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Category Archives: December 1941

27 December 1941: Malta Under Alert for 16 hours out of 24

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GHAXAQ FAMILY WIPED OUT BY ENEMY BOMBS

Hurricanes scrambled 10 times

Malta was under air raid alert for 16 hours out of 24 today as the Luftwaffe continue their post-Christmas campaign against Malta.  RAF Hurricane aircraft from Ta Qali were scrambled ten times to fight off enemy raiders.

An entire young family was wiped out early this evening when bombs hit the southern village of Ghaxaq.  The deceased have been named as John Abela, his wife Vincenza, 26, and their two children: one year old Teresa and baby Carmel, three months.  A fifth person, Michelina Busuttil, 47, was also claimed in this major blow to a small agricultural community.

ENEMY MINE-LAYERS DETECTED

Urgent orders were issued early this morning confirming the presence of enemy mine-laying vessels within reach of Grand Harbour.  The overnight watch of the Harbour Fire Command reported the sound of engines indicating the presence of surface craft just off the harbour entrance.

Despite regular searchlight sweeps, the engine noise continued.  On receiving the report, the Royal Navy suspected enemy E-boats are again engaged in laying mines while aircraft create diversions overhead.  The Harbour Fire Command was placed on high alert and continued searchlight sweeps at regular intervals throughout the night, but nothing further was spotted.

This morning’s operation instruction outlined measures to destroy the craft, which are laying mines within the range of the Harbour guns and searchlights.  The Harbour Fire Commander at Fort St Elmo is to be issued with a RDF (radio direction-finding) set by 1200 hours tomorrow, to give early warning of the presence of MTBs (motor torpedo boats).

The RDF equipment will switched on at intervals or when enemy ship movements are suspected.  Once a craft is detected, searchlights will be trained towards them but not switched on until the RDF shows the target to be within beam and gun range – to retain an element of surprise.

Meanwhile the Royal Navy is maintaining a patrol six miles off shore to intercept surface craft and prevent them from reaching Malta’s shores.  Any hostile vessels seen are to be immediately engaged, regardless of the presence of the naval patrol.  All harbour guns available will be used in such attacks, taking great care not to engage the naval patrol vessel.

AIR RAIDS 27 DECEMBER 1941

0822-0933 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine ME 109’s in two formations patrolled over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors engaged; no claims.

0931-1100 hrs  Air raid alarm: 14 fighter aircraft crossed the coast – no engagement.

1109-1245 hrs  Air raid alarm.  A formation of JU 88’s with large fighter escort approached the Island.  Hurricanes intercepted causing the enemy to jettison their bombs.  One JU 88 was confirmed destroyed, one ME 109 probably destroyed, one JU 88 damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

1450-1531 hrs  Air raid alarm: 33 enemy aircraft approached the Island, nine only crossing the coast; no bombs were dropped.

1617-1644 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1757-1926 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs at Ghaxaq, in the sea and near Corrodino.

1940-0520 hrs  Air raid alarm: seven alerts were sounded for a total of ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped in sea and on land near Hal Far, on Wardia Ridge and Luqa, where they caused slight damage to officers’ quarters.  At 2010 hrs an enemy raider was illuminated and shot down in flames into the sea.  A second illumination was effected during last alert when Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant William MacCosham, Royal Canadian Air Force, 179 Squadron; Gunner Thomas North, 4th Searchlight Regt, Royal Artillery/Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq John Abela, age 33; Vincenza Abela, age 26; Teresa Abela, age 1; Carmel Abela, age 3 months; Michelina Busuttil, age 47.  Sliema  Carmel Muscat, 17.

Enemy casualties German Hauptmann Eberhard Stahle, Stab II/KG 77, Pilot of a Ju.88 bomber, shot down into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines off Tripoli.

Whitley

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Two Wellingtons, one Beaufort, one Whitley from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 26/27th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Zuara Harbour.  Opposition spasmodic and inaccurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland special search (friendly) north half of C/V; one Maryland special search (friendly) south half of C/V; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance One Maryland Catania, Celibria.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked rail shipping Zuara-Tripoli; one Blenheim attacked rail transport at Zuara.  107 Squadron  Two Blenheims SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim attacked road transport at Zuara.

TA QALI  Hurricanes scrambled at 0822-0909, 0932-1038, 1109, 1237, 1450, 1531, 1617, 1637, 1757, 1918.  One JU88 destroyed.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Air alarms lasting throughout the day: High explosive bombs dropped in scattered parts.

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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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26 December 1941: 60 Aircraft In Daylight Raid On Luqa

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AUDACIOUS DAYLIGHT RAID DESTROYS SIX AIRCRAFT

“A red letter day for the Jerries. They bombed the drome nearly all afternoon and destroyed two Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Hurricane, and two Marylands, which wasn’t a bad bag. “X” was loaded with a 4000 [pound] bomb when hit. It blew up and now no one knows where X is altho we did find two little pieces of the engine. The rest will probably fall at the end of the week.

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Plenty of bombs screeching down and yours truly hit the ditch twice once in a great pile of nettles over beside the AOC Med[iterranean]. Three of our kites went u/s. when the 4000 [pounder] went off but ops went on just the same.

Took off for Tripoli at 8.30pm in “Q” with only skeleton crew, myself, Dick, Michie and Ray. Flew there 10/10 cloud on way out and got pretty well iced up. Weather good at target and the ship in harbour stood up well.  We carried 8/500 SAP and dropped them in two sticks from 8000′. We got one hit on a large merchantman.

Weather back at Malta very bad. Ceiling zero with rain and clouds and a very bad cross wind. WT message made us circle Gozo for 1½  hrs. Finally went in and landed with visibility about 50 ft. and bad cross wind. Time 4 hrs 25 mins. Jerry dropped a few bombs during night. Two [JU]88’s and two [ME]109 Fs shot down in day.” (1)

A NEAR MISS

“We are having our third noisy raid today, so I will add a little to this [diary]. The Germans are being beaten – at least temporarily – on every front except Sevastopol, and are taking it out of us here. We have had all-night raids…during a short but very fierce raid when we heard much machine-gunning…there was a loud crack which turned out to be a small bomb, (probably an aeroplane cannon shell I am told), in our yard. We found nothing but the nose, but there was a hole in the window 3 feet from Mrs. Clements who was making pastry.” (2)

AIR RAIDS 26 DECEMBER 1941

Weather  Cold but fair, sunny.

0832-0950 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconnaissance by six enemy aircraft.

1042 hrs  Air raid alarm for 20 ME 109’s escorting a few JU 88’s which approached and crossed the coast.  Hurricanes were scrambled and drove off the attack; no bombs were dropped.  One Hurricane was damaged and the pilot slightly injured.

1316-1429 hrs  Air raid alarm:  60 fighters and JU 88’s approached the Island; 30 crossed coast and attacked Luqa aerodrome, destroying six aircraft on the ground and damaging another five.  Ack ack fired, claiming one JU 88 possibly destroyed.

1601-1717 hrs  Air raid alarm: 45 fighters escorting reconnaissance aircraft crossed the coast.  One Hurricane was shot down; the pilot is safe.

1815-1934 hrs  Air raid alarm: 11 enemy aircraft approached from the south east.  One JU 88 dived over Grand Harbour and dropped bombs in French Creek area – this aircraft was illuminated for one minute, Bofors engaged it and claimed hits.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged with four immediate barrages.  Bombs were also dropped on Filfla and near Island Bay searchlight position – no damage.

2014-2125 hrs  Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed coast dropping bombs on Qrendi and incendiaries in the sea.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

2205-2308 hrs  Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs Birkirkara, Safi, Salvatur, Hamrun and in the sea.

2358-0056 hrs  Air raid alar: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs west of Ta Qali and in the sea.

Military casualties   Sergeant James Billett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant William Marshall, (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant Oswald Summers, RAFVR, 18 Squadron; Private John Attard, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Frederick Clarke, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualty  Zurrieq Francis Camilleri, age 11; three civilians wounded. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY:  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Convoy ME8, consisting of empty merchant vessels Ajax, Sydney Star, City of Calcutta and Clan Ferguson, sailed to Alexandria escorted by all available forces from Malta: Rear-Admiral Commanding, Seventh Cruiser Squadron, in Ajax, Dido, Lance, Lively, Ghurka, Arrow, Foxhound and Nestor sailed for Alexandria at 1830.  Four Albacores laid mines off Zuara.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Blenheims, one Wellington and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 25/26th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  One of the aircraft provided bombing diversion.  One minelaying aircraft encountered no opposition.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland special photo-reconnaissance Middle East.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol – Sgt Summers failed to return.  Two Blenheims attacked shipping at Zuara.  104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; one Blenheim SF14 patrol.  40 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli.

TA QALI  0949-1700 hrs  Four alerts.  No 126 Squadron Sgt W E Copp slightly injured.  S/Ldr E B Mortimer Rose injured – bullet wound in left heel.  1815-0039 hrs  Four alerts.  Bombs dropped on land and incendiaries in sea.  Single Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft engaged. 

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Mid-day attack by JU88s which dropped bombs on Luqa: two slight casualties among “A” Company 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment.  Also damage to transport vehicles and a/g stores of this Company.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT   1815 hrs  One JU88 engaged by small arms fire from Battalion HQ; no hits claimed.  Bombs dropped in Battalion sector.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Stick of bombs near RAF billet on Qrendi strip.  Another stick of 6 bombs at Ghar Lapsi.  One bomb near “Mary House” MR 401179 Wied Maghtab.  Bomb near D Coy HQ on Qrendi strip.

(1) A Flyer’s Diary by Jim White (Air Shared Magazine, see http://pawsey.net/whiteproject/joewhitediary-part2.htm

(2) Diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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25 December 1941: Christmas Under Siege

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SIREN SOUNDS AS MALTESE PRAY FOR PEACE 

German bombs marked "Iron Greetings for Malta" (NWMA Malta)

German bombs marked “Iron Greetings for Malta” (NWMA Malta)

After a night disturbed by enemy bombing and reconnaissance raids, people in Malta awoke today to the prospect of Christmas under fire.  Extra prayers for peace were added to the traditional nativity services. 

The alarm sounded again mid-morning, and the Maltese readied themselves to spend Christmas Day in underground shelters.  The choir of St Pauls Anglican Cathedral, normally full for the annual carol service, sang to a nearly empty church as people listened via Rediffusion in the safety of their homes. Thankfully no bombs fell and the enemy stayed away for the rest of the day, despite several clear spells between the chilly showers.

The question facing every household in recent days has been how to mark this important religious and family festival under increasingly strict rationing.  Mothers have faced a challenge to produce anything like the usual festive food, with shortages of key ingredients such as flour, eggs and potatoes.  Determined not to disappoint, they have improvised with powdered egg and any fruit, dried or otherwise, they could find to provide something special.

Military traditions were also upheld, as officers turned waiter and served Christmas dinner to the Other Ranks.  Servicemen were delighted to receive special parcels containing a few home comforts, made up by schoolchildren back in the UK.

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, accompanied by Chiefs of Staff, made a tour of the airfields and military bases.  Former Governor Sir Charles Bonham Carter, now Commandant of the Kings Own Malta Regiment, sent a seasonal greeting: “Wishing all ranks a quiet Christmas and after victory return in peace to their homes in 1942.”

Otherwise for Malta’s armed forces, it has been a day like any other.  The Island’s defenders stood ready round the clock to deter raiders and the unlucky members of the Island’s air forces embarked on the usual round of attacks on enemy convoys and land targets.  Those who were spared took the opportunity to celebrate:

“Christmas day was spoiled for us as most of us were to operate. Crews were chosen by lot but we weren’t picked. We had planned a big dinner and drink but of course that went west. However they were all scrubbed before take off so we all went to the mess and had a do. I met Charlie Pouriville from Sherbrook and took him along. He is on his way to Cairo. It was a very drunk up in the mess. Red Murray and I bought two bottles of Scotch. The W/C and some of the officers were up there. Broke up pretty late. Red rode a bicycle down the slope and didn’t get killed. We built a bonfire on the floor and went to bed. No air raids today.” (1)

CHRISTMAS DINNER UNDERGROUND

The Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta reflects on Christmas under siege:

“The first alert was just as I was communicating the last five people at the Sung Eucharist; so we came down to the Crypt and finished the service there – a thing we have not had to do for several months.

After a light lunch, I lit our first fire and watched it start for some time, luxuriating in the play of its flames. We shall try to do without one except on the most special occasions. The evening broadcast of carols went very well; the dimmed lights of the Chapel, the rich crimson colour of the altar curtains blazing red from the glow of eight candles which stand upon it, and two standards at the sides make a glorious picture, and the voices of the choir echoing round the pillars of the church must be very moving. Not many come to the cathedral, but one hopes that many listen to the reproduction.

…We had invited five men to dinner, one of whom did not turn up, Captain Hussey of HMS Lively; we suppose he was suddenly sent to sea. The others were Flight-Lieutenant Waterfield, a very intelligent man who knows Italy well and was in charge of the British Institute at Palermo, Smith a W/T officer in the Breconshire; Caesar a 2nd Lieutenant in the Hampshires who was in Libya; and Lieutenant Rimmer our choirmaster…

We had taken the precaution to have a spare table ready in the Crypt; and it was well that we did so, for an alert was sounded at 19.30 just as we were wondering where Hussey was, and whether to start. So we came downstairs and the guests quickly transferred plates and glasses to the whitewashed funk-hole. There was not much gunfire and we were able to eat in quiet…It was the first time in my life that we did not have a pudding made from my mother’s recipe – but materials were unobtainable…

It was a very happy evening as happiness goes in these bitter days…” (2)

RATIONS TIGHTENED

Governor’s Report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for December 1941

The following measures of food control have been undertaken:-

  • (a)  All bread sellers have been registered, and regulations have been made under which every household has to register with a single bread seller.  This registration is now practically complete and will enable closer check to be kept on issues of flour.
  • (b)  Regulations are being issued to enable closer control to be kept on supplies of meat to institutions, restaurants, hospitals, etc.
  • (c)  Arrangements have been made to control all supplies of eggs coming from Gozo, which constitutes a very large part of the total egg production.  Requirements of civil and military hospitals and other institutions are being met from this supply and the rest is distributed through the usual channels.
  • (d)  Tomato paste has been added to the list of rationed commodities.

In order to tighten control over bus services, and make it easier to effect further economies on petrol consumption if necessary, regulations have been issued under which as from 1st January, route managers and dispatchers of buses will be Government employees and not employees of the bus owners.  Scheme is being financed by levy on bus owners and increase in licence fees.

Over 500 tons of seed potatoes from Cyprus have been received and arrangements are being made for free distribution by the Department of Agriculture.

Merry Christmas from Malta.

AIR RAIDS 25 DECEMBER 1941

0114-0440 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approached singly from  the north and carried out intruder tactics round the Island.  Bombs were dropped near Rabat searchlight station, on Ta Qali flare path, near Qawra Tower searchlight and Ghar Lapsi.  Heavy Ack Ack fired two barrages; no claims.

1123-1132 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three enemy aircraft on reconnaissance approached from the north and receded when still 20 miles from Island.  Seven Hurricanes from Ta Qali were scrambled; no interceptions.

Night  Four alerts were sounded during the night for a small number of enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped on land at Gzira and in the sea off Delimara.  Ack Ack engaged during three alerts, destroying one enemy bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores and four Swordfish laid mines off Tripoli.

HAL FAR  Night 24/25th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  All aircraft returned safely.  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition intense but wild.  Weather 1/10 – 3/10.  Cloud at 8000 feet.  Visibility good.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance Unit 2 Gerbini, Catania.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked schooner and minesweeper.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 (1 x 70kg; 1 x Thermos). 

(1) Extract from A Flyer’s Diary by Jim White (Air Shared Magazine, see http://pawsey.net/whiteproject/joewhitediary-part2.htm

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

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Posted by on December 25, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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24 December 1941: 16 Killed in Christmas Eve Raids

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AUDACIOUS DAYLIGHT ATTACK TAKES MALTA BY SURPRISE

An audacious air raid on Malta’s Grand Harbour was launched this morning by four German JU88 bombers accompanied by a protective force of 36 fighter aircraft.  They carried out a dive-bombing attack on the Harbour area, demolishing a number of houses.  Three civilians and two military personnel were killed, with another four people injured.

DOG FIGHT

Anti-aircraft Guns Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

The Ack Ack guns of the Harbour defences opened fire on the incoming planes, damaging two JU88s.  Seventeen Hurricanes took off from Ta Qali to engage the enemy.  They succeeded in destroying the same two JU88s, which dropped into the sea, as well as ‘probably destroying’ a third.

The Luftwaffe returned in similar formation just after 1pm for another attack on Grand Harbour in which two civilians were injured.  Ack Ack gunners destroyed another JU88.  One Hurricane was also shot down by enemy fighters; the pilot was declared missing after the raid.  He has been named as 25 year old Flight Sergeant Francis Emery of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

TANKS FOR MALTA

From:  Gov & C in C Malta                  To: The War Office

Have discussed this question with Myrtel, passing through and he concurs a squadron of American or Valentine Tanks should be suitable here.  If provided request present equipment Malta Tank Troop of four “I” Tanks and two light tanks be turned over to Infantry for use on aerodromes.  Do not consider obsolete light tanks offered to Bedford would be of sufficient value to justify shipping space involved.

AIR RAIDS 24 DECEMBER 1941

0946-1031 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four JU 88s escorted by 36 fighters crossed the coast and dive-bombed Grand Harbour.

1301-1358 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four JU 88s escorted by 30 fighters attacked Grand Harbour.

1553-1625 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One JU 88 escorted by five ME 109s crossed the Island on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged by height control.

2001 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approached from the north and circled the Island; bombs were dropped in the sea. 

2304-0011 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise. 

Civilian casualties  Gzira Anthony Abdilla, age 28; Rabat Carmel Borg, age 39; Qormi Vincent Cachia, age 65, Hamrun Samuel Cauchi, age 55, Valletta Antonia Frendo, age 19; Victoria, Gozo Carmela Borg, age 23.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Isaac Paul, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Kenneth Hewson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 107 Squadron; Gunner John Vaughan, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Samuel Ginies, Royal Army Medical Corps; Signalman Albert Ward, Royal Corps of Signals.

Enemy casualties  Obergefreiter Walter Kersken; Obergefreiter Hermann Kunz; Unteroffizier Werner Lessner, JU 88 bomber pilot; Leutnant Siegfried Tack, JU 88 bomber pilot; Feldwebel Nikolaus Wand. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Group II arrived from Gibraltar.  Minefield off Grand Harbour being swept by all sweepers available.  Headquarters Lascaris near-missed by two heavy bombs.

AIR HQ  Departures  Four Wellingtons and one Beaufighter for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 23/24th  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron and five Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to locate and attack shipping off Tripolitana.  Nothing was sighted.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland special search; one Maryland special search for convoy.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR) One Maryland special PR Tripolitania; one PR Unit 2 North African aerodromes.  18 Squadron One Blenheim special search Gulf of Sirte; one Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol.  107 Squadron Three Blenheims attacked schooners in Zuara Harbour.  Aircraft E Sgt Crossley crashed.  P/O Paul of aircraft C was killed by a cannon shell.  40 Squadron Nine Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  One Wellington nuisance raid Tripoli.

TA QALI  0946-1624 hrs  Three alerts.  Seventeen Hurricanes airborne.  Two enemy aircraft destroyed and one probable.  Hurricanes airborne.  One failed to return.  F/Sgt F R Emery missing.  2001-0435 hrs  Four alerts.  Three raiders crossed the coast.  Bombs dropped around the aerodrome.  Hurricanes airborne.  No interceptions.  Anti-aircaft fired during last alert.

HQ FIXED DEFENCES  0945 hrs  Enemy aircraft dropped bombs very close to HQ.  No casualties; slight damage.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 1 (500kg).

 

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Posted by on December 24, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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23 December 1941: 700 Prisoners Killed

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U-BOAT ATTACK ON CONVOY KILLS AXIS POWS

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.

AIR RAIDS 23 DECEMBER 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 DECEMBER 1941

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, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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22 December 1941: Malta’s Coast a Minefield

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A naval mine explodes

A naval mine explodes

BOMBS AT SEA’ MAY BE EXPLODING MINES

The German Kriegsmarine 3rd S-Boat Flotilla returned to Malta’s shores overnight in another stealth mission to lay mines on the approaches to Grand Harbour (maltagc70, 15 December 1941).  After three days of heavy seas in which they had to abort an operation against the Breconshire and her convoy, the flotilla returned to their task of blockading Malta’s Strike Forces in port.  The aim is to create a complete barrier of mines outside the Harbour entrance.  Tonight the flotilla succeeded in connecting one section of the barrier.

The tactics of last Monday night were repeated as a series of intruder flights triggered the alarm and remained in Malta’s airspace for up to three hours at a time.  It has been suggested that explosions identified as bombs dropped at sea may turn out to be the accidental detonation of enemy mines laid during the operation.

AIR-DROPPED MINES

Confirmed reports have been received of enemy aircraft dropping mines in the sea.  Mined areas have been identified six miles south east of Dingli, four miles south of Kalafrana and to the south of Filfla.  As exact locations of the mines are difficult to pinpoint, a warning has been issued for wide areas to be avoided until Malta’s minesweepers can deal with them.

AIR RAIDS 22 DECEMBER 1941

0057-0144 hrs; 0225-0519 hrs; 0527-0635 hrs  Air raid alarms.

0845 hrs  Air raid alarm: reconnaissance raid by two aircraft escorted by 15 enemy fighters.

1029 hrs  Air raid alarm: reconnaissance raid by four enemy aircraft.

1429 hrs  Air raid alarm: 33 enemy fighters crossed the Island.  Ack Ack fired a number of barrages; no claims.

1937-2114 hrs; 2128-2231 hrs; 2326-0008 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Bombs dropped various places and in sea.  Ack Ack fired a number of barrages.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 22 DECEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Wellingtons, 2 Beauforts and 1 Blenheim from Gibraltar.  Departures 11 Beaufighters for 108 MU.

ROYAL NAVY  Four Albacores bombed Castel Benito aerodrome.

LUQA  69 Squadron Photo-Reconnaissance (PR): one Maryland PR North African aerodromes; one Maryland special PR Middle East; one Maryland PR Tripoli Harbour, Castel Benito and Zuara.  18 Squadron  Five Blenheims attacked targets on the road west of Sirte.  107 Squadron Six Blenheims attacked targets on the road west of Sirte.  40 Squadron  Five Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.

Military casualty  Flag Officer pilot Robert Matthews, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Marsa Carmel Briffa, age 13. Gzira Lina Griscti, age 8.

Enemy casualties  Feldwebe Ernst Ziebarth, pilot of Junkers JU 88 bomber.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 4 (50kg).

 

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Posted by on December 22, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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21 December 1941: 87 Enemy Sorties Against Malta in 24 Hours

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GERMAN BOMBERS IN HEAVY DAYLIGHT RAIDS

Italian Macchi Aircraft

The enemy launched 87 air sorties against Malta today,  including three daylight bombing raids.  Italian aircraft were seen in formation alongside Luftwaffe fighters and bombers in an audacious mid-day attack on Grand Harbour and other targets along the north coast of the Island.  On a day when the Catholic Maltese attend Mass, the many casualties include three civilians dead and twenty-five injured.

AIR RAIDS 21 DECEMBER 1941

0855-0957 hrs  Air raid alarm for one JU 88 escorted by 17 fighters which crossed the coast and dropped one bomb on the cookhouse of a searchlight position at Corrodino; no casualties.  Hurricanes engaged the raiders without results.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack guns also engaged, claiming two hits on a JU 88.

Tigne Barracks (NWMA Malta)

1123-1210 hrs  Air raid alarm for 30 enemy aircraft composed of five JU 88s, ME 109s and Macchi fighters which crossed the Island and dropped bombs on the Dockyard, Corrodino and Senglea areas, also near Mellieha searchlight position.  B Block, Tigne Barracks was hit, killing three Army personnel.  Civilian property sustained slight damage: three civilians were killed and 25 injured.

A number of anti-personnel grenades were dropped in the Manoel area.  Hurricanes engaged enemy aircraft: one Macchi was destroyed, one probably destroyed, one ME 109 damaged.  Two Hurricanes were lost, the pilot of one is safe.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1305-1315 hrs  Air raid alarm for a reconnaissance raid by three enemy aircraft.

1512-1548 hrs  Air raid alarm.  27 enemy aircraft in several formations approached the Grand Harbour and Gozo areas.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1706-1732 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft thought to be on reconnaissance dropped one bomb in the sea off Grand Harbour.

2040-0630 hrs  Four alerts were sounded for eight enemy aircraft, five of which crossed the coast.  Bombs and incendiaries were dropped on the Ta Qali, Rabat, Imtarfa areas, and in the sea.  Mines are reported to have been dropped six miles south east of Dingli, four miles south of Kalafrana and south of Filfla.  Ack Ack engaged during one alert; no claims.

Military casualties  Gunners Frank Anthony, Frank Coupe and William James, all 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; Flight Sergeant Brian Hayes, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun Carmel Cassar, age 8; Cospicua Saviour Cutajar, age 25; Zabbar Joseph Galea, age 20 and Anthony Psaila, age 16. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 21 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus arrived with petrol and stores from Gibraltar.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 13 Beaufighters from Gibraltar.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland search for merchant vessel off C Pappos; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  One Maryland Tauorga-Buerat; one PR Tripoli & Castel Benito; one PR Comiso, Gerbini.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; three Blenheims shipping search in Gulf of Sirte.  107 Squadron Three Blenheims and 104 Squadron nine Wellingtons despatched to attack Castel Benito aerodrome.  Four aircraft attacked Tripoli.  40 Squadron  Three Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.

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.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  One Hurricane crashed near Ghar Dalam (A Company HQ).  Pilot baled out uninjured was conveyed to Luqa by Captain M Holdsworth.

3rd BATTALION KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  E Company reports three bombs 400 yards east towards No 1 Dock.  One on St Clements Bastion.  A Company reports trouble with water mains.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 (containers of incendiaries).

 

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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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20 December 1941: Battle for Malta Has Begun

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AXIS LAUNCH DAYLIGHT STRIKES ON MALTA

After weeks of domination in the Mediterranean, suddenly the fortunes of war have turned against the British fleet.  In a matter of days Malta’s Strike Forces have been significantly depleted, and in Alexandria the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant severely damaged in an attack by Italian manned torpedoes within the harbour.   The Italian Navy has secured dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Axis can now concentrate their air forces on the task of neutralizing the stronghold of the Allied position in the Mediterranean: Malta.

Dockyard School

AIR RAIDS 20 DECEMBER 1941

0916-1037 hrs  Air raid alarm for forty enemy aircraft comprising fighters and bombers which approached and attacked the Island.  Bombs were dropped on Zabbar, Marsascala, Sliema, Grand Harbour, Valletta and also in the sea.  Several houses were demolished, others damaged.  One civilian was killed, five seriously injured and thirty slightly injured in scattered localities.

Hurricanes engaged destroying one JU 88 and damaging three JU 88’s, 2 Macchi 202’s probably destroyed.  2 Hurricanes missing.  Enemy aircraft engaged by heavy Ack Ack and Bofors, one JU 88 damaged by Bofors fire.

All unexploded bombs reported are German, including incendiaries and High Explosives (HE).  One at the Dockyard School is found to be a 500kg HE.

1703-1731 hrs  Air raid alarm.  12 enemy aircraft crossed coast and dropped bombs in Senglea.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors engaged enemy aircraft over Grand Harbour.

2004-2020 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Brian Cavan, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Sergeant Howard Moren, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Zabbar  Anthony Lija, age 76.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Jaguar arrived with Kandahar’s survivors.  Urge returned from patrol in Straits of Messina.  Battleship hit, did NOT pass to eastward, after attack.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search for damaged destroyer; one Maryland SF 6 patrol. Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  Tripoli & Castel Benito; one Maryland PR Argostoli, Patra and C Pappos.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; two Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessel (no attack made); four Blenheims attacked Zuara and district.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; five Blenheims despatched to attack Mellaha.  Target not located so attacked various targets in the vicinity.

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.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 0916 hrs Attack on Grand Harbour area.  Two planes were observed in difficulties but not definitely seen to crash.  All clear 1045.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 69.

 

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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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19 December 1941: Loss of Navy Ships “Due to Rashness”

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NAVY COMMANDER’S TACTICS QUESTIONED

A source close to the Governor today disclosed that questions have been raised over the tactics of the Commander of HMS Neptune, appointed to lead yesterday’s operation on the approaches to Tripoli:

HMS Kandahar

“…the Governor and I lunched on board. The Admiral told me that HMS Ajax has a gamé leg – in other words a damaged shaft which cannot be mended here. The thing must come out from England, which means 4 or 5 months out of action. I said, ‘Will they not transfer you to Neptune?’ To which he replied softly, ‘There is no Neptune.’

Three nights before, the whole force bar Ajax had gone out and run on to a minefield. HMS Neptune sank with almost all hands, HMS Kandahar also (…150 saved). HMS Aurora was damaged, and HMS Penelope (though I do not know how badly).

Such are the vicissitudes of Naval war: one day a powerful force capable of making it extremely hot for enemy shipping; next day a very different thing. When we see ships go out, we always wonder whether they will come back.

The Captain of Upholder has been given the VC. His boat has done marvellously. Since writing this I have been told what I had heard whispered earlier, that the loss of those ships was due to rashness. K Force were very happy in their work with complete confidence in their Senior Officer, Captain Nicoll. They then found themselves under Rory O’Connor of Neptune.

A convoy was being searched for, and it was felt that they had missed it, and should turn back. The SO insisted on pushing on at a terrific speed, so much so the Engineer-Commander of one ship refused to do the speed (it being more than his horse-power) unless his Captain gave him orders in writing. Some ship signalled: ‘Could we not do one knot less?’. Then they found themselves in the minefield. This is only Force K’s view of course.” (1)

BRAVE RESCUE BID

From the War Diary of Vice-Admiral Malta:

“Today signals were received from Kandahar stating that she was still afloat, and she was also sighted by reconnaissance aircraft.  At nightfall Jaguar was despatched to endeavour to rescue survivors and, if conditions were favourable, tow Kandahar back to Malta.  In spite of the assistance of a special Wellington it was not until 0400hrs that Jaguar found and went alongside Kandahar, bow to bow.

By this time the sea had become very rough and after a very few moments it was apparent that this method of rescuing survivors must be abandoned.  Jaguar then lay off from Kandahar and the crew of the latter swam across.  Kandahar was then sunk by torpedo and Jaguar returned to Malta with eight officers and 157 ratings of her ship’s company including the Captain, Commander W G A Robson, DSO.” 

Maltese casualties from HMS Kandahar were L/Ck (O) Joseph Azzopardi, PO Std Joseph Bertuello, L/Std Andrew Schembri, Malta Port Division.

AIR RAIDS 19 DECEMBER 1941

0259-0432 hrs  Air raid alarm. Enemy aircraft on intruder patrols.

0837-1717 hrs  Five air raid alarms were sounded for 22 enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  No bombs were dropped.  Hurricanes intercepted on two occasions, damaging two enemy aircraft.  One Hurricane was lost.  Ack Ack engaged raiders during one alert.

2150 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approached from north and patrolled south of Island before crossing coast.  Incendiary bombs dropped north west of Kalafrana and in Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged by immediate and height control barrage.

Military casualties  Sergeant Cedric Tyson Brown, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Alfred McLevy, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 203 Squadron; Pilot Officer Edward Elmer Steele,  Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flying Officer Arthur Thomas Read, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 203 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Brauns, pilot of JU 88 bomber, shot down and taken prisoner; Obergefreiter Erwin Hesse, Air Gunner of JU 88 bomber, shot down and taken prisoner; Gefreiter Johannes Matuschka, Wireless Operator of JU 88 bomber, shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned from patrol in Gulf of Taranto, having obtained a hit on a Garibaldi class merchant vessel.  Aurora, Penelope, Havock, Lance, Lively arrived.  Penelope and Aurora both damaged by mines.  Neptune sunk 30′ off Tripoli and Kandahar sinking.  Jaguar sailed to rescue survivors.

HAL FAR  Night 18/19th  828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Six Albacores despatched to attack convoy of six destroyers and three merchant vessels approaching Tripoli harbour.  Two hits claimed on 2000 ton merchant vessel.  One Albacore failed to return: the missing crew Lt Greenwood, pilot, and Lt Commander Langmore, observer.  830 Squadron  Five Swordfish despatched to continue attack on the convoy previously attacked by the Albacores.  The convoy was not sighted.  One Swordfish crashed on landing.  Crew unhurt.

LUQA  69 Squadron  Three Marylands special search.  Photo-reconnaissance unit 2 Tripoli.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims special search; three Blenheims despatched to attack convoy off Tripoli.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim special search; three Blenheims despatched to attack convoy off Tripoli.  S/D Flight   One Wellington search to locate Kandahar.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High Explosive bombs dropped on Luqa and Safi during raid lasting throughout the night.  Some damage to Signals installations.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 (50kg).

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

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Posted by on December 19, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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18 December 1941: Loss of HMS Neptune and Kandahar

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BRECONSHIRE GETS THROUGH

The supply ship Breconshire arrived at Malta at 1500 hrs today to deliver her much needed load of fuel oil and stores, accompanied by the ships of her protective force.

After yesterday’s encounter with the Italian Navy, the two British forces separated, as destroyers from Force B and Force K took on the task of escorting Breconshire safely to Malta.  Admiral Vian turned with his fleet towards Alexandria.  The Italian convoys also divided: three ships setting course for Tripoli and one for Benghazi.  This afternoon the Tripoli-bound vessels were located and a Malta Strike Force of three cruisers and four destroyers was assembled in pursuit. 

The official report from the Royal Navy War Diary for Malta relates what happened next…

HMS Neptune

“HM Ships Neptune (Captain R O’Connor, Senior Officer), Aurora, Penelope, Kandahar, Lance, Lively and Havock were despatched…18th December to intercept an important Italian convoy which had been sighted earlier, heading for Tripoli.  It was appreciated that if the convoy was not delayed it was likely to be at the entrance to Tripoli before our force could intercept, but it was hoped that attacks by torpedo bomber and bomber aircraft, which were arranged to take place during the night, would have the usual effect of delaying the enemy.

A special Wellington was co-operating to lead our air and surface striking forces to the enemy.  The enemy’s convoy and escorting warships were discovered and reported by the Wellington split into groups and covering many miles of water to the eastward of Tripoli.

Albacores and Swordfish aircraft were sent to attack.  Although it is believed that only one ship was damaged by them, their attack had the expected effect of disorganising and slowing up the Italian convoy.  As a result, and also probably because of mines which had been laid in the entrance to the harbour, the convoy did not enter Tripoli till late the following day.

Unfortunately, the information regarding the position of the convoy did not reach Neptune before disaster had overtaken our force.  Having proceeded at maximum speed towards a point east of Tripoli they had just eased down on reaching the 100 fathom line when Neptune struck a mine and was brought to a stop.  The remaining ships sheered off to port and starboard and then turned back to get clear of the minefield.  Whilst engaged in getting clear, Aurora and Penelope both struck mines but were able to steam.

Aurora, who was fairly badly damaged, set course for Malta at her best speed of 16 knots, escorted by Havock and Lance, whilst Penelope stood by to tow Neptune when she had drifted clear of the minefield.  Kandahar entered the minefield and attempted to close Neptune to take off personnel, but, whilst engaged in this, struck a mine and had her stern blown off.  Neptune meanwhile had drifted down onto more mines and, when the third or fourth mine exploded under her, she turned turtle and sank.

Nothing could be done to approach Kandahar through the minefield and Penelope with Lively reluctantly returned to Malta.” (1)

800 SEAMEN LOST

Only 30 members of Neptune’s crew of nearly 800 survived the sinking.  Their lifeboat was spotted five days later by an Italian torpedo boat: only one of its occupants was still alive.  Maltese casualties from HMS Neptune  were Steward Angelo Falzon, Steward Emanuel Montanaro, Malta Port Division.

AIR RAIDS 18 DECEMBER 1941

0835-0854 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

2311-0250 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Eight enemy aircraft raided Island.  Bombs were dropped in the sea and on land near Attard, Mgarr, Birkirkara and on Luqa aerodrome hitting a Wellington; one of crew was killed, another seriously injured.  Hal Far was machine-gunned and mines were possibly laid off Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack engaged enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Sergeant pilot Frank Sunley, Sergeant Thomas Clarke, Royal Air Force.

Enemy casualties  Sottotenente Antonio Galati, pilot, 259a Squadriglia, 109o Gruppo, 36o Stormo, S84 crashed into the sea.  Maggiore Goffredo Gastaldi, 109o Gruppo, 36o Stormo, crewman on a S84, crashed into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 18 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Upright returned from patrol having sunk certainly one and probably two northbound merchant vessels in Gulf of Taranto.  Forces K and B, Decoy, Havock and Breconshire arrived.  Neptune, Aurora, Penelope, Lively, Lance, Havock and Kandahar sailed.  Six Albacores attacked a convoy of three cruisers and three merchant vessels approaching Tripoli and fired four torpedoes, hitting two merchant vessels.  One Albacore did not return.  Five Swordfish left to attack same convoy, but failed to locate target.  One Swordfish crashed on landing.  Crew hurt.

AIR HQ  Departures  Seven Beaufighters for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 17th/18th  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched on a shipping search, located a tanker 4-5000 tons with destroyer escort.  Two hits claimed on tanker and an explosion followed by a subsequent fire was seen.  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron engaged three BR 20s forty miles south south west of Filfla.  One enemy aircraft observed to be hit in wings and fuselage.  One of own aircraft “K” hit in the tail.  All aircraft landed safely.

LUQA  S/D Flight one Wellington on special shipping search.  69 Squadron  Four Marylands special search.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  PR Palermo, Tripoli; one Maryland PR Tripoli Harbour and Castel Benito.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim special search Keliba-Kerkennah; six Blenheims attacked two schooners near Kuriat.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim special search Kerkennah-Kuriat; three Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessel (no sightings made).  104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked Tripoli and mined harbour.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  0025 hrs  One enemy aircraft machine gunned Hal Far area but no damage was done.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 4 (1 x 250kg HE; 1 x Thermos; 1 x incendiary; 1 x anti-personnel).

(1)  See also Neptune Association

 

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Posted by on December 18, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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