9 December 1941: Axis Convoy Turns Back at Sight of Malta Aircraft

09 Dec

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Alberico da Barbiano

An emergency convoy carrying urgent supplies for Rommel’s Afrika Korps turned about tonight at the sight of reconnaissance aircraft from Malta.  The light cruiser Alberto da Giussano and her sister ship Alberico da Barbiano, loaded with fuel desperately needed by Axis forces in North Africa, set out from Palermo under cover of darkness to attempt the run to Libya. 

The ships were chosen for the mission due to their speed and had no proper fuel tanks fitted for storage.  The decks of both vessels were crammed with metal containers filled with the highly-inflammable fluid.

A short time into the crossing, Allied Swordfish and Albacore aircraft were spotted in the vicinity, searching for the Italian convoy.  Their presence revealed, the mission’s commanders decided to return to port rather than run the risk of attack. 

In so doing, the ships escaped detection by aircraft from Hal Far who were out to discover their location for a Malta strike force sent to destroy them.

Reconnaissance flights from Malta are now patrolling every possible port of embarkation for Axis convoys destined for North Africa, as well as carrying out frequent bombing attacks on fuel dumps on both sides of the Mediterranean.


0112-1045 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft crossed Island from north to south and dropped bombs 200 yards from Civil Hospital, Guardamangia. 

1035-1112 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.


ROYAL NAVY  Neptune, Aurora, Penelope, Jaguar and Kandahar sailed to intercept enemy forces at 1830 hrs.  Seven Swordfish and five Albacores searched for two enemy cruisers but failed to locate.

AIR HQ  Departures  3 Wellingtons, 1 Beaufighter, for 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland [patrol] Navarino-Patras; one Maryland [patrol] Palermo-Trapani; one Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 6 patrol. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim central Ionian Sea; one Blenheim Kerkennah-Pantelleria patrol.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol. 104 Squadron Seven Wellingtons attacked fuel stores depot west of Fort Curgi, Tripoli.  Two Wellingtons attacked storage buildings near Castillo, Tripoli.  40 Squadron Twelve Wellingtons attacked fuel depot near Fort Curgi, Tripoli.  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping search Maritino-Pantelleria-Kelibia.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 2 (German 50kg).


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Posted by on December 9, 2021 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized


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