper control.  They are also instructed to ensure that dogs are not left behind when units move, which causes suffering to the animals and makes for unhealthy conditions in the vacated quarters.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fair.

0152-0230 hrs  Air raid alert for two unidentified enemy bombers approaching from the north. One aircraft turns back 15 miles from the Island.  The second approaches Kalafrana, crosses the coast and turns south, turns again and recedes north-eastwards without dropping any bombs.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there is no interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Blenheim, 1 Cathay, 1 Flamingo, 1 Heinkel, 4 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked targets along the Calabrian coast. 40 Squadron 6 Wellingtons attacked marshalling yards in Tripoli. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissance Catania. 104 Squadron 12 Wellingtons attacked marshalling yards in Tripoli. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked targets at Soverato.  2 Blenheims attacked targets along the Calabrian coast.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Some Naval officers were put through practises of all automatic weapons, including the ‘Tommy’ gun.

 

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Posted by on October 29, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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28 October 1941: Malta University Opens Lectures to Servicemen

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  • Four Flying Fortresses land in Malta
  • Submarine Ursula ‘spirited’ attack on the Calabrian coast
  • Submarine Urge sinks one Axis ship, breaks back of second
Flying Fortress

Flying Fortress

FEE REDUCTIONS FOR THOSE IN NEED

The Rector of the University of Malta has intimated that he will be only too pleased to grant permission to Army personnel to attend any lectures which, on the examination of the candidate’s qualifications, will be considered to be of use to them. Subjects offered include Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, Architecture, Medicine and Law. 

Fees will be £3 3s 0d per subject for one year’s attendance, including registration up to £9 9s 0d for attendance at all subjects on a course. The Governor may remit or reduce all or any of the fees in case of hardship.  Applications can be made via the candidate’s commanding officer via the Command Education Officer at the Castille.

SUBMARINE MISSING

The submarine Tetrarch has been reported missing after delivering stores and Kerosene to Malta.  She left the submarine base on Sunday heading for Gibraltar where she was expected to put in on her way to refit in the UK. Tetrarch was last heard of yesterday, when she made contact with the submarine P34 while both vessels were in the Strait of Sicily.  Submarine commanders suspect she struck one of the many Italian mines in the area. 

FLEET AIR ARM CREW LOST

An Italian News Bulletin refers to the attack by Malta bombers tonight, when the Albacore aircraft of Midshipman P Brown and S/Lt J Scott failed to return from a raid on Comiso aerodrome:

“During the British night attack on Comiso, our fighters, which took to the air when they received the alarm sighted enemy bombers flying in the direction of Sicily and pursued them towards Malta. Our fighters over took the enemy and succeeded in giving a few machine-gun bursts to one of the RAF bombers which was hit and dodged into the clouds to evade our fighters.  However it cannot be excluded that it crashed into the sea.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Much colder.

0856-0932 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north. One crosses the coast, flies over Valletta at 23000 feet and is engaged by three Navy anti-aircraft guns firing on ‘height control’, without result.  The second comes within six miles of Grand Harbour then circles, eventually flying over Mellieha Bay.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and the lead fighter sees a Macchi ahead but too far away to intercept. 

2103-2110 hrs; 2130-2150 hrs  Air raid alerts for four and then two enemy aircraft which turn away before reaching the Island.

Military casualties Midshipman Peter A Brown, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR); Sub-Lieutenant James T Scott, RNVR; both 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned from patrol off Kuriat having sunk one merchant ship and broken the back of another anchored off Kuriat. Ursula returned from patrol off Calabrian coast.  No ships were sighted, but a spirited bombardment of a railway bridge was carried out in the face of opposition from two machine guns and two riflemen.  The appearance of an armoured car from the local garage, a flying boat and the fact that the gun jammed caused Ursula to withdraw.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Fortress, 1 Maryland. Departures 3 Fortress, 1 Maryland, 1 Sunderland, 4 Wellington. S/D Flight Special patrol. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked Buerat el Esun. 40 Squadron 6 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Sicily. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands special patrol.  Photoreconnaissances Tripoli, Catania-Avola and Sicily. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked Buerat el Esun. 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Albacores sent to carry out a bombing raid on Comiso aerodrome scored hits on hangars and the officers’ mess causing fires visible 20 miles away.  Very intense fire light anti-aircraft fire from all directions of the aerodrome; one Albacore failed to return (crew Midshipman Brown and S/Lt Scott).

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Malta Volunteer Defence Force personnel attended a lecture on the use of grenades. The MVDF were most keen and the lecture room was crowded.  The MVDF will be armed with Italian hand grenades and they will need to feel confident in their use.

 

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Posted by on October 28, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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27 October 1941: Malta Command Fair Opens to Entertain Troops

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command-fair-sacra-infermeria-try-4GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF PERFORMS OPENING CEREMONY

The Command Fair in Valletta was officially opened this afternoon by His Excellency the Governor. Lt Gen Dobbie was welcomed by a military guard of honour.  After officially declaring the fair open, he inspected the guard and toured the attractions.  The Fair in Merchants Street will be open from 1500 hrs to 2200 hrs daily to all ranks of all Services and their friends.  Attractions will include a shooting gallery, boxing booth, variety shows, games of skill, stalls, canteens and prizes.  There is no entrance fee and prices have been kept low to ensure access for all ranks.  Profits from the fair will be donated to selected charities

EXTRACT FROM ITALIAN NEWS BULLETIN 27 OCTOBER 1941

Italian news bulletins have reported on raids by Malta aircraft on Saturday night on the Libyan coast. Five Blenheims attacked barracks at Misurata and six struck a main road between Zuara and Benghazi.  Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli.

According to the Italian media: “British planes raided Benghazi, Tripoli and Misurata. At Benghazi and Tripoli ‘not great damage’ was caused, and no casualties are reported.  A Blenheim was shot down by German anti-aircraft guns.  Its crew were taken prisoner.” 

According to Malta Air Intelligence reports, it is quite possible that the Blenheim mentioned is that of Sgt Shaver who failed to return from raid on the Zuara-Benghazi road.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Wet and windy.

0758-0810 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders retreat before crossing the coast and there is no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ 18 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a railway line north of Crotone. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissances Augusta and Castel Benito.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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26 October 1941: Military Rations to be Cut

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m-v-rationsMALTA REGIMENT FACES RATION REDUCTION

Troops of Kings Own Malta Regiment have been told that part of their rations will be reduced with effect from today.  The potato ration, a staple of the diet which had been increased to 14oz recently, has now been returned to its previous level of 10oz.  The current rations are now as follows:

DAILY Bread 15 oz; (7½ oz Mon); milk 2oz; tea ½oz; sugar 2½oz; margarine 1½ oz; macaroni 2oz; potatoes 10oz; onions 2oz
Sat Plus M&V (meat & vegetable stew) rations 16oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; tinned cheese ¾ oz; dried fruit ½oz; sardines ½oz; jam 1oz.    
Sun Plus frozen mutton 10oz; tinned sausages 2½ oz; canned beans 4oz; chocolate 1½oz; marmalade 1oz; tinned fruit 4oz; meat loaf 12½ oz; fresh vegetables 4oz; tinned vegetables 2 oz.  
Mon Plus biscuit 6oz; flour 4oz; preserved meat 8oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; tinned cheese ¾oz; fresh fruit 4oz; sardines ½oz; dried peas 2oz; jam 1oz.
Tues Plus M&V rations 16oz; bacon cured 3oz; chocolate 1½oz; jam 1oz; dried fruit ½oz; sardines ½oz; meat loaf 12½ oz.      
Wed Plus frozen beef 10oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; tinned cheese ¾ oz; syrup 1oz; fresh fruit 4oz; sardines ½oz; fresh vegetables 4oz; tinned vegetables 2oz; 50 cigarettes or 2oz tobacco; 2 boxes matches.
Thur Plus M&V rations 16oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; chocolate 1½oz; dried fruit ½oz; meat loaf 12½ oz.
Fri Plus 4 oz flour; 8oz preserved meat; bacon cured 3oz; tinned cheese ¾ oz; jam 1oz; 40z fresh fruit; sardines ½oz; tinned tomatoes 4oz; vinegar ½ fl oz.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rain in the evening.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Gunner James Herbert Abbott, (John Henry), 48/71 Battery Royal Artillery; Flight Sergeant William T Shaver, Royal Canadian Air Force, 107 Squadron RAF.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Force K returned to harbour having seen nothing after yesterday’s search for destroyers. Submarine Tetrarch sailed for Gibraltar and the UK.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Maryland. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland and 1 Blenheim patrols eastern Sicily.  Photoreconnaissances eastern Sicily.     

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Fire parties from C & D Companies assisted in fighting the fire in the Dockyard which burned through the night until 0600 hrs today. A large amount of paraffin was saved.  Malta Volunteer Defence Force was given firing instruction with Ross rifles on the Rinella Range.

 

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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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25 October 1941: Heavy Daylight Raid on Grand Harbour

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Cant Z 1007 bomber

Cant Z 1007 bomber

DOCKYARD RAID HAS ECHOES OF ILLUSTRIOUS BLITZ

Italian aircraft launched a heavy air raid in broad daylight this morning on Grand Harbour, now the base of Force K of the Mediterranean Fleet, in an attack reminiscent of the Illustrious blitz in January. The alert sounded just before mid-day, when four Cant 1007 bombers were reported approaching the Island with an escort of 16 fighters. 

The fighters remained off the coast while the bombers, flying in ‘Vic’ formation, headed directly for Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes attacked the bomber formation as it approached, damaging one of the Cants.  The now experienced Harbour gunners put up a massive barrage.  However, they could not prevent bombers from crossing the Harbour and dropping sixteen 250kg high explosives across the area. 

Four of the bombs hit a fuel depot at Vittoriosa, starting a massive fire from which thick smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air. All available fire engines of the Dockyard Police, Army and Civil Police were called to the scene and were still fighting the blaze tonight.  A large quantity of precious kerosene has already been destroyed.

Seven houses were damaged and three civilians injured in the raid. Hurricanes shot down at least one Macchi fighter and damaged one bomber.  One Hurricane failed to return and a sea search has been mounted for the missing pilot.

38 SQUADRON RETURNS TO EGYPT

38 Squadron left Malta today after completing its tour of duty on the Island. The Squadron has been here since 6 August, when seven aircraft were detached to the Island from Shallufa, Egypt for operations over the Mediterranean and Italy. The Wellington bombers have carried out many successful raids on Axis convoys, as well as targets in southern Italy and Libya.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0941-0957 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters approaching the Island at 27000 feet and cross the Island, probably on reconnaissance. Four Hurricanes are airborne but there is no engagement.

1152-1245 hrs  Raid 909  Air raid alert for four enemy Cant 1007 bombers escorted by 16 fighters approaching the Island from the north. Only the bombers cross the coast and drop sixteen 250kg bombs on Grand Harbour, including in Kalkara Creek and French Creek.  Seven houses are damaged and three civilians injured.  A stick of four bombs hits the fuel depot at Fort San Salvatore, causing an intense fire.

A terrific barrage is put up over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled and reach 17000 feet to the north east of Grand Harbour where they spot the bombing formation slightly ahead and below.  The bombers turn to port and the Hurricanes attack the bomber on the right flank from the stern, damaging it badly and stopping its port engine.  One Hurricane engages a Macchi 200 fighter, leaving it with smoke pouring out.  The wreckage of one Macchi is later found in the sea.  The Hurricane of Sgt E Knight fails to return; a search is in progress.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ernest G Knight, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Tenente Colonello Eugenio Leotta, Commander of 4o Stormo

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thunderbolt arrived from patrol for docking. Clan Ferguson was recalled owing to her being attacked by enemy aircraft sixty miles west of Malta.  She re-entered harbour at 0900 hrs but no serious damage was sustained. Force K sailed to intercept three enemy destroyers.  

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Blenheim. Departures 1 Clare, 1 Sunderland, 10 Wellington. S/D Flight 1 Wellington special search. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked barracks at Misurata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast.  Photoreconnaissance south western Sicily. 104 Squadron 3 Wellingtons on nuisance raid of Arab quarters in Tripoli. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked targets on the Zuara-Benghazi road. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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24 October 1941: Malta Supply Ship Missing

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Catalina

A Catalina made a thorough search

EMPIRE GUILLEMOT FAILS TO MAKE RENDEZVOUS

SS Empire Guillemot, the ship which delivered fodder to Malta on 19 September, has been reported missing on her return journey to Gibraltar. The merchant ship should have departed at the end of September during ‘Operation Halberd’ but was delayed. A week ago she embarked along with SS Clan Macdonald but returned to port later with engine trouble.

Empire Guillemot finally left Malta on Wednesday morning, at the same time as other merchant ships City of Lincoln and Dunedin Star.  The three were to take separate routes to Gibraltar. 

A Catalina aircraft from Gibraltar which had been scheduled to escort Empire Guillemot through the final leg of her journey was unable to find her anywhere near the rendezvous point.  A Swordfish was then diverted to aid the search but could find no trace of the merchantman.  A further search by three aircraft this morning also drew a blank, and the vessel is now feared to have been sunk.  

Another convoy supply ship which left Malta today was attacked shortly after leaving Grand Harbour. Clan Ferguson had just set out for Gibraltar when enemy aircraft appeared in her wake and launched an attack a short distance from the Island.  As the enemy was clearly aware of her voyage, it was decided the merchant ship should return to Grand Harbour immediately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1015-1026 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which cross the Island at great height. Fourteen Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders retreat before there is any interception.

1356-1407 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi fighters which approach from the north, cross the coast near Grand Harbour, pass over Kalafrana and turn away to recede northwards – probably on reconnaissance. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but cannot reach sufficient height to intercept; there is no engagement by Ack Ack guns.

Civilian casualties  Gozo John Pisani, age 49.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Tetrarch arrived from Alexandria with stores and kerosene. Clan Ferguson sailed independently for Gibraltar.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Maryland, 2 Sunderland, 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Beaufighter, 7 Wellington. SD Flight 1 Wellington search for convoy. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissance Castel Vetrano and Tripoli. 104 Squadron 4 Wellingtons attacked Naples; 2 recalled due to bad weather.  6 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  2 Swordfish searched for missing Wellington; search unsuccessful.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The General Officer Commanding, Malta, carried out an inspection of C Company. It is the system that the infantry company command co-ordinates the defence of all areas in his sector.  The inspection therefore included three forts, six Bofors and an 18 pounder position. The GOC was most pleased.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 2 Section 173 Company completed a workshop and store for Bomb Disposal at Polverista Gate. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 6; dealt with 6 (2kg incendiary).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  4 other ranks disembarked and posted to SWS Malta.

 

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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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23 October 1941: Malta Reinforced With More Aircraft

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WAR CABINET REVIEWS WEEK OF 16 TO 23 OCTOBER IN MALTA

HMS Penelope

HMS Penelope

HM Cruisers Aurora and Penelope have arrived at Malta from home waters.  An operation to reinforce Malta with aircraft has been successfully completed.  13 aircraft were flown off from an aircraft carrier, twelve of which arrived safely.  On 14th HM Submarine Unique torpedoed and probably sank the Italian Armed merchant cruiser Citta di Genova (5413 tons) south of Naples, and on 18th HM Submarine Ursula attacked a convoy to the west of Lampedusa and probably sank two ships.  On 17th SS Clan Macdonald, on passage to Gibraltar from Malta, was attacked by Italian torpedo bombers to the south of Sardinia but successful avoiding action was taken and a second attack was driven off by gunfire.

Our aircraft from Malta made several attacks during the week on shipping in the Mediterranean and on land targets in Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Naples was attacked on three nights by a total of 41 Wellingtons which dropped more than 55 tons of high explosive bombs and many incendiaries in the target area.  Hits were obtained on the Royal Arsenal, the Alfa Romeo automobile works, the railway station and on the torpedo factory, which it is estimated was completely destroyed.  Extensive fires were also started, one of which covered a wide area.  A factory at Cotrone, in southern Italy, was twic attacked by a total of 11 Blenheims.

In Sicily, attacks were made on a munition factory and a power station at Licata, on which three tons of bombs were dropped, and on a factory and railway sidings near Catania. The aerodrome at Trapani and the seaplane base at Syracuse were also successfully attacked.  Four Wellingtons, in co-operation with a Naval force, bombed the aerodrome at Elmas in Sardinia, and scored many hits on runways and buildings.

21 Wellingtons dropped 25 tons of bombs on Tripoli harbour. Hits were obtained on the Custom House, the seaplane base and on a warehouse, which was destroyed.  A ship of 3000 tons was set on fire.  Homs was bombed by six Blenheims which dropped two tons of bombs on buildings in the town.  Other Blenheims bombed and machine-gunned motor transport on the road between Sirte and Zuara and an aerodrome between Zuara and Tripoli, where the barracks were hit and an enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.

Reconnaissance aircraft made searches for shipping over wide areas. A convoy consisting of five merchant vessels, each of about 6000 tons, escorted by four destroyers, was sighted off Marittimo Island proceeding south.  Swordfish made successful torpedo attacks on the convoy on two successive nights.  Three hits brought the largest vessel to a standstill and set it on fire, and two, possibly three, other vessels were hit.

A 1500 ton merchant vessel and a 600 ton schooner were bombed off Cape Bon by six Blenheims. The schooner blew up and the merchant vessel was set on fire.  Another merchant vessel of 2000 tons was attacked off the coast of Tunis by four Blenheims.  A direct hit was scored near the funnel and the vessel is claimed as seriously damaged.

Several small formations of enemy aircraft and bombers operated over Malta during the week. A few casualties were caused; the material damage was slight.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

2236-2344 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. The first drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.  The second crosses the coast near Grand Harbour, circles round and drops incendiary bombs on the Valletta and Sliema areas before turning out to sea and dropping high explosive bombs in the sea five miles off the coast.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

0422-0525 hrs  Raid no 905  Air raid alert for the approach of four enemy bombers which drop high explosive bombs in the sea 15-30 miles north of the Island. Two bombs are also dropped on Gozo.  One raider crosses the coast and drops 250kg high explosive bombs on Senglea and Marino Pinto, damaging the Royal Engineers yard, demolishing the roof of a store and starting a fire which is quickly extinguished.  One bomb is dropped close to St Nicola Ack Ack position.   The electricity supply in the Marsa area is cut off.  Bombs dropped during the raid are reported as being heavier than usual.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attack a chemical works at Cotrone. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Naples.  3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on special patrols; 1 Maryland on patrol and special search of Tunisian coast. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a merchant ship. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on shipping search.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

 

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

 

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22 October 1941: Italian Radio Reports 5 Hour Raid by British Bombers

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naples-bombing-2HUNDREDS OF BOMBS DROPPED ON NAPLES, KILLING 14

Last night 21/22 October the British Air Force raided Naples and the territory of Catania. At Naples where the raid was carried out in five successive waves lasting five hours.  Hundreds of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped [causing] very great fires to residential quarters.  The fires were soon brought under control.  14 people were killed and 27 injured among the civilian population which showed wonderful calm and discipline.  In [a nearby] neighbourhood the dropping of enemy bombs damaged some houses and killed one person while four others were injured.  The anti-aircraft defence of Catania shot down an enemy bomber which crashed in flames near the coast.

A separate bulletin from Rome today claimed that Italian fighters this afternoon effectively machine-gunned aircraft on the ground at [Luqa] aerodrome and shot down six Hurricanes and set fire to another in an air battle. ‘One of our planes failed to return,’ the communique adds.

RECONNAISSANCE REPORT ON AIRCRAFT IN SICILY

  • Catania: 62 aircraft including 23 fighters, 32 bombers and 7 JU 52 transport planes.
  • Augusta: 22 aircraft including 8 Cant 506s and 4 Cant 501s afloat, 6 Cant 506 and 2 Cant 501 on the slipway.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0714-0735 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach at great height, skirt the east and south coasts, turn eastwards and fly over the Island one mile north of Delimara. Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a single barrage at 23000 feet.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions. 

0859-0925 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north at 27000 feet and carry out reconnaissance, passing over Grand Harbour, Luqa and Kalafrana before receding northwards. Nine Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept.  Ack Ack guns do not engage.

1242-1304 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft including Macchi 200s and Breda 65s which approach the Island at 23000 feet. Four Macchis dive down over Imtarfa to 1000 feet to machine-gun Ta Qali aerodrome, wounding two civilians and two RAF ground crew.  There is no damage to aircraft.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns at Targa and Ta Qali fire barrages and Bofors engage; no hits claimed.  Six Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.

1656-1718 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters with in-line engines approaching from the north. Five Hurricanes are scrambled to intercept.  Two of the raiders remain at 17000 feet while the rest dive down to attack the Hurricanes individually at 11000 feet over St Paul’s Island.  A ‘thrilling dogfight’ ensues watched by troops on the ground.  F/O Matthews is attacked and hit by three different enemy fighters.  His Hurricane is hit in the starboard and port wings and also near the glycol tank but manages to land safely.  Sgt Owen’s aircraft is shot down in flames; he manages to bale out and is rescued from the sea, while S/Ldr Barton and Sgt Branch circle round the dinghy to protect him.  Three other Hurricanes fire short bursts at the enemy but make no claims. 

2236-2330 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. Only one crosses the coast and drops a large number of 2kg anti-personnel bombs on the Qormi area.  The other drops bombs in the sea 30 miles north of the Island before returning to base.

Military casualties Sergeant Ernest M G Davies, Wireless Operator, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 104 Squadron; Sergeant James D Woodburn, Royal Canadian Air Force, 18 Squadron, RAF.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Empire Guillemot, Dunedin Star and City of Lincoln sailed for Gibraltar at 1000 hrs.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Flamingo, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a military barracks at Homs.  Sgt Woodburn failed to return. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland patrol Kerkennah-Tripoli. 104 Squadron 1 Wellington attacked Naples.  4 Wellingtons attacked shipping at Tripoli.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company is training 8 NCOs of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment in the Vickers machine-gun, as all units will operate many weapons not normally in their establishment.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Main body of Battalion returned to Malta from Gozo.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Remainder of Battalion proceeded to Gozo to carry out company and battalion training and to relieve 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment who took over the Battalion sector at Malta. 

 

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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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