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26 December 1941: 60 Aircraft In Daylight Raid On Luqa

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AUDACIOUS DAYLIGHT RAID DESTROYS SIX AIRCRAFT

“A red letter day for the Jerries. They bombed the drome nearly all afternoon and destroyed two Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Hurricane, and two Marylands, which wasn’t a bad bag. “X” was loaded with a 4000 [pound] bomb when hit. It blew up and now no one knows where X is altho we did find two little pieces of the engine. The rest will probably fall at the end of the week.

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Plenty of bombs screeching down and yours truly hit the ditch twice once in a great pile of nettles over beside the AOC Med[iterranean]. Three of our kites went u/s. when the 4000 [pounder] went off but ops went on just the same.

Took off for Tripoli at 8.30pm in “Q” with only skeleton crew, myself, Dick, Michie and Ray. Flew there 10/10 cloud on way out and got pretty well iced up. Weather good at target and the ship in harbour stood up well.  We carried 8/500 SAP and dropped them in two sticks from 8000′. We got one hit on a large merchantman.

Weather back at Malta very bad. Ceiling zero with rain and clouds and a very bad cross wind. WT message made us circle Gozo for 1½  hrs. Finally went in and landed with visibility about 50 ft. and bad cross wind. Time 4 hrs 25 mins. Jerry dropped a few bombs during night. Two [JU]88’s and two [ME]109 Fs shot down in day.” (1)

A NEAR MISS

“We are having our third noisy raid today, so I will add a little to this [diary]. The Germans are being beaten – at least temporarily – on every front except Sevastopol, and are taking it out of us here. We have had all-night raids…during a short but very fierce raid when we heard much machine-gunning…there was a loud crack which turned out to be a small bomb, (probably an aeroplane cannon shell I am told), in our yard. We found nothing but the nose, but there was a hole in the window 3 feet from Mrs. Clements who was making pastry.” (2)

AIR RAIDS 26 DECEMBER 1941

Weather  Cold but fair, sunny.

0832-0950 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconnaissance by six enemy aircraft.

1042 hrs  Air raid alarm for 20 ME 109’s escorting a few JU 88’s which approached and crossed the coast.  Hurricanes were scrambled and drove off the attack; no bombs were dropped.  One Hurricane was damaged and the pilot slightly injured.

1316-1429 hrs  Air raid alarm:  60 fighters and JU 88’s approached the Island; 30 crossed coast and attacked Luqa aerodrome, destroying six aircraft on the ground and damaging another five.  Ack ack fired, claiming one JU 88 possibly destroyed.

1601-1717 hrs  Air raid alarm: 45 fighters escorting reconnaissance aircraft crossed the coast.  One Hurricane was shot down; the pilot is safe.

1815-1934 hrs  Air raid alarm: 11 enemy aircraft approached from the south east.  One JU 88 dived over Grand Harbour and dropped bombs in French Creek area – this aircraft was illuminated for one minute, Bofors engaged it and claimed hits.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged with four immediate barrages.  Bombs were also dropped on Filfla and near Island Bay searchlight position – no damage.

2014-2125 hrs  Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed coast dropping bombs on Qrendi and incendiaries in the sea.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

2205-2308 hrs  Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs Birkirkara, Safi, Salvatur, Hamrun and in the sea.

2358-0056 hrs  Air raid alar: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs west of Ta Qali and in the sea.

Military casualties   Sergeant James Billett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant William Marshall, (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant Oswald Summers, RAFVR, 18 Squadron; Private John Attard, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Frederick Clarke, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualty  Zurrieq Francis Camilleri, age 11; three civilians wounded. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY:  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Convoy ME8, consisting of empty merchant vessels Ajax, Sydney Star, City of Calcutta and Clan Ferguson, sailed to Alexandria escorted by all available forces from Malta: Rear-Admiral Commanding, Seventh Cruiser Squadron, in Ajax, Dido, Lance, Lively, Ghurka, Arrow, Foxhound and Nestor sailed for Alexandria at 1830.  Four Albacores laid mines off Zuara.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Blenheims, one Wellington and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 25/26th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  One of the aircraft provided bombing diversion.  One minelaying aircraft encountered no opposition.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland special photo-reconnaissance Middle East.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol – Sgt Summers failed to return.  Two Blenheims attacked shipping at Zuara.  104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; one Blenheim SF14 patrol.  40 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli.

TA QALI  0949-1700 hrs  Four alerts.  No 126 Squadron Sgt W E Copp slightly injured.  S/Ldr E B Mortimer Rose injured – bullet wound in left heel.  1815-0039 hrs  Four alerts.  Bombs dropped on land and incendiaries in sea.  Single Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft engaged. 

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Mid-day attack by JU88s which dropped bombs on Luqa: two slight casualties among “A” Company 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment.  Also damage to transport vehicles and a/g stores of this Company.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT   1815 hrs  One JU88 engaged by small arms fire from Battalion HQ; no hits claimed.  Bombs dropped in Battalion sector.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Stick of bombs near RAF billet on Qrendi strip.  Another stick of 6 bombs at Ghar Lapsi.  One bomb near “Mary House” MR 401179 Wied Maghtab.  Bomb near D Coy HQ on Qrendi strip.

(1) A Flyer’s Diary by Jim White (Air Shared Magazine, see http://pawsey.net/whiteproject/joewhitediary-part2.htm

(2) Diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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23 December 1941: 700 Prisoners Killed

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U-BOAT ATTACK ON CONVOY KILLS AXIS POWS

SS Shuntien

A German U-boat attacked a British convoy today, sinking a freighter carrying possibly 1000 Italian and German prisoners of.  The passenger/cargo ship, SS Shuntien, was en route from from Tobruk to Alexandria as part of Convoy TA5.  Just after 7pm this evening she was hit by a torpedo fired by U-559 shadowing the convoy to the north east of Tobruk.

Most of the crew of Shuntien were rescued by another convoy ship, HMS Salvia, along with a number of prisoners.  However, Salvia was later hit by another U-boat and sunk with the loss of at least 700 men.

Maltese crewmen lost on SS Shuntien have been named as Emmanuel Azzopardi, Donkeyman; Henri Caffari, Pantryman; John Debattista, Fireman; L Galea, Fireman; Domenic Mercieca, Greaser; E Palmier, Chief Steward; John Said, Greaser; John Smith, Fireman.

AIR RAIDS 23 DECEMBER 1941

0101-0125 hrs; 0303-0357 hrs; 0437-0523 hrs  Alarm sounded for approximately eleven raiders. Bombs are dropped various places on land and in the sea.  Ack Ack fired a number of barrages; no claims.

0650-0742 hrs  Air raid alarm for three enemy aircraft which dropped bombs in sea.

1100-1155 hrs  Air raid alarm for 30 fighters escorting four JU 88’s on an attack on Grand Harbour.  Bombs were dropped on the Grand Harbour area, damaging two houses  Hurricane fighters were scrambled: one Messerschmitt ME 109 was damaged; one Hurricane was also damaged, the pilot slightly wounded.  Ack Ack fired Light and Heavy barrages; no claims.

1211 hrs  Air raid alarm. Caused by return of own aircraft.

1835-1854 hrs  Air raid alarm for two enemy aircraft which crossed the coast and dropped bombs near Zonkor Point, and in the sea.

2050-0600 hrs  Air raid alarm for nine enemy aircraft which crossed coast and dropped bombs near Kalafrana, Hal Far, Gudja and in the sea.  Searchlights illuminated enemy aircraft twice.  Hurricanes engaged without result.  Ack Ack fired five barrages.  A tenth aircraft which did not cross coast was possibly mine-laying.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant pilot Peter Wells, RAF, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Henry Metcalfe and Sergeant Peter Dive, Royal Air Force (RAF); Warrant Officer Alfred Gulliver, RAF, 221 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Leslie Woolley, RAF, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Humphreys, RAF, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Douglas Kingston, RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 221 Squadron; Sergeant William Reason, RAFVR, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Arnold Reid, RAFVR, 221 Squadron.  Private Ronald Yates, 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualty  Zejtun Carmel Attard, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Four Swordfish and five Albacores carried out shipping search without result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar. Departures  Four Wellingtons and two Beaufighters for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 22nd/23rd  Four Albacores 818 Squadron despatched to bomb Castel Benito aerodrome.  All bombs fell on target area.  One small fire in north west corner of aerodrome.  Opposition – some light and heavy Ack Ack. Weather good.

LUQA  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search Tripoli-Misrata; one Wellington special search failed to return.  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 6 patrol; one Maryland SF 12 patrol; one Maryland special search – photos of North African boats.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland PR Catania aerodrome; one Maryland PR Sorman, Zliten, Tripoli – crashed on landing, crew killed. 18 Squadron  Three Blenheims attacked targets at Sirte; one Blenheim SF 1 patrol. 104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked Misrata; four Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.  107 Squadron  Three Blenheims despatched to attack targets at Buerat (no attack made); one Blenheim special search Gulf of Sirte.

TA QALI  1835-0600 hrs  Two alerts.  Two attacks.  Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions.  Bombs on land and in sea.  Anti-aircraft fired five barrages.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.  No military damage or casualties.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21-23 December: 29.

 

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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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21 December 1941: 87 Enemy Sorties Against Malta in 24 Hours

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GERMAN BOMBERS IN HEAVY DAYLIGHT RAIDS

Italian Macchi Aircraft

The enemy launched 87 air sorties against Malta today,  including three daylight bombing raids.  Italian aircraft were seen in formation alongside Luftwaffe fighters and bombers in an audacious mid-day attack on Grand Harbour and other targets along the north coast of the Island.  On a day when the Catholic Maltese attend Mass, the many casualties include three civilians dead and twenty-five injured.

AIR RAIDS 21 DECEMBER 1941

0855-0957 hrs  Air raid alarm for one JU 88 escorted by 17 fighters which crossed the coast and dropped one bomb on the cookhouse of a searchlight position at Corrodino; no casualties.  Hurricanes engaged the raiders without results.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack guns also engaged, claiming two hits on a JU 88.

Tigne Barracks (NWMA Malta)

1123-1210 hrs  Air raid alarm for 30 enemy aircraft composed of five JU 88s, ME 109s and Macchi fighters which crossed the Island and dropped bombs on the Dockyard, Corrodino and Senglea areas, also near Mellieha searchlight position.  B Block, Tigne Barracks was hit, killing three Army personnel.  Civilian property sustained slight damage: three civilians were killed and 25 injured.

A number of anti-personnel grenades were dropped in the Manoel area.  Hurricanes engaged enemy aircraft: one Macchi was destroyed, one probably destroyed, one ME 109 damaged.  Two Hurricanes were lost, the pilot of one is safe.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1305-1315 hrs  Air raid alarm for a reconnaissance raid by three enemy aircraft.

1512-1548 hrs  Air raid alarm.  27 enemy aircraft in several formations approached the Grand Harbour and Gozo areas.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1706-1732 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft thought to be on reconnaissance dropped one bomb in the sea off Grand Harbour.

2040-0630 hrs  Four alerts were sounded for eight enemy aircraft, five of which crossed the coast.  Bombs and incendiaries were dropped on the Ta Qali, Rabat, Imtarfa areas, and in the sea.  Mines are reported to have been dropped six miles south east of Dingli, four miles south of Kalafrana and south of Filfla.  Ack Ack engaged during one alert; no claims.

Military casualties  Gunners Frank Anthony, Frank Coupe and William James, all 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; Flight Sergeant Brian Hayes, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun Carmel Cassar, age 8; Cospicua Saviour Cutajar, age 25; Zabbar Joseph Galea, age 20 and Anthony Psaila, age 16. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 21 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus arrived with petrol and stores from Gibraltar.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 13 Beaufighters from Gibraltar.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland search for merchant vessel off C Pappos; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  One Maryland Tauorga-Buerat; one PR Tripoli & Castel Benito; one PR Comiso, Gerbini.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; three Blenheims shipping search in Gulf of Sirte.  107 Squadron Three Blenheims and 104 Squadron nine Wellingtons despatched to attack Castel Benito aerodrome.  Four aircraft attacked Tripoli.  40 Squadron  Three Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.  No military damage or casualties.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  One Hurricane crashed near Ghar Dalam (A Company HQ).  Pilot baled out uninjured was conveyed to Luqa by Captain M Holdsworth.

3rd BATTALION KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  E Company reports three bombs 400 yards east towards No 1 Dock.  One on St Clements Bastion.  A Company reports trouble with water mains.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 (containers of incendiaries).

 

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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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18 December 1941: Loss of HMS Neptune and Kandahar

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BRECONSHIRE GETS THROUGH

The supply ship Breconshire arrived at Malta at 1500 hrs today to deliver her much needed load of fuel oil and stores, accompanied by the ships of her protective force.

After yesterday’s encounter with the Italian Navy, the two British forces separated, as destroyers from Force B and Force K took on the task of escorting Breconshire safely to Malta.  Admiral Vian turned with his fleet towards Alexandria.  The Italian convoys also divided: three ships setting course for Tripoli and one for Benghazi.  This afternoon the Tripoli-bound vessels were located and a Malta Strike Force of three cruisers and four destroyers was assembled in pursuit. 

The official report from the Royal Navy War Diary for Malta relates what happened next…

HMS Neptune

“HM Ships Neptune (Captain R O’Connor, Senior Officer), Aurora, Penelope, Kandahar, Lance, Lively and Havock were despatched…18th December to intercept an important Italian convoy which had been sighted earlier, heading for Tripoli.  It was appreciated that if the convoy was not delayed it was likely to be at the entrance to Tripoli before our force could intercept, but it was hoped that attacks by torpedo bomber and bomber aircraft, which were arranged to take place during the night, would have the usual effect of delaying the enemy.

A special Wellington was co-operating to lead our air and surface striking forces to the enemy.  The enemy’s convoy and escorting warships were discovered and reported by the Wellington split into groups and covering many miles of water to the eastward of Tripoli.

Albacores and Swordfish aircraft were sent to attack.  Although it is believed that only one ship was damaged by them, their attack had the expected effect of disorganising and slowing up the Italian convoy.  As a result, and also probably because of mines which had been laid in the entrance to the harbour, the convoy did not enter Tripoli till late the following day.

Unfortunately, the information regarding the position of the convoy did not reach Neptune before disaster had overtaken our force.  Having proceeded at maximum speed towards a point east of Tripoli they had just eased down on reaching the 100 fathom line when Neptune struck a mine and was brought to a stop.  The remaining ships sheered off to port and starboard and then turned back to get clear of the minefield.  Whilst engaged in getting clear, Aurora and Penelope both struck mines but were able to steam.

Aurora, who was fairly badly damaged, set course for Malta at her best speed of 16 knots, escorted by Havock and Lance, whilst Penelope stood by to tow Neptune when she had drifted clear of the minefield.  Kandahar entered the minefield and attempted to close Neptune to take off personnel, but, whilst engaged in this, struck a mine and had her stern blown off.  Neptune meanwhile had drifted down onto more mines and, when the third or fourth mine exploded under her, she turned turtle and sank.

Nothing could be done to approach Kandahar through the minefield and Penelope with Lively reluctantly returned to Malta.” (1)

800 SEAMEN LOST

Only 30 members of Neptune’s crew of nearly 800 survived the sinking.  Their lifeboat was spotted five days later by an Italian torpedo boat: only one of its occupants was still alive.  Maltese casualties from HMS Neptune  were Steward Angelo Falzon, Steward Emanuel Montanaro, Malta Port Division.

AIR RAIDS 18 DECEMBER 1941

0835-0854 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

2311-0250 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Eight enemy aircraft raided Island.  Bombs were dropped in the sea and on land near Attard, Mgarr, Birkirkara and on Luqa aerodrome hitting a Wellington; one of crew was killed, another seriously injured.  Hal Far was machine-gunned and mines were possibly laid off Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack engaged enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Sergeant pilot Frank Sunley, Sergeant Thomas Clarke, Royal Air Force.

Enemy casualties  Sottotenente Antonio Galati, pilot, 259a Squadriglia, 109o Gruppo, 36o Stormo, S84 crashed into the sea.  Maggiore Goffredo Gastaldi, 109o Gruppo, 36o Stormo, crewman on a S84, crashed into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 18 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Upright returned from patrol having sunk certainly one and probably two northbound merchant vessels in Gulf of Taranto.  Forces K and B, Decoy, Havock and Breconshire arrived.  Neptune, Aurora, Penelope, Lively, Lance, Havock and Kandahar sailed.  Six Albacores attacked a convoy of three cruisers and three merchant vessels approaching Tripoli and fired four torpedoes, hitting two merchant vessels.  One Albacore did not return.  Five Swordfish left to attack same convoy, but failed to locate target.  One Swordfish crashed on landing.  Crew hurt.

AIR HQ  Departures  Seven Beaufighters for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 17th/18th  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched on a shipping search, located a tanker 4-5000 tons with destroyer escort.  Two hits claimed on tanker and an explosion followed by a subsequent fire was seen.  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron engaged three BR 20s forty miles south south west of Filfla.  One enemy aircraft observed to be hit in wings and fuselage.  One of own aircraft “K” hit in the tail.  All aircraft landed safely.

LUQA  S/D Flight one Wellington on special shipping search.  69 Squadron  Four Marylands special search.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  PR Palermo, Tripoli; one Maryland PR Tripoli Harbour and Castel Benito.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim special search Keliba-Kerkennah; six Blenheims attacked two schooners near Kuriat.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim special search Kerkennah-Kuriat; three Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessel (no sightings made).  104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked Tripoli and mined harbour.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  0025 hrs  One enemy aircraft machine gunned Hal Far area but no damage was done.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 4 (1 x 250kg HE; 1 x Thermos; 1 x incendiary; 1 x anti-personnel).

(1)  See also Neptune Association

 

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Posted by on December 18, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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15 December 1941: Stealth Attackers are Italian

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ITALIAN HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS REPORTED ALONG NORTH COAST

The four raiders who bombed the Island overnight were Italian, according to reports received this morning.  The Regia Aeronautica are evidently continuing to work alongside the Luftwaffe in the air campaign against Malta.

Bahar ic-Caghaq

The claim was supported by reports of three unexploded bombs (UXB) received in Royal Engineers Headquarters this morning.  Bomb Disposal Officer Lieutenant G D Carroll was called out to locations along the north coast at Bahar ic-Caghaq and Madliena, and further inland at  Ghargur.  The UXBs were found to be Italian High Explosive (HE) bombs, each weighing in at 130lbs – the first of the type seen in Malta for over a month.  All three bombs were defuzed on site and removed for dumping at sea.  (1)

DIVERSIONARY TACTICS

The intrusion of aircraft over Malta throughout the night with no apparent bombing target may have a simple explanation.  The Italians are providing cover for a secret German operation designed to prevent Malta-based ships from attacking Axis supply convoys.

The Kriegsmarine 3rd S-Boat Flotilla has begun laying mines around the entrance to Grand Harbour, in an effort to prevent the ships of Force K from leaving.  The TMA (torpedo mines) are fired from the normal torpedo tube.  They then float on the surface, attached to a weighted anchor.  The TMA carries an explosive charge of 215kg.

S Boat

These fast-moving motor torpedo boats, capable of up to 50 knots, can approach the coast rapidly, lay their mines and escape, often before detection.  They have already carried out one abortive mission to lay a minefield in the path of the British ships: tonight is their second attempt. 

AIR RAIDS 15 DECEMBER 1941

0641hrs; 0710 hrs  Two alerts.  One raider crossed the coast dropping bombs at Mosta causing slight damage.  One Hurricane from Ta Qali airborne but no interception.

0740-0755 hrs  One JU88 approached the coast.  One Hurricane from Ta Qali airborne – no interception.  Raider damaged by anti-aircraft fire.

0946-1002 hrs  Air raid alarm.

1640-1643 hrs  Air raid alarm.

1940-2015 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Six enemy aircraft approached from north together.  Bombs in sea north of Gozo, in Comino Channel, and Mellieha Bay.

2040 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approached from north, only one crossed coast over Delimara.  No bombs dropped.

2234 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One JU 88 approached from north crossing coast four times.  Bombs fifty yards from Fleur de Lys gun position – no damage.  Aircraft illuminated for four minutes, engaged by Hurricane with no result.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unique arrived from patrol off Cape Del Armi [Strait of Messina], her attack on a battleship frustrated by heavy counter attack.  Six Swordfish in shipping search to the west made no sighting.

LUQA  S/D Flight  Shipping search Kerkennah area.  69 Squadron one Maryland SF 10 patrol; two Marylands SF 9B patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2 one PR Taranto and one PR Messina-Naples.  18 Squadron one Blenheim SF 2B patrol.  107 Squadron one Blenheim special search for convoy.  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol.  40 Squadron twelve Wellingtons attacked oil storage tanks at Taranto.  104 Squadron: nine Wellingtons attacked oil storage tanks in Taranto.

TA QALI  1940-0559 hrs  Six alerts for a total of twelve raiders.  Six crossed the coast.  Bombs dropped in the aerodrome area and in Attard and Dingli areas.  Hurricanes were airborne, and engaged one raider, but no results could be ascertained.  Two short [searchlight] illuminations.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 4 (3 x 100kg; 1 x Thermos).

(1) Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010 

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Posted by on December 15, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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14 December 1941: German U-boats Patrolling the Med

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HMS Galatea

HMS Galatea

BRITISH LIGHT CRUISER SUNK EN ROUTE TO JOIN MALTA FORCE K

A German U-boat carried out a torpedo attack on a British light cruiser today, sinking the vessel close to the Egyptian coast.  The attack is further evidence of the build-up of German U-boats in the Mediterranean as the Axis try to counter the threat from Malta on convoys heading for North Africa.  Since September 1941 twenty-three U-boats have been sent to the Mediterranean, fifteen of them within the past month.  Of the twenty still afloat, at least thirteen are believed operating east of Gibraltar.

The British vessel was part of a light cruiser force which set out from Alexandria to join with Force K from Malta, in the hunt for Axis convoys bound for Benghazi.

Eight Italian supply ships had embarked in three convoys yesterday with protective cover provided by virtually the entire Italian battle fleet.  British submarines reported the convoy departures and a two-pronged operation was immediately organized in their pursuit.

Vittorio Veneto

The planned interception was given away when British submarine Urge torpedoed and damaged the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto in the Strait of Messina.  The ship survived but, alerted to the presence of enemy vessels, the convoys returned to port.

Some hours later, as Admiral Vian’s ships were heading back into Alexandria, the German U-boat U-557 fired torpedoes at the light cruiser Galatea.  The British vessel sank with the loss of its Commander, Capt E W B Sim, RN, and 22 officers, plus 447 ratings. 144 survivors were picked up by other ships of the British convoy.

By a strange twist of fate, U-557 was later rammed by an Italian Torpedo Boat Orione and sank with the loss of all hands.

AIR RAIDS 14 DECEMBER 1941

0331-0358 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft skirted Island and receded north over Mellieha.  Bombs in sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fired three barrages – also by GL height control.

0511-0645 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft patrolled off south coast for 1½ hours.

0738-0808 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approached from north, skirted east coast and receded.

1905-0440 hrs  Five alerts for seven enemy aircraft, four of which crossed the coast.  Bombs dropped on land and in the sea.  Hurricanes airborne; no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 DECEMBER 

AIR HQ  Four Blenheims arrived from Gibraltar.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search Merrina, Taranto; one Maryland shadowing Italian fleet; two Marylands special search.  69 Squadron Photo-Reconnaissance  One PR Tripoli; one Maryland PR Tunis and Bizrata.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol. 107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol.  104 Squadron  Ten Wellingtons attacked Benghazi.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5.

 

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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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11 December 1941: Malta Attacks Starve Rommel’s Africa Korps

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GERMAN SUPPLIES ALL BUT EXHAUSTED

Military intelligence suggests that Rommel’s Africa Korps have all but exhausted their fuel stocks and other essentials required to maintain their desert campaign.  Malta’s air forces today increased their efforts to prevent enemy convoys from supplying the German forces.  Successful bombing raids have been carried out on harbours and shipping in Sicily and Greece.  Allied bombing of road transport has severely depleted the few supplies which have managed to reach the North African coast.

The search by reconnaissance aircraft from Malta continues across all possible convoy routes for surface shipping and submarines attempting supply runs across the Mediterranean.

GERMAN ATTACKERS IDENTIFIED

Sightings of German aircraft have been confirmed in raids on Malta today. Reports show that the enemy is targeting searchlights and gun positions protecting the airfields.  This strategy shows signs of preparation for a heavier attack on the Island’s air forces, all of whom have been placed on alert.  Attackers were valiantly fought off by the Island’s gunners but two airfield ground crew were killed in the raids.

Lockheed Hudson

DELIVERY AIRCRAFT LOST

Four pilots of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve reported lost today have been named as Flight Sergeant Kenneth Brown (aged 23), Sergeants Andrew Dick, 29 and Nevil Leaver, 25, and John Pinsent, aged 25.  The pilots were members of a detachment of 233 Squadron posted to Gibraltar just days ago.

They were flying Lockheed Hudson aircraft en route to Malta but failed to arrive at their destination.  The Hudsons were destined to supplement the Island’s anti-submarine and reconnaissance force.

GOVERNOR SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL DEFENCE

Malta’s Governor & Commander in Chief has written today to the War Office requesting approval to increase civil defence personnel, as follows:

Camp Commandant responsible for defence of Castille area of Valetta six posts.  Defence of Command S.M. eight posts.  Supervision of Grand Harbour nine watching posts.  Also musters and organises and commands mobile reserve comprised of leave etc. personnel caught in Valetta by surprise attack.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 DECEMBER TO DAWN 12 DECEMBER 1941

0943-1018 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

1910-2009 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four enemy aircraft approached – only one crossing coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fired two immediate barrages.

2130-2330 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four enemy aircraft approached, only two crossing coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fired two immediate barrages.  Bombs near Mgarr and in sea.  Kalafrana searchlight machine-gunned – low-flying aircraft engaged by light machine gun and Bofors.  Target illuminated for a few seconds. 

Military casualties  Sgt John S Pinsent, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 233 Squadron; Sgt Nevil Leaver, RAFVR, 233 Squadron; Sgt Andrew C Dick, RAFVR, 233 Squadron, Flt Sgt Kenneth C Brown, RAFVR, 233 Squadron; AC2 Roderick Macdonald, Royal Air Force; Private Ronald Coles, 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Four Swordfish carried out search for shipping in vicinity of Messina, but sighted nothing.  Albacores bombed Castel Benito aerodrome.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  4 Wellingtons from Gibraltar plus 1 Clare.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance  One Maryland Navarino and Patras and one Maryland Messina area; one Maryland to North African aerodromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol; three Blenheims attacked shipping in Argostoli Harbour.  One Blenheim attacked shipping in Catania Harbour at dawn, along with one Blenheim of 107 Squadron.  107 Squadron  Three Blenheims despatched to attack Argostoli but leader had engine trouble; formation returned to base without attacking.  40 Squadron  Thirteen Wellingtons attacked shipping at Patras.  104 Squadron  Six Wellingtons attacked shipping at Patras.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special shipping search.

TA QALI  1910 hrs Air raid alarm: four aircraft – no Hurricanes airborne – gunfire.  2130 hrs  Air raid alarms 2130 and 2331 hrs.  No fighters airborne.  Bombs dropped and Ack Ack barrages.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2.

 

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Posted by on December 11, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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10 December 1941: Luftwaffe Attack Targets Across Malta

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STRIKES ON STRATEGIC POINTS ACROSS ISLAND

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Ten enemy aircraft attacked Malta tonight, targeting strategic positions across the Island.  Bombs have been reported on airfields at Kalafrana and Hal Far, as well as in the Safi and Gudia areas close to Luqa.

Specific attacks were aimed at defensive gun positions on the Victoria Lines, at Wardia and between Madliena and Naxxar.  Aircraft were seen to swoop low and machine-gun their targets from low altitude.

Kalafrana (NWMA Malta)

Damage has been limited, according to reports.  The searchlight sound locator at Ghar Hassan received a direct hit but was not severely damaged.  The equipment is still in position and ready to detect incoming enemy raiders, who must now be expected at any hour of the day or night.

After two relatively quiet days, the raiders’ tactics leave little doubt that Malta needs to be prepared for more Luftwaffe attacks.   This is the second severe air raid since evidence was detected of the German air force’s return to Sicily (see report Saturday 6 December).

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 DECEMBER TO DAWN 11 DECEMBER 1941

0630-0735 hrs Air raid alarm.

1608-1622 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two Macchi 200’s carried out recce of Island.

1933 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three enemy aircraft approached from north but did not cross coast.  Bombs in sea.

2225-0655 hrs  Air raids. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 10 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Neptune and Force K returned with nil result, enemy having turned back.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Catalina from Aboukir. Departures  4 Blenheim for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 9th-10th seven Swordfish 830 Squadron and five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack two cruisers sighted by a Wellington.  Target not located and all aircraft returned to base.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 6 patrol; photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa Harbour.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol; 1 Blenheim attacked two merchant vessels in Trapani Harbour with two Blenheims 107 Squadron.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol.  104 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons attacked targets at Benghazi.  One Wellington S/D Flight special shipping search. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 1 (German 50kg).

 

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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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9 December 1941: Axis Convoy Turns Back at Sight of Malta Aircraft

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RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS DETER ENEMY

Alberico da Barbiano

An emergency convoy carrying urgent supplies for Rommel’s Afrika Korps turned about tonight at the sight of reconnaissance aircraft from Malta.  The light cruiser Alberto da Giussano and her sister ship Alberico da Barbiano, loaded with fuel desperately needed by Axis forces in North Africa, set out from Palermo under cover of darkness to attempt the run to Libya. 

The ships were chosen for the mission due to their speed and had no proper fuel tanks fitted for storage.  The decks of both vessels were crammed with metal containers filled with the highly-inflammable fluid.

A short time into the crossing, Allied Swordfish and Albacore aircraft were spotted in the vicinity, searching for the Italian convoy.  Their presence revealed, the mission’s commanders decided to return to port rather than run the risk of attack. 

In so doing, the ships escaped detection by aircraft from Hal Far who were out to discover their location for a Malta strike force sent to destroy them.

Reconnaissance flights from Malta are now patrolling every possible port of embarkation for Axis convoys destined for North Africa, as well as carrying out frequent bombing attacks on fuel dumps on both sides of the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 DECEMBER TO DAWN 10 DECEMBER 1941

0112-1045 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft crossed Island from north to south and dropped bombs 200 yards from Civil Hospital, Guardamangia. 

1035-1112 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 9 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Neptune, Aurora, Penelope, Jaguar and Kandahar sailed to intercept enemy forces at 1830 hrs.  Seven Swordfish and five Albacores searched for two enemy cruisers but failed to locate.

AIR HQ  Departures  3 Wellingtons, 1 Beaufighter, for 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland [patrol] Navarino-Patras; one Maryland [patrol] Palermo-Trapani; one Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 6 patrol. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim central Ionian Sea; one Blenheim Kerkennah-Pantelleria patrol.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol. 104 Squadron Seven Wellingtons attacked fuel stores depot west of Fort Curgi, Tripoli.  Two Wellingtons attacked storage buildings near Castillo, Tripoli.  40 Squadron Twelve Wellingtons attacked fuel depot near Fort Curgi, Tripoli.  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping search Maritino-Pantelleria-Kelibia.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 2 (German 50kg).

 

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Posted by on December 9, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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7 December 1941: Malta Under 11 Hour Night Alert

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AIR RAIDS 7 DECEMBER TO 8 DECEMBER 1941

0127 hrs Air raid alarm sounded after bombs dropped in sea south of Ghar Lapsi.  Two further raids approached and took over intruder patrols, attempting to shoot up returning Wellingtons [from last night’s attack on the Royal Harbour at Naples]. 

Ghar Lapsi (NWMA Malta)

A low level bombing and machine gun attack was made on Ghar Lapsi searchlight station, bombs dropped one mile south of Siggiewi.  No damage or casualties.  Ack Ack barraged twice, Bofors and Light Machine Guns engaged several low flying aircraft.

Rumours are circulating that Italian Regia Aeronautica pilots are flying German aircraft on missions over Malta.

0657 hrs All-clear sounds.  The Island has been on constant alert since 1959 hrs yesterday.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 7 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Swordfish left to attack one merchant vessel west of Malta, but failed to locate target.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beaufighters, two Wellingtons, one Halifax from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack Castel Benito Aerodrome.  One dropped bombs on Mellaha.  Bombs dropped on south side of Mellaha aerodrome causing large column of black smoke.  At Castel Benito dispersal areas were attacked and eight medium and one large fire started.  Opposition intense but inaccurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  S/D Flight  One Wellington shipping search. 69 Squadron One Maryland on anti-submarine patrol; one Maryland special search Ionian sea; one Maryland SF 12 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance  One Maryland Argostoli and Navarino harbours; one Maryland Tripoli Harbour.  PR Unit 2: one over Catania and Gela; another over Tripoli Harbour and Castel Benito.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim special search Kerkanna area for merchant vessel; one Blenheim 18 Squadron SF 2B patrol.  Five Blenheims despatched to attack convoy (failed to locate).  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol; five Blenheims despatched to attack convoy (failed to locate).  104 Squadron  Six Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.  Two Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3.

 

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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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