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24 February 1941: “We’ll Take Malta in a Fortnight,” Says Germany

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ROMMEL IDENTIFIES MALTA AS A KEY TARGET

Himmler Hitler and SteinerGerman high command appear ready to invade Malta and confident of success, according to their propaganda machine. According to radio monitors, German wireless has claimed in a recent broadcast that their forces could “take Malta in a fortnight”.

Since German forces have begun moving into North Africa, the Mediterranean sea routes from Italy have become critical to their war effort. Major General Rommel who arrived in Libya earlier this month has reportedly informed German High Command in Berlin that: “Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa”

UNEXPLODED BOMB WARNING TO MILITARY

A notice was issued to all military units in Malta today that in no circumstances will any personnel, with the exception of Bomb Disposal Sections, approach unexploded bombs.

AIR COMMANDER’S PROMOTION RECOGNISES ROLE OF RAF IN MALTA

Malta’s Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore Foster Maynard AFC is promoted today to Air Vice Marshal. The enhanced rank reflects the increased role of air operations in Malta, both defensive and offensive.  A New Zealand officer serving in the Royal Air Force, Air Commodore Maynard was appointed as AOC Malta in January 1940.  He previously served in the Royal Navy Air Service and more recently in the Air Ministry before his posting to Malta.   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 25 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0748-0821 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109 fighters which approach and circle the Island. Malta fighters are scrambled; no engagement,

0930 hrs Two Dornier 215s are shot down by fighters. One Malta fighter crashes (cause unknown) but the pilot is saved.

1204-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which cross the coast… no engagement

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1941

AIR HQ Departures 2 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left for Middle East. One Sunderland left for Gibraltar with passengers and mail.

LUQA 148 Squadron  Nine Wellingtons bombing raid on Tripoli. Flying Officer Green’s aircraft failed to return.

 

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Posted by on February 24, 2021 in 1941, February 1941

 

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16 February 1941: Eleven Air Raids on Malta in 24 Hours

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SIREN SOUNDS EIGHT TIMES THIS EVENING (click here)

Night searchlights“…we heard the alarm siren no less than eleven times between 7 in the morning and midnight, but we held our services all the same.” (1)

For an eleventh night Malta has been under the air raid alert for hours at a time, on a day which saw eleven air raid alerts in just 24 hours. From before 6pm to after midnight, a series of alarms was triggered by enemy aircraft approaching singly and flying over the Island.  No bombs were dropped; instead the aircraft engaged in more mine laying.  One Hurricane was scrambled at a time in defence; there were no interceptions.

MALTA GUNS WILL BE OUT OF ACTION UNLESS REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief is becoming increasingly concerned at the lack of Anti-Aircraft personnel on the Island. In a strongly-worded telegram to the War Office in London today, he warned of serious implications for the Island’s defences, should the situation continue:

“The proposed establishment of anti-aircraft batteries in Malta is utterly inadequate. Raids are now frequent throughout the 24 hours and personnel have been standing to for long hours continuously day and night.  With normal sick wastage in other ranks there are no reliefs, and the officer establishment allows no reliefs even with none on sick leave.  Unless an adequate establishment is allowed to Malta, it will be necessary to put 25 per cent of guns out of action for resting. 

Your cable dated 1 December stated the new establishment for Heavy batteries would be seven officers and 210 other ranks. The number of officers must be increased to eight.   Further, your cable dated 21 November gives the minimum workable number for Light batteries. 

I request the immediate revision of the establishment and also that the batteries being sent from Egypt be up to the full revised strength.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 17 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0736-0800 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy Heinkel HE 111, which approaches from the south of the Island and swoops down over Hal Far, machine-gunning the airfield and several anti-aircraft gun positions. One Swordfish aircraft is damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.  Two Hurricanes and one Gladiator are scrambled; no interception.

0859-0949 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by twelve ME 109 fighters which approach from the east and fly over the Island at 9000 feet. Six Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders.  The Messerschmitts immediately split into two formations, one climbing above and the other dropping below the Hurricanes.  One Hurricane crashes; the pilot, F/Lt J MacLachan, bales out and lands at Marsascala, injuring his arm.  Two more Hurricanes are slightly damaged and temporarily unserviceable.

1745 hrs; 1827 hrs; 1930 hrs; 2050 hrs; 2207 hrs; 2244 hrs; 2303 hrs  A series of air raid alerts for enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly.  Those approaching the coast are engaged by anti-aircraft fire.  All aircraft retreat without dropping any bombs.

0020 hrs  All clear.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 16 FEBRUARY 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 6 Whitley. Aircraft casualties Maryland attempted reconnaissance of Palermo and Trapani ports; bad weather prevented execution. 

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland photoreconnaissance attempted Trapani and Palermo prevented by bad weather. 148 Squadron Three Wellingtons bombing raid on Catania and Comiso.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 ( 2 x 43lb Italian).

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on February 16, 2021 in 1941, February 1941

 

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15 February 1941: Malta on Alert for More Parachute Mines

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Lookouts to be posted along the waterfront

Lookouts to be posted along the waterfront

A CHAIN OF LOOKOUTS WILL KEEP WATCH FOR ENEMY MINES

New measures are announced today following the dropping of parachute mines offshore in the Grand Harbour area last night. In clear moonlight, German aircraft laid the first mines in the entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour, causing the harbours to be temporarily closed.  Three mines exploded on land causing casualties and much damage to houses.

A series of lookouts manned by military personnel is being set up to report the location of any mines dropped into the sea during air raids. The Grand Harbour area will be divided as follows:  Ricasoli sector (two lookouts), Valletta shore (two), Tigne (two), Sliema Point, coastline west of Sliema, Dragonara Point, coastline west of Dragonara (one each).

Reports giving the bearing and approximate distance of mines dropped into the sea will be rendered immediately at the conclusion of a raid. Lookouts will not attempt to make reports during a raid as this would interrupt their watch, nor will they report bombs or mines bursting on land as this will only distract their attention from the main task.

GUARDS ON ENEMY AIRCRAFT

Following concerns about safety and security, military personnel are to mount a guard on crashed enemy aircraft. Orders have been issued that when an enemy aircraft crashes in the sector of a battalion or in the sea surrounding that sector, the company command in whose area the crash occurs will at once report the location and details to battalion HQ.  The battalion will also provide a guard to prevent anyone approaching within 25 yards of the machine, pending instructions from their HQ.

These measures are seen as essential, both as a safety precaution in case of unexploded bombs and to prevent looting by souvenir hunters. The guard will be maintained until it is ordered to be relieved by headquarters.  Battalions are also reminded that unauthorised service personnel are forbidden to touch or interfere with any crashed enemy aircraft, or any small component thereof.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 16 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather   Fine and clear.

0926-1030 hrs  Air raid alert for 20-25 ME 109 fighters approaching the Island, apparently on reconnaissance. Observers report that most are painted black and white but some are painted all white and some have yellow markings.  Eight Malta fighters are scrambled and damage three raiders; Ack Ack fire damages one.  One Hurricane is damaged and rendered temporarily unserviceable; the pilot is unhurt.

1331-1414 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy aircraft which approach and circle the Island at 34000 feet. Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.

0015-0140 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Bombs are dropped on Sliema and on Marsa, injuring one civilian; one bomb fails to explode.

Military casualties  Private John Lancelot Wellman, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Gretz, 7/LG 1, pilot of Junkers JU 88 bomber shot down.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm sank one merchant vessel heading for Libya.  

AIR HQ  Night bombing operations by Wellingtons of 148 Squadron and Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private J L Wellman died at General Hospital Imtarfa from a fractured skull as a result of enemy bombing on 13 Febuary 1941.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  C Company took over Corradino from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment. 

 

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Posted by on February 15, 2021 in 1941, February 1941

 

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12 February 1941: First Messerschmitts Over Malta Destroy Two

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ME 109 fighters

ME 109 fighters

HURRICANES NO MATCH FOR ME 109

Messerschmitt 109 fighters made their first appearance in the skies over Malta today. Twelve of the fast and agile fighters approached the Island as escort to a bombing raid this afternoon.  They quickly made their mark against the six Hurricane fighters sent up to intercept them, shooting down three of them in a series of dog fights. 

One of the Hurricanes was claimed south of Siggiewi by Oberleutnant Joachim Muncheberg, head of the 109s fighter unit, 7 Staffel, Jadgeschwader 26, which arrived in Sicily only last Tuesday. Flown by veterans of the Battle of Britain, the Messerschmitt 109e fighters have been drafted in to support Fliegerkorps 10 in its bombing campaign against Malta. 

Returning from this afternnon’s operation, Malta pilots reported that their Hurricane fighters are so much slower than the ME 109s that they are now at a real disadvantage.

PILOT’S LUCKY ESCAPE

Hurricane fighter pilot P/O D J Thacker had a lucky escape today when his aircraft was shot down into the sea. P/O Thacker, who arrived in Malta a couple of weeks ago, was flying one of six Hurricanes scrambled to tackle a dozen Messerschmitts and three bombers launching an air raid this afternoon.  In a series of dog fights, Thacker’s Hurricane was hit, wounding him with shrapnel.  He managed to escape as the aircraft ditched in the sea off Fort St Elmo.  He was soon rescued by launch and taken to hospital.

WAR OFFICE ORDERS REINFORCEMENTS TO BE SENT IMMEDIATELY

Following recent exchanges of telegrams with Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, the War Office has written to the Commander in Chief Middle East with orders to send 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment to Malta immediately, to be followed by a rifle battalion as soon as one can be made available.  The date of the Battalion’s movement to Malta is to be notified as soon as possible.

OPERATION COLOSSUS UNSUCCESSFUL – SAPPERS CAPTURED

Photoreconnaissance of the target of Operation Colossus revealed today that the viaduct remains intact, following Monday night’s attack. According to the returning Whitley crews, equipment failures and navigational errors made it difficult for them to deliver all the paratroopers to the exact location.  Despite this, reports confirm that charges were successfully laid and exploded at the viaduct but the structure held.  The Royal Engineers involved were tracked as they left the area and taken prisoner.  One of the Whitleys crash-landed during the attempted raid on Foggia and did not return to Malta. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 13 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine and clear.

0813-0830 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1530-1610 hrs  Air raid alert for three JU 88 bombers escorted by twelve fighters which approach Malta. Some of the fighters are identified as German Messerschmitt 109s – the first which have been seen over the Island.  Six Hurricanes are scrambled and there are several engagements, including a dog fight over Hal Far and another north of the Island.  Two Hurricanes are missing after the raid; one pilot is rescued from the sea off Fort St Elmo, slightly wounded.  A third Hurricane makes a forced landing at Luqa; the pilot is slightly wounded and the aircraft damaged but repairable.  No bombs are dropped on the Island.

1909-2000 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach the Island and drop bombs near the control tower of Luqa aerodrome. Malta fighters are scrambled; searchlights do not illuminate the aircraft and there are no interceptions.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Gerald Watson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Utmost from Malta attacked an 8000 ton merchant ship heading for Libya and badly damaged its aft section. HMS Unique from Malta attacked a 6000 ton merchant ship heading for Libya, probably sunk. 

AIR HQ  Sunderland patrol western Ionian Sea. 0815-1327  Maryland photoreconnaissance of the results of Operation Colossus: excellent photographs show the bridge intact.  

KALAFRANA  Marine Craft Section pinnace rescued a Hurricane pilot from St Paul’s Bay.

LUQA  One Maryland photoreconnaissance for results of Operation Colossus. 148 Squadron Four Wellingtons bombing raid on Catania and Comiso aerodromes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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Posted by on February 12, 2021 in 1941, February 1941

 

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8 February 1941: Malta Under Alert for 9 Hours

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RAID AFTER RAID TARGETS SOUTHERN AIRFIELDS AND DOCKYARD

Heinkel HE 111 employed in raids today

Heinkel HE 111 employed in raids tonight

Malta was under alert for over nine hours tonight as enemy bombers carried out a constant series of air raids. The alert sounded just after six in the evening heralding in the first of the raiders who approached in a group of three and bombed Hal Far aerodrome.  They were followed by wave after wave of similar raids, aircrafts approaching in twos and threes, mainly targeting Luqa and Hal Far airfields as well as the Dockyard area, dropping their bombs from heights varying between 400 and 15000 feet.  Up 70 enemy bombers were employed in the raids, including both JU 88 and HE 111s.

Malta fighters were scrambled throughout the night and shot down one enemy bomber plus another probable. Many bombs were dropped on the south of Island, damaging the Leper Hospital and many civilian houses were damaged.  There were no casualties and only slight damage to military property.  During the attacks Swordfish aircraft returning from a mission managed to land safely at Hal Far.

Rev Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral sat up through the night with his parishioners: “There were about 140 people sleeping in the Crypt. I got them to bring cards, draughts, etc., as they just do nothing but sit about – or lie about. I have produced about 20 old hassocks from the church, which they use as head pillows and some bring deck chairs, etc. I feel sorry for the women with babies…there were long intervals of silence punctuated with sudden burst of furious gunfire.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 9 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

1505-1525 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which approaches from the south east over Delimara and makes a reconnaissance flight over the Island.

1649-1722 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft seven miles west of the Island. Marsaxlokk reports a single plane flying in high from the south west.  Four Hurricanes, two Fulmars and six Swordfish are scrambled; no engagement.

1810-0315 hrs  Air raid alert. Four formations of three enemy aircraft approach the Island a few minutes apart.  Bombers swoop in very low and drop bombs on Hal Far, damaging a hangar and causing considerable damage to civilian property.  One civilian guard is killed, three civilians and two soldiers are wounded.  Searchlights engage and illuminate four of the raiders.

Bombers attack Luqa aerodrome, damaging the runway and two Glenn Martin Marylands. Bombs are also dropped near Luqa reservoir, west of Qormi, between Mqabba and Zurieq, on Marnisi and Hamrun, and between Paola and Corradino.  Six Hurricanes and two Fulmars are airborne and shoot down two JU 88 bombers plus another probable.  One aircraft is reported crashing near San Pietru.

Through the night a series of enemy aircraft approach the Island in ones and twos and dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome and the surrounding area. The Leper Hospital, St Vincent de Paule hospital and some civilian houses are damaged.  One civilian is killed and another severely injured.  30 goats are killed.  In another attack bombs are dropped in Marsa, on Tarxien and near Hompesch Arch.  During the attacks Swordfish aircraft returning from a mission landed safely at Hal Far.

Civilian casualties Sliema  Francis Grech, age 17, Malta Auxiliary Corps.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm fired five torpedoes on Tripoli harbour. One aircraft force-landed in Tunisia. 

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli Harbour.  Maryland photoreconnaissance Palermo, west Sicily and Trapani; eight Whitleys arrived for operation “Colossus”. 148 Squadron  Six Wellingtons left for Middle East.  

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for Gibraltar and UK with passengers and mail.  

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli; one Maryland reconnaissance of western Sicily ports.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 6.

(1)  Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History 

 

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

 

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2 February 1941: Rationing to be Introduced in Malta

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Shopping will soon depend on a ration card.

Shopping will soon depend on a ration card.

FOOD DISTRIBUTION OFFICE TO BE SET UP

The Government has decided to start a ration scheme on a national basis for the more efficient distribution and conservation of food. A new department, the Food Distribution Office, will be set up, under the direction of Marquis Barbaro of St George, who has already run an effective rationing system in his home district.

All heads of families will be required to register at the local Protection Office and state the number and ages of members of their household. They must also state the name of the retailer from whom they propose to buy rations.  From this information, calculations of supplies of commodities to retailers will be allocated.  Ration cards will be issued to householders in due course.  Sugar, condensed milk and laundry soap are among the first products expected to be rationed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 3 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine, cold.

1047-1057 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft reported nine miles from the Island; raid does not materialise.

2350-0005 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Under cover of a cruiser force engaged on another operation, Decoy sailed on completion of damage repairs, and Defender arrived for refit. 

AIR HQ 148 Squadron Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome. 0545-1000 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance Taranto. 0735-1100 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli: Castel Benito approx. 50 aircraft mostly light camouflaged bombers; signs of fortifications five miles east of aerodrome. 0751-1307 hrs Sunderland patrol sighted hospital ships flying Italian flag. 0945-1428 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance Naples and special task area; latter not approached due to cloud.  Factories near Pozzuoli show signs of considerable activity. 1045 hrs Spitfire photoreconnaissance Genoa, Leghorn, Spezia reported considerably overdue; no further information available.      

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland photoreconnaissance Taranto; one Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli, Castel Benito, Zuara; one Maryland photoreconnaissance Naples not completed due to weather. 148 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons bombing attack on Castel Benito.

TA QALI  F/Lt Corbishley DFC on photoreconnaissance Spitfire is missing, believed taken prisoner.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  60 per cent morning ‘stand to’ system in operation.

 

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Posted by on February 2, 2021 in February 1941

 

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1 February 1941: Three Cities Locked Down in Case of Sabotage

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MALTA GARRISON 1 FEBRUARY 1941 – click here

Zabbar Gate

Zabbar Gate

MEASURES TO STEP UP DOCKYARD SECURITY

Measures have been announced today to close the area of the Three Cities during the hours of curfew. The three adjacent communities of Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa surround the Dockyard.  The move is intended to secure the Dockyard area against any attempt by saboteurs to create a diversion during a major attack on the Island.

A ring of bastions already surrounds the area. Whenever code ‘Asia’ is in force, placing the Island on full war status all entrances to the three Cities will be closed. Salvatore Gate, Zabbar Gate and Polverista Gate will be locked by the Police.  St Lawrence Deni Bastion will be blocked with barbed wire.  The small footbridge connecting the Naval tanks with Corradino will be guarded by personnel of the local Bofors gun position.  The Ghain Dwieli tunnel entrance will be guarded from one hour before darkness until full daylight. 

Extra security has also been introduced for the Ghain Dwieli tunnel during air raids. In future the tunnel will also be guarded with a temporary road block from the air raid alert until the all clear, during which time nobody will be allowed to pass in or out of Cospicua, unless they can prove they are on official duty.

AIR RAID SUMMARY FOR JANUARY 1941

  • Raids 58 (including 6 night raids)
  • Total time from warning to all clear: 31 hrs 35 minutes
  • Average length of raid: 32.7 minutes
  • Civilians killed: 63

MALTA FIGHTER STRENGTH

  • 261 Squadron 28 Hurricanes (8 unserviceable)
  • 806 Squadron 3 Fulmars (1 unserviceable; 4 Gladiators (1 unserviceable)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 2 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0944-1010 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which flies over the Island, apparently on reconnaissance.   No bombs are dropped.  Malta fighters are scrambled; no interception.

1140-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for one SM 79 escorted by 12 CR 42 fighters which fly over the Island at 20000 feet. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and shoot down one CR42 is shot down on land at St Andrews Barracks in the Pembroke area, and another in the sea north of Malta.  Both pilots are confirmed killed.

1342-1352 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft reported five miles north east of Grand Harbour. Four Malta fighters are scrambled; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Sapper Jack Abela, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Andrea Baudone, 156th Gruppo Autonomo, pilot of Fiat CR 42 shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 1 FEBRUARY 1941

AIR HQ 148 Squadron Wellington aircraft attacked Tripoli.   0550-1231 hrs Sunderland anti-convoy patrol of Eastern Tunisian coast with a striking force standing by. 1013-1300 hrs Spitfire despatched on special photoreconnaissance task: not completed due to cloud.  0945-1159 hrs  Maryland reconnaissance of Syracuse, Augusta, Catania and Messina for ships in harbour. 0955-1530 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance of Taranto.  Slight inaccurate heavy Ack Ack. 0955 hrs one merchant vessel is spotted with two Cant flying boats patrolling nearby. 1451 hrs A Sunderland took off to intercept and attack an Italian ship leaving Tunis; striking force also standing by.  Unable to locate ships; returned 2145 hrs.  

Photoreconnaissance results (to treat interpretation with reserve): Taranto one battleship, four cruisers, seven destroyers, four torpedo boats, three merchant ships, 27 Cant flying boats; Catania port three merchant vessels, aerodrome three SM 79 bombers, 42 JU 87 bombers, 12 JU 88 bombers, two JU 52 transport aircraft, 14 Macchi 200 fighters, one CR 42 fighter plus other aircraft; Augusta three submarines, 18 Cant flying boats; Syracuse no ships, seaplane base not shown.  

LUQA 69 Squadron One Maryland photoreconnaissance Syracuse, Augusta, Catania, Messina; one Maryland photoreconnaissance Taranto.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Defence posts manned from 1800 hrs to 0700 hrs each night. Ghain Tuffieha camp evacuated due to artillery practice.   

 

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Posted by on February 1, 2021 in February 1941

 

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2 January 1941: Reconnaissance Confirms Tripoli Raid Success

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Glenn Martin Maryland

Glenn Martin Maryland

RECONNAISSANCE CONFIRMS STRIKE AND LOCATES FRESH TARGETS

A Glenn Martin reconnaissance aircraft from Malta today confirmed the presence of three enemy cruisers in Tripoli Harbour. The photo-reconnaissance mission was ordered to identify the damage done overnight by Wellingtons of 148 Squadron and to confirm the presence of further targets for bombing operations. 

The reconnaissance photographs reveal a large oil patch covering one third of the harbour area. One large merchant vessel from north of the harbour and one destroyer from the eastern jetty have disappeared, confirming the success of last night’s attacks. 

The ships observed in Tripoli Harbour include nine merchant vessels over 6000 tons, seven merchant vessels 4000 tons, 12 merchant vessels under 2000 tons, eight small naval craft and two destroyers. Six Cant aircraft are moored at the seaplane base. 

No Ack Ack fire was encountered during the mission. On its completion, the Glenn Martin went on to photograph Pantelleria as requested by the Air Ministry.  However the pilot faced intense heavy Ack Ack fire and a number of fighters took off from the airfield during his mission, probably to intercept.  Results of the mission were therefore unsatisfactory and a further attempt will be made as soon as possible. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JANUARY TO DAWN 3 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Cold and stormy.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 JANUARY 1941

LUQA 431 Flight: 1 Glenn Martin reconnaissance Tripoli and Pantelleria.

 

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Posted by on January 2, 2021 in 1941, January 1941

 

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1 January 1941: Wellingtons Successfully Bomb Tripoli

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RAID SUMMARY DECEMBER 40

  • No of raids 18 (including 6 night raids)
  • Days without air raid alerts 20
  • Total time under alert 8 hours 24 mins
  • Average length of alert 28 mins

Wellington bombers

ROYAL ENGINEERS STRENGTH TO INCREASE

From: Governor & C in C               To: War Office

Present establishment of 16 Fortress Company Royal Engineers one major, three sub-lieutenants. It will be necessary to retain the company attached to 4 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery, for a considerable period until Maltese recruits are available and trained.  I strongly recommend the establishment of 16 Company to be increased by one captain in order to free the major from administrative duties and to make him more available for training. I can find personnel locally.

KIT CHANGES

From: Governor & C in C                                                                      To: War Office

In view of the changed conditions here, I am placing [all] troops under Foreign Service scale (No 2) of clothing and necessaries instead of active service scale (Nos 3 and 4) from this date.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JANUARY TO DAWN 2 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Rain and strong winds.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 JANUARY 1941

LUQA 431 Flight: 1 Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Taranto prevented by bad weather; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Pantelleria prevented by engine trouble. 148 Squadron: 10 Wellingtons bombing raid Tripoli, Spanish Wharf: 2 large merchant vessels hit.  

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  B Company completed their move from Rinella Sector to Zeitun School and are now in Battalion Reserve. Two Companies 2nd Bn Royal West Kent took over Rinella Sector.  Carrier Platoon moved from Luqa to Wolseley Camp. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  HQ B Company moved from Ta Saliba to Imtarfa.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Seven passed Classification of Signallers course.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion: 27 officers, 879 other ranks. Carrier Platoon left  Ta Qali and proceeded to Luqa as relief of No 4 Platoon 1st Bn Dorset Regiment. 

 

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Posted by on January 1, 2021 in January 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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