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26 October 1941: Military Rations to be Cut

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m-v-rationsMALTA REGIMENT FACES RATION REDUCTION

Troops of Kings Own Malta Regiment have been told that part of their rations will be reduced with effect from today.  The potato ration, a staple of the diet which had been increased to 14oz recently, has now been returned to its previous level of 10oz.  The current rations are now as follows:

DAILY Bread 15 oz; (7½ oz Mon); milk 2oz; tea ½oz; sugar 2½oz; margarine 1½ oz; macaroni 2oz; potatoes 10oz; onions 2oz
Sat Plus M&V (meat & vegetable stew) rations 16oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; tinned cheese ¾ oz; dried fruit ½oz; sardines ½oz; jam 1oz.    
Sun Plus frozen mutton 10oz; tinned sausages 2½ oz; canned beans 4oz; chocolate 1½oz; marmalade 1oz; tinned fruit 4oz; meat loaf 12½ oz; fresh vegetables 4oz; tinned vegetables 2 oz.  
Mon Plus biscuit 6oz; flour 4oz; preserved meat 8oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; tinned cheese ¾oz; fresh fruit 4oz; sardines ½oz; dried peas 2oz; jam 1oz.
Tues Plus M&V rations 16oz; bacon cured 3oz; chocolate 1½oz; jam 1oz; dried fruit ½oz; sardines ½oz; meat loaf 12½ oz.      
Wed Plus frozen beef 10oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; tinned cheese ¾ oz; syrup 1oz; fresh fruit 4oz; sardines ½oz; fresh vegetables 4oz; tinned vegetables 2oz; 50 cigarettes or 2oz tobacco; 2 boxes matches.
Thur Plus M&V rations 16oz; tinned bacon 2¼ oz; chocolate 1½oz; dried fruit ½oz; meat loaf 12½ oz.
Fri Plus 4 oz flour; 8oz preserved meat; bacon cured 3oz; tinned cheese ¾ oz; jam 1oz; 40z fresh fruit; sardines ½oz; tinned tomatoes 4oz; vinegar ½ fl oz.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rain in the evening.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Gunner James Herbert Abbott, (John Henry), 48/71 Battery Royal Artillery; Flight Sergeant William T Shaver, Royal Canadian Air Force, 107 Squadron RAF.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Force K returned to harbour having seen nothing after yesterday’s search for destroyers. Submarine Tetrarch sailed for Gibraltar and the UK.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Maryland. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland and 1 Blenheim patrols eastern Sicily.  Photoreconnaissances eastern Sicily.     

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Fire parties from C & D Companies assisted in fighting the fire in the Dockyard which burned through the night until 0600 hrs today. A large amount of paraffin was saved.  Malta Volunteer Defence Force was given firing instruction with Ross rifles on the Rinella Range.

 

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Posted by on October 26, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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25 October 1941: Heavy Daylight Raid on Grand Harbour

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Cant Z 1007 bomber

Cant Z 1007 bomber

DOCKYARD RAID HAS ECHOES OF ILLUSTRIOUS BLITZ

Italian aircraft launched a heavy air raid in broad daylight this morning on Grand Harbour, now the base of Force K of the Mediterranean Fleet, in an attack reminiscent of the Illustrious blitz in January. The alert sounded just before mid-day, when four Cant 1007 bombers were reported approaching the Island with an escort of 16 fighters. 

The fighters remained off the coast while the bombers, flying in ‘Vic’ formation, headed directly for Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes attacked the bomber formation as it approached, damaging one of the Cants.  The now experienced Harbour gunners put up a massive barrage.  However, they could not prevent bombers from crossing the Harbour and dropping sixteen 250kg high explosives across the area. 

Four of the bombs hit a fuel depot at Vittoriosa, starting a massive fire from which thick smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air. All available fire engines of the Dockyard Police, Army and Civil Police were called to the scene and were still fighting the blaze tonight.  A large quantity of precious kerosene has already been destroyed.

Seven houses were damaged and three civilians injured in the raid. Hurricanes shot down at least one Macchi fighter and damaged one bomber.  One Hurricane failed to return and a sea search has been mounted for the missing pilot.

38 SQUADRON RETURNS TO EGYPT

38 Squadron left Malta today after completing its tour of duty on the Island. The Squadron has been here since 6 August, when seven aircraft were detached to the Island from Shallufa, Egypt for operations over the Mediterranean and Italy. The Wellington bombers have carried out many successful raids on Axis convoys, as well as targets in southern Italy and Libya.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0941-0957 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters approaching the Island at 27000 feet and cross the Island, probably on reconnaissance. Four Hurricanes are airborne but there is no engagement.

1152-1245 hrs  Raid 909  Air raid alert for four enemy Cant 1007 bombers escorted by 16 fighters approaching the Island from the north. Only the bombers cross the coast and drop sixteen 250kg bombs on Grand Harbour, including in Kalkara Creek and French Creek.  Seven houses are damaged and three civilians injured.  A stick of four bombs hits the fuel depot at Fort San Salvatore, causing an intense fire.

A terrific barrage is put up over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled and reach 17000 feet to the north east of Grand Harbour where they spot the bombing formation slightly ahead and below.  The bombers turn to port and the Hurricanes attack the bomber on the right flank from the stern, damaging it badly and stopping its port engine.  One Hurricane engages a Macchi 200 fighter, leaving it with smoke pouring out.  The wreckage of one Macchi is later found in the sea.  The Hurricane of Sgt E Knight fails to return; a search is in progress.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ernest G Knight, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Tenente Colonello Eugenio Leotta, Commander of 4o Stormo

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thunderbolt arrived from patrol for docking. Clan Ferguson was recalled owing to her being attacked by enemy aircraft sixty miles west of Malta.  She re-entered harbour at 0900 hrs but no serious damage was sustained. Force K sailed to intercept three enemy destroyers.  

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Blenheim. Departures 1 Clare, 1 Sunderland, 10 Wellington. S/D Flight 1 Wellington special search. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked barracks at Misurata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast.  Photoreconnaissance south western Sicily. 104 Squadron 3 Wellingtons on nuisance raid of Arab quarters in Tripoli. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked targets on the Zuara-Benghazi road. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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Posted by on October 25, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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23 October 1941: Malta Reinforced With More Aircraft

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WAR CABINET REVIEWS WEEK OF 16 TO 23 OCTOBER IN MALTA

HMS Penelope

HMS Penelope

HM Cruisers Aurora and Penelope have arrived at Malta from home waters.  An operation to reinforce Malta with aircraft has been successfully completed.  13 aircraft were flown off from an aircraft carrier, twelve of which arrived safely.  On 14th HM Submarine Unique torpedoed and probably sank the Italian Armed merchant cruiser Citta di Genova (5413 tons) south of Naples, and on 18th HM Submarine Ursula attacked a convoy to the west of Lampedusa and probably sank two ships.  On 17th SS Clan Macdonald, on passage to Gibraltar from Malta, was attacked by Italian torpedo bombers to the south of Sardinia but successful avoiding action was taken and a second attack was driven off by gunfire.

Our aircraft from Malta made several attacks during the week on shipping in the Mediterranean and on land targets in Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Naples was attacked on three nights by a total of 41 Wellingtons which dropped more than 55 tons of high explosive bombs and many incendiaries in the target area.  Hits were obtained on the Royal Arsenal, the Alfa Romeo automobile works, the railway station and on the torpedo factory, which it is estimated was completely destroyed.  Extensive fires were also started, one of which covered a wide area.  A factory at Cotrone, in southern Italy, was twic attacked by a total of 11 Blenheims.

In Sicily, attacks were made on a munition factory and a power station at Licata, on which three tons of bombs were dropped, and on a factory and railway sidings near Catania. The aerodrome at Trapani and the seaplane base at Syracuse were also successfully attacked.  Four Wellingtons, in co-operation with a Naval force, bombed the aerodrome at Elmas in Sardinia, and scored many hits on runways and buildings.

21 Wellingtons dropped 25 tons of bombs on Tripoli harbour. Hits were obtained on the Custom House, the seaplane base and on a warehouse, which was destroyed.  A ship of 3000 tons was set on fire.  Homs was bombed by six Blenheims which dropped two tons of bombs on buildings in the town.  Other Blenheims bombed and machine-gunned motor transport on the road between Sirte and Zuara and an aerodrome between Zuara and Tripoli, where the barracks were hit and an enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.

Reconnaissance aircraft made searches for shipping over wide areas. A convoy consisting of five merchant vessels, each of about 6000 tons, escorted by four destroyers, was sighted off Marittimo Island proceeding south.  Swordfish made successful torpedo attacks on the convoy on two successive nights.  Three hits brought the largest vessel to a standstill and set it on fire, and two, possibly three, other vessels were hit.

A 1500 ton merchant vessel and a 600 ton schooner were bombed off Cape Bon by six Blenheims. The schooner blew up and the merchant vessel was set on fire.  Another merchant vessel of 2000 tons was attacked off the coast of Tunis by four Blenheims.  A direct hit was scored near the funnel and the vessel is claimed as seriously damaged.

Several small formations of enemy aircraft and bombers operated over Malta during the week. A few casualties were caused; the material damage was slight.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

2236-2344 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. The first drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.  The second crosses the coast near Grand Harbour, circles round and drops incendiary bombs on the Valletta and Sliema areas before turning out to sea and dropping high explosive bombs in the sea five miles off the coast.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

0422-0525 hrs  Raid no 905  Air raid alert for the approach of four enemy bombers which drop high explosive bombs in the sea 15-30 miles north of the Island. Two bombs are also dropped on Gozo.  One raider crosses the coast and drops 250kg high explosive bombs on Senglea and Marino Pinto, damaging the Royal Engineers yard, demolishing the roof of a store and starting a fire which is quickly extinguished.  One bomb is dropped close to St Nicola Ack Ack position.   The electricity supply in the Marsa area is cut off.  Bombs dropped during the raid are reported as being heavier than usual.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attack a chemical works at Cotrone. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Naples.  3 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on special patrols; 1 Maryland on patrol and special search of Tunisian coast. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a merchant ship. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on shipping search.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

 

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Posted by on October 23, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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21 October 1941: Malta New Base for Mediterranean Fleet Force K

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Capt Agnew's flagship HMS Aurora

Capt Agnew’s flagship HMS Aurora

ROYAL NAVY SHIPS JOIN ANTI-CONVOY STRIKE FORCE

A special force of the Mediterranean Fleet begins operations from its new base in Malta today. Force K, under the command of Captain W G Agnew, has been deployed to the Island as a strike force to intensify attacks on Axis convoys to supply their forces in Libya. 

The ships for the new Force, cruisers Aurora and Penelope, destroyers Lance and Lively, sailed into harbour from the west this morning, after an uneventful passage through the Mediterranean.  It is believed that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is behind the establishment of the strike force. As well as their role in attacking enemy convoys, it is believed that the presence of Force K will act as an additional deterrent for convoy traffic to Tripoli which has notably declined in recent days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

0822-0847 hrs; 1023-1040 hrs; 1328-1342 hrs  Air raid alerts: two for single enemy aircraft which pass close to the coast. On the third alert two enemy fighters cross the Island at 30000 feet.  

Ten Hurricanes are scrambled at a time but there are no interceptions.

1835-1901 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy bombers approaching from the north singly. Only two cross the coast and 500kg drop bombs in the Mosta-Naxxar-Gharghur area and in the sea.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no interceptions.

Military casualties  Aircraftsman David B Long, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unique returned from patrol off Naples having sunk a Citta AMS. Aurora, Penelope, Lance and Lively of Force K arrived.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Wellington. Departures 3 Beaufort. 38 Squadron 11 Wellingtons attacked a storage depot at Naples. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrols; Maryland special search.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast. 104 Squadron 13 Wellingtons attacked a storage depot at Naples.   107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked two merchant vessels north east of Ras Maamoura.  

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  No 4 (carrier) Platoon and details proceeded to Gozo.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (250kg).

 

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Posted by on October 21, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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17 October 1941: Malta Fighters Hampered by Fuel Shortages

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HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

NEW TACTIC BY ITALIAN FIGHTERS EXPOSES LACK OF FUEL FOR HURRICANES

Fuel shortages prevented Malta fighters from fully defending the Island today when enemy raiders attempted a daylight attack. Eleven Hurricanes were scrambled in response to an alert just after 1530 hrs this afternoon, when early warning systems had spotted seven enemy aircraft approaching from the north.  The raiders, identified as Macchi fighters, suspended their approach while still 30 miles from Malta and began to circle, forcing the Hurricanes to fly out to them.  Two of the Macchis managed to evade the Hurricanes and crossed the coast near Grand Harbour.  Several Hurricanes turned back to attempt an engagement but ran out of fuel and had to land. 

COAL IN SHORT SUPPLY

Fossil fuels are also in very short supply and military authorities are seeking ways to economise. In a bid to conserve supplies, troops have been given new instructions on an economical means of providing fuel using coal dust. 

  • Mix eight parts coal dust to one part sand and two parts clay, or two parts coal dust, one part sawdust and one part clay.
  • Moisten as necessary, mould into balls and allow to dry.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 OCTOBER TO DAWN 18 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fair.

1047-1103 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach from the north and carry out reconnaissance. Hurricane fighters are flying into and out of Malta on escort duties so it is not possible for them nor anti-aircraft guns to engage.

1534-1555 hrs  Air raid alert for a total of seven enemy aircraft which approach the Island in three formations but circle 30 miles to the north. The first two formations remain at a distance, while two Macchi 200 fighters approach Grand Harbour from the north east and cross the coast.  Eleven Hurricanes are scrambled at the first alert but, owing to fuel shortages, they are unable to engage the two raiders.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage with one barrage; no claims.

0012-0019 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of Swordfish aircraft.

0403-0523 hrs  Air raid alert for seven enemy bombers which approach the Island singly from several directions. None cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea, including one container of incendiaries eight miles offshore to the north east.  Four Hurricane fighters are airborne, two at a time, but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Porpoise arrived from Gibraltar and United Kingdom. Ursula, P34 and Rorqual sailed for operations off Kuriat, but Rorqual returned with defects.

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 3 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a factory at Syracuse. 38 Squadron 3 Wellingtons attacked Trapani aerodrome.  4 Wellingtons attacked Elmas aerodrome. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols Syracuse, east Sicilian coast and special patrol.  Photoreconnaissances Cagliari, Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked motor transport at Zuara and Sirte. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish sent to attack a convoy of 4 merchant ships and 4 destroyers.  Two merchant vessels were hit and seriously damaged.  Despite intense, accurate fire from all ships all aircraft returned safely.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Officers from Battalion HQ and departmental clerks visited the Fortress Telephone Exchange. The amount of call traffic going through was a revelation.  A most interesting lecture was arranged at the Naval Canteen on ‘The Progress of the War’.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

 

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

 

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13 October 1941: Malta Faces Harsher Rationing as Convoy Situation Worsens

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Bread essential for morale, say experts

Bread essential, experts say

ISLANDERS MAY BE DEPRIVED OF FRESH MEAT AS GOVERNMENT COMMISSION REVIEWS RATIONING IN MALTA

The supply of Malta by sea is now under severe threat: that is the conclusion now reached by the Island’s high command. Several important foodstuffs have become increasingly scarce since July, especially meat, and the Island is now facing the prospect of further shortages.  A conference of experts has been convened to discuss ways to make food stocks last longer between supply convoys. 

Their initial report reveals that the poorest in Malta rely mainly “on bread, edible oil, sugar and tinned milk. Tinned meat and tinned fish are extensively used for eating with bread.  Kerosene is universally used for cooking.” (1)

Asked to review possibilities for further rationing, or at least economies, in food consumption, they report: “The rations of coffee, tinned meat and tinned fish are very tight and could not be reduced without causing hardship.  Similarly no material reduction could be made in the rations of soap and matches.  A small reduction could be made in the ration of fats and edible oil, perhaps saving 150 tons a year.  The ration of sugar could, if necessary, be reduced, although sugar is a most important item in the diet of the Maltese, especially in the case of children…  The ration of kerosene is very strict considering that all cooking and heating is normally done with kerosene and that it is also very commonly used for lighting.

The main imported commodities which are not rationed are cheese, tinned milk, frozen meat, rice, tea, flour and bread… Butter has not been rationed because stocks are large…  Tea has not been rationed because it is only consumed by a comparatively small section of the population…  It has been found possible to control cheese and rice satisfactorily without rationing them…Issues of frozen meat have been severely limited, and with the increasing shortage of local meat, this commodity is becoming difficult to obtain… Further economies would be difficult, but the Island could of course subsist entirely on tinned meat if necessary…

Bread is much the most important article of consumption with the people of Malta. It is also a very heavy item in the import programme…  No material reduction in consumption has been attempted…  Such a reduction would not only cause hardship to the poorer classes, it would also have a bad effect on morale…  It is undesirable that any rationing of bread should be attempted…

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 OCTOBER TO DAWN 14 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rainstorm early evening.

1122-1140 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters approaching the Island from the north east escorting a reconnaissance aircraft. When the raiders are still 12 miles from Malta, they split into two; six raiders recede and the remaining three cross the coast over Kalafrana to carry out reconnaissance.  Ten Hurricanes are scrambled and the reconnaissance aircraft turns away rapidly.  The Hurricanes chase the raiders back to the Sicilian coast but are unable to catch them.

1444-1500 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north east at great altitude and cross the coast over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to gain sufficient height to intercept. 

0535-0640 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island. Nine cross the coast, split into two formations and dive down to an average height of 400 feet to launch a machine-gun attack on an area from the Cisk factory right across Luqa and the Safi dispersal area.  One bullet hits a Wellington bomber causing slight damage. 

The raiders are engaged at 11000 feet by a heavy anti-aircraft barrage and also by Bofors as well as searchlight and infantry light machine-guns. A Bofors position at Safi hits and damages one Macchi, a Bofors at Luqa hits and damages another two.  A third Bofors at Imsierah hits and damages a fourth.  A light machine-gun manned by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment at Safi fires a long burst into another Macchi.

Five Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders as they leave their attack. P/O Barnwell of Malta Night Fighter Unit shoots one Macchi fighter down into the sea but then does not return to base.  It is thought his engine may have cut out over the sea.  A search is launched.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thorn left on patrol.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron 1 Maryland patrol north Ionian Sea; 1 Maryland search for convoy; 1 Maryland special patrol. Photoreconnaissance Tripoli. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked motor transport on the Benghazi Road. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington shipping sweep. Fleet Air Arm 1 Fulmar bombed and machine-gunned eastern perimeter of Castel Vetrano aerodrome causing three explosions. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish sent to attack convoy of 2 merchant ships and 2 destroyers south of Lampedusa dropped 5 torpedoes leaving one merchant vessel low in the water and on fire.  

KALAFRANA 0025 hrs Sunderland T9050 landed safely at Kalafrana having lost an airscrew, the controls being also damaged. Captain of the aircraft was F/Lt Milligan of 230 Squadron, with 8 passengers on board.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor & Commander in Chief visited the Battalion.

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

 

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

 

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11 October 1941: Malta Command Must Explain Loss of Bomb Disposal Officer

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RAF Blenheim

RAF Blenheim

ROYAL ENGINEERS OFFICER WAS WORKING FOR THE RAF

The War Office sent an urgent telegram today calling on Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief to account for the death of Lt Edward Talbot in an air crash. The Royal Engineers officer was aboard one of two RAF Blenheim bombers of 107 Squadron which are now believed to have collided while evading enemy fire on Thursday night during an attack on enemy shipping. 

Talbot was one of only two Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers currently in Malta; he had been on respite from his bomb disposal duties since May, when his command was transferred to Lt G D Carroll, RE. The Army bomb disposal squad is responsible for all unexploded bombs across Malta and Gozo, outside of RAF and Royal Navy premises.  However, with a shortage of suitable officers on the Island to fulfil all military needs, after several weeks of rest Lt Talbot was recently redeployed to assist the RAF.

In an immediate reply to the War Office, Lt Gen Dobbie stated: “Lieutenant Talbot attached RAF station Luqa for Intelligence duties. (My POR no 52 September 25 refers.) Army and RAF Intelligence officers exchanged periodically by local arrangements between Air Officer Commanding and General Officer Commanding [Army].”

In a further message Lt Gen Dobbie explained: “In order to ensure adequate liaison with RAF I have found it necessary in the general interest of the Fortress to attach four specially selected Officers for air intelligence duties. Three Officers are attached to aerodromes and one does duty with RAF Headquarters.”  It is understood that Lt E E C Talbot was carrying out one of the four intelligence roles, based at Luqa aerodrome.

Two more Malta Blenheims of 107 Squadron were lost today in a mission against enemy shipping. The bombers were among six sent to attack a convoy in the Gulf of Sirte.  Flying Officer R Greenhill’s Blenheim was shot down by enemy defensive fire.  Sergeant A Rough’s aircraft was reported to have been damaged and then crashed into the sea.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 OCTOBER TO DAWN 12 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

0935-1029 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the north. First a single raider crosses the coast over St Julian’s Bay, then turns northwards.  Then six raiders split into two formations and circle 15 miles off the east of Grand Harbour before retiring northwards.  11 Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not gain sufficient height to intercept before the formation returns towards Sicily.

1636-1655 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters which fly over Grand Harbour and retire northwards. 9 Hurricanes area scrambled but cannot gain sufficient height to intercept.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0251-0319 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Ronald A Greenhill, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Gerald F McLeod, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Robert N Parker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Alfred D M Routh, RAFVR; Sergeant Alan M Smith, all 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland shipping search; 3 Marylands on special patrol.  Photoreconnaissance Tripoli town and harbour, Trapani and Castel Vetrano. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked shipping in the Gulf of Sirte.  F/O Greenhill and Sgt Routh failed to return. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar attacked barracks at Passero, dropping incendiaries and machine-gunning buildings. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish were sent to attack 2 merchant ships and 1 destroyer southbound off Marittimo.  The leader lost contact with the torpedo aircraft, who returned to base with torpedoes.  The leader alone located the convoy and attacked the leading merchant vessel; results not observed.

TA QALI  New airmen’s barrack block taken over.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Five Fusiliers are attached to RAF Luqa.

 

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

 

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10 October 1941: Malta Bomb Disposal Officer Killed

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Lt E E C Talbot, GC, RE

Lt E E C Talbot, GC, RE

BOMB DISPOSAL OFFICER WAS ABOARD MISSING BOMBER

Malta’s first Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer has been reported missing, presumed killed. According to reports, he was aboard one of two Blenheim aircraft which failed to return from an attack on enemy shipping off the south coast of Italy last night. 

The missing Blenheim pilots have been named as Wing Commander C F A Harte and Flying Officer Whitford-Walders, both of 107 Squadron. Two other Blenheims involved in the mission returned safely to Luqa.  Early today, the RAF in Malta picked up Italian radio reports stating that two aircraft collided over the coast near Cape Spartivento with no survivors.

Lt Edward Talbot GC, MBE arrived last November to assume command of the Island’s Bomb Disposal Section. He has been on respite leave from bomb disposal duties since early May.  According to the current serving RE Bomb Disposal Officer, Lt George Carroll, his friend Lt Talbot had for some weeks been working with the RAF, collecting the reports from pilots on their return from operational missions. (1)

BRITISH PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN

The following communications have been approved today by the British Underground Propaganda Committee for transmission via rumour networks, in a bid to undermine morale among Axis troops and civilians:

Italy for general Mediterranean distribution

  • A ship with 500 Italian soldiers on board sailed into Malta and surrendered. They have mutinied and killed their officers.
  • During the last ten days seven [Axis] supply ships have put into Malta and surrendered. The British show special signal lights for deserters, who are given the choice of going to India or England. (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 OCTOBER TO DAWN 11 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Cooler with some rain.

1033-1052 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of six enemy fighters which cross the Island. 13 Hurricane fighters are scrambled but there are no engagements.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 2 Blenheim. 38 Squadron 6 Wellingtons attacked convoy. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands on special patrol.  1 Maryland on convoy search.  Photoreconnaissance of Tripoli. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims searched for missing Blenheim crews. 221 Squadron 2 Wellingtons searched for convoy. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish carried out two attacks on a convoy of 3 merchant ships, 1 tanker and 5 destroyers.  The first lasted from 2208 to 2230 hrs during which the 3 merchant vessels were damaged, 2 seriously.  The Swordfish returned to base and refuelled, then attacked the convoy again at 0440 hrs, at the end of which two merchant ships were sunk.

ARMY HQ  Air Officer Commanding Vice Marshal Lloyd gave a lecture at the Marsa Club on the activities of the RAF in Malta, attended by officers and NCOs.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

(2) Whispers of War: Underground Propaganda Rumour-Mongering in the Second World War, Lee Richards, 2010

 

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

 

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9 October 1941: Italy, Sicily, Libya and Convoys Attacked From Malta

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Catanzaro

Catanzaro attacked

WAR CABINET REPORT ON MALTA: WEEK ENDING 9 OCTOBER

Eight Blenheims from Malta made a successful daylight raid on the power station, engine sheds and a munitions works at Catanzaro Marina, southern Italy, and hits were made on all the targets. The success of a night attack by two Blenheims on railway sheds at Catania was confirmed by photographs which showed five hits.  Hurricanes carried out three attacks with bombs and cannon fire against the aerodrome at Comiso, Sicily, and against railway stations in the vicinity.

Many offensive sorties were despatched against enemy shipping located by our reconnaissance aircraft. Swordfish made two successful night torpedo attacks on ships in convoy.  They sank a 6000 ton merchant ship off Cape Bon; and severely damaged two others totalling 15000 tons, and probably a third, 50 miles north east of Tripoli.  A Blenheim made a successful moonlight attack on a 2000 ton merchant ship off Tripoli and left her with her stern under water after making two hits.  A Wellington on patrol off western Sicily made one hit on a large merchant ship.

Eight Blenheims, unable to locate their shipping target, attacked the port of Zuara, west of Tripoli, straddling a destroyer and obtaining near misses on a blockhouse. One Blenheim was lost and one Italian fighter was probably destroyed during this operation.  The Misurata-Sirte road was attacked by five Blenheims which destroyed a petrol tanker and 14 lorries.

Three night attacks were made by a total of 24 Wellingtons on shipping at Tripoli. In the course of these attacks one merchant ship was set on fire and another of 10000 tons was hit, while burning oil from a tanker spread over a wide area.  Hits and near misses were also observed on two other merchant ships, and a number of lighters were destroyed or damaged.  Reconnaissance aircraft carried out wide searches for shipping, and a Maryland so engaged attacked a submarine off Syracuse with machine-gun fire.

A few enemy fighters crossed the coast of Malta by day, and bombs were dropped on the Island on two nights.  A few civilian casualties were caused; material damage was negligible.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 OCTOBER TO DAWN 10 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rainstorms.

No air raids.

Military casualties Private James Lawrence, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment; Wing Commander Frazer A Harte, Royal Air Force, 107 Squadron; Flying Officer Neville Whitford-Walders, Royal Air Force, 107 Squadron; Lt Ellis E A C Talbot, Royal Engineers (attached 107 Squadron RAF).

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Unique, Sokol and Upholder sailed at short notice to intercept a convoy between Pantellaria and Lampedusa.  Upholder returned with generator problems.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Beaufighter. Departures 1 Bombay, 1 Catalina, 2 Sunderland, 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron 1 Blenheim and 1 Maryland patrols east Sicilian coast. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked motor transport on the Homs-Tripoli road.  2 Blenheims on shipping sweep of south coast of Italy.  Both failed to return (W/Cdr Harte and F/O Whitford-Walders). 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on special patrol; 1 Wellington in shipping search. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a southbound convoy of 4 merchant ships and 5 destroyers.  6 torpedoes were dropped and three hits claimed, stopping two merchant ships.  The same 7 Swordfish carried out a second attack on two other merchant ships and four destroyers of same convoy.  Five torpedoes were released and one hit stopped a merchant ship.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Fortress Orders state that no weapons are to be loaded in quarters.

 

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

 

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8 October 1941: London Press Heralds Malta Attacks on Axis Convoys

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Fleet Air Arm Swordfish

“ITALIAN SHIPPING: ANOTHER HEAVY BLOW”

London, 8 October 1941 – from a press correspondent in Malta

“Another heavy success against enemy shipping in the Mediterranean – this time by planes of the Fleet Air Arm – was revealed in a dispatch from Malta last night. The story of the new blow followed hard on the Admiralty announcement yesterday morning that British submarines operating in the Mediterranean had hit with torpedoes and sunk or seriously damaged 11 enemy vessels. 

‘The Fleet Air Arm on Sunday night launched a sudden, savage attack against an Italian convoy steaming south in the Ionian Sea,” says the Malta message. “The convoy, which was first sighted before daylight, comprised four merchantmen of from 8000 to 10000 tons, two between 4000 and 6000 tons, and five destroyers.

A Fleet Air Arm formation attacked in bright moonlight. The first two planes swept in, attacking the rearmost vessels from starboard and from port respectively.  Before the Italians opened fire they were beyond range, leaving the largest merchantman listing heavily and belching black smoke, and a 6000 ton ship with its stern under water and also listing heavily.  The crews were seen taking to the boats and pulling towards a destroyer.  The destroyers frantically opened fire and laid a smoke screen which, however, a strong wind dispersed. 

The remainder of the formation then attacked the convoy. The leading plane straddled a large vessel with a stick of bombs, probably damaging its bows.  Another attacked a ship on the starboard column.  It swung out of line and stopped.  All the planes returned safely.’”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 OCTOBER TO DAWN 9 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Heavy rain in the afternoon.

Dawn  Enemy aircraft carry out air reconnaissance in the area where surface vessels were detected overnight.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Susanna Galea, age 41.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Perseus arrived from patrol off Benghazi for docking and repairs.  Two small supply ships sunk. P34 arrived from the United Kingdom via Gibraltar.  

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Beaufighter, 8 Blenheim. 69 Squadron  Maryland patrols east Tunisian coast and 3 special patrols. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked transport on the Misurata-Sirte road. 221 Squadron 2 Wellingtons on special patrols. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked a northbound enemy convoy of one merchant ship, a schooner and two trawlers.  Two torpedoes were dropped hitting a merchant ship which sank.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  An exercise with ‘attack’ by mobile infantry platoons and three tanks of Malta Tank Troop on Royal Artillery harbour gun positions and forts of San Pietru, Rocco, Rinella and Ricasoli.

 

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

 

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