RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2020

11 December 1940: Mines Threaten Malta’s Coastal Defences

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

MINES EXPLODE ON ISLAND’S SHORES

Sea mine

Sea mine

A significant number of Italian mines have been reported around the Island in the past four days.  It is believed they have been brought to shore by strong north westerly gales.  A number have exploded on the rocks, but the majority were rendered safe by the Royal Navy when the weather moderated enough for it to be safe to do so.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 DECEMBER TO DAWN 12 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and stormy. 

No air raids.

0830 hrs  A mine is washed ashore near a beach defence post at Mellieha and reported by by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 DECEMBER 1940

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party from 24 Fortress Company under L/Cpl O’Donnell began work on experimental anti-tank obstacles at Msida Bastion.  Another section began construction of Haywharf Engine Room.  No 1 Works Company completed the cookhouse at Zeitun School and began work on a Heavy Ack Ack position at Hagiar Qim.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Mines were heard being exploded early this morning.  A fatigue party was sent to bring bicycles for E Company.  C Company held one of their excellent concerts. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  GOC visited Luqa area to inspect anti-aircraft posts.  Working parties at Marino Pinto. 

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2020 in 1940, December 1940

 

Tags: , ,

10 December 1940: 100 Luftwaffe Planes Sent to Sicily

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

General Hans Ferdinand Geisler

General Hans Ferdinand Geisler

STUKA CHIEF’S ORDERS: SINK ILLUSTRIOUS

The German Luftwaffe’s Fliegerkorps X – including Ju87 Stuka dive-bombers – have today been ordered to Sicily to bolster the Italian Air Force.  The special dive bomber task force under General Hans Ferdinand Geisler has been deployed to deal with the threat on Axis shipping in the Mediterranean from the Royal Navy.  Hitler has issued General Geisler with a list of priorities, the first of which reads “Illustrious mussen sinken.”    

Two Stuka units of Fliegerkorps X, with up to 100 aircraft, will be based at airfields in Catania and Comiso. They will undertake special training to strike at the British Mediterranean Fleet.  A key target for the Luftwaffe will be the aircraft carrier Illustrious, which was at the centre of the successful attack on Taranto in which three of Italy’s six battleships were sunk, a major humiliation for the Italians.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 DECEMBER TO DAWN 11 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and windy. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 10 DECEMBER 1940

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland. 

KALAFRANA  Sunderland L5806, pilot F/Lt Ware, left for Middle East with passengers.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 1 Works Company began work on a Heavy Ack Ack gun position at Benghaisa.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Lyon light practice. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Working parties at Marino Pinto.  Reconaissance of Rinella Sector with CO of A and D Companies. 

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 10, 2020 in 1940, December 1940

 

Tags: , , ,

9 December 1940: British Offensive Launched in North Africa

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

General Archibald Wavell

General Archibald Wavell

OPERATION COMPASS TARGETS ITALIAN FORCES

The British forces today launched a massive offensive in the Western Desert.  Under the command of General Wavell, Commander in Chief Middle East, ‘Operation Compass’ is a counter-attack designed to reclaim ground gained by the Italians in September. 

The mission was launched at dawn with a heavy artillery barrage and armoured tank advance on an Italian encampment.  Taken by surprise, the Italians were unable to mount an effective defence, though many attempted to fight off the attackers with small arms fire.  By 8.30 am the camp was taken.  Early reports claim that the Italian commanding officer has been killed and some 2000 troops have surrendered.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 DECEMBER TO DAWN 10 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and windy. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 DECEMBER 1940

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  1000 hrs  Battalion assumed role of Fortress Reserve Battalion.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Two sections of C Company at small arms anti-aircraft practice on Pembroke Ranges.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  There was an outgoing mail at very short notice.  Floating mines were reported in vicinity of beach posts.  Four mines were exploded and rendered safe during the night. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Conference to discuss taking over part of St Thomas Sector.  Details of Fitness Competition issued.   

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 9, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: , ,

8 December 1940: Mussolini’s War Staff in Disarray

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

DEFEATS ON LAND AND SEA FUEL RIOTS, RESIGNATIONS AND DISMISSALS

Marshal Pietro Badoglio

Marshal Pietro Badoglio

Many Italians are beginning to question Mussolini’s policies, fearing his warmongering is leading their country to major disaster, according to a London press agency.  The resignation of Marshal Badoglio as chief of general staff on 6 December, together with dissatisfaction over the war in Greece, is believed to have led to recent civil disturbances in Milan and Florence.  Marshal Badogio’s successor, General Ugo Cavallero, has been sent to Albania to address the crisis facing Italian troops in the region.

Today the ‘retirement’ of Admiral Domenico Cavagnari as navy chief of staff and the dismissal of Admiral Inigo Campioni as fleet commander have raised further questions over the competence of ‘Il Duce’.  Admiral Campioni commanded the Italian fleet through the recent battles of the Mediterranean campaign, including the Battles of Taranto and Cape Spartivento, following which he was criticised for excessive caution.

It is also rumoured that General Cesare Maria de Vecchi, commander of the Italian forces based in the Aegean Sea and one of Mussolini’s earliest Fascist comrades has asked to be relieved of his command. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 DECEMBER TO DAWN 9 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine; windy. 

No air raids.

1845 hrs  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report mines floating near the shore at Mellieha.  A Lyon light is kept illuminated through the night and some explosions are heard.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 8 DECEMBER 1940

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Work on anti-tank walls and trenches at Concezione completed.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  17 guns are ready for anti-aircraft action. 

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 8, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: , ,

7 December 1940: Malta’s People ‘Can Take It’

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

PRESS CORRESPONDENT PRAISES SPIRIT OF MALTESE

An official newspaper war correspondent gives their impressions from a recent visit to Malta:

Valletta shows little sign of war

Valletta shows little sign of war

After London, Malta must hold the record for the hammering it has taken from the air, but Valletta (the capital) has surprisingly little to show in the way of wrecked buildings.  The spirit of the population is amazing. 

As units of the Mediterranean Fleet went slowly into the harbour one sunny morning recently, cheers rang from the heights round the port, while on a single point hundreds of children had gathered, waving flags and singing an uncomplimentary song  about Mussolini to the tune of the stirring old naval song, ‘Row Out the Dinghy’.  I was told that it was this children’s reception that the Fleet looked forward to.  Most certainly the children make a thunderous din.

While I was ashore, an air raid alarm was sounded.  The soft rock of the island is catacombed with passages and shelters, and everyone went to earth.  After half an hour the ‘all clear’ sounded.  A few minutes later, two Hurricanes came roaring over the harbour doing a ‘victory roll’.  They had bagged a bomber each.  The appearance of the planes was the signal for more terrific cheering, especially round the docks, where the Maltese downed tools to wave.

Normal business life goes on in Valetta.  It is here more than anywhere else in the Mediterranean that one realises that Italy’s number is up.   It will be a great day for the children and sailors when the Fleet sails in, finally victorious.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 DECEMBER TO DAWN 8 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and windy. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER 1940

AIR HQ  Eleven Wellington bombers attacked Castel Benito airfield and destroyed or damaged 29 aircraft.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Seventeen recruits are posted from Depot to the Battalion.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion rugby match was played against the Royal West Kent Regiment. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  CO visited Luqa for siting Ack Ack defences (GOC present).  Work commenced on Ack Ack posts; nine more Bren guns drawn from Ordnance. 

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 7, 2020 in 1940, December 1940

 

Tags: , ,

6 December 1940: Royal Engineers to Tackle All Unexploded Bombs

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

NEW ORDERS FOR DEALING WITH UNEXPLODED BOMBS IN MALTA

New orders were issued today to military commanders,  the police and civil defence across Malta for dealing with  unexploded bombs:

A Bomb Disposal Unit Royal Engineers has been formed to deal with the disposal of all unexploded bombs on land other than that belonging to Royal Navy or RAF, under the orders of the Chief Engineer through the Bomb Disposal Officer (BDO).

NWMA Malta

NWMA Malta

Reports of unexploded bombs will be made to the General Staff either by military formations and units or through the civil police.  Reports of will contain the following information:

  1. Number of unexploded bombs
  2. Location of each and whether in an area vital to the war effort.
  3. The bomb’s position, e.g.lying on surface, buried in the road, etc.
  4. If bomb can be seen, its type (ie high explosive or incendiary and approximate size.
  5. Name of the person finding it (civilian or police)or, if reported by the military, the name of nearest Unit (which will, if necessary, provide a guide to the location).
  6. Special features, if any.

The General Staff will indicate if the bomb is to be treated as high priority and will notify this to the BDO with a copy to the Chief Engineer.

Civilians finding an unexploded bomb are instructed to report it to the police, who will clear the area of people and fence off the bomb; no-one should be allowed near until the BDO arrives.  Bombs on military premises will reported to the relevant HQ and guarded by local personnel.

Details of the bomb will be collected as above and forwarded to police headquarters for transmission to General Staff, and onward forwarding to the Bomb Disposal Officer.  The BDO will make a reconnaissance visit, confirm the area to be cleared, decide on the action to be taken and mobilise the Bomb Disposal Section.

The Bomb Disposal Officer will provide a weekly report of unexploded bombs dealt with. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 DECEMBER TO DAWN 7 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold; fair.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 6 DECEMBER 1940

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Command physical training course.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Brigade Commander accompanied by the CO inspected Dingli.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Inspection of a Fougasse, constructed by the Knights of St John in the hard rock.  Experiments are to be carried out in the softer rock. 

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: , , , ,

5 December 1940: Malta’s Kindness to Refugees

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

CHRISTMAS PARTY APPEAL LAUNCHED FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN

Philip Pullicino, Adjutant, Special Constabulary

Philip Pullicino, Adjutant, Special Constabulary

The Special Constabulary has put out a call for donations to fund a series of Christmas Parties for evacuated and distressed children.  In a broadcast to the Specials about their work today, the Adjutant of the Special Constabulary, Philip Pullicino, ended with an appeal for members to collect money from the public for this worthy cause.  With the funds raised from the appeal it is hoped to provide an afternoon’s entertainment, refreshments and gifts for the poorest and those hardest hit by the war. (1)

VILLAGES OFFER GENEROUS HOSPITALITY

The massive changes faced by rural villages in Malta since the outbreak of war have been highlighted by an article in the Times of Malta.  The village of Dingli, normal population 1200, now houses an extra 900 living as refugees.  Helping the village adapt to the changes is the District Committee, which co-ordinates refugee accommodation and rationing of essential commodities, provides additional help to the destitute and organises first aid training. 

The refugees have been quick to show their appreciation for the generous hospitality shown by the villagers.  As the Times emphasises, Dingli is just one example of the many villages adopting a helpful and co-ordinated approach to caring for refugees.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and generally wet with bright intervals. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 5 DECEMBER 1940

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion working party at Fort Mosta: two shifts of 1 officer and 60 other ranks each. 

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

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 5, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: , ,

4 December 1940: First U Class Sub Arrives at Malta from War Patrol

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

U CLASS SUBMARINES JOIN MEDITERRANEAN WAR FLEET

HMS Upright (2nd L)

HMS Upright (2nd L)

HM Submarine Upright arrived in Marsamxetto Harbour today having completed a patrol of the north west coast of Sicily.  This was the first war patrol following the decision in October to deploy three U class submarines to the Mediterranean.  The other two, Ursula and Utmost were delayed due to mechanical issues.  Commanding Officer Lt J E Brooks RN described the atmosphere on board during the mission, which started from Gibraltar:

“Seamen and stokers mess in the torpedo compartment which is also the only available stowage for the majority of the three weeks provisions carried for patrol.  This compartment suffers from excessive ‘sweating’ and is permanently damp.  The cortiscene of the deck is completely sodden and requires constant renewal.  Hammocks cannot be kept dry and bunks are not provided. 

Under these conditions it is considered that 12 days at sea is a maximum compatible with any degree of efficiency.  In the North Sea patrols were normally 12 days from harbour to harbour with 14 days provisions on board.  Bad weather has a noticeable depressing effect on the ship’s company as sleep becomes impossible and even the old hands are seasick.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and overcast.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 4 DECEMBER 1940

Nil report.

(1) History of the British ‘U’ Class Submarine, Derek Walters, Casemate Publishers 2004

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 4, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: ,

3 December 1940: Allied Fleet Now Has Command of Mediterranean

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound

FIRST SEA LORD REPORTS TO WAR CABINET ON MEDITERRANEAN SITUATION

It has always been the aim of the Admiralty to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet with the object of striking at Italy.  Until recently, other commitments have hindered the execution of this policy, but within the past few weeks it has been possible to spare more ships for the Mediterranean and recent successes against the Italians have shown the soundness of the policy.

As has been publicly stated, the damage to the Italian capital ships [at Taranto] would result in a temporary easing of the position in the Mediterranean.  Nevertheless, care must be taken to avoid reducing the strength of Admiral Cunningham’s forces below the level at which he would be able with confidence to carry the offensive against the Italians. 

As an indication of the state of Italian morale, the First Sea Lord drew attention to the recent naval action off Cape Spartivento in which Force H was engaged.  He described the action in some detail, and showed how unfounded were the Italian claims that it was the British units that had run away.  He expressed the opinion that it was a chance encounter, since the primary objective of Force H was to protect (i) a large military convoy going through the Mediterranean and (ii) one of the older capital ships which was being withdrawn as a consequence of a success at Taranto.

In his personal view, the Italian forces were probably sweeping to cover a convoy about to leave Palermo for Libya.  The convoy which Force H was protecting was carrying RAF drafts for Egypt to replace units sent to Greece, and reinforcements for the anti-aircraft defences and the garrison of Malta.  These latter are intended to make Malta reasonably secure for use as an advance base for light forces against Italian communications with North Africa.  Plans are afoot for further blows at the Italians.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and wet.

1355-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  No raid materialises.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER 1940

Nil report.

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: ,

2 December 1940: Enemy Raiders Retreat at Sight of Hurricanes

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

'Molotov cocktail' petrol bombs may be used against tanks

‘Molotov cocktail’ petrol bombs may be used against tanks

DAY TO DAY ORDERS FOR TROOPS IN MALTA

Extract from Commanding Officer’s Conference, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment, 2 December 1940

Saluting

Complaints have been received that the AOCs car and RAF officers are not being saluted by soldiers.  All ranks must be acquainted with badges of rank of officers in the Royal Navy and RAF.  In certain cases it is difficult to distinguish Army officers in battle dress, but the tie should serve as a good identification mark.

Motor Cycle Trailers

Higher authority has ruled that not more than two trailers will be towed behind one motorcycle and that weight in excess of one cwt for each trailer will not be carried.  The motorcycle will not take a pillion rider.  Stores such as guns, tripods and belt boxes, should be carried on the trailers, while the lighter and less cumbersome items are carried by bicycle by the gun numbers.  OCs of Companies are to try out methods of carrying ammunition belts by bicycle.

Skin Diseases

The CO wishes Company Commanders to take active steps to reduce the number of skin diseases which can be dealt with by individuals themselves, eg cuts, IAT etc.  Flavine was issued to Companies and Company OCs are to investigate the possibility of giving every post commander a small bottle of this mixture to deal with minor casualties in his command.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO DAWN 3 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and wet.

1037 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft reported approaching the Island from the north east. 

1045 hrs  Friendly aircraft approach Malta from the west.  The raiders are spotted eight miles to the north east of Grand Harbour, turning to the south east, then east.

1050 hrs  Two Hurricane fighters land at Luqa.

1055 hrs  All clear sounds.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 DECEMBER 1940

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  COs conference at HQ.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Authority is given to issue a third blanket to troops.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  A lecture at Australia Hall on “Strategic Importance of Malta”.

MALTA SIGNAL COMPANY  Classification of Signallers of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment: 11 passed, one failed.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Molotov anti-tank bomb demonstrated. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party of 20 men under L/Sgt King lifted an anti-aircraft searchlight onto the roof of Ritz Mansions, Tigne.  Two sub-sections of 24 Fortress Company began building anti-tank walls and digging anti-tank trenches at Concezione.  Work commenced on two look-out posts.  No 1 Works Company began work on additional accommodation for 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Hompesch. 

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 2, 2020 in December 1940

 

Tags: , , ,