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1 October 1941: Malta Command Reports Standard of Enemy Bomber Crews Deteriorating

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Lt Carroll (l.) & men of RE Bomb Disposal, Malta (NWMA Malta)

Lt Carroll (l.) & men of RE Bomb Disposal, Malta (NWMA Malta)

RAID SUMMARY SEPTEMBER 1941

  • No of air raids to date 828
  • No of air raid alerts this month 31 (including 21 night alerts)
  • Days without air raid alerts 12
  • Total time under alert 19 hours 23 mins
  • Average length of alert 38 mins
  • Civilians killed by enemy action 4
  • Civilians injured 4

ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL SECTION

Unexploded bombs dealt with July-Sept 1941 total: 224

  • High explosives: 15g x 21; 50kg x 8; 130lb x 1; 100kg/250lb x 8; 150kg x 2; 250kg/500lb x 2; 500kg x 2
  • Incendiaries: 2kg x 174; 70kg x 2
  • Anti-personnel: 2kg x 3; 12kg x 1

MALTA COMMANDERS REPORT ON SEPTEMBER RAIDS

The month was chiefly notable for the increase in the number of daylight raids, the majority being made by small numbers of the new Macchi 200s with in-line engines, flying, for the most part, at too great a height for interception by our own fighters. Night bombing increased presumably as a reprisal for our own heavy raids on enemy ports and aerodromes, but the standard of enemy bomber crews appears to be deteriorating.

Bombing occurred only at night. There were twelve night bombing raids, as a result of which three men and one woman were killed, and three men and three women seriously injured. Thirteen houses, one factory and one garage were demolished or badly damaged.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 OCTOBER TO DAWN 2 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

1155-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy fighters approaching the Island in two formations. Eight Hurricane fighters 185 Squadron and six 126 Squadron are scrambled.  185 Squadron intercept the first formation five north of Gozo, damaging one enemy fighter.  The second formation which has positioned itself against the sun immediately launches a counter-attack on the Hurricanes which break off their action at once.  One Hurricane’s starboard wing is damaged in an engagement with a Macchi fighter but he returns safely.  Sgt Knight attacks another Macchi and damages its tail unit but is then attacked by three others and forced to break off the action.  The fighter of S/Ldr Mould DFC is shot down.

PM  One Swordfish 830 Squadron carries out a search for S/Ldr Mould without success.

Military casualties  Private Cyril Fletcher, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Squadron Leader Peter W O Mould, DFC and Bar, Royal Air Force, 185 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thrasher arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Sirte having carried out two unsuccessful attacks.  Much anti-submarine and minelaying activity off Benghazi. Polish submarine Sokol arrived from Gibraltar and from patrol supporting ‘Operation Halberd’.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Maryland, 2 Wellington.  69 Squadron 2 Maryland special patrols. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion mounting guard on convoy ships.

 

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Posted by on October 1, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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30 September 1941: Submarines Sink 49 Axis Ships in 3 Months

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RAF raid on German ammunition dump in Libyan desert August 1941

RAF raid on German ammunition dump in Libyan desert August 1941

ROYAL NAVY MONTHLY REVIEWS SEPTEMBER 1941

Between June and the end of September, submarines have sunk a total of 49 enemy ships – an overall 150,000 tons – in the Mediterranean. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF this represented a high proportion of Axis shipping bound for Libya.

12 patrols were carried out during the month by submarines of 10th Flotilla.  In addition, Triumph proceeded to a successful patrol in the Adriatic, Perseus to an area off Kefalonia, and Otus and Osiris direct to Alexandria.

Unbeaten carried out a spirited bombardment of a tunnel which caused consternation to the local home guard, and Upright sank a destroyer of the Generale class.  The most successful operation was against a fast convoy east of Tripoli, during which Upholder scored one hit on each of Oceania and Neptunia in a night attack and after reloading returned to sink one of them with two torpedoes at dawn.  The other ship’s fate is unknown.  The Vulcania of the same convoy was intercepted by Ursula which scored one hit on the ship causing it to list slightly and reduce speed.

No bombs were reported as having fallen on the Dockyard or other Naval establishments. No unexploded bombs were dealt with by the Royal Navy during the month. 

AIR HQ REPORTS A TOTAL OF 233 TONS OF BOMBS ON TRIPOLI THIS MONTH

During the month sweeps over enemy territory by Malta fighters, some equipped to carry 40lb bombs, were added to the strategy.

Marylands and photoreconnaissance Hurricanes of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes daily as well as making frequent reconnaissances of Sicilian and southern Calabrian ports and aerodromes, and of Tripoli. Naples has also been visited.  The excellent photographs, visual and sighting reports obtained have indirectly been responsible for the increased pressure of offensive effort from Malta during the month.

Offensive Operations:  Wellingtons of 38 Squadron carried out 26 operations during September, with an average of eight aircraft on each sortie. Over 233 tons of bombs have been dropped on Tripoli during 17 raids, causing considerable damage to harbour installations and the town. Palermo has been attacked five times, Messina twice, Benhazi and Kuriat once each.

Blenheims of 105 and 107 Squadrons carried out 31 operations, 20 of these directed against enemy shipping. Considerable damage was done to the chemical works and harbour installations at Crotone, factories at Licata, transport centres at Homs, barracks at Misurata and a power station at Porto Empedocle.  Five sweeps have been made along the Tripoli-Benghazi road during which petrol tankers and other transport vehicles have been bombed and machine-gunned.

Hurricanes (equipped with cannon) of 249 Squadron attacked the railway station at Pozallo, while those of 185 Squadron have carried out three bombing raids on Comiso aerodrome. On one of these raids a Hurricane was lost but the pilot was subsequently rescued. 

Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm carried out 16 operations, 13 of these against enemy shipping, and have sunk two motor vessels and one destroyer, as well as damaging others. Mines have been laid on two occasions in Tripoli Harbour and once at Palermo.  As a result of torpedo attacks two merchant ships are claimed sunk, one destroyer and three merchantmen probably sunk, seven damaged and a further five probably damaged. 

Beaufighters of 272 Squadron were attached to this command during ‘Operation Halberd’ and were used to attack Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes. Searches were also made south of Sicily for torpedo boats.

On 14 nights Fulmars have operated over aerodromes in southern Sicily, dropping small bombs and machine-gunning aircraft on the ground. One Fulmar force-landed in the sea; the crew were rescued.

Defensive Action: 126 Squadron carried out 31 scrambles during the month, 249 Squadron 22 and 185 Squadron 66. The Malta Night Fighter Unit had 22 scrambles and shot down two enemy aircraft.  Eleven enemy aircraft were confirmed destroyed, plus one probable and five damaged, against the loss of two Hurricanes.

Enemy Activity: There have been nine day alerts and 20 night alerts during the month. None of these raids was heavy and bombs have only been dropped at night.  Damage has been negligible and confined to civilian property. 

HURRICANES ATTACKED AS THEY SEARCH FOR MISSING PILOT

Malta fighters were attacked tonight by five enemy aircraft as they helped search for one of their own Hurricane pilots reported missing after a raid. Eleven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron had earlier attacked Comiso aerodrome but as they returned to their base at Hal Far they learned that one of their pilots, P/O Donald Lintern, was missing.  Five Hurricanes took off again to escort a Fulmar which was sent to search for the missing pilot.  As they circled the area to the north of Gozo, enemy aircraft approached and attacked the Malta fighters.  In the ensuing dogfight one of the enemy fighters was shot down.  P/O Lintern was not been found and the search was eventually called off.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 1 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and fresh.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant Robert L Kitch, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 200 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald W Lintern, RAFVR, 185 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington. Departures 6 Beaufighter, 4 Blenheim fighter. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar on offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania aerodromes dropped high explosive bombs on Gerbini dispersal area. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked a motor transport depot in Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance eastern and southern Sicily, east Calabrian coast and Tripoli.  Patrol of east Sicilian coast and shipping search off Tripoli area. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked shipping and motor transport near Misurata and Beurat.  1 Blenheim attacked a schooner.  1 Blenheim on search for shipping north of Crotone. 

HAL FAR  185 Squadron 11 Hurricanes attacked Comiso aerodrome, 5 carrying bombs and 6 acting as fighter escort. High explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on buildings and a dispersal area.  The aircraft of P/O Lintern failed to return. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Mobile machine-gun company carried out an exercise to the north west of Rabat.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths 33 officers, 870 other ranks.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 21 officers, 443 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 18 officers, 708 other ranks. Recruits joined in September: 77.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 18 officers, 8 WO1, 214 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on September 30, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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4 September 1941: Malta Defenders Destroy 12 Enemy Aircraft in 24 Hours

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air combatSIX MACCHI FIGHTERS DESTROYED IN DAYLIGHT RAID

Malta’s defenders shot down a total of 11 enemy aircraft today in just three engagements. Mid-morning a large formation of 20 Macchi fighters approached the Island.  21 Hurricanes in total (twelve of 126 Squadron and nine of 185 Squadron) were scrambled and intercepted the raiders when they were still some distance north of Grand Harbour. 

F/Lt Jeffries spotted a Macchi circling at 19000 feet 30 miles off the coast and led his section of 185 Squadron in the attack. The Macchi was last seen diving vertically towards the sea.  Four Macchi fighters then counter-attack but the Hurricanes manage to evade them. 

126 Squadron engaged the raiders at 20 miles off the coast. S/Ldr Rabagliati attacked two Macchis, reporting one spinning down towards the sea emitting smoke.  P/O Burke attacked two Macchis in turn, claiming hits on both; one was seen diving down towards the sea.  F/O Carpenter engaged three Macchis at high altitude, shooting one down. P/O Russell and F/Lt Lefevre attacked and shot down one Macchi apiece.  Three enemy parachutes were observed descending towards the sea; a fourth Italian also baled out but his parachute did not open. 

One Macchi only crossed the coast, flying at low altitude over Kalafrana and Hal Far. Bofors gun positions launched a fierce barrage and the Macchi was last seen losing height over Dingli Cliffs.

This afternoon it was the turn of Malta fighters to go on the offensive. Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron headed for Cape Passero on the southernmost point of Sicily, where a formation of twelve Macchi fighters had been reported in the air.  It became clear that the Macchis were protecting a hospital aircraft which was flying at sea level.  The Hurricanes launched an attack and a fierce dogfight ensued, during which three Macchis were destroyed, plus one probable, and two damaged.  Two Hurricanes were shot down; P/O G V Smith and Sgt J C Kimberley are missing.  The Hurricanes turned back towards Malta with the Macchis following close on their tails.  One Hurricane was hit by a bullet during the return flight but otherwise all remaining aircraft returned safely.  Speaking after the engagement, S/Ldr Barton said, “This is the toughest engagement I have experienced to date: the Macchis just stayed and fought.” 

Then in the early hours of this morning two enemy bombers took advantage of the approach of Wellington bombers to reach the Island without interception. High explosive bombs were dropped in the sea and incendiaries over Kalafrana and Marsaxlokk before two Malta night fighters can intercept.  Searchlights illuminate one of the bombers and the Hurricanes engage, shooting it down in flames into the sea, to “the cheers of half of Malta” according to one eye-witness.  Two crew members were seen to bale out of the bomber but after a thorough search only one could be found and rescued.

The bombers in tonight’s raid were later identified as Cant Z 1007s. This is the first known incident of the bomber being used in night raids over Malta.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1043-1115 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island. 12 Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled and attack the formation 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, shooting down four Macchis and damaging another.  Nine Hurricanes 185 Squadron also engage the raiders out to sea, shooting down one. One Macchi crosses the coast and flies over the Island at low altitude.  Bofors gun positions at Kalafrana and Hal Far engage, both claiming hits, and the Macchi is observed losing height over Dingli Cliffs.

1546 hrs  Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron engage 12 Macchi 200 fighters five miles off Cape Passero. Three Macchis are destroyed, plus one probable, and two damaged.  Two Hurricanes are shot down; P/O Smith and Sgt Kimberley are reported missing.  The Macchis follow the Hurricanes back towards Malta.  One Hurricane is struck by a bullet during the return flight. 

0443-0530 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island with incoming Wellington bombers. The raiders drop high explosive bombs in the sea at Delimara Point, and incendiaries over Kalafrana and in fields near Marsaxlokk.  Searchlights illuminate a bomber which is engaged by Hurricane fighters and shot down in flames into the sea. Two crew bale out; one wounded man is rescued and taken prisoner.  The bomber is later identified as a Cant Z1007, the first time that this type has been identified over Malta at night.

Military casualties  Sergeant John E Jones, wireless operator/air gunner, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Lewis D Parry, observer, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Walter H Wallace, pilot, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant James C Kimberley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 249 Squadron; Pilot Officer George V Smith, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Sergente Luigi Contarini, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; Pilot Sottotenente Andrea Della Pasqua, 9o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; Pilot Tenente Colonello Carlo Romagnoli, Tenente Colonello, Commander of 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol in Straits of Messina having sunk a schooner Q ship.  Vichy convoys and a hospital ship were sighted but nothing else.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance of Kerkennah area, western Ionian Sea and Tripoli.  Two Fulmars patrolled Catania, Gerbini and Comiso; bombs dropped on Comiso and Catania. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Three Swordfish, two with torpedoes and one with a mine, left for Tripoli to attack shipping outside harbour. No shipping was located but a mine was laid outside the harbour; torpedoes were not released.  38 Squadron 13 Wellingtons attacked motor transport depot destroying several buildings and starting fires. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked shipping and port facilities Crotone Harbour.  Enemy fire blew off the wing of Sgt Wallace’s Blenheim and the aircraft crashed, killing the crew. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion held a defence scheme exercise in conjunction with the Fortress Royal Engineers and troops of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers.  ‘Enemy parachute troops’ attacked targets in Corrodino, the Dockyard, Floriana and Valletta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 37 (1 x 500kg; 36 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on September 4, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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30 August 1941: Malta Aircraft Drop 200 Tons of Bombs on Tripoli

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bombing North AfricaAIR HQ MALTA REPORTS ON THE MONTH’S OPERATIONS     

During the month the Marylands and photoreconnaissance Hurricanes of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes daily and have also made frequent reconnaissances of Sicilian and southern Calabrian ports and aerodromes, and of Tripoli. As a result of these reconnaissances and a study of the excellent photographs obtained Wellingtons of 38 Squadron have carried out 15 raids on Tripoli and two raids on Catania.  During the month over 200 tons of bombs have been dropped on Tripoli alone and have caused considerable damage to shipping and harbour installations.  One Wellington failed to return from a raid over Tripoli.

Blenheims of 105 Squadron have carried out 23 operations, all except two of them against enemy shipping. Considerable damage was caused to chemical works at Crotone and to storage tanks and factories at Licata.  Five aircraft have been lost but the crew of one are known to be prisoners.

Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm have carried out 16 operations, 13 of which have been most successful. Twice they have bombed the submarine base at Augusta and once shipping at Catania.

Hurricanes (cannon-loaded) of 126 Squadron have attacked floatplanes at Syracuse and balloons at Augusta with considerable success.

On 14 nights, Fulmars have operated over aerodromes in southern Sicily, dropping small bombs and carrying out machine-gun attacks; on one occasion at least five aircraft being burnt out at Gerbini. These intruder operations have frequently disturbed the Italian night flying routine.

No 126 Squadron has carried out 19 scrambles during the month, 249 Squadron has carried out 34 and 105 Squadron 36. The newly-formed Malta Night Flying Unit has had 17 scrambles and has shot down 4 enemy aircraft confirmed.  There have been a total of 12 enemy aircraft confirmed destroyed, three probables and one damaged during the month, against the loss of one Hurricane and pilot.

It is probable that the Italians have been operating without German assistance during the month. There have been six day alerts and 18 night alerts, on 15 of which bombs were dropped, approximately half of them incendiary.  It is interesting to note that on at least two occasions a ‘hang up’ of these incendiary containers has resulted in the enemy aircraft catching fire and being destroyed.  Little damage has been done by air raids, and none to service property; there have been no service casualties.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant William F Butler, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Thomas P Butterfield, RAFVR; Sergeant Maurice H Cope, RAFVR; Sergeant Donald R A Garrick, RAFVR; Sergeant David D Todd, RAF.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 30 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli.  Special patrol sighted two passenger liners 110 miles south of Malta steering south eat. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping and specified targets in Tripoli in 3 waves.  Several bombs struck the target area, causing fires and damage to buildings. 105 Squadron 6 Blenheims sent to attack a power station and chemical factory at Licata score hits on buildings and large fires.  The attack was a complete surprise and there was no opposition.   

HAL FAR  One Fulmar patrolled over Comiso and Gerbini but low cloud prevented any attack. Four bombs were dropped on barracks at Pozzallo, starting a fire. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish on anti-shipping search located a 1500 ton merchant vessel 20 miles west of Lampedusa and scored a hit with one torpedo and probably a second.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strength of detachment 27 officers, 192 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on August 30, 2021 in 1941, August 1941

 

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20 August 1941: Malta’s Homes and Crops at Risk From Incendiaries

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Precious crops at risk from incendiaries

Precious crops at risk from incendiaries

INCENDIARY ALERT ACROSS MALTA

An alert has been issued to householders across Malta to remove any inflammable objects or temporary fittings from roofs. (1)  The warning by the Lt Governor’s office is necessary due to the very large numbers of incendiaries being dropped during the current campaign of night air raids by the Italian Regia Aeronautica.

Since 12 August, hundreds of 2kg incendiaries at a time have been scattered across Malta. Although small, the bombs contain fuel oil and can burn fiercely for up to ten minutes.  The Island’s stone buildings are not especially at risk, but in the dry summer heat any inflammable material is vulnerable to the bombs.  Precious food crops are also in danger of destruction. 

ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS ‘DARING ATTACKS’ ON HAL FAR

A particularly audacious action was carried out on Malta. In the early hours of yesterday an Italian fighter formation escorted by another formation of fighters flew over Malta and from a very low level machine gunned the highly equipped air base of Hal Far, while another formation crossed the sky over the Island.  The daring attacks of our fighters although met with a furious anti-aircraft fire were crowned with success.  Two large twin-engined bombers were set on fire and destroyed, while another two bombers and two single-engined planes were hit and rendered unserviceable.  Furthermore several other aircraft to the south of the airfield were hit and, judging by the flames, they sustained extensive damage.  The enemy’s anti-aircraft batteries were likewise attacked with armaments from on board our aircraft.  British fighters flying over Malta did not engage our planes, all of which returned normally to their respective bases. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 AUGUST TO DAWN 21 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 20 AUGUST 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Otus arrived with petrol and stores from Alexandria. Urge returned from patrol having sighted convoy, but was prevented from attacking by counter attacks.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols Lampedusa, eastern Ionian Sea, Trapani and Tripoli harbour. 126 Squadron 6 Hurricanes attacked barrage balloons, seaplanes and petrol tanks at Augusta. 

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

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor visited Gozo. A guard of honour of 3 officers and 106 ranks was provided by the Battalion. 

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, BDL Publishing 2015

 

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Posted by on August 20, 2021 in 1941, August 1941, Uncategorized

 

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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, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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19 July 1941: 40000 Tons of Supplies and 60000 Bombs for Malta

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City of Pretoria bringing stores to Malta

City of Pretoria bringing stores to Malta

LARGE CONVOY ASSEMBLING UNDER ‘OPERATION SUBSTANCE’

Over 40000 tons of general supplies, 60000 bombs and nearly 300000 rounds of ammunition are among the cargo loaded onto six merchant vessels bound for Malta. ‘Operation Substance’ will carry much needed supplies of food and fuel, as well as military equipment, intended to equip the Island for all its needs for several months.  The cargo includes:

  • Ammunition 290000 rounds, bombs 61000, grenades 45000
  • Smoke bombs 12300, signal flares 105000, explosive 72000 lbs, detonators 25000, cord 90000 ft, mine fuzes & detonators 16400.
  • Mobile guns 20, Bren guns 75, rifles 3245, guns 7853
  • Vehicles: anti-aircraft tractors 29, Bren carriers 30, motor cycles 84, pedal cycles 70, lorries 24, trailers 20, winch 1, fire engine 1, RAF tractors 12
  • Motor transport stores: 331 tons
  • Naval power boats 3, seaplane tender 1
  • NAAFI: stores 1376 tons
  • Naval Armament (tons): stores 1107, victualling 740, general supplies 761
  • Ordnance: stores 2975 tons
  • Royal Air Force (tons): stores 779, ammunition 397, oil 198, aviation spirit 5187
  • Royal Army Ordnance Corps: stores 11 tons
  • Royal Engineers: stores 708 tons
  • Bomb Disposal: equipment 2 tons
  • General supplies 4704 tons
  • Kerosene 2661 tons, MT spirit 708 tons, coal 4791 tons, cement 2660 tons
  • Foodstuffs (tons): fodder 989, tinned fish 291, tinned veg 755, flour 1600, wheat 5345, maize 680, rice 240, margarine 212, butter 25, edible oil 196, cheese 101, coffee 134
  • Colonial Office: stores 151 tons
  • Medical stores: 46 tons
  • Stationery: 12 tons
  • Mail: 197.5 tons

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  Hurricanes are scrambled in response to a formation of six enemy aircraft located some distance to the north of the Island. The raiders turn away and there is no engagement. 

0246-0338; 0405-0437 hrs Air raid alerts for four enemy aircraft which approach the Island at intervals from the north east and drop bombs mostly in the sea, except for one stick south east of Zeitun. 17 heavy anti-aircraft funs fire three barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Sergeant John D McCracken, pilot, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from coastal patrol west of Tripoli – sank 2 schooners by gunfire. Upholder sailed at 2200 for Operation Substance.  Four Swordfish dropped bombs on Tripoli Harbour near-missing a merchant vessel and starting a fire on the foreshore.

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Beaufighter, 6 Blenheim, 2 Maryland, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Zliten, Sirte area, Palermo, Messina, Naples, Pantelleria, Catania, Cagliari, Elmas, Monserrato. 126 Squadron Hurricane pilot Sgt J D McCracken was killed in an accident on take off.

HAL FAR  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked Tripoli with torpedoes and bombs; observation of results difficult due to poor visibility. Fulmar operation on Catania; small bombs were dropped.

TA QALI  Station visited by Inspector General Air Chief Marshal Sir E R Ludlow-Hewitt, CMG, DSO, MC and staff, who stayed for lunch.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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4 July 1941: 14 Killed 6 Missing and 19 Injured by Bombs on Hamrun

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Hamrun in 1930s

Hamrun in peacetime

BOMBS LAND NEAR ARP HQ

The community of Hamrun suffered a severe blow tonight when several 250kg high explosive bombs landed on the town. In one of the most intense bombing campaigns of recent months, seven aircraft of the Italian Regia Aeronautica launched a series of four raids between 1030 at night and 2 in the morning. 

Shortly before midnight, bombs landed near the local headquarters of the Air Raid Precautions volunteers, destroying six houses and seriously damaging a water main. At least 14 people were killed, including one Maltese serviceman; another six residents are currently unaccounted for.  19 more were injured, including 10 seriously.

BBC TO BROADCAST ON ‘GALLANT DEFENCE PUT UP BY MALTA’

Personal Telegram for General Dobbie from General Collins

“I hope to be able to say something of the gallant defence put up by Malta in a broadcast on 24 July. I would be grateful for any facts about the life of the Garrison and the inhabitants likely to interest relatives at home which can be broadcast, as well as local colour etc.  Details of the numbers of attacks made on Malta, enemy aircraft brought down, the skill of the anti-aircraft artillery and so on would I think be of interest to all at home.”

In a separate telegram the War Office has asked the Governor and Commander in Chief whether the BBC special programme (maltagc70 13 June 1941) for forces in Malta is appreciated, whether reception is good and times are suitable.

HURRICANE PILOT KILLED IN UNEXPLAINED CRASH

A Hurricane pilot was killed today when his aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from. Sergeant Thomas Hackston of 126 Squadron took off from Safi without any problem but within minutes the fighter was seen to crash into the sea.  The reason for the crash remains a mystery.

The Hurricane was one of 44 which on 6 June took off from an aircraft carrier in the western Mediterranean to fly to Malta as part of ‘Operation Rocket’. One of the 44 fighters was found to have defects and returned to its carrier. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1941

HMS Gloxinia

HMS Gloxinia

Weather  Fine; humid

1013-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 Macchi 200 fighters escorting an unidentified reconnaissance aircraft approaching from the north west. They come to within 10 miles of St Paul’s Bay when they are intercepted by four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron.  One Hurricane attacks three Macchi fighters, damaging one badly which descends in a spin from 8000 feet.  A second Hurricane badly damages a Macchi six miles north of Spinola. Several others are damaged.  The enemy aircraft split up and recede north east.  Ten more Hurricanes pursue the raiders as far as Cape Passaro but do not engage again. HMS Gloxinia picks up the body of a dead Italian pilot who is buried at sea. 

2231-2243 hrs; 2259-2333 hrs; 0007-0036 hrs; 0107-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 7 enemy aircraft: operating singly or closely following each other in pairs they cross the coast at about 16000 feet. In the first three raids Malta night fighters are scrambled and searchlights active but there are no illuminations due to haze, and no engagements.  In the last alert only searchlights and anti-aircraft guns are active; no claims.  Bombs are dropped on Hamrun near ARP headquarters, destroying houses and causing civilian casualties.  In other attacks bombs are dropped near Mosta and Lija with no serious damage or casualties; others are dropped in the sea.  One of the raiders fires its machine guns in the direction of Filfla for no apparent reason.

Military casualties Gunner Karmenu Dingli, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Thomas Hackston, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Hamrun Carmelo Azzopardi, age 24; Walter Azzopardi, age 16; Lorenza Burlo, age 56; Carmelo Burlo, age 55; Anthony Burlo, age 33; Francis Criminale, age 47; Carmelo Criminale, age 21; Paul Criminale, age 17; Mary Criminale, age 12; Ines Micallef, age 13; Francis Sant, age 56; Joseph Woodhouse, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Gian Paolo Mantovani, 7o Gruppo, 54o Stormo, Macchi 200 fighter pilot shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Urge returned from patrol south of Messina having sunk cruiser believed to be Bolzano, obtained one hit on a 9000 ton merchant vessel and blew up a train in a tunnel.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheims 110 Squadron, 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay, 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Homs, Sirte and special patrols. 110 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked troop motor transport on the Buerat-Sirte road, with three direct bomb hits on lorries plus others destroyed by machine-gun fire. 

HAL FAR  Sir Oliver Lyttleton, AOC Middle East, visited Hal Far with the AOC Mediterranean.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  We start a scheme which includes the whole of the Army on the Island. Even the Malta volunteers will ‘play’ after working hours.  At 2045 hrs we received the order ‘Exercise Asia’ which starts the scheme off.  Certain defence posts were then manned and leave automatically stopped.  Umpires posted at each Battalion HQ and each Company outlined the scenario: an attacking force is gathering in Southern Italy and there is heavy bombing of our aerodrome defences.

 

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28 June 1941: Thousands on the Move Again in Malta

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EVACUEES RETURN TO THREE CITIES WHILE OTHERS FLEE VALLETTA AND FLORIANA

159 have fled from Valletta & FlorianaThousands of Maltese are on the move again, thanks to the increase in air raid shelters in target areas on the Island. During the past month alone more than 3000 evacuees have returning to their homes either because of the new provision, or the promise of air raid shelter accommodation in their home district.  All areas around Grand Harbour have registered increases in population.  A total of 41 people have moved back to Cottonera, 397 to Paola and Tarxien; 366 to Zabbar and 669 to the Sliema area.

Meanwhile others are still leaving danger areas due to continuous sleepless nights caused by air raids. During the month 159 have fled to safety from Valletta and Floriana, both of which have recently heavily bombed recently. 1790 have left from Qormi and 402 from Balzan.  375 have found refuge in Birkirkara, 353 in Mellieha, 150 in Zurrieq and 131 in Zebbug. (1)

NEW FIGHTER SQUADRON FOR MALTA

A new fighter squadron has been formed at Ta Qali today following the recent arrivals of new Hurricane aircraft on the Island. 126 Squadron will be led by Wing Commander Alexander C Rabagliati who arrived in Malta as part of Operation ‘Rocket’ on 6 June with other members of 46 Squadron, members of which will form the core of the new squadron.

W/Cdr Rabagliati has already been very active in fighter operations over Malta, having shared in the destruction of one SM79 and damaged two more, destroyed a CR42, destroyed one Macchi and damaged a second in just three weeks.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JUNE TO DAWN 29 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 28 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  All available submarines (Union, Upright, Unique, Upholder) to patrol East of Messina to intercept Vichy French vessels thought likely to proceed to support Syria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Wellington, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 1 (130lb HE).

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

 

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29 November-5 December 1942: The Siege is Broken

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MALTA WAR DIARY  FINISHES 5 DECEMBER 1942

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29 November 1942: Starvation Rations Barely Eased Despite Convoy

Children in ruinsMalta has been holding its breath for news from the Government following the arrival of last week’s convoy.  The first one subject on everyone’s mind is food.  For many weeks, the Island’s armed forces and civilians alike have been on the verge of starvation.  The want of food has created a greater fear even than heavy bombing.  Children crying for want of food have become a common sight in the streets.  The death rate among babies and the elderly has risen, viral and infections diseases have increased.

Although they could not openly acknowledge it, the authorities knew that without the convoy supplies would have run out completely on 3 December.  Even with the latest delivery, stocks are only sufficient to feed the Island for another two weeks and there is no certainty when the next convoy will arrive.

Today’s announcement outlined the difficult choice faced by the Government: whether to raise rations in the hope of another convoy, or to be cautious until safe passage for supply ships is guaranteed.  In the event rations will be raised slightly, with an increase in the all-important bread allowance targeted at men from 16 to 60 in the first instance, starting 1 December.  For the rest of the population cheese and fats rations will be doubled and sugar restored to previous ration rates.  Any increase in other commodities will have to wait until further convoy deliveries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair.

0740-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to patrol Cape Scalabri as rear cover for returning bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1005 hrs  Spitfires from Luqa are airborne to provide cover for 185 Squadron returning from a bombing mission.

1100-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires of 185 Squadron: no enemy sighted.

1425-1605 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1640-1647 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

1220-1325 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron carry out a sweep over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.

Night  Beaufighters 89 Squadron on intercept patrol over the Island and surrounding area: no enemy aircraft seen.

0230-0505 hrs  One Swordfish is despatched to search for a missing Wellington crew: an oil patch is spotted on the sea, but no dinghy.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Emanuel Carabott, age 53.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1942

P 46 HMS Unruffled

P 46 HMS Unruffled

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 46 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Hurricane from Bone; two Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from Benghazi.  Departures  One DC 3, one Wellington to LG 224; one DC 3 to El Adem; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Bone; one Beaufighter to Algiers via Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort shot down by enemy aircraft: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Italy.  1730-2300 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were airborne to attack the docks at Bizerta in three waves.  Bombs fell near fuel tanks and among buildings, causing one large fire visible 50 miles away.  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were sent to lay mines in the entrance of Palermo harbour:  one was hit by flak and ditched into the sea.  The crew pilot F/Sgt Ellis Walker and Sgts R J McCallough, G R A Duffield and G D Stevens are missing.

TA QALI  0605-1055 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep strafed motor transport and railway in Pantelleria.  0725-0920 hrs  Two Spitfires 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0730-0830 hrs  Nine Spitfires, five carrying bombs, of 249 Squadron on bombing sweep:  bombs were dropped on Comiso aerodrome with good results.  Beaufighters had their most active day of the month, flying 18 sorties against shipping and aircraft in the north east area of Tunis.  1010-1330 hrs  Three Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: one coaster attacked and damaged.  1250-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: P/O Palmer destroyed one JU 52.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

30 November 1942:  Spitfire Bombers Turn Table on Axis

AIR RAID STATISTICS NOVEMBER 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date 3165
  • Total number of alerts this month 30
  • Number of blank days 11
  • Number of night raids 13
  • Raid free nights 23
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to Raiders Passed 10 hrs 35 mins
  • Average length of alert 21.2 mins

MALTA’S FIGHTER BOMBERS KEEP AXIS AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Having suffered for many months at the hands of Messerschmitt fighter bombers, Malta has turned the tables on the Axis with its own Spitfire Bomber force.  Brought into use for the first time at the beginning of this month, the Island’s fighter bombers have carried out many attacks on the southern Italian aerodromes, flying a total of 54 successful sorties in which they dropped 13 tons of bombs.

Main targets for the Spitfire Bombers are Comiso and Gela aerodromes.  Although many German and Italian fighters are still based in south east Sicily, they have shown a surprising reluctance to engage Malta’s fighter bombers.  On the few occasions when enemy fighters have been encountered the close escort of Spitfires has had no difficulty in driving them off.   Their busiest day so far was Wednesday 25 November, when Spitfire Bombers flew 19 sorties.

Today saw 13 sorties: the first this morning was by 185 Squadron.  Four fighter bombers with four Spitfire fighters as close escort were despatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Four explosions were observed to the rear of the main buildings east of the aerodrome.  On the way out, the second pair of Spitfire bombers was attacked from below by a Macchi 200.  Strikes hit Sgt Gunstone in Red 3, who fired three bursts in return, seeing strikes along the Italian’s fuselage and can claim one Macchi 200 damaged.  17 more Spitfires, nine of which were carrying bombs, attacked Comiso in two waves: one Macchi 200 was damaged.

272 SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICER BACK FROM THE DEAD

Two RAF officers walked into the RAF Officers’ mess today to the surprise and delight of their comrades who thought they had been lost in action.  Squadron Leader Antony (Tony) Watson, Commanding Officer of 272 Squadron, and his navigator Pilot Officer C F Cutting were reported missing on 14 November.  During an attack on El Aouina aerodrome, they were strafing a German JU 52 on the ground when their Beaufighter was hit by flak, damaging the starboard engine.  They were last seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis, six miles from the airfield.

S/Ldr Watson today related how he and P/O Cutting set fire to the Beaufighter, then set off to find the Allied lines, which they managed to reach without being captured.  Eventually they were able to hitch a ride back to Malta, where they have been duly given membership of the ‘Late Arrivals Club’.

NORTH AFRICAN VENTURE CANCELLED AGAIN

The proposed Army mission to a French port in North Africa was called off again today.  The move follows the report from the RAF, following a reconnaissance flight yesterday.  The project leader Major H M Vaux, MC, also liaised with 1st Army at present in Tunisia and, having reviewed all the information, Fortress Headquarters decided to cancel the proposed operation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 1 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Variable; local showers.

0705 hrs  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to search for a missing Beaufort: no dinghy is seen.

0755 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squaqdron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of fighter bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1615-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron  Hal Far on patrol Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2359 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on patrol over Pantelleria: no sightings.

0212-0214 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Clark, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Kenneth Gamble, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Laurence Helme, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Howarth, RAF VR; Sergeant Ronald McLean, RAF VR; Sergeant William Richards, RAF; all 39 Squadron.  Sergeant Donald Reeve, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Flying Officer Richard Twomey, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 30 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The move of 821 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (twelve Albacores) from the Western Desert was completed today. No aircraft were lost during passage. Hebe swept P 35 out and P 311 and P 44 in.  P 311 joins Tenth Submarine Flotilla, reporting an uneventful passage direct from the United Kingdom.

P 44 HMS United

P 44 HMS United

HMS Una arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Tunis. On 27 November, she torpedoed and sank a 4000 ton merchant vessel, one of two escorted by a destroyer.  The merchant vessel blew up causing superficial damage to the Una at 1200 yards.  HMS P 44 returned from a patrol off Burat-el-Hsun, Tripoli and Kerkennah areas. At 1845 hrs on 21 November, P 44 entered Burat harbour and engaged a schooner with her 3″ gun, scoring twelve hits; the schooner was considered sunk.

Axis shipping losses November 1942: 19 merchant ships sunk totaling 41,450 tons; 14 merchant ships damaged totaling 29,540 tons.

AIR HQ  Beaufighters on offensive patrols damaged two JU 52s, one SM 79 and two Macchi 200s in the air; destroyed two Cant Z 506s and damaged two more as well as one JU 52 on the ground.  One schooner, motor transport and a train were also shot up.

Two Beaufighters of 227 Squadron attacked a 1500 ton merchant vessel approaching Pantelleria harbour, sighted earlier by a Baltimore.  The two Beaufighters attacked from such a low level that one of them was slightly damaged by striking the funnel of the merchant ship, with its starboard propeller.  Two ME 109s made an abortive attempt to intercept.  Two direct hits were scored, causing a terrific explosion followed by a large column of black and white smoke.  The vessel can be considered destroyed.

Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down over enemy territory: pilot missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.  One Wellington crash-landed: crew uninjured.  Two Beauforts failed to return from operations: crews missing.

HAL FAR  12 delivery Albacores arrived from Middle East.  1004-1701 hrs  One Hurricane carried out a special mission: Hal Far to Bone and return.

Poor House Luqa

Poor House Luqa

LUQA  Strengths:  230 Officers, 665 NCOs, 2079 Other Ranks, 771 Army, 600 civilians.  Personnel accommodation made by fixing up Poor House with steel tubular 3-tier bunks.  Owing to inability to obtain beds from equipment sources, 1500 bunks were made.  Material was obtained from aerodrome obstructions and made entirely by RAF personnel working parties.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering the harbours of Naples, Palermo, Bizerta, Tunis and Sousse.

1425 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 126 Squadron, are despatched to attack Gela aerodrome: no enemy aircraft seen.  1718 hrs  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron were airborne to attack Bizerta: bombs were dropped on target and all aircraft returned safely.  1815 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in Bizerta and Tunis harbours.  Two aircraft failed to return and missing crews were named as: F/Sgt Twomey, F/Sgt Helme, Sgts Gamble and Howarth; P/O Brown and Sgts Richards, McLean and Clark.

TA QALI  0710-0820 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome: bombs were dropped on the runway.  0715-0810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a bombing sweep of Comiso aerodrome: all bombs dropped on and around target.  1155-1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped but results not observed.  Sgt Wendt does not return and is declared missing.   1535-1645 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Green dump cleared and guard dismounted.  Other convoy duties continue.  Company strengths 29 Officers, 788 Other Ranks; 3 Officers, 9 Other Ranks attached.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  For period 11-30 November working party provided at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries for food delivery, servicing aircraft and as mobile repair vehicles; two impressed lorries for crater filling; two motor cycles as special despatch riders; 16 Other Ranks to man above vehicles.  For period 18-30 November the following were working at Zabbar sub-depot:  four 15 cwt lorries, five impressed lorries and 16 Other Ranks for convoy transport work.  Throughout the month two Twin Lewis guns were manned in the anti-aircraft defence of Safi Strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Recce by CO of new central dump at Floriana for unloading of next convoy.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Strength of Company: 5 Officers and 226 Other Ranks.  During the month the CQMS store was completed except for finishing touches to roof and the messroom at camp was covered in.  Part of 2 Section billet, weakened by bomb explosions, fell down and is to be rebuilt.  Hot baths were constructed for the Company in No 3 Section billets.

 

1 December 1942: Another Convoy for Malta

A convoy of four merchant ships with a large escort of cruisers and destroyers sailed from Port Said at 1430 hours this afternoon heading for Malta.  The four merchantmen gathered at Lake Timsah by noon yesterday, when a conference was convened by the senior officer of the escort who had flown in from Alexandria for the meeting.

Glenartney

Glenartney

The merchantmen are named as British ships Glenartney and Suffolk, and the American vessels Agwimonte and Alcoa Prospector.  They are accompanied by the cruiser Orion and destroyers Belvoir, Hursley, Pakenham, Petard and Queen Olga (the Greek ship RHS Vassilissa Olga), who were sailed from Alexandria to Port Said to await the arrival of the supply ships.  Codenamed Operation Portcullis, convoy MW 14 was delayed by fog at Ismailia which has now cleared.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 DECEMBER TO DAWN 2 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

0720-0800 hrs; 0835-0910 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on standing patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1142 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turned back before they are seen, and while still 20 miles north east of the Grand Harbour.

1155-1305; 1335-1425 hrs; 1425-1535 hrs  12 Spitfire sorties 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1330-1350 hrs  Air raid alert for four approaching ME 109s which circle over Grand Harbour at a great height before receding north.  Pointer rounds are fired by six Ack Ack gun positions.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the raiders are too high to engage and avoid combat.

1350 hrs  One transit Wellington from the Middle East carried out an anti-submarine patrol.

1600-1710 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers of 249 Squadron.  They are attacked by enemy fighters and take evasive action: P/O Mowbray is reported missing.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Mowbray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Warrant Officer Class II (CSM) Berkley Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Alfred Syddall, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una swept in from patrol by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Benghazi; one Baltimore from LG 227; one Spitfire from Benina.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crash landed due to engine failure: two crew slightly injured.  One Beaufort missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire believed forced down into sea by enemy action: pilot missing.  One Wellington force landed: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0640-0735 hrs  Four Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 185 Squadron, were dispatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Bomber leader suffered engine cut when still 20 miles south of Sicily so jettisoned his bombs and returned.  The remainder of the bomber formation followed suit.  The escort then set course to Noto and returned: nothing seen.  1000 hrs  Hurricane left for Bone.

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid (c) IWM A161612

1827-0030 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores carried out a torpedo attack on enemy shipping off the west coast of Sicily.  1925-0040 hrs  Two special Albacores and five strike Albacores 821 Fleet Air Arm Squadron were dispatched to attack the same convoy but failed to locate the vessels.  2255 hrs  Fleet Air Arm Albacores damaged a tanker in a convoy of four merchant vessels and five destroyers when fifteen miles south of Marittimo at 2255. Sub/Lt Pratt and Sub/Lt Kendrick scored one hit on a 6-7000 ton tanker which was left ablaze.

LUQA  Personnel arrivals: 25 Other Ranks.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron on aerodromes and harbours of Naples, Taranto, Messina, Palermo and Trapani. 2215 hrs  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron patrolled the area of Gabes-Tunis.

TA QALI  29 airmen detached from Station to 39 Squadron, Luqa.  0800-0905 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Biscari aerodromes: explosions are seen on the airfield.  0905-1325 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted two unidentified aircraft: no engagement.  1040-1145 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1155-1635 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive patrol, one carrying bombs.  One crashed just after take-off: crew uninjured.  1530-1815 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep attacked a merchant vessel and set the deck cargo on fire.  1545-1655 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Gela aerodrome: bombs were seen to explode in the north west dispersal area.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Company billeted at Bahar-ic-Cahaq (less No 1 section on DEL stations with HQ at Haywharf, No 2 Section building pens at Qrendi and Maltese details working in barracks, attached to Bomb Disposal, or on convoy duties).

 

2 December 1942: Convoy Rescues RAF Crew Adrift in Dinghy

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ASSEMBLES IN MED

HMS Orion

HMS Orion

The cruiser HMS Orion escorted by destroyers Paladin, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Aldenham and the Greek Pindos sailed from Alexandria today to rendezvous with the convoy heading for Malta.  Late this afternoon Hurworth was found to have defects; at 1800 hrs she left the convoy to return to Alexandria.

Later this evening Petard spotted a small boat adrift on the sea.  It was identified as an RAF dinghy and its six occupants were rescued and taken aboard the destroyer.

Following a report from Vice Admiral Malta that furnace fuel was urgently required, a last-minute decision has been taken to include a tanker in the convoy.  A vessel which had been originally intended for a later convoy to Malta will now depart immediately from Benghazi.  Destroyers HMS Croome and Tetcott are on their way from Malta to Benghazi to act as escort for the tanker.

MALTA NAVAL FORCES IN COMBINED ATTACK

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

Royal Navy ships have wasted no time in returning to the offensive following their arrival in Malta last Friday.  Destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian launched a joint operation with Naval Air Squadrons to attack a convoy off Kerkennah.

The ships sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to intercept the enemy convoy of one tanker and two merchant ships, escorted by two torpedo boats and a destroyer, as they steered for Ras Turgeuness. At 2100 hrs aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and HM Submarine P 35 attacked the convoy south of Kerkennah and sank two merchant ships, seriously damaging another vessel.

The Force K destroyers arrived on the scene shortly after midnight and sank a torpedo boat destroyer which was engaged in picking up survivors from one of the merchant ships.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO 3 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.

0700-0815 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for a missing pilot: no sighting.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant William Guy, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo; Sub-Lieutenant Colin Taylor, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Trooper

HMS Trooper

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 104; one DC 3 from El Adem.  Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore lost on operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1500 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS which left for Bone yesterday returned: mission accomplished.  1730-2315 hrs  Three Albacores RNAS and eight 821 Squadron were despatched to attack two 5000 ton merchant vessels, one cruiser, one destroyer and one sloop in the Gulf of Gabes.  Both merchant ships were hit and left burning: fires could be seen 70 miles away on the return journey.  One Albacore landed at Luqa; another is missing, along with crew S/Lt Taylor and S/Lt Guy.

LUQA  No operations.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All drivers report to sub-depots for convoy unloading duties.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  COs conference on establishment of new dumps to be formed at Floriana under 2nd RWK called Pink Dump and at Attard under 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers called White Dump.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

 

3 December 1942: Tanker Joins Operation Portcullis Convoy

ESCORT STRENGTHENED AS SHIPS APPROACH MALTA

HMS Tetcott

HMS Tetcott

Minelayer HMS Welshman joined the Operation Portcullis convoy at daylight today on her way to Malta, taking advantage of the escort protection.  Then at 1700 hrs this afternoon the American tanker Yorba Linda, escorted by destroyers Croome and Tetcott linked up with the main convoy north east of Benghazi.  Soon afterwards, Welshman left the remaining ships to speed on ahead to Malta.

To cover the final approach of Convoy MW 14 to the Island, Force K cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus with destroyers Jervis, Kelvin and Nubian were sailed from Grand Harbour this evening.  They will provide protection for the convoy against possible surface attack.

US LIBERATORS ATTACK ITALIAN BATTLE FLEET

US Liberator bombers from the Middle East today attacked Italian ships in the Bay of Naples, sinking the Muzio Attendolo and damaging two other warships.  The Italian cruiser was photographed yesterday undergoing trials in the Bay of Naples, following recent repairs. 

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Major units of the Italian fleet have been observed gathered in southern Italian ports from where they could threaten Allied sea movements through the Mediterranean, including convoys which might attempt the run to Malta.  As well as Attendolo, three Littorio battleships and two other cruisers are presently at Naples; five other cruisers are in port at Messina and three battleships at Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fine; fair.

No air raid alerts.

1030-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1039-1131 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of base at 25000 feet: nothing seen.

1440-1525 hrs; 1550-1635 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Sergeant Everard Aspell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 108 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Semley, RAF VR, 40 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 DECEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hurricane from Bone; one Beaufighter from Gambut; one DC 3 from El Adem; one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington’s bombs hung up and exploded while aircraft was taxiing: two of crew killed, rest uninjured.

Hurricanes at Hal Far

Hurricanes at Hal Far

HAL FAR  1150 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS landed from a special mission.  He was attacked 50 miles off Kerkennah by one JU 88.  The enemy aircraft overshot and the Hurricane was able to counter-attack with several short gun bursts: claims one JU 88 damaged.

1840-0010 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack enemy shipping off the coast of Sicily.  Two 3000 ton merchant vessels were located 44 miles off Zuara moving at 8 knots.  Both ships were hit by torpedoes and blown up.  1900-2005 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack the tanker hit last night and since reported stationary 10 miles west of Marittimo.  The tanker was not located; only two hospital ships were seen in the area.  All torpedoes were brought back.

LUQA No operations.

TA QALI  0835-1330 hrs  Six Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0835-1145 hrs  Six Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted one JU 88 which is destroyed by F/Lt Rankin and F/O Coate.  0445-1000 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron are airborne to act as convoy escort: no sightings.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion provided a working party of 3 Officers and 200 Other Ranks for pen building on Qrendi aerodrome.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.  Three Officers reported daily to APM for traffic duties.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on co-operational duties (maintenance, refuelling, arming etc) with RAF at Luqa aerodrome, taken over from 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  57 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

4 December 1942: HMS Welshman Arrives Safely

WELSHMAN REPORTS MED QUIET FOR PASSAGE OF PORTCULLIS

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour today having left Convoy MW 14 yesterday evening.  The minelayer reported an incident-free passage through the Mediterranean.  Conditions appear favourable for the progress of the convoy.

Force K signalled at daylight that all vessels have joined up safely with Operation Portcullis the convoy and will remain in close escort throughout the day.  The ships are now within reach of Malta aircraft which will mount a constant escort for the remainder of their passage to Grand Harbour.  The arrival of Welshman has already attracted the attention of enemy aircraft which approached the Island on reconnaissance twice, triggering first air raid alerts in three days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0740-1245 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for the approaching convoy (one returned early): no sightings.

1025-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for ten ME 109s which cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area at a height of 25000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and see five unidentified aircraft making smoke trails north and south of Malta at 28000 feet.  On sighting the Spitfires below them, the enemy raiders turn northwards for home.

1100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa searches for the friendly convoy.

1400 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron searches in the Cape Bon area.

1440-1610 hrs  One Beaufighter 227 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to the convoy: nothing sighted.

1452-1507 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109s which approach the Island at 26000 feet and fly over Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they see the three ME 109s over Grand Harbour at 22000 feet.  The enemy aircraft dive away over the coast to avoid combat.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1600-1730 hrs; 1630-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are airborne to act as escort to the convoy: no sightings.

Night  One air raid alert: aircraft are identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Andrew Breakey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 18 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Curtis, RAF VR, 81 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Sidney Greene, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Simpson, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Peter Turner, RAF VR, 81 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept HMS Welshman and P 35 in, and Porpoise out to head for refit in the UK via Gibraltar.  Four MTBs arrived from Bone.  Naval aircraft attacked shipping in the Zuara area. Two merchant ships were hit, one of which sank in three minutes; the other was left burning.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 237; one Beaufighter from Souk El Arba; eight Hudsons, one DC 3 from El Adem; two Hudsons from Gibraltar. Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Algiers; eight Hudsons to El Adem.

LUQA  0900 hrs  Six sorties flown by photo-reconnaissance of 69 Squadron.  1930 hrs  One Beaufighter 39 Squadron patrolled over Comiso aerodrome at 32000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.  1700-2225 hrs  Six Wellingtons 40 Squadron and four 104 Squadron bombed the docks at La Goulette, Tunis.

TA QALI  249 Squadron operating from RAF Qrendi.  Air crew remain attached to Ta Qali for accommodation and rations only.  26 airmen arrived by air from Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HMS Welshman arrived No 5 Dock approx 0830 hrs.  Unloading commenced about 0915 hrs.  Bn provided 200 Other Ranks alongside 100 Other Ranks Dorsets.  Cargo was extremely difficult as it contained fifty 21” torpedoes among a miscellaneous cargo. The torpedoes were unloaded last so the whole operation was hampered.  The ship was not cleared until 1900 hrs.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Floriana Pink Dump and Attard White Dump marked out for reception of convoy cargoes.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

5 December 1942: The Siege of Malta is Lifted

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ARRIVES UNMOLESTED

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

At dawn today the four merchant ships Glenartney, Suffolk, Alcoa Prospector and Agwimonte, and the tanker Yorba Linda were safely in the shelter of Grand Harbour.  Commanders of Operation Portcullis report that, in spite of being shadowed at various times during the voyage, they encountered no enemy attacks throughout the entire passage from Alexandria. 

By 10 am the remaining ships of the convoy escort had entered Grand Harbour, bringing the number of warships and merchant vessels in the harbour to over 40. 

Two of the merchant ships are being unloaded by Army personnel and two by civil labour, who are working with great enthusiasm.  Approximately 3200 soldiers are employed on unloading and dispersing the cargoes to dumps.  A further 1800 are assisting the RAF in maintenance of aircraft and airfields to ensure the protection of Malta’s air space and offensive ops during unloading.  However, no attempt was made by the enemy to attack the ships in harbour, or even to approach the Island on reconnaissance during the day.

MALTA’S SUPPLY ROUTES SECURE

The arrival of a tanker with much-needed fuel relieves the concerns of military leaders.  More importantly, the second delivery of food and general supplies in a matter of days brings the chance of a real increase in civilian rations.  This should improve morale and help to stem the decline in the general health of the population which is giving real cause for concern.  The inclusion of a few long absent luxuries among the essentials brought a smile to many faces.

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

Malta’s commanders are cautiously taking the unhampered passage of Operation Portcullis as an indication that future supplies can be carried through without significant risk.  Since January 1941 two aircraft carriers, twenty warships and several submarines have been lost in attempts to supply the Island.

It has now been decided to run regular pairs of merchant ships for Malta alongside ordinary Western Desert Convoys to the Benghazi area, where surface forces from the Island will reinforce the escort for their final passage.  The supply of Malta – almost impossible a month ago – is now all but secure.  The siege is over.

SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 5 DECEMBER 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta         To:  C in C Middle East        Rept:  The War Office

1.  Enemy air: four daylight alerts for enemy fighters on reconnaissance.

2.  Convoy of four merchant vessels and one tanker escorted by cruisers and destroyers arrived safely am 5 December.  Unloading is proceeding well: 3200 Army personnel employed; a further 1800 on aerodromes.

3.  Spitfire bombers successfully attacked aerodromes Comiso, Gela and Biscari.  Spitfire close escort damaged one Macchi 200.  Beaufighters on daylight offensive sweeps area Tunisia destroyed two Cant Z ‘06 and damaged two more at moorings.  One Italian bomber, one transport damaged on the ground.  One JU 88 destroyed; three transports, two fighters damaged in combat.  Coaster 1100 tons, two destroyers, goods trains and lorries effectively shot up.  Merchant vessel 1100 tons set on fire and abandoned.  Two direct hits bombs causing violent explosion merchant vessel off Pantelleria.

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

 

By night approx 45 Wellington sorties docks Bizerta 23 sorties docks Tunisia.  Also successful attacks Catania, Trapani, Comiso and Gerbini.  Bombs dropped areas Ragusa, Augusta, Syracuse, Gela and Castel Vetrano.  Beaufighters bombed railways Tunis and shot up trains.   Reggio di Calabria attacked by two Beaufighters.  Beauforts laid mines entrance Bizerta, Tunis and Palermo harbours.  Albacores on shipping strikes sank two merchant vessels 5000 tons, blew up merchant vessel 3000 tons and set two other merchant vessels and a tanker on fire.  Other results unobserved.  Four destroyers Force K sank one enemy TBD.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy.

No air raid alerts.

0620-0940 hrs  Six aircraft 126 Squadron Luqa maintain a patrol for the arrival of a convoy.

0800-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

0845-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out shipping patrol: nothing seen.

1150-1310 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1335-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1455-1550 hrs; 1630-1725 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrols over the Island: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John MacDonald, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Thomas Mincher, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 35 to sea. P 42 was swept in from patrol by HM 135.  1600 hrs  HMS Welshman sailed for Alexandria with Paladin.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Halifax from UK; ten Hudsons from El Adem.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore overshot aerodrome and crash landed due to engine failure: crew uninjured.  One Wellington crashed into another aircraft while landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100-0100 hrs  Two Albacores 821 Squadron were despatched to bomb and illuminate for Beaufighters at Reggio di Calabria aerodrome.  One Albacore returned early with rear cockpit trouble; the other arrived too late over the target to contact the Beaufighters but dropped its bombs on the new corner of the aerodrome.

LUQA Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires.  1400 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron were despatched to attack Reggio Calabria.  One Beaufighter was slightly damaged by Ack Ack splinters: crew unhurt.  Night  One special Wellington carried out a shipping search in the Marittimo-Cavoli area: no sightings.

TA QALI  One senior NCO and four airmen arrived by air from Middle East.  0955-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1140-1425 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.  1345-1640 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron (one carrying bombs) on offensive reconnaissance attacked an enemy destroyer causing a small explosion and fire near the bridge.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A convoy arrived at dawn.  1100 hrs  The Bn began unloading the Glenartney at Hamilton Wharf in 3 shifts of 84 Other Ranks.  The vessel is carrying 8000 tons of cargo.  Unloading went well during the day.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  6 Officers, 107 Other Ranks unloading M/V Alcoa Prospector.

Agwimonte

Agwimonte

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  The Bn was detailed to provide: 3 Officers, 42 Other Ranks to report at 1000 hrs for traffic control; 5 fire-fighting parties of 1 Officer, 13 Other Ranks each, to live on board the merchant ships; 42 drivers, 6 vehicles, 3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks as general reserve.  2200 hrs  Fire-fighting parties reported to allotted berths and went on board the following vessels:  Alcoa Prospector, Glenartney, Agwimonte, Suffolk, Yorba Linda.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Arrival of convoy: Bn in position on Pink Dump in two shifts of 12 hours, day and night.  Total employed 14 Officers, 200 Other Ranks on Dump plus 2 Officers, 51 Other Ranks on motor transport sub-depot.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8.  Dealt with: High Explosives 1 x 50kg; anti-personnel bombs 8.

 

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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in 1942, December 1942, November 1942

 

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