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ATTACK DETERRED BY COASTAL DEFENCES
Italian air and naval forces attempted a repeat of July’s E-boat attack on Grand Harbour tonight but were deterred by efficient measures to defend Malta’s coastline. The first sign of the attack came at just before 2100 hrs when enemy aircraft closed in for a bombing raid. In an attempt to distract the coastal guns, the six raiders all approached from different directions, dropping bombs in various locations around the coast.
While the raid was in progress, coastal monitors detected a flotilla of E-boats approaching the north coast of the Island, which then split into two formations. Aware that the tactic of a diversionary air raid was used in July, military chiefs raised the alert of another possible seaborne raid on Grand Harbour. Coastal searchlights went into action, illuminating their offshore zones every 15 minutes. The Central Infantry Brigade ordered troops to man all infantry beach and harbour posts in the Grand Harbour area immediately. Naval vessels went on the offensive, dropping 60 depth charges throughout the night.
At 2200 hrs a third formation of seaborne craft was reported off the coast but an hour later monitors reported that all enemy craft had left the area. No further incidents were reported but the extra precautions remained in place until dawn, when enemy aircraft carried out reconnaissance over the area where surface craft had been seen.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 OCTOBER TO DAWN 8 OCTOBER 1941
1050-1200 hrs Air raid alert for some nine enemy aircraft in two formations which cross the coast. 16 Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no interceptions. It is thought the enemy is trying decoy tactics again.
2051-2135 hrs Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which approach the Island from various directions and drop bombs in the sea without crossing the coast. Two Malta Night Fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and interception is not possible.
2100 hrs Surface craft are detected 30000 yards off the coast of Malta and the alert is raised for a possible E-boat attack on Grand Harbour. Coastal searchlights are exposed every 15 minutes and the Royal Navy drop depth charges. Central Infantry Brigade immediately mans all infantry beach and harbour posts in the Grand Harbour area in preparation for an attack. Double sentries are posted on positions. No further incidents take place.
2200 hrs A third formation of seaborne craft is reported.
2300 hrs All seaborne craft have left the area. Double sentries are maintained at beach posts throughout the night. Troops are ordered to sleep at their posts.
0500 hrs Beach and harbour posts stand down; status returns to normal.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER 1941
AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 1 Wellington on shipping search. 7 Wellingtons attacked shipping at Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands patrol east Sicilian coast and east Tunisian coast; 2 Marylands on special patrols; photoreconnaissance of Tripoli. 107 Squadron 1 Blenheim searched for the dinghy of Sgt Hamlyn and crew; nothing found. 1 Blenheim attacked a merchant ship off Zuara. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish attacked a merchant vessel off Lampedusa and also Lampedusa Harbour. One Fulmar despatched to attack Comiso and Gerbini aerodromes; the aircraft failed to return to base. Pilot A/PO Arthur Jopling and observer Lt Manning are missing. One Fulmar carried out a search to within four miles of the Sicilian coast without success.
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