17 July 1941: Malta Bombers Attack North Africa, Sicily and Italian Mainland

17 Jul

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Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers


During the week Blenheim aircraft have sunk Axis shipping and damaged a number of other ships. Blenheims from Malta, co-operating with Glenn Martin reconnaissance aircraft, made highly successful attacks on enemy shipping. 

On 15 July a convoy consisting of two merchant vessels of 8000 tons and some smaller ships, escorted by four destroyers, was intercepted proceeding north from Tripoli.  As a result of an attack by three Blenheims one of the 8000 ton merchant vessels was believed totally destroyed, and the other was hit in the bows and damaged.

Two Blenheims which attacked Zuara aerodrome 65 miles west of Tripoli hit the headquarters building and machine-gunned a concentration of transport aircraft. The barracks at Misurata 120 miles west of Tripoli were also hit.

A successful attack by eight Wellingtons operating from Malta was made on Naples. Bombs were seen to hit the railway station, warehouses and fuel cisterns; fires were also started in an airframe factory.  Another similar attack was made on Messina docks, as a result of which huge fires were started at the ferry railhead.  Four lines of goods trucks were left ablaze and extensive fires observed in the engine sheds.  Direct hits were also made on a power plant and dockyard warehouses.


Weather  Sunny and hot.

1126-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for one SM 79 on reconnaissance escorted by 15 fighters which cross over the Grand Harbour area and fly over the centre of the Island from north to south at 23000 feet.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage.  19 Hurricanes are scrambled (eight of 249 Squadron, 11 of 185 Squadron) 185 see the raiders but are 4000 feet too low to engage.  249 Squadron chase the raiders out to sea, eventually engaging them at 16000 feet, 55 miles north of the Island.  Two Macchi 200 fighters are shot down into the sea and another is damaged.  One Hurricane of 249 Squadron is lost; the pilot Sgt Guest is killed.

0110-0134 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Sliema area and in the sea, including off Filfla.

0155-0355 hrs  Air raid alert for as series of four enemy aircraft which approach singly from the north at intervals, then drop bombs on the north of the Island and Ta Qali. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage with one barrage; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but there are no interceptions due to no searchlight illuminations.  One unexploded bomb is reported at Targa Gap.

0411-0442 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island at the same time as Wellingtons are returning, then drop bombs on Kalafrana and in St Thomas’ Bay.  Other sticks of small bombs fall on fields across a mile stretch of open country.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagements.

Military casualties  Sergeant Maurice Guest, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.

Enemy casualties S ergente Maggiore Enrico Botti, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, pilot of Macchi 200 fighter shot down and died.


ROYAL NAVY  Utmost sailed for ‘Operation Substance’.

AIR HQ  Departures 5 Hurricane. 69 Squadron Maryland search for convoy ship.

HAL FAR  Fulmar ‘intruder operation’ on Catania met with heavy ground opposition. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 3 Swordfish attacked Tripoli and successfully torpedoed a 7000 ton tanker as well as dropping bombs on Spanish Quay causing a huge explosion, despite heavy ground defences. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Palermo Harbour, dropping 20000lb of bombs on four cruisers and six destroyers; results not seen.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 2 (15kg HE).


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Posted by on July 17, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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