12 October 1940: New Bomb Disposal Organisation for Malta

12 Oct

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Bomb Disposal Section: Home Front

Bomb Disposal Section: Home Front

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has decided that the Island needs to increase its bomb disposal organisation to deal with the increasing number of unexploded bombs. He wrote to the War Office today with a proposal to form two bomb disposal ‘sections’.

Hundreds of sections have been created on the Home Front since May 1940, when bomb disposal became the responsibility of the Royal Engineers. The standard structure for a section on the Home Front is one Lieutenant to deal with the unexploded bombs, with 15 other ranks for digging and lifting bombs, and a sergeant to oversee them.

Since the first bombing raids in June, bomb disposal in Malta has been carried out by the Inspecting Ordnance Officer Capt R L Jephson Jones, RAOC, and Lt W M Eastman, RAOC, assisted in digging and lifting tasks by other ranks of the Royal Engineers. So far they have dealt with 57 high explosives and 24 incendiaries as well as clearing unexploded anti-aircraft shells.


Three Italian airmen were interrogated today after being rescued at sea by a Sunderland flying boat on patrol from Kalafrana. Sunderland pilot F/Lt McCall picked up the three airmen at 1235 hrs from a collapsible rubber dinghy after their Cant 501 aircraft had been shot down by Fleet Air Arm Fulmar fighter from HMS Illustrious. The prisoners stated that two of their crew had been killed in the Fulmar attack. All three were taken for interrogation.

Cant Z501

Cant Z501

Under interrogation Sottotenente Anthony Panigliuglo, Observer, gave his unit as 145 Squadron dependent on Libyan Command. Under questioning he said: “I have to do a certain period of reconnaissance on aircraft…I was the observer and we were reconnoitring the Mediterranean on a Cant Z501…We left Tobruk today at dawn. We proceeded to Tripoli for refuelling and we were patrolling alone near Malta at about 1125…we were 60 miles east of Malta when we were attacked by a low winged single engine monoplane, evidently a fighter…which caused us to land in the sea…

There were five of us in the aircraft. The first pilot was badly wounded and disappeared when we got into the sea and the engineer on board was first wounded in the leg, then in the stomach, and died as soon as we reached the water. We blew up the collapsible dinghy and were picked up two hours afterwards. A Sunderland then appeared on our route and we think we were only recognised through our having put up a red neckerchief on an oar. We could not get alongside the Sunderland but they finally threw a line and pulled us on board. The dinghy was leading…The dead personnel are Cpl Armando Dima and 2nd Lt de Giglio.”

The other survivors were identified as Sergente Maggiore Firmino Donizotti and Primo Aviere Vittorio Pazut.


Weather  Overcast.

0620-0640 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Three Hurricanes are scrambled and the raiders turn back while still 12 miles away, with no interceptions.

0800 hrs  Convoy arrives in Grand Harbour.

1008-1013 hrs  Air raid alert; no raid materialises.

Enemy casualties Sottotenente De Giglio, shot down and died; Primo Aviere Armando Dima, shot down and died; Sergente Maggiore Firmino Donizotti, shot down and taken prisoner; Sottotenente Antonio Fanigiulo, shot down and taken prisoner; Primo Aviere Vittorio Pazut, shot down and taken prisoner; all of 145a Squadriglia, Libyan Command.


ROYAL NAVY  0635 hrs Six Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA) despatched to attack two destroyers reported by Sunderland reconnaissance in the early hours. They reported a large patch of oil about three miles long as well as units of the Mediterranean Fleet, returning to base at 0920 hrs. 1150-1545 hrs Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA despatched to attack three cruisers and three destroyers reported by Sunderland; no interception and all Swordfish returned.

AIR HQ  0906-1725 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron on reconnaissance sighted the Malta convoy which radioed that it had been attacked by a submarine but had driven it off with gunfire. At 1235 hrs he saw the wreck of a Cant Z501 and three men in a collapsible dinghy, and picked them up. 1200-1545 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported six destroyers at sea, plus a 2000 ton merchant vessel off the Straits of Messina and large streaks of oil 20 miles from Syracuse.    

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland on naval co-operation patrol sighted units of the enemy fleet and led Fleet Air Arm striking force from HMS Illustrious in the attack. One Sunderland on patrol picked up three Italian prisoners shot down in the attack.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Mail arrived; two-three months old but very welcome.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  UK mail received.

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Posted by on October 12, 2020 in 1940, October 1940


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