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11 April 1941: Malta Becomes Base for Navy Attack Flotilla

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HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

FOUR DESTROYERS WILL ATTACK AXIS CONVOYS  

Malta is to become a base for Royal Navy attacks on enemy convoys to North Africa. Four destroyers of 14th Flotilla – Jervis, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian – arrived in Grand Harbour early this morning to prepare for attacking operations against essential Italian supply lines.

The four destroyers were refuelled on arrival and embarked immediately to intercept a southbound convoy located by Malta reconnaissance aircraft. However, their first mission was unsuccessful when they were unable to locate the enemy convoy due to a miscalculation of their speed.

Reporting the arrival of the attack force to the War Cabinet in London, the Chief of Naval Staff explained that enemy convoys usually assemble at Palermo, pass round the western end of Sicily and down the Tunisian coast, making Malta an ideal base from which to interrupt the Tripoli supply lines. Three additional submarines have also been sent to work in the area and eight more are expected, making this a very strong strike force. 

The possibility of further operations against Tripoli itself is also being investigated. The primary objective of the Navy is to prevent the enemy from building up a large force in Tripoli.  Beaufort aircraft are also being sent out to attack convoys and Wellingtons will be used to bomb Tripoli Harbour.

MDINA ATTACKED ON GOOD FRIDAY

Enemy bombing over the ‘silent city’ of Mdina tonight has caused angry reactions among the Maltese population. The ancient walled city has no military installations to justify it being a legitimate target. Nevertheless it was struck during a raid by nine Stuka dive-bombers just after 10 this evening.  Some have suggested the bombs had been intended for Ta Qali but authorities consider that Mdina is some distance from Ta Qali and visually distinctive enough not to be hit in error.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 APRIL TO DAWN 12 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

0648-0720 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0935-1020 hrs  Air raid alert for seven Italian CR 42 fighters, followed by a second plot of six, which carry out reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders north of Malta.  Two CR 42s are probably shot down.   

1125-1155 hrs Air raid alert for twelve Messerschmitt fighters and one JU 88 which carry out an offensive patrol over the Island.  Heavy and Light anti-aircraft guns engage and eight Hurricanes are scrambled.  One ME 109 and one ME 110 are confirmed shot down, the JU 88 is probably shot down.  Hurricanes flown by F/O P Kennett and Sgt P Waghorn are shot down into the sea by enemy raiders.  P/O Kennett is spotted offshore and the rescue launch heads for the spot but he is found dead.  Sgt Waghorn’s plane is seen to go down near St Paul’s Bay; he does not survive.  Both pilots arrived in Malta just eight days ago with Operation Winch.

Sgt A H Deacon’s Hurricane is badly damaged in a dogfight with a ME 109; he heads for Ta Qali but cannot land as anti-aircraft guns are still in action against enemy aircraft. Deacon flies on to Hal Far and is able to land but his undercarriage collapses and he is slightly injured.  P/O Mortimer’s Hurricane is also badly damaged in combat; he also has to divert to Hal Far where his aircraft lands awkwardly, causing him some injuries.

2156-2247 hrs Air raid alert for nine JU 87 Stuka bombers which approach the Island at 4-6000 feet singly and in pairs, and carry out a bombing raid on Mgarr, Siggiewi, Mdina and Ta Qali aerodrome. Several civilian houses are damaged at Siggiewi.  At Mgarr three houses are destroyed in St Peter’s Street and 15 badly damaged in Fisher Street.  Five civilians are killed and seven injured – three seriously.  No damage is caused on the airfield.  Some of the raiders are illuminated by searchlights and Malta fighters are scrambled.  One JU 87 is shot down near Il Maghtab church by ground defences: 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers are believed to have shot it down with small arms fire.  One JU 87 is probably shot down by fighters.  

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Peter Kennett, Royal Air Force (VR), 261 Squadron. Sergeant Peter Harry Waghorn, Pilot, Royal Air Force (VR), 261 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Gharghur  Rosaria Mifsud, age 8. Mgarr  Josephine Borg, age 44; Mary Vella, age 36; Saviour Vella, age 60. Siggiewi Michael Sammut, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Jervis, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian arrived for operations against the Tripoli convoy route.  After fuelling, the destroyers sailed to intercept a southbound convoy located by aircraft between Lampion and Kerkennah Bank, and reported as steaming at 15 knots.  The destroyers failed to intercept and from a subsequent signal from Unique, which failed to get through by wireless telegraph, it was apparent that the convoy’s speed had not exceeded 9 knots.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Swordfish engage in night attack.  Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  2 Maryland on sea patrol.  

HAL FAR Two Hurricanes from Ta Qali crash-landed after air battle; one of 2 pilots slightly hurt.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland arrived from Gibraltar with freight.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

 

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Posted by on April 11, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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10 April 1941: Shortages Put Anti-Aircraft Guns Out of Action

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Ack Ack gunners MaltaEQUIPMENT DELIVERIES TWO MONTHS BEHIND

A lack of essential equipment has put several anti-aircraft guns across Malta out of action. Three urgent orders for supplies made two months ago have not yet been fulfilled.  Only a handful of the 18 bearing and elevation receivers ordered on 10 February have arrived.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has made an urgent request to the War Office for the balance of the equipment to be flown to Malta immediately.

COVERT OPERATIONS TROOPS TO LEAVE MALTA

The War Office has decided that Special Service troops currently Malta would be better deployed in the Middle East. In a telegram today to the Governor and Commander in Chief, the WO expressed the belief that there is no likely role for them in Malta command.

The Independent Company, Special Service Battalionexpert in covert sea to land operations – arrived in Malta as part of Operation Colossus in February.  The unit is normally based at Manoel Island but has most recently been in Gozo as part of the anti-invasion operation ‘Picnic’. 

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie has responded to the War Office pointing out that the Special Service personnel are very usefully employed in Malta. However, accepting that the unit is directly under the command of the Chief of Staff Mediterranean, he has agreed reluctantly to the transfer, if the unit’s skills are urgently required elsewhere.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 APRIL TO DAWN 11 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

1230-1320 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross Gozo from north to south and then from south to north over Hal Far and San Rocco.  Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no engagement.

1517-1530 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. They circle to the west and north of the Island before moving away northwards.  Nine Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement reported.

1554 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Henry Pateman, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  One southbound convoy located by air reconnaissance. 830 Squadron despatched after dark but failed to intercept. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: 8 destroyers, 12 plus merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance Palermo Harbour: 2 cruisers, 5 destroyers, 14 merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping sighted convoy; 830 Squadron being despatched for torpedo attack. 

HAL FAR  PM  Operational flight by 8 aircraft 830 Squadron, target Tripoli; all returned safely.

KALAFRANA   Sunderland arrived from Middle East with freight.

 

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Posted by on April 10, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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9 April 1941: Malta Needs More Early Warning Monitors

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GL system 504 AMES at Dingli

GL system 504 AMES at Dingli

MANPOWER NEEDED URGENTLY TO PREVENT SYSTEM BREAKDOWN

Malta’s early warning systems are barely able to cope in the face of the constant threat of air raids as well as expected enemy airborne invasion from the air. Success so far against enemy raiders has depended on the effectiveness of the systems in spotting approaching aircraft well in advance of their arrival over Malta. 

Nine Gun Layer (GL) sets (1) are now in constant use across the Island.  With only a single Armament Artificer (Wireless) to manage repairs across all nine sets, there is a real risk of breakdown which would seriously compromise the Malta’s defences.

The Governor and Commander in Chief has written today to the War Office requesting immediate despatch of a second qualified Armament Artificer or tradesman trained and experienced in the repair of G/L sets. More manpower is also required for nine more GL units which are due to arrive in Malta very soon to extend the early warning system.

WAR OFFICE APPROVES ADDITIONAL MEDICAL UNITS FOR MALTA

The War Office has approved a substantial increase in Services medical units for Malta. The additional resources were advocated strongly by the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief some months ago but his recommendations faced some resistance from London (maltagc70 2 March 1941).

New units now approvied include a medical directorate, one 1200 bed hospital (to be designated No 90) and one 600 bed general hospital (designated No 45), No’s 161 and 15 Field Ambulances, No 57 Field Hygiene Section, one convalescent depot and one advanced depot medical stores.

The units will be on standard war establishments but will have some personnel replaced by Malta auxiliaries and VADs. In addition to the above units there will be first aid posts, a command medical store, reception block and staff for the families hospital.

MAILS SENT TO MALTA

Following recent controversy over troops’ mail, the War Office has sent details of mail bags shipped for Malta since December (not including parcel post):

  • December civil 453, military 110
  • January civil 91, military 100
  • February civil 404, military 114
  • March civil 153, military 113

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 APRIL TO DAWN 10 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

1027-1048 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 which approaches the Island but does not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Gunner George William Butterfield, 17 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Flight Sergeant Philip Cramp, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 148 Squadron; Sergeant Joseph Edward Sellors, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 148 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq  Carmela Dimech.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  As a result of information of the movement of German troop and supply convoys sailing for Tripoli, all available submarines were sailed to take up positions on the convoy route between Cape Bon, Kuriat, Kerkenah, Tripoli.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping.  

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  A Brigade exercise was postponed as there was a danger of crops being damaged after the heavy rain.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY Classification of Signallers of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment (passed 10, failed 1).

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  31 other ranks from Gzira have fired LMG course and 12 other ranks from Ospizio have fired VMG course.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  A distinguished personage visited the area with the General Officer Commanding.

(1) An early form of RADAR: a Transportable Radio Unit (TUR) using a 105ft portable tower to support a transmitting antenna and two receiving antennas

 

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Posted by on April 9, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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8 April 1941: Mine Explosion Kills 28 Maltese Dockyard Men

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Mooring vessel Moor

Mooring vessel Moor

ONLY ONE SURVIVOR AS DOCKYARD VESSEL MOOR BLOWS UP

A working dockyard vessel was blown up today at the entrance to Grand Harbour. 28 of the 29 man crew were killed.  The Admiralty Mooring Vessel Moor was carrying out maintenance work on the boom-defence nets protecting the harbour entrance. Shortly after 5.00pm, as the vessel started its engine to return to the dockyard, a deafening explosion shook buildings across the harbour area.  People rushed to the Bastions, only to watch as the vessel turned over on her side and rapidly sank.

A ferry boat, several Naval Dockyard and Air Force pinnaces and many dghajsas raced to the scene.

Only one survivor, diver/rigger Anthony Mercieca, was plucked from the water by a Naval vessel and taken to Bighi Royal Naval Hospital.  

Mr Mercieca later described his escape. He was blown into the air inside the ship’s cabin, before plunging about twenty feet under water.  He struggled to force open the jammed cabin door and managed to surface, while debris from the vessel was still flying about.

Royal Navy vessels are conducting a thorough search of the location of Moor, 270 yards from Ricasoli Breakwater Light Vessel. (1) (2) (3)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1941

Weather  Storm conditions; heavy rain in the morning, easing by evening.

No air raids.

1500 hrs  Mooring vessel Moor is blown up by an enemy mine at the rear entrance to Grand Harbour. 28 out of 29 on board are killed.

Military casualties  Gunner S Agius, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Michael Aquilina, Joseph Bartolo, Louis Bezzina, Alfred Bonnici, Joseph Brincat, Joseph Calleja, Peter Calleja, Vincent Camilleri, Raphael Cauci, Emanuel Darmanin, Francis Degabriele, Spiro D’Emmanuele, Dominic Flores, Lawrence Grima, Emanuel Hatchings, Joseph Mazzelli, John Mizzi, Emanual Psaila, Eugenio Spiteri, Lawrence Tabone, Angelo Vella, Gerald Vella, Paul Vella, John Mary Xerri, Vincent Xerri, George Zahra, Carmel Zammit, crew members of the Mooring Vessel Moor.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Mooring vessel Moor mined and sunk inside Grand Harbour by aircraft land mine; only one survivor. 

AIR HQ  Departures 2 Sunderland.  

HAL FAR  New orders issued for clearing of target area on ‘General Alarm’.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland L5806 left for United Kingdom with Mr Anthony Eden. Sunderland L5807 left for Gibraltar with passengers and freight.

(1) Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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

(3) A marble tablet at the Upper Barracca Gardens in Valletta commemorates the twenty-eight Maltese workers who went down with their ship

 

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Posted by on April 8, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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7 April 1941: Luftwaffe Have 320 Aircraft Ready to Attack Malta

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GERMAN AIR FORCES IN MEDITERRANEAN 518 STRONG

Report to the War Cabinet today from Commander in Chief Middle East:

ME 109 airfield SicilyThe Italian air threat to Cyrenaica is at present almost negligible. On the other hand the Germans are already well established in the central Mediterranean and have now available for operations against Malta, sea communications, Cyrenaica, and for defence of their convoys and Tripolitania approximately 170 bombers, 90 dive-bombers, 60 fighters, 18 reconnaissance aircraft and 180 transport aircraft.  These strengths can and are likely to be increased.  From bases in both Tripolitania and Sicily heavy scale air attacks are being carried out on the Allies in Cyrenaica and mine-laying on ports, especially Tobruk, is a particular menace.  In view of other commitments our own air forces are not likely to exceed one fighter squadron, one medium bomber squadron and one army co-operation squadron, although bombing effort will be augmented periodically by heavy bombers working from Malta and Cycrenaica.

MALTA RATIONING SCHEME BEGINS WITH SUGAR, COFFEE, SOAP AND MATCHES

Malta’s new rationing scheme comes into operation today. Ration cards have been distributed to families and commodity issue dates will be 6th and 21st of each month.  Sugar, coffee, soap and matches are now strictly rationed.  More items will be gradually added to the list of rationed goods.

The sugar is one rotolo per person. Allowances for the other three products will be allotted households on a tapering scale as it is considered that “large households need less of these commodities in proportion to the number of persons, than small houses”.  The allowances will be as follows:

  • Matches (box): family up to five 4, family of six plus 6.
  • Soap (bar): single person 1; family up to four 2, family of five plus 3.
  • Coffee: family up to four ¼ rotolo; family of four to five ½ rotolo; family of five plus ¾ rotolo. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 APRIL TO DAWN 8 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine at first; very wet evening and night.

1304-1317 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 which passes over the Island towards Hal Far but drops no bombs. Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 7 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 7 Wellington; 4 Bombay.  69 Squadron  Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping; nil report on account of bad weather.  Maryland despatched for photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli is unable to reach its objective on account of bad weather and fighter patrol; reported on merchant convoys at sea.  Maryland reconnaissance for shipping to the east of Sicily.   

KALAFRANA  Sunderland arrived from Greece with distinguished passengers.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  28 conscripts joined the Battalion.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Funeral of L/Cpl E W Page at Military Cemetry, Imtarfa.

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

 

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Posted by on April 7, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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6 April 1941: Malta Troops to Carry Arms Off Duty

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Germany declares war on Yugoslavia and Greece; troops invade immediately 

ALL RANKS TO BE CONSTANTLY ARMED IN CASE OF INVASION

Soldiers with small arms New orders have now been issued in view of the continuing threat of parachute landings. All ranks of all units are to carry arms and small arms ammunition (SAA) when on duty.  When on leave they will carry arms but no SAA.  When the general alarm sounds, SAA will be issued from a designated point and men will be sent back to their units by motor transport.  Personnel will return to the nearest Company of their Battalion.

CURRENT SMALL ARMS STOCKS IN MALTA

  • Rifles No 1 Mk III/III* 16403
  • Machine guns Bren 623
  • Machine guns Lewis 549
  • Machine guns Vickers 281
  • Machine guns Besa 8
  • Mortars 115

NEW FERRY SAFETY MEASURES DUE TO DANGER OF MINES

Owing to the danger of mines all troops making use of the ferry services have been ordered to wear a life belt. These will be kept on boats during the crossing and left on board at the end of each journey.  Troops must remove their equipment and loosen their jacket before putting on the life belt.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 APRIL TO DAWN 7 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine; very windy.

No air raids.

Military casualties Lance Bombardier Gerald Davies, 190 Battery, 10 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment).

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Reconnaissance of Genoa and Palermo not completed due to bad weather. Maryland on reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on April 6, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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5 April 1941: Malta Troops Ordered to Save Water

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WATER SUPPLIES WILL BE SHUT DOWN FOR 18 HOURS A DAY

Orders have been issued to troops across Malta today to save water. From now on strict economies will be exercised in the use of water by all ranks.  In order to enforce the new order, all meters in billets and headquarters will be closed from evening ‘Stand To’ to morning ‘Stand Down’, from 0900-1200 hours and from 1300-1600 hours.

On days which are allotted for hot baths, the meters will be kept open. Company Commanders will be held responsible for the closing of their own meters in the Company area.

Kerosene cartKEROSENE SHORTAGES

Government provided a plentiful supply in the three months since December 1940 to allow population to build a small reserve. However, there are now problems with over-stockpiling by civilians.  It has been decided to restrict purchases to a maximum of half a gallon on any single occasion.  Kerosene carts have been placed under police supervision to ensure the new policy is adhered to. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 APRIL TO DAWN 6 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fair.  

No air raids.

Military casualties  Lance-Corporal Edward William Page, 140 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Signal Section, Royal Corps of Signals.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli, Mellaha, Lampedusa. At Tripoli: 14 destroyers or TBS, 23 merchant vessels.  Maryland photo-reconnaissance Spezia.  

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  L/Cpl E W Page died from gunshot wounds at Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

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

 

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Posted by on April 5, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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4 April 1941: Malta Conscripts Refuse to Take Oath

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enlistment notice top cropCONSCRIPTS CLAIM OUT OF DATE NOTICES UNENFORCEABLE

Reports have emerged of Malta conscripts refusing to take the enlistment oath. The incidents appear to have arisen when conscripts have failed to turn up to enlist by their due date.

The enlistment notice requires a conscript to report to his local office within a specified period. Under Malta conscription regulations (which are identical to British ones), if the conscript fails to report by the deadline, he is automatically deemed to be enlisted in the unit specified in the enlistment notice (and is therefore absent without leave).

However, cases have emerged in Malta of men brought in to enlist after the date on their notices who have refused to take the enlistment oath, using the expiry of the deadline as a justification. The Governor and C in C has sought advice from the War Office on the correct procedure in such cases.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 APRIL TO DAWN 5 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fair.  

Aircraft are reported several times in the vicinity of the Island but no air raids materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual arrived en route for Alexandria after minelaying operation off western Sicily.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 0810-1455 hrs  Maryland intending reconnaissance of Spezia was impeded by clouds and reccoed Maddalena Harbour instead. 0846-1430 hrs Maryland photo-reconnaissance Bari and Brindisi harbours.  1435 hrs Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and Tunisian coast for enemy shipping.   

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  19 conscripts joined the Battalion.

 

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Posted by on April 4, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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3 April 1941: Faster Hurricane Fighters Arrive in Malta

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12 HURRICANES MK II FLOWN OFF ARK ROYAL

hurricanes in flightThe first delivery of twelve faster, more powerful and better armed Hurricane Mk IIAs to Malta was successfully completed today. The long-awaited new Hurricanes will be a significant improvement on the earlier models currently on the Island, which coped well with Italian aircraft and German bombers but have been easily outmanoeuvred by the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters now engaged in air raids. 

The high rate of Malta’s Hurricane losses in recent weeks have all but wiped out recent reinforcements from the Middle East. The War Office called on the Royal Navy to transport new Mk II aircraft direct from the UK.  Under ‘Operation Winch’, the Hurricanes left Gibraltar at 0300 hrs yesterday aboard aircraft carrier Ark Royal, protected by Force H, including the flagship Renown, cruiser Sheffield and five destroyers. The ‘club run’ also brought nine Fulmar fighters of 800 Squadron to reinforce Malta’s air forces.

The RAF pilots were woken at 0400 hrs this morning and the first of the Hurricanes took off from the aircraft carrier just over two hours later. They were guided on their route towards Malta in two formations by two Skuas of 800 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm. 

A Maryland and a Sunderland aircraft were sent out from Malta to rendezvous in turn with the approaching formations and guide the Hurricanes on the final approach to the Island. However, the first formation did not appear at the appointed time.  The second met with the Sunderland and all aircraft were guided in to land.  The Maryland stayed at the rendezvous but the pilot later realised he must have missed the formation and returned to base. 

The RAF high speed launch which had been sent out to 40 miles off Malta in case of any forced sea landings from enemy attack was fired on by Italian fighters. One Hurricane crashed on landing; the pilot was uninjured, the aircraft is repairable but it will take time.  The guiding Skuas were intended to return to their carrier, but adverse weather conditions forced them to land.

The War Office in London was immediately informed of the success of Operation Winch. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 APRIL TO DAWN 4 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fair.

0800 hrs  Two Italian SM 79 bombers escorted by six CR 42 fighters machine-gun the high speed launch which has been positioned 40 miles west of Malta in case of forced landings by the newly-arrived Hurricanes.

0901-0923 hrs  Air raid alert for six Italian CR 42 fighters which approach the Island from the north and circle six miles east of Grand Harbour. Anti-aircraft guns at St Julians fire a pointer round; the fighters retreat.  Four Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

1323-1404 hrs Air raid alert for four JU 88 bombers escorted by 14 ME 109 fighters which approach the coast and bomb minesweeping trawlers Jade and Abingdon off the island of Filfla. Abingdon suffers seven near misses from bombs which cause superficial damage.  The fighters also attack a RAF launch 40 miles off the coast.  Anti-aircraft guns engage: one JU 88 is probably destroyed.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Abingdon attacked by German dive-bombers while carrying out routine mine-sweeping and sustained slight damage.

AIR HQ Arrivals 12 Hurricane, 2 Skua. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance of eastern coast of Tunisia for enemy shipping.    

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (43lb incendiary).

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1100 hrs L/Cpl M Whelan buried at St Andrews Cemetery.

(1) naval-history.net 

 

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Posted by on April 3, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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2 April 1941: Luftwaffe Plan to Destroy Malta Airfields

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MALTA’S AIRFIELD GUNNERS TO FEATURE ON BBC FORCES SHOW

Major General R J Collins has asked the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief for information on recent incidents in connection with the anti-aircraft defence of Malta suitable for broadcast in his ‘War Commentary’ to be aired on the BBC Forces Programme on Friday 4 April. Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie writes:

JU 87 dive bombing

JU 87s dive from 7000 feet to bomb airfields

Enemy attacks on aerodromes generally build up in intensity over a period of a fortnight. Firstly a very thorough reconnaissance is followed by a few attacks carried out by two or three high flying bombers protected by fighters.  The culminating point is an intensive combined dive-bombing and low level bombing attack carried out by up to one hundred machines.  This is carried out by a varying number of JU 87s which dive from about 7000 feet and pull out at different heights, some as low as 1000 feet over the target.

This attack is usually followed by a shallow dive bombing by JU 88s from 8-5000 feet. Dorniers and Heinkels sometimes join in and do level bombing from varying heights.  Bombers are protected by a cloud of ME 109 and ME 110s flying at all heights between 25000 and 12000 feet.  There are generally three dive bombing attacks, but the Germans now seem to rely largely on weight of numbers and come straight in, taking violent avoiding action from the moment they are engaged but straightening up for the dive.  Flights do not follow one another in but dive individually from all directions.

The barrage has proved itself to be extremely effective and the toll taken of the enemy by ground defences can be considered more than satisfactory. Our own fighters’ task is to lay off outside the barrage and attack disorganised flights and single planes as they emerge from the attack.  They have been greatly outnumbered but they have shown that individually they can more than hold their own.  These attacks have been watched by crowds of thrilled spectators.  Generally speaking the enemy have been kept from their targets, and many have been brought down by the waiting fighters of the RAF.  One light gun had six bombs fall within 40 yards of its emplacement but continued in action until the attack was driven off.  Another large bomb fell on one of the old fortifications but bouncing twice fell harmlessly into the sea.

The civilian population are standing up to these attacks well. Casualties have not been unduly heavy, though great material damage has been done to civilian property in certain areas.

Night bombing has been carried out on many occasions when a few planes cross the coast at a great height. Surprisingly little damage has been done on these occasions but the night attacks have seldom been carried out in great strength or with great determination.  It appears that they are intended to shake the morale of the people which happily they have utterly failed to do.  Much greater damage has been caused at night by parachute mines intended for the water but dropped on land in built-up districts.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 APRIL TO DAWN 3 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fair.

1547-1621 hrs Air raid alert for 16 ME 109 and six CR 42s which carry out a fighter sweep 5 miles off the coast of Malta.  14 Hurricanes are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.  An enemy Red Cross seaplane approaches to within five miles of the north coast, possibly searching for a fighter.

Military casualties  Private Joseph Azzopardi, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL 1941

HAL FAR AM Ten Hurricanes fighters and two Skuas arrived from Gibraltar. One Hurricane crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.

LUQA 69 Squadron 1 Maryland photo-reconnaissance Naples at 6000 feet

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Battalion mounted guard at San Anton Palace, residence of His Excellency Governor and Commander in Chief.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Unloading of convoy ships now completed. Normal work continued on the defences and machine-gun course.  The Royal Engineers are building permanent concrete pillboxes and current sandbag emplacements are being demolished.  It is likely that in the near future we shall be providing instruction to students from the university, so that they may have some knowledge when called up.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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Posted by on April 2, 2021 in 1941, April 1941, Uncategorized

 

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