Tag Archives: 148 Squadron

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

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Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids


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.


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.


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.


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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20 July 1941: Malta Submarine Sunk During Attack on Axis Ship

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A Malta submarine has been reported sunk while on operations in the Mediterranean. HMS Union sailed from Malta at 1 am on 14 July with orders to intercept a convoy north of Tripoli the following day.  The submarine was attacking the German merchant ship Menes 25 miles south west of the Island of Pantelleria when she was struck by depth charges from the Italian torpedo boat Circe. Union was under the command of Lt R M Galloway and was on her fourth patrol in the Mediterranean when the attack occurred.  There are believed to be no survivors.

HMS Union Casualty List


The Sliema Branch of Malta Union Club has now been taken over from the Army and the Committee propose to re-open it as the attendance of members demands. Light luncheons, teas and suppers can be obtained on application to the Head Waiter but it is requested that as much notice as possible be given.  The Committee propose to hold dances on Saturdays from 8.30pm to 11.30pm.  The admission charge will be one shilling per person.


Owing to the exceptional demand for hatching eggs earlier in the season, the poultry section of the Government Farm, Ghammieri, has decided to continue the supply of hatching eggs during July. The eggs available are from pure bred Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns and Maltese Blacks.  The price will be 3/6d per dozen; payment by cash on collection at Ghammieri.


Weather  Fine and sunny.

0118—0233 hrs; 0250-0320 hrs Air raid alerts for three enemy bombers which approach at intervals among returning Wellingtons. The first aircraft drops bombs on fields near Luqa, the other two drop bombs in the sea off Grand Harbour.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

0245-0355 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island and is illuminated off Grand Harbour and attacked with a barrage from heavy anti-aircraft guns. Bombs are dropped in the sea.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight-Sergeant John D McCracken, pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY Otus arrived from Gibraltar and discharged petrol and RAF Stores at Marsaxlokk. Upright and Unique sailed for Operation Substance.

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Beaufighter, 1 Maryland, 1 Sunderland, 3 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli and eastwards. 148 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked railway sidings near the harbour at Naples causing large fires and explosions. 


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Posted by on July 20, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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

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petroleum tanks

(c) ASP


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

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

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

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


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


Weather  Sunny and hot.

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Attard  Jane Fenech, age 50.


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

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

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


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Posted by on July 18, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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17 July 1941: Malta Bombers Attack North Africa, Sicily and Italian Mainland

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Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers


During the week Blenheim aircraft have sunk Axis shipping and damaged a number of other ships. Blenheims from Malta, co-operating with Glenn Martin reconnaissance aircraft, made highly successful attacks on enemy shipping. 

On 15 July a convoy consisting of two merchant vessels of 8000 tons and some smaller ships, escorted by four destroyers, was intercepted proceeding north from Tripoli.  As a result of an attack by three Blenheims one of the 8000 ton merchant vessels was believed totally destroyed, and the other was hit in the bows and damaged.

Two Blenheims which attacked Zuara aerodrome 65 miles west of Tripoli hit the headquarters building and machine-gunned a concentration of transport aircraft. The barracks at Misurata 120 miles west of Tripoli were also hit.

A successful attack by eight Wellingtons operating from Malta was made on Naples. Bombs were seen to hit the railway station, warehouses and fuel cisterns; fires were also started in an airframe factory.  Another similar attack was made on Messina docks, as a result of which huge fires were started at the ferry railhead.  Four lines of goods trucks were left ablaze and extensive fires observed in the engine sheds.  Direct hits were also made on a power plant and dockyard warehouses.


Weather  Sunny and hot.

1126-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for one SM 79 on reconnaissance escorted by 15 fighters which cross over the Grand Harbour area and fly over the centre of the Island from north to south at 23000 feet.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage.  19 Hurricanes are scrambled (eight of 249 Squadron, 11 of 185 Squadron) 185 see the raiders but are 4000 feet too low to engage.  249 Squadron chase the raiders out to sea, eventually engaging them at 16000 feet, 55 miles north of the Island.  Two Macchi 200 fighters are shot down into the sea and another is damaged.  One Hurricane of 249 Squadron is lost; the pilot Sgt Guest is killed.

0110-0134 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Sliema area and in the sea, including off Filfla.

0155-0355 hrs  Air raid alert for as series of four enemy aircraft which approach singly from the north at intervals, then drop bombs on the north of the Island and Ta Qali. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage with one barrage; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but there are no interceptions due to no searchlight illuminations.  One unexploded bomb is reported at Targa Gap.

0411-0442 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island at the same time as Wellingtons are returning, then drop bombs on Kalafrana and in St Thomas’ Bay.  Other sticks of small bombs fall on fields across a mile stretch of open country.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagements.

Military casualties  Sergeant Maurice Guest, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.

Enemy casualties S ergente Maggiore Enrico Botti, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, pilot of Macchi 200 fighter shot down and died.


ROYAL NAVY  Utmost sailed for ‘Operation Substance’.

AIR HQ  Departures 5 Hurricane. 69 Squadron Maryland search for convoy ship.

HAL FAR  Fulmar ‘intruder operation’ on Catania met with heavy ground opposition. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 3 Swordfish attacked Tripoli and successfully torpedoed a 7000 ton tanker as well as dropping bombs on Spanish Quay causing a huge explosion, despite heavy ground defences. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Palermo Harbour, dropping 20000lb of bombs on four cruisers and six destroyers; results not seen.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 2 (15kg HE).


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Posted by on July 17, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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16 July 1941: Malta Submarine Solo Battle With Axis Convoy

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Malta-based submarine P33 ended her first war patrol today, arriving on schedule despite being damaged in action.  Commanded by Lt R D Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN, the submarine was alerted yesterday afternoon that an enemy convoy which had left Tripoli the day before was proceeding northwards to Naples. The five merchant ships were escorted by four destroyers and six torpedo boats with additional aircraft cover.

P33 closed on the convoy and when at 2500 yards off released four torpedoes aimed at the Italian merchant ship Barbarigo, registering two hits on target.  The merchant vessel immediately began to sink.  However, the torpedo tracks had been spotted by a destroyer which immediately dropped depth charges, and other destroyers followed suit.  While one torpedo boat stopped to pick up survivors from Barbarigo, two others detached from the convoy to hunt the submarine, while the Cant aircraft searched from above. 

In a counter-attack lasting over an hour, some 116 depth charges were dropped towards the submarine but only one set came close to her, damaging some lights. P33 dived but control of the submarine was temporarily lost and was 300 feet down before it could be righted.  She suffered some damage as a result of the steep dive and was forced to return to Malta.


Weather  Very hot and humid.

0950-1004 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft which head towards the Island but split up while still 40-50 miles north. While the remainder turn back, ten raiders approach to 20 miles from Malta.  Hurricanes are scrambled and the enemy aircraft retreat.

0416-0445 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross over Grand Harbour and drop bombs on Fort St Angelo. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but are forced to land due to weather closing in.  Searchlights illuminate the raiders but anti-aircraft guns cannot open fire while Hurricanes are approaching.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Mario Massini, 10o Stormo, pilot of SM 79 bomber shot down and died.


ROYAL NAVY  P33 arrived on time at 1230, having suffered hull damage during counter attack of 116 depth charges, and being forced deep after obtaining two hits on northbound convoy. HM submarine Cachalot arrived from Alexandria with stores for Malta.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked Tripoli, hitting one tanker with torpedo and causing explosion on Spanish Quay.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Palermo, Messina, Catania, Augusta, Syracuse, Trapani, Catania and Reggio, and Tripoli. 148 Squadron 4 Wellingtons bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour by moonlight, dropping 12250lbs of bombs, achieving many hits and causing a large explosion on Spanish Quay plus damage to a merchant ship alongside.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 8; dealt with 4 (15kg HE).


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


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10 July 1941: Massive Mine at St Paul’s Bay

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Lt Edward D Woolley RN (1)

Lt Edward D Woolley RN (1)


Enemy mines now encircling the coastal waters of Malta are presenting a serious threat to local boats as well as Royal Navy ships and approaching convoys. Lieutenant Edward D Woolley RN arrived in Malta on 13 June to take on the duties of Royal Navy Rendering Mines Safe and Minesweeping Maintenance Officer.  Today he received a call to deal with a mine off Malta’s north coast.

“I was taken to St Paul’s Bay where a fisherman had reported an object lying on the sea bed. We found the fisherman and he took me out a distance of some two or three miles in his small rowing boat.  As far as I was concerned there was just a lot of water and we were about a mile offshore, as he didn’t appear to have laid a marker buoy I didn’t see how the devil he was going to find the right place…he rowed on and on and then stopped, looked all round him and signified we had arrived.  I put the waterglass over the side and damn my eyes we were sitting slap on top of a very fine magnetic mine.  The water here was ninety feet deep but it was so clear through the waterglass that I could read the figures on the case which are less than two inches high…

We went out with one of the minesweepers but although we played about for hours we just couldn’t sweep it… later I prepared a charge and went out once more in a rowing boat and lowered it down to the mine. It all sounds very simple like that but it wasn’t.  It was a bit rought that day and the boat was bobbing up and down like a cork and on the move all the time.  I was leaning over the side with my stomach very uncomfortably bearing on the gunwhale, a very hot sun on my back, a waterglass in one hand with the weighted charge on in the other and trying to give instruction to my assistant which way to pull…  The first attempt to countermine was not successful…all I had done had been to blow it about thirty yards along the sea bed, so I had all the performance again of laying another charge.  This time, although to my disappointment the mine did not detonate, it was split in two and looked like a half-peeled banana so it was, to all intents and purposes, destroyed.” (1)


Weather  Cloudy.

0009-0112 hrs; 0136-0221 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft in total which approach the Island singly. Three cross the coast from the south and south west.  Bombs are dropped on near Bardia Ridge, near Dingli and on Ghain Tuffieha camp.  One falls on the Ghain Tuffieha searchlight and fails to explode.  The site is evacuated.  Bombs are also dropped on Wardia Ridge and in the sea west of the Island.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled with each approach.  Searchlights illuminate raiders but there are no engagements.  Wellington aircraft come in to land during the raid, causing confusion among the Island’s defenders.


ROYAL NAVY Rorqual proceeded on patrol, but returned at 2200 hrs with engine defects. 4 Swordfish left to attack Tripoli, but returned as weather unsuitable.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Blenheim (3 of 114 Squadron, 1 of 82 Squadron), 1 Sunderland. Departures 3 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli and convoy search. 148 Squadron 9 Wellingtons night bombing attack on railway marshalling yards at Naples causing damage and fires plus a large explosion in an airframe factory.  1 Wellington was struck by lightning but returned safely. 

HAL FAR  A Fulmar patrolled the Catania area but returned due to bad weather.

KALAFRANA  Overnight 20 small 15kg bombs were dropped on the south slipway and barrack areas. Two small store buildings received direct hits and the flying boat hangar; the Heinkel float-plane housed within received superficial damage from bomb splinters.  Two Army personnel were injured by bomb splinters.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Under ‘Exercise Asia’ the Mobile Machine-gun Company was ordered out which proved a difficult procedure as many of the personnel were already employed in the anti-parachute platoons, wearing different dress and equipment.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 1 (100kg HE).

(1) Mines Over Malta, Frederick R Galea, Wise Owl Publications


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Posted by on July 10, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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9 July 1941: Security Breach Endangers Malta Convoy

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Naples bombed tonight

Naples bombed tonight


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Weather  Hot and sunny.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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Posted by on July 9, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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7 July 1941: Malta Bus Services Under Threat

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Malta’s weekend bus services are becoming so overcrowded that the Government has issued a warning to passengers not to make unnecessary journeys. Since the weekday service between 1130am and 2pm was suspended due to fuel shortages Saturday services have become extremely busy.  Describing certain routes as “severely overcrowded”, the Government notice warns against non-essential travel, saying that it “cannot guarantee there will be sufficient buses on Saturdays to carry all passengers.” 

An enterprising horse-owner, realising that people still have travel from one place to another whatever the restrictions, has started his own ‘omnibus service’ – a coach drawn by two horses – offering transport between Castile Place, Valletta, and Mannarino Road, Birkirkara. The service operates hourly from each terminus between 9.15 am and 4.15 pm. Traditional Karozzin are also appearing on the roads again but cab drivers are said to be demanding very high fares for their trips. (1)


A notice has been issued to troops in Malta warning against the use or consumption of damaged fresh produce. According to the advice, no bruised or over-ripe fruit should be used and all fruit and vegetables should as far as possible be cooked.  Uncooked vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, lettuce, grapes etc. should be disinfected by standing in a good red solution of potassium permanganate for one hour, or by plunging into water for 15 seconds.  The use of boiling water may spoil the appearance of the fruit or vegetable but does not alter the flavour.  It is thought the safeguards could help to reduce incidents of stomach upsets among troops serving in Malta.


Weather  Sunny and hot.

2321-0023 hrs   Air raid alert for five enemy BR 20 bombers which approach the Island singly from the north east and drop 100kg and 250kg high explosive bombs in various locations. One bomber flies past the Island and turns to approach from the south west, crossing the coast near Zurrieq to drop four bombs on the Hal Far dispersal area; no serious damage is caused.  Bombs are also dropped near Naxxar in the sea off San Pietru, to the north of Sliema and off St Paul’s Bay.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at 18000 feet; no claims.  Fighters are not scrambled due to the raider’s unusual direction of approach.

2354-0027 hrs  Air raid alert for a single bomber which approaches from the south west, crosses the coast and drops five bombs on Hal Far. No fighters are scrambled.  Searchlights illuminate the raider briefly and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

Civilian casualties Paola  Carmela Attard, age 22; Charles Borg, age 55; Eliza Borg, age 28, Anthony Cappello; Joseph Cappello; Salvatore Cappello; Publio Cini, age 52; Anthony Coleiro, age 30; Saviour Galea, age 42; Mary Grima, age 3; Saviour Tanti, age 70; Victor Tanti, age 2; Joseph Zerafa, age 33; Paul Zerafa, age 22; Mary Zerafa, age 15.  


AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Palermo, Taranto, Augusta and Syracuse, and special patrols.  One Maryland to Middle East escorting Hurricanes. 148 Squadron 6 Wellingtons night bombing raids on railway goods yards at Tripoli starting several fires. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar on protective patrol over Catania; no engagement.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All ranks still confined to barracks under ‘Exercise Asia’.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal Section busy on unexploded bombs. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 3 (1 x 15kg HE, 2 x 250lb HE).

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


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Posted by on July 7, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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3 July 1941: Troops Rehearse for Invasion of Malta

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Troops across Malta are preparing for a massive military exercise which is due to start tomorrow as part of the Island’s strategy against an expected enemy invasion from air and sea. The exercise is designed to test the complete Garrison including all staffs and troop formations.

Exercise scenario based on invasion of Crete

Exercise based on invasion of Crete

The exercise scenario begins with heavy bombing and machine-gun attacks on all airfields, grounding defensive fighter forces and putting the airfields out of action. Bombing raids follow on gun positions and communities across Malta, with high numbers of military casualties.  Civilians in target areas panic at the scale of attacks and began to flee in large numbers, blocking roads and heading into battle zones.

Transport aircraft and gliders then land large numbers of parachute troops which occupy key strategic points across the Island. Destroyers approach the coast and begin heavy shelling from the sea.

Enemy landing craft enter bays in the north west and south east of the Island; large numbers of troops and tanks are seen on land.  Malta forces engage in extensive land battles to reclaim control of the Island. Garrison casualties total 350 killed and 555 wounded or missing. 

The exercise begins tomorrow and is due to end on 11 July.


The War Office has responded to a request from the Governor and Commander in Chief for each new serviceman arriving in Malta to be equipped with a rifle. The shipment of rifles in bulk in the forthcoming convoy has been increased from 2700 to 4357.  This is intended to provide the Island with 1657 rifles for issue on arrival to all army and RAF combatant personnel in convoy not already armed with a rifle or machine-gun.


Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY  Osiris arrived from Gibraltar and unloaded 70 tons of bulk petrol in Marsaxlokk. Utmost returned from special operations north of Sicily where she blew up a railway tunnel and sank a 6000 ton ship.

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Blenheims 110 Squadron, 1 Bombay, 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington.  69 Squadron  Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour and special patrols. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons night bombing Tripoli causing a fire and explosion near the Mole. 

HAL FAR  Reconnaissance following yesterday’s mission by 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm yesterday showed mines laid kept ships out of Tripoli Harbour. 7 more Swordfish of the squadron left today to attack an enemy convoy but the attack was called off. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion has been asked to name those who have served for more than 6 years overseas who are to be posted home; the measure would leave the Bn short of manpower.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB dealt with 1 (500lb HE).


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Posted by on July 3, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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2 July 1941: Long Nights in Air Raid Shelters Affect Civilian Morale

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Shelter crowdedLong nights spent in often uncomfortable air raid shelters are disrupting the lives of civilians. The enemy raiders’ tactic of extending the period under alert up to several hours is taking its toll.  Charles Grech later recalled the effect on his boyhood community of nights under alert which:

“tired out people and lowered their morale, creating physical and mental exhaustion. Sometimes, air raid warning signals were given at 7pm and would remain in effect throughout the whole night, till 8am the following morning.  Women, children and older people took cover in the shelters and spent the entire night there.  Some men, especially those who had a day’s work ahead of them, only go down to the shelter when they heard gunfire.  It was not unusual to see men racing to the shelter in their underpants or pyjamas…and only realised this when they got down there and stood in front of a gaggle of wide-eyed women.

Sometimes, one or two women would also pluck up courage to leave the shelter and come back with some hot coffee and something to eat for their children or parents or some warm milk for baby. [My] mother was quite organised for this eventuality and the first thing she did in the evening was prepare a thermos flask full of coffee and pack some food in her basket in case of emergency. (1)


  • Rifles: 17318
  • Mortars: 111
  • Machine guns:
  • Bren 634
  • Lewis 616
  • Vickers 293
  • Thompson sub. 168
  • Besa 6


Weather  Hot and humid.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish layed mines in approaches to Tripoli Harbour; they also bombed three large and several small motor vessels and started fires.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 8 Blenheim 110 Squadron, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 6 Wellington.  Aircraft casualties 69 Squadron  Marylands reconnaissance Pantelleria and Tripoli Harbour. 82 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked Homs destroying barracks and vehicles.  3 Blenheims attacked Buerat barracks, destroying vehicles.   148 Squadron 7 Wellingtons bombed port facilities and ships in Tripoli Harbour; ships damaged. 

TA QALI  Two Hurricanes collided on landing, both badly damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

(1) Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech translated by Joseph Galea Debono, Midsea Books 1998


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


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