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“ITALIAN SHIPPING: ANOTHER HEAVY BLOW”
London, 8 October 1941 – from a press correspondent in Malta
“Another heavy success against enemy shipping in the Mediterranean – this time by planes of the Fleet Air Arm – was revealed in a dispatch from Malta last night. The story of the new blow followed hard on the Admiralty announcement yesterday morning that British submarines operating in the Mediterranean had hit with torpedoes and sunk or seriously damaged 11 enemy vessels.
‘The Fleet Air Arm on Sunday night launched a sudden, savage attack against an Italian convoy steaming south in the Ionian Sea,” says the Malta message. “The convoy, which was first sighted before daylight, comprised four merchantmen of from 8000 to 10000 tons, two between 4000 and 6000 tons, and five destroyers.
A Fleet Air Arm formation attacked in bright moonlight. The first two planes swept in, attacking the rearmost vessels from starboard and from port respectively. Before the Italians opened fire they were beyond range, leaving the largest merchantman listing heavily and belching black smoke, and a 6000 ton ship with its stern under water and also listing heavily. The crews were seen taking to the boats and pulling towards a destroyer. The destroyers frantically opened fire and laid a smoke screen which, however, a strong wind dispersed.
The remainder of the formation then attacked the convoy. The leading plane straddled a large vessel with a stick of bombs, probably damaging its bows. Another attacked a ship on the starboard column. It swung out of line and stopped. All the planes returned safely.’”
AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 OCTOBER TO DAWN 9 OCTOBER 1941
Weather Heavy rain in the afternoon.
Dawn Enemy aircraft carry out air reconnaissance in the area where surface vessels were detected overnight.
Civilian casualties Balzan Susanna Galea, age 41.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER 1941
ROYAL NAVY Perseus arrived from patrol off Benghazi for docking and repairs. Two small supply ships sunk. P34 arrived from the United Kingdom via Gibraltar.
AIR HQ Departures 1 Beaufighter, 8 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols east Tunisian coast and 3 special patrols. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked transport on the Misurata-Sirte road. 221 Squadron 2 Wellingtons on special patrols. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked a northbound enemy convoy of one merchant ship, a schooner and two trawlers. Two torpedoes were dropped hitting a merchant ship which sank.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT An exercise with ‘attack’ by mobile infantry platoons and three tanks of Malta Tank Troop on Royal Artillery harbour gun positions and forts of San Pietru, Rocco, Rinella and Ricasoli.
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