26 January 1941: Dockyard Defenders to Get Bravery Awards

26 Jan

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Military Cross

Lieutenant Francis William Angle, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Cross

“This officer of the Dockyard Defence Battery was in charge of a MkVI A multiple pom-pom gun which was situated in a most exposed position about 200 years from the berth where HMS Illustrious was when subjected to intense dive-bombing.  He stationed himself on the director tower, and by his excellent example and coolness in the face of heavy bombing, encouraged his men to fire the gun with telling effect on the enemy.”

Sergeant Leone Apap, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Medal

“In the temporary absence of his officer on duty elsewhere, as a member of the Dockyard Defence Battery, he displayed remarkable qualities of leadership, initiative and courage. During the intense dive-bombing attacks on HMS Illustrious, on 19th January 1941, his MkVI A pom-pom developed a series of faults which eventually put the gun out of action.  Instead of applying routine procedures, which would have kept the gun out of action for some considerable time, he sent his detachment, except for three, to a safer place, while he, with the assistance of the three, set about clearing the faults.  This he was successful in doing in a short time, whereupon he reassembled his men, and once again went into action with considerable effect.  This NCO has consistently displayed a devotion to duty, which deserves commendation.”

Military Medal

Military Medal

Bombardier Gerald Balzan, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Medal

During the intense attacks on HMS Illustrious, many large calibre bombs fell within a few yards of the gun position, enveloping it in dust and smoke.  Showers of debris fell all around, and the NCO in charge of the gun became a casualty, together with two other men…Balzan, however, showed considerable courage and initiative, rallying the remaining three men…By his action, Bdr Balzan kept the gun in action until the end of the raid, when he attended to the three casualties.” (1)


Weather  Fine; partially cloudy.

1528-1535 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island at 10000 feet on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns open fire.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled and attack the JU 88, chasing it back to the coast of Sicily.  The aircraft is last seen with smoke coming from its port engine. 

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Mary Healey, age 66.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Helmut Fund, pilot of reconnaissance JU 88.


AIR HQ 0540-1330 hrs Sunderland on anti-convoy patrol eastern Tunisian coast with striking force standing by. 0708 hrs sighted one tug and seven barges 72 miles south west of Lampedusa.  The striking force was not despatched owing to existing instructions governing action of aircraft against shipping at sea.  A Cant Z501 seen near the barges dropped bombs in the sea and left when the Sunderland turned towards it.  

LUQA 1330 hrs  69 Squadron (431 Flight):  1 Maryland reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes hampered by bad weather.

(1) Times of Malta, 4 August 2013


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Posted by on January 26, 2021 in 1941, January 1941


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