RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2021

22 March 1941: Five Hurricanes Shot Down – Pilots Killed

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

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

Sgt Richard Spyer (2)

Sgt Richard Spyer

“WE THOUGHT WE HAD THE EDGE” SAYS PILOT

Five RAF fighter pilots lost their lives today in the defence of Malta. The five fighters were among eight Hurricanes of 261 Squadron scrambled this afternoon to engage a large force of enemy raiders on a bombing raid across the east of the Island and Grand Harbour.  As the ten bombers turned back for Sicily, the fighters set off in pursuit, intercepting their target some 35 miles to the north of the Island.  14 Messerschmitt 109 fighters escorting the bombers then turned on the Hurricanes.  One pilot whose Hurricane was badly damaged in an engagement managed to return fire on the attacking ME 109 and destroy it.  Four other Hurricanes are missing.  

Pilot Officer John Pain was one of the survivors. “This was one day when we thought we had the edge. It was the first time we had managed to get eight aircraft into the air in one formation in the two months I had been on the Island.”  P/O Pain joined the search for survivors but found only the marks of crashed aircraft. (1)

The missing Hurricane pilots have now been named. Flying Officer James Foxton served as a reconnaissance pilot with 431 Flight in Malta from September until January, when he transferred to 261 Squadron to fly Hurricanes.  Pilot Officer Thomas Garland, Pilot Officer Dennis Knight and Flying Officer John Southwell arrived in Malta just five days ago to join the Squadron.  Sergeant Richard Spyer had a lucky escape on his way to Malta when the Hurricane he flew off HMS Argus ran out of fuel 40 miles short of the Island and fell into the sea; he baled out and was rescued.  Sadly today despite an extensive search no trace of the missing pilots could be found.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0758-0835 hrs Air raid alert for an enemy JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island on reconnaissance, escorted by two ME 109 fighters. Three Hurricanes engage; one of them attacks a raider from close range but without visible results.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1605-1625 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy formations totalling ten JU 88s and 14 ME 109 fighters approaching the Island from the north and north east. The ten bombers cross the Island at 22000 feet and drop bombs in a line from St Thomas Bay to Grand Harbour, the first in the neighbourhood of Bidni and the last on Senglea.  Houses and Dockyard buildings are damaged; part of Verdala Barracks is hit.  A sergeant of 4th Bn The Buffs is killed, apparently by a delayed action bomb.  One civilian is killed and three injured.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders; one ME 109 is shot down.  The tail fins of an enemy aircraft are picked up near Luqa aerodrome. 

Eight Hurricanes follow the enemy bombers as they head back towards Sicily and engage them 35 miles north of Malta. The ME 109s arrive to join the air battle: one Hurricane is shot down by a ME 109 which he then in turn shoots down.  Both aircraft hit the sea.  Four more Hurricanes fail to return.  It is not known whether they lost their bearings in the cloudy conditions or were shot down as they were out of radio range.  The RAF launch heads out to the north east to search for survivors of crashed aircraft.

1820-1850 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north east. They split up north east of the Island and only six approach, proceeding along the north coast.  One crosses the coast, passing over Rinella towards Grand Harbour and then out to sea.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement reported.

2230-2246 hrs  Air raid alert for some three or four bombers which approach singly, passing over the Island. There is a slight mist and no moon.  No searchlights are exposed, nor Malta fighters airborne.  The enemy pilots seem unsure of their location and unable to find target.  They drop bombs in isolated areas between Siggiewi and Gudja, on Hal Far and to the west of Luqa aerodrome, on the Marsa area and in the sea off St George’s.  Bombs are also dropped on the Dingli area. One farmhouse is hit, injuring the farmer and his son; two other civilians are hurt.

Military casualties Sergeant Martin M Boland, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Flying Officer James H T Foxton; Pilot Officer Thomas B Garland; Pilot Officer Dennis F Knight; Flying Officer John S Southwell; Sergeant Richard A Spyer, pilots, Royal Air Force, 261 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Zabbar  Francis Cassar, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY Rorqual arrived to embark mines for operations north west of Sicily.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Sunderland Suda Bay carried out patrol western Ionian Sea then alighted in Malta.  69 Squadron 1212-1600 hrs  Maryland closing patrol northern Ionian Sea for enemy shipping; nil report. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from the Middle East.

TA QALI  No 122 Eucharistic Congress Street, Mosta, taken over for overflow sleeping accommodation for officers.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE Troops move to Gozo for an exercise.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT) Sgt Boland, B Company, Bofors Troop was killed; The Buffs’ first fatal casualty in Malta. A Company gave a demonstation of a company in attack in the area Tal Wied Rini to Gen Scobell GOC who afterwards congratulated them on a fine show.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1800 hrs A small force was despatched to Gozo, consisting of one platoon and one section, both reduced in numbers.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt Runacres posted to the temporary garrison on Gozo.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg).

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1000 hrs  His Excellency Sir William Dobbie awards the Military Medal to Sergeant A Kitney of C Company. Representatives from all Companies attend on the Parade Ground at Battalion HQ.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  One platoon travelled to Gozo for an exercise.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  E Company established in Gozo with HQ in the Citadel, Victoria.

(1) Hurricanes Over Malta, Brian Cull with Frederick Galea, Grub Street 2002

(2)  Battle of Britain London Monument

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 22, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

21 March 1941: Areas of Malta Coast Present Danger to Life

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

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

Paradise bayPROTECTED ZONES NOW OUT OF BOUNDS

Several areas of Malta’s coastline have been declared ‘Protected Areas’. Military forces and the public have been warned that entering them may be very dangerous to life and limb.  The areas are a fringe of land following the coast on the north west of the Island around L’Imjiebah, Ghain Zeituna, Tal Imgharka, as well as stretches of land at Paradise and Anchor Bays.

Notices have been issued today to troops stating that all ranks are prohibited from doing so except in the course of duty. Warning notices are being erected in all the affected locations by the Royal Engineers. 

GREEN LABELS WILL GIVE PRIORITY TO MALTA MAIL

Special arrangements have been made to improve mail services following recent extended delays in the deliveries between the UK and Malta. A new green label has been issued to enable relatives in the UK to send a quick reply to letters sent by Air Mail from the Island.  The Postal Authorities in London will give priority to all letters bearing the green label, to ensure the fastest possible delivery.

Green labels will be issued in Malta must be used only for Special Air Mails, ie one sheet of thin paper, as the opportunity occurs. All ranks will be instructed to inform the addressee in the UK that the reply should also be limited to one thin sheet of notepaper and the green label affixed to the top left hand corner of the envelope.  Postage stamps for the appropriate amount must be affixed by the sender in the UK.

SHORTAGE OF BEDDING FOR TROOPS

Stocks of straw for making palliasses for emergency troop bedding are now exhausted. A very limited supply of substitute material has been obtained but it is quite insufficient to cover all demands and supply will be restricted. 

Problems have been identified in keeping palliasses free from vermin. As no repellent is available, measures have been introduced to combat infestation.  The palliasse will be emptied weekly and its contents spread on clean ground to expose them to the sun.  The cover will be turned inside out and placed on the ground to air.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MARCH TO DAWN 22 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0733-0840 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109 fighters which approach the coast and are engaged by anti-aircraft guns before retreating.

1045-1116 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by seven Italian Macchi fighters and two ME 109s which approach the Island in four pairs. The JU 88 drops 12 bombs on both sides of  destroyer HMS Defender as she is carrying out firing practice off Delimara Point, causing several holes above the water line and wounding six, two seriously.  Among them is a visiting senior officer who is wounded in the right leg by an invisible splinter.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; some engage the enemy off the east coast – causing the fighters to withdraw – while others escort Defender into port.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 21 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Defender is bombed while exercising off Delimara Point; some splinter damage.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland patrolled between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information to pass to submarines.   Maryland photoreconnaissance Porto Empedocle. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from the Middle East.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  6 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , , ,

20 March 1941: German Forces Preparing to Invade Gozo

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

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

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

INVASION BATTALION GATHERS IN SICILY

Information has been received by Malta high command that Gozo is the expected landing point for an enemy invasion. Reliable intelligence sources have confirmed that a German landing battalion with full boat and ferry equipment is heading for the central Mediterranean.  The force is expected to arrive on 26 March and to be ready for use ten days later.  There are also reported to be a number of flat-bottomed boats in Sicily of the type used for landing troops.  The quantity does not seem sufficient for a landing on Malta but it is thought a landing may be attempted on Gozo.

It is believed the enemy is preparing to carry out a reconnaissance of Gozo on the basis that the Island is undefended, and that therefore a raid on a small scale might be possible. In response, senior military officers from Malta including Administration, Royal Artillery, Royal Irish Fusiliers, Malta Tank Troop and Fortress Royal Engineers are making their own reconnaissance visit to Gozo prior to making suitable provision to defend the Island from invasion.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

1223-1243 hrs  Air raid alert for three approaching enemy fighters which do not come near the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled but the enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary.

1510-1542 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy ME 110 fighter which machine-guns a Dockyard tug off Zonqor. Anti-aircraft guns open fire and the raider is chased off by Hurricanes.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 20 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 1005-1325 hrs  Maryland patrolled between Pantelleria, Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information; convoy notified to Naval authorities.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO took officers and men to reconnoitre positions for the mobile machine-gun company.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 20, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , , ,

19 March 1941: Sunderland Flying Boats to Leave Malta

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

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

Sunderland flying boat

Sunderland flying boat

228 SQUADRON TRANSFERS TO MIDDLE EAST

Sunderland aircraft of 228 Squadron RAF are to leave Malta for the Middle East, it has been announced today. Since the entry of Italy to the war on 10 June last year, the flying boats have been based at Kalafrana, launching several successful attacking missions from Malta against Axis shipping.  They have also made a vital contribution to reconnaissance of enemy convoy and fleet movements Malta alongside the Marylands of 69 Squadron.  Concerns have been raised as to whether the few remaining Marylands will be able to cover Italian and North African harbours, as well as the sea routes in between. 

In the past few weeks several Sunderland aircraft have been attacked at their moorings in Marsaxlokk and St Paul’s Bays. 228 Squadron personnel and aircraft are expected to leave Malta within a week.  The Squadron will now have its base in Alexandria, Egypt.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

0948-1000 hrs; 1040-1100 hrs; 1740-1806 hrs  Air raid alerts for three separate enemy patrols around the Island which do not approaching the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled on each occasion but the enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary. Bad weather interferes with carrying out interceptions away from the Island.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron fired four torpedoes in the approach to Tripoli Harbour, covered by a bombing attack. One ship was observed hit by a bomb; one aircraft force-landed in Tunisia.

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 1015-1300 hrs Maryland patrolled between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information for submarines.  

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left with part of 228 Squadron personnel on transfer to Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO spent the morning with the Northern Infantry Brigade, reconnoitring positions for the mobile machine-gun company.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Brigade training exercise to test anti-parachute defences of the Victoria Lines and Ta Qali.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , , , ,

18 March 1941: Aircraft Missing After Attack on Tripoli

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

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

Swordfish believed shot down

Swordfish missing after raid

SWORDFISH MISSING AFTER RAID

Two airmen have been reported missing this morning after they failed to return from a bombing mission over Libya. Sub-Lieutenant W E Grant was pilot of one of nine Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm dispatched from Malta last night to attack Tripoli Harbour. Other returning pilots reported that Grant’s aircraft was shot down by the harbour’s defences.  They were unable to say whether the crew had survived.  Missing with S/Lt Grant is crew member Leading Airman W E J Thompson.

ROYAL ENGINEERS REINFORCEMENTS NEEDED

The Governor and Commander in Chief applied to the War Office today for additional officers to strengthen the command of the Royal Engineers in Malta. The current establishment of Fortress Headquarters is four officers and of 24 Company is five.  Lt Col Eaton-Matthews’ recent appointment to higher command as Chief Engineer and the departure of another senior officer to the Middle East has left the Regiment short-staffed in Malta.  The Royal Engineers are responsible for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure and transport for the war effort, as well as for bomb disposal in all areas outside of Navy and RAF premises.  Today’s request is for three officers (sub-lieutenant rank), trained in Field Company work.

In other communications today, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie asked for additional Royal Signals personnel as well as confirmation that RAOC personnel authorised on 5 February last are already on their way to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MARCH TO DAWN 19 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

0622-0643 hrs, 0805-0830 hrs, 1215-1233 hrs, 1511-1535 hrs, 0430-0457 hrs Air raid alerts for enemy fighters which patrol around the Island without crossing the coast. One fighter patrol from Sicily searches the area on the route south east of Malta through which Wellingtons and Hurricanes had passed coming from the Middle East 15 minutes before.  Four Hurricanes were scrambled on five occasions through daylight hours but enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary.  Bad weather interferes with carrying out interceptions away from the Island.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY Abingdon and Fermoy carried out a searching sweep north of the Hurd Bank to see if that area had been mined.  No mines were observed.  The opportunity was taken of sweeping out Regent and Upholder.

HAL FAR 830 Squadron  Nine aircraft carried out an operational flight against Tripoli; one machine failed to return. S/Lt Grant and N/A Thompson are missing.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The men are getting many games of football and hockey, which helps to relieve the monotonous work.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Anti-parachute posts in Bingemma Valley ceased to be manned during the night.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , ,

17 March 1941: Malta Needs Fighters More Than Ack Ack Guns

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

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

More fighters needed to repel raids

More fighters needed to repel raids

ONLY AN IMPROVED FIGHTER FORCE CAN PROTECT THE AIRFIELDS

Increased ground defences will not be enough to protect the airfields without an increase in fighter strength, says Malta’s Commander in Chief. Responding to the Chief of Imperial General Staff about the effectiveness of light automatic machine guns against attacks (maltagc70, 15 March), Lt General Sir William Dobbie stressed again the need for more, and better performing, fighter aircraft as “the only satisfactory solution” to ensure the security of the aerodromes.  He also reminded the War Office that balloon barrages and RAF PAC Units (1) originally destined for Malta’s airfields had been diverted elsewhere.

Ground defences of the aerodromes and flying boat bases are currently: Hal Far Bofors 4, light automatics 20; Luqa Bofors 6, light automatics 31; Ta Qali Bofors 5, light automatics 27; Marsaxlokk (Kalafrana) Bofors 10, light automatics 29. It is believed that the effectiveness of the light automatics could be enhanced by the use armour-piercing ammunition (apparently none is currently available). 

However, Lt Gen Dobbie concludes: “after all, the only satisfactory solution is a greatly increased force of fighter aircraft with adequate performance. I have pressed for this and trust the War Office will press this claim.  Unless and until it is provided, an adequate deterrent cannot be expected, and Malta cannot play its part as a naval and air base.” 

Six Hurricanes have arrived in Malta from the Middle East to reinforce 261 Squadron but the Island’s fighter force is still only a fraction of strength of Luftwaffe attacks. Only a week ago (maltagc70, 7 March) Malta’s Air Officer Commanding, Air Vice-Marshal Maynard, stated that without an increased fighter force he cannot protect the Sunderland and Wellington bomber squadrons based in Malta.

The initial reply from the War Office made no comment on the prospect of further fighters, concentrating remarks on ground defences:

“Experience shows that the Bofors, particularly used with a predictor, is the most effective weapon against the dive-bomber. We request confirmation of this, or otherwise.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1941

Weather  Cold and wet, with some bright spells.

1036-1050 hrs, 1200-1214 hrs  Air raid alerts for approaching enemy aircraft which turn away without crossing the coast. Malta fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

1800-1811 hrs; 0238-0249 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 0730-1215 hrs 69 Squadron  Maryland photoreconnaissance Naples Harbour. Three convoys heading for harbour.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Operational flight against Tripoli postponed owing to bad weather.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Anti-tank screen demonstration by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Snipers course at Pembroke Ranges.

 (1) parachute and cable

 

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

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 17, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

16 March 1941: Raids on Malta Total 46 in Just Two Weeks

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

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

MALTA HQ REPORTS ON AIR ATTACKS 3-16 MARCH

Senglea streetIn two weeks of heavy air raids, Malta’s airfields have been put out of action, ships and buildings smashed around Grand Harbour, civilians killed and their homes destroyed.  The tiny Hurricane fighter force has been outnumbered ten to one.  A report to the War Office today reviews the latest challenge for the Islanders and their defenders:

Recent enemy attacks on aerodromes have generally been built up in intensity over a period of about a fortnight, firstly very thorough daily reconnaissance followed by one or two attacks by two or three high flying bombers protected by fighters, culminating in intensive combined dive-bombing and low level attack by up to 100 planes.

These [massed] attacks are always protected by some 25 ME 109 and 110 fighters, flying at 15-20000 feet and are carried out by 20-30 JU 87 (Stukas) and an equal number of JU 88s who dive from 7-8000 feet right down to 100 feet of their target, while 20-30 Dorniers and Heinkel carry out low-level bombing from 8-5000 feet.

These attacks are usually carried out in three waves and whereas formerly full use was made of cloud and sun, in heavy attacks the Germans appear to rely more on the weight of numbers and come straight in, taking violent avoiding action from the moment they are ungagged, but steadying up for the dive. Flights do not follow one another as heretofore, but dive individually from all directions.

The most effective method so far found to deal with this form of attack is for guns to fire a geographical barrage over an area and up to a height agreed with the RAF, certain gun positions also being detailed to engage the low-flying aircraft.  There are insufficient guns at present round Ta Qali to permit of this latter manoeuvre without weakening the density of the barrage too much, but it is hoped soon to increase gun protection in this area. A minimum of 20 guns for each barrage is necessary. 

Malta fighters lay off outside an area and attack all disorganised enemy flights and single planes as they emerge from their attack. There have been far too few fighters here to attack these large formations as they come in with their own fighter escort.  Considering how greatly they have been outnumbered, these tactics seem to have met with success, but the only really satisfactory solution is greatly increased numbers of fighters which can engage and destroy the enemy before bombs are released.

35 enemy aircraft have been confirmed shot down by anti-aircraft fire from 1 January to 16 March 1941. With regard to comparison of the defence of the Dockyard area with that of the aerodromes, it has been found that similar casualties have been inflicted on the enemy in both cases, but damage has been greater in the Dockyard area, owing to congestion.

It has been found that sufficient warning has been given to all guns of each bombing attack. So far no experience has been gained of the use of the Kerrison Predictor, owing to its recent arrival on the Island.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 MARCH TO DAWN 17 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

0755-0848 hrs Air raid alert for four Dornier 215 light bombers plus six fighters approaching the Island. The bombers are engaged lightly by Ack Ack at Benghaisa.  The fighters endeavour to intercept Wellington aircraft returning from a mission; no damage is caused.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 16 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  An acoustic mine by the Floating Dock was exploded with a Kango hammer.

AIR HQ 1030-1230  Maryland patrolled between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information for submarines. Weather bad and visibility very poor.  Maryland photoreconnaissance Trapani. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (3.7” Ack Ack).

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 16, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , ,

15 March 1941: Recent Heavy Raids May Be Prelude to Invasion

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

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

3 Wellington bombers arrived today

3 Wellington bombers arrived today

ANTI-AIRCRAFT DEFENCES MAY NOT BE ENOUGH SAYS WAR OFFICE

Recent heavy bombing attacks on Malta have raised concerns in London. The War Office sent a telegram to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief today, saying: “Persistent attacks on your aerodromes might be a forerunner of invasion.  Therefore in view of recent German low-flying attacks, we would welcome your opinion whether you consider adequate the scale of weapons now allocated to aerodrome defence.  We would further be glad to know if you think light automatic fire can still be regarded as an effective deterrent against these types of attack.”

MALTA AIRFIELD SECURITY MUST BE UPGRADED

MOST URGENT From: Air Ministry                     To:  War Office             Copy:  Governor & C in C Malta

An increase in the establishment of the Kings Own Malta Regiment is urgently required for the anti-sabotage protection of the RAF aerodromes in Malta. The existing strength consisting of one company is inadequate in view of increasing RAF liabilities.  War Office approval is now requested for the raising of a second company locally consisting of six officers, six WO1/Sergeants, 12 corporals and 144 privates.  Also to increase the first company to a total of 24 junior NCOs.  Experience in the employment of these troops on anti-sabotage as opposed to anti-aircraft duties indicates the necessity of additional junior NCOs to supervise the greater number of posts into which troops must be organised.

A policy has been agreed between the Officer in Charge RAF and the General Officer Commanding Malta, endorsed by the Air Ministry, that these Kings Own Malta Regiment companies should remain under the Royal Air Force for anti-sabotage duties only.”

A note covering the telegram was added to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief:  “Is this [new Rifles] company covered by the expansion authorised in our War Office telegram of 8 March? If not, do you agree its necessity and can you raise the personnel in addition to the existing expansion programme?”  Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie replied immediately: “The policy of the employment of Kings Own Malta Regiment for anti-sabotage protection on RAF aerodromes is under consideration. I request no action on the Air Ministry recommendation pending further recommendations from us.”

GOZO FISHING BOAT TRAGEDY

A fishing boat from Gozo was destroyed today when it struck a mine in Grand Harbour. Four civilians were killed, three seriously injured and three slightly injured in the explosion.  The magnetic mine was lying off Marina Pinto in Grand Harbour.  Early investigations into the tragedy have suggested that the boat was taking an irregular short cut when it struck the mine.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MARCH TO DAWN 16 MARCH 1941

Weather  Storms until evening.

0705-0750 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve approaching enemy fighters which attempt to intercept Wellington bombers arriving from the UK. The pilot of one of the Wellingtons signals from north west of Gozo “Am being attacked”.  He does not reach Malta and it is later confirmed that he has been shot down.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and chase off the raiders.  In a dog fight one Hurricane sustains slight damage.

0950-0956 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft on weather reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are airborne but bad weather hinders interception.

1213-1236 hrs Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which dive-bombs Hal Far dropping four bombs across the aerodrome from 4000 feet, causing no serious damage or casualties. It also attempts a machine-gun attack but is driven off.  Two of the bombs do not explode.

1445-1459 hrs; 1625-1629 hrs Air raid alerts for enemy aircraft on weather reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are airborne but bad weather hinders interception.

0140-0225 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy aircraft which cross the coast individually and carry out attacks. Low cloud makes it difficult for the raiders to locate targets.  Some bombs are dropped near Iz-Zebbieh causing slight damage to civilian property but most fall in the sea.  Poor visibility also prevents Malta night fighters from taking to the air. 

Civilian casualties  Gozo  Emanual Borg, age 46; Carmel Costa, age 35; Saviour Grech, age 50; Saviour Rapa, age 74.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Wellingtons, 1 Maryland from the UK. 0750 hrs Maryland approaching from UK reports seeing an enemy convoy midway between Pantelleria and Cape Bon. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Trapani.  Maryland patrolled area between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping to pass information to submarines.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (3.7” Ack Ack).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  17 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , , ,

14 March 1941: Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief Knighted

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

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

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

LONDON GAZETTE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, Lieutenant General Dobbie has been knighted. The announcement appeared today in the London Gazette.  Following a successful military career including the First World War, Lt Gen Dobbie was appointed Governor and C in C last year.  Today’s announcement reads:

CENTRAL CHANCERY OF THE ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD St James’s Palace, SW1, 14th March, 1941

The King has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following promotion in the Most Honourable Order of the Bath: –

To be an Additional Member of the Military Division of the Second Class, or Knights Commanders, of the said Most Honourable Order: –

Major-General (acting Lieutenant-General) William George Sheldon Dobbie, CB, CMG, DSO, Colonel Commandant, Royal Engineers, Acting Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Malta.

TROOPS HAVE HAD NO NEWS FROM HOME FOR MONTHS

From: Governor & C in C                                  To:  War Office

I am much concerned at the almost total non-receipt of mails from the UK by the Forces. Many men have had no letters since middle November.  Though a number of aircraft have recently reached Malta from the UK, practically no mail has been brought in them, in spite of assurances given in your telegram of 20 November. 

This is naturally causing much uneasiness and some unrest. I earnestly hope this may be put right without delay.  In view of the paramount importance of this, I suggest it would be justifiable to detail a Sunderland or Wellington for this purpose once a week or fortnight.   The matter is really urgent.  Please pass a copy of this to the Air Ministry.

From: War Office                                             To:  Governor & C in C

The following mails were despatched by aircraft: 4 February (152lbs by three aircraft, one lost); 21 February (206lbs by four aircraft); 23 February (52lbs by one aircraft); 3 March via Gibraltar (188lbs by Sunderland); 10 March (50 lbs by one aircraft). 

These mails included official and unofficial Royal Navy, RAF and Army communications. Every opportunity is taken to include [servicemen’s] mails but occasionally the notice is too short or bad weather prevents the carrying of full loads.  The suggestion in the last paragraph of your cable is being considered by the Air Ministry.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 MARCH TO DAWN 15 MARCH 1941

Weather  Storm clouds; less windy but considerable swell on the sea.

1243-1305 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 14 MARCH 1941

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  13 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 14, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , ,

13 March 1941: ‘Lights Out’ Ordered to Save Power

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

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

Stone walls a barrier to tank warfare

Stone walls a barrier to tank warfare

TROOPS TO ECONOMISE ON ELECTRICITY

Recent bomb damage to Malta’s power stations have caused concern over the use of electricity across the Island. Troops of Malta Garrison have been ordered to save electricity by economising on the use of lights at night.  From now on all lights will have to be out by 2300 hours and remain so until daylight.  Duty officers will have the task of ensuring that the measure is strictly complied with.

LARCENY REPORTED DURING AIR RAIDS

There have been reports of an increase in larceny on the Island during air raids. Notices have been issued warning of severe measures to be taken against anyone found guilty of theft:

”Even in enemy country this is a heinous offence… On this Island, stealing from inhabitants who are compelled to take cover during air raids is particularly vile… The minimum punishment for such an offence is 2 years’ imprisonment.”

SOUTHERN MALTA UNSUITABLE FOR TANK WARFARE

From: Governor & C in C                                              To:  War Office

The southern half of the Island is still considered unsuitable for tank warfare. It would however be possible to use tanks for making brief cross-country attacks but, without very careful previous reconnaissance, there would be a constant danger of coming to grief on the stone walls which abound, or of being held up long enough to have anti-tank fire brought to bear.  Movements of tanks will therefore be largely limited to the roads, which can be watched, and the narrow village streets along which they would have to pass make possible the use of anti-tank tarps.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 MARCH TO DAWN 14 MARCH 1941

Weather  Stormy and overcast with low cloud and some rain; very wild and blustery overnight.

1045-1115 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Edward E Shorthouse, Factory Foreman, HM Dockyard.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 13 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  An economy scheme came into force whereby no electricity may be used between 2300 hrs and 0700 hrs, to enable the power stations to use less fuel.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (50kg).

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Mortar demonstration at Pembroke by 4th Bn The Buffs.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Company attended fougasse demonstration at Marsascala and visited the Rinella sector.

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 13, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

Tags: , , ,