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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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31 March 1941: Threat of Invasion by Paratroops now High

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URGENT REVIEW OF ANTI-INVASION MEASURES

parachute troops 2Anti-parachutist measures in Malta need a complete and immediate overhaul, according to the Island’s General Officer Commanding (GOC) military forces. The GOC was responding to the latest military intelligence which states that there is an airborne division in Sicily ready to be deployed against Malta. The new information follows several reports in the past three months of enemy parachutists in Sicily.  Sources now confirm that there are at least 3850 parachutists in Catania and seven companies of paratroops in Palermo.

At an urgent conference yesterday of all three services, the GOC made it clear that anti-invasion measures must be stepped up with immediate effect. Following the conference orders were issued to all troop commanders to put in place the enhanced precautions against invading troops, such as blocking key roads and closing access to strategic areas.

ANTI-AIRCRAFT BATTERY TO BE RE-ORGANISED

The Governor and Commander in Chief has decided that the organisation of 30 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery is unsuitable on its present factory basis, in the light of continuous enemy activity day and night. Manpower is not engaged permanently in Ack Ack defences; officers especially are available part-time only and the situation is proving difficult to administer. 

Lt Dobbie has recommended to the War Office that the present Battery should become a local Territorial unit manning 12 guns. Recruiting would be from the Dockyard and it is expected that the majority of present personnel will transfer to the new unit.  The Battery is also manning two multiple pom-pom guns on loan from the Navy and will need addition of personnel to man these: two Lance-Sergeants, four Bombardiers, four Lance-Bombardiers and 38 Gunners.  It is hoped that in making these changes the Battery can retain its esprit de corps and efficiency, which is very good within its present limitations.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MARCH TO DAWN 1 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.

0500-0900 hrs Several enemy reconnaissance flights are carried out to either side of Malta. No attacks or engagements.

1137-1143 hrs Air raid alert for a small enemy formation carrying out reconnaissance around the Island without crossing the coast. Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual sank an Italian U-boat in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

KALAFRANA Only three operational patrols were carried out by Sunderland aircraft of 228 Squadron during the month.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  CO visited the detachment in Gozo. The troops are very split up and on bare and empty ground.  They have little to do and are not in the best of spirits.  Games and books will be sent out.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths 34 Officers, 225 other ranks, 2 RAOC (attached).

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (1 x 3.7” Ack Ack; 1 x 50kg). Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 111; dealt with 60.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Total 99 conscript recruits and 16 volunteers joined the Battalion in March. Strengths: officers 28, British PSI 4, other ranks 612.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Total 90 conscript recruits and 12 volunteers joined the Battalion during March. Strengths: officers 25, other ranks 676. 2100 hrs Company commanders conference at Camerata re possible attack.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Parachute posts manned during ‘stand to’ periods. During the month, anti-tank screens were erected and tallymen supplied to assist with the unloading of a convoy. 

 

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Posted by on March 31, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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19 March 1941: Sunderland Flying Boats to Leave Malta

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Sunderland flying boat

Sunderland flying boat

228 SQUADRON TRANSFERS TO MIDDLE EAST

Sunderland aircraft of 228 Squadron RAF are to leave Malta for the Middle East, it has been announced today. Since the entry of Italy to the war on 10 June last year, the flying boats have been based at Kalafrana, launching several successful attacking missions from Malta against Axis shipping.  They have also made a vital contribution to reconnaissance of enemy convoy and fleet movements Malta alongside the Marylands of 69 Squadron.  Concerns have been raised as to whether the few remaining Marylands will be able to cover Italian and North African harbours, as well as the sea routes in between. 

In the past few weeks several Sunderland aircraft have been attacked at their moorings in Marsaxlokk and St Paul’s Bays. 228 Squadron personnel and aircraft are expected to leave Malta within a week.  The Squadron will now have its base in Alexandria, Egypt.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fair.

0948-1000 hrs; 1040-1100 hrs; 1740-1806 hrs  Air raid alerts for three separate enemy patrols around the Island which do not approaching the coast. Hurricane fighters are scrambled on each occasion but the enemy does not approach near enough to make attack necessary. Bad weather interferes with carrying out interceptions away from the Island.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron fired four torpedoes in the approach to Tripoli Harbour, covered by a bombing attack. One ship was observed hit by a bomb; one aircraft force-landed in Tunisia.

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 1015-1300 hrs Maryland patrolled between Cape Bon and Sicily for shipping information for submarines.  

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left with part of 228 Squadron personnel on transfer to Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The CO spent the morning with the Northern Infantry Brigade, reconnoitring positions for the mobile machine-gun company.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Brigade training exercise to test anti-parachute defences of the Victoria Lines and Ta Qali.

 

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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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28 February 1941: Mines on Valletta – 200 Homeless

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CIVILIAN THROWN FROM 3RD FLOOR BY BLAST SURVIVES

Communities in Valletta emerged from their shelters this morning to a scene of devastation following last night’s widespread dropping of parachute mines by enemy aircraft. 200 have now been made homeless across the city; most have been given temporary shelter at St Francis Convent in Kingsway. 

Parachute Mine (1)

Parachute Mine (1)

The damage from parachute mines is especially severe due to their operation. Although the bombs themselves are heavy, the parachute slows their descent so that they explode on or near the surface, causing maximum blast effect over a wide area.  One mine near the church of Our Lady of Pilar blew a crater 25 feet across, damaging the church and the adjacent convent.  The Auberge d’Aragon suffered the full force of mine blast which severely damaged its roof.  A nearby school was also structurally undermined.   

Arriving to marshal his men in the rescue operations, Adjutant of the Special Constabulary surveyed the destruction: “Glass was smashed all over the capital and houses wrecked over a wide area. Casualties were four dead and twenty injured – without our good shelters I hate to think of the figure which might have been reached. 

Two men were dug out of a cellar while I was there; one was in a pretty bad mess and did not survive. Another person was blown out of his bath into the street when the front of his house was sucked out by the blast.  He flew from a third storey but was not hurt.

Someone informed me that an unexploded mine had just been seen on a nearby roof, and would I please go to see whether it was dangerous! I sent an [Royal Engineers bomb disposal] chap and followed gingerly behind with my heart all a-throb, but it was only a cover-part of the exploded mine – to which was attached a piece of parachute…200 families are homeless in Valletta.” (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 1 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

Military casualties Lance-Corporal Francis Gilmore, Corps of Military Police; Sergeant Lewis John Frederick Godwin, Royal Air Force; Lance Corporal John Charles Kelly, Army Dental Corps, attached Royal Army Medical Corps; Pilot Officer Hubert Scadeng, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 19; Anthony Zammit, age 19.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY   At first light enemy aircraft laid mines at the entrance to the harbours and some in Grand Harbour. The Harbours are temporarily closed while the positions of mines is fixed. 

AIR HQ  Maryland photoreconnaissance Reci Maddelena, Cagliari, Elmas and Alghero at the special request of SO Forces N.  

KALAFRANA During the month Sunderlands of 228 Squadron carried out 12 patrols over a wide area in search of enemy shipping. Five communication flights were made by aircraft of 228 Squadron with important passengers and freight between Middle East and Gibraltar.  Several Sunderlands 10 Squadron RAAF and 230 Squadron arrived and departed conveying passengers between Middle East and UK.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland photoreconnaissance Maddelena, Cagliari, Elmas and Alghero.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: 24 officers, WOs 6, 132 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: 27 officers, 509 other ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 46; dealt with 23.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strengths: 27 officers, 879 other ranks plus two permanently attached.

(1)  Bomb Fuze Collectors Net http://www.bombfuzecollectorsnet.com/

(2) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012

 

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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1 November 1940: Malta Aircraft Bomb Naples

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Naples bombing 1 NovMALTA-BASED AIRCRAFT BOMB NAPLES

Aircraft from Malta were involved in a heavy bombing raid on Naples today. Main targets were the seaport, industrial zones and railways to the east of the City, and a steel mill to the west.  The mission was part of a co-ordinated British attack against the ports of Naples and Brindisi.

SUNDERLANDS UNDER ATTACK

One Sunderland flying boat of 228 Squadron is believed destroyed and another seriously damaged after they were attacked by Italian fighters today. The aircraft of Squadron Leader Menzies and Flying Officer S M Farries was on patrol over Sicily when it was intercepted by Italian fighters which launched a determined attack.  The Sunderland was severely damaged and was observed falling into the sea.  There were no reported survivors.

In a separate incident, a second Sunderland piloted by F/Lt Ware left Kalafrana to search for the crew of a Wellington aircraft which had failed to arrive in Malta. The flying boat was attacked by Italian Macchi 200 and CR42 fighters. Despite being riddled with large bullet holes, the Sunderland managed to limp back to Kalafrana. On landing, the pilot reported that Air Gunner Leading Aircraftsman R J Barton had continued firing at the enemy aircraft despite severe gunshot wounds to his neck and ankle. (1)  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 2 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

0655-0735 hrs Wellington bombers land at Luqa.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 1 NOVEMBER 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA A Sunderland piloted by F/Lt Ware, 228 Squadron attacked by Italian Macchi 200 and CR42 fighters: two airmen wounded and the aircraft damaged. Officers S/L Menzies and F/O Farries, four NCOs and four airmen of 228 Squadron have been reported missing after their aircraft failed to return from patrol off Sicily.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Tests carried out on petrol bombs; a solution was made which prolonged the life of the flame.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS B omb Disposal UXB  High Explosive 3, Zabbar, Latnia, Luqa.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1130 hrs GOC inspected bomb dumps. Nightly patrols of aerodrome mounted to prevent sabotage of Wellingtons. 

(1) Leading Aircraftsman R J Barton was awarded the DFM for his actions.

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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in 1940, November 1940

 

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30 October 1940: Ta Qali To Become Fighter Station

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Ta Qali

Ta Qali

TA QALI TO BE HOME TO NEW SQUADRON

The former Malta airport at Ta Qali is to be re-opened as a RAF fighter aerodrome. Air Headquarters Mediterranean issued instructions for Wing Commander J R O’Sullivan to proceed to Ta Qali airport with a small headquarters staff for the purpose of forming a temporary one squadron fighter station with immediate effect.  At 0900 hrs today, W/Cdr O’Sullivan left RAF Station Hal Far for Ta Qali with 14 airmen, including three senior NCOs, accompanied by a detachment of 17 men of the King’s Own Malta Regiment for guard duties.

By tomorrow, a maintenance party of 261 Squadron consisting of 24 airmen including three senior NCOs will arrive from RAF Station Luqa for the purpose of maintaining Hurricane aircraft operating from Ta Qali as a temporary measure. The majority of these personnel will continue to be accommodated at Luqa and will proceed daily to Ta Qali for duty. Several buildings at Ta Qali will be taken over for temporary accommodation: Torri Combo will operate as the Officers Mess, the Pottery as Barrack Rooms and Institute. Senior NCOs will be accommodated by 8th Bn Manchester Regiment in Chateau Bertrand until further notice. It is planned that Ta Qali airport buildings will be converted to offices, sick quarters and an armoury.

Ta Qali has not yet been iused for RAF operations. Teenager Charles Grech who lives near the airfield described what he saw: “It was obstructed with old buses, wrecked cars, lorries and hundreds of 50 gallon oil drums filled with earth. They were dispersed all over the airfield in order to prevent gliders or transport aircraft from landing there, in case of an airborne invasion…we once noticed there was a biplane looking very much like a Gladiator parked on the grass on one side of the airfield…this was a dummy made of wood and sack-cloth and it was set up as a decoy to give the enemy the impression that the airfield was operational in order to divert attacks from other targets, thereby giving Luqa and Hal Far airfields a respite.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep completed by Oropesa. Otus returned to harbour with defects.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland left for Middle East with important passengers.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 0515 hrs  Bn took part in Southern Infantry Brigade training exercise. Bn HQ and No 6 Platoon under war conditions and standing to until 0830 hrs.

(1)  Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech, trans Joseph Galea de Bono, Midsea Books 2002

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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in 1940, October 1940

 

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29 October 1940: Malta Fighter Relief Fund Closes

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Fighter plane fund enough for two Spitfires for Malta

Fighter plane fund enough for two Spitfires for Malta

FUNDING FOR TWO FIGHTERS RAISED IN 3 MONTHS

Malta Fighter Plane Fund was declared a resounding success as it closed to donations today. The fund was launched on 30 July as an expression of gratitude to the RAF for their defence of Malta. The intention was to raise enough money to fund the building of a new fighter aircraft but that £6000 target was reached in less than three weeks.

It was decided to keep the fund open to pay for a second aircraft. Collection boxes across the Island and fundraising events such as concerts and football matches have brought the total to £12900 within three months. The Anglo-Maltese league have been congratulated on the success of their initiative. The funds will now be forwarded to the Minister for Aircraft Production, Rt Hon Lord Beaverbrook, in London.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Gale and slight rain.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 29 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; no result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. French Latecoere on 5½ hours patrol. One Sunderland RAAF arrived from Gibraltar with Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and other officers en route for Middle East.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Practice ‘Man Marsa’ out to various stations.

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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in 1940, October 1940

 

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