4 December 1941: Ammunition Supply Unusable – Sabotage Suspected

04 Dec

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Lt Gen Dobbie

A million rounds of ammunition recently arrived in Malta are not fit for use against the enemy, according to the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief.  In an exchange of telegrams with the War Office in London, Lt Gen Dobbie has raised serious concerns about the state of the supplies and questions the security of manufacture and packaging in Britain’s factories. 

Aerial reconnaissance has shown that German aircraft are amassing in Sicily and Malta’s gunners cannot be asked to defend the Island against a determined Luftwaffe with faulty ammunition, he says.  Every consignment will now have to be checked before issue, and that will take extra manpower.

From: Gov & C in C Malta                                                      To: The War Office

First.  100% inspection of 100000 ctg SA Ball .303” Mark VIIIZ straight in stripless belts indicates that probably nearly one million rounds will be unserviceable or fit for practice only due to corrosion of contents of sealed linings.  Sabotage at filling factory suspected; detailed report follows by cable.

Second. Above necessitates 100% examination of total holdings (4½ million rounds).  This vital for defence of fortress as all [is] now suspect.  Present RAOC staff unable to cope with existing ammunition repair and inspection work.  Essential that one inspecting Ordnance Officer and four RAOC ammunition examiners (2 Corporals, 2 Privates) be sent at once by air (repeat air) to carry out above special 100% inspection of SAA and other vital inspections of ammunition in Malta. 


100% examination carried out of 100,000 [units] packed in boxes…with original seals results: 8.1% unserviceable; 11.7% fit for practice only, 80.2% serviceable.  Defects: metal linings rusty internally; packing pieces damp and rotted; belts rotted and can be torn with fingers; cartridges corroded and incapable of extraction from belt.  All above defects are far worse at bottom of linings than top.  Cause of defects ingress of water source unknown.  No acidic reaction.  No external rust or signs of damp on labels.  Sabotage at filling factories (before linings sealed) suspected. 


1345 hrs Air raid alarm.  Caused by return of Blenheim.

MILITARY CASUALTIES  Sergeant Robert George Kidby, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

P31 HMS Uproar

P31 HMS Uproar


ROYAL NAVY  P31 [submarine HMS Uproar] returned from patrol off Colonne, having most probably sunk a cruiser.

LUQA  One Blenheim 107 Squadron SF 2B patrol.  One Blenheim 107 Squadron SF11 patrol.  Four Blenheims 107 Squadron attacked marshalling yards at Messina.  Sergeant Kidby failed to return.  One Beaufighter BF/Flt attacked motor transport on road east of Sirte.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF1 patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF6 patrol.  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 9 patrol. 

TA QALI  Acting Wing Commander Powell-Shedden appointed officer commanding Ta Qali. Malta Night Fighter Unit – No 1435 Night Fighter Flight  – formed as separate entity under Squadron Leader I B Westmacott.  Establishment awaited.    All night operations cancelled – bad weather conditions – no flying.    

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Posted by on December 4, 2016 in 1941, December 1941


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