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13 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Malta

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WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

 

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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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30 August 1942: Rations Cut Again – Meat Only Twice a Week

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

Please pass to Secretary of State for the Colonies and Chiefs of Staff MidEast please pass to Minister of State Cairo.

1.  Unloading and dispersal of supplies from convoy is now complete except for aviation and benzene, fortress can hold out until early December.  Aviation spirit position has been reported separately to Chiefs of Staff in HQ Med Sig 0726 of 25/8.  Benzine consumption has been reduced to 15,200 gallons per week but even so stocks will only last until mid-November.  Benzine can be made to last until target date by drawing on 77 octane but this is likely to be required for blending with aviation spirit.  We have 600 tons of 77 octane available, of which 250 tons are held as fortress reserve of MT spirit and 100 tons are needed for consumption by naval and RAF craft.

2.  Target date of early December allows for following adjustments of consumption on civil side:

  • (i)  Bread ration for men between 16 and 60 will be increased by 3½ ounces per day to 14 ounces.
  • (ii)  Fat ration will be at half normal ration level during September but I hope to increase it to normal level at beginning of October.
  • (iii)  Regular issues of edible oil will be made at normal ration rates.
  • (iv)  There will be regular issues of coffee with possibly one period skipped.
  • (v)  Regular weekly issues of kerosene will be made as from 1st October but at summer rather than higher winter rate.
  • (vi)  Domestic electricity supply will be restored on 1st October.
  • (vii)  Brewing will be resumed as soon as possible.
  • (viii)  Present reduced rations of sugar and soap will be maintained, sugar being issued twice every three half-monthly periods and soap once very two periods.

3.  Victory kitchens now have 60,000 persons registered and 170 kitchens are in operation.  Further rapid expansion is possible but supply of vegetables cannot be further increased while potatoes are now almost unobtainable and meat supply is not as great as was expected and is already falling off.  In future it will be possible to provide meat on only two days a week instead of five, and this may later have to be reduced to one if registration increases as expected. 

Victory Kitchen

In this situation I have been carefully considering the future of the Victory kitchens.  Allowing for small increases in rations now being made, calorie value of rationed foods per day for a man between 16 and 60 who is member of average size family is 1300, or 200 calories below figure normally taken as minimum.  Outside rations, very little food is obtainable.  Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are all too scarce to be rationed, even if this were possible from other points of view.  Marketing of meat and vegetables is now under control of Government and no meat except poultry and rabbits and small amount only of vegetables is being sold on open market.  Victory kitchens provide only satisfactory method of distributing evenly what meat and vegetables are available and if we were now to revert to old arrangement under which kitchens provide meals only on surrender of rations allowing majority of meat and vegetable supply to return to open market, effect would be that poorer classes would get very little, while those who are prepared to pay any price would obtain what they wished.

4.  I am satisfied that in our present food situation it is essential to continue existing policy of providing one meal a day through kitchens outside rations so as to raise calorie value of diet to about 1800 calories.  This can only be done by introducing considerable quantities of imported supplies into the menus.  I have decided accordingly that all civil supplies of dried vegetables, dried eggs and cheese shall be allotted to the communal feeding department and that [pasta] shall be issued through kitchens on a substantial scale, estimated to absorb 230 tons of flour per month on an average registration of 150,000 persons.  This allotment of flour has been allowed for in calculating target date.  Menu will then consist of macaroni and cheese on two days, minestra on two days, meat and vegetables on two days and an egg dish on one day.  I anticipate that effect of new policy will be to encourage rapid increase in registration.

5.  In spite of increased issues described above, the civil food situation is still causing me considerable anxiety.  Rates of rations and general scale of diet remain low.  No signs of serious malnutrition have yet appeared but prolonged continuance of present food shortage must have its effect both on health and morale and shortage will be more seriously felt in winter.  Anything which can be done by special means at any time before another convoy is run, to supplement diet by importing concentrated foodstuffs or food of small bulk, will help greatly.  I will telegraph our immediate requirements of these types of food in the course of the next two days in case any special opportunity occurs to send such supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud: visibility 15-20 miles.  Wind variable becoming southerly; light.

No air raid alerts.

1105-1215 hrs; 1625-1725  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron then ten 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on patrol: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by Hythe.  Una sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Day  Nine Beauforts escorted by eleven Beaufighters were despatched to attack an enemy convoy.  Night  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Ten Spitfires went out to area 15-30 miles south east of Correnti Island and patrolled at 20000 feet over returning Beauforts.  No enemy aircraft seen.

TA QALI  Final movement of 248 Squadron pilots to United Kingdom.

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2225
  • Total number of alerts this month 141
  • Bombing raids  day 39  night  20
  • Raid-free days  3
  • Night raids  37
  • Raid-free nights  12
  • Alerts for own planes  8
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  2 days, 56 mins
  • Average length of alert 29.1 mins
  • Killed  41 (15 men, 12 women, 14 children)
  • Seriously injured  33 (10 men, 14 women, 9 children)
  • Buildings seriously damaged  58

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during Operation Pedestal were landed at Malta. 207 of whom sailed in Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury on 18th August. The remainder being evacuated by air as opportunity arises.  The bulk of the cargo was unloaded by 23rd August, about 12,000 tons of furnace fuel, 3600 tons of diesel fuel, and 32,000 tons of general cargo having been received.  The enemy made no attempt to bomb any of the ships after they had arrived in harbour, or, in fact, once they were within comfortable range of shore based fighter protection.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine, visibility 20-30 miles.  Wind south-westerly, light; varying north westerly, light to moderate.

Day  No air raid alerts.

0915-1005 hrs; 1515-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron then four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali carry out patrols: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2221-2246 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approached from the north but receded before crossing the coast.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmela Ellul, age 30.  Mqabba  Emanuel Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Paola  Emanuel Paris.  Qormi  Spiro Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML carried out sweep of the area extending seaward of entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett to the 40 fathom line, and swept two moored mines and one conical float.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Bisley to LG 224.

INFANTRY  R Company, Lancashire Fusiliers, took over area from E Company, 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, and vice versa.

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

Reports released today show that 936 Axis aircraft have been destroyed over Malta or by Malta-based aircraft since Italy entered the war in June 1940.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

1300 hrs  One anti-personnel bomb explodes on Ta Qali aerodrome, seriously injuring three Maltese children: two of them die in hospital.

1858-1907 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turn back five miles from the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Francis Sammut, age 16; Carmel Tanti, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  2150 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron were despatched to attack a 4000 ton tanker with an escort of two destroyers near Corfu.  They dropped four 250lb and twenty 500lb bombs with several near-misses: the convoy continued on course.  One Wellington missing.  0130 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  No enemy sighted.

Arrivals  Four Beauforts, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off, crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter undercarriage collapsed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0930-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far carried out a high level sweep over Correnti Island, Noto, Ragusa and Pozzala in Sicily.  No enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.  1315-1325 hrs  The Spitfire of Pilot Officer Cheek crash-landed on an air test: his tyre burst on take-off and he had to land ‘wheels up’.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Gun Operations Room in a cricket match: results Luqa 108 (Neale 46), GOA 97.  Camp Cinema: Captain Fury.

TA QALI  0705-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1200-1315 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine 249 Squadron Ta Qali on a sweep over Sicily saw ships believed to be tankers outside Licata Harbour.  The Spitfires are met with heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire over Licata at 11000 feet but see no enemy aircraft.

Nos 242, 314, 502 and 841 AME Stations, Observer Corps Detachments at Dingli, Torri L’Ahmar and Ghargur, Officers’ and Airmen’s rest camp at St Paul’s Bay taken over by this Station for administration and rations.

INFANTRY  0545 hrs  Exercise to test the alertness of sentries and communications within 4 Brigade.  Also rapid destruction of parachutists in the Brigade area.  Exercise began with firing of three Verey lights around Marsaxlokk Bay.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company are performing coast patrol duties at Il Kaus; B Company are manning Tal Virtu observation post.

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

“We have some very grave shortages.”  Letter from Rommel to his wife, 30 August 1942

Malta-based attacks on southbound convoys in the Mediterranean have forced Field Marshal Rommel to give up his attempt to retake El Alamein.  The Island’s air and naval forces have starved the Axis of more than half of the supplies they need to continue the battle in North Africa.  Rommel originally intended to begin a major offensive against British forces on 26 August but had to postpone due to a shortage of fuel, thanks to the sinking of two tankers in the Mediterranean.

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

With a promise that another convoy would set out immediately from Italy, at 2330 hrs on Sunday Rommel launched an attack at Alam el Halfa but came up against a massive minefield and a well-equipped British force under Lt Gen Montgomery.  But nine Beauforts and eleven Beaufighters had already set off from Malta to attack the supply convoy, which had been spotted by 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance pilots.  At the same time destroyers, bombers and naval aircraft launched heavy attacks on Axis stores and workshops close to the battlefield.

Yesterday Malta-based submarine P 35 sank a southbound 5000 ton merchant vessel and the Island’s bombers stand ready to act immediately to any further attempts to re-supply the enemy.  Attacks continued today with Wellington bombers targeting a tanker and Navy Air Service Albacores striking a merchant vessel and escort with torpedoes.

After three days of relentless allied bombing and artillery fire and faced with a precarious supply situation Rommel has been forced to call off the attack and withdraw his forces.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0915-1020 hrs; 1015-1055 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on intercept patrol and sweep: no sightings.

1015-1045 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1303 hrs  Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight one Macchi 202.  F/Lt Hetherington, W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Farmer each fire a burst in turn, all obtaining strikes.  The tail of the Macchi is shot off and the aircraft goes down streaming glycol.  The remaining aircraft recede without coming within 25 miles of the Island.

1930-1950 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Corporal Arthur Simpson, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P34 swept out but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky DSEA hatch.

AIR HQ  1305 hrs  An offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily.  One Macchi 200 is shot down.  Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the tanker targeted last night, now 10 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The drop six 500lb bombs on the tanker, scoring one hit and causing a large explosion, followed by clouds of white smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa two Beauforts one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.    Aircraft casualties  One Hudson tyre believed burst during take-off, crashed and burned out: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1720-1830 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over Sicily and encounter enemy aircraft.  2129-0235 hrs  One Swordfish with flares and two Albacores NAS located and attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by two destroyers and a small flak ship, 15 miles north east of Cape Spartivento heading easterly.  They located the target just off the toe of Sicily and score hits with two torpedoes, one aft of the funnel and one aft of the bridge, followed by a violent explosion.  They leave the vessel down by the stern and belching clouds of black and white smoke.  A later photo-reconnaissance report showed the merchant vessel aground close to where it had been attacked.

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

“The Air Officer Commanding sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron (Reconaissance) for successful attacks on two successive nights, when Wellingtons scored direct hits on an important tanker heading for North Africa and also near-misses on destroyers.  The loss or even the disabling of the enemy tanker should greatly assist the British fighting Rommel.”

69 Squadron crew disembark Baltimore Luqa 1942 (c) IWM GM 1042

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0935-1030 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1701-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Two enemy fighters fly over Comino Channel at 20,000 feet.  Spitfires chase them back to within 10 miles of the Sicilian coast but are unable to intercept.

1845-1930 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. Clyde and P43 were also swept out to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI  1540-1635 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance circled Linosa and spotted a new building – ‘apparently’ a church.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

Two Albacores Royal Naval Air Squadrons were despatched today to finish off the merchant vessel beached after their previous attack on Wednesday night.  One Albacore scored a torpedo hit on the ship’s port quarter, while the other scored a direct hit with a 250lb bomb on the destroyer alongside, and straddled the merchant vessel with two other bombs.   Photo-reconnaissance later showed that the merchant vessel had a large gap in her starboard side.

Later tonight two Wellington bombers took advantage of intense darkness to attack a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice.  They dropped a total of eight 500lb bombs on the ship but were unable to observe results, which will await confirmation by photo-reconnaissance.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Local thunder; rain with bright periods.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0848-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy fighters approach at low altitude, apparently intending a low-level machine gun attack, but turn back while still eight miles off the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1459-1544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eighteen enemy fighters approach the Island; four are identified as ME 109s.  Some of the raiders skirt the Zonqor coast, while others patrol five miles north of Gozo.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light out to sea, 80 degrees RA 4.

2313-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but turn back when 20 miles north west of Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William Storer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Ronald Rooke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Night  Two Albacores RNAS were despatched to attack a merchant vessel beached eight miles north of Bianca.

AIR HQ  1720 hrs  Six Beauforts and six Beaufighters were despatched to attack a convoy off Cape Spartivento but failed to locate the target.  Night  Two Wellingtons attacked a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice, dropping eight 500lb bombs on the ship.  No results are seen due to the intense darkness.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire had engine trouble, force-landed: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1000-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a Rodeo raid over Sicily but encounter no enemy aircraft.  PM  Seven Spitfires were despatched on a sweep over Sicily.  The leader had a faulty radio and broke formation: owing to a misunderstanding the rest followed suit and as a result the Spitfires returned to base.

LUQA  Luqa beat the RASC at cricket by nine wickets: RASC 36, Luqa 38 for one wicket.  Camp cinema: Second Chorus.

TA QALI  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1320-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance sighted two unidentified aircraft but did not intercept due to a radio fault and subsequent misunderstanding.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Major General Scobie, GOC troops Malta, visited the Battalion.  This is the second time the Bn has been under his command – Tobruk October 1941 was the first.

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd:  The War Office

1.  Enemy activity confined 48 fighter sorties by day and 6 bomber sorties by night.  One JU 88 crossed coast; good [searchlight] illumination.  Bombs on land.  One Macchi 202 destroyed, two ME 109s probably destroyed.  Own losses nil.  Recently there has been a large decrease in the numbers of bombers and fighters in Sicily, particularly German.

2.  Own air offensive continues.  150 Spitfire sorties over Sicily also 4 Beaufighters by night.  Malta based air attacks on convoys to Libya continue resulting in 1 tanker blown up, 1 tanker stationary, 2 merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one destroyer hit by bombs; near-misses one merchant vessel, one destroyer.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.  Intensified training being carried out.  Small parties employed on aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0910-0958 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron and five from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire of 249 returns early, its hood blown off.

Grand Harbour

12 ME 109s and Macchi 202s cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires intercept some of the enemy over Grand Harbour and others 20 miles off Zonqor.  249 Squadron engage six ME 109s. P/O Williams scores strikes on one.  P/O Giddings attacks a second; he sees no strikes but a panel flies off the port wing of the enemy aircraft.  Hal Far pilot F/Lt Charney destroys one Macchi 202.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires see three ME 109s and four other fighters six miles east of Zonqor and chase them back towards Sicily: no engagement.

1725-1825 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a reported formation of enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

2250-2317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach the Island; one recedes 40 miles from the coast.  The other, a JU 88, crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of Birkirkara.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no interceptions.  Searchlights effect one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report several white verey lights off the Delimara area.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Wellingtons, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0640-0800 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft encountered.

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

TA QALI  1145-1315 hrs  Thirteen Spitfires 249 Squadron (two returned early) and nine of 229 Squadron (one returned early) were despatched on a Rodeo raid.  Two enemy fighters are seen but not intercepted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26.  Dealt with: 7 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 116 anti-personnel bombs, 18 oil incendiaries.

 

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9 August 1942: Is a Convoy on the Way to Malta?

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL/SANTA MARIJA EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY – STARTS TODAY                                                                                                                      

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Communications between Italian commanders in Rome and Cagliari suggest that a large fleet of Allied warships and merchant transports is approaching the straits of Gibraltar.  According to Enigma decoders in England, Axis wires are alive with warnings to all Mediterranean headquarters that a convoy is gathering to supply Malta.

GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF: SITUATION REPORT MALTA TO 31ST JULY 1942

Morale in Malta ‘high’ despite hardships

Casualties (civilians only)

  • Killed 1308 (men 619, women 382, children 307)
  • Seriously injured 1399 (men 688, women 449, children 262)
  • These figures to not include 28 civilians, men killed in SS Moor in Grand Harbour.

Figures of casualties since 20th April clearly indicate lessening in severity of raids.  This followed on the departure of considerable part of German Air Force from Sicily shortly before the end of that month. Nevertheless substantial German Air Force remains in Sicily, and casualties and damage…are considerably higher than for the corresponding period of last year.  Morale remains high despite restricted food and shocks of the Libyan campaign which local opinion watches eagerly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 AUGUST TO DAWN 10 AUGUST 1942

1010-1102 hrs  Air raid alert.

0950-1105 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight three ME 109s.  Red section makes for the attack but two of the enemy aircraft swing round and make off.  P/O Sherwood makes for the leading Messerschmitt, putting the Spitfire’s nose down to almost vertical and making a beam attack from 250 yards.  He fires a two-second burst and sees strikes slightly forward of the cockpit: pieces fall off.  The Messerschmitt is last seen streaming glycol and losing height.  Several other pilots confirm.  Pilots report excessive radio interference by whistling.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept but are recalled.

1210-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nothing to report.

1425-1455 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol to protect minesweepers off Kalafrana Bay.

1430-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  One Spitfire is knocked sideways on landing, causing one undercarriage leg to collapse: the pilot Sgt Budd is unhurt.

2300-2315 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs near Ghain Tuffieha and in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 9 AUGUST 1942

HMS Hythe

 

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P44 and Una to end of swept harbour whence they proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Beaufighters from EDCU; one Baltimore from Burg Arab; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea; pilot injured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron stood down for the day.

LUQA  A concert is held at the camp cinema.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6. 

 

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2-8 August 1942: Without a Convoy Malta Will Fall

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY.  STARTS 9 AUGUST                                                                                                                

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SUPPLY SITUATION NOW CRITICAL

“I was a waitress at Xara Villa, where the pilots of Ta Qali lived.  I was 15.  We used to lick the plates we collected after the meal, before we sent them down to wash.  When they realised, the pilots even left us a little on the plate.”  Maria Parsons (nee Spiteri), GeorgeCross Island Association

Malta command is facing a crisis.  Unless another convoy reaches the Island by Friday of this week, supplies of food and fuel will run out within days.  The minimal stores delivered over recent weeks by submarine and by fast minelayers Manxman and Welshman have been barely enough to meet a few days’ needs.  Without immediate help, Malta could fall into enemy hands.

2 August 1942: Cluster Bomb Kills 13 Year Old

Butterfly bomb

A 13 year old boy was killed yesterday in Birkirkara by a German anti-personnel bomb. The village is now the most densely populated in Malta thanks to the many refugees from Grand Harbour who have taken shelter there.  In an air raid centred on Ta Qali late on Sunday evening, Birkirkara was showered with butterfly bombs – cluster bombs which are released from canisters holding up to 100 each.

The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Sections were drafted in to clear the dozens of unexploded small bombs reported across the area.  At least one remained undetected.  Yesterday afternoon a group of boys were playing hide and seek behind rubble walls surrounding the fields outside the village.  13 year old Joe Galea jumped over a wall and landed on one of the bombs which exploded, killing him instantly.  Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Aerodrome working parties and transport:  500 men each at Ta Qali and Hal Far, 1000 at Luqa.

0915-0954 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s with an escort of 20 plus fighters including ME 109s drop 2800 kg of bombs on the area of Safi strip.

1310 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft; two return early.  The remainder intercept the enemy: red section is attacked by two MEs with no outcome.  Blue section sight six Messerschmitts, dive past but lose them on tearning.  F/Lt Watts fires on one ME but sees no strike.

1350 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also scrambled to intercept enemy fighters. Sgt Weaver probably destroys one ME 109. P/O Guthrie crashes in a field on the outskirts of Zebbieh and is killed.  Sgt McLeod is reported missing: Spitfires search for him until dusk without success.

1445 hrs  All clear.

1657-1715 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy fighter sweep which does not cross the coast.

2250-2325 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which does not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Guthrie Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant McLeod, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P43 and Una arrived and were swept into Marsamxett Harbour by Rye.

AIR HQ Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Liberator, two Beauforts from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two DC3 to Bilbeis; one Hudson to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot killed.  One Spitfire in formation jumped by enemy aircraft: pilot presumed shot down; missing.

3 August 1942: Radio Interference Hampers RAF Fighter Ops 

RADIO CONTACT CUT DURING DOG FIGHT

RAF Spitfire pilots are reporting interference with their radio signals over Malta.  Signals were interrupted at a crucial moment during an air battle with Messerschmitt fighters this morning.  Early reports suggest the problem only occurs over land: interference clears once aircraft fly out to sea.  The radio signal interruptions could threaten the effectiveness of defensive fighter operations over the Island.

TROOPS GO HUNGRY

…there was less and less food. Our ration went down to 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. We had one tin of bully beef for eight men, and one slice of bread each (when I went to Malta I weighed 10.9 stone, when I came back it was 8.6 stone) . Our uniforms and boots were wearing out. We put bits of cardboard in the boots to protect our feet. All supplies had to come in by sea, and there were enemy submarines that could be seen in the clear water. From the Garrison Fort we heard that it was feared we could no longer hold the island.  Jimmie Ferguson, Royal Irish Fusiliers (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 AUGUST TO DAWN 4 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine.

0615-0700 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

0810-0900 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nothing to report.

0933-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled: nothing sighted.

1105-1200 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to minesweepers: nothing to report.

1115-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires Hal Far and eight of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two of 229 return early.  The remainder sight six Messerschmitts overhead and try to gain height but are bounced by the MEs and have to break away without firing a shot.  All pilots report marked VHF radio interference.

1233-1305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two return early.  The others sight nothing.

1455-1515 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

1610-1625 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept sight four ME 109s which turn and make for home very fast: no contact.

1755-1820 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island.  Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1855-1945 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a patrol but sight nothing.  The weather is hazy, visibility two miles.

2200-2235 hrs; 2230-2345 hrs; 2359-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts, each for single enemy aircraft, none cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 3 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy, Rye, Hythe, and Swona carried out sweep of five cable strip inshore of QBB 273. 4 moored mines were swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224 or Fayid.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into sea: pilot rescued, injured.  One Wellington overshot on landing: pilot and crew uninjured.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

LUQA  The Secretary of State visits Luqa aerodrome.

TA QALI  Wing Commander Douglas Hamilton ceased to be attached from Headquarters, RAF Mediterranean.  Wing Comannder Pike, DFC, arrived on move of 249 Squadron to Ta Qali.  All pilots of 603 Squadron posted to 229 Squadron on formation at Ta Qali.

4 August 1942: Spitfire Pilot Wins Close Dog-fight

Spitfires over Malta (2)

Malta Spitfire pilot Lt Swales was flying one of four Spitfires of 229 Squadron this morning when they encountered two Italian Macchi fighters.  Lt Swales attacked, firing a short burst, followed by S/Ldr Douglas who fired all his ammunition but could not get closer than 400 yards.  No strikes were seen but Lt Swales had not finished.  He turned on the other Macchi and fired a 5 second burst at 200 yards into the starboard wing and fuselage of the enemy aircraft, which started to smoke.  The Italian swooped into a steep dive and Lt Swales followed him down, firing until all his ammunition was spent.  The Macchi was last seen at water level, smoking badly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 AUGUST TO DAWN 5 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Luqa working parties are reduced by the withdrawal of 450 men of 1 Brigade.  Total still employed on all aerodromes approximately 1500 all ranks.

0725-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Wellington.  They see a large oil patch and circle at deck level but find no wreckage.  Enemy fighters are reported but not seen.

0830-0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight two Macchi 202 fighters which are attacked by S/Ldr Douglas and Lt Swales.  One Macchi is probably destroyed by Lt Swales.  A Dornier flying boat escorted by fighters later picks up the pilot.

0915-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: nothing to report.

1445-1530 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft and climb to attack three ME 109s but are unable to catch them.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three enemy aircraft but are ordered on another course and see no others.  All Spitfires report marked radio interference over the Island which is not as bad at sea.

1625-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but sight nothing.

1735-1750 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft carrying out a fighter sweep.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but are unable to make contact.  Spitfires from Hal Far are also airborne: one Re 2001 is probably destroyed.

2220-2340 hrs  Air raid alerts for two enemy aircraft which approach separately and drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  WD Vessel Snipe carried out night run with Coast Artillery Searchlights.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, two Wellingtons, three Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot baled out, uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron is stood down.

1ST BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT Night firing exercises on Pembroke ranges.

5 August 1942:  Malta’s Children ‘Ghostly Pale’

Food shortages had become desperate. It had reached the point where bread, an important staple for most people, had become rationed with hardly enough for the average family and its quality greatly reduced by the addition of potatoes and other ingredients. I still remember my mother, with three growing hungry youngsters, bartering a gold ring on the Black Market in exchange for a badly needed loaf of bread – just to put something into our empty stomachs.  My mother, like most mothers, often kept herself short just to give us a little extra to eat.…

As the siege tightened we begin to notice the lean and haggard faces of the men, women and children around us, the young and the old.  You begin to notice the start of sunken cheeks and dark shadows under the eyes. You begin to see the thinness of the arms and legs of chidren. You feel general body weakness where the minimum effort saps one’s strength. You see the faces of people of fair complexion beginning to turn a ghostly pale or ashen gray and those of darker complexion into a ghastly greenish hue.

The pangs of hunger had become so acute that chewing the end tip of my leather belt became a common practice, as with most others.  The taste sometimes still lingers. For a while water consumption, when not cut off, helped fill the voids in our stomachs, but you can’t fool the body all the time.  Waistlines now had shrunk to the point where, with continued belt tightening the tip of one’s belt was now reaching the small of one’s back…

It was during a heavy air attack at Marsa Creek, an inlet a short distance from my home, where a freighter was hit sending some of its cargo of flour in great clouds high into the air. Just  as soon as the dust had settled, crowds of kids, including my nine years old brother Francis, descended on the scene widely scooping up from the ground, in empty tins and cans, grit, dust and all, as much flour as possible to take home.  At this unexpected bounty, little as it was, my mother, completely surprised and overjoyed, quickly added water kneading it into a kind of dough and cooked it. We could not wait until it was ready and when it was, we literally wolfed it down, crunching the dust and grit between our teeth and offering deep thanks to God for his loving beneficence…

The ravages of the siege with its acute food shortages, continuous bombing and sleepless nights left its mark in the form of early deaths, weakened constitutions, miscarriages and stillborn babies. With weakened immune systems they fell prey to infections and diseases which in normal times would have been easily overcome but became fatal for people so weakened. There were outbreaks of typhoid and of polio, a disease then practically unknown in Malta. Their death certificates may show statements such as ”death from natural causes ” or “death from this disease or that” but really they were war casualties.  Joseph V Stephens, May 17, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 AUGUST TO DAWN 6 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Pen-building on aerodromes continues on the same scale as yesterday.  Extensive beach and aerodrome patrols are carried out by 1 Brigade.  Major General R MacK Scobie CBE MC arrived by air from ME to take over as GOC Troops, Malta.

0850-0935 hrs  Air raid alert.

0930-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for an enemy pilot in the sea but find nothing.

1030-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep; two return early.  The other two see eight ME 109s and attack one apiece, each firing a three-second burst but seeing no strike.  The Spitfires swing round to make a second attack but the Messerschmitts get away.

1045-1155 hrs  Air raid alert.

1207-1239 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1745-1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and sight 15 enemy fighters.  One Re 2001 attacks Sgt Irwin but overshoots.  Sgt Irwin closes in and counter-attacks with a three-second burst at 250 yards, hitting the root of the port wing and forward of the fuselage.  The Italian fighter streams glycol and dives away: probably destroyed.  Sgt Irwin is then attacked by another Re 2001 and hit by an explosive shell.  His Spitfire goes into a downward spin but Sgt Irwin is unhurt.  Four of the Spitfires report marked radio interference.

2330-2350 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo, causing civilian casualties.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gaetana Abela, age 20; Samuel Zammit, age 63.  Gozo (Gharb)  Kalang Mizzi, age 60.  Gozo (San Lawrenz)  Nazzerna Attard, age 28; Josephine Farrugia, age 66; Carmela Farrugia, age 35; Mary Farrugia, age 35.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P44 returned from patrol off Kuriat, having scored 2 hits with 3 inch guns on a 2000 ton [merchant vessel] off Linosa and was swept in by Hythe.  M/S Flotilla swept 19 mines in Northern rectangle of QBB 273.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Spitfire, one Beaufighter, two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Three Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

6 August 1942: Shoes Made From Old Tyres

The shortage was not just in food. It was in everything. Clothes and shoes, for example, were completely unobtainable. Shoes, which wore out quicker than clothes, were substituted by scrapped vehicle and aircraft tyres for soles and with pieces of string to hold them [on] the foot.”  Joseph Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 AUGUST TO DAWN 7 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0645-0750 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol; two return early.  No enemy aircraft are sighted.

0900-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol; one returns early: no sightings.

1010-1030 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing to report.

1150-1220 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1420-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight enemy fighters and climb to three thousand feet.  The enemy aircraft change course and are lost in the haze.

1700-1730 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but find nothing.

1940-2030 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for enemy shipping but sight no craft.

2226-2243 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single enemy aircraft drops bombs three miles north east of Grand Harbour.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy carried out Oropesa, SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk approaches and anchored there for the night. One moored mine was swept in inshore strip and this strip is now considered clear.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

LUQA  A further decrease in the working party strength brings the figure for the aerodrome down to just over 800 all ranks.

7 August 1942: No Deliveries to Relieve Malta

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 AUGUST TO DAWN 8 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Slight increase in strength of working parties provided by 4 Brigade brings the total for all aerodromes up to approx 1400 all ranks.

0830-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing to report.

1315 hrs  Two Beaufighters Mark VI of 248 Squadron arrive at Ta Qali.

1405-1435 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109s which cross the Island at very high altitude.

1630-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nothing to report.

1830-1945 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne: nothing sighted.

1945-2025 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for enemy shipping: no craft sighted.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Only two of the five enemy aircraft which approach the Island cross the coast, dropping bombs near Torri L’Ahmar, Il Maqhtab and in the sea off St Andrews

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 7 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept Otus into Marsaxlokk and then swept centre line of QBB 273 while returning to Marsamxett.  Otus remained bottomed off Delimara Light until dark, when she surfaced and proceeded alongside Shell Pier to unload cargo.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, four Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar; three Beauforts from LG 224; three Beauforts from LG 226; two Baltimores from Burg Arab.

LUQA  The camp cinema is now running.

8 August 1942: Enemy Tactics Aim to Use Up Malta’s Fighter Fuel

Sir Ronald Mackenzie Scobie in Athens

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 8 AUGUST 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd:  The War Office

  1. Quietest week in many months for bombing.  Enemy air effort limited to attempts to wear down fighter strength and waste our aviation petrol by fighter sweeps and tip and run tactics.  Average 30 fighter sorties daily against Island.  Total 10 bombers by day, 17 by night.  Bombs widespread.  Enemy fighter casualties four destroyed, two probable, one damaged by RAF.
  2. 2.  RAF and Infantry working parties totalling 2000 men and 150 vehicles completed building of 30 pens for RAF in record time.
  3. 3.  Military damage and casualties nil.
  4. 4.  Major General R Mack Scobie arrived 6 August to take over GOC.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 AUGUST TO DAWN 9 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0930-1015 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 30 approaching enemy fighters including ME 109s and Re 2001s.  Two Spitfires return early.  The remainder sight eight Macchi fighters.  Then two ME 109s are seen diving on three Spitfires as another six pass overhead.  Eight more Messerschmitts join the fight and the Spitfires spiral down towards the MEs.  P/O Jones fires a burst at 50 yards at a ME 109 which is chasing a Spitfire: the Messerschmitt turns into the sun and is seen spinning downwards, streaming glycol.  Sgt Beurling fires at a ME 109 which streams glycol and dives into the sea from 20000 feet.  Sgt Beurling is shot up and crash lands at Luqa; he is unhurt.  Sgt Budd attacks a ME 109, opening fire at 100 yards and hitting the starboard wing.  Sgt Budd is himself shot up and slightly wounded in the shoulder.  Three ME 109s are destroyed and another damaged.

1030-1115 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol off Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1215-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.

1626-1706 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far carry out a search.

1936-2027 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far patrol off the coast of Sicily in search of E boats: nothing sighted.

2145-2205 hrs  Air raid alert for a single aircraft which drops bombs in the sea north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Sergeant Clarence Kelly, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Otus proceeded to bottoming berth at 0600, having discharged all cargo except five torpedoes. Minesweepers cut two mines while clearing special area. After dark, Otus completed unloading.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, two Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from BilbeisDepartures  Four Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return to base:pilot missing.

TA QALI  One ME 109 destroyed by P/O Jones, one by Sgt Beurling.  One ME 109 damaged by Sgt Budd.  Two Spitfires damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 47.  Dealt with: 16 High Explosives, including 2 delayed-action (1 x 1800kg; 2 x 500kg; 6 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg; 3 x 35kg; 1 x 12kg); 127 anti-personnel bombs plus a few oil incendiaries.

(1)  An Irish Fusilier in Malta, BBC WW2 People’s War, contributed by IpswichMuseum.  WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

(2) Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

 
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8 April 1942: Fierce Battle to Save a Ship – Penelope’s Story

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1-8 APRIL 1942: enemy bombers 1427; bombs 1,759,186kg (1731 tons); casualties 234

  • Thousands of tons of bombs have ravaged Luqa, Ta Qali, Hal Far and Grand Harbour
  • Yesterday enemy bombers devastated Valletta – are civilians the target now?
  • Intelligence suggests a Luftwaffe plan to extend bombing across Malta’s villages and towns
  • With electricity, gas and water cut off and bread supplies under threat, how can the Island survive?
  • Visit maltagc70 for the latest news from Malta, 1942

PENELOPE’S LAST STAND

HMS Penelope holed and patched in Malta

Dockyard Foreman Len Austin remembers the final departure of HMS Penelope, thanks to the combined efforts of the Navy, Army and Dockyard workers, and his highly respected Manager, Mr Joughin.  One of the cruisers of Force K, the convoy so effective at sinking enemy merchant ships, Penelope has been in dry dock since 27March, for essential repairs:

“…she was now a sitting duck for the bombers. Bombs rained down but she was not hit, although the dock coping and the workshops adjacent were badly damaged…The two gangways from the dockside one forward and the other aft received direct hits and the ship’s sides in these areas were pierced by hundreds of holes, above and below the waterline. All that could be done was to weld patches over the holes and this proceeded.  There were not enough welders available so Mr Joughin asked whether any were available among the troops on the Island who could help and only one was found.”

By this afternoon almost the entire ship has been peppered with holes, all the aft cabins wrecked and the quarterdeck covered with debris from bomb damage to Dockyard structures.  It was decided that Penelope should sail as soon as possible.  As if aware of her departure, the Luftwaffe bombers returned for another heavy raid on the dockyard:

“arrangements were made for further supports under the ship so that she could help in the barrage. She fired until her gun barrels were virtually worn out. It was obvious that her luck could not last out indefinitely and undocking was scheduled for [this] afternoon. A long raid developed and we were in the Shelters for some hours…the afternoon raid had delayed the repair so the dock flooding time had to be put back…

With serious doubts whether Penelope could be lifted in time to leave port tonight the Vice Admiral Malta convened a conference and Mr Joughin was asked what could be done:

“’You must land every man who is not required for the working of the ship, all their equipment, all surplus easily removed fittings, all spare gear, as much fresh water as possible, in fact strip the ship of as much weight as could be done without impairing her steaming. We will take the ship to Canteen Jetty. You may embark 200 tons of oil fuel and a full outfit of ammunition and then sail with a good chance of reaching Gibraltar.’

…In minutes all was in hand and the dockside quickly became littered with off loaded weight. A halt was called whilst the ship was towed to the Jetty where the activity was resumed.  The “Kingston” a Destroyer which had sustained a near miss hit was then moved into the vacated dock. [Another] heavy raid developed and “Kingston” was hit amidships and sunk. This could have been “Penelope’s” fate.  She sailed at dusk, was attacked in the Narrows by Pantelleria, fired all her ammunition but reached Gibraltar safely” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 10% cloud at 18000 feet.

0825-0922 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Ta Qali, dropping four small bombs on the aerodrome.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 88s north west of Grand Harbour.  F/L Lloyd claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged. P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Boyd claimed one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.

1045-1145 hrs  Seven JU 88s, part of a larger formation of bombers, carry out a deliberate attack on aerodrome buildings at Luqa.  All bombs fall on the motor transport section.  Bombs are also dropped on Misrah Blandun area.

1120 hrs  Air raid by eight JU 88s with fighter escort of ME 109s attack Hal Far.  Ten craters on aerodrome and about 30 incendiaries dropped on aerodrome.

1125 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA)  engage numerous JU 88s, claiming seven hits on four aircraft.

1324 hrs  26 aircraft come in from the south east and drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.   Two bombs land on Hompesch 3.7″ Battery, near Battalion HQ Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg.  Another bomb explodes between the Camp and Zabbar.

1335 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron sight six JU 88s with fighter escort.  Hurricanes attack, then Spitfires follow in.  F/L Heppell destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O West G damages one JU 88 and destroys one ME 109; P/O Kelly damages one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Three ME 109s are engaged by 5 guns of 225 LAA; two hits claimed on one by two guns.

1400 hrs  Four ME 109s drop four bombs on Ta Qali, causing two small craters on the aerodrome.  One soldier is seriously wounded and one slightly. 

1505 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron attack eight JU 88s.  F/O West R probably destroys one; F/L Heppell damages one but is then blown out of his machine, probably by a Bofors shell.  He lands safely near Floriana.

1405 hrs  Four ME 109 fighters machine-gun Mellieha Camp.  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage raiders: no claims.

1510 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.  Bombs also land on the Mall Gardens in Floriana and an unexploded bomb is discovered in St James Ditch.  Lintorn Barracks and the Central Civil Hospital are also hit.

1525 hrs  ME 109 fighters machine-gun Luqa while four ME 109 fighter-bombers drop bombs on the airfield.  Six guns of 225 LAA engage three ME 109s: no claims.

1615 hrs  A stick of four 250kg bombs falls 500 yards south of Selmun Palace causing slight damage.

1721 hrs  22 ME 109, 32 JU 88 and 26 JU 87 attack ships in Grand Harbour.  Penelope’s gunners fire back until they exhaust their ammunition supplies.  The Gunnery Officer is killed and the Captain and several others wounded.  A bomb penetrates the forward decks of Kingston passing through and piercing her hull, but does not explode.

1744 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment receive a message to say work on Pampas ceases at 2000 hrs, with 12 hours’ notice to start again.  Men of B Company volunteer to load ammunition onto HMS Penelope prior to her departure from Malta.  An air raid is on at the time and the ship is a target.

1815 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and see a Dornier 26 on the water, plus two JU 88s and ME 109s.

1910 hrs  P/O West 249 Squadron destroys the Dornier flying boat and one ME 109; P/O Kelly destroys one JU 88.

1938 hrs  All clear.

2007-2235 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft destroys a JU 88.

2026-2050 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the east, crossing Zonkor Point.  It is engaged by a Beaufighter with a short burst and crashes in flames at the Safi end of Luqa aerodrome.

2140-2212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.

2230-0050; 0135-0255; 0525-0635 hrs  Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

2345-0645 hrs  A series of raids by single enemy aircraft.  Incendiaries are dropped on several locations including Ospizio, Latnia and Sliema sea front.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Jack Miller, HMS Penelope; Marine Daniel Soames, Royal Marines, HMS Penelope;  Able Seaman Sidney Tancock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Penelope.

Private Ivan Harrold, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Private Cecil Peace, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Fusilier Charles Milne, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Henry Worster, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Marjorie Smith, wife of Regimental Sergeant-Major Smith, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Lance Bombardier John Hovell, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artilllery; Gunner Stanley Smith, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Geoffrey Worrall, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment);Staff Sergeant Henry Staples, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Mallia, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner George Falzon, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Bombardier John Grech, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Emanuelle Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gudja  Fred Scicluna, age 45.  Marsa  Salvu Grima, age 57.  Qormi  Francis Barbara, age 56.  Tarxien  Joseph Bartolo, age 52.  Valletta  Joseph Cachia, age 49.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  During a dive-bombing attack on Grand Harbour Penelope ran out of ammunition and the Captain was wounded.  Kingston was damaged and in sinking condition.  Penelope sailed for Gibraltar at 2000 hrs.  Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Maryland from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufort to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 8-9th  Swordfish despatched to check up the position of the Kelibe light.

LUQA  1230-1325 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance western Sicilian aerodromes.  2340-0555 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for shipping and attack.  Sighted one merchant vessel with escorting destroyer and submarine.  Bombed merchant vessel but undershot.

TA QALI  Orderly Rooms, SWO , Guard Room move from St Edward’s College Mdina to Nos 3 & 11 caves.   Messina House taken over for billets.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties still on Pampas.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Cpl Worn is injured by machine-gun bullet from enemy aircraft.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2345 hrs  Pte C Peace died in No 39 General Hospital as a result of wounds received from a bomb at Corradino on 7 April.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and B Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C, D and HQ Companies working on Luqa aerodrome.  One Other Rank wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali and died of wounds same day.  Three Naval Officers and 56 Naval Ratings attached to the Battalion for rations and accommodation, with a further 25 Naval Ratings with effect from 9th.  All from ships damaged in Grand Harbour by enemy air raids.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Incendiary bombs in the Barracks. Quickly extinguished – no damage or casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 9 (4 x 50kg; 3 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  Extract from Autobiography of Leonard (Len) Austin, Foreman of Malta Dockyard, August 1939 – March 1943 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of  use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

 
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2 April 1942: Malta Teenagers’ Double Tragedy

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CHARLES GRECH

Young Charles Grech returned home from the Friary at lunchtime today, heavy with the news that the body of his mentor Fr Diego Galdes had been discovered in the ruins (maltagc70 – 1 April 1942).  He found his father already apparently pre-occupied with other matters:

“When I told him that I thought the bombs had fallen on Spinola Battery, he mumbled back that that was not quite where they had fallen.  They had been dropped on Villa Rosa.  Mother apparently did not understand what he had just said and interjected: ‘Aunty Mary went to live just there.’  Father retorted curtly: ‘What has this got to do with your Aunty Mary?  Villa Rosa!  Not Villambrosa!  That is where Joe works!’

Mother suddenly froze, dropped everything and…told father she was going to see Sur Guze, as his son in law Leslie Beckett, a corporal in the Royal Army Pay Corps, who lived with him, also worked with my brother at Villa Rosa.

Mother and Sur Guze’s daughter, Lina, hurried…to St George’s Bay.  On arriving there, they found a complete shambles.  Mother asked for here son and Lina for her husband…Major Howell informed Lina that her husband had been wounded… [they] were still looking for Joe.”

The family had to wait for news until 4.30pm next day, when a policeman arrived at the door: Joe’s body had been found – in the ruins of the Army Pay Office.  (1)

HMS Pandora (2)

JOSEPH STEPHENS

16 year old Dockyard apprentice Jo Stephens was admiring the sleek lines of the newly-arrived submarine “Pandora” yesterday afternoon when he heard the sirens:

“Knowing that, in all probability, the Dockyard would be the target I sought refuge in the nearest shelter deep in the rock under a bastion a short distance from the submarine.  I was not far into the entrance when the firing of guns began…A blast of air like a powerful gale lifted me off my feet, glogging my ears, and blowing me further into the shelter causing me to clutch the best I could to its walls.  Another blast and again I was blown in farther, assisting my own efforts to get into the deepest part of the shelter Then another blast and another and yet another, each with powerful tremors, ear glogging air pressure accompanied by  attempts on my part  to keep my balance. I don’t know how long it lasted but I thought it would never stop. Stop it did. The ”All Clear ” sirens sounded and I emerged from the shelter…

The submarine had completely disappeared; it had vanished. The moorings were still there,  confirming my fears and suspicions that the submarine must have been badly hit and was now lying at the bottom of the water. There was no floating debris, no sign of life, just murky waters around where she was berthed. An acrid smell of fuel oil hung about the place. A deep sadness came over me. In a matter of minutes a submarine with its entire crew, men mostly in the prime of life, had been wiped out.  (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 APRIL TO DAWN 3 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; 50% medium cloud.

0822-0850 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches the Island from the south, carries out reconnaissance.  Ack Ack engage.

0950 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an incoming formation of 15 JU 88 bombers and 25 ME 109 fighters.  Two Spitfires are jumped by ME 109s: both are lost, though one pilot is saved.  F/L Johnson damages one JU 88.

1010 hrs  A formation of JU 88s carries out a heavy raid on the Dockyard and Submarine Base. The Army Pay Office at Villa Rosa, St Georges is hit, killing one Officer and six Other Ranks of the Royal Army Pay Corps.

1017 hrs  Eight JU 88s with an escort of six ME 109s attack Hal Far, causing 22 craters on aerodrome and dispersals.  One Swordfish badly damaged.

1025 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Klantun and Misrah Blandun areas.

1030 hrs  Three Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled and engage the enemy aircraft.

1040 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one ME 109.

1050 hrs  P/O McCarthy is shot down in flames.  P/O McLeod is shot into the sea and saved.  One JU 88 is damaged.

1119 hrs  All clear.

1222 hrs; 1400 hrs  Air alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

1610 hrs  Eight Hurricanes 185 & 229 Squadrons are scrambled to intercept an incoming enemy formation.

1624 hrs  15 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour with over 40 high explosive (HE) bombs including four 1000kg: several bombs land on Valletta and Floriana.

21 JU 87s attack Hal Far, dropping 250kg and 500kg bombs across the airfield.  The Airmen’s bath house is demolished and other buildings damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the enemy, destroying two JU 87s and badly damaging one JU 88 and one JU 87.

12 JU 88s follow the first wave and drop another 48 HE bombs of 250kg and 500kg on Grand Harbour.

1650 hrs  Hurricanes 185 & 229 Squadrons engage enemy aircraft: one JU 87 is probably destroyed, one ME 109, one JU 87 and one JU 88 damaged.

1655 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA also engage: hits are claimed by the majority of Battery guns.  One JU 87 is observed smoking badly and losing height.

1740 hrs  The trawler SS Franco is machine-gunned by six ME 109s off Dahlet Ish-Shielep, causing slight damage and two minor casualties.  C and E Companies of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage the fighters with machine-gunfire: no claims.

1807 hrs  All clear.

2036 hrs   Six enemy aircraft come in from the north, dropping bombs in the sea and on land at Ta Salvatur and Ghar Lapsi.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2205 hrs  Two aircraft come in from the north east and drop bombs in the Marsa area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2343-0556 hrs  21 German JU 88 and Italian BR 20 aircraft approach singly at regular intervals throughout the night, dropping bombs in many areas, including Bubaqra, Safi and Luqa aerodrome, where one unserviceable Wellington is burned out.  Searchlights illuminate 14 of the 18 aircraft which cross the coast.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Winston McCarthy, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron; Private Charles Davies, Private Albert Golledge, Lieutenant Frank Harrod, Private Arthur Pullan, all Royal Army Pay Corps; Gunner Wilfred Allen and Bombardier Jeffrey Osborne, (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Leslie Sutton, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Staff Sergeant Edward Redman, 173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers; Private Carmel Camenzuli, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Paola  Rose Midlane, age 41.  Sliema  Joseph Grech, age 17.

Enemy casualties  Hans Frank.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, four Hudsons, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Hudsons, two Blenheims, one Beaufighter, one Spitfire PRU, one Catalina, two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

LUQA 2025-0610 hrs  One Wellington SD Flight Special Search with bombs.  Possible hospital ship sighted.

TA QALI  PM Spitfires returned to Ta Qali from Luqa and Hurricanes proceeded to Luqa to operate.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Work continues on the Pampas: still great difficulty through lack of power for the winches.  Large raid on Grand Harbour by 64 JU 87 & 88s.  Several large bombs dropped near Pampas.  Work continues on Pampas throughout the night.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Three slight casualties – Sgt Higgins, Cpl Tannatt, BEM, and Private Adams of A Company – caused by either pom pom or cannon Bullets.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome during the day.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  S/Sgt Redman died at Imtarfa Hospital. RE Welders worked on HMS Penelope enabling her to put to sea.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26; dealt with 10 (1 x 500kg, 6 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg)

(1) Extract from Raiders Passed: Wartime Recollections of a Maltese youngster, Charles B Grech (translated by Joseph Galea Debono), Midsea Books, Malta 1998

(2) Joseph V Stephens, 2012

(3)  www.wrecksite.eu

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28 March 1942: Malta’s Gunners – ‘Guts, Determination and Hard Work’

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  • One continuous raid lasts 6½ hours.
  • Vice Admiral, Malta congratulates Ta Qali fighter squadrons for performance during convoy attacks.
  • Malta’s fighter squadrons and Ack-Ack gunners in co-ordinated defensive ops.
  • 229 Squadron arrives at Hal Far from the Middle East to reinforce the Island’s fighter defences.
  • Intelligence reports show a concentration of enemy troop-carrying aircraft and troops in southern Italy and Sicily.

ROYAL ARTILLERY ‘MAGNIFICENT’ SAYS RAF COMMANDER

Anti-aircraft Guns Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

Letter from Air Commodore H P Lloyd, Air Officer Commanding, Malta to Commander, Royal Artillery, Malta, Major General C T Beckett

I wish to express my greatest admiration of your officers and men for the excellent way in which they are defending this island.  I have been out when raids have been at their height, and I have seen your Gun Crews engage the enemy regardless of their own safety.  For sheer guts, determination and hard work, your men can never be beaten.  You must feel very proud of them.

The attack at Ta Qali was directed quite as much against your gun positions as against the aerodromes.  I was in the target area at the time, so I am not retailing hearsay evidence.  I wish to express my warmest admiration and appreciation to those Gun Crews for their magnificent work.  It was a scene I shall never forget.  Although bombs were directed at your gun positions and there was immense noise, smoke and dust, your Gun Crews engaged each aircraft one by one.  No wild firing.  Just waiting for each bird and then when within range letting him have it.  A great sight, and a performance of which you may feel justly proud.

Then the attacks on Grand Harbour with the magnificent barrage and light Ack-Ack going for each bird.  It takes terrific courage.  Your officers and men have it and to spare.  Every one in the Valletta area has the profoundest admiration for your work and courage.  It is superlative and epic.  Very well done – all of you.  Magnificent.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MARCH TO DAWN 29 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south; 100% low cloud: visibility poor. Rain in early morning.

0705-0716 hrs  A single enemy aircraft carries out reconnaissance off the north coast; another patrols east of the island.

0830 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches on reconnaissance, is engaged by accurate Anti-Aircraft fire and withdraws to the south west.

0903-0940 hrs   Two ME 109s patrol south east and north of the Island.

1151 hrs  Two JU 88s approach from the north east and drop bombs in the sea off Della Grazia and Grand Harbour.  Fighters are airborne and engage.

Afternoon Thirty JU88s with fighter escort came in singly and in twos, adopting night bombing tactics and dropping bombs from above cloud level.  Malta’s Spitfires are operating from Luqa: fighters are airborne in pairs, co-operating with Heavy and Light AA to engage the enemy.  Four Spitfires attack and damage a JU 88.  Many bombs are dropped in the sea.

Over a hundred high explosive bombs are aimed on Grand Harbour and the Dockyard.  The Victualling Yard Service Store and Marine Clothing Dept are damaged.  Bombs also land on Gozo, Safi and Zonkor Point, and in the sea.

1630 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88: no claims.

1704 hrs   One JU 88 carries out a solo raid on Luqa, dropping four HE bombs on the Safi strip.

1825 hrs   All clear.

Night 28/29th  No raids: weather cloudy turning to rain.

Military casualties  Lance-Corporal Felix Alan Walke, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 28 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts, one Blenheim to Burg-el-Arab; four Wellingtons to Shalufa; three Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  PM  229 Squadron arrives at Hal Far.

TA QALI  Congratulatory message received from the Vice Admiral, Malta, on the performance of the fighter squadrons during the heavy attacks on the convoy.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion drill parade: A & C Coys on Floriana Parade Ground; B & D at Dockyard School.   Luqa working parties finished today.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Two Officers joined 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt from Breconshire.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn  Two bombs near Campbell Battery.  Stick of bombs 100 yards north west of post R7.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Brigadier visits Battalion on dispersal scheme.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2.

 

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29 November-5 December 1942: The Siege is Broken

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MALTA WAR DIARY  FINISHES 5 DECEMBER 1942

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29 November 1942: Starvation Rations Barely Eased Despite Convoy

Children in ruinsMalta has been holding its breath for news from the Government following the arrival of last week’s convoy.  The first one subject on everyone’s mind is food.  For many weeks, the Island’s armed forces and civilians alike have been on the verge of starvation.  The want of food has created a greater fear even than heavy bombing.  Children crying for want of food have become a common sight in the streets.  The death rate among babies and the elderly has risen, viral and infections diseases have increased.

Although they could not openly acknowledge it, the authorities knew that without the convoy supplies would have run out completely on 3 December.  Even with the latest delivery, stocks are only sufficient to feed the Island for another two weeks and there is no certainty when the next convoy will arrive.

Today’s announcement outlined the difficult choice faced by the Government: whether to raise rations in the hope of another convoy, or to be cautious until safe passage for supply ships is guaranteed.  In the event rations will be raised slightly, with an increase in the all-important bread allowance targeted at men from 16 to 60 in the first instance, starting 1 December.  For the rest of the population cheese and fats rations will be doubled and sugar restored to previous ration rates.  Any increase in other commodities will have to wait until further convoy deliveries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair.

0740-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to patrol Cape Scalabri as rear cover for returning bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1005 hrs  Spitfires from Luqa are airborne to provide cover for 185 Squadron returning from a bombing mission.

1100-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires of 185 Squadron: no enemy sighted.

1425-1605 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1640-1647 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

1220-1325 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron carry out a sweep over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.

Night  Beaufighters 89 Squadron on intercept patrol over the Island and surrounding area: no enemy aircraft seen.

0230-0505 hrs  One Swordfish is despatched to search for a missing Wellington crew: an oil patch is spotted on the sea, but no dinghy.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Emanuel Carabott, age 53.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1942

P 46 HMS Unruffled

P 46 HMS Unruffled

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 46 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Hurricane from Bone; two Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from Benghazi.  Departures  One DC 3, one Wellington to LG 224; one DC 3 to El Adem; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Bone; one Beaufighter to Algiers via Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort shot down by enemy aircraft: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Italy.  1730-2300 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were airborne to attack the docks at Bizerta in three waves.  Bombs fell near fuel tanks and among buildings, causing one large fire visible 50 miles away.  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were sent to lay mines in the entrance of Palermo harbour:  one was hit by flak and ditched into the sea.  The crew pilot F/Sgt Ellis Walker and Sgts R J McCallough, G R A Duffield and G D Stevens are missing.

TA QALI  0605-1055 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep strafed motor transport and railway in Pantelleria.  0725-0920 hrs  Two Spitfires 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0730-0830 hrs  Nine Spitfires, five carrying bombs, of 249 Squadron on bombing sweep:  bombs were dropped on Comiso aerodrome with good results.  Beaufighters had their most active day of the month, flying 18 sorties against shipping and aircraft in the north east area of Tunis.  1010-1330 hrs  Three Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: one coaster attacked and damaged.  1250-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: P/O Palmer destroyed one JU 52.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

30 November 1942:  Spitfire Bombers Turn Table on Axis

AIR RAID STATISTICS NOVEMBER 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date 3165
  • Total number of alerts this month 30
  • Number of blank days 11
  • Number of night raids 13
  • Raid free nights 23
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to Raiders Passed 10 hrs 35 mins
  • Average length of alert 21.2 mins

MALTA’S FIGHTER BOMBERS KEEP AXIS AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Having suffered for many months at the hands of Messerschmitt fighter bombers, Malta has turned the tables on the Axis with its own Spitfire Bomber force.  Brought into use for the first time at the beginning of this month, the Island’s fighter bombers have carried out many attacks on the southern Italian aerodromes, flying a total of 54 successful sorties in which they dropped 13 tons of bombs.

Main targets for the Spitfire Bombers are Comiso and Gela aerodromes.  Although many German and Italian fighters are still based in south east Sicily, they have shown a surprising reluctance to engage Malta’s fighter bombers.  On the few occasions when enemy fighters have been encountered the close escort of Spitfires has had no difficulty in driving them off.   Their busiest day so far was Wednesday 25 November, when Spitfire Bombers flew 19 sorties.

Today saw 13 sorties: the first this morning was by 185 Squadron.  Four fighter bombers with four Spitfire fighters as close escort were despatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Four explosions were observed to the rear of the main buildings east of the aerodrome.  On the way out, the second pair of Spitfire bombers was attacked from below by a Macchi 200.  Strikes hit Sgt Gunstone in Red 3, who fired three bursts in return, seeing strikes along the Italian’s fuselage and can claim one Macchi 200 damaged.  17 more Spitfires, nine of which were carrying bombs, attacked Comiso in two waves: one Macchi 200 was damaged.

272 SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICER BACK FROM THE DEAD

Two RAF officers walked into the RAF Officers’ mess today to the surprise and delight of their comrades who thought they had been lost in action.  Squadron Leader Antony (Tony) Watson, Commanding Officer of 272 Squadron, and his navigator Pilot Officer C F Cutting were reported missing on 14 November.  During an attack on El Aouina aerodrome, they were strafing a German JU 52 on the ground when their Beaufighter was hit by flak, damaging the starboard engine.  They were last seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis, six miles from the airfield.

S/Ldr Watson today related how he and P/O Cutting set fire to the Beaufighter, then set off to find the Allied lines, which they managed to reach without being captured.  Eventually they were able to hitch a ride back to Malta, where they have been duly given membership of the ‘Late Arrivals Club’.

NORTH AFRICAN VENTURE CANCELLED AGAIN

The proposed Army mission to a French port in North Africa was called off again today.  The move follows the report from the RAF, following a reconnaissance flight yesterday.  The project leader Major H M Vaux, MC, also liaised with 1st Army at present in Tunisia and, having reviewed all the information, Fortress Headquarters decided to cancel the proposed operation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 1 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Variable; local showers.

0705 hrs  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to search for a missing Beaufort: no dinghy is seen.

0755 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squaqdron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of fighter bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1615-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron  Hal Far on patrol Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2359 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on patrol over Pantelleria: no sightings.

0212-0214 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Clark, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Kenneth Gamble, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Laurence Helme, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Howarth, RAF VR; Sergeant Ronald McLean, RAF VR; Sergeant William Richards, RAF; all 39 Squadron.  Sergeant Donald Reeve, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Flying Officer Richard Twomey, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 30 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The move of 821 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (twelve Albacores) from the Western Desert was completed today. No aircraft were lost during passage. Hebe swept P 35 out and P 311 and P 44 in.  P 311 joins Tenth Submarine Flotilla, reporting an uneventful passage direct from the United Kingdom.

P 44 HMS United

P 44 HMS United

HMS Una arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Tunis. On 27 November, she torpedoed and sank a 4000 ton merchant vessel, one of two escorted by a destroyer.  The merchant vessel blew up causing superficial damage to the Una at 1200 yards.  HMS P 44 returned from a patrol off Burat-el-Hsun, Tripoli and Kerkennah areas. At 1845 hrs on 21 November, P 44 entered Burat harbour and engaged a schooner with her 3″ gun, scoring twelve hits; the schooner was considered sunk.

Axis shipping losses November 1942: 19 merchant ships sunk totaling 41,450 tons; 14 merchant ships damaged totaling 29,540 tons.

AIR HQ  Beaufighters on offensive patrols damaged two JU 52s, one SM 79 and two Macchi 200s in the air; destroyed two Cant Z 506s and damaged two more as well as one JU 52 on the ground.  One schooner, motor transport and a train were also shot up.

Two Beaufighters of 227 Squadron attacked a 1500 ton merchant vessel approaching Pantelleria harbour, sighted earlier by a Baltimore.  The two Beaufighters attacked from such a low level that one of them was slightly damaged by striking the funnel of the merchant ship, with its starboard propeller.  Two ME 109s made an abortive attempt to intercept.  Two direct hits were scored, causing a terrific explosion followed by a large column of black and white smoke.  The vessel can be considered destroyed.

Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down over enemy territory: pilot missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.  One Wellington crash-landed: crew uninjured.  Two Beauforts failed to return from operations: crews missing.

HAL FAR  12 delivery Albacores arrived from Middle East.  1004-1701 hrs  One Hurricane carried out a special mission: Hal Far to Bone and return.

Poor House Luqa

Poor House Luqa

LUQA  Strengths:  230 Officers, 665 NCOs, 2079 Other Ranks, 771 Army, 600 civilians.  Personnel accommodation made by fixing up Poor House with steel tubular 3-tier bunks.  Owing to inability to obtain beds from equipment sources, 1500 bunks were made.  Material was obtained from aerodrome obstructions and made entirely by RAF personnel working parties.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering the harbours of Naples, Palermo, Bizerta, Tunis and Sousse.

1425 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 126 Squadron, are despatched to attack Gela aerodrome: no enemy aircraft seen.  1718 hrs  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron were airborne to attack Bizerta: bombs were dropped on target and all aircraft returned safely.  1815 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in Bizerta and Tunis harbours.  Two aircraft failed to return and missing crews were named as: F/Sgt Twomey, F/Sgt Helme, Sgts Gamble and Howarth; P/O Brown and Sgts Richards, McLean and Clark.

TA QALI  0710-0820 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome: bombs were dropped on the runway.  0715-0810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a bombing sweep of Comiso aerodrome: all bombs dropped on and around target.  1155-1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped but results not observed.  Sgt Wendt does not return and is declared missing.   1535-1645 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Green dump cleared and guard dismounted.  Other convoy duties continue.  Company strengths 29 Officers, 788 Other Ranks; 3 Officers, 9 Other Ranks attached.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  For period 11-30 November working party provided at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries for food delivery, servicing aircraft and as mobile repair vehicles; two impressed lorries for crater filling; two motor cycles as special despatch riders; 16 Other Ranks to man above vehicles.  For period 18-30 November the following were working at Zabbar sub-depot:  four 15 cwt lorries, five impressed lorries and 16 Other Ranks for convoy transport work.  Throughout the month two Twin Lewis guns were manned in the anti-aircraft defence of Safi Strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Recce by CO of new central dump at Floriana for unloading of next convoy.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Strength of Company: 5 Officers and 226 Other Ranks.  During the month the CQMS store was completed except for finishing touches to roof and the messroom at camp was covered in.  Part of 2 Section billet, weakened by bomb explosions, fell down and is to be rebuilt.  Hot baths were constructed for the Company in No 3 Section billets.

 

1 December 1942: Another Convoy for Malta

A convoy of four merchant ships with a large escort of cruisers and destroyers sailed from Port Said at 1430 hours this afternoon heading for Malta.  The four merchantmen gathered at Lake Timsah by noon yesterday, when a conference was convened by the senior officer of the escort who had flown in from Alexandria for the meeting.

Glenartney

Glenartney

The merchantmen are named as British ships Glenartney and Suffolk, and the American vessels Agwimonte and Alcoa Prospector.  They are accompanied by the cruiser Orion and destroyers Belvoir, Hursley, Pakenham, Petard and Queen Olga (the Greek ship RHS Vassilissa Olga), who were sailed from Alexandria to Port Said to await the arrival of the supply ships.  Codenamed Operation Portcullis, convoy MW 14 was delayed by fog at Ismailia which has now cleared.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 DECEMBER TO DAWN 2 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

0720-0800 hrs; 0835-0910 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on standing patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1142 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turned back before they are seen, and while still 20 miles north east of the Grand Harbour.

1155-1305; 1335-1425 hrs; 1425-1535 hrs  12 Spitfire sorties 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1330-1350 hrs  Air raid alert for four approaching ME 109s which circle over Grand Harbour at a great height before receding north.  Pointer rounds are fired by six Ack Ack gun positions.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the raiders are too high to engage and avoid combat.

1350 hrs  One transit Wellington from the Middle East carried out an anti-submarine patrol.

1600-1710 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers of 249 Squadron.  They are attacked by enemy fighters and take evasive action: P/O Mowbray is reported missing.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Mowbray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Warrant Officer Class II (CSM) Berkley Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Alfred Syddall, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una swept in from patrol by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Benghazi; one Baltimore from LG 227; one Spitfire from Benina.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crash landed due to engine failure: two crew slightly injured.  One Beaufort missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire believed forced down into sea by enemy action: pilot missing.  One Wellington force landed: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0640-0735 hrs  Four Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 185 Squadron, were dispatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Bomber leader suffered engine cut when still 20 miles south of Sicily so jettisoned his bombs and returned.  The remainder of the bomber formation followed suit.  The escort then set course to Noto and returned: nothing seen.  1000 hrs  Hurricane left for Bone.

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid (c) IWM A161612

1827-0030 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores carried out a torpedo attack on enemy shipping off the west coast of Sicily.  1925-0040 hrs  Two special Albacores and five strike Albacores 821 Fleet Air Arm Squadron were dispatched to attack the same convoy but failed to locate the vessels.  2255 hrs  Fleet Air Arm Albacores damaged a tanker in a convoy of four merchant vessels and five destroyers when fifteen miles south of Marittimo at 2255. Sub/Lt Pratt and Sub/Lt Kendrick scored one hit on a 6-7000 ton tanker which was left ablaze.

LUQA  Personnel arrivals: 25 Other Ranks.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron on aerodromes and harbours of Naples, Taranto, Messina, Palermo and Trapani. 2215 hrs  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron patrolled the area of Gabes-Tunis.

TA QALI  29 airmen detached from Station to 39 Squadron, Luqa.  0800-0905 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Biscari aerodromes: explosions are seen on the airfield.  0905-1325 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted two unidentified aircraft: no engagement.  1040-1145 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1155-1635 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive patrol, one carrying bombs.  One crashed just after take-off: crew uninjured.  1530-1815 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep attacked a merchant vessel and set the deck cargo on fire.  1545-1655 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Gela aerodrome: bombs were seen to explode in the north west dispersal area.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Company billeted at Bahar-ic-Cahaq (less No 1 section on DEL stations with HQ at Haywharf, No 2 Section building pens at Qrendi and Maltese details working in barracks, attached to Bomb Disposal, or on convoy duties).

 

2 December 1942: Convoy Rescues RAF Crew Adrift in Dinghy

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ASSEMBLES IN MED

HMS Orion

HMS Orion

The cruiser HMS Orion escorted by destroyers Paladin, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Aldenham and the Greek Pindos sailed from Alexandria today to rendezvous with the convoy heading for Malta.  Late this afternoon Hurworth was found to have defects; at 1800 hrs she left the convoy to return to Alexandria.

Later this evening Petard spotted a small boat adrift on the sea.  It was identified as an RAF dinghy and its six occupants were rescued and taken aboard the destroyer.

Following a report from Vice Admiral Malta that furnace fuel was urgently required, a last-minute decision has been taken to include a tanker in the convoy.  A vessel which had been originally intended for a later convoy to Malta will now depart immediately from Benghazi.  Destroyers HMS Croome and Tetcott are on their way from Malta to Benghazi to act as escort for the tanker.

MALTA NAVAL FORCES IN COMBINED ATTACK

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

Royal Navy ships have wasted no time in returning to the offensive following their arrival in Malta last Friday.  Destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian launched a joint operation with Naval Air Squadrons to attack a convoy off Kerkennah.

The ships sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to intercept the enemy convoy of one tanker and two merchant ships, escorted by two torpedo boats and a destroyer, as they steered for Ras Turgeuness. At 2100 hrs aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and HM Submarine P 35 attacked the convoy south of Kerkennah and sank two merchant ships, seriously damaging another vessel.

The Force K destroyers arrived on the scene shortly after midnight and sank a torpedo boat destroyer which was engaged in picking up survivors from one of the merchant ships.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO 3 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.

0700-0815 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for a missing pilot: no sighting.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant William Guy, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo; Sub-Lieutenant Colin Taylor, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Trooper

HMS Trooper

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 104; one DC 3 from El Adem.  Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore lost on operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1500 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS which left for Bone yesterday returned: mission accomplished.  1730-2315 hrs  Three Albacores RNAS and eight 821 Squadron were despatched to attack two 5000 ton merchant vessels, one cruiser, one destroyer and one sloop in the Gulf of Gabes.  Both merchant ships were hit and left burning: fires could be seen 70 miles away on the return journey.  One Albacore landed at Luqa; another is missing, along with crew S/Lt Taylor and S/Lt Guy.

LUQA  No operations.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All drivers report to sub-depots for convoy unloading duties.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  COs conference on establishment of new dumps to be formed at Floriana under 2nd RWK called Pink Dump and at Attard under 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers called White Dump.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

 

3 December 1942: Tanker Joins Operation Portcullis Convoy

ESCORT STRENGTHENED AS SHIPS APPROACH MALTA

HMS Tetcott

HMS Tetcott

Minelayer HMS Welshman joined the Operation Portcullis convoy at daylight today on her way to Malta, taking advantage of the escort protection.  Then at 1700 hrs this afternoon the American tanker Yorba Linda, escorted by destroyers Croome and Tetcott linked up with the main convoy north east of Benghazi.  Soon afterwards, Welshman left the remaining ships to speed on ahead to Malta.

To cover the final approach of Convoy MW 14 to the Island, Force K cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus with destroyers Jervis, Kelvin and Nubian were sailed from Grand Harbour this evening.  They will provide protection for the convoy against possible surface attack.

US LIBERATORS ATTACK ITALIAN BATTLE FLEET

US Liberator bombers from the Middle East today attacked Italian ships in the Bay of Naples, sinking the Muzio Attendolo and damaging two other warships.  The Italian cruiser was photographed yesterday undergoing trials in the Bay of Naples, following recent repairs. 

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Major units of the Italian fleet have been observed gathered in southern Italian ports from where they could threaten Allied sea movements through the Mediterranean, including convoys which might attempt the run to Malta.  As well as Attendolo, three Littorio battleships and two other cruisers are presently at Naples; five other cruisers are in port at Messina and three battleships at Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fine; fair.

No air raid alerts.

1030-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1039-1131 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of base at 25000 feet: nothing seen.

1440-1525 hrs; 1550-1635 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Sergeant Everard Aspell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 108 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Semley, RAF VR, 40 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 DECEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hurricane from Bone; one Beaufighter from Gambut; one DC 3 from El Adem; one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington’s bombs hung up and exploded while aircraft was taxiing: two of crew killed, rest uninjured.

Hurricanes at Hal Far

Hurricanes at Hal Far

HAL FAR  1150 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS landed from a special mission.  He was attacked 50 miles off Kerkennah by one JU 88.  The enemy aircraft overshot and the Hurricane was able to counter-attack with several short gun bursts: claims one JU 88 damaged.

1840-0010 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack enemy shipping off the coast of Sicily.  Two 3000 ton merchant vessels were located 44 miles off Zuara moving at 8 knots.  Both ships were hit by torpedoes and blown up.  1900-2005 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack the tanker hit last night and since reported stationary 10 miles west of Marittimo.  The tanker was not located; only two hospital ships were seen in the area.  All torpedoes were brought back.

LUQA No operations.

TA QALI  0835-1330 hrs  Six Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0835-1145 hrs  Six Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted one JU 88 which is destroyed by F/Lt Rankin and F/O Coate.  0445-1000 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron are airborne to act as convoy escort: no sightings.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion provided a working party of 3 Officers and 200 Other Ranks for pen building on Qrendi aerodrome.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.  Three Officers reported daily to APM for traffic duties.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on co-operational duties (maintenance, refuelling, arming etc) with RAF at Luqa aerodrome, taken over from 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  57 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

4 December 1942: HMS Welshman Arrives Safely

WELSHMAN REPORTS MED QUIET FOR PASSAGE OF PORTCULLIS

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour today having left Convoy MW 14 yesterday evening.  The minelayer reported an incident-free passage through the Mediterranean.  Conditions appear favourable for the progress of the convoy.

Force K signalled at daylight that all vessels have joined up safely with Operation Portcullis the convoy and will remain in close escort throughout the day.  The ships are now within reach of Malta aircraft which will mount a constant escort for the remainder of their passage to Grand Harbour.  The arrival of Welshman has already attracted the attention of enemy aircraft which approached the Island on reconnaissance twice, triggering first air raid alerts in three days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0740-1245 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for the approaching convoy (one returned early): no sightings.

1025-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for ten ME 109s which cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area at a height of 25000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and see five unidentified aircraft making smoke trails north and south of Malta at 28000 feet.  On sighting the Spitfires below them, the enemy raiders turn northwards for home.

1100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa searches for the friendly convoy.

1400 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron searches in the Cape Bon area.

1440-1610 hrs  One Beaufighter 227 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to the convoy: nothing sighted.

1452-1507 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109s which approach the Island at 26000 feet and fly over Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they see the three ME 109s over Grand Harbour at 22000 feet.  The enemy aircraft dive away over the coast to avoid combat.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1600-1730 hrs; 1630-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are airborne to act as escort to the convoy: no sightings.

Night  One air raid alert: aircraft are identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Andrew Breakey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 18 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Curtis, RAF VR, 81 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Sidney Greene, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Simpson, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Peter Turner, RAF VR, 81 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept HMS Welshman and P 35 in, and Porpoise out to head for refit in the UK via Gibraltar.  Four MTBs arrived from Bone.  Naval aircraft attacked shipping in the Zuara area. Two merchant ships were hit, one of which sank in three minutes; the other was left burning.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 237; one Beaufighter from Souk El Arba; eight Hudsons, one DC 3 from El Adem; two Hudsons from Gibraltar. Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Algiers; eight Hudsons to El Adem.

LUQA  0900 hrs  Six sorties flown by photo-reconnaissance of 69 Squadron.  1930 hrs  One Beaufighter 39 Squadron patrolled over Comiso aerodrome at 32000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.  1700-2225 hrs  Six Wellingtons 40 Squadron and four 104 Squadron bombed the docks at La Goulette, Tunis.

TA QALI  249 Squadron operating from RAF Qrendi.  Air crew remain attached to Ta Qali for accommodation and rations only.  26 airmen arrived by air from Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HMS Welshman arrived No 5 Dock approx 0830 hrs.  Unloading commenced about 0915 hrs.  Bn provided 200 Other Ranks alongside 100 Other Ranks Dorsets.  Cargo was extremely difficult as it contained fifty 21” torpedoes among a miscellaneous cargo. The torpedoes were unloaded last so the whole operation was hampered.  The ship was not cleared until 1900 hrs.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Floriana Pink Dump and Attard White Dump marked out for reception of convoy cargoes.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

5 December 1942: The Siege of Malta is Lifted

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ARRIVES UNMOLESTED

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

At dawn today the four merchant ships Glenartney, Suffolk, Alcoa Prospector and Agwimonte, and the tanker Yorba Linda were safely in the shelter of Grand Harbour.  Commanders of Operation Portcullis report that, in spite of being shadowed at various times during the voyage, they encountered no enemy attacks throughout the entire passage from Alexandria. 

By 10 am the remaining ships of the convoy escort had entered Grand Harbour, bringing the number of warships and merchant vessels in the harbour to over 40. 

Two of the merchant ships are being unloaded by Army personnel and two by civil labour, who are working with great enthusiasm.  Approximately 3200 soldiers are employed on unloading and dispersing the cargoes to dumps.  A further 1800 are assisting the RAF in maintenance of aircraft and airfields to ensure the protection of Malta’s air space and offensive ops during unloading.  However, no attempt was made by the enemy to attack the ships in harbour, or even to approach the Island on reconnaissance during the day.

MALTA’S SUPPLY ROUTES SECURE

The arrival of a tanker with much-needed fuel relieves the concerns of military leaders.  More importantly, the second delivery of food and general supplies in a matter of days brings the chance of a real increase in civilian rations.  This should improve morale and help to stem the decline in the general health of the population which is giving real cause for concern.  The inclusion of a few long absent luxuries among the essentials brought a smile to many faces.

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

Malta’s commanders are cautiously taking the unhampered passage of Operation Portcullis as an indication that future supplies can be carried through without significant risk.  Since January 1941 two aircraft carriers, twenty warships and several submarines have been lost in attempts to supply the Island.

It has now been decided to run regular pairs of merchant ships for Malta alongside ordinary Western Desert Convoys to the Benghazi area, where surface forces from the Island will reinforce the escort for their final passage.  The supply of Malta – almost impossible a month ago – is now all but secure.  The siege is over.

SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 5 DECEMBER 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta         To:  C in C Middle East        Rept:  The War Office

1.  Enemy air: four daylight alerts for enemy fighters on reconnaissance.

2.  Convoy of four merchant vessels and one tanker escorted by cruisers and destroyers arrived safely am 5 December.  Unloading is proceeding well: 3200 Army personnel employed; a further 1800 on aerodromes.

3.  Spitfire bombers successfully attacked aerodromes Comiso, Gela and Biscari.  Spitfire close escort damaged one Macchi 200.  Beaufighters on daylight offensive sweeps area Tunisia destroyed two Cant Z ‘06 and damaged two more at moorings.  One Italian bomber, one transport damaged on the ground.  One JU 88 destroyed; three transports, two fighters damaged in combat.  Coaster 1100 tons, two destroyers, goods trains and lorries effectively shot up.  Merchant vessel 1100 tons set on fire and abandoned.  Two direct hits bombs causing violent explosion merchant vessel off Pantelleria.

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

 

By night approx 45 Wellington sorties docks Bizerta 23 sorties docks Tunisia.  Also successful attacks Catania, Trapani, Comiso and Gerbini.  Bombs dropped areas Ragusa, Augusta, Syracuse, Gela and Castel Vetrano.  Beaufighters bombed railways Tunis and shot up trains.   Reggio di Calabria attacked by two Beaufighters.  Beauforts laid mines entrance Bizerta, Tunis and Palermo harbours.  Albacores on shipping strikes sank two merchant vessels 5000 tons, blew up merchant vessel 3000 tons and set two other merchant vessels and a tanker on fire.  Other results unobserved.  Four destroyers Force K sank one enemy TBD.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy.

No air raid alerts.

0620-0940 hrs  Six aircraft 126 Squadron Luqa maintain a patrol for the arrival of a convoy.

0800-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

0845-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out shipping patrol: nothing seen.

1150-1310 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1335-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1455-1550 hrs; 1630-1725 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrols over the Island: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John MacDonald, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Thomas Mincher, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 35 to sea. P 42 was swept in from patrol by HM 135.  1600 hrs  HMS Welshman sailed for Alexandria with Paladin.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Halifax from UK; ten Hudsons from El Adem.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore overshot aerodrome and crash landed due to engine failure: crew uninjured.  One Wellington crashed into another aircraft while landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100-0100 hrs  Two Albacores 821 Squadron were despatched to bomb and illuminate for Beaufighters at Reggio di Calabria aerodrome.  One Albacore returned early with rear cockpit trouble; the other arrived too late over the target to contact the Beaufighters but dropped its bombs on the new corner of the aerodrome.

LUQA Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires.  1400 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron were despatched to attack Reggio Calabria.  One Beaufighter was slightly damaged by Ack Ack splinters: crew unhurt.  Night  One special Wellington carried out a shipping search in the Marittimo-Cavoli area: no sightings.

TA QALI  One senior NCO and four airmen arrived by air from Middle East.  0955-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1140-1425 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.  1345-1640 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron (one carrying bombs) on offensive reconnaissance attacked an enemy destroyer causing a small explosion and fire near the bridge.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A convoy arrived at dawn.  1100 hrs  The Bn began unloading the Glenartney at Hamilton Wharf in 3 shifts of 84 Other Ranks.  The vessel is carrying 8000 tons of cargo.  Unloading went well during the day.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  6 Officers, 107 Other Ranks unloading M/V Alcoa Prospector.

Agwimonte

Agwimonte

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  The Bn was detailed to provide: 3 Officers, 42 Other Ranks to report at 1000 hrs for traffic control; 5 fire-fighting parties of 1 Officer, 13 Other Ranks each, to live on board the merchant ships; 42 drivers, 6 vehicles, 3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks as general reserve.  2200 hrs  Fire-fighting parties reported to allotted berths and went on board the following vessels:  Alcoa Prospector, Glenartney, Agwimonte, Suffolk, Yorba Linda.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Arrival of convoy: Bn in position on Pink Dump in two shifts of 12 hours, day and night.  Total employed 14 Officers, 200 Other Ranks on Dump plus 2 Officers, 51 Other Ranks on motor transport sub-depot.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8.  Dealt with: High Explosives 1 x 50kg; anti-personnel bombs 8.

 

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22-28 November 1942: Convoy Brings Only 3 Week Supply as Polio Strikes Malta

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22 November 1942: Malta Troops Stealth Mission to North Africa

ORDERS TO SAIL FOR ‘FRENCH PORT’

HMS Welshman

1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry received orders today to make ready to move tomorrow.  Carrying only fighting-scale equipment, the Battalion are to embark with Royal Engineers and seven detachments of Breda 49mm guns by Welshman and Manxman and one destroyer.  Their destination is top secret, referred to only as ‘a certain port’.

The port in question – believed to be in North Africa – has a population of French, Italian and Maltese, and military planners hope that the British troops will receive a friendly reception.  The plan is to land them from the destroyers’ lifeboats and skiffs instead of the usual military landing craft.  The troops will then aim to persuade the French forces in the port to support the allies, and with their help hold the town until the Battalion could be joined by larger Allied forces advancing on land towards the area.

At 1015 hrs this morning the Commanding Officer of 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry joined a conference at Fortress HQ with captains of the naval ships, Brigade command and Admiral i/c Malta, after which the Battalion’s Platoon Commanders were fully briefed.  Early this evening the CO confirmed that the Battalion was to move in motor transport to the docks at 1230 hrs tomorrow.  Parties were already at the docks and Ordnance Depots, loading up rations, stores and ammunition.

But at 2015 hrs a message was received from the HQ of 4 Brigade cancelling the entire operation.  The reason is as yet unknown.

SUBMARINE DELIVERS THE GOODS

HMS Thrasher

HMS Thrasher arrived in Malta today from Beirut, carrying a cargo of aviation fuel [avgas] as well as stores and passengers.  The submarine’s tanks had been modified to enable her to carry the maximum amount of avgas.  HM Submarine Traveller, which has been similarly adapted and loaded, left Beirut the same day and is expected at Malta tomorrow. The deliveries will help reduce the shortage of the fuel on the Island and keep its air forces operational until a tanker can get through.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 23 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Showery.

No air raid alerts.

0610-0700 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out an anti E-boat patrol off the coast of south east Sicily: nothing sighted.  One Spitfire is hit by machine gunfire from a ME 109 and seen to dive into the sea five miles south west of Pachino, leaving no trace.  F/O Maynard is killed.

0625-1715 hrs  Twenty Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne with other squadrons to provide a standing patrol over Malta: no enemy aircraft seen.

0625-0740 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0720-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol over Malta: nothing sighted.

0815-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1100-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1200-1325 hrs; 1345-1450 hrs; 1440-1540 hrs  Twelve sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron: nothing sighted.

1500-1620 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers but did not make contact.

1515-1615 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfires and Beaufighters returning from operations: no sightings.

Military casualties  Lance Corporal James Humphreys, 226 Provost Company, Corps of Military Police; Flying Officer Anthony Maynard, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Vincent Sciberras, age 44.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Turbulent (L)

ROYAL NAVY  Thrasher was swept in by Hebe, who then swept Turbulent to sea.  Euryalus and ten Hunts sailed for Port Said.

AIR HQ  A message from the Navy:  “Thank you very much for your signal and for the support your fighters gave us.  To have helped Malta in her gallant battle is a great honour.”

Arrivals  Two Beauforts from Gambut; one Hudson from Gibraltar; four Wellingtons from LG 104.  Departures  One Liberator to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in enemy territory: pilot killed.  One Beaufighter crash-landed on aerodrome: crew injured.  One Beaufighter shot down by anti-aircraft fire: crew seen in dinghy.

LUQA  1200-1315 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers 126 Squadron Luqa, escorted by eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron were dispatched to attack Comiso aerodrome: bombs were observed hitting the runway.  No enemy aircraft were seen: all aircraft returned safely.  A total of 10 Beaufighter sorties on reconnaissance patrols:  one Cant Z 506B, two JU 88s and three SM 82s destroyed; one JU 90, one SM 82 damaged; one Beaufighter missing.

Night  Eight Wellington sorties targeted Bizerta docks.  Attacks were successful but hampered by rain and low cloud.  Five special Wellingtons 69 Squadron carrying torpedoes were sent to attack a 5000 ton motor vessel.  F/Lt Dokersley scored a direct hit amidships.  Four Beaufighters were despatched on a low-flying attack on Palermo: one small fire was started.  One Beaufighter is missing, two damaged.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy unloading progressing well: all cargo should be discharged by Wednesday evening.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn continues unloading convoy.  One Officer employed at Red Dump.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Convoy unloading proceeding satisfactorily.  Relief party commences work at Pink Dump to give personnel 24 hours leave.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL UXB reported 29 October-22 November 172. 

 

23 November 1942: Operation Breastplate

The secret mission which was planned for today involving units from Durham Light Infantry and the Royal Engineers has been revealed as codename ‘Operation Breastplate’.  The project is the brainchild of American military leaders who have requested help from Malta in securing the north-south coastal corridor in Tunisia as part of Operation Torch.  The target port has been named as Sousse.

Lord Gort

Today Welshman was ordered to disembark the army guns, stores, and extra boats which had been loaded for the operation which was called off last night. It is believed that Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, Lord Gort, has come out against the plan, doubting its potential to succeed.  He is understood to be concerned at the risk to the Malta-based forces, armed with minimum equipment and weakened by months of severely reduced rations.  Lord Gort has counselled deferral, at least until a full convoy arrives and is unloaded safely in Malta, to strengthen the Island’s forces and replace resources taken up by Breastplate.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 24 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy; slight rain afternoon and evening.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0720 hrs; 0715-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron, then four 249 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol over the Island: no sightings.  Thick cloud at 6000 feet.

0900-1030 hrs  Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne for reported incoming raiders which do not approach Malta.

1100-1150 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires.

1110-1150 hrs  Eight sorties by Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1230-1335 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.  One Spitfire develops engine trouble at 6-7000 feet: pilot Sgt Wallace is heard over the radio saying he is bailing out.

1425-1355 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1445-1730 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron search for missing pilot: no sightings.

Military casualties  Sergeant Thomas Catchpole, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 114 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Carl Johnson, RAF VR, 227 Squadron; Flying Officer John Mathias, RAF VR, 114 Squadron; Flying Officer Douglas Truscott, RAF VR, 114 Squadron; Sergeant Thomas Wallace, RAF VR, 229 Squadron; Sergeant Ralph Webb, RAF, 227 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept Traveller in from sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC 3, three Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Four Beaufighters missing from operations: crews missing.  One Beaufighter shot down by enemy: crew missing.  One Swordfish crashed in sea due to engine failure: crew saved.  One Spitfire crashed in sea: pilot missing.

LUQA  Message received from AOC RAF Malta:  “I am very grateful for the kind message of congratulations and thank all ranks Luqa for their loyal and enthusiastic support during the past five months.” 

Heinkel HE 115

0701-1115 hrs  Two sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering Messina, and harbours and aerodromes in Tunisia.  Two sorties by Baltimores 69 Squadron for weather reconnaissance Tripoli.  0805-1230 hrs  Four Beaufighters carried out a sweep in the Sousse-Sfax area: one HE 115, one Cant 506 destroyed; one schooner shot up.  1026-1200 hrs  Three Beauforts 39 Squadron escorted by two Beaufighters were dispatched on practice bombing of Lampedusa: results not observed Light Ack Ack was encountered but all aircraft returned safely.

0100-0531 hrs  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron on separate shipping search in Cape Bon-Bizerta area.  A special torpedo-carrying Wellington on offensive reconnaissance for shipping in the waters between western Sicily and southern Sardinia found a small merchant vessel, leading two 5000 ton merchant vessels, 88 miles east of Capo Carbonara heading west.  The Wellington made a successful torpedo attack on the leading vessel, scoring a hit amidships.  The merchant vessel was later sunk by gunfire from one of Malta’s submarines.

TA QALI  0805-1230 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: Sgt Tucknell destroys one HE 115; F/O Coate destroys one Cant.  Visibility poor over the sea with showers; clear over the Island.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The night shift did extremely well, discharging well over 700 tons.  Total cargo discharged to date (1700 hrs today): 4674 tons.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

1ST Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Re-organisation and re-issue of kit stored [in readiness for aborted mission].  Night  Three Officers and 140 Other Ranks were detailed for a 12 hour shift and worked throughout the night unloading flour from lighters at the docks.  One Sgt and six L/Cpls are reporting daily to the APM Valletta to assist the CMPs Valletta.  One Officer and 50 Other Ranks standing by for crater filling at Qrendi.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn provided 8 Officers, 230 Other Ranks unloading M/V Robin Locksley.  One Other Rank attached to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt as extra Tally Clerk.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Convoy work confined to unloading and storing of air force and motor transport petrol. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th ACK ACK BRIGADE  Operation Instruction issued modifying aerodrome barrages for Heavy Ack Ack gun lay-out and to keep runways free from shell splinters while still protecting them.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

 

24 November 1942: Malta Submarines ‘Torch’ Attacks Leave Axis Ships Ablaze

HMS Porpoise

Three submarines returned to Malta today after successful operations in support of Operation Torch.  HMS Porpoise has just completed a short patrol in the Khoms–Misurata area. Five days ago she she torpedoed and sank a tanker which had been stopped by an aerial torpedo attack the previous day.  At 1016 yesterday, off the Kerkennah Bank, Porpoise launched a gunfire attack on the 730 ton Italian naval auxiliary Giacomo.  The vessel, which was carrying benzene, quickly caught fire and was abandoned. Enemy aircraft interrupted the operation before Porpoise could pick up more than two prisoners.

HMS P 211 (Safari) under Commander B Bryant, DSC returned to Malta from a very successful patrol off the East Tunisian coast in the Gulf of Sirte during which the submarine steamed a total of 2800 miles.  At 1431 hrs on 13 November she gunned and sank the Italian auxiliary brigantine Bice five miles off Sousse. Only the Captain of the Bice was taken prisoner; he was found to be carrying secret papers, including the week’s recognition signals for Italian aircraft and minor war vessels.  The brigantine’s remaining ten survivors were left in their boat and are said to have given P 211 an enthusiastic send off on her departure.

P 211 HMS Safari

Three days later P 211 torpedoed a 2500 ton merchant vessel at Ras el Ali anchorage.  The merchantman blew up in a sheet of flame and was still burning twenty four hours later causing the anchorage to be shut down.  At dawn next morning, P 211 fired a torpedo at a concentration of small vessels near the pier. The torpedo exploded at the landing place and an ammunition lighter blew up.  The same evening the submarine torpedoed and sank a schooner in the south western corner of Marsa el Brega.

In the early morning of 18 November a small light vessel with no crew was sunk by gunfire from the submarine, 10 miles from Ras el Ali. Later that morning, P 211 gunned an enemy tank landing craft (LCT), silencing one of its guns and causing ammunition to explode.  Then two days ago, at 1156 on 22 November, P 211 gunned another LCT two miles south of Ras el Sultan, scoring two hits. After ten minutes, the action was broken off, all ammunition having been expended.

P 247

HMS P 247 (Saracen) was also guided into Malta today, having followed Operation Torch with a patrol of the approaches to Tunis and Bizerta. At 1644 on the 5 November she torpedoed and sank an Italian Cobalto Class U boat at a range of 800 yards. Despite passing through much oil and wreckage; the submarine could find no survivors.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 25 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Showery; thunderstorms at night.

0645-0740 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa renewed the search for Sgt Wallace who bailed out yesterday.  Nothing was seen of a dinghy or pilot.

0735-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on a standing patrol to protect shipping in Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft seen.

0735-1640 hrs  Spitfires of 126 Squadron and other squadrons are airborne on a standing patrol over Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft seen.

0745-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron search for Sgt Wallace: no sightings.

0825-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

1115-1140 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 ME 109s approaching the Island at a great height: a few cross the coast on a fighter sweep.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they dive to attack a ME 109 but it gets away.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled and turn to chase ME 109s but are jumped by Macchi 202s: no combats.  The remaining enemy raiders are driven off by Spitfires.

1300-1350 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

1335-1440 hrs  Four sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1440-1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires: no enemy aircraft sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 211, P 247 and Porpoise were swept in by Hythe.

AIR HQ  A total of 18 Wellington sorties: target Bizerta docks.  Due to poor visibility, not all aircraft dropped bombs.  Some bombs were seen to burst in the target area.  Five torpedo-carrying Wellingtons on enemy shipping search: one merchant vessel was hit and seen to be down by the stern.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter, two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  0910-1020 hrs; 0920-1045 hrs; 1145-1305 hrs  12 sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron, including an intruder raid over Lampedusa and a fighter sweep of Comiso area: nothing seen.

Malta bombers attack Sicilian airfield (c) IWM MH8054

LUQA  0700-1635 hrs  Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours at Naples, Messina, Palermo and Cagliari.  Night  One special Wellington 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search in Cavoli-Marittimo area: nothing of importance to report.

TA QALI  0750-1155 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron carried out offensive reconnaissance of the Gulf of Tripoli: W/Cdr Buchanan destroyed one JU 52 and at least ten khaki-clad figures were seen in the water.  1300-1605 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron carried out an offensive sweep: F/O Coate destroyed one BV 222 and damaged one DO 24.  1420-1525 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome.  Bad weather prevents all but one of the Spitfires from releasing bombs on target.  Explosions are not seen due to heavy cloud at 5000 feet.

Night  Five Beaufighters carrying bombs attacked docks at Palermo.  Only one aircraft located the target due to bad weather: no results observed.  One aircraft is missing.  Four Beauforts made two sorties and laid mines in enemy waters.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Great difficulty is being experienced unloading the 100 Octane petrol.  The fumes are very bad and men can only work for a short time in the hold.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

1ST Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  42 drivers reported to sub-depots for convoy duties.  A detail of 40 men were sent to Brown Dump for a 12 hour shift and afterwards 20 were maintained there by D Company as unloading party till 1200 hrs on 26th.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  10 Officers, 232 Other Ranks unloading M/V Robin Locksley.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  All dumps still reduced in activity as priority given to unloading of petrol from convoy.  Commodities from dumps being removed to RASC and civilian stores.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

 

25 November 1942: British and US Military Chiefs Meet in Malta

Air Chief Marshal A W Tedder, KCB, two American Generals P W Timberlake and L H Brereton of the US Army Middle East Air Force, and the DMI Middle East Brigadier Airey arrived in Malta today en route for Algiers.  Air Officer Commanding Malta, Air Vice-Marshal Park, will be leaving with them early tomorrow morning for a one-day conference.

HMS Utmost

At noon today the Italian Press claimed the destruction of a British submarine. It is believed Utmost was spotted in moonlight while still on the surface by patrolling Italian shipping.  Her sinking has been claimed by the Italian torpedo boat Groppo, which located the submarine below the surface early this morning heading  towards Malta, and launched depth charges.  There were no survivors.

Lieutenant Coombe had only recently taken command of Utmost, which destroyed almost 70000 tons of shipping under its previous Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander R D Cayley, DSO, DSC, RN.

Utmost crew celebrate former success (c) IWM

WAR OFFICE CHECKS STATE OF MALTA RATIONS AFTER STONEAGE CONVOY

From:  The War Office                To:  Commander Malta

Cable firstly daily ration scales civil and military immediately prior arrival Stoneage.  Secondly amendments proposed as a result of increased stocks.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 26 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair; showers in the evening.

0625-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne for protection of an incoming convoy: no enemy aircraft seen.

0700-0815 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

0800-1650 hrs  22 Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and other squadrons are airborne to maintain a standing patrol over Malta: no enemy aircraft seen.

1055-1113 hrs  Air raid alert for a number of enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and see about 15 raiders.  One of the Spitfires does not return: F/Lt Burgess is reported missing.  Four Spitfires of 229 and 249 Squadrons are also scrambled.  Spitfires of 249 Squadron dive from 29000 feet and damage one ME 109.  None of the enemy aircraft cross the coast.

1405-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a diversionary sweep: they see five Macchi 202 fighters but cannot engage.

1500-1600 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island.  One crash landed with undercarriage trouble: pilot unhurt.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The Vice Admiral, Malta, reported that the unloading of the four merchant ships of Stoneage had been completed.  MLC 511 carried out exercises with the Army in Comino Channel.  Rye swept P 212 in from the sea.  Hythe swept Thrasher out: she sailed for Gibraltar and thence for refit in the UK.  Manxman sailed for Algiers, for minelaying operations under the orders of the Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force.

Fortress B17E

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires (9 carrying bombs) attacked Gela aerodrome: explosions were seen in dispersal areas and among buildings.  Arrivals  One Fortress from Heliopolis; fifteen Beaufighters from Gambut; eleven Wellingtons from Shallufa via Gambut.  Departures  Five Beauforts to ECDU.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1035-1140 hrs  Eight sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far for attack on Gela aerodrome – four with bombs and four to act as close escort: one hit recorded.

LUQA  Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron.  0055-0259 hrs  Eight Wellingtons made an attack on Tunis docks.   Flares and bombs were dropped and a large fire started which was reported to be burning furiously.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Only five gangs required to work today.  The job should be finished by the night shif.  The difficulty unloading 100 Octane petrol is slowing up proceedings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0800 hrs   Working party unloading SS Robin Locksley completed duties.  Other convoy duties continue.

1ST Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  One Sergeant and 27 Other Ranks detailed to brown dump for guard duties.

SS Robin Locksley

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn provided 10 Officers, 232 Other Ranks unloading M/V Robin Locksley1600 hrs  Unloading completed: 7351 tons unloaded in 127 hours.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

26 November 1942: Convoy Supplies Enough For Three Weeks

MALTA STILL UNDER SIEGE

The unloading of last Friday’s convoy MW 12 and distribution of stores to safe keeping was completed today, bringing some relief to the besieged Island of Malta.  The first priority was to supply sufficient aviation spirit for aircraft to continue defensive and offensive operations, and that has been achieved.

HMS Clyde

Fuel stocks are now greatly improved compared to the beginning of November when supplies were at a very low ebb.  Interim deliveries of aviation fuel by submarines Clyde, Parthian, Traveller and Thrasher from Beirut provided just enough for Malta’s fighters to stay airborne and protect the Allied convoy from the east.

The next urgent requirement for Malta is food. The Island’s siege rations are currently expected to be exhausted by the middle of December. Manxman’s delivery of 300 tons of concentrated foodstuffs helped to relieve a critical situation before the convoy arrived.  But even with the safe stockpiling of cargoes from Robin Locksley, Denbighshire, Mormacmoon and Bantam, only a small increase in rations is possible.  Further significant supplies will be needed before Malta’s population can be properly fed.

Operation Stoneage has proved that passage to Malta through the Mediterranean is still not without risk.  Enemy aircraft managed to launch attacks, one causing serious damage the cruiser Arethusa, with the loss of 159 men.  Malta’s air forces are now better placed to keep the Mediterranean open for future convoys.  But until safe passage can be secured, Malta remains under siege.

Merchant ship Denbighshire

CARGO SHIP BLAZE

A fire broke out at 1.45 this afternoon on board Denbighshire in Grand Harbour. The blaze is believed to have started when petrol fumes ignited in the empty No 2 Hold.  All available ship’s fire-fighting equipment was immediately brought into use, assisted by shore appliances.  The fire was brought under control by 4.30 pm but not before it had caused extensive damage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 27 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Heavy rain mid-morning, becoming fair.

0655-1515 hrs  12 Spitfires 126 Squadron and 1435 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island protecting shipping in Grand Harbour.

1000-1020 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching unidentified aircraft: plot proves to be friendly.

1125-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a reported enemy raid which does not approach Malta.

2310-2320 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

0326-0624 hrs  One Albacore searches for the crew of a missing Wellington: nothing sighted.

0510 hrs  Three Baltimores were despatched to try and locate friendly naval units and to search for the Wellington’s dinghy.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Kenneth Cope, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 104 Squadron; Flying Officer Royston Giles, RAF VR, 225 Squadron; Pilot Officer William Goulding, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Sergeant Joseph Watling, RAF VR, 242 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Mary Tonna, age 60.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 26 NOVEMBER 1942

P 45 enters Grand Harbour

ROYAL NAVY  P 45 and P 48 sailed, swept out by Speedy.

AIR HQ  0757-1305 hrs  Six Beaufighters carried out offensive sweeps in the Gulf of Tripoli: one JU 52 destroyed and a schooner shot up.  One Beaufighter was damaged.  Night  Considerable enemy shipping was again active between Sicily and Tunisia.  Two Wellingtons and five Beauforts were out but the weather was very unfavourable and although three torpedoes were dropped no hits were observed.  Bad weather prevented operations over Tunisi; Gerbini was targeted instead.  A total of 12 Wellingtons attacked Gerbini aerodrome: many hits on the target area causing one fire.  Photographs show many craters on the landing area, including one made by a 4000 lb bomb on the edge of the runway.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 104.  Departures  One Fortress, six Beaufighters to Algiers; one Wellington to LG 104.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore struck a vehicle on landing: crew uninjured.  One Wellington failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours in Italy and Sicily.  1945-2328 hrs  Five Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack Gerbini aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped and fires started in the north west corner of the aerodrome.  All aircraft returned safely.  2110-2230 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron on patrol over Sicily arbited to the south of Catania observing fires on Gerbini aerodrome at 2130 hrs and a large explosion in the centre of the airfield.  Accurate heavy Ack Ack was encountered. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Unloading finished by 0800 hrs this morning.  30 men clearing up the ships, which took all day.

Mormacmoon in New York

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1745 hrs  Party employed unloading SS Mormacmoon completed duties.  Other convoy duties continue.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Activity at dumps slackening.  Foodstuffs being cleared from dump to RASC stores.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt Johnson and 35 Other Ranks proceeded to Qrendi for work on fighter pens.

 

27 November 1942: Polio Outbreak in Malta

Army medical services have reported an outbreak of poliomyelitis in Malta.  The highly infectious virus was diagnosed today in a serviceman in one of the Island’s military hospitals.   The diagnosis confirms suspicions of at least two other cases since 15 November, including one on Gozo.  Malta has just one iron lung, the apparatus used to assist patients with the severe respiratory difficulties caused by the disease.

Polio has been identified in Malta before but the number of cases has never reached epidemic proportions.  However, there are particular concerns with the present outbreak, with the increased risk of spread between civilians crowded into air raid shelters and temporary accommodation.

FORCE K ARRIVES

HMS Cleopatra

Force K steamed into Grand Harbour this afternoon, under the protection of Malta Spitfires.  Under Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron – three cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus, with Fleet destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian – experienced no air attacks during their passage from Alexandria to Malta.  Grand Harbour is now full of ships – a sight the Islanders have not witnessed for many months.

In view of Force K’s safe passage it has been decided to send Motor Torpedo Boats to Malta as soon as the weather allows.  They will be moved to Benghazi as soon as possible, to be ready at short notice to make the crossing.  In the meantime, two MTBs will remain at Ras el Hillal to act as a striking force against any enemy shipping attempting to reach Tripoli by the Eastern Route.

Motor Torpedo Boats at Manoel (c) IWM A14545

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 28 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Slight showers morning, otherwise fair.

0615-1010 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to act as escort to naval units: visibility good – no sightings.

0634-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far continue search for crew of missing Wellington: nothing found.

0750-0905 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on search: nothing sighted.

1030-1150 hrs; 1115-1225 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, then four Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for HM ships.

1145-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on escort patrol, followed by standing patrol over the harbour.

1355-1455 hrs  Spitfires 1435 Squadron and 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne with four of 229 Squadron to act as escort to an outgoing naval unit: no enemy aircraft seen.

1355-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to a minelayer: nothing sighted.

1430 hrs  Three cruisers and four destroyers arrive in Grand Harbour as Force K, under the command of Rear Admiral Power.  Four Spitfires, ten long-range Spitfires and twenty-five short-range Spitfires provided continuous protection for the convoy for the last 75 miles of its voyage to Malta.

1435-1550 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1520-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to naval units: no sightings.

1632-1657 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach to within 10 miles north west of Gozo.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and patrol between 2500 and 10000 feet: the raiders turn back before reaching Malta.

1652-1657 hrs  Air raid alert for several enemy aircraft which approach to within ten miles north east of Gozo.

2051-2012 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flying Officer William Guilfoyle, RAF VR, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 27 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Upholder

ROYAL NAVY  P 37 sailed, swept out by Speedy.  Manxman sailed for Alexandria en route to Haifa.  HMS Welshman was sailed for Alexandria and Haifa to collect submarine torpedoes which are urgently required.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Beaufighters from LG 104; one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 109; one Wellington from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  14 Officers, 25 Senior NCOs and 134 Other Ranks 227 Squadron arrived for operations.  0600-1700 hrs  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours of Italy and Sicily.  1916-2358 hrs  Six Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in the approaches to Bizerta harbour: all returned safely.  14 Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were despatched to attack the docks at Bizerta.  Bombs were dropped from 4000-6000 feet and a good-sized fire started in the area of the iron ore wharf.  Night  One Beaufort found a convoy of three merchant vessels and one destroyer, 37 miles west of Marittimo.  A torpedo was aimed at one merchant vessel but a heavy sea mist made it impossible to see the results.

TA QALI  0950-1435 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron carried out an offensive sweep between Zarzis and Cape Bon: W/Cdr Buchanan destroyed one JU 88 and damaged one ME 110.  Visibility good.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Broken Case Store Party completed duties.  Other unloading duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

 

28 November 1942: Breastplate Back On

40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew Malta 12 May 1942 (IWM)

The special mission by Malta troops to Sousse in French North Africa was reinstated today, as units were ordered to prepare for embarkation.  All guards and working parties of 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry have been on 8 hours’ notice of departure since yesterday and are busy packing the minimum kit allowed for the journey.

The embarkation force will now include one troop of Field Gunners, one of Bofors Gunners, one detachment each of Royal Engineers and Royal Army Service Corps, another of the Royal Army Pay Corps, and Commandos. The mission plans have also been amended to include several transport vehicles.  All stores, vehicles and kit bags are to be loaded onto the M/V Melbourne Star by 0300 hrs, leaving only the Army personnel, ammunition and seven days’ rations to be added immediately before departure.

TOP SECRET TELEGRAM

From:  Governor (Gen Viscount Gort)                   To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

1.  During the month ended 20th November there were 59 alerts: 45 by day and 14 by night.  33 bombing raids: 28 by day and 5 by night.  33 people were killed (12 men, 11 women, 10 children).  16 were seriously injured (7 men, 2 women, 7 children).  29 buildings were seriously damaged.

2.  The breaking up by the RAF of what threatened to be a serious aerial bombardment in the last 10 days of October, the news from North Africa, and the arrival of a convoy of four ships including two United States vessels and one Netherlands on the last day of the period under review, added buoyancy to an already high morale.  The public is proud that Malta is hitting back and bearing a part in the stirring events of this new phase of the war.

3.  His Majesty’s Government’s gift of £10,000,000 [to Malta] is widely appreciated and acclaimed.

MALTA SPY HANGED

Carmelo Borg Pisani, convicted of crimes against the Government and sentenced on 19 November, was hanged early this morning at Corradino Civil Prison.  He had appealed unsuccessfully for clemency.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 29 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Slight showers morning, becoming fair to cloudy.

0730-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to fly south of Comiso, searching for signs of the Spitfire of F/Lt Burgess, missing since 25 November: no wreckage is seen.

1305 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of 185 Squadron from attacking Gela aerodrome.

1415-1500 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron search for a missing Spitfire: nothing seen.

1430 hrs  An anti-personnel mine explodes near Dock 3 badly injuring a Maltese civilian, whose leg is blown off. 

Night  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft seen.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer Class II George Edwards, Royal Canadian Air Force, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 28 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Thunderbolt arrived at Malta to join the Tenth Submarine Flotilla for Special Operations. She had sailed from the United Kingdom direct to Malta, making the passage in eighteen days.  Thunderbolt was swept in by Rye, who subsequently swept P 43 and Traveller to sea.

Axis aircraft on Gela aerodrome

AIR HQ  A total of 22 Spitfires including eight carrying bombs attacked Gela and Comiso aerodromes: bombs were dropped on the dispersal areas.  The escorting fighters damaged two JU 52s.  Two Beaufighters on a sweep along the Tunisian coast from Sousse to Zuara destroyed one CR 42.  Other Beaufighters on various patrols destroyed two SM 79s.  One JU 52 was destroyed on the ground and various targets shot up.  Two Wellingtons bombed the docks at Tunis as a diversion during a mining operation carried out by Beauforts.

Arrivals  Two DC 3 from El Adem; one Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea: pilot missing.  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1105-1230 hrs  12 Spitfires 185 Squadron, four carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Explosions were seen in the south eastern dispersal area.  Sgt Houlton sighted a formation of nine JU 52s just off the coast of Sicily and damaged two of them.  1800-2235 hrs  One Swordfish and three Albacores RNAS searched for shipping in the Straits of Messina: mission abortive.

LUQA  0630-1640 hrs  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Sicily and Italy.  Three Baltimores 69 Squadron carried out weather reconnaissance.  2145 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in the entrance of Tunis harbour: all aircraft returned safely.  Eleven Wellingtons 104 and 40 Squadrons were despatched to attack Bizerta docks in two waves: bombs were seen to burst well within the target area.

Baltimore serviced at Luqa (c) IWM GM1027

Night  A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire having sighted a convoy consisting of one 4-5000 ton tanker and one 4-5000 ton merchant vessel rounding Cape Spartivento westwards, two torpedo-carrying Wellingtons were despatched to attack.  One Wellington found and attacked the convoy five miles north of Capo Orlando, in a heavy rainstorm, but the torpedo appeared to run astern of the target.

TA QALI  0635-1050 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron despatched on operation to bomb shipping in the Sicilian channel: F/Lt Schmidt destroyed one CR 42.  1005-1415 hrs; 1400-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron at a time on offensive sweep: nothing sighted.  1300-1650 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on bombing mission and offensive sweep: F/Lt Rankin damages one SM 79.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party 1 Officer, 25 Other Ranks C Coy and 25 A Coy required to clear part of Floriana Parade Ground to make a dump for goods from the convoy.  Task will last about 5 days.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.  1 NCO, 4 men with mobile Breda gun attached to 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Breda gun and crew from GP6 report to 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry at Cammerata Barracks.  Dumps given order to close down as soon as clear of all goods (completed 1715 hrs): personnel return to Coy lines.  Motor-transport sub-depot Gzira party remain in position.  Guard remaining on Brown Dump (petrol).

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

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8-14 November 1942: Fortress Malta Underpins North African Invasion

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8 November 1942: Malta Aircraft & Submarines Join Operation Torch

Operation Torch troops hit beaches near Algiers

Under cover of darkness early this morning scores of thousands of American troops were landed on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of French North Africa.  The objective is to forestall an Axis invasion, remove the threat of an attack on America from the West African coast, and establish an effective second front to assist Russia. British divisions will follow the Americans.

Marshal Petain has ordered the French African Army to resist, and Vichy Radio reports fighting east and west of Algiers. It is reported from Allied Headquarters that initial objectives have been achieved in landings on two important beaches, and that US airborne troops were first landed to seize aerodromes and vital channels of communication.(1)

Malta’s task is now to hinder the enemy’s attempts to rush men and materials into the north east corner of Tunisia by sea and air.  Twenty submarines of the 1st, 8th, and 10th Flotillas are operating from the Island as part of Operation Torch and other Malta-based vessels will come under operational control of Captain (S), 10th Submarine Flotilla, when east of longitude 8 degrees east.

Wellington bombers are to make sorties against targets in Tunisia, Sardinia and Sicily.  They opened their offensive last night with an attack on Cagliari (Elmas) aerodrome to cover the arrival of the Allied landing force in Algeria.

With the opening of the new campaign in North Africa, the role of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance pilots has also been changed, from covering Libyan convoys to monitoring the Italian battle fleet.  They will now be covering Taranto, Messina, Navarino and Naples two or three times a day.

BRITISH BOMBERS USING DELAYED ACTION FUZES

Three special Wellingtons despatched on shipping searches sighted one merchant vessel with escort.  Seven Wellingtons were despatched to attack Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes: the results were difficult to asses as many of the bombs had long delayed action fuzes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 9 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine/fair.

No air raids.

0925-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1720-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on dusk patrol: no sightings.

2045-2240 hrs; 0320-0455 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron at a time patrol over the Island and surroundings: no enemy aircraft seen close to Malta.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Greig, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer Peter Mould, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Walter Owen, RAF VR; Flying Officer Roy Quarendon, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Hilgrove Teale, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Frank Snelling, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Edward Robbins, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Thomas Parker, RAF VR; Sergeant Ernest Stott, RAF VR; all 233 Squadron.  Flying Officer Harry Lethbridge, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1942

Cape San Vito

ROYAL NAVY  1125 hrs  Submarine HMS P 44 witnessed an attack on a Regolo class cruiser by HMS P 46, 16 miles northwest of Cape San Vito, which blew a considerable portion of the cruiser’s bow away.  P 44 attempted to finish her off but missed, though an escorting destroyer may have been hit.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beauforts from Mariut; three Spitfires from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Liberator, two LG 224s to DC 3.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed: pilot seriously injured.

HAL FAR  One Spitfire on a practice flight crash-lands: pilot unhurt.

LUQA  Nine sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering aerodromes and harbours of Sicily, Pantelleria and southern Sardinia.  Seven Wellingtons (four 104 Squadron, three 40 Squadron) were despatched to bomb Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes.  Five aircraft dropped bombs on Elmas aerodrome, scoring hits on the runways and doing considerable damage.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  All duties at Luqa aerodrome taken over by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the past 24 hours has found working parties at Hal Far as for Nov 7th.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali.

 

9 November 1942: Axis Fighters Move From Sicily to Tunisia

Over 80 enemy fighters are reported to have left Sicily since Wednesday.  It is believed that many of them are heading for Tunisia, as part of the effort to hold that territory in the face of the recent invasion.

FLEET AIR ARM ATTACK CONVOY

Fairey ‘Swordfish’ with torpedo

At midnight two torpedo-carrying Albacores and one torpedo-carrying Swordfish co-operated with a special Swordfish in an attack on three enemy cruisers and several destroyers en route from Navarino to Messina in position 144 degrees Spartivento 75 miles.  Three torpedoes were aimed at the cruisers but an effective smoke screen was put up.   Two explosions were observed, but all three cruisers were subsequently located at Augusta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 10 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to cloudy; clearing later.

No air raids.

1320-1425 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on practice flying and intercept patrol: no sightings.

1400-1440 hrs; 1525-1625 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne at a time on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Night  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne for a raid which does not materialise.  It patrols north of Malta at 12000 feet but sees no enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Charles Brennan, Royal Canadian Air Force, 544 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed being swept out by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from Gianaclis.  Departures  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance to Kilo 8.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Seven sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires which covered the aerodromes of southern Sardinia and harbours of Sicily, Tunis and Bizerta.  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron carried out shipping searches of Taranto, Messina and Sardinia areas.  One cruiser and three destroyers were sighted.  One aircraft failed to return: P/O Matthews, P/O Moffat, P/O James, P/O Reay, P/O Burgess, Sgt Watt missing.

Decimomannu aerodrome aerial view

1913-0330 hrs  Seven Wellingtons (three 40 Squadron, four 104 Squadron) were despatched to attack Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes.  Bombs were dropped on the aerodromes and on buildings to the south.  Some Heavy Ack Ack was encountered.  All aircraft returned.  2020-2125 hrs  Three torpedo-carrying Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were despatched to attack shipping in the Navarino area: no enemy aircraft seen.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0900 hrs  Convoy duties: 3 NCOs and 15 Other Ranks reported to Camerata Barracks for duties as tally clerks.  1 Officer, 5 NCOs and 16 Other Ranks reported to Mifsud’s Verandah for duties at Broken Case Store.  1200 hrs  1 Officer, 1 Warrant Officer and 12 Other Ranks reported for duty at Zabbar motor transport sub-depot.

1500 hrs  Transport and 26 drivers reported to sub-depot for duty.  Unit transport involved eight 15 cwt trucks, two 30 cwt trucks and three impressed vehicles.  1700 hrs  Green Dump established at San Gregoriu Church: 3 Officers, 11 NCOs and 50 Other Ranks reported for duty.  1 Officer 3 Other Ranks reported for duty with Docks Unit.  3 NCOs 18 Other Ranks reported Porte des Bombes for fire fighting duties at Docks.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1730 hrs  18 Officers 361 Other Ranks in position at five convoy dumps and one motor transport sub-depot, locations Pawla, Attard, Tal Balal, L’Imsierah, Hamrun and Gzira.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

10 November 1942: Enemy Transport Aircraft Arrive in Med

Axis command has introduced large numbers of transport aircraft into the Central Mediterranean area.  The planes were reported by pilots returning from reconnaissance missions over Trapani and Tunis, where no fewer than 40 of the aircraft have arrived since yesterday.

ME 323 Transport Aircraft

The majority of the new aircraft are JU 52s but a few larger models have also been seen, including JU 90s, FW 200s and ME 323s.   The latter is a six-engined plane with a 180 foot wingspan and is believed capable of carrying 40-50 fully equipped troops.  The transport aircraft have been observed flying in convoys of 25-30 planes each.

The transport fleet is understood to be part of the renewed efforts North African campaign by Axis forces.  Intelligence reports indicate that the enemy intend to occupy and defend as much as possible of Tunisia.  In response, Malta Air Command have been instructed to transfer the main weight of their bomber effort to the aerodrome of El Aouina at Tunis, where many of the Axis transports and some large gliders are concentrated.

MALTA AIR CREW CAPTURED

Junkers JU 90

One of nine Beaufighters of 272 Squadron despatched to attack German aircraft on El Aouina aerodrome in Tunis last night has been reported missing.  Visibility was good, with only a slight ground haze when the Beaufighters attacked in waves of four, strafing aircraft on the ground.  They reported destroying five JU 52s, two JU 90s and one JU 87, one large glider and a twin-engined aircraft.  They also damaged three JU 87s, two ME 109s, two JU 52s, one large glider, three twin-engined aircraft and five more unidentified aircraft.

The aerodrome’s defences opened up with small gun fire: one Beaufighter appears to have been hit: it was seen by crews of the other aircraft making a successful emergency landing near the airfield.  As the area is French territory the crew are likely to be interned if captured.

A Wellington bomber is also missing after an attack on Elmas aerodrome.  The bomber was one of seven Wellingtons sent to attack the airfield.  Bombs are reported to have fallen all over the aerodrome and runway, causing 17 small fires – believed to be aircraft.  Many hits were scored on an ammunition dump which exploded.

One torpedo-carrying and one bomb-carrying Wellington returned safely after attacking Axis shipping.  The two Wellingtons were on shipping reconnaissance west of Benghazi when they found a westbound merchant ship with a single escort vessel 80 miles east of Misurata.  One of the Wellingtons dropped flares, while the other attacked the merchantman with three 500 lb bombs, scoring near-misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 11 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

No air raids.

0650-0800 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0740-0840 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to friendly shipping.

0830-0945 hrs; 0945-1035 hrs  Three and then four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1018-1118 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island at 12-15000 feet.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0320-0338 hrs  One air raid alert for a single aircraft which proves to be friendly.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer II Byard Fisher, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF); Flying Officer Francis James, RCAF; Flying Officer Allison Burgess, RCAF; Sergeant Ralph Bland, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Hugh Locke, RCAF; Flying Officer William Mathews, RCAF; Flying Officer Verdun Ray, RCAF; Flight Sergeant Frank Lewsley, RAF VR; Flying Officer Bernard Moffatt, RCAF; Warrant Officer II Burchester McNall, RCAF; Warrant Officer II Frank Olsen, RCAF; all 69 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 10 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Porpoise was retained at Malta for a possible landing of military personnel in the Sousse area to captain certain coast defence guns.  0710 hrs  During patrol for Operation Torch HMS Una sighted an enemy force of three 6 inch cruisers, escorted by six destroyers in position 37-11N, 15-30E. Una attacked but missed the cruisers, but a fleet destroyer on the far side of the screen was hit and sunk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter landed in French territory: crew believed to have been interned.

LUQA  Seven sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering aerodromes and harbours in Sicily, northern Sardinia, Tunis and Bizerta.  1645-0450 hrs  Three torpedo-carrying Wellingtons and one special Wellington 69 Squadron were despatched to locate and attack enemy snipping in the Navarino area.  The special Wellington sighted three cruisers and two destroyers.  1730-0535 hrs  Four special Wellingtons 69 Squadron were airborne to search for enemy shipping in the Straits of Messina: no important sightings made.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  1 Officer, 7 NCOs and 16 Other Ranks reported at Docks for fire fighting duties on ships.  10 NCOs and 40 Other Ranks standing by as General Duty reserve.  Other convoy duties as yesterday.  5 Other Ranks reported as reserve drivers to sub-depot.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the past 48 hours has found working parties at Hal Far: 4 x 15 cwt trucks for food delivery, servicing aircraft and for mobile vehicle repairs; 2 impressed lorries for crater-filling; 2 motor-cycles for motor control work; 16 Other Ranks working above trucks.  At Zabbar sub-depot: 4 x 15 cwt trucks.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Dumps and sub-depot on four hours readiness.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

 

11 November 1942:  Qrendi Air Strip Opens

Qrendi air strip (NWMA Malta)

Qrendi air strip officially opened yesterday afternoon.  His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort performed the opening ceremony which was attended by commanders of all Services.  The Air Officer Commanding was given the honour of being the first pilot to use the new airfield, taking off in a fighter immediately after the formal proceedings.  The air strip is now expected to be fully operational.

MERCHANT SHIP GROUNDED EN ROUTE FOR MALTA

HMS Manxman grounded early this morning as she was embarking to bring supplies to Malta.  Manxman sailed from Alexandria at 0500 hours escorted by destroyers Dulverton, Beaufort, Aldenham, Hurworth and Belvoir.

On passing through the boom, the merchant vessel grounded outside the quarantine breakwater of Alexandria Harbour. She was refloated an hour later with the help of a tug.  An inspection of the hull reported no apparent damage and she was declared safe to proceed. After dark, the destroyers turned back for Alexandria and Manxman is reported continuing towards Malta at high speed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 12 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to cloudy.

No air raids.

1230-1340 hrs; 1345-1430 hrs  Four and then five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali search for a submarine: no sightings.

1425-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far search for the submarine but find nothing.

1450-1525 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1505-1810 hrs  Six Beaufighters were despatched to patrol the area between Cape Bon and Trapani.  One HE 115 was destroyed and one schooner shot up.

1620-1655 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2020-2125 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron patrols over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Charles Hall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Basil Conway, RAF; Sergeant Claude Hotchkiss; Sergeant Kenneth Keston, RAF VR; Sergeant George Love, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Maxton, RAF; Sergeant Eric Mudd, RAF VR; Sergeant William Parsons, RAF; Sergeant Harold Watson, RAF VR; all 210 Squadron.  Lieutenant Gordan Brodziak, South African Air Force; Flight Sergeant Malcolm Humphrey, RAF; Sergeant William Lip-Guey, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Wallace Moss, RAF VR; all 608 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Joseph Busuttil, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 46 was swept in by Hebe, returning from patrol off Cape San Vito for Operation Torch. At 1123 on 8th November in position 38-14N, 12-43E she torpedoed and hit a Regolo class cruiser heavily escorted by destroyers. This hit was confirmed by a subsequent reconnaissance of Palermo.

Liberator Lands in Malta

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance from Gibraltar; one Liberator, one DC 3, one Wellington from LG 224.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One photo-reconnaissance Spitfire failed to return: pilot missing.  One Wellington failed to return from operations: crew missing.  One Wellington shot down in the sea: crew picked up uninjured.

LUQA  0800 hrs  One 5-6000 ton motor vessel is seen 10 miles south of Naples.  Night sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron cover aerodromes in Italy, Sicily and southern Sardinia.  2010-0125 hrs  Two Wellingtons 40 Squadron and three 104 Squadron were despatched to attack Tunis aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped on the target, causing considerable damage.  Night  Four Wellingtons were airborne on reconnaissance and patrol, covering the Straits of Messina area: no important sightings made and all aircraft returned safely.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Ships’ fire fighting party stands down.  Other convoy duties as for yesterday.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  4 Other Ranks temporarily attached to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt as tally clerks on docks.  1 Other Rank temporarily attached to Docks Unit as batman.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

12 November 1942:  Manxman Arrives With Supplies and Men

HMS Manxman

HMS Manxman entered Grand Harbour at 5 o’clock this afternoon after a successful 1000 mile passage through the eastern Mediterranean from Alexandria.  Manxman was carrying 350 tons of varied foodstuffs including much needed supplies of powdered milk, dried cereals, and preserved meat.  There were also 200 passengers, including RAF and Army personnel, for Malta.  The food was loaded into heavy sacks which slowed the unloading process.  Despite this 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment managed to complete the task by 0230 hours.  The cargo was immediately dispersed to safe keeping in the Island’s storage facilities.

A second supply run by HMS Welshman from the east has been delayed.  The ship set out from the UK on 1st November but has been delayed by bad weather in the eastern Meditteranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 13 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Rain early becoming fair.

No air raids.

0835 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled: raid does not materialise.

0855-1010 hrs  Twelve Spitfire sorties by 126 Squadron Luqa and twelve by 1435 Squadron: no enemy aircraft seen.

1345-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as escort to approaching ship: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1415-1540 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the ship 20 miles off Kalafrana.

1435-1520 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1500 hrs  B Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a circular object with red painted horns floating in the sea 100 yards offshore.

1536-1845 hrs  Seven Beaufighters were despatched to patrol over the Tunis-Sicilian channel.  Five Savoia Marchetti 82s with German markings were sighted 40 miles south east of Pantelleria on a northerly course.  A further SM 82 with Italian markings was following behind.  The Beaufighters attacked and destroyed them all.  Several khaki-clad figures were seen struggling in the water.

1735 hrs  C Coy 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report flashes on the horizon due east of Della Grazia, identified as possible gun fire.

1825 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for approaching aircraft which turn out to be friendly.

0405 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a red glare on the horizon off Della Grazia.

Military casualties  Sergeant Bruce Norman, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 154 Squadron, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 12 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Utmost

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept Utmost in from patrol, and then went out again to sweep Manxman into Grand Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 224.  Departures  One DC3, one Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Two Beaufighters overshot runway on landing: crew uninjured.  One Beaufort crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire belly-landed at Luqa: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  The Air Officer Commanding has sent personal congratulations to ground staff for achieving a record high level of serviceability, including 100% Spitfire serviceability, demonstrating excellent teamwork on the part of all concerned.  Seven sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering aerodromes and harbours in Sicily, Sardinia and Tunis.

1805-0505 hrs  Six Wellingtons attacked El Aouina aerodrome, starting many fires and causing a large explosion – believed to be a fuel dump.  The Wellingtons made a second sortie against the target and caused more fires.  Bombs were seen to explode near hangars and a gun position was silenced.  All aircraft returned safely.  2015 hrs  Six Wellingtons (two of 40 Squadron, four of 104 Squadron) were despatched to attack Tunis.  All bombing was confined to the aerodromes: fires and large explosions seen.  0120-0540 hrs  Five Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in the approachs to Tunis harbour.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bn ‘stood by’ to unload HMS Manxman.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1630 hrs  General Duty reserve reported to No 5 Dock and were employed in unloading HMS Manxman.  Other convoy duties as for yesterday.

4th HEAVY ACK ACK REGIMENT  PM  Orders given to preset ammunition for ship barrage for HMS Manxman.  Dockyard barrages now have priority.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Red, Brown and Blue [Supply] Dumps remain in position.  White and Pink Dumps stand down except for skeleton guard.  Sub-depot continues operating.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  E Company apprehended 6 civilians smuggling eggs and cheese from Gozo: they were handed over to the civil police.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

 

13 November 1942: Malta Fighters Disable 13 Axis Transport Planes

Focke-Wulf FW 200

Seven Beaufighters patrolling the Tunisian-Sicilian channel at 5000 feet today sighted large formations of enemy transport planes flying at 100 feet.  The Beaufighters attacked, destroying six enemy aircraft and probably destroying seven.  One Beaufighter is missing and six were slightly damaged in the attack.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 14 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy.

No air raids.

0845-0920 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of the Island: nothing sighted.

1100-1315 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne and patrol as far as Mandia but see no aircraft or shipping.

1535-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol see a Spitfire crash into the sea and cover the pilot in his dinghy until he is picked up by the High Speed Launch.

1535-1845 hrs  Seven Beaufighters 272 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight and attack six Savoia Marchetti  82s, shooting all six down into the sea.  Two Beaufighters are damaged in combat: one crash-lands at base and is written off.

1612-1707 hrs  One Swordfish RNAS Hal Far is despatched on Air Sea Rescue and drops a dinghy to a pilot in the sea 16 miles west of Dingli.  He is later picked up by the High Speed Launch.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer II John Stephen, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Samuel Whear, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; both 227 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 13 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una and P 44 were swept in by Rye after missions for Operation Torch.  HMS P 44 was returning to Malta from patrol off the northwest of Sicily.   HMS Una was back from patrol off the southern approaches of Messina and Port Augusta.  Speedy, Hythe and Hebe carried out searching sweep of QBB 298 and swept six mines.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Four Beaufighters damaged by enemy action: crews uninjured.  Two Beaufighters crash-landed at Luqa: crews uninjured.  One Beaufighter shot down in the sea: crew missing.  One Spitfire missing in transit from Gibraltar to Malta.

LUQA  Six sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering the harbours of Naples, Taranto and Messina.  Two Baltimores 89 Squadron searched for shipping in the Marittimo area.  Night  One special Wellington 69 Squadron was sent on a shipping search in the area Cavoli-Marittimo: a number of sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0315 hrs  General Duty reserve completed unloading duties.  Personnel employed at Green Dump reduced to 3 NCOs and 12 men on guard duties.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

 

14 November 1942: El Aouina Under Fire

Axis aircraft destroyed at El Aouina

At 1525 hours this afternoon seven Beaufighters of 272 Squadron based at Ta Qali were sent to attack El Aouina aerodrome in Tunis.  Despite intense flak over the target, they strafed the airfield, destroying three JU 52s and three JU 88s, and damaging one JU 87 and one single-engined aircraft on the ground.

Two Beaufighters have been reported missing following the raid.  One was seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis: the crew S/Ldr A Watson and P/O C F Cutting are believed taken prisoners of war.  The whereabouts of the other crew, F/Lt Bale and Sgt Soutter,  are unknown.  The remaining Beaufighters landed safely at 1850 hours this evening.

Tonight seven Wellingtons were despatched to attack El Aouina.  Bombs explode on the landing ground and in dispersal areas, starting several fires.  The Wellingtons made a second sortie and bombs were seen exploding among the buildings, starting two large fires.  All aircraft returned safely.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 14 NOVEMBER 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rpt:  The War Office

1.  No enemy air activity.

2.  Much offensive and reconnaissance air activity in support of Operation Torch.  Beaufighters on daylight shoot-ups El Aouina, destroyed ten transport planes, one large glider, five other planes.  Damaged two transports, one glider and five other planes on the ground.  Beaufighters and Spitfires on patrol Tunisian Sicilian channel intercepted and destroyed 20 transport planes and three other planes; probably destroyed seven transport planes.

By night Wellingtons and Fleet Air Arm aircraft scored torpedo hits: one, possibly two, cruisers near misses with bombs on one merchant vessel.  Wellingtons bombed Elmas and El Aouina where much damaged caused.  Also Cagliari and Decimomannnu.  Beauforts laid mines on approaches to Tunis.

3.  HMS Manxman arrived with approximately 350 tons foodstuffs unloaded by army personnel.  Large working parties on aerodromes continue.

4.  Qrendi landing strip opened.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 15 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather Fair.

No air raids.

0645-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0900-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa patrol 30 miles north east of Malta in response to a report of a possible air raid: enemy aircraft do not approach the Island.

Messerschmitt Bf 110

1000-1255 hrs  Eight long-range Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa carry out a reconnaissance patrol over the Tunisian-Sicilian channel.  They sight one BR 20 with escorting fighters and attack: P/O Piggot destroys one BR 20; P/O Hibbert destroys one ME 110.  Sgt Hendry damages one JU 90 and Sgt Mortimer damages one ME 110. 

1400-1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron carry out reconnaissance in the Cape Bon area.  P/O Kirkman or Sgt Kebble destroy one BR 20; F/Lt McLennan destroys one SM 82 [later identified as S 75].

1155-1325 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of Gozo: nothing sighted.

1215-1555 hrs  Eight Beaufighters on patrol destroy one JU 88, one SM 85 and one ME 109.  Two Beaufighters are reported missing.

1400-1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires on reconnaissance patrol sight a BR 20 and a SM 82 and attack, destroying them both.  Four  Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol as far as Lampedusa and Linosa: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1505-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1605-1735 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: they chase one enemy aircraft but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Seven Beaufighters patrolling the Sicilian channel destroy one HE 114.

Military casualties  Sergeant Cecil Candler, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant John Hughes, RAF; Flying Officer Robert Pearson, RAF; Flying Officer David Witherspoon, Royal Canadian Air Force; all 227 Squadron.  Flight Lieutenant Leslie Bale, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Robert Soutter, RAF VR; both 272 Squadron. Flight Lieutenant Francis Bassett, RAF, 152 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant George Davidson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire, six Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Beaufighters from ECDU; two Baltimores from LG 227; two Liberators from LG 224; four Wellingtons from Gianaclis.  Aircraft casualties  Four Beaufighters shot down by enemy aircraft: crews missing.  One Beaufighter force-landed in French territory: crew saved.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

3rd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  200 men began pen-building at Qrendi aerodrome.  1600 from various units are distributed on the other aerodromes, assisting with maintenance and servicing.

(1) Adapted from Sydney Morning Herald 9 November 1942

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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in 1942, November 1942

 

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