RSS

Tag Archives: 139 Squadron

5 June 1941: Malta Needs Major Reinforcements to Survive

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF PRESENTS CASE FOR DEFENCE OF MALTA

From: Gov & C IN C             To: War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry      Copy: C in C Mediterranean; C in C Middle East

The recent operations in Crete and elsewhere have again changed the defence situation of Malta. When my original appreciation was made it was considered certain that the fleet would intervene at Malta within a few days.  It seems possible now that Malta might have to stand the full weight of a German airborne attack, probably supported by a subsidiary seaborne attack for a much longer period. 

Enemy could attack by air or sea

Enemy could attack by air or sea

Previously the loss of local air superiority has been reluctantly accepted but the seriousness of such a situation has now been brought home to us, though Malta is in a much better position to stand up to it than was Crete. These changes make a review of the situation and of previous conclusions very necessary, and the following considerations emerge:

1. Malta is more than ever important for the defence of Egypt, which seems to be the enemy’s objective, since it is the only base from which the enemy’s communications from Libya can be, and are being, effectively attacked. It is also the only quick means of reinforcing the Middle East by air. Its neutralisation may therefore become vital to the enemy and we must be prepared for him to attempt it.

2. Until recently it looked as if our naval control in the Mediterranean would increase and a seaborne attack was unlikely. Consequently certain readjustments by withdrawing troops from less likely beaches were made in order to meet airborne attacks. Now, however, heavy airborne attack will probably be supported from the sea and the rapid intervention of our fleet cannot be counted upon.  Therefore, beach defences as well as defence against air landings, must be ensured. 

3. I feel the outstanding lessons for Malta to learn from Crete are:

  • (a) the necessity of maintaining fighter aircraft in operation;
  • (b) the necessity of dealing with parachutists instantly before they can establish centres of resistance and others arrive;
  • (c) the necessity of preventing any aerodrome or landing ground falling into enemy hands
  • (d) the necessity to be certain of repelling seaborne attack which will probably synchronise with airborne attack.

4. (a) To maintain fighter aircraft we must start with adequate numbers and sufficient reserves on the spot to replace casualties.

(b) To deal with parachutists instantly entails an unwelcome dispersion of force and a large number of troops must be disposed primarily for this purpose. There must also be reserves with which to strike quickly.

(c) The defence of our aerodromes also requires many men and weapons. These will be subjected to heavy attacks from the air and casualties will undoubtedly be suffered.  Artillery sited specially to bring fire onto these aerodromes is essential.

(d) Beach defences will be subjected to heavy sea and air bombardment and must have adequate depth and sufficient local reserves to deal quickly with any penetration.  Artillery is also necessary to support them.  The struggle will be protracted and our reserves must be adequate for a very persistent effort on the part of the enemy.

5.These considerations point to the fact that the infantry garrison I said was necessary last October, ie ten battalions, is not only not excessive but is now actually less than is needed. Counting in 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment (the other two KOMR battalions are only forming) I now have nine battalions. I consider that two more are really needed if we are likely to be subjected to really determined attack.  More artillery is also required as what we have is inadequate to defend the aerodromes and the beaches simultaneously.  In view of the scale of attack on Malta now envisaged I can spare nothing, even if reinforced as above, for Gozo which is completely undefended, in spite of the serious military and civil disadvantages to Malta if this Island should fall into enemy hands.

6. The anti-aircraft defences, though considerable, are not yet complete and the weapons we have are gravely undermanned, so that existing personnel would be hard put to maintain a sustained effort over a long period and there is no margin for casualties. Anti-aircraft ammunition is also required to complete reserves. There are many gunners (approximately 1000) waiting in Egypt to come here, and also other badly-needed reinforcements, both Army and RAF.  The total is 2577 all ranks.  These must be got here somehow.  If the Commander in Chief Mediterranean cannot send these personnel by warship at an early date I earnestly request that special efforts be made to bring them here by air.  This would also provide a method of removing from the Fortress some of the families and [unnecessary mouths to feed].

7. In order to minimise air attacks on Malta, enemy bases must be attacked in Sicily. It is not advisable to keep large forces of bombers here indefinitely but as soon as concentrations are noticed in Sicily these must be violently attacked by aircraft. A fighter squadron should be earmarked to proceed here via Gibraltar at very short notice.

8. In addition to ensuring the defeat of an initial attack it seems to me most necessary that preparations should be made in advance for the quick reinforcement of the Fortress before the enemy could re-attack it after his initial effort had failed. It would be necessary to have at least a squadron of fighters ready to be brought here immediately we could receive them. With the prevailing winds it would be essential for these aircraft to be held in reserve in Gibraltar.  In addition it is clear that certain specialised stores and supplies would be required here with the least possible delay after the initial attack had been frustrated.  It is recommended that plans should be drawn up which would ensure vital supplies being readily available at Alexandria for quick shipment to Malta at the same time as the fleet was able to intervene.  If this view is accepted, detailed proposals can be made.

9. To sum up: the following are needed at once by the three Services for the defence of Malta:

  • (a) (i) A total of three squadrons of fighters, ie one more than at present contemplated, to be maintained to strength with reserves on the spot;
  • (ii) Army and RAF personnel currently in Egypt;   
  • (iii) certain small stores which can come by submarine or air.
  • (b) Additional requirements, though I realise commitments elsewhere and difficulties of sending them may not make their despatch possible:
  • (i) Two infantry battalions with carriers and motorcycles and bicycles for all other personnel, but without motor transport;
  • (ii) Additional field or anti-tank guns up to 30 with manning personnel. Egypt has been asked to provide Italian field guns.

10. So much for defence against attack. It is also essential that Malta does not fall through lack of supplies. With the exception of aviation spirit and fodder, generally-speaking our supplies with great care can last until the beginning of 1942.  My following telegram deals with this problem in more detail. 

Heads of all services here agree with my recommendations.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JUNE TO DAWN 6 JUNE 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1449-1505 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2207-2245  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach and cross the Island from different directions. One Sunderland approaching at the time is warned to keep clear.  17 high explosive bombs of 15kg fall are dropped between Kalafrana and Marsaxlokk and in the sea south of Hal Far. One 15kg bomb hits the roof of Loreto Church causing slight damage. 

0102-0220 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north east at 16000 feet, then cross the coast at Kalafrana. 15kg bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, the Dockyard, Tarxien, in the sea off Kalafrana, on Birzebbuga, Hal Far and Island Bay areas.  Searchlights illuminate three times.  A Hurricane night fighter of 185 Squadron piloted by F/Lt P Hancock engages a Heinkel 111, attacking from such close range that the two aircraft nearly collide; the Heinkel is severely damaged and the raider is suspected to have crashed in the sea. 

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Peter Lane, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 148 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 5 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned after carrying out successfully another special mission in the Gulf of Hammamet.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 4 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.  139 Squadron  Squadron returned to UK.  Underground operations room now in use. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2; dealt with 2 (15kg).

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 5, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 June 1941: Malta to Expect 6000-Strong Invasion Within a Week

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

40 motor torpedo boats ready in Sicily

40 motor torpedo boats ready in Sicily

ATTACK EXPECTED TO BEGIN 10-12 JUNE

Malta could be invaded within a week, according to the War Office. According to a telegram to the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief, a source of unknown reliability states that German and Italian troops in Sicily are undergoing intensive training for an attack on the Island.  The source also states that 6000 German and Italian parachute troops have arrived in Catania.  The attack is expected to begin between 10 and 12 June.

A second report has revealed that 1500 Italian parachutists, 1500 bicyclists and 3000 men are at Syracuse, with 120 65/17 guns, 40 torpedo-armed motor boats and light transports. There are also significant troop and aircraft concentrations at Caltanisetta.  However, the War Office gives a word of caution, stating that as yet has no firm confirmation of an intention to attack Malta.

BLENHEIM LOST IN CONVOY RAID

A Malta-based Blenheim aircraft was destroyed today during an attack on an enemy convoy this afternoon. The bomber was one of four of 139 Squadron who with another of 82 Squadron were despatched to attack Axis supply ships with an escort of destroyers.  The Blenheim piloted by S/Ldr Thompson DFC succeeded in hitting an 8000 ton merchant ship but was hit by debris from the resulting blast.  Following Blenheims reported that the aircraft exploded and crashed into the sea; there is little hope of survivors.  The other two crew members have been named as Sgt Hepworth and Sgt Turner. (1)

CLAMP DOWN ON WATER ECONOMIES

Troop company commanders are now required to submit a report every Monday to the effect that orders to economise on water are being complied with and that fresh water consumption within their respective companies does not exceed an average of 10 gallons per head per day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JUNE TO DAWN 4 JUNE 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1328-1340 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which carries out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour, escorted by twelve fighters. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no damage to enemy aircraft.  Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to reach height in time to engage the raiders.

PM  One Italian three-engined aircraft passing to the west of Malta is attacked by four Hurricanes of 249 Squadron and shot down in the sea.  The crew are seen on the wing.  The Gozo boat and Hurricanes conducted a search but were unable to find any survivors.

2125-2135 hrs  Air raid alert for four formations of enemy aircraft which approach the Island and circle east of Kalafrana and Grand Harbour for one and a half hours. 15kg bombs are dropped on land west of Island Bay and in the sea.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

2143-2300 hrs  Air raid alert. Two enemy aircraft cross the coast near Kalafrana and drop 15kg and incendiaries near the airfield and in the sea.  Searchlights illuminate the raiders on two occasions and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

2327-0045 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west and drops bombs in the sea south west of St Thomas’ Bay. During the raid four Swordfish aircraft land at Hal Far.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Six Swordfish in two unsuccessful attempts in poor visibility to intercept southbound convoys passing to the westward of Lampedusa.   Unique successful attack on Lampedusa Harbour; 1000 ton ship destroyed.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 5 Maryland on reconnaissance. 4 Blenheims of 139 Squadron and 1 of 82 Squadron attacked a convoy escorted by destroyers: one ship blown up and a second set on fire. The Blenheim which bombed the latter ship was hit by debris from it and exploded; it then crashed into the sea.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bn has now formed mobile reserves of platoon strength in each Company area which will soon begin training in street fighting and dealing with parachutists.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 5 (1 x AA shell; 1 x 70kg incendiary; 2 x 50kg HE; 1 x 500 lb HE).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Training with Northern Infantry Brigade to practice assembly of a Composite Reserve Battalion at night, to prevent infiltration of parachutists at night and destroy them at dawn, and to test anti-parachute defences of Imtarfa Hospital.

(1) All three crew members survived

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 3, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

28 May 1941: Civilians Wearing Army Uniform a Security Threat

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

Soldiers with small arms crop

Uniforms to be stamped with Army ID

CLAMP DOWN ON MISUSE OF ARMY UNIFORMS

Civilians in Malta have been spotted wearing items of Army uniform which is believed to have been passed to them by service personnel. With the ever-present possibility of invasion, the wearing of official uniforms by unauthorised persons presents a significant security threat.  The situation is also creating a shortage of stocks of military clothing which cannot be made up readily while the Island remains under siege.

According to military chiefs, the situation has now reached serious proportions and it has become common to see civilians wearing military clothing such as shirts, boots and socks. As a result urgent measures have been introduced to tackle the problem. 

All troops have been informed that by disposing of any item of kit, clothing or necessaries to any person whatsoever, they commit an offence under Section 24 of the Army Act; disciplinary action will be taken accordingly, with the possibility of Court-Martial if the offence persists.

From now on all garments will be stamped with the soldier’s Army number on issue. Any soldier requiring a new garment or article of kit is now required to produce the old one in exchange or alternatively furnish a satisfactory explanation as to why he cannot do so.  A strict record will be kept of all issues made, in order to ensure that replacement issues are not made too frequently.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MAY TO DAWN 29 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 MAY 1941

AIR HQ Departures  3 Beaufighters.  69 Squadron  Maryland patrol eastern Sicilian coast including Augusta and Syracuse harbours.  2 Marylands patrol of eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  Maryland reconnaissance Messina Harbour and approaches. 139 Squadron Two Blenheims 139 Squadron attacked a ship in Sfax harbour and blew it up.

LUQA Three Beaufighters left for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion’s petrol ration has again been reduced but as consumption is well within previous ration there should be little effect.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Summer dress came into force.

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 28, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

Tags: , , , ,

27 May 1941: Blenheim Bombers Lost in Attack on Convoy

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

Blenheim Mk IV BBLENHEIMS EXPLODE DURING LOW-ALTITUDE BOMBING RUN

Two Blenheims of 82 Squadron were shot down today while engaging in an offensive operation in the southern Mediterranean. The Blenheims were among six sent to attack a large convoy escorted by destroyers as it headed for Tripoli in Libya.  Early this afternoon they reached the six merchant vessels with their escort of eight destroyers and launched their attack. 

The bombers flew in low over the ships to release their bombs in the midst of very heavy anti-aircraft fire. Two of the merchant ships were hit but two of the Blenheims were also destroyed as they dived down towards the vessels.  It has been suggested that the resulting explosions destroyed two of the Blenheims.  The pilots of the two bombers have been named as Flt/Lt G M Fairbairn and Sgt E B Inman.  Their crews were Sgt R J Austin, Sgt K P Collins (1), P/O P J Higgins and Sgt S W Kemp.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0719-0745 hrs  Air raid alert for two Italian SM79 bombers which approach the Island possibly on their way south for reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

0923-0957 hrs  Air raid alert for two SM 79 bombers escorted by 12 ME 109 fighters which cross over the Island from the north at high altitude, apparently on reconnaissance, then split formation, reform to the east of the Island and recede northwards. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

2250-0010 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which cross over Grand Harbour singly, laying mines. Anti-aircraft guns fire one short barrage; no claims.

0025-0050 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the north. One stick of bombs is dropped on Gozo.

0335-0402 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber which crosses the Island, dropping bombs near Qormi.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald Joseph Austin Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), Flight Lieutenant Garnet Mackenzie Fairbairn, RAFVR, Pilot Officer Peter John Higgins Royal Air Force VR, Sergeant Edwin Bentall Inman, RAFVR, Sergeant Stanley William Kemp, Royal Air Force all 82 Squadron; Sapper Joseph Chircop, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 MAY 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Beaufighter. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance east of Malta to Cape Stilo.   Maryland reconnaissance southern part of eastern Tunisian coast reports convoy.  Maryland sent to locate ships reported by RAF finds convoy 80 miles east of Malta, escorted by 4 SM 79s and one Cant Z501. 139 Squadron Six Blenheims (five of 82 Squadron, one of 139 Squadron) attacked a large convoy escorted by destroyers.  F/Lt Fairbairn and Sgt Inman were shot down.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 252 Squadron left for Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The unit was examined by the Petrol Commission but no means were found by which either vehicles or petrol consumption could be reduced. Motor Transport staff were commended on their fuel controls.  Command Signal Exercise held at 0430-0815 hrs involving Bn HQ and Signals.  The exercise was to test out communications.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  0430-0815 hrs Bn and Company Headquarters took part in Malta Command Exercise No 2. The Battalion celebrated Bois des Buttes anniversary with a holiday: a Fur and Feather show was held during the morning and sports, games and entertainments in the evening.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg; 2 x 500kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Two companies to Xlejli Tower to take over defence of Luqa aerodrome. Remaining two companies disposed one at Zurrieq, one at Kirkop landing strip.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Command Signal exercise involving HQs down to Companies. Very little traffic through Battalion area. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  HQ and all three companies all on bicycles to concentrate on Marsa in the Southern Infantry Brigade reserve. Warning for ‘Picnic’ force to move issued to A Company.  Night interrupted with raids all night.

(1) Sgt K P Collins was injured but survived and was taken prisoner.

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

26 May 1941: Food Rationing Measures Tightened Up

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

food queueCHANGES NEEDED TO ENSURE FAIR DISTRIBUTION

New measures have been introduced to tighten up the distribution of Malta’s food rations and ensure a fair distribution of supplies. Under rationing measures introduced in April, wholesalers have been allowed to supply any retailer in any part of the Island. However, there are concerns that competition may result in uneven distribution of food to populations, and possibly to price increases. 

Under the new regulations, the 100 wholesalers are each assigned an area in which to conduct their trade. The scheme is overseen by the Food Distribution Office which calculates entitlements for distribution to wholesalers and grocers of rationed goods, according to the number of their registered customers.  Grocers hold purchase permits which they hand to wholesalers in return for their fortnightly issue of ration supplies. 

CURFEW CHANGES

As from today the curfew ends at 0530 hrs. As a result, morning stand-to for troops will be at 0430 hrs and evening at 2015 hrs.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 MAY TO DAWN 27 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

1629-1644 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy aircraft which approach to within 12 miles of the north coast. 12 Hurricanes are scrambled but the enemy turns away northwards before any encounter.

1743-1812 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches to within sight of the east coast of Malta and then circles for some time apparently unable to sight land. One stick of bombs is dropped on the coast of Gozo.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.

2146-2303 hrs  Air raid alert for three unidentified aircraft; two approach from the north and one from the east. One from the north crosses the coast at St Paul’s Bay but is driven off by a heavy anti-aircraft barrage.  The other two retreat without launching any attack.

0305-0435 hrs  Air raid alert for three unidentified aircraft approaching from the north east. One crosses over Gozo and passes down the Malta coast to Dingli.  Flares and one bomb or mine are reported in the Mellieha Bay area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Swordfish offensive operations.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Beaufighters. Departures Aircraft casualties  139 Squadron  Two Blenheims 139 Squadron dropped 8 x 250lb bombs on a merchant ship at anchor, scoring three direct hits which bounce off; no damage observed.  Two more Blenheims 139 Squadron attacked the same ship which was abandoned.  It was hit below the water line.  Three Blenheims despatched to attack two ships reported due to leave Sfax; ships seen stationary outside harbour but the Blenheims did not attack.  On the return they dropped 8 x 250lb bombs on an abandoned merchant vessel, scoring near misses.  All aircraft returned safely. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands patrol eastern Tunisian coast, one AM the other PM.  2 Marylands patrol eastern Sicilian coast, one AM the other PM.   

LUQA  Two Beaufighters arrived from Gibraltar.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  General Alarm Exercise took place AM until 1630 hrs; all ranks rose at 0230 hrs. The Exercise was a great success and much was learned from it.  One the whole we held the enemy well but in places they were allowed by umpires to penetrate.  Where they did so, the need for mobile reserves which we have emphasised for so long was proved. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  D Company draws 120 bicycles.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Malta Command Exercise ‘Defend Three Cities’.

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

Tags: , , , ,

21 May 1941: 50 Fighters & Bombers Arrive in Malta

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

Blenheim Mk IV

Blenheim Mk IV

HURRICANES, FULMARS AND BLENHEIMS LAND THROUGHOUT THE DAY

The skies over Malta were busy all day today with the arrival of dozens of aircraft from the UK. 46 Hurricanes landed on the Island, along with 22 fighter pilots of 249 Squadron, RAF and Fulmars of the Fleet Air Arm. Operation ‘Splice’ began in Liverpool on 12 May with the loading of 64 Mk II Hurricanes onto the aircraft carrier HMS Furious at Liverpool. The carrier was escorted to Gibraltar, where she transferred 20 of the Hurricanes to HMS Ark Royal; 16 more will remain at Gibraltar.

The two aircraft carriers were then escorted through the western Mediterranean by the battle cruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield and six destroyers of the Mederranean fleet. A total of 48 fighters and four Fulmars took off from Ark Royal and Furious early today to be guided in to Malta by three Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft. En route, one Hurricane crashed off Cape Bon and a second is reported missing. After refuelling, 17 of the Hurricanes departed immediately for the Middle East.

In a separate operation, a detachment of 82 Squadron, Royal Air Force, also arrived in Malta. The Blenheim Mk IV aircraft took off from RAF Portreath in Cornwall to fly direct to the Island.  One Blenheim is reported to have crashed into the Mediterranean approximately off the north coast of Algeria; the pilot Flt/Sgt L Howard and crew Flt/Sgt C G Evans and P/O K G A Marsh are missing.  The rest of 82 Squadron is expected to follow during the next month; its role in Malta is to continue the attacks on enemy convoys and ports in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MAY TO DAWN 22 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0916-0946 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island from south east to north on reconnaissance at 20000 feet while its fighter escort patrols down the east coast. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber; no claims.

1117-1156 hrs  While numerous delivery Blenheims and Hurricanes continue to come in to land at Luqa, the air raid alert sounds for 15 ME 109 fighters which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on the aerodrome. Two Wellingtons are burned out, one Blenheim, one Hurricane and one Beaufighter damaged.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.

1650-1820 hrs  Air raid alert for four ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and patrol off the coast at 21000 feet for 1½ hours, possibly as a screen for the convoy reported by a reconnaissance Maryland. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interception.

1724-1750 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the Island and is engaged by anti-aircraft fire; no claims. No bombs are dropped.

0339-0420 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north east and drop bombs in the sea to the north east, east and south east of Grand Harbour. Anti-aircraft guns engage and manage to turn the leading raider off course.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY A large number of Hurricanes and Fulmars arrived safely from Force H aircraft carriers (Operation Splice).  Foresight left for Gibraltar at 2000 and Fifth Destroyer Flotilla sailed for operations at Crete. Urge sank one destroyer (part of covering force).

AIR HQ Arrivals 249 Squadron from UK.  4 Fulmar; 46 Hurricane. Departures 2 Sunderland; 4 Beaufighter, 17 Hurricane. 252 Squadron four Beaufighters to UK. 139 Squadron Following receipt of information of a small convoy 5 Blenheims were despatched to attack but failed to locate.  69 Squadron  Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast reports two convoys. 

HAL FAR  Four Fulmars and 14 Hurricanes arrived at Hal Far from Gibraltar; all machines landed safely.

LUQA One Maryland escorted Hurricanes to Malta from HMS Ark Royal.  Four Beaufighters 252 Squadron left for Gibraltar; two escorted Hurricanes to Malta.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Four other ranks embarked for repatriation to the UK.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg; 1 incendiary).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Northern Infantry Brigade exercise No 13: practice of formation of a composite battalion including E Company and Battalion HQ. The Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson KC gave lectures on Malta and some particular problems of civil government to officers and some other ranks at Ta Saliba. 

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 May 1941: Malta C in C Fights for More Ack Ack Gunners

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

Ack Ack gunners MaltaWAR OFFICE CITES GENERAL MANPOWER SHORTAGES IN TURNING DOWN REQUEST FOR MORE ARTILLERY

The War Office looks likely to turn down a recent urgent request from Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief for additional personnel to man the Island’s anti-aircraft guns. In a telegram to Lt Gen Dobbie today, London’s war chief said:

“We understand that you consider that the new anti-aircraft establishments for Malta do not provide a sufficient scale of reliefs for personnel on the Island. The current manpower situation makes it imperative that he numbers of Royal Artillery personnel be kept as low as possible.  It is suggested therefore that one relief heavy and one relief light anti-aircraft battery be raised in Malta and formed as Royal Malta Artillery batteries to enable you to give batteries periodical rests.  Do you agree?”

With recruitment in Malta already unable to provide the numbers needed to defend the Island, General Dobbie was unwilling to accept the War Office argument and wrote an immediate firm response:

“Malta needs more Heavy Anti-Aircraft personnel – 20 more per battery – to provide proper reliefs for gunners. This increase would also contribute to some extent to reinforcement in the event of casualties, bearing in mind the difficulty of sending reinforcements to the Island during an emergency.  I consider it most desirable to raise the personnel numbers of these batteries to completely meet the need for resting and retraining.  I do not believe it will be possible to raise and train the necessary troops from local recruitment in less than nine months.  The officers must be Royal Artillery.”

AMMUNITION USAGE FOR WEEK ENDING 18 MAY

  • 4.5” HE 189 rounds
  • 3.7” HE 1152 rounds
  • 3” HE 98 rounds
  • 40mm 129 rounds

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1941

Weather  Cloudy; very poor visibility.

0713-0736 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber with a small escort of ME 109 fighters which carries out reconnaissance across the Island at 26000 feet. Malta Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0825-0845 hrs and 1654-1708 hrs  Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 MAY 1941

AIR HQ  139 Squadron 5 Blenheims patrolled 90 miles south east of Malta for possible ships detected by RDF; nothing seen. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands patrol eastern Tunisian coast.  Maryland patrol eastern Sicilian coast AM reports hospital ship 70miles from Malta. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg).

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,