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21 January 1941: Churchill Congratulates ‘Heroic’ Malta

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CHURCHILL’S MESSAGE TO MALTA

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (IWM MH26392)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (IWM MH26392)

“I send you on behalf of the War Cabinet heartfelt congratulations upon the magnificent and ever memorable defence which your heroic garrison and citizens, assisted by the Navy and above all by the Royal Air Force, are making against the Italian and German attacks. The eyes of all Britain and indeed of the whole British Empire are watching Malta in her struggle day by day, and we are sure that success, as well as glory, will reward your efforts.”

The Prime Minister’s message came in response to an upbeat message from the Air Officer Commanding, Malta which was read out to the British War Cabinet yesterday. The AOC reported that some 37 enemy aircraft had been brought down by Malta fighters and anti-aircraft guns during the heavy attacks aimed at HMS Illustrious in Grand Harbour.  He confirmed that the carrier was never hit during the bombing raids, but near-misses caused her serious damage, putting one engine and one boiler-room out of action, as well as causing extensive damage to the Dockyard area and the surrounding communities.

GOVERNOR BROADCASTS TO THE PEOPLE OF MALTA

The Governor and Commander in Chief, Lt Gen Dobbie, issued his own broadcast to the people of Malta following the recent heavy air raids:

“We are living in stirring times and Malta, like other parts of the British Empire, is taking its share in the momentous happenings.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JANUARY TO DAWN 22 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Overcast.

0800 hrs Nine Bren guns of C Company, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment take up position to the east of Luqa for defence against low-flying attack.

1410-1425 hrs Air raid alert for a report of a single enemy aircraft approaching at great height. It flies over Grand Harbour, probably on reconnaissance.  Anti-aircraft guns at Tarxien open fire; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JANUARY 1941

AIR HQ 1242-1530 hrs A Spitfire of the Photo Reconnaissance Unit surveys the Sicilian aerodromes and ports at 23000 feet: at Comiso 5 JU 88s, 9 Macchi 200s; at Palermo 12 JU 87s, 30 Macchi 200s or CR 42s, 1 JU 52, 3 JU 86; at Trapani 2 SM 79s, one large unidentified aircraft, 57 fighters; at Catania 48 JU87s of which 14 damaged or destroyed, 4 JU 88s, 3 SM 79s, 6 BR 20s, 11 Macchi 200s of which 2 damaged, 1 S 82. However, interpretation being treated with reserve. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Battalion ordered to ‘stand to’ at dawn for modified Asia status.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 2 Company began work on four barrack rooms at Bizbizia Ack Ack Battery. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 5 (1 x 750kg, 1 x 250kg, 2 x Ack Ack shells, 1 x  Bofors fuze).

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd, 1992

 

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Posted by on January 21, 2021 in 1941, January 1941, Uncategorized

 

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9 January 1941: First Luftwaffe Bombing Raid on Malta

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JU 87 Stuka

JU 87 Stuka

STUKA DIVE BOMBERS LAUNCH FIRST ATTACK

Luftwaffe bombers today launched their first ever air raid on Malta. Shortly before; sunset this afternoon the air raid alert heralded the approach of nine enemy aircraft from the east.  Minutes later they swooped down over Marsaxlokk and aimed bombs at shipping moored in the Bay: no hits are reported but a trawler is reported to have returned fire.  A Maryland aircraft almost ran into the receding raiders as he returned to Luqa from a reconnaissance mission; however, he managed to land safely.

Observers at Kalafrana airfield identified the aircraft as German JU 87 Stukas. This is the first attack by aircraft of Fliegerkorps X which has been stationed in Sicily since last month.

SWORDFISH REINFORCEMENTS

Five Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers took off from HMS Ark Royal in the Mediterranean to fly on to Malta.  The manoeuvre was part of Operation Excess, the latest supply convoy operation organised by the Mediterranean Fleet.  The fly off of Swordfish reinforcements followed the rendezvous in the western Mediterranean of Ark Royal and the Fleet’s ‘Force H’ which will cover the approach of four more merchant ships to Malta.

DOCKYARD DEFENCE BATTERY NOW A MILITARY UNIT

The Dockyard Defence Battery which has put up a determined effort in the fight against enemy aircraft has now been established as 30th Light Ack Ack Battery.  Officers of the Battery are now in full-time military employment.  The Governor and Commander in Chief is taking steps for suitable financial allowances to be allocated to serving personnel.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JANUARY TO DAWN 10 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Clear and fine.

1007-1025 hrs  Air raid alert for a total of 15 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island in three formations. While most remain at 12-14000 feet, a formation of six dive down over Luqa and launch a machine-gun attack on the aerodrome.  Three Wellingtons are holed by bullets but none is badly damaged.  Five raiders then cross the coast and fly in a straight line from Zonqor towards Birkirkara.  

Malta fighters are scrambled and ground defences open fire. Four enemy aircraft are shot down by Hurricanes and one by anti-aircraft fire.  Three enemy aircrew are seen to bale out in different locations and one raider crashes two miles out to sea off Della Grazia.  One enemy air crewman is picked up from the sea and taken to military hospital.  One Hurricane lands at Hal Far during the raid.

1614 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of nine enemy dive-bombers approaching the Island from the east, three of them clearly identified as JU 87 Stukas. As they circle round to the south, a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft approaches Luqa from the South East but turns away.  The Stukas dive down over Marsaxlokk and target bombs on shipping moored in the bay; no damage is reported.  A trawler opens fire and reports hitting one enemy aircraft (unconfirmed).  One bomb explodes on land near a gun position with no damage or casualties.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept the bombers.  They spot a further formation of 12 CR 42s but these are too high to intercept.

1635 hrs  The Maryland circles Luqa again before landing safely. One of the crew is injured.

1654 hrs  All clear.

1755-1810 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the north east, then circles to the south. Three Hurricanes are airborne on patrol but no raid materialises.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Luigi Armanino, 88a Squadriglia, 6o Gruppo, 1o Stormo, Macchi 200 fighter pilot shot down and wounded, rescued and taken to hospital as a prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 JANUARY 1941

AIR HQ 0600-1312 hrs Sunderland closing patrol between Sicily and Sardinia for enemy shipping movements. 0550-1400 hrs Sunderland on patrol western Ionian Sea for enemy shipping. 1038-1400 Maryland reconnaissance Taranto. 1026-1613 hrs Maryland photographic reconnaissance Messina and Naples and investigate damage done by Wellingtons 148 Squadron;   faced three attacks by seven enemy fighters at Naples; too evasive action, some shots exchanged, no damage.  1007-1414 hrs  Maryland recce Cagliari, Trapani and Castelvetrano: Trapani aerodrome one SM 79, 20-30 fighters; Castelvetrano aerodrome one SM 17, one large biplane and three CR 42s.   

ROYAL NAVY  Operation MC 4 in progress.

LUQA  431 Flight: 1 Maryland reconnaissance Messina and Naples attacked by 7 Macchi 200s.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  St Georges fire trap commenced by 24 Fortress Company.

 

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Posted by on January 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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22 October 1940: Malta to Prepare for Gas Attack

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AGas respirator mask in actionNTI-GAS EQUIPMENT ORDERED FROM UK

The Governor and C in C is acting to ensure that Malta is fully protected in the event of an enemy poison gas attack. Items ordered in the early months of this year have still not arrived in Malta and, with the arrival of troop reinforcements, more are already required. It is believed that an earlier shipment has reached Gibraltar but remains there awaiting onward shipment to Malta.

The Island is short of thousands of respirators, face masks and anti-gas capes as well as several items of anti-gas equipment. Malta will be ready to cope with an enemy gas attack only once all orders already placed have been fulfilled.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Thundery with bright periods.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa, four mines were swept up and sunk in position 152 degrees Delimara 9¾ miles.

AIR HQ All patrols cancelled due to bad weather.

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Posted by on October 22, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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21 October 1940: Enemy Losses Over Malta Total 45

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Italian SM 79

Italian SM 79

AIRCRAFT LOSSES FIFTEEN TO ONE IN FAVOUR OF MALTA

The Information Office has released details of the number of enemy losses over Malta since the declaration of war by Italy. A total of 25 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. Another 20 have been severely damaged and therefore probably unable to reach their bases. Malta losses to date have been three fighters and two pilots. The figures follow recent propaganda announcements by Rome radio in which exaggerated and false claims have been made regarding aircraft shot down in Malta and damage on the ground.

TWO HELD ON SUSPICION OF IRA ACTIVITY IN MALTA

Two servicemen of 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers are facing discharge from the service. The two fusiliers are suspected to have engaged in IRA activities while serving in Malta. Governor and C in C has applied to the War Office for authority to apply the sanction which he sees as essential to the security of the fortress. One of the men is at present serving two years imprisonment for involuntary homicide; the other is currently interned in Malta pending discharge and repatriation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1940

Weather   Cloudy with poor visibility and thunderstorms; scirocco in the morning and fresher after an afternoon shower.

0841-0912 hrs Air raid alert for eight enemy aircraft which cross the coast over Delimara at 20000 feet heading for Hal Far. Three Hurricanes are scrambled and engage, along with Ack Ack guns: the raiders are driven off, turning south east then north. No bombs are dropped.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron and Sunderland 228 Squadron; nil reports by all aircraft. Reconnaissance Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil report.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance area Malta-Tripoli-Jerba Island; nil report. One Sunderland 10 Squadron RAAF arrived from Middle East en route for UK.

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Posted by on October 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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20 October 1940: Malta Needs Meat

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GOVERNOR ORDERS ESSENTIAL FOOD SUPPLIES

Meat carcasesMalta needs nearly a thousand tons of meat by January according to the latest food order sent by the Governor and C in C to the War Office in London. The order was sent under new arrangements to ensure the Island is stocked with essential supplies while it remains under siege. Three months’ notice are needed so that shipment can be organised and complete the long sea route via the Cape.

As well as 545 tons of meat for the military, the order includes food requirements for the Malta Government under the central purchasing and distribution system established last month to deal with food shortages among the civilian population. The Government has ordered 300 tons of beef, 50 of mutton and 50 of pork, as well as 80 tons of New Zealand butter and 125 tons of New Zealand cheese.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine; some cloud.

1125-1215 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy formations reported approaching the Island from the north. Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled; air raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 20 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance Ionian Sea by Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA): nil report. Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported at 1411 hrs one cruiser and one destroyer at sea. 0741-0917 hrs Swordfish 830 Sqn FAA despatched to locate a submarine off the north west coast of the Island; did not locate enemy.

KALAFRANA Plan to reconnoitre Ionian Sea for enemy surface craft. Easterly sector not patrolled as Sunderland unable to take off due to heavy swell.

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Posted by on October 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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19 October 1940: Malta Troops Need News of Relatives

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LACK OF MAIL DAMAGING TROOP MORALE

The continuing lack of a regular mail service to Malta is becoming a serious threat to the morale of troops in Malta. The latest delivery of mail arrived after a delay of three months. British newspapers are also carried by the mail delivery service and are therefore failing to reach the Island before they are obsolete.  

Dunkirk evacuation: Malta servicemen await news of relatives

Dunkirk evacuation: Malta servicemen await news of relatives

The Governor and C in C has reported receiving an increasing volume of enquiries from troops stationed in Malta regarding their serving relatives, particularly those who are served the late British Expeditionary Force following the evacuation of Dunkirk, but also those in Middle East units. However, the sheer number of information requests makes it impossible to deal with each one by telegram.

Today Lt Gen Dobbie has written to the War Office asking for all service casualty lists to date to be cabled to Malta immediately, and from now on every list to be sent by telegram as soon as published.

According to Rev Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: “The dates of posting ranged from June 8th to the last days of August! The second batch also took about three days to sort; and the dates were also June, July and August. All higgledy-piggledy. But it was news even if three months – nay – four months adrift. There were a few copies of the Times for the last days of May and a few issued early in June. In that of June 8th, (received on 2nd October) we discovered that our son Anthony had been Mentioned in Despatches. This is a great joy to us.” (1)

NO INTELLIGENCE CORPS FOR MALTA

The War Office informed the Governor and C in C by telegram today that the formation of an Intelligence Corps Section in Malta “is not considered necessary”.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine; cloudy at times.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ  Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish Fleet Air Arm patrolled Ionian Sea; nil reports.

KALAFRANA  Plan to reconnoitre Ionian Sea for enemy surface craft. Easterly sector not patrolled as Sunderland unable to take off due to heavy swell.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 19 recruits posted from depot.

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

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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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18 October 1940: Malta Must Be Able to Defend Itself

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HMS Regent arrived for repair today after a collision in the Ionian Sea.

HMS Regent arrived for repair today after a collision in the Ionian Sea.

FORCES OUTSIDE MALTA CANNOT PROTECT THE ISLAND

Governor and C in C Lt Gen Dobbie has today rejected suggestions from London that Malta could be protected from outside, instead of implementing his full demands for reinforcements. Military high command has proposed that in the event of an Axis attack a relief force could be sent to the Island within four days (rather than seven as previously estimated), reducing the strength of forces needed in Malta. They have also suggested that the presence of light naval forces at Malta could deter such an attack.

Lt Gen Dobbie’s response to the Chief of Imperial General Staff was swift: “…light naval forces stationed at Malta will not even affect the likelihood of attack, since the Italians are well able to detach sufficient forces to deal with them without unduly weakening their main fleet. But in any case the presence of the light naval forces will not affect the strength of the sea-borne attack if the enemy decided to make it. Consequently the strength of the garrison needed at Malta cannot be reduced on these grounds.

If the [time taken to relieve the Island] were reduced to four days, this would also have no effect on the size of garrison required. It is not so much a question of holding on in certain positions, as of rapid and ruthless counter-attacks to dislodge the enemy whenever and wherever he gains a footing.  The forces which I advised were needed for seven days cannot safely be reduced for a slightly shorter period.

Further, the projected increase of air defences, ie 12 additional Hurricanes and 24 heavy and 16 light guns, though very welcome, is not in itself enough to ensure that the enemy shall not secure air superiority should he really determine to gain it. It will, however, render his task more difficult and force him to employ larger air forces for this purpose. This is likely to constitute some deterrent but cannot be counted on to be completely effective.

In fact the amount of protection from low flying attack against our ground troops which our air forces will be able to afford, if full dress attack is launched, cannot be great. Therefore I cannot advise in answer to the Secretary of State’s query that, in the circumstances he outlines, a smaller defence force is needed.

I recognise that the enemy’s difficulties are very great, especially in ensuring that the British Fleet is kept out of the way for a sufficient time. Our forces here are strong enough to ensure that his effort must be a big one. But if he succeeds in making an opportunity and seizes it with both hands and goes all out, any smaller garrison than I have suggested would be unwise, in view of the very big issues at stake. The above is the unanimous view of the defence committee here as well as my own.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Thundery showers with fine intervals.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Regent arrived for repairs having been in collision with a caique in the Ionian sea. She suffered extensive damage to her forward hydroplanes.

AIR HQ  Northern patrol by Glenn Martin cancelled due to bad weather. Southern and western areas patrolled by one Blenheim 431(GR) flight and two Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm; nil reports.

KALAFRANA  Easterly patrol by Sunderland aircraft not possible due to heavy swell preventing take-off.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Brigade exercise No 2.

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Posted by on October 18, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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31 May 1942: RAF Wins in the Skies but Belts Tight on the Ground

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“Rations have during the month been considerably reduced, and it is now a case of tightening belts until the next convoy comes in.”  (1)

Kingsway, May 1942 (NWMA Malta)

MAY 1942: THE ARMY VIEW

At the beginning of this month it became obvious that the enemy were not maintaining as many aircraft on the Sicilian aerodromes.  The attacks on this Island were on a reduced scale.  On 9th the Island received large reinforcements of Spitfires.  On 10th a minelaying cruiser brought supplies of Bofors ammunition to the Island and this ship was heavily bombed by JU 88s and JU 87s during its stay in the Dockyard.

The enemy was surprised to find over 60 Spitfires in the air waiting for him and also the heaviest Ack Ack barrage that has been seen over Malta for some months.  The result was – on that day the enemy lost 63 aircraft destroyed or damaged.

Since that time we have had air superiority over the Island.  Since this heavy defeat the enemy used mainly Italian aircraft and crews in his attacks and, although the raids have been on a much smaller scale, the percentage of enemy aircraft damaged or destroyed has been very high.  Towards the end of the month bombing raids against Italian targets were resumed from this Island.

A feature of the month has been the increase of enemy E Boat activity around the Island.  Undoubtedly some of these boats have been engaged in mine laying but this is probably not the only explanation of their activities.  On 17th some of these E Boats were engaged by our coast defences and one was left abandoned.  Rather than let this boat fall into our hands and reveal its secrets it was bombed and sunk by enemy aircraft.  On 18th an Italian came ashore at post T4 and, from information given by this prisoner, it appeared that the enemy may possibly be testing our coast defences with a view to making a ‘Commando’ raid against the Island.

During the month nearly all the troops… who are not manning key positions have been engaged in construction work on aerodromes, and salvage work clearing up the damage caused by the heavy bombing in the previous month.  The work on aerodromes has consisted of building pens to protect our aircraft and standing by to fill in craters and thus keep the aerodromes serviceable.

AIR COMMAND REPORTS ON STATE OF AIRFIELDS

By the beginning of May 236 pens had been completed in the aerodromes.  This work had to be given priority over slit trenches, because of the delay in the dispersal programmes.  The allowance of petrol to the RAF was 3000 gallons a week and was not to be exceeded.  All airmen living within four miles of the aerodromes had to march to work.  This limitation of petrol was a serious handicap to aerodrome work.

There was a grave shortage of miners owing to the shelter construction programme, and so any possibility of putting workshops underground had to be shelved, and we had to rely more upon dispersal than on underground workshops.  Stores were distributed to 27 houses throughout the Island and 60 per cent of the work at Kalafrana in engine and airframes repairs was moved to Gzira, including instrument, armament, airscrew, coppersmith and petrol tank repairs.

As regards work on the aerodromes there was a very serious shortage of rollers.  Rollers had to be used and manned during the whole of daylight hours with relief crews.  Often during the whole 24 hours when bombing was heavy and aerodromes had to be made usable.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1221-1259 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1340 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of Italian and German fighters.

1345 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the fighters approach the coast.  603 Squadron Spitfires engage the Re 2001s and ME 109s as they attempt a sweep over the Island.  The Spitfires attack but no strikes are seen.  One Spitfire falls into a bomb-hole while taxiing and breaks its back: the pilot is unhurt.

1508-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to search a position east north east of Grand Harbour.  They sight debris: an overturned float and a raft.

1804-1843 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1945 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four of 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft.  They chase the ME 109s but do not engage.

2235 hrs; 2350 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Chandler, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Domenico Vella, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 31 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Trusty Star, Beryl, and ML 126 sent to Marsaxlokk to sweep the approaches to that Harbour.  HM 235 sweeping off Grand Harbour.  17 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Hudsons, two Spitfires, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons, three Hudson to LG 222; one Blenheim, one Hurricane to Sidi Barrani; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

LUQA  2055-0106 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  The raid was very successful: large fires are seen, believed to be commercial oil storage tanks.  Explosions were seen on the jetty and railway lines.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  15 Malta Volunteer Defence Force fired on Pembroke Ranges.  Shooting quite good.  GOC present.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  One unexploded anti-personnel grenade is reported at 526186.  Strengths:  Officers 36; Other Ranks 833; RAOC (attached) 5; RAMC 1.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Strength of battalion: 33 Officers, 654 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Spr Briffa, No 2 Works Company RE, was involved in a motor-car accident and admitted to hospital.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported nil; dealt with 8 (Italian Thermos).  Strengths  HQ Fortress RE 4 Officers, 18 Other Ranks; 24 Fortress Coy RE 5 Officers, 219 Other Ranks; 173 Tunnelling Company RE 6 Officers 204 Other Ranks; No 1 Works Company RE 5 Officers 225 Other Ranks; No 2 Works Company RE 6 Officers 229 Other Ranks; 127 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 20 Other Ranks; 128 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 16 Other Ranks.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.  A Company Jebel Ciantar 4 Officers 131 Other Ranks; B Coy Ta Karceppu 5 Officers 122 Other Ranks; C Coy Inquisitors Palace 5 Officers 133 Other Ranks; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 Other Ranks; HQ Coy Ta Salvator 15 Officers 261 Other Ranks.  Chaplain and Medical Officer attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The unit has supplied several working parties during the month for Ta Qali aerodrome and the work has consisted of constructing aircraft pens, repairing runways, filling in bomb craters and salvage.  Owing to the very heavy raids during the month this has been very arduous work.

(1) War Diary, 8th Bn The Manchester Regiment, May 1942

 

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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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27 May 1942: Malta Bombers Attack Two of Rommel’s Convoys

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MALTA NIGHT FIGHTER ATTACKS E BOATS

S Boat

Just after midnight, a Luqa-based Beaufighter aircraft on night patrol sighted eighteen E boats some twenty five miles south of the island.  F/Sgt Miller and F/Sgt Walsh launched a vigorous attack on the vessels with cannon and machine-gun fire.  They reported seeing definite strikes on vessels and claim to have damaged three of them.

Minutes later E boats were again reported, this time at closer range, near the small off Island of Filfla.  Infantry regiments manning Malta’s nearby coastal defences were placed on alert and the Harbour defences were manned in preparation for any possible attempted landing or seaborne attack.  By 4 am the E boats had withdrawn and beach sentries were stood down.  The night’s events fuel concerns that the enemy is planning an invasion.

MALTA BOMBERS STRIKE AT AXIS CONVOYS AND SUPPLY TRAINS

Luqa based bombers successfully attacked two enemy convoys overnight.  One Wellington bomber took off at ten this evening on a search for enemy shipping off the coast of Sardinia.  120 miles from Cape Spartivento, they located a convoy of two merchant vessels of 3000 and 5000 tons, heading south under the protection of two destroyers.  The Wellington crew targeted the larger of the merchant ships, causing explosions some 50 yards to port.  Bomber and crew returned safely to Luqa at 0325 hrs.

A second Wellington took off ten minutes later on a mission to locate and attack a convoy reported to be heading eastwards from southern Italy.  The crew sighted two 5000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers 37 miles east of Ponte Stilo and unleashed their bombs.  One was seen to explode close to a merchant ship, which the pilot then closed on and attacked with machine-gun fire before withdrawing.  The bomber landed at Luqa at 0240 hrs.

Nine Wellingtons were also despatched from Luqa tonight to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  A heavy smoke screen restricted visibility and their bombs appeared to land either side of the target.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate, becoming south-westerly later.  80% cloud above 15000 feet.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0742 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0818 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  W/O Miller returns early with oxygen trouble.

0830 hrs  Air raid alert: fighters approach but no bombing.

0915 hrs  The alert sounds for approaching hostile aircraft. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne; nil report.

1553 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.; nil report.

1555 hrs  Air raid alert: fighters approach but no bombing.

1910 hrs  A formation of twelve enemy aircraft is reported heading southwards in the direction of Malta.  The air raid alerts sounds and four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne.

1924 hrs  Twelve ME 109s cross the coast without being intercepted.  Four fighter-bombers head in to attack Luqa but drop bombs in fields in the area of Wied il Kbir.

2045-2126 hrs  The alert is raised for an approaching enemy formation.  One Beaufighter is scrambled from Luqa to intercept but develops engine trouble and part of the airscrew flies off.  He lands safely at Luqa.

2300-0040 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol sights an estimated eighteen E boats and attacks them with cannon and machine-gun fire.  Strikes are seen.

2320 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  Enemy bombers approach the Island and drop bombs on Ricasoli and Luqa.

0050 hrs  The E boats are now reported to be off Filfla.  11th Bn Lancashire Regiment are placed on special ‘stand to’ for beach posts, 18 pounder positions are manned.

0100 hrs  Air raid warning sounds. Three JU 88s drop high explosive bombs on the Luqa area.

0106 hrs  Double sentries are posted by Beach Companies 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt for an E boat alarm.  Patrols are warned.

0120 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are called out for partial manning of Harbour defences.  18-20 E boats have been spotted off Filfla.

0357 hrs  Beach sentries 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment stand down.

The Island remains on alert throughout the night: the all clear does not sound until 0907 hrs.

Military casualties  Gunner Frederick Fensom, 7th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Francis Lake, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment; Lance Corporal George Porter, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Rosa Bonnici, age 60.  St Julians  Saviour Magri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star carried out a sweep and cut seven mines off the Grand Harbour.  Four Albacores and two Swordfish on an unsuccessful sortie. All returned.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Lodestars from Gambut; two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 222; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; twelve Hurricanes, one Beaufort to Sidi Barrani.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged: crash-landed, pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1400 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes 229 Squadron left for the Middle East.

LUQA  2050-0456 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  2210-0240 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for enemy shipping sighted six vessels and scored a near miss on a large merchant vessel.  2200-0325 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for enemy shipping scored near misses (50-60 yards) on the large merchant vessel in a convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.  Party at the Porte des Bombes no longer required.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1130 hrs  Pte G Porter sustained gunshot wounds in the head.  He died on the way to No 90 General Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 8 ( 2 x 1000kg;   6 x 250kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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18 May 1942: Italian Spy Caught – Reveals Invasion Plot

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RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

ITALIAN DIVER CONFESSES

A lone figure scrambled ashore this morning in Marsascala Bay and gave himself up to members of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment guarding the coastline.  Italian navy diver Giuseppe Guglielmo was immediately taken prisoner.  He later confessed that he had been dropped from a naval torpedo boat in the bay during the night, with a mission was to investigate the beach defences.  However, he was unable to locate the boat which was due to collect him.  Faced with few options, he decided to put himself at the mercy of Malta’s forces.

SEVENTEEN NEW SPITFIRES

Yesterday afternoon, HMS Eagle sailed from Gibraltar along with HMS Argus, under the protection of cruiser HMS Charybdis and six destroyers, to deliver of another seventeen Spitfires and six Albacores to Malta.  At 0830 hrs this morning, Charybdis escaped with a near miss from torpedoes, fired from an Italian submarine.  Despite being shadowed by enemy aircraft, some of which carried out a brief attack, the convoy reached the rendezvous point.  The aircraft were flown off successfully but the six Albacores experienced defects and had to return to Eagle.  All the Spitfires arrived safely in Malta.

AIRMEN SUFFER FOOD AND WATER SHORTAGES

RAF personnel at Ta Qali will no longer be able to supplement their diet between set meal times.  Commanders at the aerodrome today announced that the sale of bread and sandwiches in the canteens is to stop.  The measure is necessary due to the serious shortage of food supplies and is expected to remain in place until a significant convoy can reach the Island.  The announcement added that water use is to be rationed to nine gallons per head per day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0545 hrs  Six plus aircraft patrol fifteen miles north east of the Island. Then fourteen Caproni Reggiani Re 2001s and ME 109s carry out a sweep at 12000 feet.

0625 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali and sight four of the Re 2001s.  Sgt Brennan, F/O West and Sgt Gilbert each destroy one.

0705 hrs  Another Re 2001 is forced to land in good condition near Fort Leonardo; the pilot is taken prisoner.  (1)

0845 hrs  An Italian diver comes ashore at Marsascala Bay and is taken prisoner by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

0845-0925 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

0927 hrs  Five ME 109s patrol around the Island at heights between 23000 and 15000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

0940 hrs  25 ME 109s and Re 2001s are reported approaching the Island.  With the arrival of a new delivery of Spitfires expected, five Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Two are recalled.

1028 hrs  The remaining three Spitfires 601 Squadron are jumped by ME 109s.  P/O Scott claims one ME 109 destroyed.  Sgt Farlow is shot down.  The RAF Air/Sea Rescue launch puts out.

1100 hrs  Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far to escort to incoming aircraft. They engage enemy fighters: Sgt Pendlebury is shot down and killed.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to act as high cover for the Hurricanes.  Sgt Yarra attacks four ME 109s, destroying one and probably destroying another.

1114 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to help protect the rescue launch.  P/O Bisley destroys one ME 109.

1145 hrs  Sgt Yarra 185 Squadron runs short of petrol and has to land his Spitfire at Ta Qali.   Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered up from Ta Qali to patrol.  Sgt Gilbert destroys one ME 109; Sgt Gray probably destroys another.

Sgt Farlow and a German pilot are rescued alive by the RAF launch but Sgt Pendlebury is found to have been killed during the air attack.

1300-1340 hrs  Six Me 109s fly over the Island at 18000 feet and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1600-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to patrol over the Island: no combats.

1609 hrs  One Dornier 24 escorted by 20 plus fighters carries out a rescue search to the east of the Island.  Fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1724 hrs  20 ME 109s and Macchi 202s make a sweep over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: one hits and damages a Macchi 202 at 23000 feet.

1750 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1755 hrs  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  They chase several ME 109s.  Two Spitfires (P/O Peck and Sgt Jones) fire at a ME 109 from extreme range; the aircraft is later seen to crash in flames by Spinola Ack Ack battery.

2043-2133 hrs; 2123-2217 hrs; 2340-0115 hrs; 0050-0400 hrs; 0245-0345 hrs; 0340-0445 hrs  Beaufighters maintain a standing patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagements.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Boyd, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Robert Charters, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Pendlebury, Royal Air Force VR, 229 Squadron; Lance Bombardier A Aquilina, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Johann Lompa, Pilot of ME 109 Messerschmitt shot down into the sea, rescued by RAF Launch and taken prisoner; Tenente Remo Cazzolli, 152a Squadriglia, Re 2001 Pilot, shot down and crash landed, badly injured and taken to hospital as a prisoner; diver Giuseppe Guglielmo, Italian Navy: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 18 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  17 Spitfires, 2 Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts, two Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson, one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane shot down in combat; pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea; pilot injured.  One Beaufort failed to arrive at Middle East: crew missing.

HAL FAR  2015 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS were airborne to attack a convoy.  The convoy was not located and they returned with their torpedoes at 0245 hrs.  2224 hrs  Four Albacores of the NAS took off to attack a convoy.  Two returned with mechanical trouble and the other two found their target but did not attack owing to unfavourable conditions.  They returned with their torpedoes, landing at 0340 hrs.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.  1015-1240 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Sicilian aerodromes.  2104-0400 hrs  One Wellington on search to locate and join Albacores strike onto enemy convoy in Tripoli area.

TA QALI  Eight Spitfires arrived ex Carrier.  Consumption of water reduced to 9 gallons per head per day.  Sale of bread or sandwiches in EF1 canteens to be discontinued until further notice owing to shortage of supplies.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT 0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa working parties increased this morning.  3 Officers and 100 men on pen-building.  2 Officers 50 men crater-filling.  1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continued.  D Company moved from Jebel Ciantar to Boschetto Gardens.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  One half of No 2 Section, 1 Works Company RE commenced work at Hompesch (accommodation for RA and Infantry).  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 4 officers and 140 Other Ranks working on pens at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion working parties continue to be engaged at aerodromes doing valuable work.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

(1)  Italian pilot recalls his capture – CLICK HERE

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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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