8 December 1941: Malta Bombers Collide – Pilots Killed

08 Dec

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P34 HMS Ultimatum

P34 HMS Ultimatum


Two young airmen were lost last night over Sicily when their aircraft were seen to collide in mid-air during a raid.  The pilots were among a flight of four Blenheims of 18 Squadron based at Luqa, sent last night to attack the heavily-defended Catania aerodrome. A build-up of Axis forces on the airfield has been observed by recent reconnaissance flights from Malta.

The pilots have been named as Pilot Officer James Arthur Barclay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and Sergeant William John Cuming, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, age 20, of Southampton. They were based at Luqa aerodrome.  P/O Barclay was on only his second attacking mission in Malta since being appointed Pilot Officer on 12 November 1941.  The two pilots were part of a raid two days ago by six Blenheims on enemy barracks at Homs, inland from Tripoli.  Sgt Cuming took part in six other successful air attacks on enemy targets in the past three weeks.

Private Reginald Lock of 2nd Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment was also killed today and three others injured when an enemy bomb struck a shelter at Hal Far.


2238 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft passed over Kalafrana and Hal Far. 

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Barclay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant William Cuming, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Private Reginald Lock, 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment.


ROYAL NAVY  Force B – also Kandahar and Jaguar and P34 arrived.  The latter reported having hit with one torpedo a 4000 ton merchant vessel in entrance to Straits of Messina on 5th December.  Counter attack by 38 depth charges.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons and five Blenheims plus one Catalina and one Sunderland from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Aboukir. Departures  Ten Blenheims and one Wellington to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Overnight three Swordfish took off to attack one merchant vessel of 3000 tons.  Target was not located.  All aircraft returned safely.  Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on a nuisance raid to Catania aerodrome.  Time over target 2130-0415 hours.  Bombs dropped 4580 lbs High Explosive and 250 lbs incendiaries.  All bombs dropped in target area causing two fires, one of which was probably an aircraft.  All aircraft returned safely. 

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 6 patrol; one Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 10 patrol.  69 Squadron Photo-Reconnaissance One of Tripoli and Castel Benito aerodrome; one PR of Tunis and Bizerte.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol; four Blenheims sent to attack Catania aerodrome.  P/O Barclay and Sgt Cuming collided and crashed.  Other two aircraft returned with bombs.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol.  Five Blenheims sent to attack convoy (no sightings made).

2nd BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  One bomb dropped Bir-id-Deheb on crossroads.  One bomb very near Elephant Shelter of D Company at Hal Far.  Private Lock killed as a result, three others injured. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 1 (2kg incendiary).


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Posted by on December 8, 2016 in 1941, December 1941


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