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13 July 1941: Malta Troops on Constant Standby for General Alarm

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 Troops (NWMA Malta)

Troops to go to war stations on alarm (NWMA Malta)

TROOPS ON LEAVE MUST RESPOND IMMEDIATELY

New orders have been issued to Malta troops governing the response to the sounding of the General Alarm. The orders cancel all previous instructions and read as follows:

  • The defence of the Fortress requires every man to be at his war station as soon as possible after the receipt of the General Alarm.
  • All military personnel on leave or at rest camp will be returned to their place of duty on the sounding of the General Alarm and/or the hoisting of the Recall Signal.
  • All ranks on leave in the Valletta area will report to the Castille.
  • All ranks on leave in the Floriana area will report to the commanding officer of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment at St Francis Ravelin. They will be issued with ammunition of 50 rounds per rifle and 12 rounds per revolver.
  • All ranks on leave in the Sliema area will report to the Quartermaster, 4th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery, Tigne Barracks. They will be issued with ammunition of 50 rounds per rifle and 12 rounds per revolver.
  • All other military personnel not included in the above instructions will report to the nearest military post, where they will be issued with ammunition. Arrangements for rejoining their units will be made where possible by the local unit commander.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JULY TO DAWN 14 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and hazy.

AM  Three small formations of enemy aircraft approached the Island separately during the morning. Hurricane fighters were airborne three times in response.  No interceptions were made owing to bad visibility and the fact that no enemy aircraft came within 40 miles of the Island.

0130-0227 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft which approach the Island separately from the north, the north east and the west. Bombs are dropped on land east of Delimara, in the sea off Delimara and on Luqa aerodrome.  Bombs are also dropped on Paola, the Dockyard, St Thomas’ Bay and Kalafrana Bay off Benghaisa.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire three barrages; two succeed in causing raiders to turn away.  No Hurricanes are scrambled due to bad visibility and low haze. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish left to intercept convoy southbound; mission failed owing to poor visibility.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington.  69 Squadron  Marylands patrol to locate convoy heading for Tripoli and conduct reconnaissance of Tripoli. 110 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked convoy near Tripoli destroying a tanker and a schooner and setting a merchant ship on fire.

 

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

 

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12 July 1941: Malta Air Raid Victims Get Help From Down Under

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bomb damage Jan41ISLE OF TASMANIA LAUNCHES FUNDRAISING APPEAL

From The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 12 July 1941

An appeal for funds to assist air raid victims in Malta has been commended by the Governor of Tasmania. His Excellency states:

“As you know I have received from the Australian Commissioner for Malta an appeal that Tasmania should assist a relief fund started in Australia to aid the air raid victims in Malta, where more than 750 air raids have been made and tremendous damage done. There have been heavy casualties of men, women and children, and at least 30000 persons are homeless.  Though the Island has an area of only 123 sq miles, there are 270000 persons there, leading the life of a beleaguered city and bravely fighting the battle of the Empire.

The appeal for funds has already received a grant of £2500 in Sydney and it is hoped that at least £10000 will be subscribed in that city. In Melbourne a first grant of £3275 has been made from the British Bombing Victims Fund.  I feel certain that the people of Tasmania who have so generously aided the various patriotic appeals will give their aid to a stricken people whose terrible fate might easily have been our own had the war happened to be fought in another area.

I venture to suggest that we in this island should aim at the sum of at least £1000, feeling confident that those whose hearts are already touched by the sufferings of their fellow British citizens will increase their donations to your fund, and that those who have not already realised what it means to be wounded or rendered homeless may be induced to help.”

It has been decided to widen the constitution of the Air Raid Relief Fund in Tasmania to allow contributions from it to be made for the relief of sufferers outside Britain. The change will take effect from August 1.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 JULY TO DAWN 13 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

1125-1135 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy aircraft which approach to within 10 miles of Grand Harbour. 19 Hurricanes are scrambled; the raiders turn back to the north and there is no engagement.

Night   Three short air raid alerts due to the approach of single aircraft but none came closer than 15 miles from Malta.

Military casualties Able Seaman Reginald Allan James, RNVR, HM Submarine Upholder; Sergeant Ralph W Askin, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Lionel F Clay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Wireless Operator/Air Gunner William J Q Ramsay, RAFVR; Sergeant Desmond D P Thomas, pilot, RAFVR; Sergeant Eugene O Townsend, pilot, RAFVR; Sergeant Arthur J Worsfield, RAFVR; 2/Lt Peter E H Dale, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.                                

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Giovanni Debattista, age 61; Antonia Debattista, age 26. Marsa Joseph Spiteri, age 15; Albert Woodward, age 37. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 12 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula returned to harbour with defective generators. Triumph arrived from patrol off Benghazi for damage repairs. Rorqual sailed at 1900 for Alexandria with stores and passengers.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands patrols to locate convoy. 110 Squadron 6 Blenheims search for convoy but return due to poor visibility. 

LUQA  1 Wellington crashed after take-off for Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HQ considers that an attack on the Island is unlikely to take place before the end of August and certain precautions are relaxed. The carrying of rifles off duty is no longer deemed necessary.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2nd Lt P E H Dale was killed when the aeroplane in which he was a passenger en route to the Middle East crashed at Safi landing strip. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2; dealt with 2 (15kg HE).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion advance party moved to Gozo. 2230 hrs A Wellington bomber taking off from Luqa crashed in the St Nicola platoon area.  All eight occupants were killed.

 

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

 

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11 July 1941: Malta Attackers Destroy Enemy Ships, Aircraft, Railways and Harbour Facilities

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BRITISH WAR CABINET REVIEWS A WEEK’S AIR ATTACKS FROM MALTA

German ac damaged by Malta attacksOn 3 July, an attack was made on shipping outside Tripoli harbour. Three ships, two of 5000 tons, were set on fire.  Other daylight attacks by Blenheims were made on the aerodromes at Tamet, Sorman and Zuara; at least 10 grounded aircraft were destroyed, while others were seriously damaged and personnel machine-gunned.  At Homs the coastal road was bombed, a lorry was destroyed and a reservoir hit. 

On 4 July, six Blenheims attacked a troop convoy of about 130 vehicles west of Sirte, destroying a number of them by bombs and others by machine-gun fire and inflicting heavy casualties on troops. One of the blenheims attacked and hit the barracks at Tamet.

On the 6 July, six Blenheims from Malta carried out a most successful surprise attack on shipping in Palermo harbour.  A ship of 10000 tons was hit twice, her back apparently breaking; three hits on another ship of the same tonnage caused a fire, explosions and dense columns of smoke; two bombs hit a ship of 8000 tons, and two other ships of 5000 and 2000 tons were also hit.  Our aircraft machine-gunned cruisers and destroyers, divisional headquarters, warehouses, dry dock buildings and the power station.  An explosion, probably caused by incendiaries, was observed near the dry dock. 

On 9 July, six hits were made on four merchant vessels ranging from 7000 to 12000 tons in Tripoli harbour, one of which was set well alight.  Hits were also registered on the Mole, and two great fires, followed by a terrific explosion, were the result of an attack on a warehouse.  One Blenheim was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and crashed on a torpedo-boat, setting it on fire; three other Blenheims were missing as a result of enemy fighter action.

On the same day, four Blenheims attacked a convoy outside the harbour; a vessel of 7000 tons, believed to be a tanker, was set on fire and claimed as a total loss, a three-masted schooner blew up and a merchant vessel of 1500 tons was hit and left burning fiercely.

On the night of 9/10 July six Wellingtons dropped six tons of bombs on Naples.  The Central Railway Station and marshalling yards were hit many times, in addition to warehouses and an aircraft factory. 

On three nights, a force of six Wellingtons bombed the harbour, engine sheds and sidings at Tripoli, causing many fires and explosions. Swordfish also bombed the Spanish Mole and laid mines outside the harbour.  Hurricanes made a low-flying attack on the seaplane base at Syracuse, destroying three aircraft and damaging five others, and causing casualties among the crews on the slipway.  Reconnaissance aircraft have maintained a close watch on enemy shipping off the Tunisian coast and in the Ionian Sea, and have photographed Taranto and the Sicilian ports.

BATHING/MINES

Gaps have opened in the barbed wire entanglements along the shores at the following places for the convenience of bathers: Armier, St Paul’s Bay, Bahar ic-Caghaq, St George’s Bay, St Julian’s Bay, Fond Ghadir, Sliema, Marsascala, Marsaxlokk, Birzebbuga, Wied iz-Zurrieq and Ghar Lapsi.

The public have been warned to use only these gaps to gain access to or from the water and are reminded that certain sections of the entanglements contain booby traps and explosives which are highly dangerous. Any attempt to go through the barbed wire except at the gaps indicated by the noticeboards stating ‘Bathing is allowed here’ may have very serious consequences. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JULY TO DAWN 12 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0730 hrs  ‘Exercise Asia’ cease fire is given. Military commanders review the Exercise, with many lessons learned in the past five days.

1321-1347 hrs  Air raid alert for 40-50 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island from the north in three formations at 15000, 10000 and 500 feet. They are believed to come from Catania aerodrome.  15 cross the coast near St Paul’s Bay.  Six Macchis dive down over Luqa, machine-gunning the airfield.  They destroy one Wellington and damage four more, two Marylands are also damaged and will be grounded for up to 6 days.  The raiders are engaged by 12 Hurricanes of 185 Squadron who break up all three formations.  Heavy and light anti-aircraft fire and light machine-guns also engage.  The Hurricanes pursue the raiders in a running fight up to 15 miles north east of Grand Harbour.  They destroy three Macchis which crash into the sea, severely damage four and damage another four.  Five or six others are hit by light Ack Ack fire at Luqa and Safi, one hit is claimed by infantry firing machine guns.  

0235-0253 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the coast south of Grand Harbour and drops 15kg high explosive bombs near Zeitun. Two Hurricanes 46 Squadron are scrambled but do not reach sufficient altitude to engage.

0402-0431 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross the coast over Grand Harbour and drop 15kg high explosive bombs across four streets of Hamrun including the main street, demolishing four houses and damaging seven more. Eight civilians are killed and seven seriously injured; eleven are treated for minor injuries.  One unexploded bomb is reported.  Two Hurricanes 46 Squadron are scrambled; no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula and P33 sailed at 1700 to intercept convoy west of Lampedusa.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands patrols to locate convoy north of Sicily; reconnaissance Catania and Syracuse.   

HAL FAR  A Fulmar patrols Catania and drops four 20lb bombs over Augusta on the return.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  After the end of ‘Exercise Asia’ Battalion personnel are left with a large sleep deficit. The day was spent drawing in guns, stores, rations and equipment from defence posts and carrying out complete checks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 4 (2 x 50kg HE, 2 x 250lb HE).

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, BDL Publishing 2016

 

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

 

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10 July 1941: Massive Mine at St Paul’s Bay

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Lt Edward D Woolley RN (1)

Lt Edward D Woolley RN (1)

ROYAL NAVY OFFICER TAKES ON MINE DISPOSAL CHALLENGE

Enemy mines now encircling the coastal waters of Malta are presenting a serious threat to local boats as well as Royal Navy ships and approaching convoys. Lieutenant Edward D Woolley RN arrived in Malta on 13 June to take on the duties of Royal Navy Rendering Mines Safe and Minesweeping Maintenance Officer.  Today he received a call to deal with a mine off Malta’s north coast.

“I was taken to St Paul’s Bay where a fisherman had reported an object lying on the sea bed. We found the fisherman and he took me out a distance of some two or three miles in his small rowing boat.  As far as I was concerned there was just a lot of water and we were about a mile offshore, as he didn’t appear to have laid a marker buoy I didn’t see how the devil he was going to find the right place…he rowed on and on and then stopped, looked all round him and signified we had arrived.  I put the waterglass over the side and damn my eyes we were sitting slap on top of a very fine magnetic mine.  The water here was ninety feet deep but it was so clear through the waterglass that I could read the figures on the case which are less than two inches high…

We went out with one of the minesweepers but although we played about for hours we just couldn’t sweep it… later I prepared a charge and went out once more in a rowing boat and lowered it down to the mine. It all sounds very simple like that but it wasn’t.  It was a bit rought that day and the boat was bobbing up and down like a cork and on the move all the time.  I was leaning over the side with my stomach very uncomfortably bearing on the gunwhale, a very hot sun on my back, a waterglass in one hand with the weighted charge on in the other and trying to give instruction to my assistant which way to pull…  The first attempt to countermine was not successful…all I had done had been to blow it about thirty yards along the sea bed, so I had all the performance again of laying another charge.  This time, although to my disappointment the mine did not detonate, it was split in two and looked like a half-peeled banana so it was, to all intents and purposes, destroyed.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 JULY TO DAWN 11 JULY 1941

Weather  Cloudy.

0009-0112 hrs; 0136-0221 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft in total which approach the Island singly. Three cross the coast from the south and south west.  Bombs are dropped on near Bardia Ridge, near Dingli and on Ghain Tuffieha camp.  One falls on the Ghain Tuffieha searchlight and fails to explode.  The site is evacuated.  Bombs are also dropped on Wardia Ridge and in the sea west of the Island.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled with each approach.  Searchlights illuminate raiders but there are no engagements.  Wellington aircraft come in to land during the raid, causing confusion among the Island’s defenders.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Rorqual proceeded on patrol, but returned at 2200 hrs with engine defects. 4 Swordfish left to attack Tripoli, but returned as weather unsuitable.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Blenheim (3 of 114 Squadron, 1 of 82 Squadron), 1 Sunderland. Departures 3 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli and convoy search. 148 Squadron 9 Wellingtons night bombing attack on railway marshalling yards at Naples causing damage and fires plus a large explosion in an airframe factory.  1 Wellington was struck by lightning but returned safely. 

HAL FAR  A Fulmar patrolled the Catania area but returned due to bad weather.

KALAFRANA  Overnight 20 small 15kg bombs were dropped on the south slipway and barrack areas. Two small store buildings received direct hits and the flying boat hangar; the Heinkel float-plane housed within received superficial damage from bomb splinters.  Two Army personnel were injured by bomb splinters.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Under ‘Exercise Asia’ the Mobile Machine-gun Company was ordered out which proved a difficult procedure as many of the personnel were already employed in the anti-parachute platoons, wearing different dress and equipment.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 1 (100kg HE).

(1) Mines Over Malta, Frederick R Galea, Wise Owl Publications

 

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

 

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9 July 1941: Security Breach Endangers Malta Convoy

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Naples bombed tonight

Naples bombed tonight

COMMUNICATIONS LEAK PLACES VITAL CONVOY UNDER THREAT

The most important convoy to Malta of the war to date, codenamed ‘Operation Substance’, has been placed in danger after a serious breach of security measures. In view of the risks in sending a major convoy through the dangerous waters of the western Mediterranean later this month, all communications on the subject have been subject to the greatest security.  The risks are believed justified to meet the urgent and growing needs for supplies, equipment and manpower in Malta which cannot be met quickly enough by a convoy through the long sea route via the Cape.

However, according to an urgent telegram despatched today from the War Office to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief via the Admiralty, two telegrams from the NAAFI in Malta to their Headquarters in London have been sent via unofficial channels.  In doing so, the NAAFI have ignored standing instructions that all communications on such secret matters must pass through official channels. According to the War Office, NAAFI Malta “have by their gross laxity probably compromised this most important operation.”

Lt Gen Dobbie has been asked to investigate the telegrams and put in place further measures to eliminate the danger of further compromise from Malta – and to report back immediately that this has been done.

Meanwhile, to mitigate the effects of the security breach, Lt Gen Dobbie is to inform the Head of the NAAFI Malta personally and for his information only that a cable is being sent from London to help cover the indiscretions. The contents of cable HQ1131 will be untrue but it will be circulated as if true to all those staff of NAAFI Malta who have become aware of the content of the previous two telegrams.

The bogus telegram reads:  “Your telegram of 25 June and 3 July not understood. No shipment of troops or stores to Malta direct is envisaged.  Should reinforcements for Malta be necessary, stores will accompany troops on the usual route via the Cape.”

FOUR MALTA BLENHEIMS MISSING AFTER ATTACK ON TRIPOLI

Crews of four Blenheim aircraft of 110 Squadron have been reported missing tonight after they failed to return from a mission over Tripoli. They were among a formation of seven sent to attack Tripoli harbour.  The Blenheims carried out low-level attacks, dropping several 500lb bombs on shipping and harbour facilities in the face of vigorous anti-aircraft fire.  One 500lb bomb hit the harbour Mole causing a massive explosion, two more struck a merchant ship offshore.  Several large fires were started and flames shot 400 feet into the air. 

One of the Blenheims was shot down over the harbour by anti-aircraft guns, crashing onto a torpedo boat which burst into flames. A second was blown up by an explosion.  Two Blenheims are believed to have alighted on the sea; the crew of one is believed safe but the other was some distance from the formation and the fate its crew is not known.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

AM  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron interrupt an enemy patrol of two seaplanes escorted by four Macchi 200 fighters ten miles off the coast of Sicily, probably a rescue party for the downed BR 20 bomber last night.  One Macchi and one seaplane are damaged.

1939-2010 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft spotted 40 miles north of Malta. 14 Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders turn back for Sicily before they can be engaged.

2350-0024 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west and drops four 100kg high explosive bombs on Hal Far. Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire two barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald E Baird, Royal Air Force (RAF), 110 Squadron; Pilot Officer Walter H Lowe, RAF Volunteer Reserve (VR), 110 Squadron; Sergeant Harold Lummus, RAFVR, 110 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Michael E Potier, pilot, RAF, 110 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  C308, St Angelo and Justified landed troops for a military exercise.

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Blenheims, 1 Bombay, 1 Sunderland. Departures 2 Blenheim, 1 Bombay. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Syracuse.  F/O Warburton had a running fight with a Macchi 200 which was probably destroyed.  110 Squadron  6 Blenheims dawn attack on Tripoli; prevented by fog.  7 Blenheims made a low-flying attack on Tripoli Harbour with good results but 4 aircraft failed to return (S/Ldr Seale who landed in the sea, F/Lt Potier, P/O Lowe, Sgt Twist). 148 Squadron 9 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Naples; 3 returned owing to bad weather before reaching target.  6 bombers dropped 12000 tons of bombs and 2400 incendiaries on the Central Railway Station from 6500 feet.  Bombs were also dropped on warehouses near an aircraft factory, causing fires and explosions.   Ack Ack was slight and all aircraft returned safely.

HAL FAR  Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson visited Hal Far with AOC Mediterranean. 185 Squadron 2 Hurricanes attacked sea planes in Syracuse at sea level and inflicted heavy damage.  4 Hurricanes attacked float planes at Syracuse, damaging 8.  A Fulmar patrolled the Catania area. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Swordfish despatched to attack Tripoli but returned without reaching objective due to low cloud and bad visibility.

2nd Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  ‘Exercise Asia’ continued throughout the day with simulations of continued bombing and parachute attacks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 15kg HE, 1 x 250lb HE).

 

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

 

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8 July 1941: Malta Attacks of ‘Supreme Importance in Defence of Egypt’

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HMS Upholder

HMS Upholder returns from sinking Axis merchant ship

SUBMARINE AND AIR CREWS PRAISED FOR ‘ENTERPRISE AND GALLANTRY’

The War Office in London has written to the Commander in Chief Middle East and the Governor & C in C Malta praising the achievements of Royal Navy and RAF attacks from the Island. Stressing the strategic importance of the offensive campaign, today’s telegram read: 

“Chiefs of Staff appreciate the enterprise and gallantry with which submarines and aircraft have operated against the enemy line of communication to Africa resulting in a heavy toll of ships during the last two months. They hope that all ranks and ratings in the Naval and Air Forces engaged are aware of the supreme importance of these operations in the defence of Egypt and are confident that they will spare no effort to make their attacks even more effective.”

MALTA NEEDS MINES

Malta needs more mines to maintain its defences against enemy invasion from the sea. The Governor & C in C has written to the War Office asking for an urgent despatch of thousands of components for anti-tank mines.  The mines have been laid in all areas around the Island’s coastline considered vulnerable to attack.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 JULY TO DAWN 9 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1101-1130 hrs  Air raid alert for a SM 79 which crosses the Island on reconnaissance escorted by 13 Macchi fighters.

2214-0025 hrs  Air raid alert for a single SM 79 bomber which approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea off Bubaqra. Searchlights illuminate one BR20 and the raider is engaged by a Hurricane fighter.  Pilot F/O Cassidy follows the bomber and engages at very close range at 15000 feet, shooting it down in flames in the sea south of the Island.  Further aircraft then cross the coast and drops bombs near the Blue Sisters’ Hospital, near Tal Qroqq, on Qormi, Hamrun, Birkirkara and St Julians, and off Tigne fort. 

0059-0202 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, crossing the coast north of Grand Harbour, and drop 100kg high explosive bombs on Marsa and on Luqa, where a Wellington is hit and burned out.

0324-0416 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches form the north, crosses the coast and drops 100kg high explosive bombs on Kalafrana, causing slight damage to buildings and injuring two NAAFI employees.

During the three raids Hurricanes are airborne 11 times, with several engagements. Two enemy aircraft are believed damaged. 

Civilian casualties Zeitun  Antonia Spiteri, age 24.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Upholder returned from patrol south of Messina, having sunk a fully laden westbound merchant vessel of 6000 tons. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish bombed and laid 5 cucumbers at Tripoli. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Blenheims 110 Squadron, 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay, 7 Hurricane, 1 Maryland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Augusta, Syracuse, Catania, Tripoli, Quara, Taranto, Naples and special patrols.  

HAL FAR  A Fulmar patrolled over Catania but returned due to deterioration in the weather.

TA QALI  8 Hurricanes took off for Middle East; two returned after a collision in mid-air.

2nd BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Under ‘Exercise Asia’ a general alarm was sounded this afternoon and all anti-parachute posts were manned. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (15kg HE).

 

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

 

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7 July 1941: Malta Bus Services Under Threat

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buses porte des bombesUNNECESSARY TRAVEL CAUSING SEVERE OVERCROWDING

Malta’s weekend bus services are becoming so overcrowded that the Government has issued a warning to passengers not to make unnecessary journeys. Since the weekday service between 1130am and 2pm was suspended due to fuel shortages Saturday services have become extremely busy.  Describing certain routes as “severely overcrowded”, the Government notice warns against non-essential travel, saying that it “cannot guarantee there will be sufficient buses on Saturdays to carry all passengers.” 

An enterprising horse-owner, realising that people still have travel from one place to another whatever the restrictions, has started his own ‘omnibus service’ – a coach drawn by two horses – offering transport between Castile Place, Valletta, and Mannarino Road, Birkirkara. The service operates hourly from each terminus between 9.15 am and 4.15 pm. Traditional Karozzin are also appearing on the roads again but cab drivers are said to be demanding very high fares for their trips. (1)

TROOPS WARNED AGAINST USING DAMAGED FRUIT & VEG

A notice has been issued to troops in Malta warning against the use or consumption of damaged fresh produce. According to the advice, no bruised or over-ripe fruit should be used and all fruit and vegetables should as far as possible be cooked.  Uncooked vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, lettuce, grapes etc. should be disinfected by standing in a good red solution of potassium permanganate for one hour, or by plunging into water for 15 seconds.  The use of boiling water may spoil the appearance of the fruit or vegetable but does not alter the flavour.  It is thought the safeguards could help to reduce incidents of stomach upsets among troops serving in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JULY TO DAWN 8 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

2321-0023 hrs   Air raid alert for five enemy BR 20 bombers which approach the Island singly from the north east and drop 100kg and 250kg high explosive bombs in various locations. One bomber flies past the Island and turns to approach from the south west, crossing the coast near Zurrieq to drop four bombs on the Hal Far dispersal area; no serious damage is caused.  Bombs are also dropped near Naxxar in the sea off San Pietru, to the north of Sliema and off St Paul’s Bay.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at 18000 feet; no claims.  Fighters are not scrambled due to the raider’s unusual direction of approach.

2354-0027 hrs  Air raid alert for a single bomber which approaches from the south west, crosses the coast and drops five bombs on Hal Far. No fighters are scrambled.  Searchlights illuminate the raider briefly and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

Civilian casualties Paola  Carmela Attard, age 22; Charles Borg, age 55; Eliza Borg, age 28, Anthony Cappello; Joseph Cappello; Salvatore Cappello; Publio Cini, age 52; Anthony Coleiro, age 30; Saviour Galea, age 42; Mary Grima, age 3; Saviour Tanti, age 70; Victor Tanti, age 2; Joseph Zerafa, age 33; Paul Zerafa, age 22; Mary Zerafa, age 15.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 7 JULY 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Palermo, Taranto, Augusta and Syracuse, and special patrols.  One Maryland to Middle East escorting Hurricanes. 148 Squadron 6 Wellingtons night bombing raids on railway goods yards at Tripoli starting several fires. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar on protective patrol over Catania; no engagement.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All ranks still confined to barracks under ‘Exercise Asia’.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal Section busy on unexploded bombs. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 3 (1 x 15kg HE, 2 x 250lb HE).

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

 

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

 

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6 July 1941: Heavy Bombs on Paola & St Julians Destroy Homes and Kill 6

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BR 20 bombers

BR 20 bombers

240 HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS OVER MALTA

Fifteen civilians were killed and 14 injured when heavy bombs struck the Dockyard community of Paola tonight. In a series of four air raids spread over five hours, more than 20 enemy bombers crossed the coast singly at intervals at a height of 17000 feet, dropping over 240 high explosives, many of them 100kg and 250kg.  Bad weather hampered defensive operations by Malta’s night fighters who were scrambled in pairs for each of the raids but were unable to engage the enemy bombers. 

The first four raiders approached the Island at about 1030 pm but made no significant attack, dropping bombs on rocks at Mellieha Bay and in the sea. An hour later the second wave of ten BR 20s crossed the coast north west of Grand Harbour and dropped several 250kg bombs on Paceville in St Julians, demolishing four houses and damaging ten others with no casualties.  Bombs were also dropped on Ta Braxia Cemetery and Sa Maison in Pieta.  Anti-aircraft guns opened fire but were unable to locate their targets.

Just after 1am a single bomber crossed over Grand Harbour and dropped 15kg bombs on Marsa. The heaviest raid came towards 3am when the final wave of 12 bombers approached, crossing the coast in three separate formations between Grand Harbour and Delimara.  One formation headed directly over the Harbour area and dropped several sticks of 250kg and 100kg bombs across Vittoriosa and the heart of Paola, where the civilian casualties occurred.

ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY AT WORK

RMA Gunner recalls a summer at Ghain Tuffieha

“In July 1941 we handed over the Naxxar Silent Gun Position to 6th HAA Battery [Royal Malta Artillery] – also of our regiment – and my troop moved to Ghajn Tuffieha.  Battery HQ joined the other troop at Ta’Giorni…

We established ourselves in the wooden huts at Ghajn Tuffieha Camp, the same huts we used to go into as Boy Scouts when we were ‘camp followers’ to our older friends in the Kings Own Malta Regiment machine gun platoon in 1938. I took over four 3 inch 20 cwt guns but this time they were deployed in two Silent Gun sites – two guns in each – with no instruments to direct the fire.

It was a very busy time for us for we had to stack a very large quantity of 3 inch 20cwt ammunition in a cave situated close to one of the sites. Early every morning the whole troop, except for guards and cooks, marched uphill for nearly two miles to get to Bajda Ridge (Biddy).  Here, from time to time, a huge Matador gun tower arrived loaded with ammunition, which we had to unload and carry to a cave off the road…  Each box was made of steel with separators to take four live cartridges; one former stevedore had a lump of hard skin on his right shoulder the size of half a tennis ball.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JULY TO DAWN 7 JULY 1941

Weather  Stormy.

2218-2252 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft approaching from the north. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage due to bad weather.  The raiders drop bombs on rocks at Mellieha and in the sea.

2313-0049 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy BR 20 bombers which approach the Island and drop high explosive bombs on St Julians demolishing several houses, on Pieta, and in the north of Grand Harbour. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with two barrages; no claims.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.

0106-0206 hrs  Air raid alert for a single bomber which crosses the coast and drops bombs on Marsa. Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

0228-0317 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft which approach the Island in three separate formations. They cross the coast singly between Grand Harbour and Delimara, and drop bombs on Paola killing several civilians. Bombs are also dropped on Vittoriosa and near St Thomas’ Bay.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

Military casualties Private Frank Watson, 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment; Private Emmanuel Tanti, Kings Own Malta Regiment.                                              

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Mine detonated in Floating Dock. P33 arrived from Gibraltar. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish bombed and laid 5 cucumbers off Tripoli. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Blenheims, 1 Catalina. 82 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked shipping Palermo Harbour. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar patrolled over Catania and attacked a large aircraft which burst into flames.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All ranks were kept in barracks owing to ‘Exercise Asia’; organised bathing parties were allowed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal Section busy on unexploded bombs. Exercise review concludes that all our drivers should be trained soldiers as MAC drivers have a tendency to go to ground under bombing. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

(1) Recollections of a Malta HAA Gunner, Maurice G Agius, Allied Publications 2008

 

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

 

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5 July 1941: Troops Deployed to Defend Gozo From Invasion

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Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

GOZO DEFENCE SCHEME IN PLACE

Troops of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment have been issued with detailed orders to prepare for a possible invasion of Gozo.  The strategy is designed to counter enemy seaborne landings at Marsalforn, Mgarr and Cala Dueira, and to prevent airborne landings in the area Xaghra-Nadur-Xewkija-Rabat. 

In the event of a seaborne landing at Marsalforn, one Company will cover its southern exits and occupy Il Kortin ta Gjain Damma. Another company based at Il Mirzuk will prevent the enemy from using the road between Marsalforn and Rabat.  One Company will be located in Mgarr against a possible seaborne landing there and another will occupy a key point of approach to the town.  To defend Cala Dueira one Company will cover the area of Torri tal Qawra and another Tad Bieji.   

To counter airborne landings troops will be based at Rabat, Xaghra, Nadur and Xewkija and there will be ten additional coast watches at key points around the Island.  In addition, should no orders be received, Company Commanders will use their initiative in dealing with any enemy landings which are not in their areas of primary responsibility.

SECOND AIRCRAFT CRASH IN TWO DAYS

A Blenheim aircraft crashed today within seconds of taking off from Luqa aerodrome. The Blenheim was barely airborne when it suddenly lost height and crashed near Gudja military camp.  Two of the crew were killed on impact, two others were rescued from the burning plane.  The Blenheim which was leaving for the UK was completely burned out.  A guard was mounted on the remains by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment until RAF salvage operations could be completed. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JULY TO DAWN 6 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

Night  Four air raid alerts during which in all ten enemy aircraft pass over the Island, seven of which drop bombs in the sea.  The other three dropped bombs on and near Mosta, in Lija cemetery and in fields near Zeitun and Birkirkara.  Hurricanes are scrambled five times and anti-aircraft guns fire several barrages; no claims.  

2243-2300 hrs; 2321-0034 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north east and drops bombs in the sea west of Kalafrana.  Searchlights illuminate the raider for two minutes and eight heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at 18000 feet; no claims.

0113-0133 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour and drops bombs near Ta Qali.

0151-0309 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching the Island singly from the north and drop bombs in the sea off St Thomas’ Bay, near Kalafrana, and on land near Ta Qali. Searchlights illuminate the targets for 2¼ minutes.  Anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at aircraft south of Kalafrana; they immediately recede east and then northwards.

Military casualties Sergeant Alfred D F Murcutt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 82 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Oaten, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, RAFVR, 82 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Hamrun  Ines Serra, age 15; Nello Serra, age 13; Aldo Serra, age 10; Carmelina Serra, age 5; Carmel Grima, age 44; Emanuel Sammut, age 16; Emanuel Sultana, age 40; Pauline Verzin, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 JULY 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 5 Blenheim 82 Squadron. 69 Squadron  Marylands reconnaissance Sciacca, Castel Vetrano, Syracuse, Augusta, Gela, Tripoli and special patrols. 110 Squadron 4 Blenheims searched for reported ship without success. 

LUQA  5 Blenheims 82 Squadron left for Middle East, one crashed on Gudja, killing 2 and injuring 2.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion will move to Gozo for a 3 week training course starting on 15 July.

 

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

 

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4 July 1941: 14 Killed 6 Missing and 19 Injured by Bombs on Hamrun

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Hamrun in 1930s

Hamrun in peacetime

BOMBS LAND NEAR ARP HQ

The community of Hamrun suffered a severe blow tonight when several 250kg high explosive bombs landed on the town. In one of the most intense bombing campaigns of recent months, seven aircraft of the Italian Regia Aeronautica launched a series of four raids between 1030 at night and 2 in the morning. 

Shortly before midnight, bombs landed near the local headquarters of the Air Raid Precautions volunteers, destroying six houses and seriously damaging a water main. At least 14 people were killed, including one Maltese serviceman; another six residents are currently unaccounted for.  19 more were injured, including 10 seriously.

BBC TO BROADCAST ON ‘GALLANT DEFENCE PUT UP BY MALTA’

Personal Telegram for General Dobbie from General Collins

“I hope to be able to say something of the gallant defence put up by Malta in a broadcast on 24 July. I would be grateful for any facts about the life of the Garrison and the inhabitants likely to interest relatives at home which can be broadcast, as well as local colour etc.  Details of the numbers of attacks made on Malta, enemy aircraft brought down, the skill of the anti-aircraft artillery and so on would I think be of interest to all at home.”

In a separate telegram the War Office has asked the Governor and Commander in Chief whether the BBC special programme (maltagc70 13 June 1941) for forces in Malta is appreciated, whether reception is good and times are suitable.

HURRICANE PILOT KILLED IN UNEXPLAINED CRASH

A Hurricane pilot was killed today when his aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from. Sergeant Thomas Hackston of 126 Squadron took off from Safi without any problem but within minutes the fighter was seen to crash into the sea.  The reason for the crash remains a mystery.

The Hurricane was one of 44 which on 6 June took off from an aircraft carrier in the western Mediterranean to fly to Malta as part of ‘Operation Rocket’. One of the 44 fighters was found to have defects and returned to its carrier. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1941

HMS Gloxinia

HMS Gloxinia

Weather  Fine; humid

1013-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 Macchi 200 fighters escorting an unidentified reconnaissance aircraft approaching from the north west. They come to within 10 miles of St Paul’s Bay when they are intercepted by four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron.  One Hurricane attacks three Macchi fighters, damaging one badly which descends in a spin from 8000 feet.  A second Hurricane badly damages a Macchi six miles north of Spinola. Several others are damaged.  The enemy aircraft split up and recede north east.  Ten more Hurricanes pursue the raiders as far as Cape Passaro but do not engage again. HMS Gloxinia picks up the body of a dead Italian pilot who is buried at sea. 

2231-2243 hrs; 2259-2333 hrs; 0007-0036 hrs; 0107-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 7 enemy aircraft: operating singly or closely following each other in pairs they cross the coast at about 16000 feet. In the first three raids Malta night fighters are scrambled and searchlights active but there are no illuminations due to haze, and no engagements.  In the last alert only searchlights and anti-aircraft guns are active; no claims.  Bombs are dropped on Hamrun near ARP headquarters, destroying houses and causing civilian casualties.  In other attacks bombs are dropped near Mosta and Lija with no serious damage or casualties; others are dropped in the sea.  One of the raiders fires its machine guns in the direction of Filfla for no apparent reason.

Military casualties Gunner Karmenu Dingli, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Thomas Hackston, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Hamrun Carmelo Azzopardi, age 24; Walter Azzopardi, age 16; Lorenza Burlo, age 56; Carmelo Burlo, age 55; Anthony Burlo, age 33; Francis Criminale, age 47; Carmelo Criminale, age 21; Paul Criminale, age 17; Mary Criminale, age 12; Ines Micallef, age 13; Francis Sant, age 56; Joseph Woodhouse, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Gian Paolo Mantovani, 7o Gruppo, 54o Stormo, Macchi 200 fighter pilot shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Urge returned from patrol south of Messina having sunk cruiser believed to be Bolzano, obtained one hit on a 9000 ton merchant vessel and blew up a train in a tunnel.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheims 110 Squadron, 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay, 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Homs, Sirte and special patrols. 110 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked troop motor transport on the Buerat-Sirte road, with three direct bomb hits on lorries plus others destroyed by machine-gun fire. 

HAL FAR  Sir Oliver Lyttleton, AOC Middle East, visited Hal Far with the AOC Mediterranean.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  We start a scheme which includes the whole of the Army on the Island. Even the Malta volunteers will ‘play’ after working hours.  At 2045 hrs we received the order ‘Exercise Asia’ which starts the scheme off.  Certain defence posts were then manned and leave automatically stopped.  Umpires posted at each Battalion HQ and each Company outlined the scenario: an attacking force is gathering in Southern Italy and there is heavy bombing of our aerodrome defences.

 

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

 

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