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3 August 1941: Churchill Praises ‘Firm and Steadfast’ Malta

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British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (IWM MH26392)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (IWM MH26392)

MESSAGE FROM WINSTON CHURCHILL

“Now that the convoys have reached you safely with all the stores and reinforcements, I take occasion to congratulate you on the firm and steadfast manner in which you and your devoted garrison and citizens have maintained Malta inviolate against all attacks for more than a year and to express my confidence that with the help of God our cause will continue to prosper and that the contribution of Malta to the final victory will add a noble chapter to the famous story of the Island.” (1)

ITALIAN POWS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO UK

Italian prisoners of war captured following the attempted e-boat attack on Grand Harbour last week have been taken to the United Kingdom, it was revealed today. The 18 prisoners – three officers and fifteen ratings – have been held in Corradino Military Prison since their capture.  Yesterday they were taken back to Grand Harbour and boarded HMS Manxman.  The cruiser-minelayer left Malta yesterday afternoon and is now on its way to Scotland.

MALTESE CLEARED TO ENLIST IN RAMC

Enlistment of selected Maltese subjects into the Royal Army Medical Corps has been approved by the War Office. Maltese are already serving with the Fortress Royal Engineers on the Island, as well as locally-formed units such as Royal Malta Artillery and Kings Own Malta Regiment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 AUGUST TO DAWN 4 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  A small fighter patrol approaches the Island. Malta fighters are scrambled and the enemy formation recedes immediately.

2300-2320 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches Grand Harbour from the north and drops a single 250kg high explosive bomb on land in fields south of Zeitun, near Delimara and another in the sea before receding. Malta fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no engagements.

2340-0056 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach Grand Harbour from the north east but do not cross the coast, dropping bombs on Tarxien, Zabbar and in the sea off Della Grazia. A fourth raider approaches Grand Harbour and drops several 250kg high explosive bombs in the dockyard area damaging NAAFI stores and an Officers Mess as well as electric and telephone cables.  One makes a crater 15 feet by four, damaging main drains.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea.  A fifth aircraft approaches over Grand Harbour and is caught for a moment in searchlights, at which he changes direction and immediately releases bombs on Sliema, destroying several houses and damaging many others.  Part of Sacred Heart Church receives a direct hit.  Two civilians are admitted to hospital with broken bones; several onlookers suffer minor injuries.  Malta fighters are scrambled but there are no other searchlight illuminations and no engagements.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 3 AUGUST 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost arrived from patrol north of Messina, having sunk a 4000 ton ship and blown up a train.

AIR HQ Departures 3 Beaufighter, 2 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance: Regio Calabria and Messina; Marittimo to Cape Carbonnera; Tripoli and Misurata. 143 Squadron 2 Beaufighters sent to attack fighters on Reggio Calabria aerodrome damaged aircraft on the ground.  105 Squadron  5 Blenheims sent to attack shipping in Tripoli harbour scored direct hits on ships and damaged buildings and port installations.  Sgt Williams aircraft hit several times and had to make a belly-landing on return.   830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  2 Fulmars patrolled Catania and Gerbini aerodromes, dropping bombs on Gerbini; no results observed.  

KALAFRANA 2 Fulmars, Fleet Air Arm, patrolled over Catania and Gerbini aerodromes. Each Fulmar dropped four bombs on the flarepath of Gerbini aerodrome.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Main cable route from Floriana TP to Marsa TP is badly strained by enemy action. Pieces were let into all cables without interruption in communication.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion providing working parties for unloading of convoy ships.

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

 

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

 

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2 August 1941: Stranded Battalions Make It to Malta

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Farndale is forced back to Grand Harbour

Farndale is forced back to Grand Harbour

‘OPERATION STYLE’ BRINGS REINFORCEMENTS LEFT BEHIND IN GIBRALTAR

A small convoy arrived at Malta this morning carrying reinforcements and stores. The cruisers Hermione and Arethusa with the cruiser-minelayer Manxman, and two destroyers brought Army and Air Force reinforcements who originally embarked for Malta as part of ‘Operation Substance’ last month.  They were left behind at Gibraltar when the personnel transport Leinster grounded as she left harbor on 21 July.

The Style convoy sailed from Gibraltar on Thursday last and navigated the western Mediterranean without incident. However, at dawn this morning as the ships passed to the south west of Sicily, the cruiser Hermione spotted a submarine close to the convoy.  Caught unawares, the Italian submarine Tembien was rammed and sunk by the cruiser.

The troops delivered today included forces of 186 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery Royal Artillery and 8th Battalion King’s Own Royal Rifles as well as individual reinforcements for other units, making a total of 54 officers and 970 other ranks. 

The convoy escort departed at 1630 hours this afternoon. However, the destroyer HMS Farndale developed defects and was forced to return to Grand Harbour.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

1000 hrs  Convoy arrives in Grand Harbour.

1744-1816 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of 15 enemy aircraft sighted 40 miles to the north of Malta. 21 Hurricanes are scrambled; the raiders approach to a point 22 miles from the Island and turn back before they can be engaged.

2308-2330 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2337-0032 hrs  Air raid alert for two unidentified enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly from the north east. No Hurricanes are scrambled.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage and force the raiders to drop their bombs in the sea, the first near St Elmo breakwater and the second raider in the sea off Tigne Point.  Both then turn away and recede north east. 

0101-0214 hrs Air raid alert for three unidentified enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly from the north east. The first turns back before reaching the coast.  The second crosses the coast in north west of St George’s and is engaged by heavy anti-aircraft guns but flies on to drop bombs on the Gzira area, east of Gudja and in the sea off Kalafrana.  The third does not approach the coast but drops flares in the sea and recedes northwards.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 2 AUGUST 1941

ROYAL NAVY  ‘Operation Style’ successfully completed.  Farndale returned with defects.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Beaufighters and Hurricanes provided fighter escort for incoming Naval units. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on patrols between Sicily and South Sardinia; one Maryland F/O Drew photo-reconnaissance Taranto, Messina, Brindisi, Valona and Reggio Calabria.  Maryland patrols Tripoli and Comiso. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Anti-submarine patrols ahead of Naval units leaving Malta; no incidents. 143 Squadron 2 Beaufighters attacked Rizzo Aerodrome; damaged and destroyed aircraft.  2 Beaufighters sent to attack Pantellaria aerodrome unable to reach target.

HAL FAR One Swordfish patrolled Ionian Sea. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims sent to attack barracks and aerodrome at Misurata destroyed buildings. 

KALAFRANA  A draft of 100 men arrived at the Station from the UK.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  In event of invasion, 24 Fortress Company RE is responsible for Hospital, Church and Ball Alley Posts.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company commenced formation with Coy Headquarters at Ta Mehrla. The role of the Company will be the defence of Qrendi strip.

 

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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in 1941, August 1941

 

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

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AIR AND NAVAL CHIEFS REVIEW JULY OPERATIONS FROM MALTA

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

AIR HQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

VICE-ADMIRAL MALTA

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 31 JULY 1941

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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