24 June 1941: Malta Submarine on Cloak and Dagger Mission

24 Jun

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Malta-based submarine HMS Utmost returned to patrol today after taking part in a daring ‘cloak and dagger’ mission on enemy soil. Utmost left Malta a week ago for her 8th war patrol in the Mediterranean.  Lt Commander Cayley’s orders were to patrol the Tyrrhenian Sea at the mouth of the Straits of Messina and seek an opportunity to destroy a vital railway line used to transport Axis military resources to join convoys for North Africa.

A suitable target was identified yesterday and under cover of darkness Utmost surfaced and headed for the shore.  Just after midnight a small folding boat, a Folbot, was launched from the submarine 400 yards off the coast and special forces personnel Lt D R Schofield, Royal Fusiliers, and Lance Corporal F C Morgan rowed ashore.  They set charges within a railway tunnel with the aim of blowing up a train as it passed through, then rowed back to the submarine which remained close to shore to observe the results.

At 2 am the train passed through the tunnel but the explosives failed to detonate. The Folbot was launched again and Schofield and Morgan rowed ashore for a second attempt.  They placed the explosives and waited for some hours but no train materialised.  As daylight was approaching they decided to blow up the railway and return to Utmost, reaching the submarine at 5am.

Utmost dived and left the area unchallenged to continue her anti-convoy patrols. (1)


Weather  Hot and sunny.

1018-1035 hrs; 1135-1152 hrs  Air raid alerts for several enemy formations heading towards the Island.  20 Hurricanes in total are scrambled but the raiders remain far to the north of Malta and do not come close enough for the Hurricanes to engage.  Several interceptions are attempted but the enemy aircraft recede out of reach in every case.

Military casualties  Fusilier Joseph Burke, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Cook Francis Borg, Malta Auxiliary Corps.


ROYAL NAVY  All available submarines including Urge, Unbeaten, Upholder sailed to patrol positions to intercept an important convoy believed proceeding through Straits of Messina to Tripoli.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 7 Maryland missions on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.

KALAFRANA A Heinkel Float Plane arrived from UK to undertake special operational work for the Government Intelligence Section, manned by civilian personnel.



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Posted by on June 24, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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