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AIR AND SEA HUNT FOR AXIS SHIPPING
69 Squadron are on the trail of the enemy. At 0645 hrs this morning one Maryland takes off from Luqa, followed by a second five minutes later. Their task is to search for shipping: the hunt is on again for Axis convoys attempting to supply Rommel’s North Africa campaign.
Within minutes, a third of their Maryland pilots takes to the air on SF 9B patrol. His return at 1116 hrs triggers the air raid alarm, but spotters recognise the friendly aircraft before the Island’s gunners open fire. In the afternoon, while Force “K” sails from Grand Harbour, another two Marylands are airborne; one to take over the SF 9B patrol and a second to cover SF 6. They return to base soon after dark.
Also on patrol are two Blenheims of 107 Squadron, operating in SF 2B, and one Wellington S/D Flight, also engaged in a shipping search.
Meanwhile Luqa’s bombers are on the attack. Six Blenheims, four from 18 Squadron and two from 107 Squadron, attack a tanker in the bay of Navarino. Eleven Wellingtons from 40 Squadron launch a heavy raid on Benghazi.
The Commanding Officer of 8th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment addresses his Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants. He reminds them in no uncertain terms that the Battalion is engaged in a total war, pointing out the grave responsibilities which they all carry. He orders all Officers and NCOs to ensure the men are ready, and fully trained in the correct techniques for seeking out the enemy, employing their weapons, and the use of covering fire.
There have been few enemy raids on Malta, and even fewer bombs dropped, in recent weeks but the night rest of civilians is still being disturbed by explosions.
“We have a new horror…depth charges are let go in Sliema Harbour immediately below our drawing room window. At first it was very secret, but now we know in part. They are only small charges, 6 lbs I am told; but they shake the Cathedral to its foundations, the glasses rattle, and pieces of plaster fall down from the walls and ceilings.
These big detonations go on from nightfall almost every night, and continue at intervals of perhaps 15 or 20 minutes till dawn. We have not fathomed the exact reasons. Obviously they are a defence against attack by E-boats – but why have they only lately been in operation? Today we were given a possible explanation. It was said that at the Harbour attack [in July 1941 – see article, R], the boom was damaged, and also the listening apparatus; the latter may not yet have been replaced, perhaps owing to lack of parts. These depth charges may be a substitute.” (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 29 NOVEMBER 1941
1116 hrs Air raid alarm; caused by return of Maryland.
1844-1858 hrs Air raid.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 NOVEMBER 1941
AIR HQ Six Beaufighters and one Sunderland arrive from Gibraltar.
(1) Extract from diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History
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