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Category Archives: October 1941

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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15 October 1941: Malta Attacks Limit Axis Forces in Libya

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ATTACK ON TOBRUK NOT RULED OUT BY WAR CABINET

Tobruk

Tobruk

Attacks by Malta submarines and aircraft on Axis supply convoys in the Mediterranean have limited supplies to the Afrika Korps in Libya enough to prevent a large-scale offensive. However, some German and Italian reinforcements have continued to land there in recent days, according to reports to the British War Cabinet.  As a result, military leaders in London consider that an attack on Tobruk by Axis forces remains a real possibility.

69 SQUADRON PHOTO-RECONNAISSANCE REPORT

Malta’s Maryland photoreconnaissance unit has reported the following from today’s surveys of Sicilian aerodromes:

  • Palermo: No substantial changes since 6 September. 5 large aircraft, 6 medium, 11 small.
  • Catania: 29 aircraft including 7 BR 20, 1 SM 52, 7 Cant 135, 2 Cant 310, 11 small aircraft.
  • Gerbini: 23 aircraft including 1 SM 82, 15 Cant 135, 3 Cant 110, 4 unidentified.
  • The other airfields were not covered due to cloud.

LORRIES DAMAGE RAF TAXI STRIPS

It has been reported that heavy Army lorries including Scammells have been using RAF taxi strips as a route across aerodromes. As a result significant damage has been caused to the surfaces when wet.  Troops have been ordered to cease the practice forthwith.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 OCTOBER TO DAWN 16 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

0853-0911 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross the Island at very high altitude, probably on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns fire a number of pointer rounds.  Ten Hurricanes are scrambled but and unable to intercept. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 15 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HM Submarine Unique torpedoed and probably sank the Italian armed merchant cruiser Citta di Genova (5314 tons) to the south of Naples.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Catalina. 69 Squadron  1 Maryland special patrol; 1 Maryland search for convoy.  1 Blenheim patrol Sicilian coast.  Photoreconnaissance Palermo, Gerbini and Catania. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington patrol Messina and Naples. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish carried out a search for Hurricane pilot P/O Barnwell of Malta Night Fighter Unit; search unsuccessful.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 4 (2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on October 15, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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14 October 1941: Malta Pilot Last of Three Brothers Killed on RAF Service

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Hurricanes of Malta Night Fighter Unit

Hurricanes of Malta Night Fighter Unit

PILOT LOST AFTER BALING OUT OVER THE SEA

Ace Malta pilot David Barnwell, DFC has been declared missing, presumed dead after a search failed to find him following an engagement early this morning with a Macchi fighter. P/O Barnwell was in one of five black Hurricanes of the Malta Night Fighter Unit scrambled at 0530 hours this morning to engage nine Italian Macchi fighters which launched a low-level strafing Luqa aerodrome, while 15 other fighters circled off the coast.

 The Hurricanes engaged the raiders as they turned away from their attack.  P/O Barnwell was heard on the radio reporting having shot down one a Macchi 202.  Within moments he was on the radio again, “Baling out, engine cut, am coming down in the sea.”  A search was launched immediately: Swordfish rescue aircraft continued their efforts until late today, when RAF headquarters concluded that P/O Barnwell had not survived. 

P/O Barnwell had served with 185 Squadron at Ta Qali since last June. He shot down a Macchi 200 fighter on 11 July, followed by a BR 20 bomber on 25 July.  A week later he was asked to join Malta Night Fighter Unit under Squadron Leader G Powell-Sheddon.  Overnight on 5-6 August he shot down a BR 20 bomber and damaged another, followed by two more raiders on the nights of 4-5 and 8-9 September.

His award of the DFC followed at the end of September. The citation reads: “This officer has displayed outstanding courage and determination when attacking hostile aircraft of which he has destroyed at least four by night. He has in every way set an excellent example.”

David Barnwell was the youngest of three sons of the late Captain Frank Barnwell, Chief Designer of the Bristol Aircraft Company which produced the Blenheim and Beaufort bombers. He had two brothers, both of whom were RAF pilots and who lost their lives last year.  David Barnwell was 19 years old.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 OCTOBER TO DAWN 15 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

1518-1527 hrs Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching the Island. Ten Hurricane fighters are scrambled and the raiders turn back while still 15 miles from Grand Harbour.

0312-0422 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy aircraft approaching the Island as the same time as Swordfish are heading back to base. Only four raiders – believed to be JU 87 Stukas – cross the coast, one dropping 500kg bombs on land between Rabat and Imtarfa.  The remaining aircraft drop high explosive bombs in the sea three miles north of St Paul’s Bay and east of Delimara.  Four Hurricanes of Malta Night Fighter Unit are airborne, two at a time, but there are no searchlight illuminations or interceptions. 

Military casualties  Pilot Officer David U Barnwell, DFC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 607 Squadron.                                         

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 14 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten, Urge, Upright sailed at short notice for operation off Cape Passero.

AIR HQ Arrivals 10 Blenheim, 1 Clare, 4 Wellington.  69 Squadron  1 Maryland patrol Ionian sea; 1 Maryland shipping search.  Photoreconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes.  1 Blenheim reconnaissance east Sicilian coast. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish sent to attack a merchant vessel being towed southwards near Kerkennah Bank; the attack was successful and the ship sank within a few minutes.  Two Swordfish and high speed launches from Kalafrana and St Paul’s Bay search for P/O Barnwell without success.

 

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

 

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13 October 1941: Malta Faces Harsher Rationing as Convoy Situation Worsens

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Bread essential for morale, say experts

Bread essential, experts say

ISLANDERS MAY BE DEPRIVED OF FRESH MEAT AS GOVERNMENT COMMISSION REVIEWS RATIONING IN MALTA

The supply of Malta by sea is now under severe threat: that is the conclusion now reached by the Island’s high command. Several important foodstuffs have become increasingly scarce since July, especially meat, and the Island is now facing the prospect of further shortages.  A conference of experts has been convened to discuss ways to make food stocks last longer between supply convoys. 

Their initial report reveals that the poorest in Malta rely mainly “on bread, edible oil, sugar and tinned milk. Tinned meat and tinned fish are extensively used for eating with bread.  Kerosene is universally used for cooking.” (1)

Asked to review possibilities for further rationing, or at least economies, in food consumption, they report: “The rations of coffee, tinned meat and tinned fish are very tight and could not be reduced without causing hardship.  Similarly no material reduction could be made in the rations of soap and matches.  A small reduction could be made in the ration of fats and edible oil, perhaps saving 150 tons a year.  The ration of sugar could, if necessary, be reduced, although sugar is a most important item in the diet of the Maltese, especially in the case of children…  The ration of kerosene is very strict considering that all cooking and heating is normally done with kerosene and that it is also very commonly used for lighting.

The main imported commodities which are not rationed are cheese, tinned milk, frozen meat, rice, tea, flour and bread… Butter has not been rationed because stocks are large…  Tea has not been rationed because it is only consumed by a comparatively small section of the population…  It has been found possible to control cheese and rice satisfactorily without rationing them…Issues of frozen meat have been severely limited, and with the increasing shortage of local meat, this commodity is becoming difficult to obtain… Further economies would be difficult, but the Island could of course subsist entirely on tinned meat if necessary…

Bread is much the most important article of consumption with the people of Malta. It is also a very heavy item in the import programme…  No material reduction in consumption has been attempted…  Such a reduction would not only cause hardship to the poorer classes, it would also have a bad effect on morale…  It is undesirable that any rationing of bread should be attempted…

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 OCTOBER TO DAWN 14 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rainstorm early evening.

1122-1140 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters approaching the Island from the north east escorting a reconnaissance aircraft. When the raiders are still 12 miles from Malta, they split into two; six raiders recede and the remaining three cross the coast over Kalafrana to carry out reconnaissance.  Ten Hurricanes are scrambled and the reconnaissance aircraft turns away rapidly.  The Hurricanes chase the raiders back to the Sicilian coast but are unable to catch them.

1444-1500 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north east at great altitude and cross the coast over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to gain sufficient height to intercept. 

0535-0640 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island. Nine cross the coast, split into two formations and dive down to an average height of 400 feet to launch a machine-gun attack on an area from the Cisk factory right across Luqa and the Safi dispersal area.  One bullet hits a Wellington bomber causing slight damage. 

The raiders are engaged at 11000 feet by a heavy anti-aircraft barrage and also by Bofors as well as searchlight and infantry light machine-guns. A Bofors position at Safi hits and damages one Macchi, a Bofors at Luqa hits and damages another two.  A third Bofors at Imsierah hits and damages a fourth.  A light machine-gun manned by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment at Safi fires a long burst into another Macchi.

Five Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders as they leave their attack. P/O Barnwell of Malta Night Fighter Unit shoots one Macchi fighter down into the sea but then does not return to base.  It is thought his engine may have cut out over the sea.  A search is launched.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thorn left on patrol.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron 1 Maryland patrol north Ionian Sea; 1 Maryland search for convoy; 1 Maryland special patrol. Photoreconnaissance Tripoli. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked motor transport on the Benghazi Road. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington shipping sweep. Fleet Air Arm 1 Fulmar bombed and machine-gunned eastern perimeter of Castel Vetrano aerodrome causing three explosions. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish sent to attack convoy of 2 merchant ships and 2 destroyers south of Lampedusa dropped 5 torpedoes leaving one merchant vessel low in the water and on fire.  

KALAFRANA 0025 hrs Sunderland T9050 landed safely at Kalafrana having lost an airscrew, the controls being also damaged. Captain of the aircraft was F/Lt Milligan of 230 Squadron, with 8 passengers on board.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor & Commander in Chief visited the Battalion.

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

 

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

 

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12 October 1941: Malta Signposts and Place Names to be Removed

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Milestone deletedSIGNPOSTING TO DISAPPEAR AS ANTI-INVASION PRECAUTION

Orders have been issued for all signposts, milestones and place-names in Malta to be removed by 1 November. After this date military units are to report any such signposts in their area to their Headquarters.

In addition, all military posts which are booby-trapped are to be marked around their perimeter by small black noticeboards with a red cross, indicating the danger of entering the area. Troops have been warned that it is extremely dangerous to approach any military post marked by the noticeboards.

 TRANSIT PASSENGERS NEED HOSPITALITY

The RAF in Malta is struggling to accommodate the number of passengers stopping off en route between the Middle East and the UK, the Governor and Commander in Chief has told the War Office in London. The Island frequently receives several transit passengers a week who must be fed and often housed overnight while they await onward flights. 

Hospitality is currently provided by RAF messes is placing them under financial strain, as well as eating into the already restricted rations available on the Island. Especially affected is Kalafrana, home to the Sunderland Flying Boats which provide much of the transport.  The current allowance of £30 allocated to the Station for entertaining visitors is woefully inadequate to meet these needs, according to Lt Gen Dobbie.   

A separate hostel or hotel for transit passengers has been considered but ruled out as uneconomical, he adds in his telegram. Instead, he proposes that RAF messes continue to provide accommodation but their expenses should be made recompensed via the Air Officer Commanding Mediterranean.

The Governor and Commander in Chief will continue to accommodate distinguished passengers as has been the practice to date.

DAMAGE TO CROPS

Military commanders are reminded today that it is now especially important to keep troops off cultivated land, as the sowing season in Malta has now begun. Paths which must be used will be limited to a width of not more than one foot and will skirt the walls of any cultivated area. 

Troops are to be reminded that short-cuts across fields are strictly forbidden; carts and motor vehicles must avoid crossing fields whenever possible. All poultry will also be locked up in pens, and not allowed to roam where they might damage newly-sown crops.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 OCTOBER TO DAWN 13 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

Noon  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island form the north. Two Hurricane fighters are scrambled but the raiders turn back and there is no interception.  The air raid alert is not sounded.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual arrived from Alexandria after minelaying in the Aegean en route. The submarine is expected to depart later this month for UK via Gibraltar. Sokol returned from patrol off Lampedusa, having seen an aircraft attack on a convoy at long range.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Beaufighter. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland on shipping search of Ionian Sea; 1 Maryland on special search; 1 Maryland special patrol; photoreconnaissance Trapani harbour and aerodrome.  221 Squadron  1 Wellington on shipping search east Tunisian coast.  1 Wellington on shipping search north west of Tripoli. 

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  A mine was washed up in shallow water near Il Parsot and rendered safe by naval experts.

 

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

 

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