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22 July 1941: Malta Convoy Attacked by Italian Submarine

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HMS Renown

HMS Renown

TORPEDOES AIMED AT ADMIRAL’S FLAGSHIP

The flagship of Force H Commander Vice Admiral Somerville, HMS Renown, narrowly escaped damage today when torpedoes were aimed at the battlecruiser by an Italian submarine. Renown was attacked in the western Mediterranean while leading the escort for the Malta convoy under ‘Operation Substance’. 

Measures had been taken to divert the attention of the Italian navy from the convoy. Since yesterday, ships of the Mediterranean Fleet operating out of Alexandria have been exchanging radio messages to suggest a major operation in the eastern Mediterranean.  However, the submarine Diaspro on patrol in the western sector spotted the convoy and launched her torpedoes which just missed Renown. 

The Malta convoy continued its progress eastwards without further disturbance today. Ten of the escorting Royal Navy ships were refueled successfully by RFA Brown Ranger which sailed yesterday from Gibraltar in advance of the main Malta convoy. Brown Ranger is now on her way back to port under the escort of the destroyer HMS Beverley.

RFA Brown Ranger

RFA Brown Ranger

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1105-1130 hrs  A formation of enemy aircraft is reported of Cape Passero, heading south. Hurricane aircraft are scrambled but the formation turns away.  As the Hurricanes head back towards Malta, a second formation of 25 enemy aircraft is reported heading for Malta.  Another flight of Hurricanes is scrambled.  The raiders approach to within 15 miles of Grand Harbour, then turn back northwards.  The Hurricanes set off in pursuit bur are unable to catch the enemy.

2117-2342 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach from the north east individually, crossing the coast east of Salina Bay and Grand Harbour respectively. Bombs are dropped in the Marsa area.

Military casualties  Flight-Sergeant William H Sargent, pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 110 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to attack convoy of 1 tanker 7000 tons, 1 destroyer, and 1 small merchant vessel intercepted south west of Lampion.  They hit the tanker with 2 torpedoes and claimed sunk, one hit with a torpedo on the stern of the destroyer was also secured.  All aircraft returned.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Beaufighter. Departures 1 Sunderland, 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Taranto shot down a Cant seaplane on return.  Reconnaissance Naples, Messina, Palermo, Trapani; search patrol and night shadowing of convoy. 110 Squadron  4 Blenheim attacked a convoy and sank two ships; the Observer of one Blenheim was killed.  After inspecting the Command the Inspector General, Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, and staff proceeded to the Middle East.  

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  240 first line reinforcements arrived for the Battalion: 5 officers, 100 men of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, 100 men of the Green Howard Regiment, 40 men of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiment.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on July 22, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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19 July 1941: 40000 Tons of Supplies and 60000 Bombs for Malta

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City of Pretoria bringing stores to Malta

City of Pretoria bringing stores to Malta

LARGE CONVOY ASSEMBLING UNDER ‘OPERATION SUBSTANCE’

Over 40000 tons of general supplies, 60000 bombs and nearly 300000 rounds of ammunition are among the cargo loaded onto six merchant vessels bound for Malta. ‘Operation Substance’ will carry much needed supplies of food and fuel, as well as military equipment, intended to equip the Island for all its needs for several months.  The cargo includes:

  • Ammunition 290000 rounds, bombs 61000, grenades 45000
  • Smoke bombs 12300, signal flares 105000, explosive 72000 lbs, detonators 25000, cord 90000 ft, mine fuzes & detonators 16400.
  • Mobile guns 20, Bren guns 75, rifles 3245, guns 7853
  • Vehicles: anti-aircraft tractors 29, Bren carriers 30, motor cycles 84, pedal cycles 70, lorries 24, trailers 20, winch 1, fire engine 1, RAF tractors 12
  • Motor transport stores: 331 tons
  • Naval power boats 3, seaplane tender 1
  • NAAFI: stores 1376 tons
  • Naval Armament (tons): stores 1107, victualling 740, general supplies 761
  • Ordnance: stores 2975 tons
  • Royal Air Force (tons): stores 779, ammunition 397, oil 198, aviation spirit 5187
  • Royal Army Ordnance Corps: stores 11 tons
  • Royal Engineers: stores 708 tons
  • Bomb Disposal: equipment 2 tons
  • General supplies 4704 tons
  • Kerosene 2661 tons, MT spirit 708 tons, coal 4791 tons, cement 2660 tons
  • Foodstuffs (tons): fodder 989, tinned fish 291, tinned veg 755, flour 1600, wheat 5345, maize 680, rice 240, margarine 212, butter 25, edible oil 196, cheese 101, coffee 134
  • Colonial Office: stores 151 tons
  • Medical stores: 46 tons
  • Stationery: 12 tons
  • Mail: 197.5 tons

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  Hurricanes are scrambled in response to a formation of six enemy aircraft located some distance to the north of the Island. The raiders turn away and there is no engagement. 

0246-0338; 0405-0437 hrs Air raid alerts for four enemy aircraft which approach the Island at intervals from the north east and drop bombs mostly in the sea, except for one stick south east of Zeitun. 17 heavy anti-aircraft funs fire three barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Sergeant John D McCracken, pilot, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from coastal patrol west of Tripoli – sank 2 schooners by gunfire. Upholder sailed at 2200 for Operation Substance.  Four Swordfish dropped bombs on Tripoli Harbour near-missing a merchant vessel and starting a fire on the foreshore.

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Beaufighter, 6 Blenheim, 2 Maryland, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Zliten, Sirte area, Palermo, Messina, Naples, Pantelleria, Catania, Cagliari, Elmas, Monserrato. 126 Squadron Hurricane pilot Sgt J D McCracken was killed in an accident on take off.

HAL FAR  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked Tripoli with torpedoes and bombs; observation of results difficult due to poor visibility. Fulmar operation on Catania; small bombs were dropped.

TA QALI  Station visited by Inspector General Air Chief Marshal Sir E R Ludlow-Hewitt, CMG, DSO, MC and staff, who stayed for lunch.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

 

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Posted by on July 19, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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18 July 1941: Malta Main Fuel Tanks Damaged by Enemy Bombs

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petroleum tanks

(c) ASP

AVIATION FUEL TANK HOLED BY SHRAPNEL

Fuel storage tanks in Malta have been damaged by enemy bombs. In a report to his head office in London, the head of Malta’s leading petroleum company has described the effects of bombing on a key fuel depot.

The roof of one main tank was pierced by bombs damaging the centre ventilation shaft and depressing a large area of the roofing to three feet in depth. A second bomb exploded internally, blowing off 30 feet square of roof covering.  A third bomb exploded about eight feet from the tank, which was penetrated by shrapnel 18 inches above ground level.  The contents had to be transferred to another tank. 

A bomb also penetrated the roof of a tank of aviation fuel, exploding against the bottom and making a nine inch hole, as well as damaging the roof and pipe work. The first level of the tank was badly riddled by shrapnel, causing 42 punctures and partial fractures in many places.

In all the loss of fuel was only approximately ten tons. The Dockyard authorities are currently reviewing the damage but first indications are that they can effect repairs using electrical welding apparatus.

BLENHEIM SHOT DOWN DURING RAID ON TRIPOLI

The crew of a Blenheim bomber of 110 Squadron are missing presumed killed tonight after their aircraft was shot down during a raid on North Africa. The Blenheim was one of two sent to attack a power station in Tripoli.  The bomber was observed making direct hits on the target, causing significant explosions.  It was then attacked by Italian CR 42 fighters and was seen crashing into the sea.  The crew of the second Blenheim reported that it was unlikely there were any survivors.  The missing crew have been named as pilot Wing Commander T M Hunt, DFC, wireless operator/air gunner Sergeant F Thripp and observer K C Tucker.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JULY TO DAWN 19 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

0927-0950 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy Macchi fighters five miles off the south of the Island.

0945 hrs  An unexploded bomb at Targa Gap is removed by the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Section.

0222-0340 hrs; 0400-0435 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of nine enemy aircraft which cross the Island at intervals, dropping small calibre bombs on Zabbar damaging a water main near the Poor House, on isolated areas near Luqa, Naxxar and Gudja, and in the sea off the north coast near Dragonara and Valletta. Rinella wireless station is slightly damaged.  Two Hurricanes and one Fulmar are airborne throughout the raids but searchlights do not illuminate any raiders and there are no interceptions.

Military casualties  Wing Commander Theodore M Hunt, DFC, pilot, Royal Air Force (RAF), 110 Squadron; Sergeant Frederick Thripp, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, RAF, 110 Squadron; Sergeant Kenneth C Tucker, Observer, RAF, 110 Squadron.                                           

Civilian casualties  Attard  Jane Fenech, age 50.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 JULY 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Overnight (17/18) the Inspector General, Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, and staff arrived by Sunderland from Gibraltar. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Catania, Augusta, Syracuse recorded 8 JU 52, 15 BR 20, 11 other unidentified bombers and 42 fighters. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Palermo Harbour. 110 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked Tripoli power station achieving direct hits and causing explosions.  1 Blenheim of W/C Hunt was shot down by enemy fighters near Tripoli; probably no survivors.

HAL FAR  Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ over Catania and Gerbini dropped bombs on Gerbini and Augusta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 7 (15kg HE).

 

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Posted by on July 18, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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16 July 1941: Malta Submarine Solo Battle With Axis Convoy

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Barbarigo 2P33 SINKS 5000 TON MERCHANT SHIP

Malta-based submarine P33 ended her first war patrol today, arriving on schedule despite being damaged in action.  Commanded by Lt R D Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN, the submarine was alerted yesterday afternoon that an enemy convoy which had left Tripoli the day before was proceeding northwards to Naples. The five merchant ships were escorted by four destroyers and six torpedo boats with additional aircraft cover.

P33 closed on the convoy and when at 2500 yards off released four torpedoes aimed at the Italian merchant ship Barbarigo, registering two hits on target.  The merchant vessel immediately began to sink.  However, the torpedo tracks had been spotted by a destroyer which immediately dropped depth charges, and other destroyers followed suit.  While one torpedo boat stopped to pick up survivors from Barbarigo, two others detached from the convoy to hunt the submarine, while the Cant aircraft searched from above. 

In a counter-attack lasting over an hour, some 116 depth charges were dropped towards the submarine but only one set came close to her, damaging some lights. P33 dived but control of the submarine was temporarily lost and was 300 feet down before it could be righted.  She suffered some damage as a result of the steep dive and was forced to return to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JULY TO DAWN 17 JULY 1941

Weather  Very hot and humid.

0950-1004 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft which head towards the Island but split up while still 40-50 miles north. While the remainder turn back, ten raiders approach to 20 miles from Malta.  Hurricanes are scrambled and the enemy aircraft retreat.

0416-0445 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross over Grand Harbour and drop bombs on Fort St Angelo. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but are forced to land due to weather closing in.  Searchlights illuminate the raiders but anti-aircraft guns cannot open fire while Hurricanes are approaching.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Mario Massini, 10o Stormo, pilot of SM 79 bomber shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 16 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  P33 arrived on time at 1230, having suffered hull damage during counter attack of 116 depth charges, and being forced deep after obtaining two hits on northbound convoy. HM submarine Cachalot arrived from Alexandria with stores for Malta.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 4 Swordfish attacked Tripoli, hitting one tanker with torpedo and causing explosion on Spanish Quay.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Palermo, Messina, Catania, Augusta, Syracuse, Trapani, Catania and Reggio, and Tripoli. 148 Squadron 4 Wellingtons bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour by moonlight, dropping 12250lbs of bombs, achieving many hits and causing a large explosion on Spanish Quay plus damage to a merchant ship alongside.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ patrolled Catania and released four 20lb bombs which started a fire.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 8; dealt with 4 (15kg HE).

 

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Posted by on July 16, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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15 July 1941: All-Australian Maryland Crew Lost on Convoy Search

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MARYLAND’S RADIO REMAINS SILENT

Maryland in flightThe all-Australian crew of a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing today after the aircraft failed to return from a mission. The Maryland of 69 Squadron was one of several sent to patrol over the Tripoli area to locate an enemy convoy. 

The Maryland’s estimated time of return to base elapsed with no sign of the aircraft. It was later reported that no radio transmission had been heard from the aircraft from the moment of take-off onwards. 

The crew has now formally been reported missing. They have been named as pilot Sergeant Cyril Lee, air gunner Sergeant Jack Neill and observer Sergeant James Simpson.  All are members of the Royal Australian Air Force. 

In a separate incident the observer of a Blenheim sent to attack a Tripoli convoy was hit and killed by anti-aircraft guns over the target. The Blenheim was one of three of 110 Squadron sent to attack a convoy of four merchant vessels with a four-strong destroyer escort.  The observer is named as Sergeant John Broadway of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JULY TO DAWN 16 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  A formation of about 20 aircraft, approaches Malta and circles to the north.  Malta fighters are scrambled but recede before they make contact with the raiders.

1738-1801 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy fighters which circle well to the north of the Island. Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders turn north before any interception.

0104-0155 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach from the north and cross the coast over St Paul’s Bay, drop bombs on Baida Ridge and retreat over Ghain Tuffieha, dropping bombs on the camp, injuring one driver and two personnel of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Bombs are also dropped in the sea nearby.  Hurricanes are scrambled and remain airborne for two hours; no engagement.

0205-0450 hrs Air raid alert for 11 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, crossing the coast at various points and dropping bombs apparently indiscriminately, including on Baida Ridge (and in the sea nearby), near Anchor Bay, west of Gudia (and in the sea nearby), in Kalafrana Bay, and on land near Madalena, between Nigret and Lapsi, near Pitkali searchlight station and near Rabat. Searchlights illuminate one raider for two minutes: heavy anti-aircraft fire a barrage; no claims.  Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.  Three unexploded bombs are reported by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 

Military casualties  Sergeant John A C Broadway, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 110 Squadron; Sergeant Cyril F Lee, Pilot, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), 69 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Carson Grayson Neill, Air Gunner, RAAF, 69 Squadron; Sergeant James M Simpson, Observer, RAAF, 69 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to locate convoy off Kerkennah Bank.  Failed to sight due to poor visibility, but torpedoed a wreck off the Bank mistaking it for a ship of the convoy. 2 mines off Tigne and 1 off Viaduct and breakwater successfully countermined.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli and patrol to locate convoy (Sgt Lee failed to return).  Maryland patrol to navigate Blenheims to attack on convoy. 110 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked convoy of 4 merchant ships escorted by 4 destroyers; one merchant ship is destroyed and another badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns hit one Blenheim killing the Observer.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ patrolled Catania and released four 20lb bombs which started a fire.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

 

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Posted by on July 15, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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14 July 1941: Malta Reconnaissance Pilot Launches Surprise Attack

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F/O Adrian Warburton

F/O Adrian Warburton

WARBURTON MISTAKEN FOR ITALIAN

A Malta reconnaissance pilot took advantage of an Italian air force ground crew mistake to carry out an audacious attack on a Sicilian aerodrome today. F/O Adrian Warburton DFC of 69 Squadron was carrying out a routine photo-reconnaissance mission over the aerodrome in Catania in Sicily.  Encountering significant cloud cover, he decided to drop down low to take oblique, rather than high-altitude, photographs. 

As he approached the target, F/O Warburton saw a green light being signalled from the airfield. He realised that aerodrome control had mistaken him for an Italian aircraft and he was being signalled to land.  Instead of turning away, the Malta reconnaissance pilot put down his wheels and approached the runway.

Johnny Spires, one of his crewmen, yelled at him: ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing? This is Catania not Luqa!’ ‘I know,’ Warby replied calmly, then began shooting at the aircraft lined up on the ground. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JULY TO DAWN 15 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and humid.

0205-0335 hrs; 0403-0440 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of three enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north at intervals. One aircraft drops bombs between Il Gzira and Kalafrana and on a road in open country. Bombs are also dropped on Birzebbuga destroying 15 houses but causing no casualties, on Zurrieq, Marsaxlokk and near Luqa, and in the sea.  During the first raid three Hurricanes 249 Squadron are scrambled; searchlights do not illuminate and there are no engagements.  During the second alert a single raider approaches as the aerodrome beacon is illuminated for Wellington bombers coming in to land.

0500-0507 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of a Wellington not showing appropriate identification lights.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Union sailed at 0100 for position 10 miles south of Pantelleria to intercept northbound convoy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Taranto. 110 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked Zuara aerodrome. 148 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Messina causing extensive fires.   830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish left to look for convoy leaving Tripoli, but returned owing to poor visibility and low clouds.

HAL FAR  A Fulmar took off for Catania and Gerbini but returned due to a glycol leak.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion moved to Gozo for training. A small near party remained at Bn HQ.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  D Company left Gozo and returned to the unit, to be billeted in Strickland House.

(1) Story from Fortress Malta An Island Under Siege, James Holland, Phoenix 2003

 

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Posted by on July 14, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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9 July 1941: Security Breach Endangers Malta Convoy

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Naples bombed tonight

Naples bombed tonight

COMMUNICATIONS LEAK PLACES VITAL CONVOY UNDER THREAT

The most important convoy to Malta of the war to date, codenamed ‘Operation Substance’, has been placed in danger after a serious breach of security measures. In view of the risks in sending a major convoy through the dangerous waters of the western Mediterranean later this month, all communications on the subject have been subject to the greatest security.  The risks are believed justified to meet the urgent and growing needs for supplies, equipment and manpower in Malta which cannot be met quickly enough by a convoy through the long sea route via the Cape.

However, according to an urgent telegram despatched today from the War Office to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief via the Admiralty, two telegrams from the NAAFI in Malta to their Headquarters in London have been sent via unofficial channels.  In doing so, the NAAFI have ignored standing instructions that all communications on such secret matters must pass through official channels. According to the War Office, NAAFI Malta “have by their gross laxity probably compromised this most important operation.”

Lt Gen Dobbie has been asked to investigate the telegrams and put in place further measures to eliminate the danger of further compromise from Malta – and to report back immediately that this has been done.

Meanwhile, to mitigate the effects of the security breach, Lt Gen Dobbie is to inform the Head of the NAAFI Malta personally and for his information only that a cable is being sent from London to help cover the indiscretions. The contents of cable HQ1131 will be untrue but it will be circulated as if true to all those staff of NAAFI Malta who have become aware of the content of the previous two telegrams.

The bogus telegram reads:  “Your telegram of 25 June and 3 July not understood. No shipment of troops or stores to Malta direct is envisaged.  Should reinforcements for Malta be necessary, stores will accompany troops on the usual route via the Cape.”

FOUR MALTA BLENHEIMS MISSING AFTER ATTACK ON TRIPOLI

Crews of four Blenheim aircraft of 110 Squadron have been reported missing tonight after they failed to return from a mission over Tripoli. They were among a formation of seven sent to attack Tripoli harbour.  The Blenheims carried out low-level attacks, dropping several 500lb bombs on shipping and harbour facilities in the face of vigorous anti-aircraft fire.  One 500lb bomb hit the harbour Mole causing a massive explosion, two more struck a merchant ship offshore.  Several large fires were started and flames shot 400 feet into the air. 

One of the Blenheims was shot down over the harbour by anti-aircraft guns, crashing onto a torpedo boat which burst into flames. A second was blown up by an explosion.  Two Blenheims are believed to have alighted on the sea; the crew of one is believed safe but the other was some distance from the formation and the fate its crew is not known.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

AM  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron interrupt an enemy patrol of two seaplanes escorted by four Macchi 200 fighters ten miles off the coast of Sicily, probably a rescue party for the downed BR 20 bomber last night.  One Macchi and one seaplane are damaged.

1939-2010 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft spotted 40 miles north of Malta. 14 Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders turn back for Sicily before they can be engaged.

2350-0024 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west and drops four 100kg high explosive bombs on Hal Far. Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire two barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald E Baird, Royal Air Force (RAF), 110 Squadron; Pilot Officer Walter H Lowe, RAF Volunteer Reserve (VR), 110 Squadron; Sergeant Harold Lummus, RAFVR, 110 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Michael E Potier, pilot, RAF, 110 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  C308, St Angelo and Justified landed troops for a military exercise.

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Blenheims, 1 Bombay, 1 Sunderland. Departures 2 Blenheim, 1 Bombay. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Syracuse.  F/O Warburton had a running fight with a Macchi 200 which was probably destroyed.  110 Squadron  6 Blenheims dawn attack on Tripoli; prevented by fog.  7 Blenheims made a low-flying attack on Tripoli Harbour with good results but 4 aircraft failed to return (S/Ldr Seale who landed in the sea, F/Lt Potier, P/O Lowe, Sgt Twist). 148 Squadron 9 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Naples; 3 returned owing to bad weather before reaching target.  6 bombers dropped 12000 tons of bombs and 2400 incendiaries on the Central Railway Station from 6500 feet.  Bombs were also dropped on warehouses near an aircraft factory, causing fires and explosions.   Ack Ack was slight and all aircraft returned safely.

HAL FAR  Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson visited Hal Far with AOC Mediterranean. 185 Squadron 2 Hurricanes attacked sea planes in Syracuse at sea level and inflicted heavy damage.  4 Hurricanes attacked float planes at Syracuse, damaging 8.  A Fulmar patrolled the Catania area. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Swordfish despatched to attack Tripoli but returned without reaching objective due to low cloud and bad visibility.

2nd Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  ‘Exercise Asia’ continued throughout the day with simulations of continued bombing and parachute attacks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 15kg HE, 1 x 250lb HE).

 

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Posted by on July 9, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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7 July 1941: Malta Bus Services Under Threat

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buses porte des bombesUNNECESSARY TRAVEL CAUSING SEVERE OVERCROWDING

Malta’s weekend bus services are becoming so overcrowded that the Government has issued a warning to passengers not to make unnecessary journeys. Since the weekday service between 1130am and 2pm was suspended due to fuel shortages Saturday services have become extremely busy.  Describing certain routes as “severely overcrowded”, the Government notice warns against non-essential travel, saying that it “cannot guarantee there will be sufficient buses on Saturdays to carry all passengers.” 

An enterprising horse-owner, realising that people still have travel from one place to another whatever the restrictions, has started his own ‘omnibus service’ – a coach drawn by two horses – offering transport between Castile Place, Valletta, and Mannarino Road, Birkirkara. The service operates hourly from each terminus between 9.15 am and 4.15 pm. Traditional Karozzin are also appearing on the roads again but cab drivers are said to be demanding very high fares for their trips. (1)

TROOPS WARNED AGAINST USING DAMAGED FRUIT & VEG

A notice has been issued to troops in Malta warning against the use or consumption of damaged fresh produce. According to the advice, no bruised or over-ripe fruit should be used and all fruit and vegetables should as far as possible be cooked.  Uncooked vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, lettuce, grapes etc. should be disinfected by standing in a good red solution of potassium permanganate for one hour, or by plunging into water for 15 seconds.  The use of boiling water may spoil the appearance of the fruit or vegetable but does not alter the flavour.  It is thought the safeguards could help to reduce incidents of stomach upsets among troops serving in Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JULY TO DAWN 8 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

2321-0023 hrs   Air raid alert for five enemy BR 20 bombers which approach the Island singly from the north east and drop 100kg and 250kg high explosive bombs in various locations. One bomber flies past the Island and turns to approach from the south west, crossing the coast near Zurrieq to drop four bombs on the Hal Far dispersal area; no serious damage is caused.  Bombs are also dropped near Naxxar in the sea off San Pietru, to the north of Sliema and off St Paul’s Bay.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at 18000 feet; no claims.  Fighters are not scrambled due to the raider’s unusual direction of approach.

2354-0027 hrs  Air raid alert for a single bomber which approaches from the south west, crosses the coast and drops five bombs on Hal Far. No fighters are scrambled.  Searchlights illuminate the raider briefly and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

Civilian casualties Paola  Carmela Attard, age 22; Charles Borg, age 55; Eliza Borg, age 28, Anthony Cappello; Joseph Cappello; Salvatore Cappello; Publio Cini, age 52; Anthony Coleiro, age 30; Saviour Galea, age 42; Mary Grima, age 3; Saviour Tanti, age 70; Victor Tanti, age 2; Joseph Zerafa, age 33; Paul Zerafa, age 22; Mary Zerafa, age 15.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 7 JULY 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Palermo, Taranto, Augusta and Syracuse, and special patrols.  One Maryland to Middle East escorting Hurricanes. 148 Squadron 6 Wellingtons night bombing raids on railway goods yards at Tripoli starting several fires. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar on protective patrol over Catania; no engagement.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All ranks still confined to barracks under ‘Exercise Asia’.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal Section busy on unexploded bombs. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 3 (1 x 15kg HE, 2 x 250lb HE).

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981

 

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Posted by on July 7, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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1 July 1941: Malta Commands Resists Reduction in Artillery Defences

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  • RAID SUMMARY JUNE 1941
  • No of air raid alerts 67 (including 25 night raids)
  • Days without air raid alerts 7
  • Total time under alert 32 hours 2 mins
  • Average length of alert 28.7 mins
  • Civilians killed by enemy action 5

ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL

  • Unexploded bombs dealt with April-June 1941 total 224
  • High explosives total 45 (15g 21, 50kg 9, 100kg/250lb 8, 150kg 2, 250kg/130lb 2, 500kg 3)
  • Incendiaries 175
  • Anti-personnel 5
Royal Malta Artillery  (NWMA Malta)

Royal Malta Artillery (NWMA Malta)

NO ALTERATION IN ARTILLERY UNITS MUST BE MADE, GOVERNOR TELLS LONDON

From: Gov C in C          To: War Office

The War Office is proposing returning to the Island a Maltese artillery battery at present serving in North Africa. Since volunteering to serve overseas before Italy joined the war, 5th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery Royal Malta Artillery has been with Allied forces in Egypt since May 1940. 

However, the War Office plan includes the release of one British battery from the increased garrison currently planned for Malta, a proposal which has been firmly rejected by the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief today:

“I cannot surrender a British battery in its place. It appears probable that 5th HAA Battery will have to be broken up on its return to Malta.  I trust no, repeat no, alteration will be made in the numbers or units destined for Malta under your telegram of 19 June.”

ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR NAMED

The Italian pilots of two Macchi 200 fighters shot down on 27 June have been named as 2nd Lieutenant Neri de Benedetti and Sergeant Alfredo Sclavo, both of 90th Fighter Squadron.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and humid.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant James Walford Hamborough, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Edward Jamieson, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Ronald Rolfe Jowett, RAF; Sergeant Arthur Joseph Lassner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Hay George Simpson, RAFVR.                                           

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 JULY 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 6 Blenheim, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol western Sicilian coast and east Tunisian coast.  Patrols Cape Bon to western Sicily and Pantelleria-Lampedusa area.  At 1730 hrs six merchant vessels were seen north east of Pantelleria heading south. 82 Squadron 4 Blenheims despatched Homs bombed the coast road causing several craters; one lorry destroyed, reservoir received direct hit.  Six more Blenheims were despatched tonight to attack a staging post at Homs and Beurat; they are not yet due back in Malta. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Spanish Port Mole, Tripoli.  Bombs were dropped from 10000 feet, achieving six direct hits on the Spanish Mole and others on the base of Karamanli Mole.  A fire was started on the edge of the town.  One medium merchant vessel probably two direct hits, believed set on fire but hidden by heavy smoke screen.  Anti-aircraft fire experienced.  One Wellington made a second attack on Tripoli, the others could not be turned round in time to do so due to poor visibility.  All Wellingtons returned safely.

LUQA  Four Wellingtons arrive, one of which fires the recognition signal and sets alight a small cornfield near the airfield.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths officers 26; WOs 7; other ranks 122.

ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY  1st Coast Regt strengths 31 officers, 1307 other ranks; 11 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 17 officers, 437 other ranks; 2 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 22 officers, 643 other ranks; 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 19 officers, 591 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in 1941, July 1941

 

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29 June 1941: Malta 12 Attacks on Axis Convoys & Bases in a Week

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BLENHEIMS, MARYLANDS, SWORDFISH AND WELLINGTONS ON RAIDS

In its weekly review of the progress of the war, the War Cabinet in London hears a report on attacks by aircraft operating from Malta on shipping between Sicily and North Africa and bombed objectives on the North African mainland.

Maryland bombingAt dusk on 25 June, four Marylands attacked a convoy of four large merchant vessels of about 20000 tons, escorted by six destroyers, and scored at least one direct hit. Later in the same evening seven Swordfish torpedoed two of the merchant vessels which probably sank, and possibly hit a third.  From these operations one Maryland and one Swordfish were reported missing.  Another convoy was attacked by three Marylands on 29 June, 30 miles off Tripoli, and near misses observed.

Wellingtons carried out five night attacks on Tripoli, in two of which they were supported by Swordfish. On one of these occasions seven Swordfish laid sea-mines in the harbour.  The Spanish and Karamanli Moles were hit many times and a number of fires were started.  Bombs were also seen to hit one large and one medium size merchant vessel, and a vessel of 6000 tons was set on fire.

Successful day attacks on Tripoli were also made by Blenheims and Marylands.

Today Blenheims failed to locate a convoy. As an alternative they bombed and completely destroyed a factory to the east of the town. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1941

Weather  Cloudy; humid.

No air raids.

Military casualties Sergeant John A Cover, Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force, 82 Squadron; Sergeant Richard G G Fairweather, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 82 Squadron; Sergeant Allan T Thomas, Observer, RAFVR, 82 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Urge successful attack on cruiser (believed to be Gorizia); two hits claimed, followed by a large explosion. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish sent to attack Tripoli encountered severe weather and turned back. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.  3 Marylands made a high level (15-21000 ft) bombing raid on Tripoli Harbour in daylight; results not observed. 82 Squadron 9 Blenheims despatched to attack convoy approaching Tripoli.  One Blenheim received a direct hit by a bomb from another aircraft.  6 Blenheims went out again to attack merchant ships in Tripoli Harbour; one returned with engine trouble.  The remainder crossed the coast wide of the target and bombed Sorman aerodrome nearby, starting several fires among aircraft on the ground. 148 Squadron  7 Wellingtons sent to attack Spanish Quay and shipping in Tripoli Harbour encountered severe weather.  4 aircraft reached target and attacked, damaging quay and ships.

 

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

 

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