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28 July 1940: Malta Flying Boats Survive Dog Fights

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THREE SUNDERLANDS AMBUSHED ON APPROACH TO MALTA

Sunderland Flying Boat (1)

Sunderland Flying Boat (1)

A Sunderland flying boat on a mission over Sicily today survived a dog fight despite being outnumbered.  Sunderland L5804 was returning from patrol over Augusta and Syracuse when it was attacked by three formations of fighters.  The raiders were used explosive tracer as well as ordinary ammunition, punching large holes in the hull and putting the turret, elevator and rudder controls out of action.  Three members of the crew were wounded in the legs; LAC D A Campbell was badly wounded.  Despite this, the flying boat managed to shoot down two of the Italian fighters.  One was shot down in flames and the other driven out of control, though it was not seen hitting the water. 

The Sunderland turned towards Malta, limping home at an altitude of 10 feet, and chased by fighters until within sight of the Island.  Its engine seized on the approach to Kalafrana and it landed on the water, before beaching near the seaplane base just after 11 this morning.  Repairs on the aircraft began immediately.

A second Sunderland returning from reconnaissance over Cape Spartivento was also attacked by three Italian fighters.  One fighter broke up in the air, a second broke off combat as though damaged.  The third pursued the Sunderland until within range of Malta without causing damage.  A third Sunderland on return from reconnaissance was chased by two fighters to close to Malta but they did not press home an attack.  All the Italian fighters were identified as monoplanes.    

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JULY TO DAWN 29 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1130-1155 hrs  Air raid alert for one bomber and ten fighters which approach the Island from St Paul’s Bay towards Hal Far.  They are engaged by heavy Ack Ack fire.  One raider is brought down and crashes in the sea 15 miles south of Malta.  The rest turn back before crossing the coast.  No bombs are dropped.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 1 Sunderland  0430 hrs  One Sunderland on creeping ahead patrol over the Ionian Sea, then reconnaissance of Augusta and Syracuse, where five flying boats are spotted.  The Sunderland attacked three waterships near Augusta, dropping three 250lb bombs: no result.  A second Sunderland on reconnaissance sighted a submarine off Cape Spartivento and dropped five bombs: no results visible.  One Sunderland on reconnaissance.  All three Sunderlands were attacked; one returned to Malta damaged; repairs began immediately. 

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean. 

(1)  Website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on July 28, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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27 July 1940: Ack Ack Reinforcements for Malta

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LONG SEA ROUTE DELAYS ARRIVAL TO SEPTEMBER

12 Heavy Ack Ack guns to be shipped to Malta

12 Heavy Ack Ack guns to be shipped to Malta

Military chiefs in London are assembling Artillery units for despatch to Malta.  Twelve heavy and ten light Ack Ack guns plus ammunition and personnel are being prepared for immediate embarkation.  However, they will sail the long sea route and cannot be expected to reach the Island until September.  A further eight heavy and ten light Ack Ack guns destined for Malta will be transported via a warship but there is no embarkation date as yet.

Urgently needed officers and specialist technical service staff will travel by fast transport ship through the more dangerous waters of the western Mediterranean.

DOCKYARD NEEDS UNDERGROUND WORKSHOPS

The Vice Admiral Malta has indicated the need for underground workshops to enable the Dockyard to function fully during air raids.  Valuable time is currently being lost as workers take refuge in shelters following the alert.  Underground workshops would require considerable investment but would potentially restore productivity to pre-war levels.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JULY TO DAWN 28 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

0510-0520 hrs  Air raid alert.  No air raid follows.

1110-1135 hrs  Air raid alert for one bomber escorted by ten fighters, which fly over the Island – probably on reconnaissance to assess the results of night raids.  Malta fighters are scrambled but do not intercept.  The raiders are engaged by Ack Ack gunners who hit one fighter which ditches in the sea 15 miles of the south east coast.  No bombs are dropped.    

1640 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighters which follow two of the Island’s Sunderland flying boats on patrol.  The Sunderlands engage the raiders and three enemy fighters are destroyed.  One Sunderland is damaged and lands at Marsaxlokk.  Three of the crew are injured.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 JULY 1940

KALAFRANA   Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Three recruits medically examined for the RAF.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The Provost Marshall gave a very helpful lecture to the troops with a view to helping them keep out of trouble during their stay in Malta.

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Posted by on July 27, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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26 July 1940: Italy Claims Malta’s Strategic Role is Over

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ITALIAN PROPAGANDA CLAIMS MALTA NEUTRALISED

Power Station

Power Station hit today: brief interruption to power supply

The Stefani news agency of Italy has claimed that Malta “has lost for ever its efficiency for England”, Hinting that military installations on the Island have been destroyed by Italian bombing, the announcement added that “Britain can no longer consider Malta to be one of the strategic bases of the Mediterranean.”  However, the news agency also admitted that the British Government is still using the Island as an aeroplane base.

ROYAL LADY ADVERTISES ROOMS WITH SHELTER

Hotels are now joining the drive to create more shelters for the public during air raids.  One hotel in Gozo has placed an announcement in the newspaper inviting those without a suitable refuge to make use of its facilities:

“For safety, bedrooms are available at the Royal Lady Hotel, Mgarr, Gozo which has air raid shelter under the rocks.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JULY TO DAWN 27 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1543-1610 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach the Island in three formations.   Three Gladiators are scrambled and intercept: the enemy turn away to the east without crossing the coast.

0237-0420 hrs  Air raid alert for a series of up to six enemy bombers which approach from the north at five minute intervals over a long period, crossing the coast over Valletta.  They approach either in a steep glide to low altitude or a shallow dive with a slight left rudder at high speed.  They are picked up by searchlights and engaged by Ack Ack fire.  One raider is believed hit.  A third enemy aircraft flies in very low over Delimara.  Bombs are dropped on Valletta, Grand Harbour and Marsa Creek, on Kirkop and Ta Silch, and in the sea off Manoel Island.  The electricity power station is damaged, disrupting the electricity supply.  One delayed action bomb explodes in the Rabat area.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 JULY 1940

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.

LUQA  Strength of Station: RAF officers 16, airmen 104; Army officers 9, other ranks 250; civilians 4.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 HE 250lb Gzira.   

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  £216 was today sent to the Malta Relief Fund.  The money was voluntarily collected by the officers, WOs and ORs of the Battalion.

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

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Posted by on July 26, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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25 July 1940: Hurricanes Heading for Malta Delayed

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OPERATION ‘HURRY’ HELD UP AT GIBRALTAR

An operation to move twelve Hurricanes through the Mediterranean to Malta has had to be postponed. Under Operation ‘Hurry’, it was planned to transport the much-needed fighters from Gibraltar by aircraft carrier through the western Mediterranean to a point from which they can fly the remaining distance to reach the Island.  

Aircraft Carrier HMS Argus

Aircraft Carrier HMS Argus

The Hurricanes sailed today aboard carrier HMS Argus sailed today from the United Kingdom as planned for Gibraltar.  However, the operation to move the aircraft onward from Gibraltar to Malta, planned for 28 July, has had to be postponed.  The earliest expected date is now 31 July.  Stores and personnel for the new Squadron will be transported as originally planned by submarines Proteus and Pandora for passage to Malta. 

CULTURAL DIFFICULTIES AFFECT TROOP MANAGEMENT

Malta’s infantry commanders are facing challenges in the management of expanding Maltese units due to differences in language and legal procedures.  The Island’s Governor and C in C proposes to appoint a senior Maltese officer, Lt Col Vella of King’s Own Malta Regiment, to the position of Administrative Command of all Maltese infantry and volunteers.  He will be assisted by one British and one Maltese officer and two civilian clerks.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JULY TO DAWN 26 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.  

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0430-1500 hrs  One Sunderland on reconnaissance patrol.  Nothing observed at Augusta or Syracuse.  1525-1850 hrs  A second Sunderland on reconnaissance over Augusta, Syracuse, Cape Parsaro, Cape Maddalena: small craft sighted but nothing of importance.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Major General S J P Scobell this morning inspected posts of the Battalion.

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Posted by on July 25, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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24 July 1940: Supplies Will Take Months to Reach Malta

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ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES FOR MALTA DELAYED

Essential stores commissioned by Malta command four weeks ago may take months to reach the Island, according to a telegram from the War Office in London today.  Although the items requisitioned are available, they will be transported via the long sea route, via the African Cape.

Macchi 200 attacked Sunderland off Malta

Macchi 200 attacked Sunderland off Malta

A second supply of the most urgently needed items will be loaded onto a fast transport ship which will attempt to pass through the short sea route via the western Mediterranean.  However, owing to a lack of available resources, most of these items cannot be duplicated in the slower convoy.

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief now faces the difficult decision over which items to allocate to each convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JULY TO DAWN 25 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

0857-0920 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy fighters which approach the Island from the north at 17-22000 feet, passing over Imtarfa towards Hal Far, flying in pairs, a new formation.  Ack Ack guns engage the raiders.  Malta fighters are scrambled but do not engage.  No bombs are dropped.    

1541 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy aircraft, including three fighters and six bombers approaching from the north.  They skirt the coast and depart to the north.  No bombs are dropped.    

0230 hrs  Air raid alert for up to three enemy aircraft which approach from the north at intervals.  One flies over Grand Harbour at 500 feet.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Fort St Elmo.    

0317 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and is engaged by Ack Ack fire before turning away.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0830-1700  Two patrols by Sunderlands between Sicily and the coast of Greece.  One destroyer only is sighted, in Augusta.  One Sunderland is attacked by a monoplane, possibly a Macchi 200, which is believed to have been shot down between Sicily and Malta.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Six recruits medically examined for the RAF.

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Posted by on July 24, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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23 July 1940: Italians Using Outlawed Explosive Bullets

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ITALIANS USING EXPLOSIVE BULLETS

The Air Officer Commanding has reported that explosive bullets have been found among the armoury of Italian aircraft shot down over Malta.  The bullets are described as 0.55in caliber with a striker pellet and detonator screwed in to the nosecap.  Investigators found the bullets loaded indiscriminately among ordinary lead bullets and incendiaries in approximately equal proportions. 

It is believed that such bullets are contrary to international convention.  A full report and detailed description is to be forwarded to the War Office in London without delay.

Majestic Cinema Sliema (1)

Majestic Cinema Sliema (1)

CINEMAS DEFINITELY OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Cinemas have begun advertising forthcoming attractions again in Malta’s newspapers.  Three cinemas took space in the press yesterday: the Capitol, the Majestic and Valletta’s newly-opened Plaza.  All three cinemas are anticipating good audiences from the increasing the number of troops stationed in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1812 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2000-2010 hrs  Air raid alert.  No raid materialised.

0247-0315 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy three-engined aircraft which approach from the north east at short intervals.  One appears to circle the Island in a clockwise direction slightly out to sea, occasionally crossing the coast.  Coastal defences report a single enemy aircraft making out to sea dropped five bombs between the coast and Filfla Island.  Searchlights illuminate the raider for a while but it is out of gun range.  The second passes straight over the Island.  Neither is engaged by Ack Ack guns.  High explosive and incendiary bombs are dropped on Kalafrana, Birzebuggia and Hal Far and in the sea.

0345-0425 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers which approach the Island from the east, crossing the coast near Delimara at 14-15000 feet.  High explosive and incendiary bombs are dropped on Hal Far and the Kalafrana area, where the Officers’ Married Quarters are damaged.  Four bombs land near a defence post, and two towards Birzebuggia.  Bombs also fall close to the Benghaisa gun position and in the sea.  One Sunderland aircraft is damaged by splinters but repaired within hours.  The aircraft are illuminated when over the centre of the Island and retreat to the north.  Two more aircraft approach and are illuminated but a third following them is not, and drops bombs.  Ack Ack guns engage and causes the formation to split up.  One aircraft is emerged giving off smoke and losing height.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Arrivals  1 Sunderland.  0340 hrs  At the request of the Commander in Chief Mediterranean Sunderland aircraft effected reconnaissance.  Three merchant vessels and three tankers in convoy sighted, with one destroyer nearby.  The Sunderland dropped three bombs on the merchant vessels; two were successful.  The convoy dispersed and subsequently four of the six vessels, including the three tankers, were seen in the harbour at Augusta.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland 230 Squadron arrived.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Two recruits medically examined for the RAF.

1st Bn DORSET REGIMENT  Rear HQ (Orderly Room and Officers’ Mess) was moved from Verdala Barracks to Corradino and Motor Transport personnel and vehicles from Verdala Barracks to the Dockyard School.  Mortar and Ack Ack Platoon was moved to Hompesch Arch.

(1)  Website:  Maltese History & Heritage

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Posted by on July 23, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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9 July 1940: Malta Attacks on Sicily Should Stop, Says Governor

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Swordfish

Swordfish

SWORDFISH SHOULD BE DEFENDING MALTA

The Governor and Commander in Chief today wrote to the War Office asking that the Admiralty and Air Ministry be approached to cease offensive raids from Malta by Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm against objectives in Sicily.  The Governor is supported in his request by the Vice Admiral Malta and the Air Officer Commanding, Malta.  In a telegram to London today he gives the following reasons:

  • They cannot be strong enough to produce appreciable results.
  • They are likely to bring about retaliation by greatly superior Italian air forces.
  • This retaliation in view of the very meagre forces of fighters in Malta is likely to have a bad effect on civil morale and this constitutes the greatest of all dangers to the defence of Malta.
  • All Swordfish and other bombers should be kept for their chief role in the defence of Malta, of reconnaissance, and attacking hostile ships near Malta – especially in the case of a seaborne attack.

The Governor added that until Malta’s air defences in the shape of fighters are considerably increased, it is a false policy to provoke aircraft attacks on Malta, and fritter away the Island’s very slender resources on tasks which can produce only meagre results. 

The War Office replied that all three Service Ministries in London agreed that the employment of these aircraft can from now on be left to the discretion of commanders local to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine with a strong wind, moderating towards evening. 

0800-0820 hrs  Air raid alert.  One S79 bomber crosses the coast over Valletta, followed later by one formation of three CR42 fighters and another of four CR42.  The bomber is attacked by a Hurricane before the enemy fighters can intervene.  The raider’s starboard engine is set on fire and it crashes into the sea in flames, off Delimara.  The enemy fighters fly on towards Luqa where ground troops on the aerodrome open fire and split the formation.  Malta fighters are airborne and engage the raiders in a dogfight over the Island, directly above the HQ of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Two enemy aircraft are hit.  No bombs are dropped.    

1543-1555 hrs  Air raid alert sounded due to a Sunderland Flying Boat arriving at Kalafrana.    

2248 hrs  2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers report signalling of six dashes from a hill behind one of their defence posts which is observed being answered by two dashes from the sea.  A manned rifle is trained on the source.

Military casualties  Private Frederick Kellond, 2nd Bn The Devonshire Regiment              

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 9 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Vendetta, Diamond and Jervis sailed for Alexandria with fast convoy MF1, including El Nil, Rodi and Knight of Malta.  Flying boat L5807 reported two battleships, four cruisers and ten destroyers at 0732 hours in position 37 degrees N, 17 degrees E, steering 330 degrees.  A further large force of cruisers and destroyers was reported in the vicinity. 

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties One Hurricane slightly damaged.  0500 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  One recruit medically examined for the RAF. 

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Sgt F G Kellond died from a gunshot wound at the Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  One recruit attested.

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Posted by on July 9, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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2 July 1940: Businesses Open Air Raid Shelters to Public

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BUSINESSES RESPOND TO GOVERNMENT APPEAL FOR SHELTERS

Owners of businesses and club premises in Malta’s bombing target areas are opening their doors to provide shelter during air raids.  The Island’s newspapers have published details of six public shelters in the Sliema area alone.  The new shelters include the Chocolate Box Bar, Sliema Athletic Club, and St Julians Police Station as well as a motor vehicle garage and several privately-owned cellars.  The opening of the new shelters follows a recent appeal by the Government for garage owners to allow their premises to be adapted for use as public air raid shelters. (1)  

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

JERVIS DAMAGED IN HARBOUR

Destroyer Jervis was damaged today when she arrived at Malta from repairs in home waters.  The vessel bumped against the dock while berthing, sustaining damage to her bow.  The damage sustained was minor and after immediate repairs Jervis was declared fit for service.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1940

Weather  Misty early morning, then fine. 

0925-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft cross the Island apparently on reconnaissance.  Ack Ack batteries at Luqa open fire and split the formation.  Bombs are dropped two miles out to sea to the south but none on land.  Malta fighters are scrambled. 

1830 hrs  Gunfire is heard an estimated ten miles to the south.  Later reports confirmed that a destroyer was bombed by a seaplane.

2320 hrs  Lights are again seen from Tal Minsia but they are not signalling.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 2 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Jervis arrived. 

AIR HQ  Departures  2 Sunderland.  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Two Sunderlands left for patrol and Alexandria.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Nine recruits medically examined for the RAF.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Practice “Close Valletta”.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND  RSM A Caruana granted emergency commission as Lieutenant.

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

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Posted by on July 2, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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1 July 1940: Impossible to Send Fighters to Malta Says War Office

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NO FIGHTERS FOR MALTA

From:  The War Office                                                   To:  Governor & C in C Malta

Regret impossible at present to send any fighters but consideration is being given.  Aircraft are unable now to fly over French territory and there are therefore only two methods of getting planes to Malta.  First by flying off a carrier sent well into Mediterranean.  Second subsequent to establishment of near east route via Nigeria and Egypt to fly planes from Mersa Matruh.  Neither method feasible at present.

Sunderland flying boat

Sunderland flying boat

MALTA IS A VITAL FLYING BOAT BASE

The Commander in Chief Mediterranean has pointed out to the Admiralty the vital role of Malta as a flying boat base when the fleet is operating in the central Mediterranean.  However, the report goes on to say that present continued air raids and lack of defences at Malta make refuelling of the aircraft a hazardous operation, except during the hours of darkness. 

The C in C has asked the Admiralty to give urgent consideration to the provision of fighters for Malta, and further that more Sunderland flying boats be allocated to the eastern Mediterranean to replace casualties and assist in the valuable work already being done by the existing squadron.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine. 

No air raid alerts.

2135 hrs  Shots are heard from the direction of Mosta Fort or beyond.  On investigation the officer in charge at the fort reports having seen a light signalling followed by a shot near buildings at Ta Qali.  Heavy explosions were later heard out to sea.

The CO of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers is informed that a light has been seen from Tal Minsia, seeming to come from near the Officers’ Mess at St Andrews Barracks.  Investigation confirmed that the light was illuminated in a series of definite dots and dashes.  The source was determined as Tal Minsia Church.  Lights and shots have previously been reported in the same area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 1 JULY 1940

HMS Coral

HMS Coral

ROYAL NAVY  Coral attacked an Italian U boat 3.6 miles off St Elmo light.  Jade claims to have sunk an Italian U boat. 

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.  Aircraft casualties  0445 hrs Anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for patrol and Alexandria.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Three recruits medically examined for the RAF; one civilian candidate for a temporary commission.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Floriana Defence Company formed.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers 743 Other Ranks.  Troops made considerable progress on Platoon defensive positions which are almost complete.

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Posted by on July 1, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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27 April 1941: Hurricanes Arrive for New Fighter Squadron

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BAD WEATHER DELAYS PUT DELIVERY FLIGHT AT RISK

The largest delivery of fighters for Malta to date arrived on the Island today under the Royal Navy co-ordinated Operation Dunlop. This second delivery of Hurricanes in a month brought greater numbers than the first.  It provides an important boost to the Island’s fighter force, which has been struggling to cope since the introduction of Messerschmitt 109 fighters to Sicily in February.  Six of the new Malta machines are the faster Mark II Hurricanes; 17 are Mk I.

The delivery operation began at 2200 hrs on Friday when ‘Force S’ (Operation Salient) including six destroyers with light cruiser Dido and the minelayer Abdiel sailed from Gibraltar and turned west as if to head for the Atlantic.  An hour later the Force H convoy left Gibraltar to head eastwards, with the Hurricanes aboard Ark Royal escorted by the flagship Renown, with HMS Sheffield and five destroyers.  Force S then turned east to head for Malta where the six destroyers are to join the strike fleet.

Meanwhile ‘Force H’ with Ark Royal progressed safely through the Mediterranean yesterday, reaching the designated point from where the Hurricanes were to fly off for Malta.  However, bad weather prevented take-off, resulting in a tense night waiting in potentially hostile waters.

Finally the first formation of eight Hurricanes was cleared to take off at 0515 hrs this morning.  Two further formations followed; all three were guided towards Malta by a Fulmar of the Fleet Air Arm.  They were met by one Sunderland and two Marylands to bring them within sight of Malta.

As the formations approached, a German JU 88 bomber flew over the Island on reconnaissance with an escort of five Messerschmitt fighters. 20 minutes later 12 more Messerschmitts appeared, circling off the coast as the delivery Hurricanes were heading towards the Island.  P/O L G M Rees managed to land his Sunderland at Kalafrana but before it could be secured two of the ME 109s dived down and strafed it with machine-gunfire, setting the flying boat on fire and causing it to sink.  The High Speed Launch from Kalafrana was also attacked but escaped undamaged.   

Despite the attacks all of the Hurricanes landed safely; by 1045 hrs the last of them was on the ground.

NEW FIGHTER SQUADRON FOR MALTA

The new Hurricanes will make it possible to form a second fighter squadron in Malta. The new unit, designated 185 will work alongside 261 Squadron which has been hard pressed to deal with the level of enemy activity over Malta since January.  185 Squadron will operate from Hal Far. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 APRIL TO DAWN 28 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

0917-0940 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft fire a barrage at 19000 feet; others engage at height control.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage three ME 109s; one is probably shot down.

0945 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 which crosses the Island from south to north on reconnaissance with an escort of five ME 109s. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber; no claims.  The MEs evade attack by heading south of Delimara.  12 more ME 109s then approach the Island in two formations.  

1007 hrs The 12 Messerschmitts circle off the east coast for an hour, then Gudja and Bubaqra raise the alarm as they head back in towards the coast. Two dive down over Kalafrana and machine-gun a Sunderland which had landed only 20 minutes before in Marsaxlokk Bay, destroying the flying boat.  Orders are later issued that every available Heavy and Light anti-aircraft gun and light machine-gun to be standing to whenever a Sunderland is moored in Marsaxlokk Bay.  Reports that mail was lost aboard the Sunderland prove unfounded.  

1120 hrs  All clear.

1245-1314 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 on reconnaissance. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage at heights between 15000 and 30000 feet; no claims.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Antonia Caruana, age 35.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 27 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Operation Dunlop bringing additional aircraft from Force H to Malta was successfully carried out. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 23 Hurricanes, 3 Fulmar, 2 Maryland, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Maryland reconnaissance western Ionian sea.  

HAL FAR  15 Hurricanes and 2 Fulmars arrived; all landed safely.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left for Middle East with a number of 228 Squadron personnel. One Sunderland attacked at moorings by ME109s set on fire and sunk.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Two storemen returned from Ordnance Dump, Gozo.  

 

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

 

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