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17 November 1941: Eighth Army Attacks Rommel at Tobruk

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OPERATION CRUSADER LAUNCHED

‘Operation Crusader’ was launched today as the Eighth Army, under the command of Lt General Sir Alan Cunningham, crossed the Egyptian frontier into Libya.  Their mission: to attack Rommel’s Panzer forces surrounding Tobruk. 

The city has been under siege since April 1941.  Allied troops have held on largely thanks to the small ships sent in by General Cunningham’s older brother, Admiral Sir Andrew Brown Cunningham, Commander of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean.  Rommel’s troops and equipment are also now significantly weakened following the destruction of some 80 per cent of Axis supply convoys in the last month, thanks to naval and air operations from Malta.  Those same forces will now intensify their attacks to prevent any further emergency supplies getting through.

Malta’s role in the war in North Africa is entering a critical phase.

Matilda Mk II Tank “Griffin” (NWMA Malta)

WAR OFFICE CHECKS MALTA’S TANK STOCKS

Lt General Dobbie replies to a query from the War Office checking the number of tanks currently on the Island.  He confirms the present holding as six.  Four of them are Matildas Mk II, British infantry tanks and the other two are MKIVB Light Tanks.  The Matildas named by their operators after the naval escort destroyers which accompanied them to Malta: Faulknor, Gallant, Greyhound and Griffin.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 18 NOVEMBER 1941

1205-1211 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two Macchi fighters approach the Island from north on reconnaissance.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER

LUQA  107 Squadron  Six Blenheims attacked convoy; good results.  18 Squadron  Three Blenheims shipping search SF11 patrol.  One Blenheim special search for merchant vessel(s).  104 Squadron  Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Brindisi. Four Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.

 

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Posted by on November 17, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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14 November 1941: Malta Supply Convoy Sunk

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BRITISH MERCHANT SHIPS LOST EN ROUTE TO MALTA

Two merchant vessels travelling in unescorted convoy through the western Mediterranean have been destroyed by enemy action.  The ships were loaded with military stores and ammunition for Malta.  In the early hours of this morning, Empire Pelican was hit by Italian torpedoes and sank between Galita Island and Tunisia.  Empire Defender is believed to have met the same fate. 

German U-boats operating in W Med

The convoy attempt was the latest in a series of clandestine missions to run supply ships along the North African coast disguised as local tramp vessels. However, with German U boats also known to be operating in the Western Mediterranean, the operation of future such convoys from the British mainland is now in doubt.

GOVERNOR CONFIRMS ORDER FOR CIVILIAN COMMODITIES

Already concerned at food shortages and their effect on the civilian population, Lt Gen Dobbie is anxious to ensure that future supplies of these and other essentials are secure. 

From: Governor & C in C Malta                                                    To: The War Office

“Presume demands submitted by civil government to Crown Agents for engineer stores, foodstuffs and medical supplies required for civil population have not been cancelled under terms of 12/1.  This would upset our whole system of supply.  Please pass copy to Colonial Office.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 15 NOVEMBER 1941

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant WO/AG William Eaton, Royal Air Force, 114 Squadron

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER 1941

LUQA  0756-1212 hrs One Blenheim 107 Squadron SF11 patrol.  0800-1311 hrs  One Blenheim 18 Squadron on shipping search.  1350-1804 hrs  One Blenheim 18 Squadron SF11 patrol.  PM  One Wellington shipping search Taranto Bay and Straits of Otranto. Two Wellingtons of 104 Squadron nuisance raid on Brindisi. Twelve Wellingtons of 40 Squadron and seven Wellingtons of 104 Squadron attacked Catania.

TA QALI  Blenheim aircraft No L7887 force landed on the aerodrome.  Pilot Sgt Bank and observer Sgt Lowcock uninjured. Sgt WO/AG William Eaton, 114 Squadron, Royal Air Force killed by enemy action.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 (2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on November 14, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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11 November 1941: Governor Warns of Isolation Effect on Morale

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Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

EFFECTIVE MAIL SERVICE ‘A MILITARY NECESSITY’

FROM: Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie)               TO: Secretary of State for the Colonies

With reference to your telegram No 323 of 1st November, have you received from the War Office copy of my GM 18,486 of 3rdOctober, which is very relevant.

(a) Whilst fully realising the necessity for communication with Middle East, I must emphasise that our war effort is so closely bound up with the Middle East that a proportion of the accommodation both east and west in BOAC flying boats is essential to Malta, both from the Services and the Government point of view.  This will naturally be confined to really urgent passengers, and if sufficient notice is available demand will be telegraphed to the Air Ministry or AOC Middle East.  Please see paragraph 3a of my telegram quoted above in this connexion.

(b) I have recently discussed with the Assistant Postmaster General, Mr Chapman, the question of mail for service personnel, which he agreed were a matter for military necessity.  He stated his principal difficulty in guaranteeing our inward mails, which are here as elsewhere the major problem, was failure to allot in aircraft a specified space for mails which could be guaranteed not to be taken up by passengers at the last minute.  There is undoubtedly a degree of feeling amongst service personnel, who see large numbers of aircraft carrying passengers in transit and yet receive no mail.  I should be grateful of your assistance in these two important points.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 12 NOVEMBER 1941

0545-0604 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island singly.  The first drops bombs in the sea ten miles east of Zonkor Point and recedes North.  The second aircraft drops bombs in the sea near Salina Bay, then crosses the Island and recedes over Filfla. 

1147-1158 hrs   Air raid alarm.  One Macchi comes in from the north east at 21,000 feet to within one mile of Grand Harbour and then recedes north.  Ack Ack guns fire pointer rounds; no claims. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 11 NOVEMBER

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores despatched Catania returned with engine trouble without reaching target.  Seven Swordfish left to attack convoy to westwards.  Three returned early with engine trouble and four failed to return at all.

LUQA  18 Squadron  Six Blenheims attacked two merchant vessels.  Two Blenheims searched for shipping.  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron and nine of 104 Squadron attacked Naples.  Squadron Leader Greer failed to return.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21.

 

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

 

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9 November 1941: Malta Braced for Reprisals

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“LATELY WE HAVE BEEN BOMBING NAPLES AND NO DOUBT THERE WILL BE REPRISALS

“I am told that the BBC in a broadcast made some allusion to the base from which Naples was bombed …This was the more unwise since there was a Convoy on its way to us from Alexandria.

It arrived on November 9th; and a thrilling thing it was. Two battleships (HMS Ramillies and HMS Barham) two cruisers, a number of destroyers, and (I think) five big cargo ships. And even so we were not bombed. It is almost incredible. All these ships passed up our narrow Grand Harbour, which is but 300 yards wide though a mile long. The battleships fastened themselves to buoys, and the smaller stuff went alongside the Dockyard walls just off the main harbour. Oilers presumably came alongside the big ships for re-fuelling.

And yet we were not bombed. For the space of several hours some 16 ships were crowded into a space of about one square mile. Half a dozen resolute airmen could scarcely fail to hit something. What is the explanation? An officer in the inner circle of information said he was as mystified as myself. Either the Italians have cold feet, or they are short of materials. The Staff were saying ‘Hurry up with those oilers! Get these ships out of here’, while the Italians lay doggo.” (2)

CLUSTER BOMBS HIT HILLTOP COMMUNITY OF RABAT

Exactly a week after the first cluster bomb attack on Valletta, the hilltop community of Rabat awoke to the same terrifying sight of Thermos bombs scattered throughout the narrow streets.  Superintendent Philip Pullicino of the Special Constabulary and his men worked alongside local police and ARP volunteers in a co-ordinated operation to find and guard every single bomb, until Bomb Disposal Officer Lt George Carroll and his Section arrived to deal with them.  Working in teams of three, by the end of the day the Bomb Disposal men had dealt with over 80 Thermos bombs in the town.

A street in Rabat

One report given to Sapper Tom Meager and his mate was from an elegant private house, where they were directed upstairs to a bedroom.  According to instructions, Tom knew they should explode the bomb. Reluctant to destroy a home, he decided on a bold action: 

“I sat on the end of the bed and the chap that was with me was on the veranda, looking out…I said ‘Check down there and make sure everybody’s clear.’  The Police had been told beforehand to make sure everybody was either clear of the area or stayed indoors.  I said [to my mate]: ‘Are they clear yet?’  and he said, ‘Yes, all clear.’

So I bent down and picked this thing up like that [resting horizontally on two open hands] and carried it to the window.  Just as I put my arms out of the window to drop it, [my mate] said, ‘Hold it – a woman has just come out of the door up the road!’  and I said, ‘Well tell her to get back inside!’  He yelled at her but she wouldn’t go back in.  She went on up the road, so I hung on there, thinking ‘Come on, hurry up!’

I said, ‘I’ve got to let it go!’ and I did.  And I’m sure to this day that it went off before it hit the ground.  But the woman was safe enough.”  (2)   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 10 NOVEMBER 1941 

1030-1035 hrs  Air raid alarm for two Macchi 200’s which carry out reconnaissance of Luqa, Hal Far and Grand harbour areas.  Ack Ack fire one barrage.

1347 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two unidenfied enemy aircraft approach from North, reach the coast near Delimara Point and then recede North.  Ack Ack guns engage by barrage fire. 

1709 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Approx three Macchi’s carry out reconnaissance of the Island.  No engagement by Ack Ack or Hurricanes.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 9 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY:  Force “K” returned to harbour, having sunk one destroyer and damaged two destroyers, and sunk seven MVs  No casualties or damage on our side.  Five Albacores attacked Augusta with good results.

HAL FAR:  Overnight five Albacores, 828 Squadron FAA despatched to attack the submarine base at Augusta. Large fire was started amongst the oil tanks. Light Ack Ack very intense and accurate.  Two Hurricanes, 185 Squadron despatched on escort patrol. F/O Bailey failed to return to base. Three Swordfish carried out submarine patrol. Nothing was sighted.

Casualty:  Flying Officer Graham G Bailey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve , 185 Squadron..

LUQA:  One Blenheim 107 Squadron, one Blenheim 18 Squadron on SF11 Patrol.  Six Blenheims 107 Squadron, five Blenheims 18 Squadron shipping sweep Gulf of Sirte.  Nothing sighted.  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron nuisance raid on Naples.  Two Wellingtons 104 Squadron nuisance raid on Messina.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 80; dealt with (85 x Thermos).

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

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

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

 

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8 November 1941: Malta Faces Shortage of Ammunition Supplies

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GOVERNOR & C IN C ASKED TO WITHDRAW BREN ROUNDS

From: Governor & C in C Malta                 To: The War Office                19042 cipher 8/11. Your (SD12) 6/11)

“150 Bren LMG and 150,000 rounds .303 are being withdrawn from units for issue to Lt. Col. Ede as ordered. This can only be done by weakening the essential defences of Malta as we hold no reserve Bren guns and stocks of SAA are not really adequate. Replacement is too problematical to be satisfactory. Suggest provision should be made from reserve stock of Mideast.”

MALTESE MERCHANT NAVY CASUALTY

News reached Malta  today that Maltese merchant seaman Anthony Cutajar died after his vessel ‘Hazelside’ was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-68 on 28 October in the South Atlantic, 600 miles SE of St Helena.

Grand Harbour

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 9 NOVEMBER 1941

0937-0955 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two Macchi 200’s approach the Island from the north east, cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area, proceed on to Filfla and recede North.  Ack Ack fire a barrage.

1155-1220 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four Cant 1007’s escorted by approximately eighteen Macchi’s drop bombs from Rinella in a long line to just short of Luqa village; no damage or casualties.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the Macchi’s with results as follows: three Macchi’s destroyed, one probably destroyed, one damaged.  One Hurricane is destroyed, one damaged. the pilot is landed safely.

1730 hrs  Royal Navy Force “K” sailed to intercept a convoy in the Ionian Sea.  Five Albacores attacked the submarine base at Augusta.  Large fire started.

1941, 0143 and 0549 hrs Three alerts for a total of sixteen enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  Practically all bombs were dropped in the sea.  One enemy aircraft drops anti-personnel bombs in the Rabat area – no damage.

Military casualties   Sergeant William A Hopkinson, Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Sergeantt WOAG Montague Keam, DSM, Royal Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Gerald C Pryor, Royal Canadian Air Force. 

Enemy casualties  Pilot Captain Mario Pluda, commander of 73a Squadriglia, 9o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; fighter pilot Sergeant Major Luigi Taroni were shot down and killed.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1941

LUQA: One Blenheim of 18 Squadron and one from 107 Squadron on recce Kerkennah, Zuara, Tripoli. Six Blenheims of 107 Squadron and six of 18 Squadron attacked a convoy off Cape Spartivento.  Sgt Hopkinson of 18 Squadron and F/Lt Pryor of 107 Squadron failed to return.  One Wellington S/D Flight ASV on shipping search. Four Wellingtons of 104 Squadron attacked Brindisi and Messina. Elevn Wellingtons of 40 Squadron and six Wellingtons of 104 Squadron attacked Naples, Palermo, Catania, Syracuse and other targets.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 1 (1 x 150kg).

 

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

 

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5 November 1941: Italians in Stukas over Malta

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Junkers JU87 over Malta 1941

Junkers JU87 over Malta

GERMAN BOMBS DROPPED ON THE ISLAND

Rumours have been circulating for some time that Italian pilots are flying German ‘Stuka’ JU87 dive-bombers over Malta.  Unexploded German bombs reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal in recent days – not seen on the Island for some time – provide further evidence to support the claims.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 6 NOVEMBER 1941

1049-1106 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Six Macchi 200’s approached from N. and carried out recce of area, Grand Harbour, Delimara and Luqa.  Two Heavy Ack Ack positions engaged by barrage, others by Pointers.

1900 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Several enemy aircraft approached Island, only one crossing coast.  Searchlights effected illumination, Ack Ack fired barrages.  Bombs dropped in sea.

2132 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Only one of several aircraft reported in vicinity came over island.  Ack Ack fired barrages.  Enemy aircraft, a German JU87 piloted by Italians, was hit and crashed on coast East of Dowdall’s Hotel, Marsa Scirocco.  Two occupants of machine killed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Gordon Lowe, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Reginald Morris, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Harry Vickers, RAFVR; all 18 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Vittorio Bragadin; air gunner Amleto Bruttini, gunner Angelo Gatti; pilot Armando Tosi; all 238 Squadriglia, 96 Gruppo Autonomo .

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Five Albacores bombed Augusta and Licata – dropping 6,000 lbs of bombs and 80 lbs incendiaries.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars carried out patrols of the Pantelleria and Lampedusa region against enemy air ferry service. Nothing was sighted.

LUQA  18 Squadron  8 Blenheims attacked convoy. Sgt Vickers & Sgt Morris failed to return. 1 Wellington attacked convoy. 104 Squadron  10 Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito and Mellaha aerodromes. 40 Squadron  8 Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10.

 

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

 

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2 November 1941: Times Profiles Bomb Disposal Men

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 TIMES PROFILES ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL MALTA

Times of Malta, 2 November 1941

“BOMB DISPOSAL

The 24thFortress Company includes that which interests every civilian in this war – Bomb Disposal Sections.  The men of these sub-units of the Engineers are responsible for the ‘disposal’ of unexploded bombs here, and dangerous as is their task, they are the last to claim any special merit for their job.  Quietly efficient, experienced in handling their dangerous charges, both here and in Britain, these soldiers take their orders in a routine manner.

MATTER OF FACT COURAGE

Their attitude is a commendable one.  Trained and provided with the very latest information concerning the types of fuzes and explosives they are likely to encounter, they simply ignore any further danger.  The bomb disposal officer, under whom they work, examines each new charge, and, when his decision is made and line of action decided upon, Sappers of the Bomb Disposal Section carry on as if with a parade-ground order. 

Despite their reluctance to allow the factor of heroics to be associated with them, these Sappers have, nevertheless, done sterling work here, amid breathtaking hazards.  Readers will appreciate also that these risks are taken in a premeditated manner, without the exhilaration of actual battle to lend a spur to courage.

Nothing at any hour comes amiss to these soldiers.  They are prepared to tackle at any time of the day or night any enemy missile from a small fire bomb to the heaviest high explosive.  In Britain they have tackled all types of Nazi bomb, while their experience in Malta covers both German and Italian efforts.”

GOVERNOR & C IN C MALTA: REPORT FOR OCTOBER

There were five day raids and ten night raids during October. Casualties were seven killed and seven seriously injured (3 men, 2 women and 2 children in each case). 12 houses and 1 store demolished or seriously damaged. Reduction in price of essential imported commodities was announced on 30th October and has had admirable effect locally.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 NOVEMBER TO DAWN  3 NOVEMBER 1941

0855 hrs Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

1201 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three plus Macchi fighters approached Island from NE split formation and crossed coast just S of Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged by means of barrage and height control fire.

2216 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approached Island from N and dropped bombs in sea off Tal Qroqq.

Military casualties  Sergeant Harold Forth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve  (RAFVR); Sergeant Ernest Spry, RAFVR, both 40 Squadron, Sergeant Ian McCalman, Royal Australian Air Force.

Enemy casualties   Tenente Francesco Toscano, pilot; Sottotenente Felice Bussolin, Sottotenente, pilot.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Four Albacores sent to attack sulphur factory at Licata with good results.  Submarine HMS Tetrarch under command of Lt.Cdr. George H Greenway, RN has failed to arrive in Gibraltar, having sailed from Malta on 26 October 1941 for refit in the USA. She is presumed lost while passing over Italian mines off Capo Granditola, Sicily.

HAL FAR Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron on enemy ferry service patrol off Panteleria. Two Fulmars, Fleet Air Arm also on patrol off Pantelleria.  Nothing sighted. 

LUQA  Wellingtons of 40 Squadron attacked Castel Benito aerodrome in company with Wellingtons of 104 Squadron. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 28 (27 x Thermos; 1 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on November 2, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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31 October 1941: Enemy Attacks Over Malta Show ‘Marked Increase’

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Malta submarine base HMS Talbot

Malta submarine base HMS Talbot

AIR RAID ALERTS ‘NUMEROUS’ IN OCTOBER SAYS INFANTRY CHIEFS’ REPORT

In October enemy air activity showed a marked increase over recent months. Air raid alerts were numerous but the enemy still showed reluctance to cross the coast and come within range of the fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft defences. 

As in the previous month the enemy dropped many bombs in the sea and on remote areas of the Island but a few raiders showed more initiative. Machine-gun attacks were made on aerodromes and on 14 October enemy aircraft were engaged by machine guns manned by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment, who claimed hits and damage to one Macchi fighter. 

The enemy had their main bombing success on 25 October when a Government fuel dump was set on fire by a lucky hit. Nevertheless in view of the number of raids damage to property and persons was remarkably small.

NEW FAA SQUADRON LACKS TRAINING SAYS ROYAL NAVY REPORT

During October fourteen patrols were carried out by submarines of the Tenth Flotilla and seven by submarines of the First Flotilla sailing from Malta. During these patrols, twelve ships were sunk and a further four damaged.  Of these, the five sunk by the Tenth Flotilla totalled approximately 12,000 tons and the two damaged 10,800 tons. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm made fifteen sorties as a result of which eight merchant ships totalling 48,000 tons are claimed as sunk and five merchant ships totalling 34,000 tons are claimed as damaged. 

828 Squadron, consisting of eleven Albacores, was sent from England to reinforce 830 Squadron. Unfortunately, owing to their lack of training in night flying and particularly night torpedo dropping, they are as yet of no value in this respect.  828 Squadron carried out two bombing raids which were in the nature of night flying training.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1941

Weather  Fair.

0132-0229 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers, three of which cross the coast and drop 250kg and 500kg high explosives and hundreds of small bombs on Manoel Island, Pieta Creek and Valletta. Two Hurricanes are airborne at 14000 feet.  One raider is spotted at 11000 feet and illuminated by searchlights.  Hurricane pilot Sgt Mackie dives onto it and delivers two attacks from 50 yards’ range: one from astern, the second from astern and below.   One of the bomber’s crew bales out, possibly the rear gunner as there is no return fire.  The bomber bursts into flames.  The second Hurricane pursues the other two raiders back towards Sicily but is unable to intercept.

0304-0427 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy BR 20 bombers, one of which crosses the coast and drops hundreds of small bombs in the area of the Castille in Valletta. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 31 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Catalina, 1 Cathay, 5 Wellington. S/D Flight 1 Wellington search for convoy. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata.  40 Squadron  5 Wellingtons attacked Naples and Palermo. 104 Squadron 4 Wellingtons attacked a convoy.  9 Wellingtons attacked Naples and Palermo. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata. 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Albacores attacked a railway junction at Canicatti and sulphur factories at Licata, starting fires in both locations.

TA QALI 15 officers and 247 airmen of 40 Squadron arrived from Luqa. Officers accommodated at Xara Palace, Rabat.  7 Marylands and 3 Hurricanes arrived with 69 Squadron.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths officers 33, other ranks 867.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 19 officers, 733 other ranks. Recruits joined during October: 31.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Companies have been issued with new types of grenades no’s 68, 69 and 73.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 27 officers, 9 WO1, 216 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on October 31, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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29 October 1941: Malta Supply Ship Empire Guillemot Sunk

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  • 18 Wellingtons attacked marshalling yards at Tripoli.
  • 8 Blenheims attacked targets along the Calabrian coast.
De Havilland Flamingo

De Havilland Flamingo

ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS SINKING OF ‘LARGE ENEMY SUPPLY SHIP’

An Italian radio report today appears to confirm the sinking of the supply ship Empire Guillemot.  The vessel was feared lost failed to reach her rendezvous point last Friday, two days after she left Malta.  According to Italian radio, “torpedo aircraft operating south of Malta have sunk a large enemy supply ship”.  The Italians claim that the 5600 ton Empire Guillemot was spotted off La Galita Island near Cape Bon by one of their sloops.  Bombers were alerted to the merchant ship’s position, attacked and sank her.  According to the radio report, there were initially 35 survivors but two have since died. 

DOG NUISANCE

Troops have been warned that the large number of dogs now being kept in some barracks and billets is becoming a nuisance. Their presence is considered undesirable on hygienic grounds.  There have also been reported cases of dogs being hostile and causing annoyance. 

In issuing their warning today, military chiefs have made it clear that there is no wish to deprive troops unnecessarily of the companionship of dogs. However, commanding officers are reminded that under King’s Regulations their number must be limited, they must be healthy and kept under proper control.  They are also instructed to ensure that dogs are not left behind when units move, which causes suffering to the animals and makes for unhealthy conditions in the vacated quarters.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fair.

0152-0230 hrs  Air raid alert for two unidentified enemy bombers approaching from the north. One aircraft turns back 15 miles from the Island.  The second approaches Kalafrana, crosses the coast and turns south, turns again and recedes north-eastwards without dropping any bombs.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there is no interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Blenheim, 1 Cathay, 1 Flamingo, 1 Heinkel, 4 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked targets along the Calabrian coast. 40 Squadron 6 Wellingtons attacked marshalling yards in Tripoli. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissance Catania. 104 Squadron 12 Wellingtons attacked marshalling yards in Tripoli. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked targets at Soverato.  2 Blenheims attacked targets along the Calabrian coast.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Some Naval officers were put through practises of all automatic weapons, including the ‘Tommy’ gun.

 

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Posted by on October 29, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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24 October 1941: Malta Supply Ship Missing

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Catalina

A Catalina made a thorough search

EMPIRE GUILLEMOT FAILS TO MAKE RENDEZVOUS

SS Empire Guillemot, the ship which delivered fodder to Malta on 19 September, has been reported missing on her return journey to Gibraltar. The merchant ship should have departed at the end of September during ‘Operation Halberd’ but was delayed. A week ago she embarked along with SS Clan Macdonald but returned to port later with engine trouble.

Empire Guillemot finally left Malta on Wednesday morning, at the same time as other merchant ships City of Lincoln and Dunedin Star.  The three were to take separate routes to Gibraltar. 

A Catalina aircraft from Gibraltar which had been scheduled to escort Empire Guillemot through the final leg of her journey was unable to find her anywhere near the rendezvous point.  A Swordfish was then diverted to aid the search but could find no trace of the merchantman.  A further search by three aircraft this morning also drew a blank, and the vessel is now feared to have been sunk.  

Another convoy supply ship which left Malta today was attacked shortly after leaving Grand Harbour. Clan Ferguson had just set out for Gibraltar when enemy aircraft appeared in her wake and launched an attack a short distance from the Island.  As the enemy was clearly aware of her voyage, it was decided the merchant ship should return to Grand Harbour immediately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1015-1026 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which cross the Island at great height. Fourteen Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders retreat before there is any interception.

1356-1407 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi fighters which approach from the north, cross the coast near Grand Harbour, pass over Kalafrana and turn away to recede northwards – probably on reconnaissance. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but cannot reach sufficient height to intercept; there is no engagement by Ack Ack guns.

Civilian casualties  Gozo John Pisani, age 49.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Tetrarch arrived from Alexandria with stores and kerosene. Clan Ferguson sailed independently for Gibraltar.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Maryland, 2 Sunderland, 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Beaufighter, 7 Wellington. SD Flight 1 Wellington search for convoy. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissance Castel Vetrano and Tripoli. 104 Squadron 4 Wellingtons attacked Naples; 2 recalled due to bad weather.  6 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  2 Swordfish searched for missing Wellington; search unsuccessful.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The General Officer Commanding, Malta, carried out an inspection of C Company. It is the system that the infantry company command co-ordinates the defence of all areas in his sector.  The inspection therefore included three forts, six Bofors and an 18 pounder position. The GOC was most pleased.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 2 Section 173 Company completed a workshop and store for Bomb Disposal at Polverista Gate. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 6; dealt with 6 (2kg incendiary).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  4 other ranks disembarked and posted to SWS Malta.

 

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Posted by on October 24, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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