26 June 1941: Five Hour ‘Nuisance’ Night Raids on Malta

26 Jun

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Rev R M Nicholls describes the impact of Italian ‘nuisance raids’ and considers the invasion of Russia

Italian bomber over the Grand Harbour dark“Ten days ago we returned to Valletta to sleep. There had not been much night bombing, and my wife wished to return. If blitzes occur we shall go back to Birkirkara.  On our first night back we had five raids spread over many hours; and for…three nights we have had raids more or less continuously from about ten pm till 2 or 3 o’clock o’morning.  Last night was the longest period for some time.  It seems to be Italians; and the technique seems to be for a single plane to cruise about, at a height out of reach of either searchlights or guns; then after half an hour of this to drop three or four bombs and bolt for home.

After a short interval the ‘Raider Past’ is sounded and a little later the ‘All Clear’. Then, ten minutes after, another plane approaches and the poor folk who have just climbed back into bed have to turn out again and go back to the rock shelters.  I lie and read, or write, in our funk-hole hearing the distant or near drone; and then zonk – a couple of bombs give their metallic roar.  ‘Now he’ll go home’ I say to myself. But last night one of them met one of our fighters waiting or searching for him and down he went into the sea…

The Cretan business is over and we lost. I am told that the C-in-C Mediterranean said that it had to be held at all costs; but we failed. Largely through our usual mismanagement, said an officer who heard a lecture by someone who came here to tell us about it.

Now has come the invasion of Russia. That was a tremendous surprise to me.  I never dreamt of it.  But I can see the point clearly.  Hitler is afraid lest Russia should attack in the Balkans just as he has all his forces engaged in a great attack on Britain.  Russia did something of the same sort early in the war – Finland, Poland, and later Bessarabia.  While Hitler was busy Stalin might well attack the Dardanelles.  I think that this kind of explanation is really more likely than the mere demand for oil and grain.” (1)


Troops across Malta were reminded today of the rules governing the posting and censorship of letters written by service personnel. The communique states that all such correspondence addressed to any address overseas must be forwarded to the battalion’s orderly room for censorship and posting.  On no account must such correspondence be posted in the civil Post Office or in any other way than through the orderly room.  Failure to adhere to these rules will incur the severest disciplinary action.


Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

Military casualties Flight Sergeant Harry S M Bolton, Royal Air Force (RAF), 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ernest W Gimson, RAF, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Brian P Hanson, RAF Volunteer Reserve, 69 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY  Reconnaissance of Taranto Harbour AM showed two liners in harbour, but PM reconnaissance showed a convoy of four large ships steering south off Taranto. Utmost successful attack, sank 6000 ton ship.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish bombed shipping and port facilities in Tripoli Harbour.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance. 4 Marylands made a high-level bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour in daylight, dropping 3000 lbs of high explosive, damaging Spanish Wharf and causing fires. 148 Squadron 4 Wellingtons made a successful night bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

(1)  Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History 


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Posted by on June 26, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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