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14 September 1941: Blenheim Crew Rescued After Night Adrift in Dinghy

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HMS_Utmost

HMS Utmost

CREW SURVIVED HOURS IN HOSTILE WATERS

Three airmen stepped ashore at Manoel Island from the submarine HMS Utmost today feeling lucky to be alive after they spent a night in the sea off the coast of North Africa.  Sgt Brandwood, Sgt Miller and Sgt Mee were the crew of one of eight Blenheims which set out on Friday to attack an enemy convoy off the coast of North Africa.  In a fierce counter-attack by enemy destroyers escorting the convoy, three of the Malta bombers were hit.  The Blenheims of Squadron Leader Charney and Sergeant Mortimer were destroyed, and their crews killed. 

Sgt Brandwood’s starboard engine was hit and put out of action; then the bomb bay caught fire. As the crew struggled to put out the flames the Blenheim crashed into the sea.  The bomber sank beneath the waves but then miraculously resurfaced.  A badly injured Sgt Mee managed to release the rubber dinghy and the three airmen climbed in.

The remaining Blenheims circled back over the area and gave a signal to show they had spotted the dinghy. As soon as they landed at Luqa they reported the stranded dinghy and an immediate air and sea rescue search was launched.

Meanwhile the three airmen spent an uncomfortable night in their dinghy, interrupted by the booms and flashes of other attacks on enemy shipping. RAF Blenheims from Malta searched for them without success.

Then at 0800 hrs yesterday morning the airmen became aware of a submarine approaching. After several anxious minutes they realised it was friendly and were soon safely aboard HMS Utmost.  The submarine dived below the surface to avoid enemy detection as it headed for Malta. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned, having rescued the crew of a Blenheim.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Maryland. Departures 10 Hurricane, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Lampedusa, Zuara and Tripoli.  1 Blenheim, 1 Beaufort special patrol, 1 Blenheim special search.

TA QALI  6 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A small church parade for A and HQ Coys at Barracca Church. Now that the Church has re-opened we will send a party each Sunday.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party moved to Gozo.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on September 14, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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13 September 1941: 45 New Hurricanes for Malta

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HMS Furious

HMS Furious

OPERATION STATUS PHASE II A SUCCESS

45 Hurricanes flew in to Malta today, the second reinforcement of fighters to arrive on the Island in a week. Their arrival completes Operation Status which was intended to deliver some 60 Hurricanes in total.  However, the first phase last Tuesday was only partially completed, when guide Blenheims did not arrive to escort fighters from their aircraft carrier to the Island.

Ark Royal returned to Gibraltar on Wednesday and, following a rapid turn-round, embarked with 26 Hurricanes. A second carrier Furious departed with a separate protective force carrying another 20.  They were due to rendezvous yesterday for the Hurricanes to fly off to Malta but the event had to be postponed. 

Early this morning seven Blenheims from Malta reached the rearranged rendezvous ready to guide the Hurricanes to their destination. All but one of the 46 fighters took off successfully and completed a safe transit to the Island.  The remaining Hurricane crashed on take-off.

NIGHT CURFEW FOR TROOPS

New curfew regulations have been introduced for 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.  From today no serviceman may be away from his billet after 1930 hours except those on 24 hours or 3 days’ leave.  In addition, only 25 per cent of men may be away on leave at one time.  The regulations are designed to ensure that posts can be quickly manned against surprise attack.

However, the Battalion commanders recognise that the new requirement to stay in at night make it imperative that the men have more NAAFI accommodation and a recreation room. The Battalion is trying to find a suitable place for an HQ Officers Mess so that the present Mess may be given over to the men.

SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS IN MALTA

From: Governor & C in C Malta                         To: War Office

We are still short of the following infantry officers in Malta: 4th Bn The Buffs 4, Kings Own Malta Regiment 5, Devonshire 9, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt 4, 1st Bn Hampshire Regt 8, 1st Bn Dorset Regt 7, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt 7, 8th Bn Manchester Regt 4, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers 8: total 56.  The Middle East reports that officer material is drying up.  A small class of NCOs sent to their officer training unit will not be ready until next year.  I request the early despatch of as many as possible to meet the deficiency.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1117-1130 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Ten Hurricanes 249 Squadron and nine 195 Squadron are scrambled.  The raiders turn away before reaching Malta and there are no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol; photo-reconnaissance east Sicilian coast. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims searched for missing Blenheim crews.  3 Blenheims search and sweep for shipping, central Ionian Sea. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania dropped high explosive bombs south east of Gerbini and incendiaries near Moto.

TA QALI  8 officers and 6 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Ark Royal. 6 officers and 5 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Furious.  8 officers and 7 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East. 

 

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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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12 September 1941: Kings Own Malta Regiment Defend Luqa

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ack-ack-gunners-malta cropMALTESE BATTALION TO MAN KEY ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS

The 3rd Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment has been asked to man anti-aircraft gun positions to help protect Luqa aerodrome from attack.  One Sergeant and 12 men will form three anti-aircraft light machine-gun posts at the aerodrome.  The four-men crews will each man an anti-aircraft Bren gun from morning ‘stand to’ to evening ‘stand down’, and during daylight air observations.   The crews will be stood down overnight.  Stone sangars will be constructed for each location and lined with sandbags to form a secure gun position. 

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT LAUNCH FUND FOR DISTRESSED FAMILIES

The Kings Own Malta Regiment have voted unanimously to establish a Regimental Distress Fund to help soldiers whose families are affected by enemy bombing. The object of the fund is to accumulate an amount from which small sums can be paid to serving soldiers who through enemy action suffer damage or loss to their household belongings.  It is intended to assist afflicted families in obtaining immediate necessaries such as beds, blankets, cooking utensils and clothing.  Each Battalion and the Static Group will make an intitial contribution of £30.  Voluntary contributions will be made on a sliding scale from 10/- per month by a Colonel/Lt Colonel down to 2d per month by a regular soldier.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties Squadron Leader Frederick R H Charney, DFC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 105 Squadron; Sergeant Donald R Harris, RAFVR, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Sidney Porteous, RAFVR, 105 Squadron; Sergeant Joseph E Mortimer, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Flying Officer Charles D Owen, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Douglas J Reid, RAFVR, 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Operation Status Phase II postponed. HM Submarine Utmost departed to search for the crew of a downed Blenheim.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 5 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked a convoy approaching Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photo reconnaissance Taranto, Messina, Palermo. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol.  8 Blenheims attacked a convoy.  S/Ldr Charney’s Blenheim was shot down in flames, S/Ldr Sgt Brandwood and Sgt Mortimer failed to return. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy setting a tanker and a merchant vessel on fire.  One Fulmar on offensive patrol over Catania and Gerbini aerodromes dropped high explosives and incendiaries on Gerbini and machine-gunned both aerodromes. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on September 12, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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11 September 1941: Malta Fighters Winning Battle for the Skies

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Hurricanes dominate Malta skies

Hurricanes dominate Malta airspace

DEFEAT OF RAIDERS LIFTS MORALE

Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: diary entry 11th September 1941

“I am writing this during a raid at 2100 hrs. Guns are firing which is very unusual. There is no moon; which may have something to do with it. Latterly, our fighters have had much the best of it. Two nights ago friends who were staying at Gozo saw one of their bombers caught in our searchlights, and our fighter chasing it (also in our searchlight) out to sea. Both were firing at one another. The Iti was brought down.

I heard of the worst case of pilfering from the convoys today. Somebody got away with 470 cases, not bottles. The size of the haul makes one give a grudging admiration, when I have lads in prison for stealing a few packets of cigarettes! With whisky at, say 15/- per bottle, this is a value of over £4000. It must have been a whole lighter full, and there must have been a number of people in the syndicate. We are told that somebody is suspect; I hope he gets caught.” (1)

WAR CABINET REPORT FOR WEEK 4-11 SEPTEMBER

A naval operation for the reinforcement of air forces in Malta was successfully carried out. It is estimated that at least 20000 tons of enemy shipping have been sunk or damaged by Allied aircraft in the Mediterranean.

On 4 September five Blenheims attacked ships in Crotone, which had taken refuge there as a result of a very successful attack made by Swordfish the previous night. One 6-8000 ton merchant vessel was hit and an explosion resulted, and two other ships were attacked (results not observed).  One Blenheim was shot down by anti-aircraft guns. 

On the night of 6-7 September seven Naval Swordfish, operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta, intercepted a northbound convoy of three merchant vessels and three destroyers. One vessel of 6000 tons was hit three times and almost certainly sunk, and a 6000 ton tanker was hit twice with torpedoes.

A total of 34 tons of bombs was dropped on two nights by Wellingtons on Tripoli. The first attack was made on motor transport depots in conditions of excellent visibility.  The attack was pressed home from a very low level; all the bombs fell in the target area, where large fires among vehicles and buildings were reported.  The harbour was the objective of the second attack; three hits were obtained on a medium-sized merchant vessel and a number of bombs fell on the Spanish Quay.

On two successive nights Wellingtons from Malta attacked the docks at Palermo and dropped a total of 32 tons of bombs. Many hits were made on the three main quays and dry dock, and some extensive fires started.  Three large merchant vessels lying in the harbour may also have suffered damage.  These attacks were followed by two night raids by a total of 16 Wellingtons on the power station, landing stages and ferry ships at Messina; over 22 tons of bombs were dropped and many hits obtained on the targets.  A large fire was reported in the Citadel area of the town.

On 4 September a daylight raid on Malta was attempted by a force of 20 Macchi 200s, which were intercepted by Hurricanes at sea. Later in the day 12 more Macchis were employed to cover rescue operations.  In the course of these two operations nine of the enemy fighters were destroyed, two probably destroyed and five others damaged, against our loss of two Hurricanes.

Formations of from one to six aircraft have attacked Malta on most nights of the week. The few bombs dropped have caused negligible damage.  One Cant Z1007 was illuminated by searchlights and shot down in flames by Hurricanes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1135-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for a report of nine enemy aircraft which approach to within eight miles north of Grand Harbour at 23000 feet. Ten Hurricane fighters are scrambled.  Eight of 249 Squadron are unable to attain sufficient altitude to attack.  The two Hurricanes of 185 Squadron follow the raiders to within 10-15 miles of Sicily but cannot reach them and return to base.

2047-2210 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy aircraft approaching the Island. One turns back well before reaching Malta but the remaining four cross the coast and drop bombs on land around Kalafrana and Ta Qali.  Ant-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked Palermo. 69 Squadron 5 Blenheims on sweep of Ionian sea; attacked shipping. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy of 6 merchant ships and 7 destroyers off the Tunisian coast.  5 torpedoes were fired, sinking one merchant ship and damaging a second. 2 Fulmar offensive patrols over Sicilian aerodromes unable to attack due to thick cloud; they dropped high explosives and incendiaries on chemical works at Licata and machine-gunned harbour installations, then dropped high explosives and incendiaries on the railway at Sciata starting a fire.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Private Clapham buried with full military honours.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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

 

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10 September 1941: Malta Pilots Receive Military Honours

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PILOTS’ AWARDS ANNOUNCED IN LONDON

Awards have been announced today for three pilots for their service while based in Malta.  F/O Warburton has been given a second military honour in recognition of his service as a reconnaissance pilot. The official announcement came today of a Bar to add to the Distinguished Flying Cross he was awarded in January.

London Gazette, 9 September 1941: The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

F/O Adrian Warburton

F/O Adrian Warburton

Flying Officer Adrian Warburton DFC, No 69 Squadron

“This officer is a most determined and skilful pilot and has carried out 125 operational missions. Flying Officer Warburton has never failed to complete the missions he has undertaken and, in the actions fought, he has destroyed at least three hostile aircraft in combat and another three on the ground.”

Flying Officer Roger Drew, No 69 Squadron

“In July 1941, this officer carried out an attack on the aerodrome at Zuara. Aircraft on the ground were machine-gunned, one being destroyed and others damaged.  Flying Officer Drew has also been responsible for the destruction of three Italian flying boats.  He has completed 120 operational flights, including a number of reconnaissances, and throughout he has displayed skill and enthusiasm.”

Pilot Officer Jack Buckley, 105 Squadron

“In August 1941, this officer attacked a 9000 ton merchant ship off Lampedusa. Destroyers, torpedo boats and a large number of lighters were removing a cargo of motor transport at the time but Pilot Officer Buckley attacked through a curtain of fire and, although wounded during the run-in, scored hits setting the ship on fire.  Subsequent reconnaissance revealed that a 700 ton sloop was also sunk as a result of the attack.”

DANGEROUS UXBS AT DINGLI

A new type of Italian high explosive bomb has come to light in Malta. Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G Carroll first encountered the bomb when he was called out to Dingli by one of his NCOs. 

“His squad had revealed the first of two small bombs, six feet under the narrow strip of fertile farmland overlooking the sea, below the Island’s radar station. The NCO did not recognise the bomb. Lt Carroll climbed down the ladder to take a look: from its size he estimated it at 50kg, but from its markings it was Italian – and certainly not one he had seen before.  The NCO had reported that the bomb’s base fuze was broken – so with any luck it might be harmless.  But if the central part of the fuze was still in place, it could be in a highly-sensitive condition.  Lt Carroll’s worst fears were confirmed: any attempt to take out this fuze could detonate the bomb.  Better to set a charge himself and have a controlled explosion.  He looked up: no luck.  They were too close to the radar station, especially if the second bomb went up as well.  What if that one could be got out of the way first?

Lt Carroll walked across to take a look: the lads were making good progress and the bomb was already exposed. He climbed six feet down the ladder into the shaft and squatted down beside the bomb: another damaged fuze.  Now he had two bombs that were too unstable to move.  Nor could they be exploded this close to the radar station.  He had just one more option – but it meant putting himself at risk.  The entire base plate would have to be unscrewed from each bomb.  It was possible, but it had to be done without disturbing the broken fuze.  And twice. 

He gave the order for the men to retreat. This was a job for the Bomb Disposal Officer alone.  As soon as his Sergeant signalled that they were out of range, Lt Carroll began to unscrew the base plate of the first bomb, taking care to avoid touching the vulnerable fuze. Grasping it firmly, he gently eased it away from the carcass and climbed the ladder with his prize.  Soon the second base plate was off and Lt Carroll could afford to relax.  However, there was the matter of yet another unknown bomb to consider.  He ordered the parts of both bombs to be carried back to Lintorn Barracks.  He had a report to write.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Emmanuel Bartoli, age 55; Carmel Borg, age 61.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked power station, train and ferries at Messina. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance Tripoli, plus special search and patrol.  

TA QALI  4 officers and 9 sergeants left for Luqa by Hurricane to proceed to the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1900-0730 hrs Brigade Exercise: an ‘attack’ was made on the Battalion sector. Carriers and mobile platoons did excellent work and the whole area was well covered by fie from our static posts.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 3 (2 x 50kg; 1 x 12kg anti-personnel)

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  The Battalion participated in a Brigade exercise, attacking the defended positions on the Cottonera Lines held by 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

 

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Posted by on September 10, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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9 September 1941: Hitler Warned of Threat From Malta Submarines

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Hitler with Admiral Erich Raeder

Hitler with Admiral Erich Raeder

GERMAN NAVY CHIEF ALERTS NAZI COMMAND

According to intelligence sources, the Chief of German Naval Staff in Rome has reported to Berlin that submarines are the most dangerous [Allied] weapons in the Mediterranean, especially those at Malta.

ARRIVAL OF NEW FIGHTERS DELAYED

The first phase of the latest operation to deliver fighter aircraft to Malta was unsuccessful today when the almost half failed to arrive. Only one of the Blenheims due to guide the Hurricanes from an aircraft carrier to the Island reached the rendezvous point.  Just 14 of the Hurricanes could be flown off the carrier, all of which landed safely at Ta Qali.

Under ‘Operation Status’, 61 Hurricanes were embarked from the UK aboard the carrier Furious on 31 August, arriving at Gibraltar on Sunday.  26 were transferred to Ark Royal which reached the rendezvous early today.  When the second Blenheim did not arrive, Ark Royal turned back for Gibraltar to avoid enemy attack. 

The strengthening of Malta’s fighter force has been a priority for some weeks. Before today, numbers stood at 85 serviceable aircraft, mainly Mk II Hurricanes.  Under Phase II of Operation Status, Ark Royal is expected to make a further delivery of Hurricanes in a matter of days.

BICYCLE SECURITY

Troops have been asked to take much greater care of War Department bicycles. They are reminded that bicycles should be kept inside occupied buildings when not in use.  Officers and men who are permitted to use bicycles on leave are also to be held personally responsible for their safety.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Private Frederick J Clapham, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Operation Status Phase I completed, but only the first Flight arrived.  The second Flight did not start, owing to the failure of guiding Blenheim to appear.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Beaufighter, 14 Hurricane, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Bombay, 1 Sunderland, 3 Wellington. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance Striking Force patrols Ionian Sea and east Tunisian coast carried out by 3 Marylands and 1 Beaufort.  Hurricane photoreconnaissance patrol of Sicilian and Calabrian coasts. Fleet Air Arm Fulmar patrol of Trapani aerodrome unable to locate target due to poor visibility dropped bombs on Castelvetrano aerodrome causing a large fire. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Messina.   

TA QALI  5 officers and 9 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Ark Royal.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Private Clapham died as a result of an accident.

 

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Posted by on September 9, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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8 September 1941: Malta Needs More Bomb Disposal Men

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Lt Carroll (l.) & men of RE Bomb Disposal, Malta (NWMA Malta)

Lt Carroll (l.) & men of current REBD Section (NWMA Malta)

MANPOWER NEEDED FOR TWO BOMB DISPOSAL SECTIONS

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office requesting additional personnel to increase the strength of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to two Sections. The Island currently has a single operational Army Bomb Disposal Officer to deal with all unexploded bombs across Malta and Gozo outside of RAF airfields and Navy premises.  A second Officer is on the Island but is on respite from bomb disposal duties.  The current BD Section consists of 20 other ranks who are not on permanent attachment to bomb disposal but are temporarily seconded from 24 Fortress Company RE.  Lt Gen Dobbie would prefer to have trained and experienced men from the Home Front to create a more permanent establishment for Army Bomb Disposal.  

The need for manpower to make up two Sections was first identified following the attacks on HMS Illustrious in January but the shortage of Royal Engineers personnel on the Island meant that the plan was placed on hold.  A Bomb Disposal Section normally consists of an officer and 15-20 other ranks, including those with skills in carpentry, masonry and electrics.

Having been unable to secure the required additional manpower from the Middle East, Lt Gen Dobbie’s has now put in a demand for 52 rank and file Royal Engineers to be despatched from the UK. This will bring 24 Fortress Company RE and two bomb disposal sections up to full establishment and provide some reinforcements for the Fortress Royal Engineers. (1)

In a separate telegram to the War Office, the Governor and Commander in Chief has rejected a proposal to disband 16 Fortress Company, Royal Engineers. 16 Fortress Coy have been attached to 4 Searchlight Regiment Royal Artillery and the Royal Malta Artillery.  The War Office has suggested that with the arrival of additional Royal Artillery personnel in Malta, 16 Fortress Coy will no longer have a role.  Lt Gen Dobbie disagrees, saying that 16 Fortress Coy has a much wider purpose than the Royal Artillery personnel can replace and cannot be disbanded under circumstances currently prevailing in Malta.

CLUB OPENS FOR TROOPS

Maxims Club in Valletta is to host a dance with cabaret this evening for troops. The Club, at 116 Bishops Street, Valletta will open at 1800 hrs.  A dance band will perform and there will two cabaret shows during the evening.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 9 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

2138-2228 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly. Three drop high explosive bombs and incendiaries on various parts of the Island including Rabat, Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no engagements.

2313-0017 hrs  Air raid alerts for 12 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly at intervals. Only two of the raiders cross the coast, dropping high explosive bombs and incendiaries, killing one civilian and seriously injuring three more.  High explosive bombs are dropped between Mosta and Imtarfa, on Ta Qali and Luqa, and on the Bingemma area.  Incendiaries are dropped over Marsa.  Six high explosives fall close to the headquarters of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment; there are no casualties.  Bombs also land on the road behind the Royal Army Service Corps depot at Rabat used by 4th Bn The Buffs as a billet.  Two Hurricanes of Malta Night Fighter Unit are scrambled to intercept.  Following a formation, one Hurricane spots a light three miles astern and 4000 feet above him.  Climbing at full throttle, he comes into range of the Cant 1007 just after it has passed out of searchlight range.  The Hurricane hits the Cant with several accurate bursts of machine-gun fire, setting light to its port and starboard engines.  The Cant descends quickly to the sea.  A motor launch and a Swordfish rescue aircraft find five survivors who are taken prisoner and brought ashore at dawn.

0442-0454 hrs  Air raid alert for a single approaching enemy aircraft which may have been triggered by a Wellington coming in to land..

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Anthony Farrugia, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 8 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Bombay, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron 2 Maryland patrols of east Tunisian coast.  In the second, F/O Warburton drops bombs on Pantelleria.  2 Maryland patrols western Ionian Sea.  Two Fulmars on offensive patrols between Gerbini and Catania, dropped bombs on Gerbini and machine-gunned the aerodrome.  One Fulmar went on to Augusta and machine-gunned the aerodrome.  The second dropped incendiaries on the southern boundary of Catania. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked shipping in Palermo Harbour, dropping 33750lb of high explosives, damaging vessels and harbour facilities.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 3 (2 x 50kg; 1 x 15kg)

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

 

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Posted by on September 8, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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7 September 1941: Malta Troops Mark National Day of Prayer

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Barrakka Church

Barracca Church

PRAYER SERVICES HELD IN GUN POSITIONS AS WELL AS CHURCHES

Servicemen across Malta attended churches today as the Island observed a Day of National Prayer and Thanksgiving. The special day has been instigated by command of His Majesty King George VI to mark the first Sunday after two years of war. 

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief issued orders that all servicemen should have the opportunity to be included in the prayers. For troops on duty at defensive positions such as anti-aircraft guns, this meant a specially convened prayer service by their military chaplain.  Roman Catholic troops were given every possible opportunity to attend their local church, where a Catholic chaplain could not attend at their location.

FARMERS’ PROPERTY DAMAGED

Military authorities have been receiving complaints from farmers about serious damage to the rubble walls surrounding their fields, and also of wholesale theft of fruit by military personnel. Such offences are causing great annoyance to farmers who are dependent on their produce for their livelihood.  Troops have been reminded today that there is no excuse whatsoever for wanton destruction or theft. Commanders will take steps to ensure that any man found guilty of such behaviour will be severely dealt with.

Other complaints have also been received from landowners that civilians are entering fields which are occupied by the military. The civil police have no jurisdiction in the matter, other than in exceptional circumstances.  Troops have been reminded that it is their responsibility to prevent trespass by civilians.  However, it is also essential that owners and tenants be allowed free access.  Where any dispute arises, troops can arrange for the unit compensation officer to assist them in settling the matter.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 8 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Private Kenneth G Piper, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 3 Blenheim. Reconnaissance of western Ionian Sea by 1 Maryland, 1 Beaufort and 1 Hurricane. 69 Squadron   2 patrols east Tunisian coast. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked Palermo Harbour in three waves caused a series of explosions. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked shipping off Augusta. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A church parade at Barracca Church: the first we have had since the Italians started bombing us in Matruh.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS A party of 24 Fortress Company 2 Section working at Cala Mistra is transferred for to reinforce sappers working on aerodrome obstacles at Luqa. The remainder of the Section is working on camouflage for aeroplanes at Cala Mistra. 

 

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Posted by on September 7, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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6 September 1941: More Vital Foods Rationed and Prices Fixed

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'Call up' for men to dig shelters

‘Call up’ for men to dig shelters

MALTESE DAILY DIET FACES RESTRICTIONS

Malta’s population faces a hungry winter as more essential foodstuffs are added to the list of strictly rationed items. Rationing of edible oil, margarine and lard has already come into force.  Plans are now being made for the rationing of tinned fish and tinned meat, which will be put into effect later this month.

At the same time, the Maltese Government has decided to set up a Central Prices Board is being set up to fix the prices of local produce as well as goods imported by traders, in order to avoid the exploitation of shortages and ensure fair pricing across the Islands. The Board will also hear complaints by traders and the public with regard to prices.  Local committees are being set up all over the Island to oversee pricing in their areas and act as a point of contact for any concerns about excessive charges.

MALTA’S SKILLED CRAFTSMEN IN COMPULSORY ‘CALL UP’

Skilled workers such as miners, masons and stone cutters throughout Malta and Gozo are to be ‘called up’ to help with essential defensive works across the Islands. The measure is designed to speed up the construction of air raid shelters and other essential defence projects for the Malta Garrison. 

In a first step towards instituting compulsory service for skilled manpower to help in the defence of Malta, every suitably skilled man between the ages of 16 and 60 will be required to register with the Director of Compulsory Service. First to register will be all employees of the Government and military services.

The Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief has been concerned about the rate of construction, particularly of shelters for the civilian population. Having unsuccessfully bid for a skilled workforce to be sent to Malta from elsewhere, he is keen to ensure the maximum use of locally available tradesmen in completing the necessary works.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and fresh.

0010-0050 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north at 14000 feet and drops bombs in the sea six miles off the coast before turning away. Two Hurricanes were scrambled but as searchlights could not illuminate the raiders at such distance there was no engagement.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington.  Striking force patrols Ionian Sea and east Tunisian coast by two Marylands, one Blenheim and one Beaufort. 69 Squadron Maryland patrol east Sicilian and east Calabrian coasts.  2 Fulmar sent to patrol Catania and Gerbini developed engine trouble so went to Comiso and dropped incendiaries.  The crew returned to Malta, change aircraft and took off again at 0001 hrs for Catania where they dived and machine-gunned the airfield, damaging three aircraft.  At 0115 hrs they dived on Gerbini airfield, dropping incendiaries and machine-gunning three more aircraft on the ground. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a northbound convoy of three merchant ships and three destroyers south of Pantelleria.  One merchant ship was claimed as sunk, and one damaged.  5 torpedoes were released.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2; dealt with 2 (70kg incendiary)

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The CO commented on the narrow escape of personnel during last nigh’s raid and emphasised the importance of maintaining a rigid blackout.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  One NCO and 14 men attached to RAF Luqa as mechanics.

 

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Posted by on September 6, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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5 September 1941: Malta ‘A Most Formidable Offensive Base’

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Malta bombers attack Sicilian airfield

Malta bombers attack Sicilian airfield

MALTA’S ROLE IN MEDITERRANEAN REVEALED IN BRITISH MEDIA

Malta’s role as a base for attacks on Axis-held territories and convoys has now been revealed publicly in British media for the first time, according to the diary of a prominent figure on the Island:

“This place has become a most formidable offensive base. We of course, know it, but it has only today been revealed at home. Our bombers are over Sicily, Tripoli and Benghazi every night, and often farther afield. The roar of planes goes on a frequent intervals during the night. A man who is stationed at Luqa said that on the previous night sixteen planes left the island in three formations, each plane carrying two tons of bombs.” (1)

WAR CABINET REPORT WEEK 28 AUG-4 SEPT

Over 65000 tons of enemy shipping have been damaged or destroyed by Allied aircraft in the Mediterranean in the past week. A series of successful attacks were made by Blenheims, Wellingtons and naval Swordfish operating from Malta against enemy shipping on passage to the African Coast and in harbour in Sicily and Tripoli.  In addition to a destroyer which was torpedoed and sunk, the following merchant ships were sunk or seriously damaged:

  • 5000 tons bombed, blew up
  • 8000 tons bombed, on fire from stern to funnel
  • 5000 tons bombed, on fire
  • 1200 tons torpedoed, left stationary and with a heavy list
  • Tonnage unknown bombed, on fire
  • Medium bombed, believed sunk
  • Medium bombed, blazing from stem to stern
  • 3/5000 tons bombed, left well alight
  • 8/9000 tons torpedoed, blew up
  • 9000 tons torpedoed amidships
  • 9000 tons torpedoed, seriously damaged
  • 9000 tons torpedoed, seriously damaged
  • 8000 tons probable hit with a torpedo
  • 8/10000 tons hit by bomb

During the week a total of 40 Wellingtons were despatched against Tripoli and at least six ships in the harbour were hit and a petrol dump exploded, while extensive fires were caused on the unloading quays and motor transport dispersal areas. Subsequent daylight reconnaissance showed that ships and stores were still burning.  On the night of 1-2 September the power station was attacked, two sticks of bombs falling across the target, and many others in the vicinity.

A night attack by Swordfish on a convoy off Cape Spartivento achieved complete surprise and resulted in at least four ships being hit. Such confusion resulted that the escorting destroyers fired on their own ships and several ships narrowly escaped confusion.

Hurricanes and Blenheims made daylight attacks on targets in Italy and Sicily. The power houses of two munition factories at Licata, Sicily, were hit by six bombs.  At Crotone, Italy, large explosions and fires followed hits on buildings in a munition factory, which subsequent photographs show to have been severely damaged.  In addition, a ship in harbour was hit three times, and ground targets were machine-gunned.  During a night attack on two Sicilian aerodromes naval Swordfish shot down an Italian bomber in flames. 

A few high-flying enemy aircraft crossed the coast of Malta by day, and there were two ineffective night attacks by about six aircraft.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Cooler and very pleasant.

0445-0545 hrs  Air raid alert for a three enemy aircraft approaching from the east. Only two make a half-hearted attempt to cross the coast.  One drops nine bombs in and around the grounds of Villa Gauci where troops are billeted; two bombs fail to explode and the Villa is evacuated.  Other bombs are dropped north of Dingli and in the sea east of the Island.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations or interceptions. 

Military casualties  Able Seaman Spiridione Zarb, HMS St Angelo.                                           

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Osiris sailed for Alexandria with stores and passengers. Defensive minelaying in Marsaxlokk was completed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 5 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Catania, Augusta and Syracuse, Palermo Harbour, aerodrome and hydro-electric plant and Tripoli Harbour.  Reconnaissance patrols of Tunisian coast and western Ionian Sea.  38 Squadron  9 Wellingtons attacked ships alongside Tripoli Harbour; results uncertain.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (2kg incendiary)

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Royal Engineers officers came to discuss the Battalion’s accommodation problems.

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History 

 

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Posted by on September 5, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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