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Category Archives: October 1941

25 October 1941: Heavy Daylight Raid on Grand Harbour

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Cant Z 1007 bomber

Cant Z 1007 bomber

DOCKYARD RAID HAS ECHOES OF ILLUSTRIOUS BLITZ

Italian aircraft launched a heavy air raid in broad daylight this morning on Grand Harbour, now the base of Force K of the Mediterranean Fleet, in an attack reminiscent of the Illustrious blitz in January. The alert sounded just before mid-day, when four Cant 1007 bombers were reported approaching the Island with an escort of 16 fighters. 

The fighters remained off the coast while the bombers, flying in ‘Vic’ formation, headed directly for Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes attacked the bomber formation as it approached, damaging one of the Cants.  The now experienced Harbour gunners put up a massive barrage.  However, they could not prevent bombers from crossing the Harbour and dropping sixteen 250kg high explosives across the area. 

Four of the bombs hit a fuel depot at Vittoriosa, starting a massive fire from which thick smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air. All available fire engines of the Dockyard Police, Army and Civil Police were called to the scene and were still fighting the blaze tonight.  A large quantity of precious kerosene has already been destroyed.

Seven houses were damaged and three civilians injured in the raid. Hurricanes shot down at least one Macchi fighter and damaged one bomber.  One Hurricane failed to return and a sea search has been mounted for the missing pilot.

38 SQUADRON RETURNS TO EGYPT

38 Squadron left Malta today after completing its tour of duty on the Island. The Squadron has been here since 6 August, when seven aircraft were detached to the Island from Shallufa, Egypt for operations over the Mediterranean and Italy. The Wellington bombers have carried out many successful raids on Axis convoys, as well as targets in southern Italy and Libya.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0941-0957 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters approaching the Island at 27000 feet and cross the Island, probably on reconnaissance. Four Hurricanes are airborne but there is no engagement.

1152-1245 hrs  Raid 909  Air raid alert for four enemy Cant 1007 bombers escorted by 16 fighters approaching the Island from the north. Only the bombers cross the coast and drop sixteen 250kg bombs on Grand Harbour, including in Kalkara Creek and French Creek.  Seven houses are damaged and three civilians injured.  A stick of four bombs hits the fuel depot at Fort San Salvatore, causing an intense fire.

A terrific barrage is put up over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled and reach 17000 feet to the north east of Grand Harbour where they spot the bombing formation slightly ahead and below.  The bombers turn to port and the Hurricanes attack the bomber on the right flank from the stern, damaging it badly and stopping its port engine.  One Hurricane engages a Macchi 200 fighter, leaving it with smoke pouring out.  The wreckage of one Macchi is later found in the sea.  The Hurricane of Sgt E Knight fails to return; a search is in progress.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ernest G Knight, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Tenente Colonello Eugenio Leotta, Commander of 4o Stormo

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thunderbolt arrived from patrol for docking. Clan Ferguson was recalled owing to her being attacked by enemy aircraft sixty miles west of Malta.  She re-entered harbour at 0900 hrs but no serious damage was sustained. Force K sailed to intercept three enemy destroyers.  

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Blenheim. Departures 1 Clare, 1 Sunderland, 10 Wellington. S/D Flight 1 Wellington special search. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked barracks at Misurata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast.  Photoreconnaissance south western Sicily. 104 Squadron 3 Wellingtons on nuisance raid of Arab quarters in Tripoli. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked targets on the Zuara-Benghazi road. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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Posted by on October 25, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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24 October 1941: Malta Supply Ship Missing

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Catalina

A Catalina made a thorough search

EMPIRE GUILLEMOT FAILS TO MAKE RENDEZVOUS

SS Empire Guillemot, the ship which delivered fodder to Malta on 19 September, has been reported missing on her return journey to Gibraltar. The merchant ship should have departed at the end of September during ‘Operation Halberd’ but was delayed. A week ago she embarked along with SS Clan Macdonald but returned to port later with engine trouble.

Empire Guillemot finally left Malta on Wednesday morning, at the same time as other merchant ships City of Lincoln and Dunedin Star.  The three were to take separate routes to Gibraltar. 

A Catalina aircraft from Gibraltar which had been scheduled to escort Empire Guillemot through the final leg of her journey was unable to find her anywhere near the rendezvous point.  A Swordfish was then diverted to aid the search but could find no trace of the merchantman.  A further search by three aircraft this morning also drew a blank, and the vessel is now feared to have been sunk.  

Another convoy supply ship which left Malta today was attacked shortly after leaving Grand Harbour. Clan Ferguson had just set out for Gibraltar when enemy aircraft appeared in her wake and launched an attack a short distance from the Island.  As the enemy was clearly aware of her voyage, it was decided the merchant ship should return to Grand Harbour immediately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1015-1026 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which cross the Island at great height. Fourteen Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders retreat before there is any interception.

1356-1407 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi fighters which approach from the north, cross the coast near Grand Harbour, pass over Kalafrana and turn away to recede northwards – probably on reconnaissance. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but cannot reach sufficient height to intercept; there is no engagement by Ack Ack guns.

Civilian casualties  Gozo John Pisani, age 49.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Tetrarch arrived from Alexandria with stores and kerosene. Clan Ferguson sailed independently for Gibraltar.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Maryland, 2 Sunderland, 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Beaufighter, 7 Wellington. SD Flight 1 Wellington search for convoy. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissance Castel Vetrano and Tripoli. 104 Squadron 4 Wellingtons attacked Naples; 2 recalled due to bad weather.  6 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  2 Swordfish searched for missing Wellington; search unsuccessful.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The General Officer Commanding, Malta, carried out an inspection of C Company. It is the system that the infantry company command co-ordinates the defence of all areas in his sector.  The inspection therefore included three forts, six Bofors and an 18 pounder position. The GOC was most pleased.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 2 Section 173 Company completed a workshop and store for Bomb Disposal at Polverista Gate. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 6; dealt with 6 (2kg incendiary).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  4 other ranks disembarked and posted to SWS Malta.

 

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Posted by on October 24, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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23 October 1941: Malta Reinforced With More Aircraft

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WAR CABINET REVIEWS WEEK OF 16 TO 23 OCTOBER IN MALTA

HMS Penelope

HMS Penelope

HM Cruisers Aurora and Penelope have arrived at Malta from home waters.  An operation to reinforce Malta with aircraft has been successfully completed.  13 aircraft were flown off from an aircraft carrier, twelve of which arrived safely.  On 14th HM Submarine Unique torpedoed and probably sank the Italian Armed merchant cruiser Citta di Genova (5413 tons) south of Naples, and on 18th HM Submarine Ursula attacked a convoy to the west of Lampedusa and probably sank two ships.  On 17th SS Clan Macdonald, on passage to Gibraltar from Malta, was attacked by Italian torpedo bombers to the south of Sardinia but successful avoiding action was taken and a second attack was driven off by gunfire.

Our aircraft from Malta made several attacks during the week on shipping in the Mediterranean and on land targets in Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Naples was attacked on three nights by a total of 41 Wellingtons which dropped more than 55 tons of high explosive bombs and many incendiaries in the target area.  Hits were obtained on the Royal Arsenal, the Alfa Romeo automobile works, the railway station and on the torpedo factory, which it is estimated was completely destroyed.  Extensive fires were also started, one of which covered a wide area.  A factory at Cotrone, in southern Italy, was twic attacked by a total of 11 Blenheims.

In Sicily, attacks were made on a munition factory and a power station at Licata, on which three tons of bombs were dropped, and on a factory and railway sidings near Catania. The aerodrome at Trapani and the seaplane base at Syracuse were also successfully attacked.  Four Wellingtons, in co-operation with a Naval force, bombed the aerodrome at Elmas in Sardinia, and scored many hits on runways and buildings.

21 Wellingtons dropped 25 tons of bombs on Tripoli harbour. Hits were obtained on the Custom House, the seaplane base and on a warehouse, which was destroyed.  A ship of 3000 tons was set on fire.  Homs was bombed by six Blenheims which dropped two tons of bombs on buildings in the town.  Other Blenheims bombed and machine-gunned motor transport on the road between Sirte and Zuara and an aerodrome between Zuara and Tripoli, where the barracks were hit and an enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.

Reconnaissance aircraft made searches for shipping over wide areas. A convoy consisting of five merchant vessels, each of about 6000 tons, escorted by four destroyers, was sighted off Marittimo Island proceeding south.  Swordfish made successful torpedo attacks on the convoy on two successive nights.  Three hits brought the largest vessel to a standstill and set it on fire, and two, possibly three, other vessels were hit.

A 1500 ton merchant vessel and a 600 ton schooner were bombed off Cape Bon by six Blenheims. The schooner blew up and the merchant vessel was set on fire.  Another merchant vessel of 2000 tons was attacked off the coast of Tunis by four Blenheims.  A direct hit was scored near the funnel and the vessel is claimed as seriously damaged.

Several small formations of enemy aircraft and bombers operated over Malta during the week. A few casualties were caused; the material damage was slight.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

2236-2344 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. The first drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.  The second crosses the coast near Grand Harbour, circles round and drops incendiary bombs on the Valletta and Sliema areas before turning out to sea and dropping high explosive bombs in the sea five miles off the coast.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

0422-0525 hrs  Raid no 905  Air raid alert for the approach of four enemy bombers which drop high explosive bombs in the sea 15-30 miles north of the Island. Two bombs are also dropped on Gozo.  One raider crosses the coast and drops 250kg high explosive bombs on Senglea and Marino Pinto, damaging the Royal Engineers yard, demolishing the roof of a store and starting a fire which is quickly extinguished.  One bomb is dropped close to St Nicola Ack Ack position.   The electricity supply in the Marsa area is cut off.  Bombs dropped during the raid are reported as being heavier than usual.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attack a chemical works at Cotrone. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Naples.  3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on special patrols; 1 Maryland on patrol and special search of Tunisian coast. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a merchant ship. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on shipping search.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

 

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

 

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22 October 1941: Italian Radio Reports 5 Hour Raid by British Bombers

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naples-bombing-2HUNDREDS OF BOMBS DROPPED ON NAPLES, KILLING 14

Last night 21/22 October the British Air Force raided Naples and the territory of Catania. At Naples where the raid was carried out in five successive waves lasting five hours.  Hundreds of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped [causing] very great fires to residential quarters.  The fires were soon brought under control.  14 people were killed and 27 injured among the civilian population which showed wonderful calm and discipline.  In [a nearby] neighbourhood the dropping of enemy bombs damaged some houses and killed one person while four others were injured.  The anti-aircraft defence of Catania shot down an enemy bomber which crashed in flames near the coast.

A separate bulletin from Rome today claimed that Italian fighters this afternoon effectively machine-gunned aircraft on the ground at [Luqa] aerodrome and shot down six Hurricanes and set fire to another in an air battle. ‘One of our planes failed to return,’ the communique adds.

RECONNAISSANCE REPORT ON AIRCRAFT IN SICILY

  • Catania: 62 aircraft including 23 fighters, 32 bombers and 7 JU 52 transport planes.
  • Augusta: 22 aircraft including 8 Cant 506s and 4 Cant 501s afloat, 6 Cant 506 and 2 Cant 501 on the slipway.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0714-0735 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach at great height, skirt the east and south coasts, turn eastwards and fly over the Island one mile north of Delimara. Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a single barrage at 23000 feet.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions. 

0859-0925 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north at 27000 feet and carry out reconnaissance, passing over Grand Harbour, Luqa and Kalafrana before receding northwards. Nine Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept.  Ack Ack guns do not engage.

1242-1304 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft including Macchi 200s and Breda 65s which approach the Island at 23000 feet. Four Macchis dive down over Imtarfa to 1000 feet to machine-gun Ta Qali aerodrome, wounding two civilians and two RAF ground crew.  There is no damage to aircraft.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns at Targa and Ta Qali fire barrages and Bofors engage; no hits claimed.  Six Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.

1656-1718 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters with in-line engines approaching from the north. Five Hurricanes are scrambled to intercept.  Two of the raiders remain at 17000 feet while the rest dive down to attack the Hurricanes individually at 11000 feet over St Paul’s Island.  A ‘thrilling dogfight’ ensues watched by troops on the ground.  F/O Matthews is attacked and hit by three different enemy fighters.  His Hurricane is hit in the starboard and port wings and also near the glycol tank but manages to land safely.  Sgt Owen’s aircraft is shot down in flames; he manages to bale out and is rescued from the sea, while S/Ldr Barton and Sgt Branch circle round the dinghy to protect him.  Three other Hurricanes fire short bursts at the enemy but make no claims. 

2236-2330 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. Only one crosses the coast and drops a large number of 2kg anti-personnel bombs on the Qormi area.  The other drops bombs in the sea 30 miles north of the Island before returning to base.

Military casualties Sergeant Ernest M G Davies, Wireless Operator, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 104 Squadron; Sergeant James D Woodburn, Royal Canadian Air Force, 18 Squadron, RAF.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Empire Guillemot, Dunedin Star and City of Lincoln sailed for Gibraltar at 1000 hrs.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Flamingo, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a military barracks at Homs.  Sgt Woodburn failed to return. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland patrol Kerkennah-Tripoli. 104 Squadron 1 Wellington attacked Naples.  4 Wellingtons attacked shipping at Tripoli.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company is training 8 NCOs of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment in the Vickers machine-gun, as all units will operate many weapons not normally in their establishment.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Main body of Battalion returned to Malta from Gozo.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Remainder of Battalion proceeded to Gozo to carry out company and battalion training and to relieve 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment who took over the Battalion sector at Malta. 

 

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Posted by on October 22, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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21 October 1941: Malta New Base for Mediterranean Fleet Force K

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Capt Agnew's flagship HMS Aurora

Capt Agnew’s flagship HMS Aurora

ROYAL NAVY SHIPS JOIN ANTI-CONVOY STRIKE FORCE

A special force of the Mediterranean Fleet begins operations from its new base in Malta today. Force K, under the command of Captain W G Agnew, has been deployed to the Island as a strike force to intensify attacks on Axis convoys to supply their forces in Libya. 

The ships for the new Force, cruisers Aurora and Penelope, destroyers Lance and Lively, sailed into harbour from the west this morning, after an uneventful passage through the Mediterranean.  It is believed that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is behind the establishment of the strike force. As well as their role in attacking enemy convoys, it is believed that the presence of Force K will act as an additional deterrent for convoy traffic to Tripoli which has notably declined in recent days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0822-0847 hrs; 1023-1040 hrs; 1328-1342 hrs  Air raid alerts: two for single enemy aircraft which pass close to the coast. On the third alert two enemy fighters cross the Island at 30000 feet.  

Ten Hurricanes are scrambled at a time but there are no interceptions.

1835-1901 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy bombers approaching from the north singly. Only two cross the coast and 500kg drop bombs in the Mosta-Naxxar-Gharghur area and in the sea.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no interceptions.

Military casualties  Aircraftsman David B Long, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unique returned from patrol off Naples having sunk a Citta AMS. Aurora, Penelope, Lance and Lively of Force K arrived.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Wellington. Departures 3 Beaufort. 38 Squadron 11 Wellingtons attacked a storage depot at Naples. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrols; Maryland special search.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast. 104 Squadron 13 Wellingtons attacked a storage depot at Naples.   107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked two merchant vessels north east of Ras Maamoura.  

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  No 4 (carrier) Platoon and details proceeded to Gozo.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (250kg).

 

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Posted by on October 21, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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20 October 1941: Fleet Air Arm Squadron Halts 17 Axis Ships in 2 Weeks

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Swordfish

Swordfish

830 SQUADRON PRAISED FOR SUCCESSES

830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm have been praised today for their role in recent offensive operations from Malta on Axis convoys in the Mediterranean. In just two weeks from 4 to 18 October the Squadron, which is operating under the command of the AOC Malta, has been active almost nightly, undertaking 10 missions totalling 67 sorties, launching nine attacks on convoys and one on a single merchant ship. 

On two occasions, a formation of Swordfish launched two strikes on a convoy in a single night, attacking first in the late evening, then returning to base to refuel before setting out to launch their second attack before dawn, causing further damage to merchant shipping. On another occasion the Swordfish leader who lost contact with his torpedo aircraft went ahead alone and launched a solo attack on the target convoy.

In total over the period the Squadron has damaged and stopped 17 enemy merchant ships, including six sunk, for the loss of one Swordfish. In the previous seven months from March to September 830 Squadron damaged 38 ships including 15 sunk, from a total of 67 vessels attacked.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1101-1137 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which fly down the east coast 15 miles off shore; a fourth aircraft follows on but turns back while still 50 miles away. Five Hurricane fighters are airborne; no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  P31 arrived from Gibraltar and United Kingdom. Porpoise sailed for Alexandria with stores and personnel.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Clare, 1 Flamingo. Departures 2 Blenheim, 1 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked selected target at Acireale. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols Marittimo, Sardinia and Sicily.  1 Blenheim reconnaissance east Sicilian coast.  Photoreconnaissance Sardinia and Sicily. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish on shipping search of Kerkennah without result.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion returns from Gozo.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion deployed to Gozo training camp.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Anti-parachute exercise.

 

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Posted by on October 20, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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19 October 1941: Enemy Convoys to Tripoli Cease Due to Attacks

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HMS Ursula to reload and strike again

HMS Ursula to reload and strike again

EASTERN MED TOO DANGEROUS FOR AXIS SHIPPING

Enemy convoy traffic to Tripoli has ceased completely, according to intelligence reports. The latest convoy to leave Naples has been attacked twice in the past two days by Swordfish from 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm. 

On Friday seven Swordfish attacked the four merchant ships with their four strong destroyer escort, scoring significant hits on two merchantmen and leaving them seriously damaged. Six more Swordfish returned to repeat the attack yesterday, hitting at least one more merchant ship.  The returning pilots reported that fires from the convoy were visible for ten miles.  Today Malta-based submarine Ursula returned to reload, having hit one merchant ship and sunk another in the convoy.

Attacks on Axis bases in Libya have also been stepped up. 17 Wellingtons of 38 & 104 Squadrons attacked targets in Tripoli today, and six Blenheims attacked a factory and power station at Licata.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Cloudy.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula returned to reload, having hit one merchant ship and sunk another in convoy.

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Beaufort, 1 Sunderland, 7 Wellington. Departures 2 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a factory and power station at Licata. 38 Squadron 11 Wellingtons attacked targets in Tripoli. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland patrol Kiniat-Kerkennah; 1 Maryland special search for shipping.  Photoreconnaissances Sicily, Taranto, Tripoli Harbour. 104 Squadron 6 Wellingtons attacked targets in Tripoli.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party left Gozo for Malta.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party proceeded to Gozo.

 

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Posted by on October 19, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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18 October 1941: Nine Air Raid Alerts in 17 hrs – Five Killed

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Albacores over Malta

Albacores over Malta

ISLAND UNDER ALERT THROUGH THE NIGHT – HEAVIEST BOMBING FOR WEEKS

Malta suffered its heaviest night of bombing for many weeks tonight. Seven air raids sounded throughout the night in a bombing campaign which seemed to intend an air raid on the Island every hour.  Italian Cant and BR 20 bombers approached from different directions and dropped a large number of large and small high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the Island.

In the first attack, a large bomb destroyed a house in Bur Marrad, St Paul’s Bay. Five civilians were killed and three people wounded, including two servicemen.  According to military authorities, the traumatised villagers refused to accept help from the Army, saying they preferred to wait for the arrival of the demolition squad. 

An hour after the all-clear the alert sounded for a single bomber approached the south-east coast but dropped bombs in the sea off Zonqor Point. Almost exactly an hour later, two more bombers approached and separated, one turning to approach from the north-west and dropping high explosive bombs near Mgarr, severing telephone lines. The second approached from the north-east then turned in towards St Thomas’ Bay, dropping high explosive bombs in the sea.  

Shortly after 1am another bomber approached from the north west and dropped 2kg anti-personnel bombs near searchlight positions on Bajda Ridge. The alert sounded again an hour later, followed by a sixth but in both cases the raiders turned back before reaching the Island.  The final alert came just before 5am when a single bomber approached Dingli from the west but dropped all bombs in the sea.  The final all-clear sounded just 15 minutes later.

828 SQUADRON ARRIVES IN MALTA

A new Squadron arrived today to joined the Fleet Air Arm force at Hal Far. 828 Squadron, with 11 Albacores and one Swordfish will strengthen the torpedo bomber force in Malta, which has carried out many successful operations against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean.

The reinforcements left the UK under ‘Operation Call Boy’ on 1 October for Gibraltar, where they were transferred to the carrier HMS Ark Royal for shipment towards Malta.  The Carrier sailed under escort two days ago through the western Mediterranean and reached a point early this morning from where the aircraft could take off for Malta.  A second Swordfish destined for Hal Far which took off from Ark Royal did not arrive and is presumed lost.  The pilot Sub Lt D Muller RNVR, and observer Sub Lt A Denby RNVR are missing.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1125-1137 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which cross the Island on reconnaissance. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to intercept due to height of raiders.  No engagement by Ack Ack guns.

1522-1553 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi 200s which cross the coast to the west of Delimara at great altitude, on reconnaissance. They fly northwards over Ta Qali, turn about over Gozo and fly down the east coast of Malta, then turn over Luqa to Delimara, eventually receding northwards.  Anti-aircraft guns fire pointer rounds.  Nine Hurricanes are airborne but unable to intercept.

Night   Seven air raid alerts sound through the night. Two Hurricanes at a time are airborne but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

2046-2120 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers which approach the Island separately from the west and north. Large high explosive bombs are dropped in the sea near Filfla and in the St Paul’s Bay area.  A house is demolished at Bur Marrad.  Five civilians are killed and one seriously wounded.  One soldier of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is seriously injured in the ankle and another slightly.  According to military authorities, villagers refused help from the Army, saying they preferred to wait for the arrival of the demolition squad.

2219-2244 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which drops high explosive bombs in the sea east of Zonqor Point.

2321-2351 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching separately from the north west and north east. The first drops 12kg bombs on land near Mgarr, severing telephone lines, and in the sea off Ghain Tuffieha.  The second drops bombs in the sea six miles east of St Thomas’ Bay.

0117-0137 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy aircraft which approaches from the north west and drops 25 x 2kg bombs near Bajda Ridge searchlight positions; no damage or casualties.

0215-0225 hrs; 0338-0348 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

0455-0510 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the west to within eight miles of Dingli and drops high explosive bombs in the sea before receding westward.

Civilian casualties  St Paul’s Bay (Bur Marrad)  Francis Bonnici, age 50; Carmela Bonnici, age 44; Joseph Bonnici, age 16; Frances Bonnici, age 6; Emanuel Bonnici, age 4.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Truant proceeded on patrol in Adriatic. Rorqual left for minelaying, and thence to Gibraltar.  828 Squadron of eleven Albacores arrived, ex operation Call Boy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a factory north of Crotone. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols south eastern Tunisian coast and special patrol.  Photoreconnaissances Palermo, Trapani, Taranto and Naples. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on convoy search. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish were sent to attack a convoy of 4 merchant ships and 4 destroyers.  At least one merchant ship was hit, with fires visible for 10 miles.

HAL FAR  Eleven Albacore aircraft No 828 Squadron arrived at Hal Far under the command of Lt/Cdr Langmore.

TA QALI  New airmen’s barrack block taken over.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (500kg).

 

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Posted by on October 18, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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17 October 1941: Malta Fighters Hampered by Fuel Shortages

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HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

NEW TACTIC BY ITALIAN FIGHTERS EXPOSES LACK OF FUEL FOR HURRICANES

Fuel shortages prevented Malta fighters from fully defending the Island today when enemy raiders attempted a daylight attack. Eleven Hurricanes were scrambled in response to an alert just after 1530 hrs this afternoon, when early warning systems had spotted seven enemy aircraft approaching from the north.  The raiders, identified as Macchi fighters, suspended their approach while still 30 miles from Malta and began to circle, forcing the Hurricanes to fly out to them.  Two of the Macchis managed to evade the Hurricanes and crossed the coast near Grand Harbour.  Several Hurricanes turned back to attempt an engagement but ran out of fuel and had to land. 

COAL IN SHORT SUPPLY

Fossil fuels are also in very short supply and military authorities are seeking ways to economise. In a bid to conserve supplies, troops have been given new instructions on an economical means of providing fuel using coal dust. 

  • Mix eight parts coal dust to one part sand and two parts clay, or two parts coal dust, one part sawdust and one part clay.
  • Moisten as necessary, mould into balls and allow to dry.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 OCTOBER TO DAWN 18 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fair.

1047-1103 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach from the north and carry out reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are flying into and out of Malta on escort duties so it is not possible for them nor anti-aircraft guns to engage.

1534-1555 hrs  Air raid alert for a total of seven enemy aircraft which approach the Island in three formations but circle 30 miles to the north. The first two formations remain at a distance, while two Macchi 200 fighters approach Grand Harbour from the north east and cross the coast.  Eleven Hurricanes are scrambled at the first alert but, owing to fuel shortages, they are unable to engage the two raiders.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage with one barrage; no claims.

0012-0019 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of Swordfish aircraft.

0403-0523 hrs  Air raid alert for seven enemy bombers which approach the Island singly from several directions. None cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea, including one container of incendiaries eight miles offshore to the north east.  Four Hurricane fighters are airborne, two at a time, but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Porpoise arrived from Gibraltar and United Kingdom. Ursula, P34 and Rorqual sailed for operations off Kuriat, but Rorqual returned with defects.

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 3 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a factory at Syracuse. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons attacked Trapani aerodrome.  4 Wellingtons attacked Elmas aerodrome. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols Syracuse, east Sicilian coast and special patrol.  Photoreconnaissances Cagliari, Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked motor transport at Zuara and Sirte. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish sent to attack a convoy of 4 merchant ships and 4 destroyers.  Two merchant vessels were hit and seriously damaged.  Despite intense, accurate fire from all ships all aircraft returned safely.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Officers from Battalion HQ and departmental clerks visited the Fortress Telephone Exchange. The amount of call traffic going through was a revelation.  A most interesting lecture was arranged at the Naval Canteen on ‘The Progress of the War’.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

 

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Posted by on October 17, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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16 October 1941: Malta Attacks Deter Axis Troop Sailings in Med

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  • A special whistle was instituted in the Dockyard today to give warning to “Take Cover” during daylight raids. 
  • 16 Malta-based Wellingtons attacked selected targets in Naples.
Castel Vetrano aerodrome

Castel Vetrano aerodrome

AXIS MILITARY PERSONNEL FORCED TO CROSS MED BY AIR

Malta attacks are delaying Axis troop transport across the Mediterranean, according to the British War Cabinet. According to their weekly report on the state of the war in Malta, there has been a marked increase in air transport activity between Sicily and Tripoli.  It has been suggested that these Italian transport aircraft are carrying military personnel deterred from making the crossing by sea owing to the dangers in the Mediterranean presented by attacks on shipping by Malta-based aircraft and submarines.

The War Cabinet review also reported that Malta reconnaissance aircraft located a number of enemy ships and numerous offensive sorties were carried out. A southbound convoy of three merchant vessels, two of 6000 and one of 8000 tons, and one tanker, escorted by five destroyers and four aircraft, was located 46 miles off Kuriate Island.  Two waves, each consisting of seven Swordfish, attacked this convoy, a further attack being made by six Wellingtons.   As a result of these attacks, two merchant vessels are considered sunk and one, possibly two, damaged.  A 4000 ton merchant vessel and a 1200 ton cargo boat were attacked by six Blenheims 58 miles from Sirte and both ships were probably sunk.  Seven Swordfish obtained two hits on a 6000 ton merchant vessel 75 miles south of Lampedusa; a destroyer was seen picking up survivors.  Other attacks were made on shipping but results could not be observed.

On two successive nights Tripoli was attacked and a total of about 22 tons of bombs dropped. Three large ships in the centre of the harbour were heavily attacked but results could not be observed.  Hits or near misses were obtained on the Spanish Mole and quay, the seaplane base, barracks east of Fort Hamidie, the Spanish Fort and the Arab quarter.

A convoy of 14 lorries was attacked by four Blenheims 15 miles east of the Gulf of Sidra. Three large covered lorries were destroyed and others damaged; one bomb burst in a cluster of drivers and passengers; the convoy and troops were also heavily machine-gunned.

Four Hurricanes carrying bombs attacked the aerodrome at Comiso, Sicily, but results were unobserved. A Fulmar bombed the aerodrome at Castel Vetrano causing a large explosion.

At Malta enemy aircraft crossed the coast on only a few occasions. On one night nine fighters machine-gunned Luqa doing only slight damage; one Macchi was destroyed by Hurricanes, anti-aircraft guns probably destroyed another and damaged five.  One Hurricane is missing.  On another night four bombers dropped bombs but caused no damage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 OCTOBER TO DAWN 17 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Storms.

0407-0428 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy Cant 1007 bombers which approach the Island as Wellington bombers arrive from the UK. At least one bomber crosses the coast before the alert sounds, dropping 500kg and 250kg bombs near Mgarr.  Other raiders drop high explosive bombs in the sea off Ghain Tuffieha.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Samuel McAllister, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Edward H Brenton, Royal Australian Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Truant arrived from the USA via Gibraltar. Clan Macdonald and Empire Guillemot sailed independently for Gibraltar at 1000 hrs.  Empire Guillemot returned later with engine trouble and remained off Filfla for the night. Unbeaten, Urge, Upright returned from Cape Passero, having sighted nothing but a hospital ship.  Three Swordfish on anti-submarine patrol sighted nothing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina, 1 Clare. 38 Squadron 16 Wellingtons attacked selected targets in Naples. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands on special patrols.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast.  221 Squadron  1 Wellington on shipping sweep. 

 

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Posted by on October 16, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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