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1 July 1941: Malta Commands Resists Reduction in Artillery Defences

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  • RAID SUMMARY JUNE 1941
  • No of air raid alerts 67 (including 25 night raids)
  • Days without air raid alerts 7
  • Total time under alert 32 hours 2 mins
  • Average length of alert 28.7 mins
  • Civilians killed by enemy action 5

ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL

  • Unexploded bombs dealt with April-June 1941 total 224
  • High explosives total 45 (15g 21, 50kg 9, 100kg/250lb 8, 150kg 2, 250kg/130lb 2, 500kg 3)
  • Incendiaries 175
  • Anti-personnel 5
Royal Malta Artillery  (NWMA Malta)

Royal Malta Artillery (NWMA Malta)

NO ALTERATION IN ARTILLERY UNITS MUST BE MADE, GOVERNOR TELLS LONDON

From: Gov C in C          To: War Office

The War Office is proposing returning to the Island a Maltese artillery battery at present serving in North Africa. Since volunteering to serve overseas before Italy joined the war, 5th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery Royal Malta Artillery has been with Allied forces in Egypt since May 1940. 

However, the War Office plan includes the release of one British battery from the increased garrison currently planned for Malta, a proposal which has been firmly rejected by the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief today:

“I cannot surrender a British battery in its place. It appears probable that 5th HAA Battery will have to be broken up on its return to Malta.  I trust no, repeat no, alteration will be made in the numbers or units destined for Malta under your telegram of 19 June.”

ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR NAMED

The Italian pilots of two Macchi 200 fighters shot down on 27 June have been named as 2nd Lieutenant Neri de Benedetti and Sergeant Alfredo Sclavo, both of 90th Fighter Squadron.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and humid.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant James Walford Hamborough, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Edward Jamieson, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Ronald Rolfe Jowett, RAF; Sergeant Arthur Joseph Lassner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Hay George Simpson, RAFVR.                                           

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 JULY 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 6 Blenheim, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol western Sicilian coast and east Tunisian coast.  Patrols Cape Bon to western Sicily and Pantelleria-Lampedusa area.  At 1730 hrs six merchant vessels were seen north east of Pantelleria heading south. 82 Squadron 4 Blenheims despatched Homs bombed the coast road causing several craters; one lorry destroyed, reservoir received direct hit.  Six more Blenheims were despatched tonight to attack a staging post at Homs and Beurat; they are not yet due back in Malta. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Spanish Port Mole, Tripoli.  Bombs were dropped from 10000 feet, achieving six direct hits on the Spanish Mole and others on the base of Karamanli Mole.  A fire was started on the edge of the town.  One medium merchant vessel probably two direct hits, believed set on fire but hidden by heavy smoke screen.  Anti-aircraft fire experienced.  One Wellington made a second attack on Tripoli, the others could not be turned round in time to do so due to poor visibility.  All Wellingtons returned safely.

LUQA  Four Wellingtons arrive, one of which fires the recognition signal and sets alight a small cornfield near the airfield.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths officers 26; WOs 7; other ranks 122.

ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY  1st Coast Regt strengths 31 officers, 1307 other ranks; 11 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 17 officers, 437 other ranks; 2 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 22 officers, 643 other ranks; 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 19 officers, 591 other ranks.

 

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

 

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29 June 1941: Malta 12 Attacks on Axis Convoys & Bases in a Week

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BLENHEIMS, MARYLANDS, SWORDFISH AND WELLINGTONS ON RAIDS

In its weekly review of the progress of the war, the War Cabinet in London hears a report on attacks by aircraft operating from Malta on shipping between Sicily and North Africa and bombed objectives on the North African mainland.

Maryland bombingAt dusk on 25 June, four Marylands attacked a convoy of four large merchant vessels of about 20000 tons, escorted by six destroyers, and scored at least one direct hit. Later in the same evening seven Swordfish torpedoed two of the merchant vessels which probably sank, and possibly hit a third.  From these operations one Maryland and one Swordfish were reported missing.  Another convoy was attacked by three Marylands on 29 June, 30 miles off Tripoli, and near misses observed.

Wellingtons carried out five night attacks on Tripoli, in two of which they were supported by Swordfish. On one of these occasions seven Swordfish laid sea-mines in the harbour.  The Spanish and Karamanli Moles were hit many times and a number of fires were started.  Bombs were also seen to hit one large and one medium size merchant vessel, and a vessel of 6000 tons was set on fire.

Successful day attacks on Tripoli were also made by Blenheims and Marylands.

Today Blenheims failed to locate a convoy. As an alternative they bombed and completely destroyed a factory to the east of the town. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1941

Weather  Cloudy; humid.

No air raids.

Military casualties Sergeant John A Cover, Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force, 82 Squadron; Sergeant Richard G G Fairweather, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 82 Squadron; Sergeant Allan T Thomas, Observer, RAFVR, 82 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Urge successful attack on cruiser (believed to be Gorizia); two hits claimed, followed by a large explosion. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish sent to attack Tripoli encountered severe weather and turned back. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.  3 Marylands made a high level (15-21000 ft) bombing raid on Tripoli Harbour in daylight; results not observed. 82 Squadron 9 Blenheims despatched to attack convoy approaching Tripoli.  One Blenheim received a direct hit by a bomb from another aircraft.  6 Blenheims went out again to attack merchant ships in Tripoli Harbour; one returned with engine trouble.  The remainder crossed the coast wide of the target and bombed Sorman aerodrome nearby, starting several fires among aircraft on the ground. 148 Squadron  7 Wellingtons sent to attack Spanish Quay and shipping in Tripoli Harbour encountered severe weather.  4 aircraft reached target and attacked, damaging quay and ships.

 

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Posted by on June 29, 2021 in 1941, June 1941

 

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27 June 1941: Malta Fighter Numbers Up As 21 Hurricanes Arrive

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OPERATION ‘RAILWAY’ PASSES SAFELY THROUGH MEDITERRANEAN

Hurricane reinf on carrierThe first phase of a major operation to increase the fighter force on Malta was successfully completed today as 21 Hurricanes landed on the Island. The latest delivery followed the success of Operation ‘Rocket’ three weeks ago (6 June 1941 maltagc70). Having delivered her cargo to the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier HMS Furious returned to port in the Clyde to load up an even larger cargo of 64 Hurricanes and 9 Swordfish.  The carrier sailed for Gibraltar on 22 June where 22 Hurricanes for Malta were transferred to HMS Ark Royal.  Escorted by cruisers Renown and Hermione plus five destroyers, Ark Royal passed safely through the western Mediterranean to her rendezvous point early this morning.  Blenheim aircraft flew out from Gibraltar to the rendezvous to escort the Hurricanes onward to Malta.  One Hurricane failed to reach the Island and has been reported missing.  

GOZO TO HAVE PAID COAST WATCHERS

Malta’s sister Island of Gozo is to have its own band of paid coast watchers. The measure is part of a move to increase security in the light of an expected Axis invasion which may target Gozo as a possible foothold from which to launch a main attack on Malta.  The War Office has agreed to the recruitment of 70 coast watchers for the Island who will be paid from Army funds at a rate of 4 shillings per day. Each watcher will also be issued with one suit of denim battledress.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1010 hrs  Hurricanes begin landing at Luqa from Operation Railway.

1146-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for a SM 79 bomber escorted by 25 Macchi 200 fighters which approach Grand Harbour from the north. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage, destroying six Macchis confirmed, plus two probable, and damaging the SM 79 and other fighters.  Two Macchis are seen to crash; one near Birzebbuga is completely burned out and scattered over four fields.  The pilot bales out but the parachute fails to open; his body is found near Ta Karach and an ambulance attends the scene.  The second Macchi crashes into the sea; its pilot is rescued and taken prisoner.  P/O Barnes, who shot him down, visits the Italian pilot for afternoon tea.

2152-2220 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching from the north.  Seven heavy anti-aircraft guns launch a barrage and one aircraft recedes north.  The other crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour and drops 50kg bombs between Valletta and Sliema, including Pieta Creek.  One bomb demolishes a house in Pieta, where a crater in the road causes a traffic diversion.  One gunner is killed and three injured.  50kg bombs are also dropped in the sea off Salina Bay and St Thomas’ Bay.  Anti-aircraft guns launch a barrage; no claims.  Hurricane night fighters are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate raiders and there are no interceptions.

0305-0350 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and drops 50kg high explosive bombs on Zabbar and Marsa, as well as Ta Qali and in the sea off the north coast. One stick of bombs start a fire at Salvatore Gate which is soon under control.  Several unexploded bombs are reported on land.  Anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.  Malta night fighters do not intercept due to lack of searchlight illuminations.

Military casualties  Lance-Bombardier Frederick J Hopkinson, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Alfredo Sclavo, pilot of Macchi 200, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, shot down and died. Sottotenente Neri de Benedetti, pilot of Macchi 200, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, shot down and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 27 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  A convoy of four liners (same as  departed Naples 25 June) arrived in Taranto, but not known whether these were original four.  The ships were later attacked in harbour by Blenheim aircraft which claim to have damaged Esperia (causing slight damage) and Neptunia

AIR HQ  Arrivals 21 Hurricane, 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron 6 Maryland reconnaissance missions.  82 Squadron 3 Blenheims made a surprise low-level bombing attack on Tamet aerodrome, setting fire to three aircraft and machine-gunning others, as well as personnel on the ground. 148 Squadron 6 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Tripoli Harbour, especially Spanish Wharf and the main unloading facilities.

TA QALI  10 Hurricanes arrived ex Ark Royal. One overshot aerodrome on landing; pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 1 (50kg removed for sterilising).

 

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Posted by on June 27, 2021 in 1941, June 1941

 

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26 June 1941: Five Hour ‘Nuisance’ Night Raids on Malta

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FIVE RAIDS SPREAD OVER AS MANY HOURS

Rev R M Nicholls describes the impact of Italian ‘nuisance raids’ and considers the invasion of Russia

Italian bomber over the Grand Harbour dark“Ten days ago we returned to Valletta to sleep. There had not been much night bombing, and my wife wished to return. If blitzes occur we shall go back to Birkirkara.  On our first night back we had five raids spread over many hours; and for…three nights we have had raids more or less continuously from about ten pm till 2 or 3 o’clock o’morning.  Last night was the longest period for some time.  It seems to be Italians; and the technique seems to be for a single plane to cruise about, at a height out of reach of either searchlights or guns; then after half an hour of this to drop three or four bombs and bolt for home.

After a short interval the ‘Raider Past’ is sounded and a little later the ‘All Clear’. Then, ten minutes after, another plane approaches and the poor folk who have just climbed back into bed have to turn out again and go back to the rock shelters.  I lie and read, or write, in our funk-hole hearing the distant or near drone; and then zonk – a couple of bombs give their metallic roar.  ‘Now he’ll go home’ I say to myself. But last night one of them met one of our fighters waiting or searching for him and down he went into the sea…

The Cretan business is over and we lost. I am told that the C-in-C Mediterranean said that it had to be held at all costs; but we failed. Largely through our usual mismanagement, said an officer who heard a lecture by someone who came here to tell us about it.

Now has come the invasion of Russia. That was a tremendous surprise to me.  I never dreamt of it.  But I can see the point clearly.  Hitler is afraid lest Russia should attack in the Balkans just as he has all his forces engaged in a great attack on Britain.  Russia did something of the same sort early in the war – Finland, Poland, and later Bessarabia.  While Hitler was busy Stalin might well attack the Dardanelles.  I think that this kind of explanation is really more likely than the mere demand for oil and grain.” (1)

TROOPS MAIL CENSORSHIP TIGHTENED

Troops across Malta were reminded today of the rules governing the posting and censorship of letters written by service personnel. The communique states that all such correspondence addressed to any address overseas must be forwarded to the battalion’s orderly room for censorship and posting.  On no account must such correspondence be posted in the civil Post Office or in any other way than through the orderly room.  Failure to adhere to these rules will incur the severest disciplinary action.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JUNE TO DAWN 27 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

Military casualties Flight Sergeant Harry S M Bolton, Royal Air Force (RAF), 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ernest W Gimson, RAF, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Brian P Hanson, RAF Volunteer Reserve, 69 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 26 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Reconnaissance of Taranto Harbour AM showed two liners in harbour, but PM reconnaissance showed a convoy of four large ships steering south off Taranto. Utmost successful attack, sank 6000 ton ship.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish bombed shipping and port facilities in Tripoli Harbour.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance. 4 Marylands made a high-level bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour in daylight, dropping 3000 lbs of high explosive, damaging Spanish Wharf and causing fires. 148 Squadron 4 Wellingtons made a successful night bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

(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 June 26, 2021 in 1941, June 1941

 

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21 April 1941: Royal Artillery Reinforcements Land at Malta

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BRECONSHIRE BRINGS 380 TROOPS AND FUEL SUPPLIES

Malta's new Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G D Carroll

Malta’s new Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G D Carroll

The fast transport ship Breconshire docked safely today after the Mediterranean Fleet engineered her safe passage to Malta.  380 troops disembarked after a three day journey from Alexandria during which the only enemy action had been from individual aircraft shadowing the convoy.  Having detached from Breconshire and her escort destroyer Encounter at dusk yesterday, the Fleet steered southwards to launch a bombardment of Tripoli at 0500 hrs this morning in an attack designed to divert enemy attention from the vital Malta supply convoy.

Breconshire was unable to enter Grand Harbour, which is currently closed due to the large number of mines; Marsamxett Harbour remains open. As well as troops Breconshire was carrying essential supplies of aviation spirit, oil fuel and general stores.

Reinforcements disembarked: 

  • Royal Artillery officers 6 other ranks 360
  • 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers other ranks 3
  • Royal Engineers officers 1 other ranks 6
  • 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment officers 2
  • 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment officers 2
  • Total: officers 11 other ranks 369

MALTA HAS A NEW BOMB DISPOSAL OFFICER

A new Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer arrived today aboard Breconshire.  Lt G D Carroll is to take over as RE Bomb Disposal Officer Malta from Lt E E C Talbot, RE, who is entitled to respite leave after six months’ continuous service.  The Bomb Disposal Officer is responsible for all unexploded bombs across the Island outside of Royal Navy or RAF premises.

Before being posted to Malta, Lt Carroll served in the London Blitz where he dealt with high explosive bombs up to 1800kg including a large number of delayed action fuzes. He arrived with Sgt Holland who is also experienced in bomb disposal.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 APRIL TO DAWN 22 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

0746-0801 hrs; 1038-1120 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

1813-1848 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109s escorting one JU 88 bomber approaching from the north. The JU 88 crosses Grand Harbour at 21000 feet.   Eight Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders, destroying one ME 109 and another probable.  Anti-aircraft guns also engage; no claims.

2356-0122 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft which approach singly from the north and use flares to carry out widespread bombing; the main target is Grand Harbour. Bombs are dropped from varying heights from 1000 to 10000 feet over the Dockyard and surroundings.  Two aircraft lay mines off the south of Grand Harbour from a height of 2000 feet.  One Hurricane night fighter is scrambled but searchlights provide no illumination of the raiders; no engagement.  Anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with eleven predicted barrages; no claims.

0505-0527 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which approach Grand Harbour from the north and drop bombs on the Dockyard area. Raiders also drop bombs in the water before crossing the coast over Benghaisa.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with predicted barrage once at 10000 feet; no claims.

Civilian casualties Zeitun  Anna Spiteri, age 21.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Breconshire loaded with aviation spirit, oil fuel and general supplies, arrived with Encounter under cover of the Fleet movement to bombard Tripoli.  Many mines in Grand Harbour which was closed but Marsamxett Harbour remained open.  Submarine Undaunted arrived at Malta from Gibraltar to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: one merchant vessel capsized and the small mole have been damaged in yesterday’s raid. Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast. 148 Squadron 8 Wellington bombers night bombing attack on Tripoli harbour as a precursor to naval bombardment.      

HAL FAR  A civilian labourer fell from a hangar roof and sustained heavy injuries.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Work on many defences is complete. A programme of training on machine guns and other small arms, including grenades and Molotov cocktails, is now underway.  5 more NCOs attended a bomb reconnaissance course. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS The RE (Malta Section) is now increased in strength. Major H D Tanner assumes Company Command, 24 Fortress Company, replacing W De Piro-Cowley. Lt G D Carroll, RE and Sgt Holland arrived and posted to Bomb Disposal Section. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 17 (14 near Rabat).

 

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Posted by on April 21, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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19 April 1941: Malta Submarine in Dramatic Rescue Attempt

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HM Submarine Regent

HM Submarine Regent

REGENT COMES UNDER FIRE ON YUGOSLAV COAST

A Malta-based submarine has been engaged in a dramatic mission to rescue British dignitaries and civilians from German-occupied Yugoslavia. The Balkan state has been under Axis occupation for several days following invasion by German and Italian troops.  As the enemy advanced rapidly, the British Ambassador Sir Ronald Campbell and his staff found themselves potentially stranded in a hostile country.  The Ambassador is understood to have cabled a message out to London and left immediately for the Yugoslav coast with the other British civilians. 

HM Submarine Regent was ordered to leave Malta on Thursday 17 April for the naval port of Kotor (1) in the hope of rescuing the stranded group.  However, within hours of her sailing, the Yugoslav government had signed an armistice with the Axis powers, due to come into effect at noon yesterday.  The submarine had to negotiate two minefields in her approach to Kotor. As Regent neared the harbour entrance, Lt Edward Stanley was sent up on deck to fly a white flag to signify a peaceful mission.  However, two German aircraft swooped down and dive-bombed the submarine, scoring a near-miss with a bomb which injured Lt Stanley in the chest. 

The white flag in place, the decision was taken to proceed with the mission and Lt D Lambert was sent ashore to meet the British Ambassador; he was immediately taken prisoner. The submarine’s commanding officer, Lt Cdr H C Browne, and a rating were also seriously wounded by machine gun fire from the shore.  Lt Cdr Browne was forced to depart without Ambassador Campbell, who it is believed has been taken prisoner.  

CONVOY ME 7 DEPARTS MALTA

Four merchant ships left Malta at dusk today, having delivered their supplies safely to the Island. British steamers City of Lincoln, Clan Ferguson, City of Manchester and Perthshire formed the supply convoy which was bombed within an hour of arriving in Grand Harbour on 23 March.  Both Lincoln and Perthshire were hit in the raids but are now fully seaworthy. 

The merchantmen were escorted on their departure today by four destroyers Jervis, Janus, Nubian and Diamond, the latter having completed refit at Malta.  They expect to rendezvous with other ships of the Mediterranean Fleet tomorrow for the steamers to be escorted back to Alexandria.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

1214 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which circle the Island and are engaged by Tigne anti-aircraft guns; no claims.

1511-1530 hrs; 1606 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

2018-2043 hrs Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers which cross the coast singly and drop bombs in isolated localities causing no damage or casualties. Searchlights illuminate the raiders on two occasions and anti-aircraft guns engage heavily, causing the raiders to withdraw; no claims.

Military casualties  2nd Lieutenant Harry Leslie Deacon, Royal Army Service Corps.

Civilian casualties Msida  Nicolo Cassar, age 40; Michael Sammut, age 40; Jane Zammit, age 60; John Zammit, age 50; Joseph Zammit, age 65.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Convoy ME7 – City of Lincoln, Clan Ferguson, City of Manchester and Perthshire – sailed for Alexandria escorted by Jervis, Janus, Nubian and Diamond, the latter having completed refit at Malta. 

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Taranto; chased by three Macchi 200 fighters; no damage. Maryland reconnaissance western Ionian Sea. 148 Squadron 8 Wellington bombers night bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg).

(1) Now in Montenegro 

 

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Posted by on April 19, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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14 April 1941: Malta Must Be Filled With Fighter Aircraft Says Air Chief

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Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal KG GCB OM DSO MCREINFORCEMENTS ESSENTIAL FOR ISLAND TO SURVIVE

The Chief of the Air Staff has told the War Cabinet in London that Malta must be filled with fighter aircraft in order to maintain itself against its unfavourable geographical position so close to Sicily, where a large bomber force could be assembled. If our fighter aircraft flew away from Malta [to attack convoys] he said, they left the Island liable to enemy attack. 

The radius round Malta over which fighter aircraft can operate does not extend far enough to enable them to intercept enemy transport aircraft carrying personnel or stores to Cyrenaica. The main conclusion of the discussion was that the War Cabinet cannot currently be certain of interrupting the enemy supply line to Tripoli.

FRIENDLY FIRE INCIDENT

Flying Officer Adrian Warburton of 69 Squadron had a lucky escape today when his Maryland was attacked by a Hurricane fighter over Malta. F/O Warburton took off from Luqa this morning for a test flight prior to a reconnaissance mission planned for later in the day. 

Meanwhile Hurricane fighters were scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of a JU 88 bomber escorted by ME 109s. The Maryland was mistaken for an enemy raider and Hurricane pilot F/O I Westmacott attacked.  His starboard engine and undercarriage damaged, F/O Warburton was forced to crash-land at Luqa.  He was unhurt.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 APRIL TO DAWN 15 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

0942-1020 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by ten ME 109 fighters as it carries out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 25000 feet. Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage heavily; no claims.

2124-2202 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and is engaged by anti-aircraft guns, whereupon it retreats north over St Paul’s Bay. Minutes later the aircraft returns to attack St Paul’s Bay where it is illuminated by searchlights and heavily engaged by anti-aircraft guns; no claims.  One flare is dropped in the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli noted 8 merchant vessels; engine trouble necessitated immediate return. Maryland patrolled area between Cape Bon and Trapani; no ships seen. 148 Squadron Four Wellingtons night bombing raid on Tripoli harbour.  Average height of bombing 6-7000 feet: anti-aircraft fire less accurate at this height. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  24 unexploded bombs found in B Company area from previous air raid, reported to bomb disposal squad.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  5 WOs/NCOs attended a four hour bomb reconnaissance course.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0030 hrs One man was injured in Valletta by bomb splinters.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 7; dealt with 1 (50kg).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Two conscripts joined the Battalion. Three bombs are dropped near a defence posts which do not exploded; one is found and identified as 250kg with a fuze marked 50, reported to bomb disposal squad.

 

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Posted by on April 14, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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13 April 1941: Easter Sunday – 300 Bomb Strike on Civilian Areas

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Mdina

The ‘silent city’ of Mdina

MDINA HIT FOR A SECOND TIME AS INDISCRIMINATE BOMBING MARS MALTA’S MAIN RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL

Tonight “will long be remembered in Malta for the widespread indiscriminate night bombing which took place. It will be remembered as a miraculous night for the narrow misses of bombs that were rained down with intermittent intensity over a period of an hour and a half…”

The main attack took place just after midnight and involved 25 enemy raiders which crossed the north coast in a series of waves. One formation dropped bombs on Imtarfa, Mdina and Rabat, where at least 70 craters have been reported.  Other waves attacked Luqa, and coastal points at St Julians and St Elmo.

A large shelter opposite the Lower Barracca suffered a direct hit by two mines, compromising the structures of buildings above the place where a hundred people were huddled for safety. Tons of masonry crashed down but the shelter held out and there were no casualties. (1)

MALTA ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS WORN OUT BY CONSTANT HEAVY FIRE

The continuous fire needed to fight off heavy bombing attacks is causing Malta anti-aircraft guns to wear at a rate 20 per cent greater than average. With supplies so difficult to deliver to the Island, The additional wear and tear potentially has serious implications for its defences.  The Governor and C in C Malta has written to military and naval commanders in the Middle East to ask for spare parts to be delivered as soon as possible.

The lack of specialist anti-aircraft personnel in Malta continues to cause concern. Eight heavy anti-aircraft guns are already being manned by non-specialist troops from infantry battalions and continuing manpower shortages mean that four more will soon have to be operated in this way.  The situation is expected to continue for some months.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 APRIL TO DAWN 14 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

1006-1116 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 ME 109 fighters which approach along the north coast then break formation over the Island. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders, claiming one ME 109 is probably shot down.  Some minutes later one or two JU 88s cross the coast at Kalafrana and drop bombs on the Luqa area.  Anti-aircraft guns engage and ten Hurricanes are scrambled.  One JU 88 dives steeply in flames and makes a sharp turn out over Grand Harbour.  One ME 109 is destroyed off Wolsey Battery by F/O E M Mason DFC, whose Hurricane which is then itself shot down in the sea by another enemy fighter.  F/O Mason, who is Flight Commander of 261 Squadron at Ta Qali, manages to level out just above the sea, but the engine cuts out. He is rescued the high speed launch and taken to Imtarfa Hospital, where he was found to have bullet wounds in his right arm and left elbow and metal splinters were in his left leg and skull, as well as facial injuries.

1200-1205 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2040-2055 hrs Air raid alert for one unidentified enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west, turns in over Gozo and drop bombs at Salina Bay. Anti-aircraft guns engage using predicted barrage; no claims.

2158-2258 hrs Air raid alert for a single unidentified aircraft which approaches the Island from the north and drops bombs on St Elmo Bastion causing some damage and bursting a sewage main. A second raider approaches from the east, crosses the coast near San Pietru and drops bombs in the sea between Kalafrana and fort St Lucian.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0001-0115 hrs Air raid alert for 25 enemy aircraft which approach the Island in a series of waves from the north and cross the coast at various points, dropping bombs on Rabat and Mdina, Imtarfa, Ta Qali, Attard, St Elmo, St Julians and Luqa. Eight civilian houses are demolished. 70 craters are counted in the Rabat area alone.  Signal wire routes at Ta Qali and Imtarfa are damaged, where one office, garages and a barrack block are also damaged.  One Bofors gun emplacement at Ta Qali is damaged but not put out of action.  A landmine falls on the aerodrome, breaking windows, bursting open doors and damaging ceilings of the Station’s HQ and breaking windows in the Pottery.

A bomb falls on the barracks of 4th Bn The Buffs killing one soldier and injuring another.  During the raid two Wellingtons come in to land.  One JU 88 is illuminated by searchlights and engaged by anti-aircraft guns.  Other raiders are also engaged by Ack Ack, using predicted barrage.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.  Three unexploded bombs are reported on Luqa aerodrome.

0556-0715 hrs  Air raid alert for four CR 42 and three ME 109 fighters approaching from the north. They cross the coast at St Thomas’ Bay.   The CR 42s machine-gun Luqa aerodrome, where the Bofors guns engage the raiders.  Hurricanes are also scrambled and a Glen Martin heading in to land during the raid is almost caught in the dog-fight.  The enemy aircraft recede north west; searchlights illuminate several targets and are engaged by anti-aircraft guns; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance of Tripoli Harbour: 8 destroyers, 13 merchant vessels plus several convoys at sea. Maryland despatched at 1350 hrs to shadow a southbound convoy.  Maryland on patrol of area between Cape Bon and Trapani for enemy shipping sighted two e-boats. 148 Squadron 3 Wellington bombers night bombing of Tripoli Harbour. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A holiday for all those not required for security; church service at 1115 hrs.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  15 unexploded bombs located, all identified as German, fuze marked 15; reported to bomb disposal unit.

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

 

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Posted by on April 13, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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9 March 1941: Enemy Fighters Strike Without Warning

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ME 110 new 0316RAIDERS FLY IN LOW TO EVADE DETECTION

Enemy aircraft evaded Malta’s Radio Direction Finder early this morning to launch an attack on Ta Qali before the air raid had sounded. Four Messerschmitt 110s approached just after dawn at very low altitude, flying towards Gozo just above the water.  Crossing the coat one failed to clear a ridge and crashed, just 50 feet from a road.  On impact its wings flew off and land 200 feet away.  The crew were killed; one was found with an open parachute, two others at the foot of a nearby ravine.  The aircraft burned out. 

The remaining fighters flew on towards Malta. At home in Mdina, Philo Pullicino was still asleep: I was awakened to the sound of machine gunning and the zoom of planes. Rushing to the window, I was just in time to see the three enemy planes machine-gun the ground and set [three] Hurricanes on fire.  They got away through a stiff barrage of red fire.” (1)

The crashed ME 110 was later found to be burned out. Orders have been issued for two Hurricanes to form a standing patrol covering the dawn period from now on. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MARCH TO DAWN 10 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0627-0648 hrs  Four enemy ME 110 fighters and a bomber approach at low altitude. They are not detected by the Radio Direction Finder and no air raid alert is sounded.  One raider fails to clear a ridge on Gozo and crashes 50 feet from a road.  The aircraft burns out.  The remaining fighters machine-gun Ta Qali, burning out one Hurricane and damaging two others. 

0836-0951 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which drops four bombs on Grand Harbour.   Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage.

1151-1205 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy aircraft seen five miles north of Grand Harbour approaching the Island; raid does not materialise.

1808-1827 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which crosses Grand Harbour and drops four bombs near St Clements Bastion. Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns raise a heavy attack.  At least one enemy aircraft is damaged.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 9 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ  P/O Lewin, 148 Squadron, awarded the DFC.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, mpi Publishing, 2012

 

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

 

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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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