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19 January 1942: Over 70 Attackers in 3 Hours as Convoy Arrives

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MOSTA CASUALTIES

72 enemy aircraft attacked Malta today as an incoming convoy approached bringing essential supplies to the Island.  A massive attempted raid on the convoy at 1230 hrs was driven off by Malta’s Hurricane squadrons, airborne to protect the vessels.  Less than an hour later, raiders returned for a heavy bombing raid on the Hurricane base at Ta Qali, causing heavy casualties in the town of Mosta.  All ships arrive safely in Grand Harbour.

CONVOY DOCKS SAFELY DESPITE RAIDS

Clan Ferguson

Ajax, Clan Ferguson and City of Calcutta steamed into Grand Harbour this afternoon, bringing reinforcements and 30000 tons of supplies for Malta. (1)  The convoy left Alexandria on 16 January in two groups, with the aim of dividing the attention of the enemy, before merging yesterday for the final run to Malta.  The Island’s Royal Navy Force K set out to relieve the protection vessels and cover the convoy’s approach, supported by RAF Hurricane aircraft.

AIR RAIDS 19 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west.  80% low clouds.  Bright periods with thundery showers.

Dawn  An enemy submarine is sighted five miles ahead of the incoming convoy, off the Island of Filfla; two Albacores go to attack but are shot down by an ME109 (the crew is rescued).

0831-0856 hrs  One JU88 bomber and three ME109 fighters pass near the incoming convoy of six destroyers and three merchant ships, to the south of the Island.  Hurricanes are up covering the convoy: no engagements.

0911-0939 hrs  One aircraft approaches Gozo from the north and recedes.  Hurricanes are up but do not engage.

1227 hrs  20 JU 88s with fighter escort attempt to attack the incoming convoy, which is protected by Hurricanes.

1300 hrs Hurricane SU 174 crash lands at Luqa, damaged by enemy fire: the pilot is uninjured.

1315 hrs  JU 88s attack Ta Qali, dropping nine bombs on the aerodrome and leaving four craters on the aerodrome surface.  Two direct hits on a rock shelter cause part of the roof to cave in.  A dispersal hut of 249 Squadron is damaged, one Hurricane, one Blenheim damaged.  Another Blenheim is damaged by fire.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

Bombs are also dropped on Hal Far and on Mosta, where at least thirteen civilians and three airmen are killed.  Three more people are seriously wounded; fifteen slightly injured and in shock. One RAF billet at 122 Eucharistic Road is destroyed, another at 9 Tower Street is damaged.  Two motor buses and one lorry are damaged.

1447 hrs  Raiders passed.  The convoy enters Grand Harbour undamaged.

1517-1546 hrs  One JU 88 crosses the Island from south to north over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engages; fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1717-1811 hrs  42 aircraft (JU 88s and escorting ME 109s)  approach from the north.  Five ME 109s dive down to 400 feet and attack Swordfish aircraft on Hal Far airfield, damaging one.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the ME 109s, damaging one.  The JU 88s cross over Kalafrana and drop bombs in a Wied [river valley] near Hal Far, and 200 yards off the coast.  There is no attack on the convoy in Grand Harbour.

2022-2048 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

2114-0144 hrs  Three aircraft approach during this period and carry out patrols around the Island, dropping bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages but operations are modified due to take-off and landing of friendly aircraft.

0206-0303 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and patrol round the Island, crossing the coast before receding.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages.  Bombs are dropped near Mellieha, Ta Silch and Hal Far.  One airman is killed at Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack operations are modified due to take-off and landing of friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  LAC Harold Greenacre, RAF, 249 Squadron; LAC James Sim, RAF; Cpl John Small, RAF, 249 Squadron; Private John Spiteri, 3rd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Gunner Samuel Vickers, 10th HAA Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Luigi Barbara, age 60, Ines Bugeja, age 4, Joe Bugeja, age 7, Karmnu Buguja, age 5, Karmnu Bugeja, age 58, Mariana Bugeja, age 43, John Caruana, age 7, Francesca Riolo, age 71, Sunta Riolo, age 30, John Spiteri, age 23, Orazju Schembri, age 19, Evangelista Vella, age 34, John Vincenti, age 45; Lija John Fenech, age 27.

Enemy casualties  Alfred Beier; Kurt Krause; Waldemar Nikolay; Sebastian Pietschnig.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 19 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Swordfish from 235 Wing.

HAL FAR Two Albacores 828 Squadron carried out anti-submarine patrol.  One Albacore was shot down into the sea by enemy fighters (ME 109s).  The crew, S/Lt Howson and ALA Hedgman were rescued; both were wounded.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland Cairo 5 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 4a patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance North African aerodromes.  21 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked Catania aerodrome.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Squadrons operating from Luqa, attached there for the day.  Four Hurricane bombers 249 Squadron proceeded Comiso and attacked target from 15000 feet.  Fires started: no opposition.  All aircraft returned by 0810 hrs.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  X Squadron, 6th Bn Royal Tank Regiment (OC Major Longworth, RTR) arrived in Malta and was placed forthwith under CIB for admin.  They are accommodated in the area of Verdala Palace.  From today to end of January the CIB will provide working parties of 400 men for extension of dispersal areas at Luqa: allocated 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers 170, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt 130, 2nd Bn Royal West Kents 100.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B & C Companies carried out the firing of the pistol course today.  Training is becoming more difficult daily.  We are now providing 130 men daily for working parties on Luqa aerodrome.  In addition today we have to find 20 men for unloading of a convoy of three ships.  This will probably last ten days.

2ND BN DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 150-200 men engaged in building 2000 yards runway at Hal Far until further orders.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 6 (4 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg, 1 x Thermos) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  “This convoy brought in 20 Bofors 40mm AA guns together with 21 officers and 412 OR of 65th LAA Regiment. 8 A9 and A13 Cruiser tanks were also unloaded, to be manned by 85 officers and men of A Squadron, 6th Royal Tank Regiment. The ships also brought the first 4000-lb aircraft bombs to arrive in Malta for the RAF’s Wellingtons, 18 being unloaded. ”  Robert Dimech

“My great Uncle died on that day – he was a member of the 65th LAA regiment – the family story is that he went down on a ship in Malta but we have no further information and this looks like a good candidate.”  Roger Bradbury

 

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Posted by on January 19, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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16 January 1942: Food for a Fortress Under Siege

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  • Attack without warning kills civilian

    Short S.30 'C' Class Empire Flying Boat, G-AFKZ "Cathay", of BOAC (IWM Air Ministry Second World War Official Collection)

    Short S.30 ‘C’ Class Empire Flying Boat (C) IWM CH14013

  • Flying boat visits Malta
  • Malta’s defenders fight off the enemy
  • Army working parties for Luqa increased to 350
  • One letter card home per week allowed

GOVERNOR LISTS SUPPLY NEEDS FOR MALTA’S DEFENDERS

From: Governor and C in C Malta                                                 To:  C in C Middle East

Copy: War Office

Demand for June as follows.  This and future demands being divided into two parts.  Part one…represents the requirements of the whole Fortress.  Items in part two are S. and T. demands only.

Part 1.  In tons: flour 3400; wheat 4500; benzine 500; kerosene 1100; edible oil 130; food for livestock 2800; lard 47; butter 14; cheese 55; coffee 55; rice 55; soap 160; tea 33; margarine 121; salmon 72; sardines 18; preserved meat 358; grated cheese 64; tinned milk 182; sugar 641; herrings 47 (in boxes).  Matches 836000.

Part 2.  In tons: biscuits 40; M and V rations 323; sausages tinned 88; chocolate 22; salt 18; dried fruit 14; yeast 1; custard powder 4; cocoa 3; grease G.S. 1; oatmeal 21; tinned vegetables 21; tinned C bacon 51; jams 37; tinned fruit 38; tobacco 2; rice cones 1; pickles 7; straw paillasse 39; acid cal. phos. 1; tinned potatoes 27 (in pounds); pepper 824; curry powder 940; mustard 824; baking powder 705.

In number: cigarettes 8167000.  In gallons: vinegar 595; oil (M. 120) 50; oil (M. 160) 1120 (1150); oil (C. 600) 500; hypoid (90) 50; sauces 940.

Hospital requirements.  In pounds:  fruit jelly 2000; ham 450; biscuit cream crackers 510; mixed peel 1110; fancy biscuits 468; honey 60; coffee 222; mixed spice 40; lunch tongue 120 (in tins).  Ovaltine 360 (in packets).  Mixed herbs 336 (in pints).  Ale (4700 stout) 840 (in bottles).  Lime juice 500.

Barrack requirements.  In gallons: methylated spirits 300; anti-mosquito spray 1000; heavy naptha 150 (in yards); wick flat half inch 60 (in pieces); wick SOH No 116A (rip stove) 20; wick SOH No 500 (for Valor heating stove No 525R) 20 (in pounds); nitr. cake 1120; anti-louse powder 1680.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 16 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west.  50% cloud.  Bright periods; visibility good.

0642-0742 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and patrol south of the Island, apparently trying to intercept a flying boat.  The aircraft cross the south coast and drop bombs on Hal Far and Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two immediate barrages; one Hurricane is airborne at 0739 hrs.

0844-0907; 0936-0943 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

1000-1017 hrs  One JU 88 bomber approaches to within 15 miles of Grand Harbour but is driven off by Hurricanes.

1137-1200 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as being friendly.

1234-1238 hrs  An aircraft approaches the north east coast at 8000 feet; believed to be a returning Beaufighter.  Without any warning, the aircraft dives out of the sun and drops bombs on Senglea, killing one civilian and damaging buildings before being engaged by Hompesch second gun position.

Civilian casualty  Senglea Vincent Micallef (48).

1640 hrs  21 Hurricanes of 126, 242 and 249 Squadrons at Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching hostile aircraft.

1700 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by approximately nine ME 109 fighters approach via Gozo and cross the coast near Dingli, where the Hurricanes intercept: Pilot Officer Anderson claims a hit on one JU 88.  Most enemy aircraft are driven off but two get through.

1718 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the three bombers, claiming one hit.  W/Sgt H Lane is injured in the thigh and side by bomb splinters and taken to No 90 General Hospital.

One JU 88 dives down to 8000 feet and drops bombs on Luqa and to the east of Safi village – no damage is reported.

1744 hrs  Raiders passed.  All Hurricanes return safely.

Night 2043-2107; 2157-2205; 2350-0012; 0208-0227; 0316-0356; 0410-0750 hrs  During the whole of this period some eight aircraft approach from the north and carry out patrols around the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fires nine barrages; no bombs are dropped on land.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 16 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Cathay [flying boat] from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Blenheim to Helwan; one Cathay to Cairo.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Hurricane photo-reconnaissance (PR) Palermo Messina; one Beaufighter PR North African aerodromes; one Hurricane PR Sicilian aerodromes.  S/D Flight  one Wellington search Pantelleria-Maritimo, Cape Bon to Kuriat.  40 Squadron Two Wellingtons nuisance raid Tripoli.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable.  No attacks on camp.  Operation order No 2 is issued for move of Squadrons to Luqa for 24 hour duty on 18.2.42.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Adjutants’ conference at HQ.  It is proposed to introduce a system of letter cards from Malta East and West.  One letter card per week may be sent and it will take about 3 days.  This is a great improvement – the present mail situation being bad.  Commitment for Luqa working parties increased to 350 men daily (allocated 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers 150, 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment 100, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt 100).

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 1 (250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 16, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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29 December 1941: Attacks On Airfields and Ships; Passengers Killed

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MALTA AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS DAMAGED; CIVILIAN AND MILITARY CASUALTIES 

AIR RAIDS 29 DECEMBER 1941

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

0947 hrs  Six JU 88 bombers and thirty fighters approach Malta in two waves.  One formation peels off to bomb destroyers lying off the east coast; no damage is reported. The second formation of seven ME 109s and two JU 88s crosses the coast and attacks Luqa airfield, damaging two Blenheim aircraft on the ground. Seven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron and four of 242 Squadron engage the enemy.  Four Hurricanes are damaged, the pilots unhurt.  One ME 109 is destroyed and one damaged.  Two Hurricanes of 242 Squadron collide and crash into the sea.  Pilot P/O Blanchard is reported missing.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far aerodrome.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors are engaged and no damage is reported; no claims.

1103 hrs  All clear.

1209-1226 hrs; 1321-1335 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy aircraft on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fires immediate barrage.

1443 hrs  24 fighters and bombers approach from the north and attempt to bomb submarines off Delimara.  ME 109s launch a heavy machine-gun attack on submarines Urge and Upholder, and anti-submarine trawler Beryl.  Commanding Officer of Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, DSO, RN) is wounded and Beryl is rendered unfit for sea with minor damage and six wounded.

HMS Beryl

Bombs are also dropped in the Marsascala area despite a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  Major G H W Wright is reported killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Wright, RA and two Other Ranks of the Dorset Regiment injured.  Eight Hurricanes of 185 Squadron engage with the enemy aircraft.  One ME109 is shot down and three others damaged.  One Hurricane crashes on landing; the pilot, Sgt Forth, is killed.

1550 hrs  All clear.

1612 hrs  Five ME 109s attack friendly [non-military] ships with machine-gun fire.  A Gozo passenger boat is hit in St George’s Bay and set on fire. (1)  A rescue launch sent to help the sinking boat is badly strafed.  Hurricanes engage the attackers, destroying two ME 109s. 

Twelve further enemy aircraft (including four ME 109 F’s) cross the coast.  JU88 bombers drop into a shallow dive to bomb Luqa.  Fifteen aircraft on the ground are written off.  Bombs are dropped in a quarry occupied by 2nd Battalion The Royal West Kent Regiment, damaging signals installations.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors gunners damage one JU 88.

1712 hrs  All clear.

2032 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast over St Julian’s.  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage at 13,000 feet and jettisons bombs near Ta Qali.

2140-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2236 hrs  Air raid alarm. No engagement.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Merton Blanchard, Royal Canadian Air Force, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Alfred Forth, Royal Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Sidney Brandt, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Roy Lawson, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve), 249 Squadron; Major G H W Wright, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghajnsielem, Gozo  Paul Azzopardi, age 52; Marcel Teuma, age 51; Felic Bigeni, age 32.  Luqa  Saviour Demicoli, age 15.  Siggiewi  Nicholas Schembri, age 50.  Hamrun Gaetan Scicluna, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Luftwaffe Pilot Leutnant Joachim Louis destroyed one Hurricane earlier today, before being wounded in a counter-attack by another.  Still able to fly, his aircraft was hit again, and severely damaged, crashing into the sea.  In the search operation to recover missing Hurricane pilots, Leutnant Louis was picked up and taken prisoner. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines outside Zuara.

RAF LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR): one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland PR North African aerodromes, Tripoli & Zara; one Maryland PR Misrata, Sirte, Tamet, Zanzar and Tange. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; two Blenheims attacked transport Tripoli-Zuara.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim special search for two destroyers (Br); four Blenheims despatched to attack transport on road Homs-Misurata – two attacked.

RAF TA QALI  0808-1730 hrs  Six alerts; five scrambles – three interceptions.  One ME 109 shot down in sea and two probably shot down. 

(1) The vessel was the schooner Marie Georgette, skippered by Marcel Theuma, sailing from Malta to Gozo with passengers on board. Theuma managed to beach the vessel but it was attacked again and he was fatally wounded. Two other crewmen were killed.

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Posted by on December 29, 2021 in 1941, December 1941

 

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20 December 1941: Battle for Malta Has Begun

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AXIS LAUNCH DAYLIGHT STRIKES ON MALTA

After weeks of domination in the Mediterranean, suddenly the fortunes of war have turned against the British fleet.  In a matter of days Malta’s Strike Forces have been significantly depleted, and in Alexandria the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant severely damaged in an attack by Italian manned torpedoes within the harbour.   The Italian Navy has secured dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Axis can now concentrate their air forces on the task of neutralizing the stronghold of the Allied position in the Mediterranean: Malta.

Dockyard School

AIR RAIDS 20 DECEMBER 1941

0916-1037 hrs  Air raid alarm for forty enemy aircraft comprising fighters and bombers which approached and attacked the Island.  Bombs were dropped on Zabbar, Marsascala, Sliema, Grand Harbour, Valletta and also in the sea.  Several houses were demolished, others damaged.  One civilian was killed, five seriously injured and thirty slightly injured in scattered localities.

Hurricanes engaged destroying one JU 88 and damaging three JU 88’s, 2 Macchi 202’s probably destroyed.  2 Hurricanes missing.  Enemy aircraft engaged by heavy Ack Ack and Bofors, one JU 88 damaged by Bofors fire.

All unexploded bombs reported are German, including incendiaries and High Explosives (HE).  One at the Dockyard School is found to be a 500kg HE.

1703-1731 hrs  Air raid alarm.  12 enemy aircraft crossed coast and dropped bombs in Senglea.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors engaged enemy aircraft over Grand Harbour.

2004-2020 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Brian Cavan, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Sergeant Howard Moren, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Zabbar  Anthony Lija, age 76.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Jaguar arrived with Kandahar’s survivors.  Urge returned from patrol in Straits of Messina.  Battleship hit, did NOT pass to eastward, after attack.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search for damaged destroyer; one Maryland SF 6 patrol. Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  Tripoli & Castel Benito; one Maryland PR Argostoli, Patra and C Pappos.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; two Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessel (no attack made); four Blenheims attacked Zuara and district.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; five Blenheims despatched to attack Mellaha.  Target not located so attacked various targets in the vicinity.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.  No military damage or casualties.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 0916 hrs Attack on Grand Harbour area.  Two planes were observed in difficulties but not definitely seen to crash.  All clear 1045.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 69.

 

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Posted by on December 20, 2021 in 1941, December 1941

 

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5 October 1941: Malta Urgently Needs Underground Fuel Stores

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GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF BIDS FOR UNDERGROUND FACILITIES TO IMPROVE DEFENCE OF THE FORTRESS

From: Governor & C in C Malta                     To:  War Office, copy to C in C Mediterranean

The following for Chiefs of Staff:

A stage in the rearmament of Malta has now been reached where I believe that the Chiefs of Staff should give consideration to the major works which are necessary to complete the defences of this fortress. It has not been possible to advance this problem previously as our main work efforts have been directed for the past 15 months at protecting the population, and this has occupied the major part of our specialised labour force.  It is now possible however to review the problem generally with a view to ensuring that our labour is used for the next two or three years in such a way that the defences of the fortress will be developed in the most efficient manner.

Wied-id-Dis

Wied-id-Dis

The defence works involved are as follows:

  • (a) Shelters for the civilian population: It is hoped that by the end of November this year every civilian in Malta will have two square feet of bomb-proof shelter. From that time it will then be possible to consider further diversions of labour from this work to the service.  It will be appreciated that the provision of two square feet per person will in no sense complete the shelter scheme and much further work will be required. 
  • (b) The provision of underground workshops in HM Dockyard: These are already underway and will take from two to three years to complete.
  • (c) The construction of an underground supply depot for the Army (work on this has started already)
  • (d) The provision of a secure supply of electricity
  • (e) The provision of an underground flour mill
  • (f) The provision of adequate underground storage for white oils
  • (g) The provision of underground hangars for aircraft
  • (h) The provision of a new Army magazine at Wied-id-Dis
  • (i) The provision of bomb-proof shelters for submarines at Marsamxetto

Labour items for (a) to (f) can be made available; (g) is already underway. It is estimated that items (h) and (i) can be commenced as soon as the remainder of the Government shelter construction scheme is completed.  Items (a), (b) and (c) are already underway. The provision of (d) and (e) are essential requirements of the defence of the Fortress.  Without an underground flour mill our whole scheme to maintain supplies within the Fortress to last eight months may be largely nullified. 

Item (f), the provision of underground oil storage, is my main concern. We need to store about 7000 tons of kerosene, 3500 tons of benzine and 9000 tons of aviation spirit.  These figures cover the whole requirements of the Fortress.  It is hoped that provision will be made for the storage of kerosene by the conversion of No 20 Underground Oil Fuel Tank in HM Dockyard.  No provision yet exists for the bulk storage of benzine.  Storage for 1000 tons of aviation spirit is almost complete at Manoel Island and for 1000 tons of aviation spirit in the Ghar Dalam installation is nearly ready.  This latter installation when completed early next year will provide 2500 tons of storage.  We therefore lack storage for 3500 tons of benzine and 5500 tons of aviation spirit.  The provision of underground tanks to contain these quantities is the most imperative need in the Fortress at the present time.  The present method of importing great quantities of white oils into the Fortress in tins is most wasteful of shipping space and is inviting a major disaster.  At present we have no alternative but to accept this risk but I want to eliminate it as quickly as possible.

I therefore earnestly recommend that the Chiefs of Staff should give approval forthwith for the execution of three Defence Works mentioned in the preceding paragraph. They are our main weaknesses at present and we must overcome them at all cost.  If approval is given detailed plans for the storage of white oils will be forwarded immediately.  The expenditure involved is insignificant compared with the sums of money which have been spent and are being spent on the defences of Malta, yet each of the three works has a major effect on the security of the Fortress as a whole.

Our initial efforts to construct bomb-proof hangars have not been entirely successful owing to the nature of the rock encountered and the Air Officer Commanding therefore prefers to rely on dispersal until we can complete these hangars. They will take much longer than originally anticipated.  I agree with this view.

Items (h) and (i) are essential to complete our defences. I would welcome approval in principle for these works in order to assist our plans for allocating labour.  The lack of these defences is at present being primarily counteracted by the principle of dispersal but this can never provide such a satisfactory solution as bomb-proof cover.  With good fortune we should be able to commence them all before the end of next year. 

Finally I desire to mention the construction of a graving dock for battleships. This is a very great undertaking and at present the Vice Admiral Malta (VAM) considers that the other major defence works to which I have referred in this telegram should be completed before the dock is commenced.  With the experience gained in this war I agree with the VAM that such a dock is an essential adjunct for the maintenance of the Mediterranean Fleet. 

Summed up it is the unanimous view of the senior officers in the Fortress that in order to complete our defences approval should be given forthwith for the schemes covering electricity supply, flour milling and the storage of aviation spirit, and that approval in principle should be given for the construction of major defence works which I have described. I request that an early decision may be given in order to avoid any loss of time in commencing the necessary excavations.      

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

Your telegram was considered by Chiefs of Staff. They were of the opinion that you should proceed with the three projects (d), (e) and (f) without delay.  Please therefore forward as soon as possible detailed proposals.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 OCTOBER TO DAWN 6 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

0934-1005 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of three enemy fighters. Only the second formation crosses the Island, passing over Grand Harbour at great altitude.  Five Hurricanes 185 Squadron and twelve 249 Squadron are scrambled but are unable to reach the necessary height for interception.  The raiders recede northwards with no engagement.

1511-1542 hrs  With no prior alert, six enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north, cross the coast at 27000 feet and immediately split up. Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and twelve 249 Squadron are scrambled but again are unable to reach the necessary height to intercept.  Two heavy anti-aircraft guns fire pointer rounds. 

0018-0023 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of friendly aircraft.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Antonia Camilleri, age 24.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Bombay. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Sicily, reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour area and convoy. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims searched for Sgt Hamlyn and crew without success.  2 Blenheims attacked railway installations at Catania. Fleet Air Arm 2 Fulmars on offensive patrol on aerodromes in Sicily.  One attacked Trapani aerodrome and Marsala seaplane base.  The other attacked aerodromes at Gerbini and Catania, dropping high explosive bombs on the Gerbini dispersal area and both aerodromes were machine-gunned at low level.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Until further notice curfew will be from 2100 hrs to 0545 hrs.

 

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Posted by on October 5, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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4 October 1941: Malta Urgently Needs Air Transport Links

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Regent sailed to attack convoy

Regent sailed to attack convoy

ONLY AN AIR SERVICE CAN MOVE PERSONNEL, SUPPLIES AND MAIL FAST ENOUGH

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

I request the following may be taken up with the Air Ministry and Admiralty:

  • The necessity for some regular form of communication to and from Malta, either by sea or air, has been recognised for several months. It has been accepted that any regular form of sea communication is out of the question for the present. Transport by air is thus the only solution, but I have not made proposals previously as I had been informed that the types of aircraft needed for this service were all required for more important work.
  • The necessity for air transport is:
  • To provide a means of moving personnel either east or west. At the present time communication with England is most irregular and very infrequent. A very considerable number of personnel have been awaiting transport from Egypt for many months.  Their number is quite beyond the capacity of the present movements of aircraft or submarines from that country.  Many instances have occurred of officers required urgently in England and the eastern Mediterranean being held up here for six weeks or more owing to the lack of transport.
  • The offensive operations from this base frequently necessitate certain stores for operational purposes being moved here as quickly as possible. Air is the only solution. At the present time the quantity of these stores exceeds the capacity of transport available.
  • For the prompt despatch and receipt of mail. The lack of this at the present time is leading to many long and detailed cypher telegrams which have to be sent since no other sure means of transmission is available. Again, the absence of news from home caused by the very infrequent mail service has, in these difficult times, an adverse effect on the morale of the Garrison.  This is further aggravated by the impossibility for the men to send letters home in any confidence that they will arrive in a reasonable time.
  • For the sake of the efficiency of this Fortress, the need for a regular and reliable air service is very great indeed, and has a direct bearing on our ability to conduct offensive operations for the reasons I have given above. Such a service would be of immense value to use but, on the other hand, it is not possible for us to judge here whether commitments in other parts of the world are more important than our own. I feel, however, that a stage has now been reached where I must represent the great necessity for this service to responsible authorities in order that it may be considered carefully in relation to commitments elsewhere.  Heads of Services agree with this telegram.

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

Your request is under urgent consideration here. The necessity for a regular air transport service is fully appreciated but the provision of an adequate number of aircraft of a suitable type is our chief difficulty at present.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 OCTOBER TO DAWN 5 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine, some cloud.

AM  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft heading towards Malta from the north. Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled and circle over the Island.  The raiders turn away without crossing the coast and there is no engagement.  One fighter of P/O Veitch crashes into the sea one mile from Benghaisa Point.  The rescue launch conducts a search and finds only wreckage.  It is thought the crash may have been caused by a failure in the oxygen supply.

1547-1610 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy aircraft approaching the Island. 13 Hurricanes (two 185 Squadron and eleven 249 Squadron) are scrambled but the raiders retire towards Sicily and there is no engagement.

1613-1620 hrs  Air raid alert for the same formation which turns back towards Malta before circling away again.

1747-1758 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft approaching the Island. 13 Hurricanes (two 185 Squadron and eleven 249 Squadron) are scrambled but the raiders turn away before any interception.

0200 hrs  Summer time ends.  All clocks put back one hour. 

0310-0400 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly. One crosses over Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.  The second crosses the coast of Malta and drops 50kg high explosive bombs between on the Safi area causing damage to civilian property and four civilian casualties.  Two Malta Night Fighters are scrambled.  One of the raiders is spotted by moonlight at 800 yards range but retreats rapidly and there is no engagement.

0512-0523 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island. Searchlights illuminate the raider but it stays away from the coast and guns do not engage.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Duncan MacMillan, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Pilot Officer Peter J B Veitch, Royal Air Force, 185 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Upright returned from patrol off Rasocolino, where she sank a small destroyer and sighted two U boats. Regent sailed at short notice to intercept convoy east of Tripoli. Sokol also sailed at short notice to search for the crew of a missing Blenheim.  Two Swordfish carried out an anti-submarine patrol for enemy submarines reported in vicinity of Malta, but without result. 

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Beaufighter, 4 Blenheim, 1 Maryland. 38 Squadron 11 Wellingtons attacked a convoy in the south Ionian Sea. 69 Squadron Marylands photoreconnaissance Tripoli, patrols central Ionian Sea, east Sicilian coast and special search for a convoy. 107 Squadron 8 Blenheims attacked Zuara  Sgt Hamlyn (with Sgt Latter and Sgt Williams) was attacked by Italian CR 42 fighters and ditched in the sea.  An air and sea search has been mounted. 830 Squadron Fleet air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy off the coast of Tripoli leaving two merchant vessels sinking and a damaging a third.   

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Storms wash up several mines on the coast which are rendered safe.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  A mine was found floating dangerously close to a Battalion defence post; the post was evacuated but the mine disappeared during the night and the post was reoccupied.

 

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30 September 1941: Submarines Sink 49 Axis Ships in 3 Months

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RAF raid on German ammunition dump in Libyan desert August 1941

RAF raid on German ammunition dump in Libyan desert August 1941

ROYAL NAVY MONTHLY REVIEWS SEPTEMBER 1941

Between June and the end of September, submarines have sunk a total of 49 enemy ships – an overall 150,000 tons – in the Mediterranean. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF this represented a high proportion of Axis shipping bound for Libya.

12 patrols were carried out during the month by submarines of 10th Flotilla.  In addition, Triumph proceeded to a successful patrol in the Adriatic, Perseus to an area off Kefalonia, and Otus and Osiris direct to Alexandria.

Unbeaten carried out a spirited bombardment of a tunnel which caused consternation to the local home guard, and Upright sank a destroyer of the Generale class.  The most successful operation was against a fast convoy east of Tripoli, during which Upholder scored one hit on each of Oceania and Neptunia in a night attack and after reloading returned to sink one of them with two torpedoes at dawn.  The other ship’s fate is unknown.  The Vulcania of the same convoy was intercepted by Ursula which scored one hit on the ship causing it to list slightly and reduce speed.

No bombs were reported as having fallen on the Dockyard or other Naval establishments. No unexploded bombs were dealt with by the Royal Navy during the month. 

AIR HQ REPORTS A TOTAL OF 233 TONS OF BOMBS ON TRIPOLI THIS MONTH

During the month sweeps over enemy territory by Malta fighters, some equipped to carry 40lb bombs, were added to the strategy.

Marylands and photoreconnaissance Hurricanes of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes daily as well as making frequent reconnaissances of Sicilian and southern Calabrian ports and aerodromes, and of Tripoli. Naples has also been visited.  The excellent photographs, visual and sighting reports obtained have indirectly been responsible for the increased pressure of offensive effort from Malta during the month.

Offensive Operations:  Wellingtons of 38 Squadron carried out 26 operations during September, with an average of eight aircraft on each sortie. Over 233 tons of bombs have been dropped on Tripoli during 17 raids, causing considerable damage to harbour installations and the town. Palermo has been attacked five times, Messina twice, Benhazi and Kuriat once each.

Blenheims of 105 and 107 Squadrons carried out 31 operations, 20 of these directed against enemy shipping. Considerable damage was done to the chemical works and harbour installations at Crotone, factories at Licata, transport centres at Homs, barracks at Misurata and a power station at Porto Empedocle.  Five sweeps have been made along the Tripoli-Benghazi road during which petrol tankers and other transport vehicles have been bombed and machine-gunned.

Hurricanes (equipped with cannon) of 249 Squadron attacked the railway station at Pozallo, while those of 185 Squadron have carried out three bombing raids on Comiso aerodrome. On one of these raids a Hurricane was lost but the pilot was subsequently rescued. 

Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm carried out 16 operations, 13 of these against enemy shipping, and have sunk two motor vessels and one destroyer, as well as damaging others. Mines have been laid on two occasions in Tripoli Harbour and once at Palermo.  As a result of torpedo attacks two merchant ships are claimed sunk, one destroyer and three merchantmen probably sunk, seven damaged and a further five probably damaged. 

Beaufighters of 272 Squadron were attached to this command during ‘Operation Halberd’ and were used to attack Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes. Searches were also made south of Sicily for torpedo boats.

On 14 nights Fulmars have operated over aerodromes in southern Sicily, dropping small bombs and machine-gunning aircraft on the ground. One Fulmar force-landed in the sea; the crew were rescued.

Defensive Action: 126 Squadron carried out 31 scrambles during the month, 249 Squadron 22 and 185 Squadron 66. The Malta Night Fighter Unit had 22 scrambles and shot down two enemy aircraft.  Eleven enemy aircraft were confirmed destroyed, plus one probable and five damaged, against the loss of two Hurricanes.

Enemy Activity: There have been nine day alerts and 20 night alerts during the month. None of these raids was heavy and bombs have only been dropped at night.  Damage has been negligible and confined to civilian property. 

HURRICANES ATTACKED AS THEY SEARCH FOR MISSING PILOT

Malta fighters were attacked tonight by five enemy aircraft as they helped search for one of their own Hurricane pilots reported missing after a raid. Eleven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron had earlier attacked Comiso aerodrome but as they returned to their base at Hal Far they learned that one of their pilots, P/O Donald Lintern, was missing.  Five Hurricanes took off again to escort a Fulmar which was sent to search for the missing pilot.  As they circled the area to the north of Gozo, enemy aircraft approached and attacked the Malta fighters.  In the ensuing dogfight one of the enemy fighters was shot down.  P/O Lintern was not been found and the search was eventually called off.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 1 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and fresh.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant Robert L Kitch, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 200 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald W Lintern, RAFVR, 185 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington. Departures 6 Beaufighter, 4 Blenheim fighter. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar on offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania aerodromes dropped high explosive bombs on Gerbini dispersal area. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked a motor transport depot in Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance eastern and southern Sicily, east Calabrian coast and Tripoli.  Patrol of east Sicilian coast and shipping search off Tripoli area. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked shipping and motor transport near Misurata and Beurat.  1 Blenheim attacked a schooner.  1 Blenheim on search for shipping north of Crotone. 

HAL FAR  185 Squadron 11 Hurricanes attacked Comiso aerodrome, 5 carrying bombs and 6 acting as fighter escort. High explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on buildings and a dispersal area.  The aircraft of P/O Lintern failed to return. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Mobile machine-gun company carried out an exercise to the north west of Rabat.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths 33 officers, 870 other ranks.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 21 officers, 443 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 18 officers, 708 other ranks. Recruits joined in September: 77.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 18 officers, 8 WO1, 214 other ranks.

 

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11 September 1941: Malta Fighters Winning Battle for the Skies

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Hurricanes dominate Malta skies

Hurricanes dominate Malta airspace

DEFEAT OF RAIDERS LIFTS MORALE

Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: diary entry 11th September 1941

“I am writing this during a raid at 2100 hrs. Guns are firing which is very unusual. There is no moon; which may have something to do with it. Latterly, our fighters have had much the best of it. Two nights ago friends who were staying at Gozo saw one of their bombers caught in our searchlights, and our fighter chasing it (also in our searchlight) out to sea. Both were firing at one another. The Iti was brought down.

I heard of the worst case of pilfering from the convoys today. Somebody got away with 470 cases, not bottles. The size of the haul makes one give a grudging admiration, when I have lads in prison for stealing a few packets of cigarettes! With whisky at, say 15/- per bottle, this is a value of over £4000. It must have been a whole lighter full, and there must have been a number of people in the syndicate. We are told that somebody is suspect; I hope he gets caught.” (1)

WAR CABINET REPORT FOR WEEK 4-11 SEPTEMBER

A naval operation for the reinforcement of air forces in Malta was successfully carried out. It is estimated that at least 20000 tons of enemy shipping have been sunk or damaged by Allied aircraft in the Mediterranean.

On 4 September five Blenheims attacked ships in Crotone, which had taken refuge there as a result of a very successful attack made by Swordfish the previous night. One 6-8000 ton merchant vessel was hit and an explosion resulted, and two other ships were attacked (results not observed).  One Blenheim was shot down by anti-aircraft guns. 

On the night of 6-7 September seven Naval Swordfish, operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta, intercepted a northbound convoy of three merchant vessels and three destroyers. One vessel of 6000 tons was hit three times and almost certainly sunk, and a 6000 ton tanker was hit twice with torpedoes.

A total of 34 tons of bombs was dropped on two nights by Wellingtons on Tripoli. The first attack was made on motor transport depots in conditions of excellent visibility.  The attack was pressed home from a very low level; all the bombs fell in the target area, where large fires among vehicles and buildings were reported.  The harbour was the objective of the second attack; three hits were obtained on a medium-sized merchant vessel and a number of bombs fell on the Spanish Quay.

On two successive nights Wellingtons from Malta attacked the docks at Palermo and dropped a total of 32 tons of bombs. Many hits were made on the three main quays and dry dock, and some extensive fires started.  Three large merchant vessels lying in the harbour may also have suffered damage.  These attacks were followed by two night raids by a total of 16 Wellingtons on the power station, landing stages and ferry ships at Messina; over 22 tons of bombs were dropped and many hits obtained on the targets.  A large fire was reported in the Citadel area of the town.

On 4 September a daylight raid on Malta was attempted by a force of 20 Macchi 200s, which were intercepted by Hurricanes at sea. Later in the day 12 more Macchis were employed to cover rescue operations.  In the course of these two operations nine of the enemy fighters were destroyed, two probably destroyed and five others damaged, against our loss of two Hurricanes.

Formations of from one to six aircraft have attacked Malta on most nights of the week. The few bombs dropped have caused negligible damage.  One Cant Z1007 was illuminated by searchlights and shot down in flames by Hurricanes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1135-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for a report of nine enemy aircraft which approach to within eight miles north of Grand Harbour at 23000 feet. Ten Hurricane fighters are scrambled.  Eight of 249 Squadron are unable to attain sufficient altitude to attack.  The two Hurricanes of 185 Squadron follow the raiders to within 10-15 miles of Sicily but cannot reach them and return to base.

2047-2210 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy aircraft approaching the Island. One turns back well before reaching Malta but the remaining four cross the coast and drop bombs on land around Kalafrana and Ta Qali.  Ant-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked Palermo. 69 Squadron 5 Blenheims on sweep of Ionian sea; attacked shipping. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy of 6 merchant ships and 7 destroyers off the Tunisian coast.  5 torpedoes were fired, sinking one merchant ship and damaging a second. 2 Fulmar offensive patrols over Sicilian aerodromes unable to attack due to thick cloud; they dropped high explosives and incendiaries on chemical works at Licata and machine-gunned harbour installations, then dropped high explosives and incendiaries on the railway at Sciata starting a fire.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Private Clapham buried with full military honours.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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4 September 1941: Malta Defenders Destroy 12 Enemy Aircraft in 24 Hours

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air combatSIX MACCHI FIGHTERS DESTROYED IN DAYLIGHT RAID

Malta’s defenders shot down a total of 11 enemy aircraft today in just three engagements. Mid-morning a large formation of 20 Macchi fighters approached the Island.  21 Hurricanes in total (twelve of 126 Squadron and nine of 185 Squadron) were scrambled and intercepted the raiders when they were still some distance north of Grand Harbour. 

F/Lt Jeffries spotted a Macchi circling at 19000 feet 30 miles off the coast and led his section of 185 Squadron in the attack. The Macchi was last seen diving vertically towards the sea.  Four Macchi fighters then counter-attack but the Hurricanes manage to evade them. 

126 Squadron engaged the raiders at 20 miles off the coast. S/Ldr Rabagliati attacked two Macchis, reporting one spinning down towards the sea emitting smoke.  P/O Burke attacked two Macchis in turn, claiming hits on both; one was seen diving down towards the sea.  F/O Carpenter engaged three Macchis at high altitude, shooting one down. P/O Russell and F/Lt Lefevre attacked and shot down one Macchi apiece.  Three enemy parachutes were observed descending towards the sea; a fourth Italian also baled out but his parachute did not open. 

One Macchi only crossed the coast, flying at low altitude over Kalafrana and Hal Far. Bofors gun positions launched a fierce barrage and the Macchi was last seen losing height over Dingli Cliffs.

This afternoon it was the turn of Malta fighters to go on the offensive. Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron headed for Cape Passero on the southernmost point of Sicily, where a formation of twelve Macchi fighters had been reported in the air.  It became clear that the Macchis were protecting a hospital aircraft which was flying at sea level.  The Hurricanes launched an attack and a fierce dogfight ensued, during which three Macchis were destroyed, plus one probable, and two damaged.  Two Hurricanes were shot down; P/O G V Smith and Sgt J C Kimberley are missing.  The Hurricanes turned back towards Malta with the Macchis following close on their tails.  One Hurricane was hit by a bullet during the return flight but otherwise all remaining aircraft returned safely.  Speaking after the engagement, S/Ldr Barton said, “This is the toughest engagement I have experienced to date: the Macchis just stayed and fought.” 

Then in the early hours of this morning two enemy bombers took advantage of the approach of Wellington bombers to reach the Island without interception. High explosive bombs were dropped in the sea and incendiaries over Kalafrana and Marsaxlokk before two Malta night fighters can intercept.  Searchlights illuminate one of the bombers and the Hurricanes engage, shooting it down in flames into the sea, to “the cheers of half of Malta” according to one eye-witness.  Two crew members were seen to bale out of the bomber but after a thorough search only one could be found and rescued.

The bombers in tonight’s raid were later identified as Cant Z 1007s. This is the first known incident of the bomber being used in night raids over Malta.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1043-1115 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island. 12 Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled and attack the formation 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, shooting down four Macchis and damaging another.  Nine Hurricanes 185 Squadron also engage the raiders out to sea, shooting down one. One Macchi crosses the coast and flies over the Island at low altitude.  Bofors gun positions at Kalafrana and Hal Far engage, both claiming hits, and the Macchi is observed losing height over Dingli Cliffs.

1546 hrs  Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron engage 12 Macchi 200 fighters five miles off Cape Passero. Three Macchis are destroyed, plus one probable, and two damaged.  Two Hurricanes are shot down; P/O Smith and Sgt Kimberley are reported missing.  The Macchis follow the Hurricanes back towards Malta.  One Hurricane is struck by a bullet during the return flight. 

0443-0530 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island with incoming Wellington bombers. The raiders drop high explosive bombs in the sea at Delimara Point, and incendiaries over Kalafrana and in fields near Marsaxlokk.  Searchlights illuminate a bomber which is engaged by Hurricane fighters and shot down in flames into the sea. Two crew bale out; one wounded man is rescued and taken prisoner.  The bomber is later identified as a Cant Z1007, the first time that this type has been identified over Malta at night.

Military casualties  Sergeant John E Jones, wireless operator/air gunner, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Lewis D Parry, observer, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Walter H Wallace, pilot, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant James C Kimberley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 249 Squadron; Pilot Officer George V Smith, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Sergente Luigi Contarini, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; Pilot Sottotenente Andrea Della Pasqua, 9o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; Pilot Tenente Colonello Carlo Romagnoli, Tenente Colonello, Commander of 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol in Straits of Messina having sunk a schooner Q ship.  Vichy convoys and a hospital ship were sighted but nothing else.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance of Kerkennah area, western Ionian Sea and Tripoli.  Two Fulmars patrolled Catania, Gerbini and Comiso; bombs dropped on Comiso and Catania. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Three Swordfish, two with torpedoes and one with a mine, left for Tripoli to attack shipping outside harbour. No shipping was located but a mine was laid outside the harbour; torpedoes were not released.  38 Squadron 13 Wellingtons attacked motor transport depot destroying several buildings and starting fires. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked shipping and port facilities Crotone Harbour.  Enemy fire blew off the wing of Sgt Wallace’s Blenheim and the aircraft crashed, killing the crew. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion held a defence scheme exercise in conjunction with the Fortress Royal Engineers and troops of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers.  ‘Enemy parachute troops’ attacked targets in Corrodino, the Dockyard, Floriana and Valletta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 37 (1 x 500kg; 36 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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30 August 1941: Malta Aircraft Drop 200 Tons of Bombs on Tripoli

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bombing North AfricaAIR HQ MALTA REPORTS ON THE MONTH’S OPERATIONS     

During the month the Marylands and photoreconnaissance Hurricanes of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes daily and have also made frequent reconnaissances of Sicilian and southern Calabrian ports and aerodromes, and of Tripoli. As a result of these reconnaissances and a study of the excellent photographs obtained Wellingtons of 38 Squadron have carried out 15 raids on Tripoli and two raids on Catania.  During the month over 200 tons of bombs have been dropped on Tripoli alone and have caused considerable damage to shipping and harbour installations.  One Wellington failed to return from a raid over Tripoli.

Blenheims of 105 Squadron have carried out 23 operations, all except two of them against enemy shipping. Considerable damage was caused to chemical works at Crotone and to storage tanks and factories at Licata.  Five aircraft have been lost but the crew of one are known to be prisoners.

Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm have carried out 16 operations, 13 of which have been most successful. Twice they have bombed the submarine base at Augusta and once shipping at Catania.

Hurricanes (cannon-loaded) of 126 Squadron have attacked floatplanes at Syracuse and balloons at Augusta with considerable success.

On 14 nights, Fulmars have operated over aerodromes in southern Sicily, dropping small bombs and carrying out machine-gun attacks; on one occasion at least five aircraft being burnt out at Gerbini. These intruder operations have frequently disturbed the Italian night flying routine.

No 126 Squadron has carried out 19 scrambles during the month, 249 Squadron has carried out 34 and 105 Squadron 36. The newly-formed Malta Night Flying Unit has had 17 scrambles and has shot down 4 enemy aircraft confirmed.  There have been a total of 12 enemy aircraft confirmed destroyed, three probables and one damaged during the month, against the loss of one Hurricane and pilot.

It is probable that the Italians have been operating without German assistance during the month. There have been six day alerts and 18 night alerts, on 15 of which bombs were dropped, approximately half of them incendiary.  It is interesting to note that on at least two occasions a ‘hang up’ of these incendiary containers has resulted in the enemy aircraft catching fire and being destroyed.  Little damage has been done by air raids, and none to service property; there have been no service casualties.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant William F Butler, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Thomas P Butterfield, RAFVR; Sergeant Maurice H Cope, RAFVR; Sergeant Donald R A Garrick, RAFVR; Sergeant David D Todd, RAF.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 30 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli.  Special patrol sighted two passenger liners 110 miles south of Malta steering south eat. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping and specified targets in Tripoli in 3 waves.  Several bombs struck the target area, causing fires and damage to buildings. 105 Squadron 6 Blenheims sent to attack a power station and chemical factory at Licata score hits on buildings and large fires.  The attack was a complete surprise and there was no opposition.   

HAL FAR  One Fulmar patrolled over Comiso and Gerbini but low cloud prevented any attack. Four bombs were dropped on barracks at Pozzallo, starting a fire. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish on anti-shipping search located a 1500 ton merchant vessel 20 miles west of Lampedusa and scored a hit with one torpedo and probably a second.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strength of detachment 27 officers, 192 other ranks.

 

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