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CABINET AGREES PRIME MINISTER’S PLANS
Following representations from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the War Cabinet in London today agreed that the reinforcement of Malta is a matter of urgency. One infantry battalion should be sent to Malta from Egypt as part of the next fleet operation, and two more battalions as requested by Lt Gen Dobbie should be sent at the earliest opportunity.
In addition, tanks and field artillery plus necessary personnel and stores will be sent from UK leaving on or about 1st November. These reinforcements would bring the total anti-aircraft provision at Malta to 70 heavy and 34 light Ack Ack guns.
The fighters and reconnaissance aircraft proposed by Air HQ on Thursday will form part of the reinforcing operations. The twelve Hurricanes will be flown into Malta off HMS Argus, and six Glenn Martin reconnaissance aircraft will fly direct to the Island.
The Prime Minister has also proposed that, once the defences of Malta have been strengthened, light forces of the Mediterranean Fleet should be based there, and that visits of increasing length should be paid by heavy ships to Malta, though the extent of these activities will depend on the results of experience in the early stages.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 OCTOBER TO DAWN 17 OCTOBER 1940
0915-0930 hrs Air raid alert triggered by the arrival of Blenheim aircraft.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 16 OCTOBER 1940
ROYAL NAVY 1136-1357 hrs Fleet Air Arm Skua on reconnaissance of east Sicilian ports reported one destroyer and two or three coastal boats at Messina, one large merchantman and 20 seaplanes at Augusta but nothing at Catania or Syracuse. 1250 hrs He reported one destroyer and three merchant ships at sea but strike force was called off when a second search failed to locate them. On return he spotted a Cant Z501 leaving the site of a patch of oil 60 miles east of Malta where destroyers were sunk on 12 October. The Swordfish attacked and probably damaged the Cant.
AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 1110-1500 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight on patrol; nil report.
KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland arrived from Middle East. 1013 hrs One Sunderland 230 Squadron on patrol asked to search for Swordfish of 830 Squadron FAA which had force landed due to engine failure while on patrol. 1205 hrs Sunderland picked up the three crew from their dinghy.
LUQA Two Blenheims arrived.
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