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10 October 1940: A Full Hurricane Squadron For Malta

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AIR CHIEFS OF STAFF IN LONDON TO SEND FIGHTERS

Hurricane squadron for Malta

Hurricane squadron for Malta

The Air Chief of Staff in London is preparing to make representations to the War Cabinet on the question of reinforcements of air forces in the Middle East and Malta. As winter approaches it is believed that air raids on Britain may diminish. At the same time, recent troop movements have shown that the Axis powers are turning their attention to the Middle East theatre, where it is believed a ‘most serious danger’ is developing.

Plans are already in hand to increase the existing flight of Hurricanes in Malta to a full squadron of 16 aircraft plus reserves. An additional 12 aircraft will soon be on their way to the Island. In addition, the existing Glenn Martin unit at Malta is to be brought up to a full flight of twelve with the delivery of six additional aircraft.

However, the Air Chief‘s report stresses that the rapid delivery of reinforcements by air would not be easy. The air route to Malta is liable not only to enemy attacks but to adverse weather. Reinforcements also require maintenance personnel and equipment which must be transferred by sea – currently involving a three month time lag as ships have to travel the long sea route round the Cape to reach Egypt.

DECEASED ITALIAN AIRMAN PICKED UP FROM THE SEA

Authorities in Malta have been trying to identify a deceased Italian pilot brought into Malta today. The body of the airman brought into Grand Harbour on board a Royal Navy vessel was examined by a doctor and an officer of the RAF. No identification documents were found, only the initials F A marked on his clothes. However, official papers found in the pockets included a report signed by Lt Adolfo Ferrari, which is thought to be his name. His aircraft is believed to have left Castelvetrano to conduct reconnaissance including over Kalafrana in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 OCTOBER TO DAWN 11 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

0430-0630 hrs Submarine sanctuary in force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 OCTOBER 1940

Il-fawwara

Il-fawwara

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 0953-1655 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron on patrol reported seeing at 1546 hrs a submarine which submerged immediately. 1130-1620 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported disposition of Italian fleet in Taranto Harbour same as yesterday with the addition of two destroyers, one 2000 ton cargo ship at sea and in Syracuse two 2000 ton merchant ships; at Augusta three 1500 ton merchant vessels and two sloops, at Catania nil. 1215-1640 hrs French Latecoere reconnaissance reported seeing one hospital ship in harbour, along with two small cargo ships, one 3000 ton, two 1500 tons , one large tanker, two flying boats, two Cant Z506 and one 1000 ton escort vessel. Intense anti-aircraft fire prevented good photographs being taken. 0430-0905 hrs Glenn Martin 431 flight reconnaissance of Ionian Sea. 0440-1617 hrs Sunderland 228 Squadron reconnaissance of Ionian Sea reported one Greek 7000 ton merchant vessel loaded with ballast.   0515-1615 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance reported three French merchant vessels Athos, Florida and Djeanne.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE Wardia reports mines off il Fawara; Admiralty informed.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  High Explosive 1 HE 250lb Casal Paola.

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Posted by on October 10, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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9 October 1940: Bonus Scheme to Speed Up Shelter Construction

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GOVERNOR PROPOSES BONUS SYSTEM TO INCREASE WORK RATES

Digging to create underground shelters

Digging to create underground shelters

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief is seeking ways to improve work rates on works projects such as the construction of underground air raid shelters and new storage facilities for essential supplies. He has written to the war office asking permission to adopt a bonus system in order to meet deadlines for the work.

The scheme is intended as an inducement to workers to speed up normal output. The bonus payment would amount to half the saving in wages which would be achieved by the reduced time on each project, which Lt Gen Dobbie believes is the only inducement acceptable to local workmen.

The bonus system would apply only to directly employed labour employed directly by the Government or military, numbers of which have greatly increased since June 1940. Contractors or labour employed by them would not be eligible. It would be restricted to key certain trades: miners, quarrymen, masons and labour working with them, but not to trades such as plumbers, blacksmiths and electricians.

GERMAN TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT MASSING IN ITALY

An unconfirmed report has been received in Malta that 100 Junkers 52 and Junkers 90 military transport aircraft are distributed between Taranto, Bari and Guidonia (near Rome) and Syracuse.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 OCTOBER TO DAWN 10 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Sunderlands. 1137-1600 hrs On landing Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported seeing four enemy destroyers and one cruiser at 1317 hrs 10 miles west of Taranto Harbour, then two destroyers and one four-funnel ship six miles west of Taranto Harbour. Also in Taranto Harbour five battleships, two cruisers, one submarine and three fleet auxiliaries; in the inner harbour four cruisers and at least ten destroyers plus seven various identified ships; in the innter basin fifteen seaplanes and further in twelve more. In Brindisi there were two A to B class cruisers, six destroyers and one possible battleship undergoing refit, and a number of seaplanes.  

0315-1606 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance of Ionian Sea including Taranto harbour and gulf for enemy surface forces; nil report. 0355-0820 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight reconnaissance of Ionian Sea on landing reported seeing at 0616 hrs a submarine on the surface; information passed to Vice Admiral Malta.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Two Sunderlands arrived from Middle East.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Wardia reports a mine two miles off Ras il-Pellegrin.

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

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Fishermen reported mines drifting towards the coast.

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Posted by on October 9, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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8 October 1940: Military Chiefs Discuss Possible Invasion of Malta

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GOVERNOR ANTICIPATES SEABORNE ATTACK

Malta Governor & Commander in Chief Lt Gen Dobbie

Malta Governor & Commander in Chief Lt Gen Dobbie

In the first of two telegrams, Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief wrote today to the Chief of Imperial General Staff at the War Office with his views on the prospects for Malta in the face of an invasion from the sea:

I cannot visualise a full dress attack on Malta unless the enemy are confident of being able to prevent the Mediterranean Fleet from intervening for a sufficient period to enable them to gain control of the Island. After consulting the Vice Admiral Malta I imagine that seven days is the maximum period the enemy could hope to have free from interference…  This limit would probably rule out a deliberate step by step attack and would necessitate a maximum effort at all possible places simultaneously, carried through with the utmost determination; German stiffening might give the necessary vigour.

The local naval forces likely to be available within the next few months are only a few submarines, and even these are uncertain. Motor Torpedo Boats would be extremely useful against sea-borne attack but cannot materialise for a long time, so I am not counting on them. It follows that the Navy here will not be able to do much to interfere with sea-borne attack. The Air Force available at present could not count on preventing the enemy from gaining air superiority if he made determined efforts to do so. The four fighter squadrons asked for, and which might have prevented such a result, cannot I understand come for some time. We must therefore face the fact that the enemy would have local air superiority, except in so far as our Ack Ack guns might interfere; this of course is a serious handicap. But the RAF reconnaissance aircraft should be able to give us warning of concentrations of shipping in Sicily, thus reducing the chance of a complete surprise.

I assume the enemy will have ample resources of men and material and that in order to gain a quick decision he will attack on a very wide front. Further, that he will use self-propelled armoured landing craft and will do the journey from Sicily at night, attacking at or before dawn. I assume also that these craft will carry some medium or light tanks and possibly flame-throwers, the latter to deal with beach posts. That the attack would be supported by fire from warships and intense air attack. From the foregoing consideration the following conclusions emerge:

  • (a) We must stop as many of the landing craft as possible from reaching the beach. To do this we need guns, since small arms fire is useless against their armour.
  • (b) In an attack of such intensity and so widely dispersed, the enemy may well get a footing at a number of points. Immediate counter-attacks will be essential and these must be assisted by the greatest possible supporting gun or mortar fire, to give them the best chance for success.
  • (c) Deliberate counter-attacks supported by strong artillery fire may be necessary in more than one area at once. These attacks must be made by forces strong enough to ensure success…

If we have to meet a full dress attack in the circumstances I have envisaged, we require the following additional troops and equipment: three battalions complete with mortars, one field battery, two anti-tank troops Royal Artillery, one or two sections of Field Company Royal Engineers or equivalent, 50 Lyon lights and 10 beach defence lights and 60 x 2” mortars, plus 100 anti-tank rifles, besides other weapons already asked for.

I suggest that these troops if sent here should be regarded as a reserve available to be sent elsewhere in the Near East should the naval situation change so that a full scale attack on Malta is deemed unlikely. But meanwhile some such force is needed if the fleet is to be freed from undue preoccupation with the safety of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 OCTOBER TO DAWN 9 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

1935-2020 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers which approach Delimara from the east at 14000 feet and drop bombs in the sea off Delimara, Wied Znuber and two miles off Grand Harbour. Two turn back before crossing the coast. The remaining two are illuminated and held by searchlights, then engaged by one Malta Hurricane fighter. One Italian bomber is brought down in flames into the sea off Delimara. Another is so badly damaged that it is unlikely to return to base; it is last seen by the Hurricane pilot and coastal observers flying at 1000 feet with one engine on fire. Two men are seen baling out towards the sea. The Hurricane lands safely. Searchlight crews are praised by the Air Officer Commanding for exceptionally good work.    

Military casualties  Private Ronald Frost, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment

Enemy casualties  Tenente Adolfo Ferrari, 257a Squadriglia, 108o Gruppo, 36o Stormo, pilot of a Savoia SM79 bomber shot down.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER 1940

HMS Aba (1)

HMS Aba (1)

ROYAL NAVY  0655-1024 hrs  Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched on patrol; nothing sighted. Hospital ship Aba arrived and departed: discharged three, embarked 52.  

AIR HQ  0345-0845 hrs  Glenn Martin 431 Flight reconnaissanace of Ionian sea, Taranto Harbour and Brindisi; nil report.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 1230-1605 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight on reconnaissance; nothing to report. 0345-1515 hrs Sunderland 228 Squadron and 0403-1532 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissanace of Ionian sea, Taranto Harbour and Brindisi; nil report.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 1200 hrs  CSM W Fry and five Other Ranks embarked as invalids on board a hospital ship at Malta for passage to UK.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT   Four discharged men left for UK.

(1)  http://hospital-ship-aba.blogspot.co.uk/

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Posted by on October 8, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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7 October 1940: Rome Radio Makes False Claims Over Malta

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AIRCRAFT CASUALTIES EXAGGERATED

Malta railway Valletta - the tunnel is now an air raid shelter

Malta railway Valletta – the tunnel is now an air raid shelter

The Italian media has been monitored making false claims of shooting down two Malta aircraft. The claims appear to relate to an air raid last Friday morning during which there was a dogfight over Mellieha Bay. The communique from Rome released yesterday states: “During an offensive reconnaissance over Malta an air battle occurred in which our fighters shot down a British Gloucester and probably a Hurricane. One of our machines is missing.”

Friday’s raid involved some 25 Macchi 200 fighters which approached the Island at 17000 feet. Three Hurricanes and three Gladiators were scrambled to intercept and engaged the raiders in a fierce dog fight during which one of the Italian Macchi’s was seen ditching in the sea. A second was considered too badly damaged to complete the journey back to Sicily. All of the Malta fighters returned safely to base.

This is not the first time the Italian media has made exaggerated claims of successes over Malta. In August Italian radio claimed that Regia Aeronautica bombers had destroyed the Island’s railway and which has been non-existent for over ten years.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 OCTOBER TO DAWN 8 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 7 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  0334-0550 hrs Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA) sighted three enemy destroyers at 0418 hrs heading for Syracuse. Wireless silence broken to report presence but message not received until too late to send striking force. 0336-0712 hrs Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA on reconnaissance; nil report. 0345-0815 hrs Glen Martin 431 Flight on reconnaissance; nil report.    

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  E Company now has five officers and 126 other ranks. The 6 pounder anti-tank gun crew from D Coy fired and the standard of shooting was excellent.

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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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6 October 1940: Trawler Finds Body of Italian Airman

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ITALIAN AIRMAN NAMED

HMS Coral

HMS Coral

A trawler on patrol off Malta today picked up the deceased remains of an Italian airman from the sea. The senior officer of HMS Coral contacted the Air Commodore, RAF Malta with details of the incident. He reported that evidently the body had been in the water for some time. The trawler’s crew collected as much evidence from the sea as possible in order to identify the deceased man. From correspondence and identification tags he was identified as Antonio Girandola of 235 Squadron, R Aeropuerto, Reggio Emilia. All the personal effects which have been salvaged will be carefully dried before being forwarded to Air HQ in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 OCTOBER TO DAWN 7 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa: four more mines cut. Completion of sweep postponed in order to carry out routine searches. 1230-1620 hrs  Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA on reconnaissance; nothing to report.  

AIR HQ Arrivals  1 Sunderland. 0825 hrs Glen Martin 431 Flight landed and reported seeing one 15000 ton Italian hospital ship with two funnels at 0745 hrs.    

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 0840-1610 hrs Sunderland 228 Squadron reconnaissance from Alexandria to Malta via Gavdes; nothing to report. 1629 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron landed and reported seeing a Greek 5000 ton merchant vessel at 1026 hrs; photographs were taken. One Sunderland arrived from Middle East with two passengers.

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Posted by on October 6, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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5 October 1940: German Fuzes Challenge RAOC Bomb Disposal

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NEW INSTRUCTIONS FOR TACKLING GERMAN BOMBS

German bomb fuze head type 50 (c) IWM MUN3302

German bomb fuze head type 50 (c) IWM MUN3302

The War Office today sent full instructions to Malta for dealing with unexploded bombs (UXB). The detailed instructions include information on German fuze types and how to neutralise them as well as safety precautions to be taken around a UXB while it is awaiting disposal, depending on its location, size and fuze type.  

Since air raids began on 11th June, bomb disposal has been carried out by the Inspecting Ordnance Officer, Captain R L Jephson Jones, along with Lt W M Eastman – neither of whom have had any formal training in bomb disposal. However, German bombs as used in recent air raids carry electrical fuzes which are more complex and varied than the mechanical types used in Italian bombs. As well as assisting the RAOC in their work, the new instructions will be used to train personnel from the Royal Engineers who work alongside them.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 OCTOBER TO DAWN 6 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

1441-1525 hrs Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft to the north of the Island, followed by another seven east of Delimara. Three Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled. No raid materialises.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  French submarine Narval arrived back from her first patrol of Cape Misurata, Libya: nothing sighted. Clearance sweep of mined area begun by Oropesa – two mines were cut up. 0320-0718 hrs Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA carried out reconnaissance of Ionian Sea; nothing to report.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland left for Gibraltar.

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Posted by on October 5, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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4 October 1940: Infantry and Artillery Destined for Malta

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BUFFS AND GUNNERS WILL SOON BE ON THEIR WAY

Macchi 200s head for Malta

Macchi 200s head for Malta

Malta will soon have additional manpower for its Infantry garrison. In a telegram sent today, the War Office in London announced that the first units are expected to be posted to Malta very soon. The reinforcements are being sent in response to Governor and Commander in Chief’s review of the Island’s infantry needs following the escalation of air attacks in September.  

4th Battalion the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) will be accompanied by transport consisting of 11 motorcycles, 28 trucks and ten carriers. They will be joined by personnel of 49/91 Forward Battery (25 pounder), plus 222 Heavy Ack Ack Battery (personnel only – six officers, 200 other ranks) and 59 Light Ack Ack Battery (personnel only – five officers, 134 other ranks) along with three searchlight instructors. Details of equipment being sent and date of despatch are expected to follow.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 OCTOBER TO DAWN 5 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Cloud; rain in the afternoon.

1005-1028 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy formation of up to 25 Macchi 200 fighters which cross over the Island from the north at 17000 feet. Accurate Ack Ack fire causes the formation to scatter. At 1010 hrs three formations of three aircraft are over Marsa. Three head for Hal Far and six for Luqa. Three Hurricanes and three Gladiators are then scrambled and engage in a dog fight over Mellieha Bay. One Macchi 200 is reported in difficulties over Naxxar and then Bingemma Fort with smoke coming from its tail. It is later seen coming down in Ghain Tuffieha Bay; there are no survivors. Another Macchi 200 is probably so badly damaged by Hurricanes that it is unlikely to reach base. No bombs are dropped on the Island.  

Enemy casualties  Tenente Mario Nasoni, 6o Gruppo Autonomo, reconnaissance pilot of Macchi C200 fighter shot down into the sea and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 OCTOBER 1940

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons resumed from Kalafrana.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Experiments to produce anti-tank petrol bomb.

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Posted by on October 4, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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3 October 1940: German Troops Expected in Mediterranean

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GERMAN TROOPS HEADING THROUGH ITALY FOR LIBYA

German troops on the move

German troops on the move

Today discussed what is likely to be Germany’s strategy in the next few months, now that Hitler does not now expect to succeed in invading England. The Cabinet was told that indications point to a move of German troops through Italy to Libya to take part in the Egyptian campaign.

In the circumstances, the question was put to the Cabinet whether further reinforcements should be sent to Malta or the Middle East. The Prime Minister has ordered a review of the situation for further discussion within a few days.

Meanwhile, 1000 military personnel are reported to be on their way to Malta. They are expected to embark from Alexandria imminently and to arrive in a matter of days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 OCTOBER TO DAWN 4 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland left am for Middle East.

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Posted by on October 3, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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2 October 1940: Malta Introduces Submarine Sanctuary

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NEW MEASURES TO PREVENT FRIENDLY FIRE 

HMS Truant protected by new submarine sanctuary

HMS Truant protected by new submarine sanctuary

New operating instructions have been introduced to protect submarines of the Mediterranean Fleet operating in and around Malta from friendly fire. From now on, when a submarine is expected in coastal waters, the order ‘submarine sanctuary’ will be signalled to Infantry battalions responsible for guarding the coastline. While the signal is in force, no submarines will be engaged by the Island’s defensive forces.

The new measures have been introduced following recent incidents of enemy vessels approaching the coast, particularly at night. The orders are designed to ensure the coastline can be defended effectively without risk to Allied vessels operating in the area. Further instructions will be issued later to Infantry battalions regarding procedures for dealing with all vessels which enter Malta’s waters.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 OCTOBER TO DAWN 3 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine with cloud.

0230-0530 hrs  Submarine sanctuary in force for arrival of Truant.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Perseus arrived for refit.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Work on forming the new Company and several inter-Company transfers took place.

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Posted by on October 2, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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1 October 1940: Malta Under Blackout

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HMS Mowhawk arrives for refit

HMS Mowahk

GOVERNMENT ISSUES ORDERS FOR IMMEDIATE BLACKOUT MEASURES

“All lights in Malta and Gozo shall be extinguished or so masked as to be invisible from the sea or from the air and so as to prevent any reflection being visible from the sea or from the air between the hours of sunrise and sunset.”

EVERY AIRCRAFT TO MALTA MUST CARRY MAIL

The lack of mail deliveries to Malta is still unresolved. The Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief fears a serious impact on troops’ morale it the situation is allowed to continue. In a telegram to the War Office today, Lt Gen Dobbie proposed measures to tackle the situation:

“In view of discontinuance of the Wellington mail service to Malta (as per Air Ministry telegram of September 27) it is most important that some bags of private mail for this garrison be put on every aircraft which comes to Malta en route for Egypt.

Malta is the most isolated of any station and it is most important for the well-being of the garrison that touch with home should be maintained in this way.”

AIR RAID REPORT FOR SEPTEMBER 1940

  • Days without raids: 13
  • Total time under alert: 12 hours 9 mins
  • Average length of raid: 29 mins

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 OCTOBER TO DAWN 2 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Cloudy.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Mohawk arrived for short refit. Four moored mines were swept by C308 on the edge of the search channel. The channel was closed and a new channel opened passing close off the entrance to Marsaxlokk Bay.

KALAFRANA Operation base for Sunderlands transferred to St Paul’s Bay due to sea conditions at Kalafrana. Ops carried out by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Companies are reminded that a succession of long whistle blasts indicates enemy aircraft in sight; two long blasts repeated at intervals of five seconds indicates raiders passed.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Reinforcements from the UK: E Company was formed with Captain Bryant OC. The CO inspected new draft in the morning and officers were interviewed at Ta Saliba in the afternoon. Sunderland Flying Boats began operations from St Paul’s Bay and Ack Ack protection was arranged by posts in the vicinity.

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Posted by on October 1, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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