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16 October 1940: Reinforcement of Malta Urgent, Says Churchill

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CABINET AGREES PRIME MINISTER’S PLANS

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (IWM MH26392)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (IWM MH26392)

Following representations from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the War Cabinet in London today agreed that the reinforcement of Malta is a matter of urgency. One infantry battalion should be sent to Malta from Egypt as part of the next fleet operation, and two more battalions as requested by Lt Gen Dobbie should be sent at the earliest opportunity.

In addition, tanks and field artillery plus necessary personnel and stores will be sent from UK leaving on or about 1st November.  These reinforcements would bring the total anti-aircraft provision at Malta to 70 heavy and 34 light Ack Ack guns.

The fighters and reconnaissance aircraft proposed by Air HQ on Thursday will form part of the reinforcing operations. The twelve Hurricanes will be flown into Malta off HMS Argus, and six Glenn Martin reconnaissance aircraft will fly direct to the Island.

The Prime Minister has also proposed that, once the defences of Malta have been strengthened, light forces of the Mediterranean Fleet should be based there, and that visits of increasing length should be paid by heavy ships to Malta, though the extent of these activities will depend on the results of experience in the early stages.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 OCTOBER TO DAWN 17 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

0915-0930 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the arrival of Blenheim aircraft.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 16 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY 1136-1357 hrs Fleet Air Arm Skua on reconnaissance of east Sicilian ports reported one destroyer and two or three coastal boats at Messina, one large merchantman and 20 seaplanes at Augusta but nothing at Catania or Syracuse. 1250 hrs He reported one destroyer and three merchant ships at sea but strike force was called off when a second search failed to locate them. On return he spotted a Cant Z501 leaving the site of a patch of oil 60 miles east of Malta where destroyers were sunk on 12 October. The Swordfish attacked and probably damaged the Cant.  

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 1110-1500 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight on patrol; nil report.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland arrived from Middle East. 1013 hrs One Sunderland 230 Squadron on patrol asked to search for Swordfish of 830 Squadron FAA which had force landed due to engine failure while on patrol. 1205 hrs Sunderland picked up the three crew from their dinghy.

LUQA  Two Blenheims arrived.

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Posted by on October 16, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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15 October 1940: Escape to Malta – French Aircrew Defect

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PILOT HAD NEVER FLOWN AIRCRAFT BEFORE

Loire 130 (1)

Loire 130 (1)

A French Loire aircraft with a crew of three arrived at Kalfrana today from Bizerta seeking to serve with the Royal Air Force. The Catapult seaplane left base at 0430 hrs this morning along with a second Loire 130. The two aircraft had been destined to join the French battleship Richelieu at Dakar. The second plane has so far failed to arrive at Malta. Swordfish were sent out morning and afternoon to search but no trace of it has been found.

The French air crew have been named as 2nd Maitre Serjeant George Blaize, pilot, 2nd Maitre Serjeant Raoul Gatien, mechanic and 2nd Maitre Serjeant Henri Romanetti, naval airman. Under interrogation the crew stated that they do not belong to the same squadron. They had meant to come to Malta on 18th September in two Glenn Martins with a crew of five in each but engine trouble prevented them from starting.

Both the Loire 130 they came in and the missing aircraft belong to the battleship Richelieu. The planes were among a flight made ready this morning to fly to Morocco to join the ship. However, having long ago agreed to come over to the Axis, the crew took this opportunity to take over the aircraft and make their escape.

French battleship Richelieu

French battleship Richelieu

Romanetti was ground crew on duty guarding the aircraft but instead of sounding the alarm at their actions, he went aboard with the flight crew. They believe their departure was undetected by ground crew as the flying boats were due to set off this morning anyway. However the crews who had been due to fly these aircraft may have thought differently.

This is the first time Maitre Serjeant Blaize has flown a Loire 130. Despite this they had a very good flight, although his landing was described as ‘a bit shaky’. However, Gatien is the normal mechanic for this machine. They ran into thick cloud near Pantelleria and lost sight of the other Loire 130; they suspect it missed Malta and may have landed in the sea. The other pilot had also not flown a Loire before – though he did have a proper wireless operator with him.

Under interrogation the crew gave information on the other aircraft currently at Bizerta, Karouba and Sidi Hammet. They expressed the opinion that Algiers and Tunis are both awaiting a lead from Morocco before they move to join De Gaulle.

The three appeared very fit and cheerful and were quite willing to set out straight away to look for their missing comrades. All three want to join the RAF at once and fight using their Loire 130 aircraft, which is a reconnaissance type with a safe endurance of about five hours, or possibly six. It is in perfect condition, having done only 35 hours since new; and it is fully armed. Maitre Serjeant Romanetti was carrying with him one of the pamphlets dropped on Bizerta by the Latecoere serving at Malta. Maitre Serjeant Blaize has asked for news of his brother Pierre, who flew a Morane 406 to Gibraltar on July 1st , also with the aim of joining the RAF.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 OCTOBER TO DAWN 16 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

0640 hrs  An aircraft is reported approaching Malta from the west. Three Hurricanes are scrambled and shadow the plane until it lands down at Kalafrana. The aircraft is identified as a French Loire 130.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Granzoto, 257a Squadriglia, 108o Gruppo, 36o Stormo: his body was washed ashore and buried in Pembroke Military Cemetery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY 0715 hrs Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA) reported a large flying boat circling round a hospital ship. On his return he saw a clear track 20-30 miles east of Malta and dropped one bomb where the track ended, seven miles east of the Island; no results seen. A second Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA sighted the hospital ship and a packing case and drum.   A Sunderland 230 Squadron en route to Alexandria reported having led an Italian hospital ship to some floats.

0822-1020 hrs; 1109-1250 hrs; 1421-1620 hrs Three Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm searching for missing Loire 130 aircraft; no trace.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 French Loire. Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 1000 hrs One Sunderland 228 Squadron already out on reconnaissance was requested to locate and shadow submarine Regent which was possibly proceeding on the surface and unable to dive; submarine not located. One French Loire arrived from Bizerta for service with RAF.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Company commanders are to impress on their men the great value the Germans attach to the undermining of morale. This is carried out by ‘frightfulness’ which, more often than not, means concentrated noise caused by such ingenious devices as whistling bombs, etc.

(1) http://www.aviastar.org/air/france/loire_130.php

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Posted by on October 15, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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14 October 1940: Malta Defends Its Beaches

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INFANTRY TO ATTACK VESSELS ON SIGHT

Defence post 1A

Orders were issued today to infantry battalions for the operation of beach defence posts. All beach guns are now under the tactical command of commanding officers of infantry sectors in which they are positioned. According to the operating instructions, the maximum range for beach guns to open fire is 5000 yards by day and 1800 yards by night.

Infantrymen manning beach guns are instructed that, in daylight, they should open fire if ordered by their infantry command; or on their own initiative on any vessel considered hostile or on any submarine not notified as friendly or any MTB not showing the appropriate signal unless already notified as friendly. By night and in low visibility they should illuminate any vessel within 1800 years by Lyon Light and follow the procedure as above. In all cases of firing on own initiative, commanding officers will be informed immediately of such actions and reasons for them.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 OCTOBER TO DAWN 15 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm reconnaissance of Ionian Sea bounded by Malta to Cape Clonne to Corfu. Large oil patch reported at 69 miles off Cape Passaro.   Greek merchant ship Tassia also sighted.  

AIR HQ Departures 3 Sunderlands. Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported thee destroyers ten miles east of Syracuse, then one small destroyer and two minesweepers and later two merchang vessels. 0735 hrs Glenn Martin reports a hospital ship.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Two Sunderlands left for Middle East, one repaired after damage sustained by enemy action on 27 July.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT 19 Platoon E Company has re-organised as the tank-hunting platoon.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Work began unloading ammunition from the convoy.

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Posted by on October 14, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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13 October 1940: Italy Must Fall and Malta is Key

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MALTA MUST BE STRENGTHENED

Sec of State Anthony Eden (r), Palestine, October 1940 (c) IWM E802

Sec of State Anthony Eden (r), Palestine, October 1940 (c) IWM E802

The War Cabinet in London has been told that the fall of Italy must be a priority and that Malta is key to this strategy. The recommendation came in a memorandum from the First Lord of the Admiralty:

“I feel that what we must aim at is to knock Italy out of the Axis as soon as possible and at the same time avoid, if we can, the full entry of France into the Axis. If we are to achieve the first of these, it is vital that we should strengthen Malta, reinforce the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet and the forces under the command of the General Officer Commanding Middle East. The bulk of our efforts must be applied in this direction, until at any rate we have carried out our special operation for putting through reinforcements through the Mediterranean to Malta and the Middle East.”

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR VISITS MALTA

The British Secretary of State for War, Rt Hon Anthony Eden, paid a brief visit to Malta today en route to the Middle East. The Governor and Commander in Chief was alerted to the visit by a top secret telegram from the war office on Friday.  

The Secretary of State arrived by RAAF Sunderland flying boat from the UK. He landed at Kalafrana in the hours of darkness. A strong wind and heavy swell made the setting of flare paths impossible. Gun postitions and launches sent out into Marsaxlokk Bay used their searchlights to guide the Sunderland to a safe landing.  

The weather conditions enforced a longer stay in Malta, so after meeting with Lt Gen Dobbie and Naval and military commanders, the Secretary of State toured the Island, visiting as many infantry units as possible in the few hours available. He is expected to leave for the Middle East early tomorrow.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 OCTOBER TO DAWN 14 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Reconnaissance operations by Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm squadrons of Ionian Sea from Malta to Taranto to Corfu and return.  

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland A. 0700 hrs  Reconnaissance by Glen Martin 431 Flight signalled one destroyer and one merchant vessel in Ionian Sea. On landing reported 15 large warships and eight cruisers plus various small craft in Taranto outer harbour and three destroyers and six cruisers plus small craft in the inner harbour. In the Gulf of Taranto he spotted one destroyer and one merchant vessel. 0750 hrs Glenn Martin attacked by an enemy BR20 which was quickly outmanoeuvred and fired at, probably damaged. Reconnaissance continued but the Glenn Martin was again attacked by a P32 from below. He returned fire, severely damaging the P32 and probably killing the rear gunner. Meanwhile the Glenn Martin’s rear gunner engaged another fast twin-engined aircraft attacking from behind – no hits claimed. The rear gunner then reported five or six RO43 or 44s climbing to attack. The Glenn Martin pilot took evasive action and continued his reconnaissance.  

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 1131-1700 hrs French Latecoere on patrol reported an Italian hospital ship at sea 1235 hrs. Sunderland A arrived from UK with important passengers. 1235 hrs A Sunderland flying boat picked up 12-15 Italian Naval airmen whose aircraft had been shot down by a Fulmar; they were based at Tobruk.

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Posted by on October 13, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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12 October 1940: New Bomb Disposal Organisation for Malta

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GOVERNOR PLANS TWO BOMB DISPOSAL SECTIONS

Bomb Disposal Section: Home Front

Bomb Disposal Section: Home Front

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has decided that the Island needs to increase its bomb disposal organisation to deal with the increasing number of unexploded bombs. He wrote to the War Office today with a proposal to form two bomb disposal ‘sections’.

Hundreds of sections have been created on the Home Front since May 1940, when bomb disposal became the responsibility of the Royal Engineers. The standard structure for a section on the Home Front is one Lieutenant to deal with the unexploded bombs, with 15 other ranks for digging and lifting bombs, and a sergeant to oversee them.

Since the first bombing raids in June, bomb disposal in Malta has been carried out by the Inspecting Ordnance Officer Capt R L Jephson Jones, RAOC, and Lt W M Eastman, RAOC, assisted in digging and lifting tasks by other ranks of the Royal Engineers. So far they have dealt with 57 high explosives and 24 incendiaries as well as clearing unexploded anti-aircraft shells.

RESCUED ITALIAN AIRMEN TALK

Three Italian airmen were interrogated today after being rescued at sea by a Sunderland flying boat on patrol from Kalafrana. Sunderland pilot F/Lt McCall picked up the three airmen at 1235 hrs from a collapsible rubber dinghy after their Cant 501 aircraft had been shot down by Fleet Air Arm Fulmar fighter from HMS Illustrious. The prisoners stated that two of their crew had been killed in the Fulmar attack. All three were taken for interrogation.

Cant Z501

Cant Z501

Under interrogation Sottotenente Anthony Panigliuglo, Observer, gave his unit as 145 Squadron dependent on Libyan Command. Under questioning he said: “I have to do a certain period of reconnaissance on aircraft…I was the observer and we were reconnoitring the Mediterranean on a Cant Z501…We left Tobruk today at dawn. We proceeded to Tripoli for refuelling and we were patrolling alone near Malta at about 1125…we were 60 miles east of Malta when we were attacked by a low winged single engine monoplane, evidently a fighter…which caused us to land in the sea…

There were five of us in the aircraft. The first pilot was badly wounded and disappeared when we got into the sea and the engineer on board was first wounded in the leg, then in the stomach, and died as soon as we reached the water. We blew up the collapsible dinghy and were picked up two hours afterwards. A Sunderland then appeared on our route and we think we were only recognised through our having put up a red neckerchief on an oar. We could not get alongside the Sunderland but they finally threw a line and pulled us on board. The dinghy was leading…The dead personnel are Cpl Armando Dima and 2nd Lt de Giglio.”

The other survivors were identified as Sergente Maggiore Firmino Donizotti and Primo Aviere Vittorio Pazut.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 OCTOBER TO DAWN 13 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Overcast.

0620-0640 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Three Hurricanes are scrambled and the raiders turn back while still 12 miles away, with no interceptions.

0800 hrs  Convoy arrives in Grand Harbour.

1008-1013 hrs  Air raid alert; no raid materialises.

Enemy casualties Sottotenente De Giglio, shot down and died; Primo Aviere Armando Dima, shot down and died; Sergente Maggiore Firmino Donizotti, shot down and taken prisoner; Sottotenente Antonio Fanigiulo, shot down and taken prisoner; Primo Aviere Vittorio Pazut, shot down and taken prisoner; all of 145a Squadriglia, Libyan Command.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  0635 hrs Six Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA) despatched to attack two destroyers reported by Sunderland reconnaissance in the early hours. They reported a large patch of oil about three miles long as well as units of the Mediterranean Fleet, returning to base at 0920 hrs. 1150-1545 hrs Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA despatched to attack three cruisers and three destroyers reported by Sunderland; no interception and all Swordfish returned.

AIR HQ  0906-1725 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron on reconnaissance sighted the Malta convoy which radioed that it had been attacked by a submarine but had driven it off with gunfire. At 1235 hrs he saw the wreck of a Cant Z501 and three men in a collapsible dinghy, and picked them up. 1200-1545 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported six destroyers at sea, plus a 2000 ton merchant vessel off the Straits of Messina and large streaks of oil 20 miles from Syracuse.    

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland on naval co-operation patrol sighted units of the enemy fleet and led Fleet Air Arm striking force from HMS Illustrious in the attack. One Sunderland on patrol picked up three Italian prisoners shot down in the attack.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Mail arrived; two-three months old but very welcome.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  UK mail received.

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Posted by on October 12, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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11 October 1940: Troopship Convoy Arrives in Malta

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CONVOY MF3 BRINGS SHIPS SAFELY TO HARBOUR

Clan Ferguson

Clan Ferguson

Four merchant ships steamed safely into Grand Harbour today at the end of a thousand mile journey from Alexandra. Termed by the Commander in Chief Mediterranean a ‘troopship convoy’, the ships Clan Ferguson, Clan Macauley, Lanarkshire and Memnon sailed from Alexandria on Tuesday, escorted by cruisers Calcutta and Coventry, and destroyers Stuart, Voyager, Waterhen and Wryneck.

The Meditteranean Fleet was already at sea ready to provide additional escort, including battleships Malaya, Ramillies, Valiant and Warspite, aircraft carriers Eagle and Illustrious, plus six cruisers and 17 destroyers. They were joined by the destroyer Mohawk which came out from Malta to join the Fleet. During the operation HMS Imperial struck a mine and was towed in to Grand Harbour. The unloading of the convoy is said to be proceeding well.

The convoy brought long-awaited mail for Malta’s troops.

l'Imtahleb

l’Imtahleb

L’IMTAHLEB A POSSIBLE TARGET

2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment has been placed on special alert for the protection of L’Imtahleb. The area is considered a likely parachutist landing area and a possible landing place for a small sabotage party. The Battalion has been ordered to maintain a security watch in the area order to prevent such incidents and to deter information passing into or out of the Island. One platoon has been allocated responsibility for the localising and immediate destruction of any landing, either sea or parachutist, in the area and for passing any relevant information back to HQ. Defence posts in the area will each be covered by one NCO and four other ranks, manned with single sentries from evening stand to, to morning stand down.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 OCTOBER TO DAWN 12 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Overcast with thundery showers.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY Operation MB6 successfully carried out. Imperial was mined en route but reached harbour and was docked. A danger area was immediately declared by Commander in Chief Mediterranean and taken on by QBB95. Stuart and Vendetta remained for refit. 0600-0735 hrs Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm dropped photographs of shipping in Taranto, Tripoli and Brindisi harbours on HMS Illustrious. Four Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Airm provided local patrol for the arrival of a convoy at Malta; nothing to report. The operation of bringing in the incoming convoy and despatching the outgoing convoy is proceeding satisfactorily.

AIR HQ 1205-1255 hrs Glen Martin 431 Flight set off for reconnaissance but returned due to bad weather. 0355-1038 hrs Reconnaissance by Sunderland 230 Squadron reported at 0508 hrs having sighted two destroyers, one of which was on fire and stationary.   He interrupted patrol to shadow the two ships while Swordfish were despatched to attack them. Another destroyer Vicenzo Gioberti class was observed proceeding at high speed. On his return the pilot reported three Fiume class cruisers and three destroyers accompanied by twelve fighters. 0500-0919 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight on reconnaissance signalled three destroyers at sea. In Taranto he reported a large fleet of naval ships and in Brindisi naval ships and seaplanes.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 0310-1656 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron on reconnaissance sighted four motor boats; attacked twice. Two bombs fell close; no apparent result. The motor boats made off at high speed on a southerly course and an empty raft was spotted off Zante. On the homeward flight an aircraft resembling an Albacore approached one Sunderland but made off.

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Posted by on October 11, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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10 October 1940: A Full Hurricane Squadron For Malta

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AIR CHIEFS OF STAFF IN LONDON TO SEND FIGHTERS

Hurricane squadron for Malta

Hurricane squadron for Malta

The Air Chief of Staff in London is preparing to make representations to the War Cabinet on the question of reinforcements of air forces in the Middle East and Malta. As winter approaches it is believed that air raids on Britain may diminish. At the same time, recent troop movements have shown that the Axis powers are turning their attention to the Middle East theatre, where it is believed a ‘most serious danger’ is developing.

Plans are already in hand to increase the existing flight of Hurricanes in Malta to a full squadron of 16 aircraft plus reserves. An additional 12 aircraft will soon be on their way to the Island. In addition, the existing Glenn Martin unit at Malta is to be brought up to a full flight of twelve with the delivery of six additional aircraft.

However, the Air Chief‘s report stresses that the rapid delivery of reinforcements by air would not be easy. The air route to Malta is liable not only to enemy attacks but to adverse weather. Reinforcements also require maintenance personnel and equipment which must be transferred by sea – currently involving a three month time lag as ships have to travel the long sea route round the Cape to reach Egypt.

DECEASED ITALIAN AIRMAN PICKED UP FROM THE SEA

Authorities in Malta have been trying to identify a deceased Italian pilot brought into Malta today. The body of the airman brought into Grand Harbour on board a Royal Navy vessel was examined by a doctor and an officer of the RAF. No identification documents were found, only the initials F A marked on his clothes. However, official papers found in the pockets included a report signed by Lt Adolfo Ferrari, which is thought to be his name. His aircraft is believed to have left Castelvetrano to conduct reconnaissance including over Kalafrana in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 OCTOBER TO DAWN 11 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

0430-0630 hrs Submarine sanctuary in force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 OCTOBER 1940

Il-fawwara

Il-fawwara

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 0953-1655 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron on patrol reported seeing at 1546 hrs a submarine which submerged immediately. 1130-1620 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported disposition of Italian fleet in Taranto Harbour same as yesterday with the addition of two destroyers, one 2000 ton cargo ship at sea and in Syracuse two 2000 ton merchant ships; at Augusta three 1500 ton merchant vessels and two sloops, at Catania nil. 1215-1640 hrs French Latecoere reconnaissance reported seeing one hospital ship in harbour, along with two small cargo ships, one 3000 ton, two 1500 tons , one large tanker, two flying boats, two Cant Z506 and one 1000 ton escort vessel. Intense anti-aircraft fire prevented good photographs being taken. 0430-0905 hrs Glenn Martin 431 flight reconnaissance of Ionian Sea. 0440-1617 hrs Sunderland 228 Squadron reconnaissance of Ionian Sea reported one Greek 7000 ton merchant vessel loaded with ballast.   0515-1615 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance reported three French merchant vessels Athos, Florida and Djeanne.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE Wardia reports mines off il Fawara; Admiralty informed.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  High Explosive 1 HE 250lb Casal Paola.

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Posted by on October 10, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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9 October 1940: Bonus Scheme to Speed Up Shelter Construction

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GOVERNOR PROPOSES BONUS SYSTEM TO INCREASE WORK RATES

Digging to create underground shelters

Digging to create underground shelters

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief is seeking ways to improve work rates on works projects such as the construction of underground air raid shelters and new storage facilities for essential supplies. He has written to the war office asking permission to adopt a bonus system in order to meet deadlines for the work.

The scheme is intended as an inducement to workers to speed up normal output. The bonus payment would amount to half the saving in wages which would be achieved by the reduced time on each project, which Lt Gen Dobbie believes is the only inducement acceptable to local workmen.

The bonus system would apply only to directly employed labour employed directly by the Government or military, numbers of which have greatly increased since June 1940. Contractors or labour employed by them would not be eligible. It would be restricted to key certain trades: miners, quarrymen, masons and labour working with them, but not to trades such as plumbers, blacksmiths and electricians.

GERMAN TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT MASSING IN ITALY

An unconfirmed report has been received in Malta that 100 Junkers 52 and Junkers 90 military transport aircraft are distributed between Taranto, Bari and Guidonia (near Rome) and Syracuse.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 OCTOBER TO DAWN 10 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Sunderlands. 1137-1600 hrs On landing Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported seeing four enemy destroyers and one cruiser at 1317 hrs 10 miles west of Taranto Harbour, then two destroyers and one four-funnel ship six miles west of Taranto Harbour. Also in Taranto Harbour five battleships, two cruisers, one submarine and three fleet auxiliaries; in the inner harbour four cruisers and at least ten destroyers plus seven various identified ships; in the innter basin fifteen seaplanes and further in twelve more. In Brindisi there were two A to B class cruisers, six destroyers and one possible battleship undergoing refit, and a number of seaplanes.  

0315-1606 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance of Ionian Sea including Taranto harbour and gulf for enemy surface forces; nil report. 0355-0820 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight reconnaissance of Ionian Sea on landing reported seeing at 0616 hrs a submarine on the surface; information passed to Vice Admiral Malta.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Two Sunderlands arrived from Middle East.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Wardia reports a mine two miles off Ras il-Pellegrin.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Three recruits posted from depot.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Fishermen reported mines drifting towards the coast.

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

 

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8 October 1940: Military Chiefs Discuss Possible Invasion of Malta

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GOVERNOR ANTICIPATES SEABORNE ATTACK

Malta Governor & Commander in Chief Lt Gen Dobbie

Malta Governor & Commander in Chief Lt Gen Dobbie

In the first of two telegrams, Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief wrote today to the Chief of Imperial General Staff at the War Office with his views on the prospects for Malta in the face of an invasion from the sea:

I cannot visualise a full dress attack on Malta unless the enemy are confident of being able to prevent the Mediterranean Fleet from intervening for a sufficient period to enable them to gain control of the Island. After consulting the Vice Admiral Malta I imagine that seven days is the maximum period the enemy could hope to have free from interference…  This limit would probably rule out a deliberate step by step attack and would necessitate a maximum effort at all possible places simultaneously, carried through with the utmost determination; German stiffening might give the necessary vigour.

The local naval forces likely to be available within the next few months are only a few submarines, and even these are uncertain. Motor Torpedo Boats would be extremely useful against sea-borne attack but cannot materialise for a long time, so I am not counting on them. It follows that the Navy here will not be able to do much to interfere with sea-borne attack. The Air Force available at present could not count on preventing the enemy from gaining air superiority if he made determined efforts to do so. The four fighter squadrons asked for, and which might have prevented such a result, cannot I understand come for some time. We must therefore face the fact that the enemy would have local air superiority, except in so far as our Ack Ack guns might interfere; this of course is a serious handicap. But the RAF reconnaissance aircraft should be able to give us warning of concentrations of shipping in Sicily, thus reducing the chance of a complete surprise.

I assume the enemy will have ample resources of men and material and that in order to gain a quick decision he will attack on a very wide front. Further, that he will use self-propelled armoured landing craft and will do the journey from Sicily at night, attacking at or before dawn. I assume also that these craft will carry some medium or light tanks and possibly flame-throwers, the latter to deal with beach posts. That the attack would be supported by fire from warships and intense air attack. From the foregoing consideration the following conclusions emerge:

  • (a) We must stop as many of the landing craft as possible from reaching the beach. To do this we need guns, since small arms fire is useless against their armour.
  • (b) In an attack of such intensity and so widely dispersed, the enemy may well get a footing at a number of points. Immediate counter-attacks will be essential and these must be assisted by the greatest possible supporting gun or mortar fire, to give them the best chance for success.
  • (c) Deliberate counter-attacks supported by strong artillery fire may be necessary in more than one area at once. These attacks must be made by forces strong enough to ensure success…

If we have to meet a full dress attack in the circumstances I have envisaged, we require the following additional troops and equipment: three battalions complete with mortars, one field battery, two anti-tank troops Royal Artillery, one or two sections of Field Company Royal Engineers or equivalent, 50 Lyon lights and 10 beach defence lights and 60 x 2” mortars, plus 100 anti-tank rifles, besides other weapons already asked for.

I suggest that these troops if sent here should be regarded as a reserve available to be sent elsewhere in the Near East should the naval situation change so that a full scale attack on Malta is deemed unlikely. But meanwhile some such force is needed if the fleet is to be freed from undue preoccupation with the safety of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 OCTOBER TO DAWN 9 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

1935-2020 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers which approach Delimara from the east at 14000 feet and drop bombs in the sea off Delimara, Wied Znuber and two miles off Grand Harbour. Two turn back before crossing the coast. The remaining two are illuminated and held by searchlights, then engaged by one Malta Hurricane fighter. One Italian bomber is brought down in flames into the sea off Delimara. Another is so badly damaged that it is unlikely to return to base; it is last seen by the Hurricane pilot and coastal observers flying at 1000 feet with one engine on fire. Two men are seen baling out towards the sea. The Hurricane lands safely. Searchlight crews are praised by the Air Officer Commanding for exceptionally good work.    

Military casualties  Private Ronald Frost, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment

Enemy casualties  Tenente Adolfo Ferrari, 257a Squadriglia, 108o Gruppo, 36o Stormo, pilot of a Savoia SM79 bomber shot down.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER 1940

HMS Aba (1)

HMS Aba (1)

ROYAL NAVY  0655-1024 hrs  Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched on patrol; nothing sighted. Hospital ship Aba arrived and departed: discharged three, embarked 52.  

AIR HQ  0345-0845 hrs  Glenn Martin 431 Flight reconnaissanace of Ionian sea, Taranto Harbour and Brindisi; nil report.

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 1230-1605 hrs Glenn Martin 431 Flight on reconnaissance; nothing to report. 0345-1515 hrs Sunderland 228 Squadron and 0403-1532 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissanace of Ionian sea, Taranto Harbour and Brindisi; nil report.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 1200 hrs  CSM W Fry and five Other Ranks embarked as invalids on board a hospital ship at Malta for passage to UK.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT   Four discharged men left for UK.

(1)  http://hospital-ship-aba.blogspot.co.uk/

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Posted by on October 8, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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6 October 1940: Trawler Finds Body of Italian Airman

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ITALIAN AIRMAN NAMED

HMS Coral

HMS Coral

A trawler on patrol off Malta today picked up the deceased remains of an Italian airman from the sea. The senior officer of HMS Coral contacted the Air Commodore, RAF Malta with details of the incident. He reported that evidently the body had been in the water for some time. The trawler’s crew collected as much evidence from the sea as possible in order to identify the deceased man. From correspondence and identification tags he was identified as Antonio Girandola of 235 Squadron, R Aeropuerto, Reggio Emilia. All the personal effects which have been salvaged will be carefully dried before being forwarded to Air HQ in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 OCTOBER TO DAWN 7 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa: four more mines cut. Completion of sweep postponed in order to carry out routine searches. 1230-1620 hrs  Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA on reconnaissance; nothing to report.  

AIR HQ Arrivals  1 Sunderland. 0825 hrs Glen Martin 431 Flight landed and reported seeing one 15000 ton Italian hospital ship with two funnels at 0745 hrs.    

KALAFRANA  Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. 0840-1610 hrs Sunderland 228 Squadron reconnaissance from Alexandria to Malta via Gavdes; nothing to report. 1629 hrs Sunderland 230 Squadron landed and reported seeing a Greek 5000 ton merchant vessel at 1026 hrs; photographs were taken. One Sunderland arrived from Middle East with two passengers.

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Posted by on October 6, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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