Monthly Archives: June 2020

30 June 1940: Air Raids Since 11 June: 53. Only five raid-free days.

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Fuel shortages result in curfew for private cars

Fuel shortages result in curfew for private cars


To conserve fuel for essential supply and public transport services, Private cars have been banned from use after midnight unless carrying a special permit.  The measure has been brought in to conserve fuel for essential supply and for public transport services.


The British Ambassador at Cairo has made a request to the Admiralty in London that Malta’s wireless telegraph station should be used to jam German propaganda broadcasts to the Near East.  However, the Commander in Chief Mediterranean has raised concerns that this might provoke a counter action against Naval wireless telegraph communications.


Weather   Fine.

Italian SM 79

Italian SM 79

09401015 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations, each of four Italian SM79 aircraft, fly over the Island, dropping a total of 42 bombs.  Two Hurricane aircraft are scrambled but do not intercept.  One formation crosses the Island from Marsascala, dropping bombs on San Pawl tat Targa seriously wounding a farmer, another near a water reservoir at Naxxar, four on roads between Birkirkara and Mosta and six near Ta Qali reservoir, wounding five civilians.  The raiders turn and head for St Paul’s Bay, dropping their remaining bombs in the sea.  The second formation comes in from Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on San Pietru, Kalkara and San Rocco, then head for Hal Far, dropping some 17 bombs, and on to Mqabba and Zurrieq before crossing the coast south of Dingli.  Two civilians are killed and four wounded.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Genovese, age 21.


AIR HQ  1947-2215 hrs  Five Swordfish dive bombed oil refinery and oil tanks at Augusta, causing a fire.  Anti-aircraft only active after first bombs.  Bomb load carried: 12 x 250lb, 4 x 500lb, 20 incendiary.  All aircraft returned safely.  Reconnaissance by Hudson over Messina, Augusta and Syracuse.  Ack ack fire from cruisers at Messina very accurate at 20,000 feet.

KALAFRANA  Further patrols by 3 Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons.  During June many personnel were posted, attached or loaned to other units.  Newly enlisted Maltese recruits continued to arrive, some for disciplinary course, others for fitting out in preparation for posting to Middle East.  Three airmen from workshops interviewed and complimented by AOC for untiring energy and excellent work in carrying out important urgent repairs to the Radio Station.  AC Mifsud admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

LUQA  LAC G W Simon attached to Luqa from Kalafrana.     

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  The Bishop of Gibraltar conducted Divine Service at Battalion HQ with 50 Other Ranks and ten officers attending.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk.     


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Posted by on June 30, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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29 June 1940: Malta Must Have Fighters to Survive

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Hurricanes needed to defend Malta

Hurricanes needed to defend Malta

The Governor and Commander in Chief has told the War Office in London that Malta’s air defences must be strengthened if the Island is to survive.  In an urgent cipher telegram he wrote that, following the fall of France, he anticipates an increase in Italian attacks on Malta, as Mussolini seeks complete control of the Mediterranean.

Malta currently has only four serviceable Hurricanes along with the two Gladiators which have been in action since the onset of hostilities and are fast wearing out.  Lt General Dobbie stated that only by inflicting significant damage enemy attackers can he foresee deterring further heavy air raids.  To achieve this, Malta needs more fighter aircraft and personnel to service them. 

He added that the arrival of additional air forces would strengthen the morale of the civilian population who have already been placed under a considerable strain by the bombing of the past three weeks. 


Aircraft stationed in Malta are standing ready to attack an enemy convoy in the Mediterranean, it was reported today.  Seven enemy cruisers and five merchant ships have been observed assembling at Port Augusta and are expected to follow a route along the east coast of Sicily, providing an excellent opportunity for attack.  The Vice Admiral Malta has ordered Malta’s Swordfish to stand by.

The Chief of Intelligence staff has confirmed that further important merchant and troopship movements are expected between Italy and North Africa. 


0445 hrs  Swordfish aircraft carry out anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance: nothing to report.

Military casualties  L/Std Emanual Anastasi, HMS St Angelo.                                        

Enemy casualties  Tenente Giuseppe Bracco, Tenente Giuseppe Germano, Midshipman Ottone Hirsch, Petty Officer Arturo Maroni, crew of an Italian submarine picked up by Sunderland Flying Boat, from an attacked Italian submarine and taken prisoner.


HMS Pandora

HMS Pandora

ROYAL NAVY  Proteus and Pandora sailed at 1900 hrs to take up patrol positions off Algiers and Oran.  A Sunderland aircraft arrived with four prisoners from Italian U boat Rubino which she had sunk. 

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  Naval co-operative patrols by three Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons: one sank a submarine, taking four Italian prisoners.  One other Sunderland left for UK.  Two recruits medically examined.  AC Farrugia, AC Galea and AC Buttigieg admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa.    

1st Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Since 2330 hrs on 27 June the Battalion has provided 90 Other Ranks to assist, with 1st Bn Dorset and 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regts in unloading an ammunition boat in Marsaxlokk Bay, working mainly afternoons and between 0200 and 0600 hrs.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Four public houses in St Paul’s Bay were put out of bounds to troops, to try and reduce the number of cases of drunkenness among troops in the area.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Reports of a suspicious character in civilian clothes found to be a Royal Malta Artillery sergeant on leave.  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk for two periods during the day.     

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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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28 June 1940: Malta Cut Off From Western Mediterranean

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The Admiralty has confirmed that there is currently no prospect of sending stores to Malta via Gibraltar.  The only Allied access route to the Island will now be from the Eastern Mediterranean.   This would require any supplies from the UK travelling the long sea route round the southern tip of Africa. 

C in Cs Middle East L to R: Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham; Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore; General Sir Archibald Wavell

C in Cs Middle East L to R: Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham; Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore; General Sir Archibald Wavell

The news presents a serious problem for the regular supply of Malta.  The Island is currently in urgent need of 100,000 sandbags, 5000 tons of goat fodder, 500 tons of coke and 6000 of coal, and medical stores.  The War Office has asked the Commander in Chief, Middle East, if he can spare these supplies until replacements can be sent via the Cape.

Within the next six months, it is anticipated that the Island will need a further 23000 tons of supplies for the Army, 10000 tons for the Dockyard and 2000 for the RAF.  The relevant ministries in the UK will be notified of the exact requirements, which will be prioritised according to urgency. 


Weather  Fine. 

0920 hrs  A defence post of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment reports signalling east of Boschetto area but nothing found. 

1305 hrs  Radio mast confirmed repaired and functioning.

1306-1358 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two formations of three enemy aircraft approach the Island at 15000 feet and attack Marsa, Delimara and HMS Terror.  Malta’s fighters engage the raiders who depart to the south west and south east.  One enemy aircraft is reported to be smoking and losing height 30 degrees from Terror and five miles out to sea.  An Ack Ack battery confirms seeing an aircraft diving towards the sea emitting quantities of smoke. 

1925-1940 hrs  Air raid alert.  No bombs dropped.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  2 Sunderland.  Departures  2 Sunderland.   

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from UK for refuelling and one from Middle East.  Five recruits medically examined.  Sgt Beaddie (N/Ord) discharged from hospital and returned to duty at Luqa.  Cpl Jasper returned to Kalafrana.  AC Galea and AC Buhagiar admitted to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

LUQA  Strength of Station: Officers 19; airmen 61; civilians 143.  Sgt G Beaddie, Nursing Orderly, attached on discharge from hospital.  Cpl C Jasper returned to Kalafrana. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A determined drive was made by all available personnel at Ta Saliba under the command of 2/Lt Booth to complete wiring and road blocks. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk for two periods during the day.     

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Posted by on June 28, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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27 June 1940: Suspicious Signalling During Air Raids

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Reports have come in of mysterious lights in Sliema during tonight’s air raids.  Shortly after the alert sounded at 2130 hours a light was reported in a window in Hughes Hallett Street.  Personnel of 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on duty nearby trained a rifle on the light which remained illuminated while enemy aircraft passed overhead. 

On investigation the window was found to belong to No 3, Arthur Flats, but there was no response from within.  The incident was followed up by local police who established that the flat belongs to a dockyard worker.  On gaining entry to the premises, they found that the electricity had been turned off at the metre.  As a precaution they removed all light bulbs.

Fort Mosta (NWMA, Malta)

Fort Mosta (NWMA, Malta)

This is the second similar incident in Sliema in four days.  On Sunday evening at 2200 hours a light was seen illuminating three times at the window of No 2, Mnajdra Flats, Hughes Hallet Street.  The flat owner, named as Mr Joseph Calascione, was not currently in residence.  The earlier incident was not reported as the investigating officer assumed the light was shown due to carelessness.  The authorities consider the similarity between the two incidents requires further monitoring.  Defence posts in the vicinity have been warned to keep a special look out for similar lights and report them at once.  

In a separate incident, investigations are also ongoing into unexplained lights in the area of Mosta Fort in the early hours of yesterday.  The lights were seen at 2245 and 2310 hours by defence posts of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Described as white Verey lights, the beams were first observed following an upward course between the old mill and Mosta Fort.  The source of the lights is believed to be an area between Naxxar, Lija and Mosta.

Less than an hour later, a report was received of two periods of short flashes, each lasting about five seconds, from a point south of St Paul’s directly underneath Selmun Palace.  Within moments, a further flashing light was seen in the neighbourhood of Nadur Tower. 

HMS Orpheus

HMS Orpheus


Two submarines reported as overdue yesterday are now confirmed lost.  HMS Odin disappeared in the Gulf of Taranto.  The cause is unknown.  HMS Orpheus is believed torpedoed by an Italian submarine en route between Malta and Alexandria.


The Governor and Commander in Chief today turned down an offer from the Foreign Legion to bring French forces to Malta to fight against the Italians.  The offer came from Captain Robert, based in Sousa, who arrived yesterday (Wednesday) by submarine from Tunis, which he had left on 24 June.  This was before the French signed an armistice with Germany, but after Tunisian troops had received instructions to obey orders from a Bordeaux government. 

According to Captain Robert, the French Army in Tunis (and across North Africa) wishes to fight on, either in Tunis or outside, in Egypt or elsewhere.  He believes they should continue to fight the Italians and maintain North African ports against the Axis fleets but, if that is not possible, he proposes they fight from another Allied base. 

It is understood that Foreign Legion officers plan to seize local boats at Sousa and transport 1800 troops with armoured cars to Malta, escorted by two French submarines. Lt General Dobbie believes that, although additional troops on Malta would be useful, a French unit here might produce more problems than it would solve.  However, he put forward the possibility that the French might replace an Allied battalion in Egypt, which could then perhaps be spared to assist Malta. 

The War Office has confirmed that the Foreign Legion personnel will be accommodated in Egypt if possible.  However, even if that happened, it was made clear that the situation in the Middle East there does not allow for a British battalion to be sent from Egypt to Malta.


Weather  Low cloud.

0905-0915 hrs; 1115-1125 hrs  Air raid alerts.  No attack. 

2130-2140 hrs  Air raid alert.  No attack.   It is reported that on the sound of the air raid alert a light went on somewhere in Tigne Mansions and stayed on until the all clear. 

0445 hrs  Swordfish aircraft carried out an anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance for Italian shipping but found nothing to report.

Military casualties  Signalman John Ernest Saunders, Royal Corps of Signals

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmelo Fiteni, age 40.  Marsa  George Gatt, age 7; Joseph Gatt, age 2. Tarxien  Angiolina Orland, age 30.


KALAFRANA  Two Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons arrived from Middle East for Naval co-operative patrols using Kalafrana as a refuelling and re-arming base.  AC Sciberras admitted to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

LUQA  Flt Lieutenant M Grennan transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  The Governor and Commander in Chief visited Battalion Headquarters and Fort Benghaisa.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A large number of sand bags were filled throughout the day at Ghain Tuffieha Bay; 250 of these were taken up to Ta Saliba for the purpose of strengthening sangars.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Orders received for working party to stand by for unloading stores from ship at Marsaxlokk; troops moved at midnight.


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Posted by on June 27, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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26 June 1940: Air Raid Warning System Down – Heavy Casualties

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Operations HQ lacked warnings

Operations HQ lacked warnings


A record 37 civilians are reported killed and at least 57 wounded in air raids today.  The high casualty toll followed a complete absence of air raid alerts.  Damage to a radio mast in severe overnight storms is preventing the detection of approaching enemy formations, with the result that no warnings were sounded. 

Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino had a lucky escape:  “…the planes were over us before the sirens went.  At the depot, Police HQ Bujega Institute, Hamrun, two dived on us while we were watching them, thinking they were RAF planes.  Someone yelled, and as I took a leap into the trench shelters I heard the swishing, whistling of bombs careering through the air…then the crash came.  I saw the flash and felt the blast of hot air on my face – but we were still alive.  A group of four bombs had fallen about two hundred yards away but, worst of all, I felt they had been aimed at our headquarters…”  (1)

Malta’s government is very concerned at the impact on the morale of the civilian population.  Military authorities have said that repairs to the mast are unlikely to be complete until this evening at the earliest.

Incendiary bomb destroys bus, killing 21 

Some 45 passengers, mostly dockyard workers, travelling on a bus were involved in a tragic incident at Marsa Crossroads at 5.30pm today.  The bus, which was on its way from Cospicua to Valletta, had stopped to allow its passengers to seek shelter from an air raid.  Almost immediately it was hit by an incendiary bomb and burst into flames.  Local residents tried to help: Gejtu Miscat entered the burning bus and managed to drag out two of the passengers, who survived. 

One survivor who had already alighted and sought shelter in a small shop nearby said he saw at least six corpses and several others injured near the bus.  A fire crew and ARP personnel were quickly on the scene but were unable to prevent further casualties. In all 21 passengers were killed outright and nine others seriously injured.  Of those, seven died shortly afterwards.  Eight of the casualties recovered from the wreckage of the bus could not be identified.

Enemy attack from new direction

Enemy raiders over Malta were reported as coming from Libya as well as Sicily today.  Bombers were seen to approach the Island near Delimara Point in groups of five per raid, flying across the Island in a north westerly direction.  It is suspected that magnetic mines were dropped during raids, as well as high explosive and incendiary bombs.

HMS Proteus

HMS Proteus


Two submarines which have undergone recent refit at Malta, Odin and Orpheus, have been reported overdue in Alexandria.  The Admiralty have ordered the two submarines nearest to Malta to proceed there with all despatch.  Proteus and Pandora embarked immediately.


The Commander in Chief Mediterranean today sent the following signal to the Admiralty in London: “It is now intended to run a convoy from Malta to Alexandria.  Five destroyers will leave tomorrow, Thursday, morning, followed by 7th Cruiser Squadron as a covering force.  Destroyers will proceed first to carry out a hunt for U Boats and thence to Malta to arrive at dusk on 29 June, fuel and sail with two convoys, one of 13 knots and the other 9 knots, with the expected arrival date in Alexandria of 2nd July.”


Weather  Fair. 

0720-0815 hrs  Four enemy bombers and three fighters approach the Island and drop four bombs on Kalafrana and Hal Far, where one wrecks part of the quarters.  Gladiators are scrambled but no interceptions.

0928-0940 hrs  Five enemy bombers fly over the coast and drop 30 bombs on and around Luqa aerodrome.

1230-1249 hrs  Five enemy bombers approach the Island, and drop bombs from 16000 feet on the Dockyard.  The Dockyard School is slightly damaged.

1518-1547 hrs  Five more enemy raiders drop five bombs around Luqa aerodrome.

1745-1755 hrs  Five enemy bombers cross the coast and head towards Luqa at 12000 feet.  Bombs are dropped between Marsa and Hamrun, and at Tarxien, as well as several more in the sea. 

2225 hrs  Infantry night patrols report signalling from the direction of St Paul’s Bay and from Imtarfa towards St Paul’s Bay.  A flashing light is also reported from near Mosta dome.  All incidents will be investigated.

Military casualties  P O Std George Howard, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Harry Abela.  Birkirkara  Carmel Cachia, age 33; David Castles, age 62; Arthur Farrugia, age 40.  Gzira  Joseph Farrugia, age 31.  Hamrun  Joseph Cordina, age 22; Ernest Cutajar, age 33; George Zammit, age 32.  Marsa  Carmelo Frendo, age 29; Filomena Pace, age 60; eight unidentified casualties.  Mqabba  Angla Ghigo; age 55; Giulio Ghigo, age 25; Emanuel Ghigo, age 18; Carmela Saliba, age 30; Pauline (Polly) Saliba, age 6; Josephine Saliba, age 3; one unidentified male.  Paola  Francis Caruana, age 54; Raffaele Cini, age 55; George Howard, age 35.  Qormi  Gianni Borg, age 25; Lucrezio (Grazio) Cassar, age 26; PC Calcedonio Saliba, age 25.  Tarxien Dockyard Policeman Albert Peel, age 20.    Valletta  Francis Farrugia, age 50; Domenico Galea, age 28.  Vittoriosa  Paul Saliba, age 7.  Zebbug  Emanuel Cassar, age 53. Zejtun  Lorenzo Caruana, age 35. 

Enemy casualties  Primo Aviere Angelo Alvisi, 33o Gruppo, 11o Stormo, crewmember of a Savoia SM79 bomber bailed out into the sea.


ROYAL NAVY  SS Masirah arrived and to Marsaxlokk for unloading ammunition.  French submarine Narval arrived. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals  1 Sunderland  Departures  1 SunderlandAir Officer Commanding, Mediterranean proposes to use the Swordfish of 767 Squadron for operations against Sicily.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from UK and proceeded further east and one from Middle East proceeded to UK.  LAC Simon (Medical Orderly) discharged from hospital and returned to unit Hal Far.  AC E Agius, AC Farrugia and AC Vella admitted Military Hospital Imtarfa.      

LUQA  0945 hrs  Patrols are sent out to inspect damage to the aerodrome.  Slight damage to the runways includes one crater which is quickly filled in.  There is also minor damage near the Control Tower and two defence posts.  One unserviceable Hurricane is slightly damaged and two hangars are damaged by bomb splinters.  A second report confirms bombs dropped near the main gate and near the reservoir caused no significant damage.  The position of all bombs is plotted on a map.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Incendiary bombs dropped near Bn Hq and a high explosive on crossroads near HQ Company Office, causing civilian casualties.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 HE 250lb Cospicua. 

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012

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Posted by on June 26, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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25 June 1940: Malta Regiment to Increase in Strength

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The Governor and Commander in Chief Malta today proposed an urgent reorganization of the Kings Own Malta Regiment, and a strengthening of numbers.  Under the plans, the 2nd Battalion is to be divided into two, providing a new 2nd Battalion with 759 personnel plus a 3rd Battalion numbering 596.  The additional personnel are needed to cover a significant increase in anti-parachute patrols and guards for vulnerable points across the Island, in case of enemy invasion. 

Verdala Palace - scene of mystery signals

Verdala Palace – source of mystery signals


Weather  Gale at night.  Misty in the morning, then fine and very warm. 

2203 hrs  A defence post of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment reports signalling in the form of red and white flashes from one degree east of Verdala Palace and from the direction of Rabat.

2200 hrs  Definite signalling is reported coming from the area of the Castille.  Sentries are ordered to train a rifle on the light.  20 minutes later, lamp signalling is reported coming from Wardia Hill.  Both incidents will be further investigated in daylight.


ROYAL NAVY  The Commander in Chief Mediterranean instructed Vice Admiral Malta to sail Masirah from Bizerta to Malta at his discretion. 

KALAFRANA  Sgt Baker and Cpl Barlow admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa.  W/Cdr Palmer-Jones attached Kalafrana from HQ Mediterranean for duties as SMO.  A/S/L Soper relinquishes acting rank of S/Ldr.  F/O Moore attached to RAF Station Luqa for medical duties.  AC Debono and AC F Pollacco admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa.  11 recruits medically examined.

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Posted by on June 25, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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24 June 1940: Italian Pilots’ Morale Low

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Italian 500lb bombs (NWMA Malta)

Italian 500lb bombs (NWMA Malta)

Three captured Italian airmen were interrogated today, providing useful intelligence for the War Office, although as junior officers their knowledge was not extensive.  They provided no information on German forces or parachute troops in Sicily.  The airmen revealed that bombs up to 500lbs were earmarked for use against Malta, but all agreed that strict orders had been issued against bombing non-military objectives, in Malta as well as other theatres. 

Two of the airmen, from Naples and Ancona on the Italian mainland, were somewhat reticent in their responses and appeared devoted to the fascist cause.  They believed the reasons for Italy’s entry to the war were her admiration for Germany and the necessity of increasing the Italian empire and domination of the Mediterranean.

The third airman, a Sicilian, is said to have spoken freely yesterday during an unofficial interview.    He is reported to have said that the hearts of Italian air crews are not really into their mission over Malta.  He claimed that in briefings he was told “nothing ever happens over Malta”.  The 21 year old also said that he had not eaten for two days, and allegedly added that he cared little what happened to the Italian Army.  His comments support the general belief that it is unusual for Sicilians to be allowed on active service, due to the Island’s lack of enthusiasm for the war. 


2140 hrs  A defence post of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment reports signalling in the form of red and white flashes from the west of Verdala Palace.


KALAFRANA  AC Rizzo transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa; L/Cpl Mfsud to ADS.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Personnel at Ghain Tuffieha camp are engaged on digging slit trenches for the protection of personnel during air raids.  As from today passes will once more be granted to troops to go to Valletta on their afternoon off.

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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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23 June 1940: Operation to Clear Med for Malta Convoys Postponed

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France Signs Armistice at Compiegne

France Signs Armistice at Compiegne


Fleet clean sweep of Mediterranean postponed

It has been announced today that France has signed an armistice with Germany.  As a result a vital operation to free up shipping lanes for convoys to Malta has been postponed. 

The fleet was expected to sail today from Alexandria and Malta to carry out Operation BQ.  The objective was a sweep in force of the area between southern Italy and Libya, destroying enemy shipping in the central Mediterranean.  The operation is needed to facilitate the movement of essential convoys between Malta and Alexandria. 

However, at 2153 a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering the proposed Operation to be deferred ‘in view of the political situation’.  Movements in the Mediterranean are now on hold, pending the evacuation of Allied citizens from French territories.  Operation BQ vessels were ordered to return to port immediately.


Weather  Cloudy; moderate westerly wind. 

1235-1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three formations each of five bombers and another of four fighters approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on Valletta, causing slight damage.  12 bombs fall 150 yards north east of Tigne fort; others between Corradino and Luqa, as well as in the sea.  Three civilians are injured by broken glass in Luqa village.  One Macchi 200 is brought down by a Gladiator, the enemy pilot baled out.  He is observed parachuting down towards Sliema; he lands in the sea where he is rescued and taken prisoner.  He is taken to Imtarfa Hospital.

2130 hrs  Sentries of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers are watching the quarry near Naxxar Gap and also near St Andrews’ Church in a bid to catch the person responsible for recent mystery lights at night, or at least to clearly identify their points of origin.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Lamberto Molinelli, 88a Squadriglia, 6o Gruppo Autonomo, pilot of a MC 200 fighter aircraft, taken prisoner.


ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 HE 250lb Zabbar.

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Posted by on June 23, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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22 June 1940: Hurricanes and Swordfish Land in Malta

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Fairey Swordfish

Fairey Swordfish


Six Hurricane aircraft have arrived in Malta to join the Fighter Flight.  Early this afternoon two Hurricanes landed from Bizerta after a difficult journey across southern France and along the North African coast.  As dusk fell, two more completed the same journey, followed by two more in the early evening.  The six aircraft were all that reached Malta out of twelve Hurricanes and twelve Blenheims that set off from the UK on 18 June.  They join recently arrived Hurricanes from Egypt and will significantly strengthen the Island’s defences.

Twelve Swordfish of 767 Deck Landing Squadron from Toulon have also arrived on the Island and are now under the operational control of the Air Officer Commanding, Mediterranean, with the agreement of the Commander in Chief.


Italian Airmen Captured

Malta’s Gladiators claimed their first confirmed ‘destroyed’ enemy aircraft today.  The success came during this evening’s raid.  The two serviceable Gladiators were scrambled at around 1900 hrs.  According to Flt Lt G Burges:

“Timber Woods and I were on the 1600 to dusk watch when the alarm went off.  We took off and climbed as hard as we could go, as was the custom.  We did not attempt to maintain close formation because if one aircraft could climb faster than the other then the additional height gained might be an advantage.  Ground Control, as usual, gave us the position and course of the enemy.  The enemy turned out to be a single SM79, presumably on a photographic sortie.  It came right down the centre of the Island from Gozo, and on this occasion we were 2000-3000 feet above it.  Timber went in first but did not see any results.  I managed to get right behind it and shot off the port engine.  I was told this happened right over Sliema and Valletta and caused quite a stir in the population.  The aircraft caught fire and crashed in the sea off Kalafrana.”

The pilot and one crewman were rescued from the sea and taken prisoner.  The remaining four crew did not survive. (1)


Malta forces today launched an investigation into reports of mysterious flashing lights along the Victoria Lines.  A working party of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers was ordered to make a thorough search of the area between Naxxar caves and the quarries, looking for anything suspicious.  Two men were found in one of the caves and taken for questioning.  Police confirmed the men’s activities were legitimate and they were later released.  However, searches of the area continue.

In a separate incident this morning a car owner near Luqa was seen changing the vehicle’s number plates.  The new number 6057 was notified to Infantry companies and the vehicle will be monitored.   


1915-1930 hrs  Air raid alert.  One three-engined SM 79 approaches the Island and is attacked by a Gladiator.  The enemy raider bursts into flames, splits into two and falls into the sea off St Thomas’ Bay.  Of the crew of seven, the pilot and assistant pilot are able to bale out and parachute into the sea, where they are rescued and taken prisoner.  The remaining five crew five were killed.

2247 hrs  A light is reported just above the quarry to the left of Naxxar Gap.  Two officers investigated but found nothing.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Francesco Solimena, 53o Gruppo, pilot of SM79, and Sottotenente Alfredo Balsamo, crewman, 34o Stormo, 216a Squadriglia, shot down and taken prisoner.  Giovanni Mauro, Gianpiero Mencione, Remo Trovlusci and Remo Turrisi crewmen of SM79, 216a Squadriglia, 34o Stormo, shot down and died.   


ROYAL NAVY  HM Submarines Otus and Olympus at Malta for refit. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A court of enquiry, president Capt R Cooke, today assembled at Ghain Tuffieha camp to enquire into the circumstances in which Pte R G Bond became deficient of one suit of battle dress and two towels.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 incendiary Sliema.

(1)  From Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications, 2008

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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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21 June 1940: Two Gladiators Lost

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

One of two Gladiators still in service (NWMA Malta)

One of two Gladiators still in service (NWMA Malta)


Two of Malta’s precious Gladiator aircraft were irreparably damaged in separate incidents today.  One crashed into an obstruction on the aerodrome during take-off from Hal Far this morning.  The pilot, Squadron Leader A C Martin made a violent uncontrollable swing to the right and hit a packing case.  The pilot was unhurt. 

This afternoon, two Gladiators were taking off from Hal Far when aircraft N5524 piloted by Flying Officer P Hartley lost a wheel when taking off and overturned on landing.  The pilot was shaken and slightly injured.  Both aircraft have been declared a total write-off.

Now only two Gladiator fighters remain in service to defend Malta.


The Governor and Commander in Chief Malta today applied to the War Office for a further set of Radio Direction Finder (RADAR) equipment.  Lt Gen Dobbie told London that additional provision is needed to ensure adequate warning of air raids continuously throughout 24 hours.  This would avoid unnecessary casualties as well as establish confidence among civilian workmen during working hours, he said.

The existing main RDF system was installed on Dingli Cliffs in 1939 and can detect aircraft flying at 10000 feet from a distance of up to 70 miles.  A mobile second system operates nearby in support of Dingli but is considered insufficient for current and future needs. 


Weather  Fine; light variable wind.

0905-0928 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft flies over Kalafrana and Hal Far, believed to be on reconnaissance.   

2220 hrs  A Royal Engineers officer reports seeing a metallic object floating in the entrance of St George’s Bay.  A party of Royal Engineers take a boat out to investigate but lose sight of the object.


KALAFRANA  AC Tong transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A trade testing board, president Capt E A Wavish, today assembled at Ghain Tuffieha camp for the purpose of classifying Pte E R D Bylett, shoemaker. 

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Posted by on June 21, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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