8 June 1941: Malta Civilians Warned to Prepare for Invasion

08 Jun

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Malta’s civilian population have been warned today that the Island is facing the possibility of invasion. In a broadcast on the Island’s Rediffusion service, the Governor and Commander in Chief revealed that warnings had been received of a possible attack by air and sea. 

However, aware that listeners knew the history of the fall of Crete, Lt Gen Dobbie was keen to reassure listeners that the Island stands ready. “Malta is better able to resist attack than Crete,” he said, and “circumstances justify quiet confidence.”  He also stressed that “the Government and fighting services are doing their utmost to see that Malta gives a good account of itself.”

Malta could learn from the siege of Tobruk

Malta could learn from the siege of Tobruk


Reviewing the Island’s defences in the face of possible invasion, Lt Gen Dobbie has cabled the War Office for guidance from any lessons learned in the defence of Tobruk:

“In view of the rapid neutralisation of anti-aircraft defences by the enemy in Crete, I would greatly appreciate any information on the methods of defence of heavy and light anti-aircraft positions, particularly at Tobruk where these have encountered heavy dive-bombing attacks. The preservation of the anti-aircraft defence of Malta is of paramount importance.”


One civilian was killed and another badly injured by mines in two separate incidents today. This morning 14 year old John Vella detonated two mines when he crossed a barbed wire coastal barrier in an attempt to reach the shore.  He was critically injured by shrapnel and received urgent medical treatment but died from his injuries three hours later.  Early this evening 56 year old Maria Attard also crossed a security barrier into a military zone, triggering a single mine; she suffered serious injuries to her legs. 

The mines have been laid in recent weeks as the Island implemented its anti-invasion measures. Civilians were warned not to enter zones which have been cordoned off and clearly marked.  Warnings have been issued again the light of today’s incidents.


Weather  Fine and warm.

1030 hrs  John Vella, age 14, enters a coastal area enclosed by barbed wire and sets off two mines.

1845 hrs  Maria Attard, age 56, enters a cordoned off area and triggers a mine which injures her in the legs.

2321 hrs; 0018 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighter patrols which approach to within ten miles of the Island. Two Hurricane fighters at a time are scrambled and raiders recede with no engagement.

Civilian casualties  Marsaxlokk Grezzju Fenech, age 28.  Mellieha  John Vella, age 14.

Enemy casualties Primo Aviere Giovanni Bonanno, air gunner; Sergente Maggiore Gugliemo Mazzolenis, 2nd pilot; Primo Aviere Francesco Minuto, wireless operator; Primo Aviere Michele Turco, mechanic; all 99o Gruppo, 43o Stormo, crew of Fiat BR 20 shot down and died. Tenente Sergio Reggiani, pilot, survived and was taken prisoner. Primo Aviere  Lamberto Mariani, crewman; Aviere Scelto Marc N Mascellaro, crewman; Primo Aviere Umberto Micheli, crewman; Aviere Scelto Antonio Plamiere, crewman; Sottotenente Marcello Weber, pilot, all 193a Squadriglia, crew of Savoia SM 79 bomber, shot down into the sea and died.  Maresciallo Luciano Fabbri, pilot, survived and was taken prisoner.

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Swordfish dropped flame floats in an attempt to set fire to the large amount of oil floating in Tripoli Harbour, following the recent sinking of the MV Barmania.  Flame floats were dropped in large numbers without result.  Also bombing attack on ships in harbour and quays.

AIR HQ General Haining and party passed through Malta. Arrivals 2 Wellington, 2 Blenheim, 1 Maryland, 2 Beaufighter.  69 Squadron  4 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.  One Maryland chased by fighters from Pantelleria, two others chased by Macchi 200 fighters, one attacked. 82 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked three Q-boats near Pantelleria. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 8.


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Posted by on June 8, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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