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Monthly Archives: September 2021

20 September 1941: Submarine Raid on Axis Troopship Threatens Libya Campaign

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HUNDREDS OF AXIS TROOPS PERISH IN ATTACK BY 10TH SUBMARINE FLOTILLA

Neptunia and Oceania

Neptunia and Oceania

Submarines of 10th Flotilla returned to base at Manoel Island today from their most successful attack to date on Axis convoys.  Flotilla Commander George W G Simpson received information on 17 September from British intelligence that a fast convoy of transport ships was heading out of Taranto towards Tripoli, carrying troop reinforcements for the German Afrika Korps.  Submarines Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright were ordered to put out immediately. 

Early next morning off Misurata Unbeaten located the convoy of three 20000 ton troop ships, Oceania, Neptunia and Vulcania, escorted by five Italian destroyers. Upholder fired four torpedoes: two hit Neptunia tearing large hole in her side, and one hit Oceania, destroying her propellers. The submarine then dived to evade counter-attack.  While the escorting destroyers closed in to pick up survivors, Upholder withdrew to reload.  She returned to the damaged Oceania and launched another torpedo which finally sank her.  The troopship Vulcania was attacked by the submarine Ursula but escaped and managed to reach Tripoli escorted by the destroyer Usodimare.

Meanwhile Neptunia tried to make way with a destroyer in attendance but came to a shuddering halt. Upholder closed in and launched two more torpedoes which sank the stricken troopship within minutes.

It is reported that at least 400 of the German troops were killed in the engagement. The scale of the Axis losses in the Mediterranean has caused the Italian Foreign Minister to question the possibility of sustaining the military campaign in North Africa: “the Mediterranean situation is dark, and will become even more so because of the continued loss of merchant ships. Commander Bigliardi, who is in the know and is a reliable person, says that in responsible naval circles they are seriously beginning to wonder whether we shouldn’t decide to give up Libya, rather than wait until we are forced to do so by the complete lack of freighters…”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1029-1118 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach the Island from the north and cross the coast over Grand Harbour at 23000 feet while three others circle 35 miles off the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled but the Macchis recede rapidly over Delimara evading engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright returned from convoy interception east of Tripoli.  Upholder sank one ship of the Neptunia class and damaged a second whose fate is not known.  Ursula got one hit on Vulcania.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini and Comiso. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim reconnaissance east Sicilian coast. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a merchant ship off Kerkennah Bank.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on September 20, 2021 in September 1941

 

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19 September 1941: Freighter Survives Western Med to Deliver Fodder

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horse-donkey-farmEMPIRE GUILLEMOT ARRIVES UNDER ‘OPERATION PROPELLER’

The freighter Empire Guillemot docked safely at Malta today after completing the hazardous passage through the western Mediterranean.  The merchant ship was carrying essential supplies fodder to feed Malta’s horses and donkeys.  With the shortage of fuel on the Island, the animals are providing much-needed transport for civilians.  However, Malta cannot grow crops to feed them, especially now that cultivated land is given over entirely to food production for the population.

Empire Guillemot left the UK last Saturday and passed through the Straits of Gibraltar disguised as a Spanish vessel. Under ‘Operation Propeller’ she left Gibraltar, adopting a new French disguise, and headed for Bizerta before turning north towards Sicily. 

As the freighter approached Malta, she hoisted British colours and none too soon, as her night-time passage took her close to an Italian convoy which was being attacked by Swordfish aircraft. Fortunately, the Fleet Air Arm pilots had been alerted to her presence. Empire Guillemot entered Grand Harbour safely this morning.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1412-1440 hrs Air raid alert for ten enemy aircraft approaching the Island in two formations. Six Hurricanes 249 Squadron and eight 185 Squadron are scrambled.  The raiders come within a short distance of the coast but do not cross it and there are no interceptions.

0508-0545 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft approaching the Island; some bombs are dropped in the sea. One raider crosses the coast and drops incendiaries on land near Dingli causing no damage or casualties.  Two Hurricane night fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Empire Guillemot arrived safely under Operation Propeller.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Comiso.  1 Maryland special search. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims on shipping sweep.  2 Blenheims attacked shipping at Tripoli. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish carried out a sweep off Kerkenah. For an enemy convoy. Three possible hits are claimed, resulting in one merchant vessel probably and one possibly being damaged.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO attended a lecture at 10 Heavy A A Brigade HQ on the anti-aircraft defence of the Island and afterwards visited the Gun Operations Room.

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

 

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Posted by on September 19, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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18 September 1941: Malta Aircraft Launch Round the Clock Offensives

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AOC Malta co-ordinating attacks on Axis convoys  (c IWM CM3068

AOC Malta overseeing attacks on Axis convoys (c IWM CM3068

SWORDFISH, BLENHEIMS AND WELLINGTONS ATTACK DAY AND NIGHT

War Cabinet Report for the Week 11-18 September

On 13 September a reinforcement of 45 aircraft for Malta was flown off HM Aircraft Carriers Furious and Ark Royal, escorted by units of the Gibraltar force.  One Hurricane crashed on taking off from Furious, the pilot was killed; two were damaged on landing.

On 11 September, naval Swordfish operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta sighted a southbound convoy consisting of seven merchant vessels and six destroyers, 75 miles north of Kerkennah Island. Thereafter a series of night and day attacks was successfully carried out by Swordfish, Blenheims and Wellingtons with the result that three merchant vessels, total 24000 tons, were probably destroyed and all the other merchant vessels, total tonnage 26000, were hit on one or more occasions.  Three Blenheims were shot down in daylight but the crew of one was rescued by HM Submarine Utmost.

During an offensive sweep of the central Ionian Sea, three Blenheims attacked a small convoy 100 miles south-west of Cape Matapan. A 3000 ton merchant vessel was hit at least twice and seriously damaged. 

On three nights a total of 24 Wellingtons from Malta bombed Tripoli. On one night six aircraft reported hits on ships lying alongside Spanish Quay, and many other bursts were seen on or near ships in the harbour.  Swordfish and Wellingtons also laid mines in and outside the harbour and around the North Mole.

On the night 11-12 September Wellingtons dropped 16 tons of bombs on Palermo and straddled the dry dock containing a merchant vessel. On 17 September five Blenheims bombed two munition factories at Licata with very good effect; many direct hits were made on each target, and three large sheds and one other large building in the centre of the installation were demolished.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY   Upholder sank the 19,500-ton transports Neptunia and OceaniaTriumph damaged Italian steamer Ardor (8960grt off Cape Cimiti in the Adriatic. The tanker was able to proceed into Crotone Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 2 Beaufort. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol and reconnaissance Tripoli.  1 Blenheim reconnaissance Crotone, Augusta and Syracuse. 107 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked shipping at Tripoli. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish attacked a northbound convoy with torpedoes and bombs, stopping one merchant vessel. 

 

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Posted by on September 18, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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17 September 1941: Malta Faces Acute Water Shortage

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Two Blenheims lost today

Two Blenheims lost today

MILITARY UNITS WARNED TO CUT USAGE OR FACE CUT OFF

The water situation in Malta is now acute. In spite of repeated orders on the subject, it appears that certain military units are still greatly exceeding the authorised limit of 12 gallons per head, per day.

The Governor and Commander in Chief has issued an urgent personal appeal to the fighting services requesting their co-operation in ensuring that water consumption is kept to a minimum. Commanding Officers of all units are ordered to take the necessary steps to ensure that the limit is not exceeded in future.  If this does not happen, troops are warned that the water supply of the offending unit will be cut off during certain hours.  

TWO BLENHEIMS LOST IN ATTACK ON CONVOY

Two Blenheim aircraft and their crews were lost today during an attack on Axis shipping. The Blenheims were among four sent to attack a convoy of the coast of Tunisia heading towards Tripoli.  The Blenheims swooped for a low level attack on a schooner.  Pilot F/Sgt J Bendall’s aircraft collided with the schooner’s mast and crashed into the sea.  The pilot and his crew, wireless operator/air gunner Sgt A Brown and observer Sgt C Hill were all killed instantly.

The second Blenheim of P/O Peter Robinson was hit by anti-aircraft fire and burst into flames, killing all three of the crew including observer Sgt B F Brooks and wireless operator/air gunner Sgt F Burrell.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Jack Bendall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 105 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Alexander Brown, RAF, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Charles H Hill, RAFVR, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Bernard F Brooks, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Frank Burrell, RAF, 107 Squadron; Pilot Officer Peter E C Robinson, RAFVR, 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Blenheim, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol, photoreconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Comiso; Blenheim special search. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim searched for Swordfish aircraft.  4 Blenheims attacked a convoy.  P/O Robinson and Sgt Bendall failed to return. 107 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked Licata. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish attacked a southbound convoy off Marittimo hitting one merchant vessel and slowing the convoy.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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

 

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16 September 1941: Malta Swordfish Lost on Clandestine Mission

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Swordfish missing after raid

Swordfish missing after raid

MALTA AIRCRAFT WAS DELIVERING SECRET AGENT

A Malta-based Swordfish aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm is believed to have crashed today while undertaking a secret mission to North Africa. Pilot Lt C B Lamb, with S/Lt J E Robertson took off in the early hours of this morning.  Their passenger is believed to have been a secret agent who they were to land in the Vichy French territory of Tunisia.  A message has been received to indicate that they survived the crash but it is believed they are currently being held for interrogation.

Lt Lamb previously served as a Swordfish pilot aboard HMS Illustrious. He was among the first wave of aircraft when the successful attack was launched on the Italian fleet at Taranto in November 1940.

MALTA AIRMEN RECEIVE POSTHUMOUS MEDALS

Posthumous military awards were announced today for two Malta airmen who were killed as a result of their aircraft crashing on return from a mission over Sicily on 10 August.

London Gazette, 16 September 1941: The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Distinguished Flying Medal: Sergeant Campbell Clark, 69 Squadron (deceased), Sergeant Richard Saxby Mutimer, 69 Squadron (deceased)

Sergeants Clark and Mutimer have displayed a high standard of ability throughout the 40 operational missions in which they have participated as wireless operator-air gunner and air observer respectively. Sergeant Clark showed great keenness to engage the enemy, using his guns with damaging effect, while Sergeant Mutimer always willingly co-operated with his pilot when the opportunity for offensive action occurred. They have damaged or destroyed three Italian flying boats and, in one machine gun attack on an enemy aerodrome, destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged several.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Cool and overcast.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Aircraftsman James Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright proceeded for interception of a fast convoy to east of Tripoli. Triumph sailed for special service and patrol in the Adriatic.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Crotone, Augusta, Catania and Syracuse. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish laid 6 mines in the entrance to Tripoli harbour.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Main body of the Battalion moved to Gozo for a month’s training and left a small rear party in Malta. Battalion headquarters in the Citadel, Rabat; A Company at Xewkija, B Company at Nadur, C Company at Gharb, D Company at Rabat, E Company at Xghajra.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (2kg incendiary)

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  D Company and B Company take over Hal Far from 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion left Gozo and returned to Malta aboard Royal Lady. A and E Companies went to Ta Qali with two mortar detachments and one section of carriers.  Bn HQ Signals and Carriers at Ta Saliba, 2 Platoon valley posts, C Coy St Paul’s Bay, B Coy Victoria Lines, D Coy Strickland House, HQ Coy less detached details Ghain Tuffieha Camp. 

 

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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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15 September 1941: Gozo Family Mourn Loss of Three Seamen

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SS Newbury (1)

SS Newbury (1)

SS NEWBURY SUNK – ALMOST ENTIRE CREW LOST

Three members of the same Attard family from Gozo lost their lives today when the freighter on which they were serving was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic. Carmelo, Coronato and Giuseppe Attard were serving together as Fitter/Trimmers on the 5000 ton steam freighter SS Newbury which was carrying a cargo of coal from Cardiff to Buenos Aires.

The freighter was lagging behind the rest of her convoy when she was spotted by a German u-boat, U94. The submarine closed and launched torpedoes, one of which struck Newbury.  At the order to abandon ship an attempt was made to launch lifeboats but almost all the crew perished, including the Attards.  Many Maltese are currently serving in overseas military and naval units, and the Merchant Navy but it is unusual for members of the same family to serve on the same vessel.

EXTRA MEDICAL STAFF

Malta needs more medical staff, according to the Governor and Commander in Chief. The additional staff are required to cope with the needs of a greatly increased garrison.  Lt Gen Dobbie has writing to the War Office asking that ten more regimental medical officers, as well as one ear and one eye specialist be posted to Malta at the earliest opportunity. 

The ten regimental medical officers are to operate in charge of areas: three with mobile reserve battalions and the remainder maintained in immediate touch with battalions. All will assist in enabling medical aid posts to function as camp hospitals.

SHORTAGE OF MOTOR TRANSPORT GREASE

Stocks of grease for motor transport use are now running low. Troops have been asked to use utmost economy in utilising the grease and to restrict their orders for supplies from stock to the minimum necessary.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Overcast with light rain.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Fusilier James Pollock, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 12 Hurricane, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington.   38 Squadron 10 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland special patrol.

HAL FAR  Pilot Officer R A Innes became Commanding Officer of 185 Squadron.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Advance party left Gozo for Malta.

(1)  Clyde built ships World War 2

 

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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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14 September 1941: Blenheim Crew Rescued After Night Adrift in Dinghy

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HMS_Utmost

HMS Utmost

CREW SURVIVED HOURS IN HOSTILE WATERS

Three airmen stepped ashore at Manoel Island from the submarine HMS Utmost today feeling lucky to be alive after they spent a night in the sea off the coast of North Africa.  Sgt Brandwood, Sgt Miller and Sgt Mee were the crew of one of eight Blenheims which set out on Friday to attack an enemy convoy off the coast of North Africa.  In a fierce counter-attack by enemy destroyers escorting the convoy, three of the Malta bombers were hit.  The Blenheims of Squadron Leader Charney and Sergeant Mortimer were destroyed, and their crews killed. 

Sgt Brandwood’s starboard engine was hit and put out of action; then the bomb bay caught fire. As the crew struggled to put out the flames the Blenheim crashed into the sea.  The bomber sank beneath the waves but then miraculously resurfaced.  A badly injured Sgt Mee managed to release the rubber dinghy and the three airmen climbed in.

The remaining Blenheims circled back over the area and gave a signal to show they had spotted the dinghy. As soon as they landed at Luqa they reported the stranded dinghy and an immediate air and sea rescue search was launched.

Meanwhile the three airmen spent an uncomfortable night in their dinghy, interrupted by the booms and flashes of other attacks on enemy shipping. RAF Blenheims from Malta searched for them without success.

Then at 0800 hrs yesterday morning the airmen became aware of a submarine approaching. After several anxious minutes they realised it was friendly and were soon safely aboard HMS Utmost.  The submarine dived below the surface to avoid enemy detection as it headed for Malta. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned, having rescued the crew of a Blenheim.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Maryland. Departures 10 Hurricane, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Lampedusa, Zuara and Tripoli.  1 Blenheim, 1 Beaufort special patrol, 1 Blenheim special search.

TA QALI  6 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A small church parade for A and HQ Coys at Barracca Church. Now that the Church has re-opened we will send a party each Sunday.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party moved to Gozo.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on September 14, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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13 September 1941: 45 New Hurricanes for Malta

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HMS Furious

HMS Furious

OPERATION STATUS PHASE II A SUCCESS

45 Hurricanes flew in to Malta today, the second reinforcement of fighters to arrive on the Island in a week. Their arrival completes Operation Status which was intended to deliver some 60 Hurricanes in total.  However, the first phase last Tuesday was only partially completed, when guide Blenheims did not arrive to escort fighters from their aircraft carrier to the Island.

Ark Royal returned to Gibraltar on Wednesday and, following a rapid turn-round, embarked with 26 Hurricanes. A second carrier Furious departed with a separate protective force carrying another 20.  They were due to rendezvous yesterday for the Hurricanes to fly off to Malta but the event had to be postponed. 

Early this morning seven Blenheims from Malta reached the rearranged rendezvous ready to guide the Hurricanes to their destination. All but one of the 46 fighters took off successfully and completed a safe transit to the Island.  The remaining Hurricane crashed on take-off.

NIGHT CURFEW FOR TROOPS

New curfew regulations have been introduced for 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.  From today no serviceman may be away from his billet after 1930 hours except those on 24 hours or 3 days’ leave.  In addition, only 25 per cent of men may be away on leave at one time.  The regulations are designed to ensure that posts can be quickly manned against surprise attack.

However, the Battalion commanders recognise that the new requirement to stay in at night make it imperative that the men have more NAAFI accommodation and a recreation room. The Battalion is trying to find a suitable place for an HQ Officers Mess so that the present Mess may be given over to the men.

SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS IN MALTA

From: Governor & C in C Malta                         To: War Office

We are still short of the following infantry officers in Malta: 4th Bn The Buffs 4, Kings Own Malta Regiment 5, Devonshire 9, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt 4, 1st Bn Hampshire Regt 8, 1st Bn Dorset Regt 7, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt 7, 8th Bn Manchester Regt 4, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers 8: total 56.  The Middle East reports that officer material is drying up.  A small class of NCOs sent to their officer training unit will not be ready until next year.  I request the early despatch of as many as possible to meet the deficiency.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1117-1130 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Ten Hurricanes 249 Squadron and nine 195 Squadron are scrambled.  The raiders turn away before reaching Malta and there are no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol; photo-reconnaissance east Sicilian coast. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims searched for missing Blenheim crews.  3 Blenheims search and sweep for shipping, central Ionian Sea. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania dropped high explosive bombs south east of Gerbini and incendiaries near Moto.

TA QALI  8 officers and 6 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Ark Royal. 6 officers and 5 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Furious.  8 officers and 7 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East. 

 

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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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12 September 1941: Kings Own Malta Regiment Defend Luqa

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ack-ack-gunners-malta cropMALTESE BATTALION TO MAN KEY ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS

The 3rd Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment has been asked to man anti-aircraft gun positions to help protect Luqa aerodrome from attack.  One Sergeant and 12 men will form three anti-aircraft light machine-gun posts at the aerodrome.  The four-men crews will each man an anti-aircraft Bren gun from morning ‘stand to’ to evening ‘stand down’, and during daylight air observations.   The crews will be stood down overnight.  Stone sangars will be constructed for each location and lined with sandbags to form a secure gun position. 

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT LAUNCH FUND FOR DISTRESSED FAMILIES

The Kings Own Malta Regiment have voted unanimously to establish a Regimental Distress Fund to help soldiers whose families are affected by enemy bombing. The object of the fund is to accumulate an amount from which small sums can be paid to serving soldiers who through enemy action suffer damage or loss to their household belongings.  It is intended to assist afflicted families in obtaining immediate necessaries such as beds, blankets, cooking utensils and clothing.  Each Battalion and the Static Group will make an intitial contribution of £30.  Voluntary contributions will be made on a sliding scale from 10/- per month by a Colonel/Lt Colonel down to 2d per month by a regular soldier.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties Squadron Leader Frederick R H Charney, DFC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 105 Squadron; Sergeant Donald R Harris, RAFVR, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Sidney Porteous, RAFVR, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Joseph E Mortimer, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Flying Officer Charles D Owen, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Douglas J Reid, RAFVR, 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Operation Status Phase II postponed. HM Submarine Utmost departed to search for the crew of a downed Blenheim.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 5 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked a convoy approaching Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photo reconnaissance Taranto, Messina, Palermo. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol.  8 Blenheims attacked a convoy.  S/Ldr Charney’s Blenheim was shot down in flames, S/Ldr Sgt Brandwood and Sgt Mortimer failed to return. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy setting a tanker and a merchant vessel on fire.  One Fulmar on offensive patrol over Catania and Gerbini aerodromes dropped high explosives and incendiaries on Gerbini and machine-gunned both aerodromes. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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

 

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11 September 1941: Malta Fighters Winning Battle for the Skies

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Hurricanes dominate Malta skies

Hurricanes dominate Malta airspace

DEFEAT OF RAIDERS LIFTS MORALE

Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: diary entry 11th September 1941

“I am writing this during a raid at 2100 hrs. Guns are firing which is very unusual. There is no moon; which may have something to do with it. Latterly, our fighters have had much the best of it. Two nights ago friends who were staying at Gozo saw one of their bombers caught in our searchlights, and our fighter chasing it (also in our searchlight) out to sea. Both were firing at one another. The Iti was brought down.

I heard of the worst case of pilfering from the convoys today. Somebody got away with 470 cases, not bottles. The size of the haul makes one give a grudging admiration, when I have lads in prison for stealing a few packets of cigarettes! With whisky at, say 15/- per bottle, this is a value of over £4000. It must have been a whole lighter full, and there must have been a number of people in the syndicate. We are told that somebody is suspect; I hope he gets caught.” (1)

WAR CABINET REPORT FOR WEEK 4-11 SEPTEMBER

A naval operation for the reinforcement of air forces in Malta was successfully carried out. It is estimated that at least 20000 tons of enemy shipping have been sunk or damaged by Allied aircraft in the Mediterranean.

On 4 September five Blenheims attacked ships in Crotone, which had taken refuge there as a result of a very successful attack made by Swordfish the previous night. One 6-8000 ton merchant vessel was hit and an explosion resulted, and two other ships were attacked (results not observed).  One Blenheim was shot down by anti-aircraft guns. 

On the night of 6-7 September seven Naval Swordfish, operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta, intercepted a northbound convoy of three merchant vessels and three destroyers. One vessel of 6000 tons was hit three times and almost certainly sunk, and a 6000 ton tanker was hit twice with torpedoes.

A total of 34 tons of bombs was dropped on two nights by Wellingtons on Tripoli. The first attack was made on motor transport depots in conditions of excellent visibility.  The attack was pressed home from a very low level; all the bombs fell in the target area, where large fires among vehicles and buildings were reported.  The harbour was the objective of the second attack; three hits were obtained on a medium-sized merchant vessel and a number of bombs fell on the Spanish Quay.

On two successive nights Wellingtons from Malta attacked the docks at Palermo and dropped a total of 32 tons of bombs. Many hits were made on the three main quays and dry dock, and some extensive fires started.  Three large merchant vessels lying in the harbour may also have suffered damage.  These attacks were followed by two night raids by a total of 16 Wellingtons on the power station, landing stages and ferry ships at Messina; over 22 tons of bombs were dropped and many hits obtained on the targets.  A large fire was reported in the Citadel area of the town.

On 4 September a daylight raid on Malta was attempted by a force of 20 Macchi 200s, which were intercepted by Hurricanes at sea. Later in the day 12 more Macchis were employed to cover rescue operations.  In the course of these two operations nine of the enemy fighters were destroyed, two probably destroyed and five others damaged, against our loss of two Hurricanes.

Formations of from one to six aircraft have attacked Malta on most nights of the week. The few bombs dropped have caused negligible damage.  One Cant Z1007 was illuminated by searchlights and shot down in flames by Hurricanes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1135-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for a report of nine enemy aircraft which approach to within eight miles north of Grand Harbour at 23000 feet. Ten Hurricane fighters are scrambled.  Eight of 249 Squadron are unable to attain sufficient altitude to attack.  The two Hurricanes of 185 Squadron follow the raiders to within 10-15 miles of Sicily but cannot reach them and return to base.

2047-2210 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy aircraft approaching the Island. One turns back well before reaching Malta but the remaining four cross the coast and drop bombs on land around Kalafrana and Ta Qali.  Ant-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked Palermo. 69 Squadron 5 Blenheims on sweep of Ionian sea; attacked shipping. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy of 6 merchant ships and 7 destroyers off the Tunisian coast.  5 torpedoes were fired, sinking one merchant ship and damaging a second. 2 Fulmar offensive patrols over Sicilian aerodromes unable to attack due to thick cloud; they dropped high explosives and incendiaries on chemical works at Licata and machine-gunned harbour installations, then dropped high explosives and incendiaries on the railway at Sciata starting a fire.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Private Clapham buried with full military honours.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on September 11, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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