7 May 1941: Churchill Determined to Fight for Malta

07 May

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Maryland reconnaissance aircraft missing

Maryland reconnaissance aircraft missing


Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill has made clear the importance of the Island of Malta to the war effort. In a keynote speech to the House of Commons today as part of a two-day debate on the war situation, Mr Churchill said he has noted a tendency in some quarters, especially abroad, to talk about the Middle East as if the Allies could afford to lose their position there and yet carry on the war to victory on the oceans and in the air. 

On the contrary, he said, no-one must under-rate the gravity of the issue being fought in the Nile Valley. “The loss of the Nile Valley and the Suez Canal, the loss of our position in the Mediterranean and of Malta, would be among the heaviest blows we could sustain,” said Mr Churchill.  “We are determined to fight for them with all the resources of the British Empire, and we have every reason to believe that we shall be successful.”


In a cable to the War Office today the Governor and Commander in Chief revealed that the intake of conscripted men into the armed services in Malta has been much smaller than estimated. The shortfall has resulted in shortages of manpower for essential tasks, especially in the Royal Malta Artillery.  Further postings of personnel to the Island will be essential if adequate defences are to be maintained.


A Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft of 69 Squadron has been reported missing this evening, after failing to return from a reconnaissance mission. Piloted by Flying Officer John Boys-Stones, the aircraft was despatched from Luqa to reconnoitre a convoy after an attack by Beaufighters earlier today.  The Observer of the missing Maryland has been named as Sergeant J M Alexander and the Wireless Operator/Gunner Sergeant Jack Levy.


Personnel from the Channel Islands now serving in Malta are becoming increasingly anxious about the welfare of their families at home. Cables and letters have been sent to the Islands through the International Red Cross but no replies have been received for at least six months, if at all. The Channel Islands have been under German occupation since 30 June last year.  Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office today asking for assistance in restoring better communications with civilians on the Islands.


Weather  Overcast with low cloud.

0904-0925 hrs; 1019-1048 hrs  Air raid alerts for a formation of ME 109 fighters which carry out patrols round the Island  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagements.

1319-1340 hrs  Air raid alert; for eight ME 109s spotted heading towards the south east coast. Guns at Delimara and Benghaisa forts open fire and the raiders retreat without crossing the coast

1548-1620 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 which approaches the Island escorted by six ME 109 fighters. The JU 88 crosses the Island on reconnaissance and is engaged by heavy anti-aircraft guns; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled. The weaver of the formation collides with another aircraft; both crash and are written off.  Pilot Sergeant H H Jennings died when his aircraft hit the ground near Gharghur. The other pilot Sergeant Walker, managed to bale out before his aircraft plunged into the sea

2032-2141 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. Low cloud makes it difficult to locate targets and some raiders turn away without dropping any bombs.  Others drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome and in the sea off Tigne.  Four bombs hit a military post near Ghar Dalam, destroying a store and damaging an accommodation hut.  Three men are slightly wounded.  Searchlights illuminate raiders twice and anti-aircraft guns fire an immediate barrage; no claims.  A Hurricane night fighter is scrambled but does not engage.

Military casualties Flight Sergeant William James Griffiths, Royal Air Force; Flight Sergeant Ralph Hepple, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Henry Horace Jennings, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 261 Squadron; Flight Sergeant John Richards, Royal Air Force VR, 200 Squadron. Sergeant J M Alexander, Observer, Flying Officer John Boys-Stones, pilot and Sergeant Jack Levy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, of Glenn Martin Maryland, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Gatt, age 51. Mosta Saviour Galea, age 82.


ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron operations against small a convoy inside Lampedusa which already been attacked by Blenheims.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay. 69 Squadron Maryland despatched reconnaissance Naples returned to report a convoy: 5 Blenheims 21 Squadron and 3 Beaufighters 252 Squadron despatched to attack; two ships received direct hits and a Beaufighter shot down an Italian transport plane.  A second Maryland sent to reconnoitre the convoy after the attack has not yet returned.  Maryland photo-reconnaissance Taranto.  Planned reconnaissance of Naples delayed 24 hours.     

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  C and D Companies spent the day on the range firing rifle practices.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 14; dealt with 5 (5 x 50kg).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY 15 pdr cable from Fortress to Lintorn and 10 pdr cable miniature range to Lintorn broken by enemy action 2 March now repaired.


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Posted by on May 7, 2021 in 1941, May 1941


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