12 June 1941: Enemy Fire on Rescue Missions Kills Naval Officer

12 Jun

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A Cant rescue flying boat was also attacked

A Cant rescue flying boat was also attacked


Royal Navy trawler HMS Jade was attacked by two E boats in the early hours of the morning while she was on a mission to rescue a missing RAF pilot. Jade was sent out from Malta to search for Hurricane pilot P/O R Munro, whose aircraft crashed into the sea during a dogfight with Italian Macchi 200 raiders this morning.  She was 17 miles off the Sicilian coast when she encountered the E boats which both immediately fired torpedoes which just missed the trawler. Jade’s guns opened fire and a fierce gun battle followed with the E boats at close range, during which one of Jade’s crew was killed.  The trawler returned fire, constantly raking the E boats with machine-guns and damaging both, one seriously. The missing pilot was not found.

The encounter follows an incident earlier today when Hurricanes sent to intercept an enemy formation reported as approaching Malta fired on a red cross flying boat before seeing its identification markings. Once the pilots realised the situation they withdrew but the Cant aircraft was already ablaze and ditched in the sea. 


New plans have been put in place recapture of Ta Qali should it fall into enemy hands following an enemy invasion. Malta’s Northern Infantry Brigade is responsible for the area and has issued orders to 4th Bn the Buffs for immediate action to recapture the aerodrome, the retention of which is vital for the defeat of any incursion.

Two areas of high ground overlooking the airfield are identified as key to its. Tal Virtu is marked out as the best strategic point from which to recapture these bluffs.  In the event of an enemy take-over, 4th Bn The Buffs are instructed to assemble in positions around Tal Virtu, with one platoon in Mdina, posted on the roof of a building or buildings from which fire can be brought to bear on any parachutists descending on the town itself.  The chief entrances to Mdina will be blocked, with the exception of the main gate which will be defended by infantry personnel.


HM Submarine Rorqual arrived in Malta today from Alexandria with urgent reinforcements and supplies. Three officers and 21 other ranks disembarked. Also unloaded were two tons of medical stores, 62 tons of aviation fuel (enough for 3 days) and 45 tons of kerosene.  147 bags of mail were also delivered.


Weather  Hot and sunny.

0925-0956 hrs Air raid alert for an enemy aircraft on reconnaissance over Grand Harbour, escorted by Macchi 200 fighters, which passes over Luqa and Hal Far before leaving to the south west. The raiders are heavily engaged by anti-aircraft fire which splits the formation. 18 Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage and shoot down five enemy fighters into the sea.  Two Hurricanes also crash into the sea; P/O R Saunders is rescued, badly wounded.  The second, P/O R Munro, does not survive.  A third Hurricane is damaged on landing.

Noon  A formation of enemy aircraft is reported approaching the Island.  Hurricanes of 46 Squadron are scrambled and intercept.  They fire at a Cant flying boat before seeing that it is marked with red crosses, and evidently searching for casualties.  The Hurricanes immediately turn away but the flying boat catches fire and the crew bale out as it dives towards the sea.  In the ensuing dogfight four enemy fighters are confirmed destroyed.  One Hurricane crashes into the sea; the pilot Sgt N Walker is rescued. 

Evening  Another flying boat approaches the Island and is attacked and shot down by Hurricanes.

0220 hrs  While searching for the Hurricane pilot missing after this morning’s raid, HMS Jade is attacked by two E boats 17 miles south of Cape Passero, Sicily.  Both E boats fire torpedoes which miss Jade; a spirited encounter ensues at close range; one of Jade’s crew is killed by machine-gunfire. Jade returns fire, constantly raking the E boats with machine-guns and damaging both, one seriously.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Roich H McKenzie Munro, pilot, RAF, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Mary Barberi, age 74.

Enemy casualties  Sottotenente Vittorio Bertoccini, pilot of CR 42 fighter, 74a Squadriglia, 23o Gruppo Autonomo.


ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish despatched to attack Tripoli Harbour and quays. Two returned with engine trouble; the remaining four dropped 2000lbs of high explosive bombs and 100lbs of incendiaries over Spanish Quay and buildings, starting several fires.  

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 4 Marylands on reconnaissance.  One Sunderland en route to Malta from the Middle East attacked an Italian submarine 240 miles off Malta; the submarine crash-dived.

HAL FAR  One Fulmar force-landed in the sea; crew picked up safely and returned to Hal Far.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Vigorous training by parachutist-fighting platoons.

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


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Posted by on June 12, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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