27 August 1941: Malta Convoy Ships Armed to Face Western Mediterranean

27 Aug

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Maritime Artillery Bofors gun (c) IWMA16249

Maritime Artillery Bofors gun (c) IWMA16249


Gunners from the Malta Garrison were sent aboard two merchant ships to help defend the vessels against enemy attacks in the western Mediterranean, it was revealed today. The merchantmen were returning to Gibraltar after delivering their cargoes to Malta last month under ‘Operation Substance’. 

In a telegram to the War Office in London, the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief confirmed that eight-man Bofors gun crews supplied by the Malta Garrison embarked on SS City of Durham on Saturday, and on SS Deucalion yesterday.  The Bofors crew on each sailing was joined by nine other ranks of the Maritime Anti-Aircraft Regiment and three personnel from gun crews of the Operation Substance convoy.  Each of the ships was equipped with two Bofors by Malta Command. 

According to radio reports, SS Deucalion was attacked early today by Italian torpedo aircraft.  The Bofors guns were put into action and are reported to have shot down one of the attackers.


A total of 37 unexploded bombs were reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal today. Reports came from areas along a six-mile path from Zeitun, through Marsa and Hamrun to Birkirkara and Lija.  All the bombs were confirmed as 2kg incendiaries.  28 were found in Msida alone and were probably dropped in the same container.  In nearly every case the Bomb Disposal Officer found that the fuze had fired but had failed to ignite the filling.  Teams of his Section are checking each area for additional bombs before removing all the unexploded incendiaries. (1)


  • Malta Tank Troop
  • Malta Signal Company
  • HQ Fixed Defences
  • HQ Royal Artillery (RA): 4 Coast Regt RA, 17 Defence Regt RA, 12 Defence Regt RA, 1 Coast Regt Royal Malta Artillery (RMA), 26 Defence Regt, 12 GOR, 12 AADC HQ
  • 7 Light Ack Ack Brigade (LAA): 32 LAA Regt RA, 74 LAA Regt RA, 3 LAA Regt RMA, 4 Searchlight Regt RA/RMA
  • 10 Ack Ack Brigade (AA): 2 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regt RMA, 4 HAA Regt RA, 7 HAA Regt RA, 10 HAA Regt RA, 11 HAA Regt RMA
  • Royal Engineers (RE): HQ Fortress RE, 24 Fortress Coy RE, Bomb Disposal Section RE, No 1 Works Coy RE (Malta Territorial Force), No 2 Works Coy RE (Malta Territorial Force), 173 Tunnelling Coy RE, Works Services
  • Northern Infantry Brigade: 4th Bn the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regt), 8th Bn Manchester Regt, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment
  • Southern Infantry Brigade: 1st Bn Hampshire Regt, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt, 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt
  • Central Infantry Brigade: 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt
  • Royal Army Medical Corps: 30 Coy 90 General Hospital, No 45 General Hospital, 15 Field Ambulance, 161 Field Ambulance, 57 Fd Hygiene Section, Convalescent Depot, Medical Stores
  • Royal Army Ordnance Corps: LAD Det (12 Fd Regt RA), 2 Ordnance Depots, 2 Ordnance MT Sub-Depots, 1 Ordnance Ammunition Depot and Sub-Depot, 2 Ordnance Workshops
  • Other: RA CH D (7CE, 6RC), 72 Det Royal Army Pay Corps, Army Dental Corps, QAIMNS, CMP, RTD, Kings Own Malta Regiment Static Group


Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

2305 hrs  The sound of engines is heard off Gozo.

2355 hrs  8th Bn Manchester Regiment is ordered to ‘stands to’ at Gozo beach defence posts.  Reports are received on Malta that a number of enemy motor torpedo boats are in the vicinity of the Island.  Malta beach posts are ordered to ‘Stand to’.

0145 hrs  Orders are issued to all posts firing over Grand Harbour to be ready for ‘Stand to’.

0245 hrs  Central Infantry Brigade orders coastal defence posts surrounding Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour to be manned.

0330 hrs  All posts are now manned.


ROYAL NAVY  Upholder returned from patrol off Marittimo, having sunk a ship thought to be Italian Fleet Auxiliary Tarvisio, a 2000 ton merchant vessel, and obtained an extremely doubtful hit on a cruiser.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Marittimo-Pantelleria, shipping patrol south of Lampedusa and photoreconnaissance of Comiso, Gerbini and Catania. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims sent on a special sweep of Ionian Sea.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 9 Swordfish attacked a convoy 37 miles north west of Lampedusa. Due to cloud cover only one torpedo was released hitting a merchant ship.  One Swordfish crashed on take-off; crew safe.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 37.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012


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Posted by on August 27, 2021 in 1941, August 1941


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