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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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