11 October 1941: Malta Command Must Explain Loss of Bomb Disposal Officer

11 Oct

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RAF Blenheim

RAF Blenheim


The War Office sent an urgent telegram today calling on Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief to account for the death of Lt Edward Talbot in an air crash. The Royal Engineers officer was aboard one of two RAF Blenheim bombers of 107 Squadron which are now believed to have collided while evading enemy fire on Thursday night during an attack on enemy shipping. 

Talbot was one of only two Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers currently in Malta; he had been on respite from his bomb disposal duties since May, when his command was transferred to Lt G D Carroll, RE. The Army bomb disposal squad is responsible for all unexploded bombs across Malta and Gozo, outside of RAF and Royal Navy premises.  However, with a shortage of suitable officers on the Island to fulfil all military needs, after several weeks of rest Lt Talbot was recently redeployed to assist the RAF.

In an immediate reply to the War Office, Lt Gen Dobbie stated: “Lieutenant Talbot attached RAF station Luqa for Intelligence duties. (My POR no 52 September 25 refers.) Army and RAF Intelligence officers exchanged periodically by local arrangements between Air Officer Commanding and General Officer Commanding [Army].”

In a further message Lt Gen Dobbie explained: “In order to ensure adequate liaison with RAF I have found it necessary in the general interest of the Fortress to attach four specially selected Officers for air intelligence duties. Three Officers are attached to aerodromes and one does duty with RAF Headquarters.”  It is understood that Lt E E C Talbot was carrying out one of the four intelligence roles, based at Luqa aerodrome.

Two more Malta Blenheims of 107 Squadron were lost today in a mission against enemy shipping. The bombers were among six sent to attack a convoy in the Gulf of Sirte.  Flying Officer R Greenhill’s Blenheim was shot down by enemy defensive fire.  Sergeant A Rough’s aircraft was reported to have been damaged and then crashed into the sea.


Weather  Fine and cool.

0935-1029 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the north. First a single raider crosses the coast over St Julian’s Bay, then turns northwards.  Then six raiders split into two formations and circle 15 miles off the east of Grand Harbour before retiring northwards.  11 Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not gain sufficient height to intercept before the formation returns towards Sicily.

1636-1655 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters which fly over Grand Harbour and retire northwards. 9 Hurricanes area scrambled but cannot gain sufficient height to intercept.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0251-0319 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Ronald A Greenhill, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Gerald F McLeod, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Robert N Parker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Alfred D M Routh, RAFVR; Sergeant Alan M Smith, all 107 Squadron.


AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland shipping search; 3 Marylands on special patrol.  Photoreconnaissance Tripoli town and harbour, Trapani and Castel Vetrano. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked shipping in the Gulf of Sirte.  F/O Greenhill and Sgt Routh failed to return. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar attacked barracks at Passero, dropping incendiaries and machine-gunning buildings. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish were sent to attack 2 merchant ships and 1 destroyer southbound off Marittimo.  The leader lost contact with the torpedo aircraft, who returned to base with torpedoes.  The leader alone located the convoy and attacked the leading merchant vessel; results not observed.

TA QALI  New airmen’s barrack block taken over.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Five Fusiliers are attached to RAF Luqa.


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


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