23 December 1941: 700 Prisoners Killed

23 Dec

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SS Shuntien

A German U-boat attacked a British convoy today, sinking a freighter carrying possibly 1000 Italian and German prisoners of.  The passenger/cargo ship, SS Shuntien, was en route from from Tobruk to Alexandria as part of Convoy TA5.  Just after 7pm this evening she was hit by a torpedo fired by U-559 shadowing the convoy to the north east of Tobruk.

Most of the crew of Shuntien were rescued by another convoy ship, HMS Salvia, along with a number of prisoners.  However, Salvia was later hit by another U-boat and sunk with the loss of at least 700 men.

Maltese crewmen lost on SS Shuntien have been named as Emmanuel Azzopardi, Donkeyman; Henri Caffari, Pantryman; John Debattista, Fireman; L Galea, Fireman; Domenic Mercieca, Greaser; E Palmier, Chief Steward; John Said, Greaser; John Smith, Fireman.


0101-0125 hrs; 0303-0357 hrs; 0437-0523 hrs  Alarm sounded for approximately eleven raiders. Bombs are dropped various places on land and in the sea.  Ack Ack fired a number of barrages; no claims.

0650-0742 hrs  Air raid alarm for three enemy aircraft which dropped bombs in sea.

1100-1155 hrs  Air raid alarm for 30 fighters escorting four JU 88’s on an attack on Grand Harbour.  Bombs were dropped on the Grand Harbour area, damaging two houses  Hurricane fighters were scrambled: one Messerschmitt ME 109 was damaged; one Hurricane was also damaged, the pilot slightly wounded.  Ack Ack fired Light and Heavy barrages; no claims.

1211 hrs  Air raid alarm. Caused by return of own aircraft.

1835-1854 hrs  Air raid alarm for two enemy aircraft which crossed the coast and dropped bombs near Zonkor Point, and in the sea.

2050-0600 hrs  Air raid alarm for nine enemy aircraft which crossed coast and dropped bombs near Kalafrana, Hal Far, Gudja and in the sea.  Searchlights illuminated enemy aircraft twice.  Hurricanes engaged without result.  Ack Ack fired five barrages.  A tenth aircraft which did not cross coast was possibly mine-laying.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant pilot Peter Wells, RAF, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Henry Metcalfe and Sergeant Peter Dive, Royal Air Force (RAF); Warrant Officer Alfred Gulliver, RAF, 221 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Leslie Woolley, RAF, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Humphreys, RAF, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Douglas Kingston, RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 221 Squadron; Sergeant William Reason, RAFVR, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Arnold Reid, RAFVR, 221 Squadron.  Private Ronald Yates, 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualty  Zejtun Carmel Attard, age 16.


ROYAL NAVY  Four Swordfish and five Albacores carried out shipping search without result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar. Departures  Four Wellingtons and two Beaufighters for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 22nd/23rd  Four Albacores 818 Squadron despatched to bomb Castel Benito aerodrome.  All bombs fell on target area.  One small fire in north west corner of aerodrome.  Opposition – some light and heavy Ack Ack. Weather good.

LUQA  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search Tripoli-Misrata; one Wellington special search failed to return.  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 6 patrol; one Maryland SF 12 patrol; one Maryland special search – photos of North African boats.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland PR Catania aerodrome; one Maryland PR Sorman, Zliten, Tripoli – crashed on landing, crew killed. 18 Squadron  Three Blenheims attacked targets at Sirte; one Blenheim SF 1 patrol. 104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked Misrata; four Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.  107 Squadron  Three Blenheims despatched to attack targets at Buerat (no attack made); one Blenheim special search Gulf of Sirte.

TA QALI  1835-0600 hrs  Two alerts.  Two attacks.  Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions.  Bombs on land and in sea.  Anti-aircraft fired five barrages.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.  No military damage or casualties.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21-23 December: 29.


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


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