16 October 1941: Malta Attacks Deter Axis Troop Sailings in Med

16 Oct

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  • A special whistle was instituted in the Dockyard today to give warning to “Take Cover” during daylight raids. 
  • 16 Malta-based Wellingtons attacked selected targets in Naples.
Castel Vetrano aerodrome

Castel Vetrano aerodrome


Malta attacks are delaying Axis troop transport across the Mediterranean, according to the British War Cabinet. According to their weekly report on the state of the war in Malta, there has been a marked increase in air transport activity between Sicily and Tripoli.  It has been suggested that these Italian transport aircraft are carrying military personnel deterred from making the crossing by sea owing to the dangers in the Mediterranean presented by attacks on shipping by Malta-based aircraft and submarines.

The War Cabinet review also reported that Malta reconnaissance aircraft located a number of enemy ships and numerous offensive sorties were carried out. A southbound convoy of three merchant vessels, two of 6000 and one of 8000 tons, and one tanker, escorted by five destroyers and four aircraft, was located 46 miles off Kuriate Island.  Two waves, each consisting of seven Swordfish, attacked this convoy, a further attack being made by six Wellingtons.   As a result of these attacks, two merchant vessels are considered sunk and one, possibly two, damaged.  A 4000 ton merchant vessel and a 1200 ton cargo boat were attacked by six Blenheims 58 miles from Sirte and both ships were probably sunk.  Seven Swordfish obtained two hits on a 6000 ton merchant vessel 75 miles south of Lampedusa; a destroyer was seen picking up survivors.  Other attacks were made on shipping but results could not be observed.

On two successive nights Tripoli was attacked and a total of about 22 tons of bombs dropped. Three large ships in the centre of the harbour were heavily attacked but results could not be observed.  Hits or near misses were obtained on the Spanish Mole and quay, the seaplane base, barracks east of Fort Hamidie, the Spanish Fort and the Arab quarter.

A convoy of 14 lorries was attacked by four Blenheims 15 miles east of the Gulf of Sidra. Three large covered lorries were destroyed and others damaged; one bomb burst in a cluster of drivers and passengers; the convoy and troops were also heavily machine-gunned.

Four Hurricanes carrying bombs attacked the aerodrome at Comiso, Sicily, but results were unobserved. A Fulmar bombed the aerodrome at Castel Vetrano causing a large explosion.

At Malta enemy aircraft crossed the coast on only a few occasions. On one night nine fighters machine-gunned Luqa doing only slight damage; one Macchi was destroyed by Hurricanes, anti-aircraft guns probably destroyed another and damaged five.  One Hurricane is missing.  On another night four bombers dropped bombs but caused no damage.


Weather  Storms.

0407-0428 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy Cant 1007 bombers which approach the Island as Wellington bombers arrive from the UK. At least one bomber crosses the coast before the alert sounds, dropping 500kg and 250kg bombs near Mgarr.  Other raiders drop high explosive bombs in the sea off Ghain Tuffieha.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Samuel McAllister, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Edward H Brenton, Royal Australian Air Force.


ROYAL NAVY  Truant arrived from the USA via Gibraltar. Clan Macdonald and Empire Guillemot sailed independently for Gibraltar at 1000 hrs.  Empire Guillemot returned later with engine trouble and remained off Filfla for the night. Unbeaten, Urge, Upright returned from Cape Passero, having sighted nothing but a hospital ship.  Three Swordfish on anti-submarine patrol sighted nothing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina, 1 Clare. 38 Squadron 16 Wellingtons attacked selected targets in Naples. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands on special patrols.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast.  221 Squadron  1 Wellington on shipping sweep. 


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


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