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31 July 1941: Malta’s 800th Air Raid Alert Today

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AIR AND NAVAL CHIEFS REVIEW JULY OPERATIONS FROM MALTA

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

AIR HQ

The continued policy of the Command has been to intercept convoys en route between Italy and North Africa by day with the Blenheim detachments and by night with the shore-based Fleet Air Arm Swordfish. In addition, Wellingtons have concentrated on Tripoli port, causing considerable damage to the port facilities. 

82 Squadron carried out three attacks on military transport and barracks, and one attack on shipping. They were relieved by 110 Squadron on 4 July, and carried out successful attacks on shipping, harbours and key roads with the loss of six aircraft.  148 Squadron carried out 13 successful sorties during the month, chiefly on Tripoli.  Hurricanes of 46 and 185 Squadrons have made two successful attacks on seaplane moorings at Syracuse, at least three aircraft being burned out.

Beaufighters of 143, 252 and 272 Squadrons arrived towards the end of the month to cover a Naval operation. During their attachment they carried out two highly successful sorties against aerodromes in Sicily and Sardinia, destroying at least 38 aircraft and damaging many more.

Throughout the month Fulmars have patrolled over Catania by night and on one occasion shot down a bomber off Syracuse. Bombs were also dropped on aerodromes and towns.  The activities of these lone Fulmars has done much to harass the nocturnal operations of the Italians and on many nights prevented enemy bombers from operating.

The whole offensive has been possible through the reconnaissances of 69 (Maryland) Squadron, which was reinforced by three aircraft from Egypt. The Squadron aircraft have been equipped with bomb racks and although not employed on offensive work during the month they have released bombs over their objectives during reconnaissance.  They have also made two low-flying machine-gun attacks and at least two enemy aircraft were shot down during patrols.

249 Squadron carried out 29 day scrambles and 19 night scrambles. 46 Squadron, which was renamed 126 Squadron on 22 July, carried out 31 scrambles by day and 18 by night.  185 Squadron carried out 71 scrambles by day.

VICE-ADMIRAL MALTA

Malta submarines have carried out 13 patrols during the month. Four ships of approximate total of 16200 tons were claimed as sunk.  A further two ships of approximately 7500 total tonnage were probably sunk.  In addition, two hits each were obtained on a Condottieri “D” class cruiser and on a 500 foot floating dock.

830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm carried out three torpedo attacks on shipping. One hit was made on a tanker off Tripoli.  Two hits were made on a tanker off Lampedusa.  The total tonnage of these two ships is estimated at 10,000 tons.  One or both may have been sunk but of this there is no definite evidence.  In the third attack, a hit was obtained on the stern of a destroyer and a heavy explosion was observed in a ship of about 6000 tons.  This ship may have been sunk but the evidence is inconclusive.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

Day  Nine enemy aircraft come to within 25 miles of Grand Harbour and then turned back.  23 Hurricanes are scrambled but make no contact with the enemy.  S/Ldr Barton’s Hurricane’s engine fails and he has to make a forced landing but sustains no injuries. 

2200-2248 hrs  Air raid alert for a three enemy BR 20 bombers which approach singly from the north east and attack Grand Harbour, dropping 250kg bombs near the floating dock and on the Parade Ground of St Angelo destroying three mess rooms and injuring three people. Bombs are also dropped in the sea.  Hurricanes of 126 Squadron are scrambled. Searchlights illuminate raiders three times but the Hurricanes are unable to make contact.  P/O Stone chases a raider 30 miles out to sea but is unable to see it beyond the searchlights. 

2350-0017 hrs  Air raid alert for a single BR 20 which approaches from the north and drops 250kg bombs in the Grand Harbour area, as well as in the sea north east of Ricasoli. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 31 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  P32 arrived from United Kingdom. Upholder arrived from patrol off Marittimo, having sunk a 6000 ton laden merchant vessel, and obtained 2 hits on a Condottiere D class cruiser.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to intercept a southbound convoy of 4 merchant ships and 5 destroyers 20 miles west of Lampion.  Owing to poor visibility, convoy was located by ASV (radar).  2 torpedoes were fired and 1 hit obtained (unconfirmed).

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 3 Wellington, 4 Blenheim (leader had engine failure and all returned). 69 Squadron Marylands made 8 reconnaissance flights including Sicily, Elmas and Monserrato.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli strafed enemy aircraft on the ground at Zuara.  Marylands on special patrol. 105 Squadron 6 Blenheims sent to attack convoy but were intercepted by enemy fighters and returned without dropping bombs.

KALAFRANA  During July Sunderland and Catalina flying boats made considerable use of the station for flights between the Middle East and UK, with 28 arrivals and departures of aircraft during the month. Passengers included Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, Inspector General of the Royal Air Force, and Rt Hon Captain Lyttleton, AOC, Middle East.  The rescue Swordfish carried out 8 patrols and marine craft 6.  Numbers rescued during the month were 3 Italians by marine craft, 1 British and 1 Italian by floatplanes.  Total rescues since 11 June 1940 are 42 by marine craft (including 7 dead) and 3 by floatplane.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Regimental Dance Band is being reformed in the Battalion. Auditions were held and instruments have been begged, borrowed and bought.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths officers 31, other ranks 876, RAOC (attached) 2.  

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strength 22 officers, 393 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strengths 17 officers, 554 other ranks.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 27 officers, 8 WOs, 181 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on July 31, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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23 July 1941: Malta Convoy Ship Sunk by Bombers, Another Disabled

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HMS Fearless

HMS Fearless

ITALIAN BOMBERS STALK ‘OPERATION SUBSTANCE’

Enemy aircraft launched a fierce attack on Malta’s vital supply convoy today as it passed through the western Mediterranean. Italian SM 79 bombers were reported shadowing the convoy early this morning and Fulmars took off from Ark Royal to drive off the raiders.  While they were away from the convoy, a second group of SM 79 torpedo bombers dived down over the convoy from out of the sun and launched their torpedoes.  The cruiser Manchester was hit in the engine room; with three of her four engines disabled she was forced to turn back for Gibraltar.  The destroyer Fearless was badly hit and burst into flames; she then capsized and sank.

There were two further attacks this afternoon but neither caused any damage and the convoy proceeded as planned. With over 200 Italian bombers still operative in the Mediterranean, the decision was taken to steer the convoy through an unexpected route.  Instead of hugging the coast of North Africa, the ships turned north east towards Sicily, navigating the Italians’ own mine-free channel en route to Malta.

Helping Manchester's wounded (c) IWM A4890

Helping Manchester’s wounded

Beaufighters sent out on a defensive patrol over the convoy attacked and sank an E boat east of Pantelleria; they also damaged a SM 79 bomber. One Beaufighter failed to return from the mission.  The pilot has been named as Sgt W M Deakin of 272 Squadron.

Meanwhile, six supply ships sailed from Malta today in convoy MG 1A, also part of ‘Operation Substance’. The merchant ships Settler, Thermopylae, Amerika, Talabot, and Hoegh Hood, along with the supply ship Breconshire headed westwards through the Mediterranean, escorted by destroyer Encounter.  A seventh merchant ship, Svenor, had a collision on leaving harbour and had to return to dock.  They are expected to rendezvous with Force H of the Mediterranean Fleet, currently escorting a new supply convoy towards Malta, which will then cover the passage of MG 1A to Gibraltar.

HMS Fearless casualty list

HMS Manchester casualty list

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

Military casualties Pilot Officer Noel A C Cathles, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 110 Squadron; Sergeant William M Deakin, RAFVR, 272 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 23 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Convoy MG 1 escorted by Encounter and Gloxinia sailed at 0500.  SS Svenor fouled the boom and rammed the breakwater.  She returned to harbour and docked with damage to bow.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Maryland. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Taranto, Palermo, Trapani, Messina and Catania.  6 Marylands closing patrol Marittimo Island to Carbonara from dawn to dusk. 110 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked merchant shipping in Trapani Harbour hitting two ships and bombing a nearby aerodrome. Sgt Cathles’ aircraft was damaged as he approached the target and crashed into a hillside in Sicily; the crew are believed killed.  11 Beaufighters escorted a convoy from near Bizerta towards Malta; Sgt Deakin failed to return.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  News is received of a large convoy of warships and merchant transport arriving tomorrow with reinforcements, stores and petrol. The Bn has to provide 3 platoons for working parties to unload the petrol.  This will last at least one week.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 100kg HE, 1 x 250kg HE).

 

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

 

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22 July 1941: Malta Convoy Attacked by Italian Submarine

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HMS Renown

HMS Renown

TORPEDOES AIMED AT ADMIRAL’S FLAGSHIP

The flagship of Force H Commander Vice Admiral Somerville, HMS Renown, narrowly escaped damage today when torpedoes were aimed at the battlecruiser by an Italian submarine. Renown was attacked in the western Mediterranean while leading the escort for the Malta convoy under ‘Operation Substance’. 

Measures had been taken to divert the attention of the Italian navy from the convoy. Since yesterday, ships of the Mediterranean Fleet operating out of Alexandria have been exchanging radio messages to suggest a major operation in the eastern Mediterranean.  However, the submarine Diaspro on patrol in the western sector spotted the convoy and launched her torpedoes which just missed Renown. 

The Malta convoy continued its progress eastwards without further disturbance today. Ten of the escorting Royal Navy ships were refueled successfully by RFA Brown Ranger which sailed yesterday from Gibraltar in advance of the main Malta convoy. Brown Ranger is now on her way back to port under the escort of the destroyer HMS Beverley.

RFA Brown Ranger

RFA Brown Ranger

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1105-1130 hrs  A formation of enemy aircraft is reported of Cape Passero, heading south. Hurricane aircraft are scrambled but the formation turns away.  As the Hurricanes head back towards Malta, a second formation of 25 enemy aircraft is reported heading for Malta.  Another flight of Hurricanes is scrambled.  The raiders approach to within 15 miles of Grand Harbour, then turn back northwards.  The Hurricanes set off in pursuit bur are unable to catch the enemy.

2117-2342 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach from the north east individually, crossing the coast east of Salina Bay and Grand Harbour respectively. Bombs are dropped in the Marsa area.

Military casualties  Flight-Sergeant William H Sargent, pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 110 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to attack convoy of 1 tanker 7000 tons, 1 destroyer, and 1 small merchant vessel intercepted south west of Lampion.  They hit the tanker with 2 torpedoes and claimed sunk, one hit with a torpedo on the stern of the destroyer was also secured.  All aircraft returned.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Beaufighter. Departures 1 Sunderland, 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Taranto shot down a Cant seaplane on return.  Reconnaissance Naples, Messina, Palermo, Trapani; search patrol and night shadowing of convoy. 110 Squadron  4 Blenheim attacked a convoy and sank two ships; the Observer of one Blenheim was killed.  After inspecting the Command the Inspector General, Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, and staff proceeded to the Middle East.  

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  240 first line reinforcements arrived for the Battalion: 5 officers, 100 men of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, 100 men of the Green Howard Regiment, 40 men of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiment.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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18 July 1941: Malta Main Fuel Tanks Damaged by Enemy Bombs

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petroleum tanks

(c) ASP

AVIATION FUEL TANK HOLED BY SHRAPNEL

Fuel storage tanks in Malta have been damaged by enemy bombs. In a report to his head office in London, the head of Malta’s leading petroleum company has described the effects of bombing on a key fuel depot.

The roof of one main tank was pierced by bombs damaging the centre ventilation shaft and depressing a large area of the roofing to three feet in depth. A second bomb exploded internally, blowing off 30 feet square of roof covering.  A third bomb exploded about eight feet from the tank, which was penetrated by shrapnel 18 inches above ground level.  The contents had to be transferred to another tank. 

A bomb also penetrated the roof of a tank of aviation fuel, exploding against the bottom and making a nine inch hole, as well as damaging the roof and pipe work. The first level of the tank was badly riddled by shrapnel, causing 42 punctures and partial fractures in many places.

In all the loss of fuel was only approximately ten tons. The Dockyard authorities are currently reviewing the damage but first indications are that they can effect repairs using electrical welding apparatus.

BLENHEIM SHOT DOWN DURING RAID ON TRIPOLI

The crew of a Blenheim bomber of 110 Squadron are missing presumed killed tonight after their aircraft was shot down during a raid on North Africa. The Blenheim was one of two sent to attack a power station in Tripoli.  The bomber was observed making direct hits on the target, causing significant explosions.  It was then attacked by Italian CR 42 fighters and was seen crashing into the sea.  The crew of the second Blenheim reported that it was unlikely there were any survivors.  The missing crew have been named as pilot Wing Commander T M Hunt, DFC, wireless operator/air gunner Sergeant F Thripp and observer K C Tucker.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JULY TO DAWN 19 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

0927-0950 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy Macchi fighters five miles off the south of the Island.

0945 hrs  An unexploded bomb at Targa Gap is removed by the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Section.

0222-0340 hrs; 0400-0435 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of nine enemy aircraft which cross the Island at intervals, dropping small calibre bombs on Zabbar damaging a water main near the Poor House, on isolated areas near Luqa, Naxxar and Gudja, and in the sea off the north coast near Dragonara and Valletta. Rinella wireless station is slightly damaged.  Two Hurricanes and one Fulmar are airborne throughout the raids but searchlights do not illuminate any raiders and there are no interceptions.

Military casualties  Wing Commander Theodore M Hunt, DFC, pilot, Royal Air Force (RAF), 110 Squadron; Sergeant Frederick Thripp, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, RAF, 110 Squadron; Sergeant Kenneth C Tucker, Observer, RAF, 110 Squadron.                                           

Civilian casualties  Attard  Jane Fenech, age 50.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 JULY 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Overnight (17/18) the Inspector General, Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, and staff arrived by Sunderland from Gibraltar. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Catania, Augusta, Syracuse recorded 8 JU 52, 15 BR 20, 11 other unidentified bombers and 42 fighters. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Palermo Harbour. 110 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked Tripoli power station achieving direct hits and causing explosions.  1 Blenheim of W/C Hunt was shot down by enemy fighters near Tripoli; probably no survivors.

HAL FAR  Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ over Catania and Gerbini dropped bombs on Gerbini and Augusta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 7 (15kg HE).

 

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

 

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15 July 1941: All-Australian Maryland Crew Lost on Convoy Search

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MARYLAND’S RADIO REMAINS SILENT

Maryland in flightThe all-Australian crew of a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing today after the aircraft failed to return from a mission. The Maryland of 69 Squadron was one of several sent to patrol over the Tripoli area to locate an enemy convoy. 

The Maryland’s estimated time of return to base elapsed with no sign of the aircraft. It was later reported that no radio transmission had been heard from the aircraft from the moment of take-off onwards. 

The crew has now formally been reported missing. They have been named as pilot Sergeant Cyril Lee, air gunner Sergeant Jack Neill and observer Sergeant James Simpson.  All are members of the Royal Australian Air Force. 

In a separate incident the observer of a Blenheim sent to attack a Tripoli convoy was hit and killed by anti-aircraft guns over the target. The Blenheim was one of three of 110 Squadron sent to attack a convoy of four merchant vessels with a four-strong destroyer escort.  The observer is named as Sergeant John Broadway of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JULY TO DAWN 16 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  A formation of about 20 aircraft, approaches Malta and circles to the north.  Malta fighters are scrambled but recede before they make contact with the raiders.

1738-1801 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy fighters which circle well to the north of the Island. Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders turn north before any interception.

0104-0155 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach from the north and cross the coast over St Paul’s Bay, drop bombs on Baida Ridge and retreat over Ghain Tuffieha, dropping bombs on the camp, injuring one driver and two personnel of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Bombs are also dropped in the sea nearby.  Hurricanes are scrambled and remain airborne for two hours; no engagement.

0205-0450 hrs Air raid alert for 11 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, crossing the coast at various points and dropping bombs apparently indiscriminately, including on Baida Ridge (and in the sea nearby), near Anchor Bay, west of Gudia (and in the sea nearby), in Kalafrana Bay, and on land near Madalena, between Nigret and Lapsi, near Pitkali searchlight station and near Rabat. Searchlights illuminate one raider for two minutes: heavy anti-aircraft fire a barrage; no claims.  Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.  Three unexploded bombs are reported by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 

Military casualties  Sergeant John A C Broadway, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 110 Squadron; Sergeant Cyril F Lee, Pilot, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), 69 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Carson Grayson Neill, Air Gunner, RAAF, 69 Squadron; Sergeant James M Simpson, Observer, RAAF, 69 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to locate convoy off Kerkennah Bank.  Failed to sight due to poor visibility, but torpedoed a wreck off the Bank mistaking it for a ship of the convoy. 2 mines off Tigne and 1 off Viaduct and breakwater successfully countermined.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli and patrol to locate convoy (Sgt Lee failed to return).  Maryland patrol to navigate Blenheims to attack on convoy. 110 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked convoy of 4 merchant ships escorted by 4 destroyers; one merchant ship is destroyed and another badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns hit one Blenheim killing the Observer.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ patrolled Catania and released four 20lb bombs which started a fire.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

 

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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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

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 Troops (NWMA Malta)

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

TROOPS ON LEAVE MUST RESPOND IMMEDIATELY

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JULY TO DAWN 14 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and hazy.

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 JULY 1941

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

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

 

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Posted by on July 13, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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9 July 1941: Security Breach Endangers Malta Convoy

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Naples bombed tonight

Naples bombed tonight

COMMUNICATIONS LEAK PLACES VITAL CONVOY UNDER THREAT

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

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

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

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

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

FOUR MALTA BLENHEIMS MISSING AFTER ATTACK ON TRIPOLI

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 JULY 1941

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Posted by on July 9, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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