23 October 1941: Malta Reinforced With More Aircraft

23 Oct

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HMS Penelope

HMS Penelope

HM Cruisers Aurora and Penelope have arrived at Malta from home waters.  An operation to reinforce Malta with aircraft has been successfully completed.  13 aircraft were flown off from an aircraft carrier, twelve of which arrived safely.  On 14th HM Submarine Unique torpedoed and probably sank the Italian Armed merchant cruiser Citta di Genova (5413 tons) south of Naples, and on 18th HM Submarine Ursula attacked a convoy to the west of Lampedusa and probably sank two ships.  On 17th SS Clan Macdonald, on passage to Gibraltar from Malta, was attacked by Italian torpedo bombers to the south of Sardinia but successful avoiding action was taken and a second attack was driven off by gunfire.

Our aircraft from Malta made several attacks during the week on shipping in the Mediterranean and on land targets in Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Naples was attacked on three nights by a total of 41 Wellingtons which dropped more than 55 tons of high explosive bombs and many incendiaries in the target area.  Hits were obtained on the Royal Arsenal, the Alfa Romeo automobile works, the railway station and on the torpedo factory, which it is estimated was completely destroyed.  Extensive fires were also started, one of which covered a wide area.  A factory at Cotrone, in southern Italy, was twic attacked by a total of 11 Blenheims.

In Sicily, attacks were made on a munition factory and a power station at Licata, on which three tons of bombs were dropped, and on a factory and railway sidings near Catania. The aerodrome at Trapani and the seaplane base at Syracuse were also successfully attacked.  Four Wellingtons, in co-operation with a Naval force, bombed the aerodrome at Elmas in Sardinia, and scored many hits on runways and buildings.

21 Wellingtons dropped 25 tons of bombs on Tripoli harbour. Hits were obtained on the Custom House, the seaplane base and on a warehouse, which was destroyed.  A ship of 3000 tons was set on fire.  Homs was bombed by six Blenheims which dropped two tons of bombs on buildings in the town.  Other Blenheims bombed and machine-gunned motor transport on the road between Sirte and Zuara and an aerodrome between Zuara and Tripoli, where the barracks were hit and an enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.

Reconnaissance aircraft made searches for shipping over wide areas. A convoy consisting of five merchant vessels, each of about 6000 tons, escorted by four destroyers, was sighted off Marittimo Island proceeding south.  Swordfish made successful torpedo attacks on the convoy on two successive nights.  Three hits brought the largest vessel to a standstill and set it on fire, and two, possibly three, other vessels were hit.

A 1500 ton merchant vessel and a 600 ton schooner were bombed off Cape Bon by six Blenheims. The schooner blew up and the merchant vessel was set on fire.  Another merchant vessel of 2000 tons was attacked off the coast of Tunis by four Blenheims.  A direct hit was scored near the funnel and the vessel is claimed as seriously damaged.

Several small formations of enemy aircraft and bombers operated over Malta during the week. A few casualties were caused; the material damage was slight.


Weather  Fine.

2236-2344 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. The first drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.  The second crosses the coast near Grand Harbour, circles round and drops incendiary bombs on the Valletta and Sliema areas before turning out to sea and dropping high explosive bombs in the sea five miles off the coast.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

0422-0525 hrs  Raid no 905  Air raid alert for the approach of four enemy bombers which drop high explosive bombs in the sea 15-30 miles north of the Island. Two bombs are also dropped on Gozo.  One raider crosses the coast and drops 250kg high explosive bombs on Senglea and Marino Pinto, damaging the Royal Engineers yard, demolishing the roof of a store and starting a fire which is quickly extinguished.  One bomb is dropped close to St Nicola Ack Ack position.   The electricity supply in the Marsa area is cut off.  Bombs dropped during the raid are reported as being heavier than usual.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.


AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attack a chemical works at Cotrone. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Naples.  3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on special patrols; 1 Maryland on patrol and special search of Tunisian coast. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a merchant ship. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on shipping search.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.


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Posted by on October 23, 2021 in 1941, October 1941


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