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Category Archives: July 1940

21 July 1940: Maltese ‘Bravest of the Brave’ Says Report

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MALTESE CROSS STANDS FOR VALOUR

Maltese Cross

Once again in her long history of struggle and triumph this lonely little island set in the centre of the Mediterranean sea finds herself in the very forefront of a major war.  With the entry of Italy into the war and with the new factor of air power to consider, Malta has become almost a beleaguered garrison in a state of siege. 

To this condition, Malta is no stranger, for her island story bristles with the tale of repeated sieges suffered and withstood, that Europe’s faith might endure and that Europe’s culture might remain Christian.  The Maltese are first and foremost a pious people and it is no mere chance that the emblem under which they have always fought has been a cross. 

Then they are a very independent little nation which has clung to its liberties with all the tenacity of a bulldog.   Perhaps it is this very characteristic which enables them more than any other to take their place among the free peoples of the Empire today.

Owing to her geographical position barely sixty miles due south of Sicily she is very literally in the forefront of the battle.  This is amply illustrated by the fact that in just forty days this small island – about sixteen miles long by eight wide – has been visited eighty times by Italian bombers, an average of two air raids a day.

One of the most densely populated areas in the world

One of the most densely populated areas in the world

The island is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with 2000 people to the square mile.  These islanders were unfortunate during the first few raids: the people had not yet learned to take shelter, and casualties were numerous.  Yet despite this there was a complete absence of panic and within a day or so people were going quietly to their shelter when the siren sounded.

After the first bad raids, a number of the population decided to move out to the country districts, with the full sanction of the government.  Great generosity was shown to these evacuees by all the country folk who took complete strangers into their homes and made them welcome, often at considerable hardship to themselves.

With the grown of experience the anti-aircraft personnel both English and Maltese are becoming more proficient and the RAF fighters are rendering excellent service in deterring attacks from Italy.  When the Maltese emerge from their shelters they are less concerned with the damage done than with finding out how many enemy aircraft have been defeated.

The Governor talks to the population over the radio, explaining just why he has to enforce certain regulations and the Maltese react well to his honesty.  Rome radio also daily broadcasts a talk in Maltese, addressing his audience as ‘brother Maltese’ but his honeyed phrases fall on ears deafened by Italian bombs.  Before Italy came into the war there were many who believed that a very large proportion of the Maltese were pro-Italian.  This has been proved utterly without foundation.

Thousands of men and women are busy in war service.  The men stand guard against coming attacks in the various local regiments; the women are wardens, first aiders, nurses or welfare workers.  Ordinary crime has become practically unknown.

In this constant assault from the air, Malta is sharing in England’s present trial and is very proud to do so.  Once again her people are called upon to suffer and endure, for suffering they are.  They don’t shout about it very much, but below the philosophy and cheerful resignation there must be a sadness that this has come upon them.  They have known, in the forty short days of war, death and mutilation, loss of home and property, economic and financial ruin.  Against this, they balance their resolve and treasure their hope and their faith.

The British Empire keeps one award for its bravest of the brave: the much coveted and rarely won Victoria Cross.  In England we call its shape a Maltese cross and, though we are not strictly accurate, the similarity is very close.  In Malta today, they go about the daily routine in the knowledge that if they suffer and endure they do so with the same courage as those great warriors of their island’s story.  In wearing their cross of suffering as bravely as a banner, they will truly win the right to say that today as in the past the Maltese Cross still stands for valour.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JULY TO DAWN 22 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm; poor visibility at times. 

1010-1033 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers and six fighters which approach from the north at 16-22000 feet and disperse on reaching the Island.  Ack Ack guns at Tigne, San Pietru, Ta Karach, Spinola and Benghaisa engage the raiders and Malta fighters are also scrambled but do not engage.        

1045-1115 hrs  Air raid alert for three bombers and sixteen fighters which approach from the north.  All gun positions except for the Dockyard and Hal Far engage the raiders with a very heavy barrage which splits the formation. One enemy bomber is hit; dense smoke issues from its tail and it dives out of control to 8000 feet when it recovers and heads away northwards with three fighters.  No bombs are dropped.  Malta fighters are not scrambled.     

1210 hrs  Air raid alert for three formations of enemy aircraft which approach the Island in a wide fan shape and circle over the sea over the area where this morning’s damaged bomber was last seen. 

1240 hrs  One Swordfish is despatched to observe and verify whether the bomber has fallen into the sea; it fails to return.  A second Swordfish is despatched and reports seeing only a patch of oil 

1510 hrs  A London flying boat is despatched and photographs the enemy bomber floating in the sea, which is identified by its markings.  The London is attacked by two enemy CR42 fighters and shoots down one of them into the sea.  The second CR42 attacks but quickly climbs to 10000 feet before departing.     

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 21 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Swordfish.  0515 hrs  Swordfish on anti-submarine patrol: nothing to report. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Ricketts was discharged from hospital.  Two men were sent to Marsa awaiting trial.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor carried out inspections of troops at Mjarr and St Paul’s Bay.

 

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Posted by on July 21, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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20 July 1940: War Office Keen to Raise Morale in Malta

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PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN PLANNED

The War Office is planning a publicity campaign to raise morale among the civilian and military communities in Malta.  The Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief has been approached for a report on the current morale of the population and troops.  He is also asked for information to add to the campaign, including details of air attacks, fighter successes against the enemy and life in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JULY TO DAWN 21 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.

Kalafrana

Kalafrana (1)

0242-0320 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach Malta from the east and make a series of low-flying attacks on Hal Far and Kalafrana, as well as in the sea.  Eight high explosive and incendiary bombs fall on land round Kalafrana, one penetrating a RAF speed launch causing severe damage.  High explosive bombs hit the Motor Transport section, tennis courts and a store.  Incendiary bombs land on the Power House Store and damage one Sunderland at its moorings.  Raiders also machine-gun Ghar Dalam and Hal Far searchlight stations.  Ack Ack guns at Ta Karach and Benghaisa engage the enemy.  One enemy aircraft picked up by searchlights is believed by ground light machine gun fire.    

Military casualties  Corporal William Hearl, 2nd Bn The Devonshire Regiment                   

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0515 hrs  Swordfish on anti-submarine patrol: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on search patrol for Swordfish.  Eight recruits medically examined for the RAF.

(1) Josephs Militaria and Homefront Collection

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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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19 July 1940: Only One Aircraft Left to Defend Malta

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MALTA FIGHTER FORCE DOWN TO A SINGLE GLADIATOR

Gladiator NN5520 'Faith'

Gladiator NN5520 ‘Faith’

Two Gladiators were damaged in air raids on Malta today, leaving only one serviceable aircraft to defend the Island.  The remaining Gladiator may have to face up enemy formations up to twenty strong.  Urgent work is in hand to repair two more Gladiators and one Hurricane from recent damage in combat.  Air HQ expects the all three will soon be airworthy.

MALTA WILL SOON HAVE MORE GUNS

Twelve heavy anti-aircraft guns with personnel to man them are being despatched immediately for Malta.  The reinforcements will travel the long sea route round the African Cape and are expected to arrive on the Island around 10 September.  At the same time, plans are under discussion to send another twelve guns through the western Mediterranean, with a smaller cohort of personnel.  If the latter ship succeeds in reaching Malta, the supplies brought by the Cape route will be retained in the Middle East.

At the same time it was announced that some of the guns currently installed for the defence of the Dockyard are to be moved to a position to defend the Island’s aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1235 hrs  A London flying boat and a Swordfish drop bombs on a submarine which is at a depth of eight fathoms four miles north east of Valletta.  Two 250lb bombs are dropped by the Swordfish and small patches of oil are visible. 

1255-1321 hrs  Air raid alert for six hostile fighters in two formations.  They approach over Madalena from the north and attack the London flying boat.  Malta fighters are scrambled and approach the enemy raiders while Ack Ack gunners also open fire.  The raiders turn away without dropping any bombs.  Two of Malta’s fighters are damaged on landing.  The submarine oil patch spreads quickly to 100 feet square.   

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  A flying boat claims to have sunk a submarine 1.8 miles off St Elmo. 

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Gladiators damaged. 0345 hrs  London affected anti-submarine patrol in the Pantelleria area.  0515 hrs  Swordfish affected anti-submarine patrol and reported four ships 80 miles from the Island.  0945 hrs  Nine Swordfish were then despatched with bombs and torpedoes but failed to locate ships. 

KALAFRANA  Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol is attacked by CR42 aircraft, one of which he shoots down.  He also bombs a submarine off Delimara Point – result unknown.

LUQA  Malta’s fighters went up on a practice flight and on landing one of the Gladiators damaged one of its wings.  Strength of Station: officers 18; airmen 92; civilians 4.

 

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Posted by on July 19, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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18 July 1940: Refugees Return to Bombed Out Homes

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REFUGEES UNABLE TO SETTLE INLAND Refugees have begun returning to the bombed communities of the Three Cities despite continued bombing of the Dockyard area.  The migrant families have described overcrowded conditions and a sometimes hostile reception in reception villages as the reason for their return.  Some have failed to find any suitable accommodation for even the medium term. 

Bastions at Vittoriosa

Bastions at Vittoriosa

A number of residents whose homes in Cospicua have destroyed in air raids are now sheltering under the bastions of Vittoriosa.  Despite these difficult living conditions, they feel a greater sense of community closer to home.  Shops and other facilities are beginning to re-open to provide essential services. Some of the returning residents have been evacuated from the Wied il-Ghain seaside resort which had been used as a substantial refugee centre.  The Government ordered the evacuation as a precautionary measure, fearing that a landing may be attempted their by the enemy.  As a result the village will remain under military control.

FINNISH WRECK SURVIVORS SEEK REFUGE IN MALTA Two rowing boats full of men were spotted approaching the shore of Malta near Marsaxlokk Bay at dusk today.  The alarm was raised at just before eight this evening and a party of MSC boats went out from Kalafrana to investigate.  Interrogation revealed that the 26 occupants were survivors of the Finnish steamer SS Wiiri which was bombed this morning by the Italian Regia Aeronautica 20 miles south west of Malta.  According to the survivors, 70 or 80 bombs were dropped all round the 3500 ton cargo ship and she went down but there were no casualties.  The rowing boat’s occupants were brought ashore and fed before being taken into custody for further interrogation.

HMS Phoenix

HMS Phoenix

SUBMARINE REPORTED OVERDUE The Royal Navy submarine Phoenix has been reported as sixteen hours overdue at Malta. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JULY TO DAWN 19 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.  No air raids. 1430 hrs  Status ‘Asia’ notified to all batteries. 2215 hrs  A Royal Navy signal station reports green lights from the direction of Verdala. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine Rorqual sailed for Alexandria.  AIR HQ  Hudson effected reconnaissance of Palermo Harbour; sighted five destroyers and three merchant vessels 2-4000 tons plus several small craft.  KALAFRANA  Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol.

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Posted by on July 18, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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17 July 1940: Malta Needs a Fast Supply Ship

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Plumleaf

Plumleaf

FAST SHIP NEEDED TO BRING ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES

The Commander in Chief Mediterranean has applied to the Admiralty for a fast ship of the Glen Line to take on the urgent supply of Malta.  The fast transport ship would perform the dual role of sea-going oiler and carrier of stores into Malta.  The role has so far been carried out by Plumleaf but the vessel is considered too slow to continue the duty effectively.

THREE WELLINGTONS MAY COME TO MALTA

Three Wellington bombers may be on their way to Malta, according the Governor and Commander in Chief.  However, Lt Gen Dobbie has reservations about the proposal to base the bombers in Malta, even temporarily, unless a proper unit with a full complement of men and spares, and especially a consignment of fuel, accompany the aircraft.  In addition, he points out that it would be unwise to accommodate the Wellingtons in Malta until the Island’s defences are improved, though this is anticipated.   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JULY TO DAWN 18 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 1940

HMS Rorqual

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine Rorqual arrived.

AIR HQ  0500 hrs  Coastal anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by one London: nothing to report.  1410-1630 hrs  Reconnaissance by one Hudson of Syracuse, Augusta and Messina harbours from 15,000 feet.  Ships at Messina: one battleship, six cruisers, nine destroyers, and several merchant ships.  Off Reggio: one ship, probably a troopship, proceeding north.  Augusta: two cruisers, one 10000 ton merchant vessel and twelve smaller merchantmen, plus 30 to 40 seaplanes.  Syracuse: one large and two small oil tankers; 14 small merchant vessels in possible convoy formation, two destroyers off the coast steering north.

KALAFRANA  Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol.  Eight recruits medically examined for the RAF.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  The first party for the rest camp at Ghain Tuffieha left Company HQ.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor visited two Companies, accompanied by his wife who enquired into the comforts of the troops

 

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Posted by on July 17, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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16 July 1940: First RAF Casualty as Fighters Outnumbered 10 to 1

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Wreckage of CR42 destroyed today

Wreckage of CR42 destroyed today (1)

FIRST RAF CASUALTY

Malta’s already beleaguered fighter flight suffered a blow today with the loss of the Island’s first RAF pilot in combat today.  Flight Lieutenant Peter Keeble had been serving as a pilot at Hal Far airfield since March of this year.  He was piloting a Hurricane this morning which met a numerically superior force of Italian Fiat CR42’s.  He attacked a leading fighter but died when his aircraft was shot down by the fighter near Bidni.  As Keeble’s Hurricane went into a dive the Italian was hit by Ack Ack light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorset Regiment.  He unable to come out of his pursuit dive and crashed near Bidni, just 100 yards from the Hurricane.  The pilot was captured alive but dies soon afterwards.  No enemy bombs are dropped during raid.      

MALTA FIGHTERS OUTNUMBERED BY TEN TO ONE

First RAF casualty in five weeks of fighting.  During the same period two and only occasionally three British fighters have met Italian formations up to 20 strong.  Yet they have destroyed 10 enemy aircraft and probably destroyed seven more. 

TROOPS NEED THEIR MAIL

Lack of mails and news of dependants who may have been evacuated from their home, coupled with reports of bombing of various districts in England is seriously disturbing troops in Malta.  The Governor and Commander in Chief today urged the War Office most strongly that every effort should be made to despatch letter mail to Malta by any means possible.  He further asks whether cheap cable facilities could be made available in England to the dependants of Malta forces, so that casualty information can be sent easily to the Island.     

His plea follows a previous telegram on 10 July asking for mail to be sent as soon as possible from England to Malta.  Troops are naturally anxious to get news of their relatives and especially those who were living in the Channel Islands as in the case of some of the Dorsetshire Regiment.  Lack of such information is proving unsettling especially as civil casualty lists and names of towns attacked are not published in newspapers.  Lt Gen Dobbie has asked that the mail and other essential requirements be included in the fast convoy leaving very shortly with aircraft for Malta. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JULY TO DAWN 17 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine. 

0915-0930 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy bombers with six CR42 fighters which approach the Island from the North in two formations.  One Hurricane and one Gladiator are scrambled and intercept the raiders.  One Hurricane is shot down by an enemy fighter; the same fighter is then shot down nearby. 

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Peter Keeble, Royal Air Force.                                           

Enemy casualties  Tenente Mario Benedetti, 74a Squadriglia, 23o Gruppo Autonomo, pilot. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane.  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by one London: nothing to report.

KALAFRANA   Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol.  Corporal L Wills, Nurse Orderly, attached to Luqa for medical duties.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  The air raid alert on Luqa airfield was changed to a bugle for all signals.  Corporal Adams stood by as bugler.

(1)  Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications 2008

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Posted by on July 16, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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15 July 1940: Malta Supplies Could Soon Run Out

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SUPPLY SITUATION HEADING TOWARDS ‘CRITICAL’ The Admiralty has warned today that the situation of supplies to Malta is in danger of becoming critical.  The transport of stores and provisions by the shortest sea route through the western Mediterranean has been all but impossible since France signed an armistice with the Axis last month.  The only safe route for supply convoys to reach Malta is via the long sea route round the African Cape.  The issue is being investigated as a matter of urgency in London so that alternative plans can be put in place before the Island runs out of supplies. 

Ghallis Tower

Ghallis Tower

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JULY TO DAWN 16 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.

0530 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighter aircraft which approach from the north over Ghallis Tower and cross over Valletta before flying away eastwards.  No bombs are dropped.    

1710-1745 hrs  Air raid alert – raid does not materialise. OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 JULY 1940 Nothing to report.

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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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14 July 1940: Malta’s Three Fighters Struggle Against New Enemy Tactics

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NEW ENEMY TACTICS CHALLENGING MALTA’S FEW DEFENDERS

Enemy tactics during the last two days indicate attempt to reduce Malta’s fighter effort by sending large numbers of fighters on raids, with formations approaching in two-tiers.  Hurricanes which attack bombers in the lower formation are being counter attacked by the upper tier of enemy fighters.  The manoeuvrability of these Italian aircraft is making it difficult for the Hurricanes to get away.  Although pilots have been warned of the new tactic, visibility difficulties in two recent raids have led to them being caught out on both occasions. 

Only one Hurricane and two Gladiators left

Only one Hurricane and two Gladiators remian

New tactics have also been identified during night air raids on the Island.  In recent attacks, a single bomber has approached, followed at a distance of about 15 miles by a second aircraft.  Bombers are carrying both high explosive and incendiary bombs which they are dropping from high altitude,

With Malta fighter numbers now reduced to one Hurricane and two Gladiators, RAF chiefs anticipate considerable difficulty in keeping Italian raiders at bay.  Meanwhile they stress the urgent need for further Hurricanes to attack bombers and Gladiators for tackling fighters.

LUQA AERODROME UNDER DEVELOPMENT

Developments are underway to increase facilities at Luqa airfield.  A small Station Headquarters is being established at the meeting of the two runways.  Six hangars, barracks, offices, and a petrol store are planned for the site, which will be ringed by defensive machine-gun posts.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JULY TO DAWN 15 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine. 

0545-0601 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy fighters which approach Grand Harbour and are attacked by guns at Tigne, San Pietru, Spinola and HMS Terror.  One Gladiator and one Hurricane are scrambled but do not engage.  The raiders circle over Grand Harbour just out of range of the Ack Ack guns, seemingly hoping to attract Malta’s fighters.  They then briefly cross the coast before heading away to the north east.  They then approaching again.      

0615-0643 hrs  Air raid alert for returning enemy raiders.  Malta fighters are still airborne over Luqa.  The enemy aircraft approach to within 15 miles before turning away to the south east.  They circle several times before heading away to the north east.    

1600 hrs  A farmer reports seeing two submarines to the south of the Island.  Initial investigations suggest that this a misidentification of wave patterns.

2110 hrs  Signalling is again reported from Dingli, identified by the RAF as the letters ‘ASK’, sent using a lamp or torch.  The source is identified as a house to the west of the village which is already under observation.  A return signal is also observed and its source noted.  Five minutes later red flashes are observed from the west of Rabat. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Emily on inshore patrol unsuccessfully attacked a submarine with gunfire off south east Malta. 

AIR HQ  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report.

  

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Posted by on July 14, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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13 July 1940: Pilot Wins Malta’s First DFC

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SCORE OF SIX EARNS FIGHTER PILOT DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

A pilot of Malta’s tiny Fighter Flight has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, thanks to his six victories against enemy aircraft in a month. Times of Malta this morning announced: “His Majesty the King is graciously pleased to award the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant George Burges for gallantry and devotion to duty in the air defence of Malta.”

Flt/Lt George Burges & Air Vice Marshal F H M Maynard (2)

Flt/Lt George Burges & Air Vice Marshal F H M Maynard (2)

A former flying boat pilot, Flt Lt Burges was serving as ADC to Malta’s Air Officer Commanding when Malta’s tiny Gladiator fighter flight was formed.  His first success came on 22 June when he attacked an Italian SM79 which then crashed into the sea.

When Hurricanes arrived in Malta, Flt/Lt Burges took up the challenge, scoring success in yet another unfamiliar aircraft.  Last Tuesday morning (9 July) was his first successful attack in a Hurricane.  Flt/Lt Burges was one of two Hurricane pilots scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation of one SM79 on reconnaissance, with a protective force of six CR42 fighters.  Flying Officer Jock Barber attacked the fighters while Burges rounded on the SM79.   He scored several hits before himself being attacked by the fighters.

Flt/Lt Burges’ medal citation reads: “Although normally a flying boat pilot, and only transferred to fighter duties since the commencement of war with Italy, Flight Lieutenant Burges has shot down three enemy aircraft and so damaged three more that they probably failed to reach their base.  He has shown great tenacity and determination in seeking combat, usually in the face of superior machines.”  (1)

PRIVATE CARS BANNED FROM MALTA ROADS

Private cars have been banned from use unless the driver carries a special permit.  The measure removes at a stroke some 1600 private cars and 275 hire cars from Malta’s roads.  In introducing the ban, the Government reminded owners that Malta is a small Island and buses still offer an alternative mode of transport.  The ban takes effect from midnight tonight

A DOZEN HURRICANES FOR MALTA

Mediterranean Air chiefs were informed today of a proposal to send twelve Hurricane fighters to Malta.  The aircraft will be shipped to Gibraltar aboard SS Glenochry.  Given the urgency of Malta’s need for the fighters, the Naval Commander in Chief Mediterranean has been asked to comment on the feasibility of routing the ship through the western Mediterranean and direct to Malta.  The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill has expressed concern at the risk of such an operation and is said to favour sending the Hurricanes via the long sea route round the African Cape.  Malta Air’s Officer Commanding has emphasised the urgent need for fighter reinforcements as the present effort against a determined enemy cannot be sustained by so few aircraft.

However, Naval chiefs have also expressed concerns at the plan, given the intense bombing experienced in the area during the past week.  They have put forward an alternative plan for the Hurricanes be transferred to an aircraft carrier at Gibraltar and sailed from there to a position from which they can fly the remaining distance to Malta.  Air crews could be transported in submarines Pandora and Proteus.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JULY TO DAWN 14 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1545-1605 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve enemy fighters which fly over the Island.  They are intercepted by one Hurricane and one Gladiator.  The Hurricane is damaged but repairable. The raiders drop no bombs.    

2120 hrs  Reports are received of signalling from the west of Dingli.

2210-2230 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy bombers which approach separately.  One crosses over Valletta and is engaged by Ack Ack fire.  The second crosses over Wolsely Battery and drops a flare, followed by four bombs.  One incendiary lands near the Officers’ Mess.  Other bombs are dropped on Marsaxlokk, where the target appears to be flying boats laying at anchor, on Zeitun and on the boom across the entrance to Marsamxetto Harbour.      

2330-2345 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers.  They are picked up by searchlights and drop all their bombs in the sea off Benghaisa, Delimara and Grand Harbour.    

Enemy casualties  Tenente Pietro Ferri, 36o Stormo, pilot of S79 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft gunfire and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane.  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by one London: nothing to report.

KALAFRANA  Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 HE 250lb Cospicua; 1 HE 250lb Zabbar.

(1)  Biplane Fighter Aces – Commonwealth: Group Captain George Burges DFC OBE

(2)  Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications, 2008

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Posted by on July 13, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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12 July 1940: Plans Ready for Invasion of Malta

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SECRET PREPARATIONS IN HAND FOR INVASION OF MALTA

Secret preparations are being put in place for a plan of action In the event of a successful invasion of Malta.  Special code words have been introduced for all troops: ‘Asia’ for full war routine with “Stand To” one hour before dawn, and ‘Europe’ for attack not likely, and no “Stand To” at dawn. Strategic preparations have been made to establish a final line of defence, with the identification of a ‘last ditch’ zone which covers the area surrounding Valletta and the Dockyard.

In a separate development today it was announced that Malta’s troops are to be formed into two operational groups covering the Island.  Northern and Southern Infantry Brigades.

Special Constabulary

Special Constabulary

PUBLIC TOO HASTY TO LEAVE SHELTER SAY CIVIL DEFENCE FORCES

The public are putting themselves at risk by trying to leave air raid shelters before the ‘All Clear’ has sounded.  Air Raid Wardens and the Special Constabulary have reported many cases of civilians insisting on leaving shelter immediately on the ‘Raiders Passed’ signal. 

The situation reached a critical stage today as residents left shelters to watch a dog fight between Malta fighters and enemy raiders:  “soon the word went round all over the Island…that some very spectacular fights were taking place high up in the sky.  This was followed shortly after by the excited shouts, ‘Qed in-nizzluhom’ (we are shooting them down) and then, long before the ‘Raiders Passed’ signal was given, people…rushed to the terraces, to the streets, and other vantage points…there were cheers and excited cries, as the people saw the enemy meet their just fate at the hands of our gallant pilots, and our English and Maltese anti-aircraft gunners.” 

Authorities have been pleased with the quick response to ‘Air Raid’ alerts but have expressed concern at the new developments.  Failing to take shelter, loitering in the street during a raid and leaving a shelter before the ‘All Clear’ are all offences punishable by law.  Several fines have already been levied from such offenders. (1) 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 JULY TO DAWN 13 JULY 1940

Weather  Low cloud. 

0550 hrs  Submarines are seen to surface near Benghaisa.

1548 hrs  Status ‘Europe’ declared to all batteries.

1612-1640 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighters which fly over the Island and are engaged by Malta fighters.  Three bombs are dropped near Verdala.  Reports suggest one raider is shot down.  There have also been reports that bags of sweets were dropped over the area of Tarxien and Ghaxaq.    

Military casualties  Private George Le Provost, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 12 JULY 1940

ARMY HQ  Troops are to be sent to a rest camp at Ghain Tuffieha for three days at a time. 

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  London aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton attached from 202 Squadron for anti-submarine patrols in Malta area.

1st Bn DORSET REGIMENT  At 0300 hrs today Private G LeProvost died in the Military Hospital, Imtarfa, and at 1900 hrs Lance Corporal W Malcolm died at ADS Tarxien.  Both died as a result of burns received due to enemy action on 10 July.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  1 incendiary Bighi Hospital; 1 incendiary Ricasoli Barracks.  Contact made with Commander Merriman, RN, who is responsible for dealing with unexploded bombs for the Navy.  All available assistance given.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Two miners were engaged to make a rock shelter at Company Headquarters.

(1) Source: When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta, 1981

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Posted by on July 12, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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