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ITALIAN HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS REPORTED ALONG NORTH COAST
The four raiders who bombed the Island overnight were Italian, according to reports received this morning. The Regia Aeronautica are evidently continuing to work alongside the Luftwaffe in the air campaign against Malta.
The claim was supported by reports of three unexploded bombs (UXB) received in Royal Engineers Headquarters this morning. Bomb Disposal Officer Lieutenant G D Carroll was called out to locations along the north coast at Bahar ic-Caghaq and Madliena, and further inland at Ghargur. The UXBs were found to be Italian High Explosive (HE) bombs, each weighing in at 130lbs – the first of the type seen in Malta for over a month. All three bombs were defuzed on site and removed for dumping at sea. (1)
The intrusion of aircraft over Malta throughout the night with no apparent bombing target may have a simple explanation. The Italians are providing cover for a secret German operation designed to prevent Malta-based ships from attacking Axis supply convoys.
The Kriegsmarine 3rd S-Boat Flotilla has begun laying mines around the entrance to Grand Harbour, in an effort to prevent the ships of Force K from leaving. The TMA (torpedo mines) are fired from the normal torpedo tube. They then float on the surface, attached to a weighted anchor. The TMA carries an explosive charge of 215kg.
These fast-moving motor torpedo boats, capable of up to 50 knots, can approach the coast rapidly, lay their mines and escape, often before detection. They have already carried out one abortive mission to lay a minefield in the path of the British ships: tonight is their second attempt.
AIR RAIDS 15 DECEMBER 1941
0641hrs; 0710 hrs Two alerts. One raider crossed the coast dropping bombs at Mosta causing slight damage. One Hurricane from Ta Qali airborne but no interception.
0740-0755 hrs One JU88 approached the coast. One Hurricane from Ta Qali airborne – no interception. Raider damaged by anti-aircraft fire.
0946-1002 hrs Air raid alarm.
1640-1643 hrs Air raid alarm.
1940-2015 hrs Air raid alarm. Six enemy aircraft approached from north together. Bombs in sea north of Gozo, in Comino Channel, and Mellieha Bay.
2040 hrs Air raid alarm. Two enemy aircraft approached from north, only one crossed coast over Delimara. No bombs dropped.
2234 hrs Air raid alarm. One JU 88 approached from north crossing coast four times. Bombs fifty yards from Fleur de Lys gun position – no damage. Aircraft illuminated for four minutes, engaged by Hurricane with no result.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 DECEMBER 1941
ROYAL NAVY Unique arrived from patrol off Cape Del Armi [Strait of Messina], her attack on a battleship frustrated by heavy counter attack. Six Swordfish in shipping search to the west made no sighting.
LUQA S/D Flight Shipping search Kerkennah area. 69 Squadron one Maryland SF 10 patrol; two Marylands SF 9B patrol. Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2 one PR Taranto and one PR Messina-Naples. 18 Squadron one Blenheim SF 2B patrol. 107 Squadron one Blenheim special search for convoy. One Blenheim SF 1 patrol. 40 Squadron twelve Wellingtons attacked oil storage tanks at Taranto. 104 Squadron: nine Wellingtons attacked oil storage tanks in Taranto.
TA QALI 1940-0559 hrs Six alerts for a total of twelve raiders. Six crossed the coast. Bombs dropped in the aerodrome area and in Attard and Dingli areas. Hurricanes were airborne, and engaged one raider, but no results could be ascertained. Two short [searchlight] illuminations.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 2; dealt with 4 (3 x 100kg; 1 x Thermos).
(1) Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010
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