5 January 1941: Medals for Malta Bomb Disposal

05 Jan

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Captain R L Jephson Jones & Lt W M Eastman

Captain R L Jephson Jones & Lt W M Eastman


Malta’s first two bomb disposal officers have both been awarded the George Cross. The London Gazette made the official announcement of the awards to Captain R L Jephson Jones and Lieutenant W M Eastman, RAOC, which were made in recognition of their ‘most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out very hazardous work’.  According to the recommendation, the two officers:  “worked under dangerous and trying conditions and performed acts of considerable gallantry in dealing with large numbers of various unexploded bombs, some of which were in a highly dangerous state and of the German delay type.

On one occasion, these officers showed particular gallantry in dealing with an 1100lb (500kg) German bomb. Two attempts were made to explode this bomb but it failed to detonate; at the third attempt when it was in a most dangerous state, they succeeded in detonating it.  On a second occasion, these officers, assisted by a Master Rigger of H M Dockyard, succeeded in removing a 400lb high explosive Italian unexploded bomb which had been under water for a week in a 20ft deep well inside a house…”

Captain Jephson Jones and Lt Eastman with their Royal Engineers team tackled some 85 unexploded bombs and over 150 Ack Ack shells in the six months to November last year. With no formal training or specialist equipment available in Malta, they often had to improvise to get the job done. 

In a further development today, the War Office issued a caution to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief to place a press embargo on any mention of the two officers dealing with time bombs in coverage of their awards. (1)


The following Ack Ack ammunition was used during the period 31 December 1940 to 5 January 1941 inclusive, all services: 4.5” shells 33; 3.7” shells 194; 3” high explosive 66.


Weather  Rain and strong winds.

No air raids.

Military casualties WO2 Clarence Walter Tucker, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.


AIR HQ Arrivals One Sunderland. Reconnaissance carried out of main aerodromes in Sicily. 0755-1000 hrs Glenn Martin reconnaissance Catania including harbour and Noto.  Nothing in Catania harbour.  28 aircraft believed SM 79 and nine single-engined aircraft dispersed around the aerodrome. 0610-1200 hrs Glenn Martin reconnaissance Palermo; snowstorm encountered two 6in cruisers, ten merchant vessels in harbour. 0815-1010 hrs Comiso observed from 3000 feet: 13 CR 42 fighters and three transport aircraft, probably SM 75s.  Two fighters took off but the Glenn Martin withdrew without encounter.  Gela aerodrome and landing ground: no aircraft seen.  Trapani: 10 Macchi 200s and five three-engined aircraft – Ack Ack encountered from two gun positions.  All the aerodromes appeared to be waterlogged and in several cases aircraft seemed bogged down.

0810-1210 hrs  Glenn Martin photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli harbour from 10000 feet: three seaplanes near hangars; six destroyers, one merchant vessel 10000 tons, five of 8000 tons, seven of 6000 tons and eleven smaller.  Moderate to heavy Ack Ack encountered: fairly accurate.  Reconnaissance of Pantelleria: photos not taken due to 100 per cent cloud at 2300 feet over the island. 1429 hrs Sunderland from Gibraltar landed safely with nothing to report.      

KALAFRANA One Sunderland arrived from Gibraltar with passengers including Group Captain G H Livock, DFC, AFC, new Commanding Officer for Kalafrana.

LUQA 431 Flight: 2 Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli and Pantelleria; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Catania; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Trapani, Comiso and Gela; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Palermo. 148 Squadron: 6 Wellingtons bombing raid on Tripoli.

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


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Posted by on January 5, 2021 in 1941, January 1941


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