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LUFTWAFFE MISSION TO ENSURE PROTECTION OF AXIS CONVOYS
Hitler has appointed Air Field Marshal Albert Kesselring as Luftwaffe Commander in Chief South. His mission: to strengthen Axis air forces in the Mediterranean and ensure the protection of convoys supplying the war effort in North Africa.
Italian Supreme Command seems unable to meet its overall responsibility for keeping open the Axis supply lines through the Mediterreanean. Since the Luftwaffe left Sicily for the Russian front at the end of May 1941, British surface and submarine craft as well as air forces have successfully disrupted the transportation of Axis troops, supplies and fuel to Africa. Improvised means of supply have failed and the supply service is on the point of collapse. Kesselring transfers to Italy to take command of the situation, bringing his efficient Luftflotte 2 air force.
A major air war is about to begin over the Mediterranean. Malta is on the front line.
To divert attention from Operation Crusader in Egypt launched yesterday (see 17 November 1941), a convoy is heading out from Gibraltar, on the pretext of delivering supplies to Malta. The Island’s Force “K” sailed this afternoon from Grand Harbour in broad daylight, to create a diversion by heading westwards as though to rendezvous with the incoming vessels.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 19 NOVEMBER 1941
1100 hrs Two Macchi’s approach the Island at great height on a reconnaissance (recce) mission. No air raid alert is sounded. Only one of the aircraft crosses the coast.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 NOVEMBER
ROYAL NAVY Submarine Perseus returned with defective hydroplane gear. Four swordfish laid mines in vicinity of Marsala Point, Sicily.
HAL FAR Night Five Albacores, 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to lay mines off Marsala Point. The operation was successfully carried out and all aircraft returned to base safely.
LUQA 107 Squadron Two Blenheims SF11 Patrol. Six Blenheims 107 Squadron and four Blenheims 18 Squadron shipping search south Ionian Sea. 40 Squadron Four Wellingtons nuisance raid Brindisi. Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Tripoli. Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 1; dealt with 1(Thermos).
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