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11 August 1941: German Stuka Dive-bombers Attack Malta

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JU 87 dive-bomber

JU 87 dive-bombers over Malta

ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IN HEAVIEST RAID FOR MONTHS

German JU 87 dive-bombers were seen in significant numbers tonight over Malta for the first time in many weeks. Nine JU 87 ‘Stukas’ attacked the Island in the heaviest raid on the Island for some time.   A large number of high explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on the Ta Qali area and Grand Harbour.  However, damage was relatively minor, with a few houses in Lija slightly damaged and Dockyard timber warehouses set on fire.  Two of the nine enemy aircraft were shot down by Malta fighters.

Results were very different according to Rome radio, which has broadcast a heavily embellished report of the results of tonight’s raid:

“The naval and air bases of Malta have been made the object of another very heavy attack by the Fascist air force. Formations of bombers and dive-bombers brought themselves over the more important military objectives of the Island.  A veritable shower of bombs was rained down on [Luqa] aerodrome.  Aerodrome buildings and other establishments, stores and aircraft dispersed on the airfield were hit by medium and heavy calibre bombs and hundreds of grenades which caused vast destruction and fires. 

The attack on the naval base of Valletta was extremely effective. Loud explosions were heard and huge fires visible from a great distance were started.  The fires served as beacons for later formations of aircraft and facilitated the location of objectives.  Bombs caused damage to harbour installations and to the dry docks.

Anti-aircraft and fighter opposition supported by the wide use of searchlights did not prevent the crews of our planes from carrying out one of the most heavy attacks that the Island has experienced in the last few months.”

BLENHEIM CREW FACED WITH ON-BOARD UNEXPLODED BOMB

The crew of a Blenheim of 105 Squadron are lucky to be alive today after one of their own bombs became stuck in the aircraft during a raid over southern Italy. Squadron Leader George Goode was the pilot of one of three Blenheims sent to attack a chemical factory at Crotone.  All three released their bombs on target but as S/Ldr Goode pulled away, the crew reported that one bomb was still stuck in the Blenheim. 

The crew tried their best to jettison the bomb and S/Ldr Goode made a sharp turn to try and release it. As they flew back over the port, enemy guns hit the port engine and the Blenheim began to lose power.  A crash landing was inevitable but dead ahead of them were the cliffs at Capo Colonna.  S/Ldr Goode managed to gain just enough height to clear the clifftop and landed safely in a field. 

Immediately the crew began to take measures to destroy their aircraft, conscious meanwhile that the unexploded bomb could go off and kill them all.   However, Italian soldiers reached them before they could achieve their objective.  S/Ldr Goode, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner P/O E W Applebee and Observer Sgt H A Nicolls were all taken prisoner. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and fresh.

0040-0200 hrs Raid no 813  Air raid alert for nine unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east at intervals and cross the coast over Grand Harbour. They carry out an hour-long raid over the Island.  Some 250kg and 500kg high explosives, and hundreds of incendiary bombs are dropped on Grand Harbour, Marsa, Pieta, Salvatore Gate, Gzira, Lija, San Nicola, Ta Silch and Ta Qali.  The incendiaries are of a type not seen in Malta before.  Warehouses in Marsa are ignited, damaging some timber; the fire was soon extinguished.  A few houses in Lija are slightly damaged and a donkey killed.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and searchlights illuminate raiders on two occasions.  Two enemy aircraft are shot down in flames in the sea; three crew are seen baling out.  A rescue launch is sent out but finds no survivors.

Military casualties  Flight-Sergeant Campbell Clark, Wireless.Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron; Pilot Officer Robert G Scott, 202 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 11 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 2 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Marylands on strike force patrols for enemy shipping.  Photoreconnaissance Comiso and Syracuse. 38 Squadron 5 Wellingtons sent to attack north west of Tripoli dropped bombs from 6000 feet on targets causing fires and destroying large buildings.  Machine gun attacks launched on a military convoy near Homs. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims sent to attack chemical works attacked military facilities with success.  3 Blenheims sent in follow up attack scoring further direct hits. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm A Swordfish sunk the 13000 ton Italian hospital ship California at Syracuse. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  One Company takes over Ta Saliba headquarters with one platoon in St Paul’s Bay.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion moved to Gozo for intensive training.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Two Companies take over defence of Ta Qali aerodrome.

(1) Source: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on August 11, 2021 in 1941, August 1941

 

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10 November 1940: Massive Convoy Enters Grand Harbour

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NO AIR RAIDS DESPITE CONVOY

A massive convoy codenamed MW3 reached Malta today bringing reinforcements and stores. Ships from Alexandria in the east and from Gibraltar in the west included five merchant vessels.  All reached the Island without major incident.

Illustrious with Swordfish

HMS Illustrious

The main convoy sailed from Alexandria on Monday included Devis, Plumleaf, Rodi, Volo and Waiwera, escorted by cruisers Calcutta and Coventry, and destroyers Diamond, Vampire, Voyager and Waterhen.  The operation was covered by the main Fleet, including the aircraft carrier Illustrious, four battleships, two cruisers and fifteen destroyers.  On the way to Malta Swordfish from Illustrious shot down four Italian aircraft.  Force H aircraft shot down another two. 

At the same time, troops and stores were brought from Gibraltar on board ships which were sailing to join the Mediterranean Fleet. The battleship Barham, cruisers Berwick and Glasgow, and destroyers Gallant, Greyhound and Griffin sailed from Gibraltar on Thursday. 

In all, some 2000 troops disembarked, including Royal Artillery Signal Section, Heavy and Light Anti-Aircraft Batteries, 4th Battalion The Buffs, and Royal Engineers personnel.  Supplies landed at Malta included additional guns and I-tanks for defence of the Island.

“A convoy arrived from Alexandria … a thrilling thing it was… And even so we were not bombed. It is almost incredible. All these ships passed up our narrow Grand Harbour…The battleships fastened themselves to buoys, and the smaller stuff went alongside the Dockyard walls just off the main harbour. Oilers presumable came alongside the big ships for re-fuelling. And yet we were not bombed. For the space of several hours some 16 ships were crowded into a space of about one square mile. Half a dozen resolute airmen could scarcely fail to hit something. What is the explanation? An officer in the inner circle of information said he was as mystified as myself. Either the Italians have cold feet, or they are short of materials. The Staff were saying “Hurry up with those oilers! Get these ships out of here”, while the Italians lay doggo.” (1)

After a rapid turn-around, Convoy ME3 left Malta for Alexandria, comprising the empty ships from previous convoy MF3, including Clan Ferguson, Clan Macaulay, Lanarkshire and Memnon.  They were escorted by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet which had escorted MW3 into harbour, including one battleship, one cruiser and two destroyers.  The monitor Terror and the destroyer Vendetta also sailed with them.

4th Battalion the Buffs were impressed by their welcome to Malta: “The people seemed overjoyed by our arrival. There were a number of representatives from the Malta command to greet the reinforcements.  On arrival at the billets we found everything ready including a hot meal for the men.”  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 11 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

0945-1010 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve Italian CR42 fighters which fly over Grand Harbour at 21000 feet. Anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no hits claimed.  Malta fighters are held back for an expected formation of bombers which does not materialise.

0708 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy aircraft which circle the Island before turning away.

1615-1745 hrs Convoy enters Grand Harbour, including HMS Barham, Norfolk, Berwick and Glasgow to disembark stores and personnel.

Enemy casualties Tenente Raffaele Brandi, 195a Squadriglia, 90o Gruppo, 30o Stormo, crewman of SM79 bomber missing in action; Sottotenente Umberto Gabrielli, Sottotenente, observer, missing in action.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 10 NOVEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY Operation ‘Coat’ successfully completed with the sailing of Convoy ME3 of four ships and the refuelling of Fleet units. Hero and Hereward remained to refit. 

KALAFRANA  229 Squadron permanently attached to Kalafrana; remainder of Squadron personnel arrived by sea from Middle East. A large draft of approximately 100 men arrived and were accommodated at Marsaxlokk pending disposal to units.  These are the first personnel to occupy the buildings at the new station.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Companies billeted as follows: A and HQ Coys and Bn HA at Attard RAOC camp.  B Coy at the RASC camp near Attard.  C & D Coys at Parris England Farm, Hamrun and Tal Handaq.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Major H D Tanner, Captain W Arthur, Captain S Oliver, 2/Lt G H Lee, 2/Lt E E Talbot and two other ranks arrived from UK.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  New mortars arrived Ta Saliba. E Coy moved to Strickland House. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Arrival of a second convoy with ammunition. Bomb Disposal Officer, Royal Engineers, arrives in Malta from UK.

(1)  Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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

 

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