3 June 1941: Malta to Expect 6000-Strong Invasion Within a Week

03 Jun

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40 motor torpedo boats ready in Sicily

40 motor torpedo boats ready in Sicily


Malta could be invaded within a week, according to the War Office. According to a telegram to the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief, a source of unknown reliability states that German and Italian troops in Sicily are undergoing intensive training for an attack on the Island.  The source also states that 6000 German and Italian parachute troops have arrived in Catania.  The attack is expected to begin between 10 and 12 June.

A second report has revealed that 1500 Italian parachutists, 1500 bicyclists and 3000 men are at Syracuse, with 120 65/17 guns, 40 torpedo-armed motor boats and light transports. There are also significant troop and aircraft concentrations at Caltanisetta.  However, the War Office gives a word of caution, stating that as yet has no firm confirmation of an intention to attack Malta.


A Malta-based Blenheim aircraft was destroyed today during an attack on an enemy convoy this afternoon. The bomber was one of four of 139 Squadron who with another of 82 Squadron were despatched to attack Axis supply ships with an escort of destroyers.  The Blenheim piloted by S/Ldr Thompson DFC succeeded in hitting an 8000 ton merchant ship but was hit by debris from the resulting blast.  Following Blenheims reported that the aircraft exploded and crashed into the sea; there is little hope of survivors.  The other two crew members have been named as Sgt Hepworth and Sgt Turner. (1)


Troop company commanders are now required to submit a report every Monday to the effect that orders to economise on water are being complied with and that fresh water consumption within their respective companies does not exceed an average of 10 gallons per head per day.


Weather  Fine and warm.

1328-1340 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which carries out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour, escorted by twelve fighters. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no damage to enemy aircraft.  Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to reach height in time to engage the raiders.

PM  One Italian three-engined aircraft passing to the west of Malta is attacked by four Hurricanes of 249 Squadron and shot down in the sea.  The crew are seen on the wing.  The Gozo boat and Hurricanes conducted a search but were unable to find any survivors.

2125-2135 hrs  Air raid alert for four formations of enemy aircraft which approach the Island and circle east of Kalafrana and Grand Harbour for one and a half hours. 15kg bombs are dropped on land west of Island Bay and in the sea.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

2143-2300 hrs  Air raid alert. Two enemy aircraft cross the coast near Kalafrana and drop 15kg and incendiaries near the airfield and in the sea.  Searchlights illuminate the raiders on two occasions and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

2327-0045 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west and drops bombs in the sea south west of St Thomas’ Bay. During the raid four Swordfish aircraft land at Hal Far.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.


ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Six Swordfish in two unsuccessful attempts in poor visibility to intercept southbound convoys passing to the westward of Lampedusa.   Unique successful attack on Lampedusa Harbour; 1000 ton ship destroyed.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 5 Maryland on reconnaissance. 4 Blenheims of 139 Squadron and 1 of 82 Squadron attacked a convoy escorted by destroyers: one ship blown up and a second set on fire. The Blenheim which bombed the latter ship was hit by debris from it and exploded; it then crashed into the sea.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bn has now formed mobile reserves of platoon strength in each Company area which will soon begin training in street fighting and dealing with parachutists.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 5 (1 x AA shell; 1 x 70kg incendiary; 2 x 50kg HE; 1 x 500 lb HE).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Training with Northern Infantry Brigade to practice assembly of a Composite Reserve Battalion at night, to prevent infiltration of parachutists at night and destroy them at dawn, and to test anti-parachute defences of Imtarfa Hospital.

(1) All three crew members survived


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Posted by on June 3, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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