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21 April 1941: Royal Artillery Reinforcements Land at Malta

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BRECONSHIRE BRINGS 380 TROOPS AND FUEL SUPPLIES

Malta's new Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G D Carroll

Malta’s new Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G D Carroll

The fast transport ship Breconshire docked safely today after the Mediterranean Fleet engineered her safe passage to Malta.  380 troops disembarked after a three day journey from Alexandria during which the only enemy action had been from individual aircraft shadowing the convoy.  Having detached from Breconshire and her escort destroyer Encounter at dusk yesterday, the Fleet steered southwards to launch a bombardment of Tripoli at 0500 hrs this morning in an attack designed to divert enemy attention from the vital Malta supply convoy.

Breconshire was unable to enter Grand Harbour, which is currently closed due to the large number of mines; Marsamxett Harbour remains open. As well as troops Breconshire was carrying essential supplies of aviation spirit, oil fuel and general stores.

Reinforcements disembarked: 

  • Royal Artillery officers 6 other ranks 360
  • 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers other ranks 3
  • Royal Engineers officers 1 other ranks 6
  • 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment officers 2
  • 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment officers 2
  • Total: officers 11 other ranks 369

MALTA HAS A NEW BOMB DISPOSAL OFFICER

A new Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer arrived today aboard Breconshire.  Lt G D Carroll is to take over as RE Bomb Disposal Officer Malta from Lt E E C Talbot, RE, who is entitled to respite leave after six months’ continuous service.  The Bomb Disposal Officer is responsible for all unexploded bombs across the Island outside of Royal Navy or RAF premises.

Before being posted to Malta, Lt Carroll served in the London Blitz where he dealt with high explosive bombs up to 1800kg including a large number of delayed action fuzes. He arrived with Sgt Holland who is also experienced in bomb disposal.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 APRIL TO DAWN 22 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

0746-0801 hrs; 1038-1120 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

1813-1848 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109s escorting one JU 88 bomber approaching from the north. The JU 88 crosses Grand Harbour at 21000 feet.   Eight Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders, destroying one ME 109 and another probable.  Anti-aircraft guns also engage; no claims.

2356-0122 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft which approach singly from the north and use flares to carry out widespread bombing; the main target is Grand Harbour. Bombs are dropped from varying heights from 1000 to 10000 feet over the Dockyard and surroundings.  Two aircraft lay mines off the south of Grand Harbour from a height of 2000 feet.  One Hurricane night fighter is scrambled but searchlights provide no illumination of the raiders; no engagement.  Anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with eleven predicted barrages; no claims.

0505-0527 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which approach Grand Harbour from the north and drop bombs on the Dockyard area. Raiders also drop bombs in the water before crossing the coast over Benghaisa.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with predicted barrage once at 10000 feet; no claims.

Civilian casualties Zeitun  Anna Spiteri, age 21.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Breconshire loaded with aviation spirit, oil fuel and general supplies, arrived with Encounter under cover of the Fleet movement to bombard Tripoli.  Many mines in Grand Harbour which was closed but Marsamxett Harbour remained open.  Submarine Undaunted arrived at Malta from Gibraltar to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: one merchant vessel capsized and the small mole have been damaged in yesterday’s raid. Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast. 148 Squadron 8 Wellington bombers night bombing attack on Tripoli harbour as a precursor to naval bombardment.      

HAL FAR  A civilian labourer fell from a hangar roof and sustained heavy injuries.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Work on many defences is complete. A programme of training on machine guns and other small arms, including grenades and Molotov cocktails, is now underway.  5 more NCOs attended a bomb reconnaissance course. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS The RE (Malta Section) is now increased in strength. Major H D Tanner assumes Company Command, 24 Fortress Company, replacing W De Piro-Cowley. Lt G D Carroll, RE and Sgt Holland arrived and posted to Bomb Disposal Section. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 17 (14 near Rabat).

 

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Posted by on April 21, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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19 April 1941: Malta Submarine in Dramatic Rescue Attempt

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HM Submarine Regent

HM Submarine Regent

REGENT COMES UNDER FIRE ON YUGOSLAV COAST

A Malta-based submarine has been engaged in a dramatic mission to rescue British dignitaries and civilians from German-occupied Yugoslavia. The Balkan state has been under Axis occupation for several days following invasion by German and Italian troops.  As the enemy advanced rapidly, the British Ambassador Sir Ronald Campbell and his staff found themselves potentially stranded in a hostile country.  The Ambassador is understood to have cabled a message out to London and left immediately for the Yugoslav coast with the other British civilians. 

HM Submarine Regent was ordered to leave Malta on Thursday 17 April for the naval port of Kotor (1) in the hope of rescuing the stranded group.  However, within hours of her sailing, the Yugoslav government had signed an armistice with the Axis powers, due to come into effect at noon yesterday.  The submarine had to negotiate two minefields in her approach to Kotor. As Regent neared the harbour entrance, Lt Edward Stanley was sent up on deck to fly a white flag to signify a peaceful mission.  However, two German aircraft swooped down and dive-bombed the submarine, scoring a near-miss with a bomb which injured Lt Stanley in the chest. 

The white flag in place, the decision was taken to proceed with the mission and Lt D Lambert was sent ashore to meet the British Ambassador; he was immediately taken prisoner. The submarine’s commanding officer, Lt Cdr H C Browne, and a rating were also seriously wounded by machine gun fire from the shore.  Lt Cdr Browne was forced to depart without Ambassador Campbell, who it is believed has been taken prisoner.  

CONVOY ME 7 DEPARTS MALTA

Four merchant ships left Malta at dusk today, having delivered their supplies safely to the Island. British steamers City of Lincoln, Clan Ferguson, City of Manchester and Perthshire formed the supply convoy which was bombed within an hour of arriving in Grand Harbour on 23 March.  Both Lincoln and Perthshire were hit in the raids but are now fully seaworthy. 

The merchantmen were escorted on their departure today by four destroyers Jervis, Janus, Nubian and Diamond, the latter having completed refit at Malta.  They expect to rendezvous with other ships of the Mediterranean Fleet tomorrow for the steamers to be escorted back to Alexandria.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

1214 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which circle the Island and are engaged by Tigne anti-aircraft guns; no claims.

1511-1530 hrs; 1606 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

2018-2043 hrs Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers which cross the coast singly and drop bombs in isolated localities causing no damage or casualties. Searchlights illuminate the raiders on two occasions and anti-aircraft guns engage heavily, causing the raiders to withdraw; no claims.

Military casualties  2nd Lieutenant Harry Leslie Deacon, Royal Army Service Corps.

Civilian casualties Msida  Nicolo Cassar, age 40; Michael Sammut, age 40; Jane Zammit, age 60; John Zammit, age 50; Joseph Zammit, age 65.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Convoy ME7 – City of Lincoln, Clan Ferguson, City of Manchester and Perthshire – sailed for Alexandria escorted by Jervis, Janus, Nubian and Diamond, the latter having completed refit at Malta. 

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Taranto; chased by three Macchi 200 fighters; no damage. Maryland reconnaissance western Ionian Sea. 148 Squadron 8 Wellington bombers night bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg).

(1) Now in Montenegro 

 

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

 

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17 April 1941: No Rifles for Malta Conscripts

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recruits with sticks 12000 CONSCRIPTS MAY BE WITHOUT ARMS

Malta does not have enough rifles to arm its new conscript troops. The number of new recruits now enrolled in the Island’s military forces will soon reach 2000, after conscription began on 3 March.   Between July and September last year the Governor and Commander in Chief put in five orders for 3830 rifles but none has yet received War Office authorisation. 

With the rise in infantry strengths since conscription the Island’s stocks of rifles are now considered very low and insufficient for tactical requirements. Stressing the urgency of the situation, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie as asked that if the required weapons are not at present available in the UK, the Commander in Chief Middle East be instructed to supply a proportion immediately, with the balance despatched from India. 

SEA INVASION THREAT LOWERED; PARACHUTE THREAT REMAINS HIGH

Military chiefs in Malta have now decided that an attempted landing by night from the sea is unlikely. The Island was placed on high alert on 28 March following intelligence reports of Italian vessels patrolling in the vicinity of Malta.  The threat level for sea attack has now been lowered.  However precautions against parachute landings are still in place as the threat is still considered high.

SANDFLIES

The attention of all ranks has drawn to the great importance of surveying the localities occupied by their units and detachments, in order to discover the likely breeding places of flies, sandflies and mosquitoes, and to deal with these effectively. Such measures are believed effective when taken at this time of year, on account of the prodigious fertility of these insects, and their rapid rate of multiplication. 

All regimental officers have been asked that, in the interest of their men and of themselves, they possess a working knowledge of such preventative measures. Advice can be obtained from medical officers or from the Field Hygiene section.

MALTA NEEDS A REST CAMP

The Governor and Commander in Chief proposes to establish permanent rest camp in Malta. The facility is believed necessary as the strength of the British Garrison on the Island now numbers nearly 12000.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 APRIL TO DAWN 18 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

1535-1630 hrs   Air raid alert for six Italian CR 42 fighters which patrol off the coast of Malta at 19000 feet. Ten Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage as the CR 42s turn back when still two miles offshore.  The Hurricanes have landed to refuel when a single JU 88 crosses the Island at 26000 feet.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Four of the Hurricanes take off again but the bomber recedes before they intercept. 

2047-2210 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the south west. Five raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on the St Paul’s Bay area.  Searchlights illuminate two targets and intense fire from the anti-aircraft guns drives the raiders out to sea.

0330-0405 hrs  Air raid alert caused by the return of two Wellington bombers.

0416-0530 hrs  Air raid alert for one twin-engined enemy bomber which approaches from the north and drops bombs on the St Paul’s Bay area. One farmhouse is damaged; three sheep, two goats and a donkey are killed.  Searchlights illuminate the raider for a short period; no anti-aircraft gun claims.  One Hurricane night fighter is airborne but the searchlight illumination is too brief for an attack.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 17 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Regent sailed for Kotor to attempt to bring off Mr Campbell, British Minister to Yugoslavia.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland patrol of the eastern Tunisian coast.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  5 more NCOs attended a bomb reconnaissance course.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (500kg).

 

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Posted by on April 17, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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14 April 1941: Malta Must Be Filled With Fighter Aircraft Says Air Chief

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Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal KG GCB OM DSO MCREINFORCEMENTS ESSENTIAL FOR ISLAND TO SURVIVE

The Chief of the Air Staff has told the War Cabinet in London that Malta must be filled with fighter aircraft in order to maintain itself against its unfavourable geographical position so close to Sicily, where a large bomber force could be assembled. If our fighter aircraft flew away from Malta [to attack convoys] he said, they left the Island liable to enemy attack. 

The radius round Malta over which fighter aircraft can operate does not extend far enough to enable them to intercept enemy transport aircraft carrying personnel or stores to Cyrenaica. The main conclusion of the discussion was that the War Cabinet cannot currently be certain of interrupting the enemy supply line to Tripoli.

FRIENDLY FIRE INCIDENT

Flying Officer Adrian Warburton of 69 Squadron had a lucky escape today when his Maryland was attacked by a Hurricane fighter over Malta. F/O Warburton took off from Luqa this morning for a test flight prior to a reconnaissance mission planned for later in the day. 

Meanwhile Hurricane fighters were scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of a JU 88 bomber escorted by ME 109s. The Maryland was mistaken for an enemy raider and Hurricane pilot F/O I Westmacott attacked.  His starboard engine and undercarriage damaged, F/O Warburton was forced to crash-land at Luqa.  He was unhurt.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 APRIL TO DAWN 15 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

0942-1020 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by ten ME 109 fighters as it carries out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 25000 feet. Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage heavily; no claims.

2124-2202 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and is engaged by anti-aircraft guns, whereupon it retreats north over St Paul’s Bay. Minutes later the aircraft returns to attack St Paul’s Bay where it is illuminated by searchlights and heavily engaged by anti-aircraft guns; no claims.  One flare is dropped in the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli noted 8 merchant vessels; engine trouble necessitated immediate return. Maryland patrolled area between Cape Bon and Trapani; no ships seen. 148 Squadron Four Wellingtons night bombing raid on Tripoli harbour.  Average height of bombing 6-7000 feet: anti-aircraft fire less accurate at this height. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  24 unexploded bombs found in B Company area from previous air raid, reported to bomb disposal squad.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  5 WOs/NCOs attended a four hour bomb reconnaissance course.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0030 hrs One man was injured in Valletta by bomb splinters.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 7; dealt with 1 (50kg).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Two conscripts joined the Battalion. Three bombs are dropped near a defence posts which do not exploded; one is found and identified as 250kg with a fuze marked 50, reported to bomb disposal squad.

 

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

 

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13 April 1941: Easter Sunday – 300 Bomb Strike on Civilian Areas

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Mdina

The ‘silent city’ of Mdina

MDINA HIT FOR A SECOND TIME AS INDISCRIMINATE BOMBING MARS MALTA’S MAIN RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL

Tonight “will long be remembered in Malta for the widespread indiscriminate night bombing which took place. It will be remembered as a miraculous night for the narrow misses of bombs that were rained down with intermittent intensity over a period of an hour and a half…”

The main attack took place just after midnight and involved 25 enemy raiders which crossed the north coast in a series of waves. One formation dropped bombs on Imtarfa, Mdina and Rabat, where at least 70 craters have been reported.  Other waves attacked Luqa, and coastal points at St Julians and St Elmo.

A large shelter opposite the Lower Barracca suffered a direct hit by two mines, compromising the structures of buildings above the place where a hundred people were huddled for safety. Tons of masonry crashed down but the shelter held out and there were no casualties. (1)

MALTA ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS WORN OUT BY CONSTANT HEAVY FIRE

The continuous fire needed to fight off heavy bombing attacks is causing Malta anti-aircraft guns to wear at a rate 20 per cent greater than average. With supplies so difficult to deliver to the Island, The additional wear and tear potentially has serious implications for its defences.  The Governor and C in C Malta has written to military and naval commanders in the Middle East to ask for spare parts to be delivered as soon as possible.

The lack of specialist anti-aircraft personnel in Malta continues to cause concern. Eight heavy anti-aircraft guns are already being manned by non-specialist troops from infantry battalions and continuing manpower shortages mean that four more will soon have to be operated in this way.  The situation is expected to continue for some months.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 APRIL TO DAWN 14 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

1006-1116 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 ME 109 fighters which approach along the north coast then break formation over the Island. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders, claiming one ME 109 is probably shot down.  Some minutes later one or two JU 88s cross the coast at Kalafrana and drop bombs on the Luqa area.  Anti-aircraft guns engage and ten Hurricanes are scrambled.  One JU 88 dives steeply in flames and makes a sharp turn out over Grand Harbour.  One ME 109 is destroyed off Wolsey Battery by F/O E M Mason DFC, whose Hurricane which is then itself shot down in the sea by another enemy fighter.  F/O Mason, who is Flight Commander of 261 Squadron at Ta Qali, manages to level out just above the sea, but the engine cuts out. He is rescued the high speed launch and taken to Imtarfa Hospital, where he was found to have bullet wounds in his right arm and left elbow and metal splinters were in his left leg and skull, as well as facial injuries.

1200-1205 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2040-2055 hrs Air raid alert for one unidentified enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west, turns in over Gozo and drop bombs at Salina Bay. Anti-aircraft guns engage using predicted barrage; no claims.

2158-2258 hrs Air raid alert for a single unidentified aircraft which approaches the Island from the north and drops bombs on St Elmo Bastion causing some damage and bursting a sewage main. A second raider approaches from the east, crosses the coast near San Pietru and drops bombs in the sea between Kalafrana and fort St Lucian.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0001-0115 hrs Air raid alert for 25 enemy aircraft which approach the Island in a series of waves from the north and cross the coast at various points, dropping bombs on Rabat and Mdina, Imtarfa, Ta Qali, Attard, St Elmo, St Julians and Luqa. Eight civilian houses are demolished. 70 craters are counted in the Rabat area alone.  Signal wire routes at Ta Qali and Imtarfa are damaged, where one office, garages and a barrack block are also damaged.  One Bofors gun emplacement at Ta Qali is damaged but not put out of action.  A landmine falls on the aerodrome, breaking windows, bursting open doors and damaging ceilings of the Station’s HQ and breaking windows in the Pottery.

A bomb falls on the barracks of 4th Bn The Buffs killing one soldier and injuring another.  During the raid two Wellingtons come in to land.  One JU 88 is illuminated by searchlights and engaged by anti-aircraft guns.  Other raiders are also engaged by Ack Ack, using predicted barrage.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.  Three unexploded bombs are reported on Luqa aerodrome.

0556-0715 hrs  Air raid alert for four CR 42 and three ME 109 fighters approaching from the north. They cross the coast at St Thomas’ Bay.   The CR 42s machine-gun Luqa aerodrome, where the Bofors guns engage the raiders.  Hurricanes are also scrambled and a Glen Martin heading in to land during the raid is almost caught in the dog-fight.  The enemy aircraft recede north west; searchlights illuminate several targets and are engaged by anti-aircraft guns; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance of Tripoli Harbour: 8 destroyers, 13 merchant vessels plus several convoys at sea. Maryland despatched at 1350 hrs to shadow a southbound convoy.  Maryland on patrol of area between Cape Bon and Trapani for enemy shipping sighted two e-boats. 148 Squadron 3 Wellington bombers night bombing of Tripoli Harbour. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A holiday for all those not required for security; church service at 1115 hrs.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  15 unexploded bombs located, all identified as German, fuze marked 15; reported to bomb disposal unit.

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

 

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Posted by on April 13, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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12 April 1941: Malta Swordfish and Destroyers Pursue Axis Convoy

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HMS Mowahk

HMS Mowahk

TWO SWORDFISH SHOT DOWN

Malta-based Fleet Air Arm Swordfish and destroyers launched a dual attack on an enemy convoy today off the Gulf of Hammamet, Tunisia. Maryland reconnaissance aircraft of 69 Squadron located  the southbound convoy which was proceeding southbound at 15 knots.  In view of the speed, Swordfish of Malta’s 830 Squadron were sent to intercept the convoy at dusk; one was deployed to shadow the vessels.  Meanwhile destroyers Jervis, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian left Malta heading to intercept the convoy. 

About 90 minutes after dark the convoy realised it was being shadowed by aircraft and turned north at high speed. At 2040 hrs the Swordfish attacked, one launching six 250lb bombs from 3000 feet which straddled the convoy, one scoring a hit or near miss on a merchant ship. The remaining Swordfish attacked with torpedoes but no other damage was reported.  The convoy ships launched a heavy counter-attack with medium and light anti-aircraft fire.  Two torpedo Swordfish were hit and forced to crash land near Hammamet.

The destroyer flotilla was unable to locate the convoy as it had changed course but at about 0230 hrs the enemy ships were spotted to the west of Pantelleria by the submarine Upholder who turned it back by firing star shell.  However, by the time the flotilla Captain received Upholder’s report that the convoy was turning back, his ships were on their way back to Malta. 

The Swordfish crews have been named as of A/Sub Lt A P Dawson with L/A A Todd, and P/O Airman C H Wines with L/A L M Edwards. They were all taken prisoner by the French authorities in Tunisia.

Petty Officer Charles Wines described the events in his logbook for the 12 April 1941:

Swordfish B L7689; passenger L/A Edwards: “Attacked [merchant] ship in northbound convoy in Gulf of Hammamet. Observed hit with torp[edo] under bridge.  Whilst taking evasive action [aircraft] was hit repeatedly in tanks and fuselage with ‘pom pom’ and small calibre gunfire from Italian destroyer escort and from [merchant] ships.  Made crash landing after engine had seized on beach at Hammamet, Tunisia…Interned in Tunisia..” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 APRIL TO DAWN 13 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.    

0707-0738 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which carry out a patrol to the north of the Island.

1935 hrs  Four destroyers leave Grand Harbour.

2307 hrs Air raid alert for nine enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly from the north and the south east. One raider machine-guns the Sergeants’ Mess at Kalafrana.  Bombs are dropped on St Paul’s Bay.  Anti-aircraft guns engage the enemy south east of St Paul’s Bay using predicted barrage.  One Hurricane is scrambled; no claims.

0030 hrs  Air raid alert as another single enemy aircraft crosses the coast and drops bombs on the Ta Qali area, breaking windows in the Station headquarters and the Pottery, as well as near Naxxar and by the salt pans at Salina Bay.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  An unexploded bomb is reported at Naxxar.

0134 hrs  All clear.

0217-0355 hrs Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft which approach and patrol round the Island; no bombs are dropped. Anti-aircraft guns engage using predicted barrage and one Hurricane is scrambled; no claims.

0443-0615 hrs Air raid alert for several enemy aircraft (believed to be JU 88 bombers) which cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali airfields. Three bombs causing craters on the edge of Ta Qali aerodrome are found to be filled with concrete.  A large number of bombs falls in the area of B Company and headquarters 4th Bn The Buffs, causing severe damage to property and two casualties, one very serious.  24 unexploded bombs are later found in the area.  The bombers also attack four destroyers returning from enemy convoy patrol.  Anti-aircraft guns engage using visual and predicted barrages; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 12 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine Olympus arrived at Malta to reinforce the Mediterranean submarines.

830 Squadron strike force attacked a fast enemy convoy located by reconnaissance aircraft off the entrance to the Gulf of Hammamet; no hits were scored and two aircraft were lost. The convoy turned north and retired at high speed, passing to the west of Pantelleria at 0230 hrs. Destroyers sent to attack were unable to locate the convoy. Upholder located, engaged and diverted the convoy but 14 Flotilla was already on the way back to Malta. 

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance between Cape Bon and Trapani for enemy shipping: convoy located and a second Maryland sent to shadow it for a Swordfish operation at night.

HAL FAR P/O Sugden crashed on landing after an early morning flight; he was unhurt. PM Operational flight by 830 Squadron against Tripoli; two aircraft failed to return (pilots S/Lt Dawson and P O Wines).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  One conscript joined the Battalion.

(1) The flying log book of Petty Officer Charles Wines

 

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Posted by on April 12, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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10 April 1941: Shortages Put Anti-Aircraft Guns Out of Action

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Ack Ack gunners MaltaEQUIPMENT DELIVERIES TWO MONTHS BEHIND

A lack of essential equipment has put several anti-aircraft guns across Malta out of action. Three urgent orders for supplies made two months ago have not yet been fulfilled.  Only a handful of the 18 bearing and elevation receivers ordered on 10 February have arrived.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has made an urgent request to the War Office for the balance of the equipment to be flown to Malta immediately.

COVERT OPERATIONS TROOPS TO LEAVE MALTA

The War Office has decided that Special Service troops currently Malta would be better deployed in the Middle East. In a telegram today to the Governor and Commander in Chief, the WO expressed the belief that there is no likely role for them in Malta command.

The Independent Company, Special Service Battalionexpert in covert sea to land operations – arrived in Malta as part of Operation Colossus in February.  The unit is normally based at Manoel Island but has most recently been in Gozo as part of the anti-invasion operation ‘Picnic’. 

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie has responded to the War Office pointing out that the Special Service personnel are very usefully employed in Malta. However, accepting that the unit is directly under the command of the Chief of Staff Mediterranean, he has agreed reluctantly to the transfer, if the unit’s skills are urgently required elsewhere.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 APRIL TO DAWN 11 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

1230-1320 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross Gozo from north to south and then from south to north over Hal Far and San Rocco.  Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no engagement.

1517-1530 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. They circle to the west and north of the Island before moving away northwards.  Nine Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement reported.

1554 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Henry Pateman, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  One southbound convoy located by air reconnaissance. 830 Squadron despatched after dark but failed to intercept. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: 8 destroyers, 12 plus merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance Palermo Harbour: 2 cruisers, 5 destroyers, 14 merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping sighted convoy; 830 Squadron being despatched for torpedo attack. 

HAL FAR  PM  Operational flight by 8 aircraft 830 Squadron, target Tripoli; all returned safely.

KALAFRANA   Sunderland arrived from Middle East with freight.

 

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Posted by on April 10, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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4 April 1941: Malta Conscripts Refuse to Take Oath

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enlistment notice top cropCONSCRIPTS CLAIM OUT OF DATE NOTICES UNENFORCEABLE

Reports have emerged of Malta conscripts refusing to take the enlistment oath. The incidents appear to have arisen when conscripts have failed to turn up to enlist by their due date.

The enlistment notice requires a conscript to report to his local office within a specified period. Under Malta conscription regulations (which are identical to British ones), if the conscript fails to report by the deadline, he is automatically deemed to be enlisted in the unit specified in the enlistment notice (and is therefore absent without leave).

However, cases have emerged in Malta of men brought in to enlist after the date on their notices who have refused to take the enlistment oath, using the expiry of the deadline as a justification. The Governor and C in C has sought advice from the War Office on the correct procedure in such cases.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 APRIL TO DAWN 5 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fair.  

Aircraft are reported several times in the vicinity of the Island but no air raids materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual arrived en route for Alexandria after minelaying operation off western Sicily.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 0810-1455 hrs  Maryland intending reconnaissance of Spezia was impeded by clouds and reccoed Maddalena Harbour instead. 0846-1430 hrs Maryland photo-reconnaissance Bari and Brindisi harbours.  1435 hrs Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and Tunisian coast for enemy shipping.   

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  19 conscripts joined the Battalion.

 

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Posted by on April 4, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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29 March 1941: Secret Ops Battalion Deployed to Gozo

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A Glenn Martin Maryland was lost today

A Glenn Martin Maryland is lost today

COVERT OPERATIONS TROOPS SENT TO GOZO FOR ‘PICNIC’

The Independent Company, Special Service Battalion* has been sent to Gozo as part of operation ‘Picnic’.  The codename refers to the military detachment posted to defend Malta’s sister Island, thought to be the destination for an imminent Axis invasion.  The Battalion is specially trained in covert sea to land operations.  They arrived in Malta in January to take part in February’s Operation Colossus, the attempt to destroy a viaduct near Naples.  The Specials’ role was to help transfer the paratroops to a submarine for transport back to Malta. The Company is normally based at HMS Talbot, the submarine base on Manoel Island.

RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT LOST ON MISSION OVER CAPE MATAPAN

A Glenn Martin Maryland reconnaissance aircraft of 69 Squadron has been reported lost today. The pilot, Flying Officer Frederick R Ainley, was sent out to survey Cape Matapan following yesterday’s sea battle in the area. Information from Greece has confirmed that the Maryland crashed into the sea off the island of Zante, killing the pilot.  One crew member  was seriously injured and the other slightly hurt.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MARCH TO DAWN 30 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

2025-2028 hrs, 2115-2217 hrs, 0037-0352 hrs, 0315-0330 hrs A series of air raid alerts sounds during the night for eight aircraft which come in singly at long intervals. They drop bombs on various localities, including Tarxien, between Rocco and Pietru, on open country near Mgarr and an anti-aircraft position at Tigne causing slight damage and no casualties.  Tactics employed in the last two raids resemble the ‘tip and run’ tactics of Italian air forces.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Frederick R Ainley, pilot, 69 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties Rabat  Anthony Grech, age 51.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 29 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 0900 hrs  Maryland despatched on reconnaissance for enemy shipping east of Malta at the request of the Commander in Chief did not return. A communication is received from BAF Greece that the Maryland force-landed at Zante; the pilot F/O Ainley was killed, one crew member seriously injured and the other slightly hurt. 1230-1507 hrs Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and Tunisian coast for enemy shipping. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 4 (1 flare; 1 x 4.5” Ack Ack; 2 x 50kg). A number of unexploded bombs reported as large bombs inspected this week were found to be small bombs.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  GOC Malta inspected Battalion conscripts at St Elmo during training.

*forerunner of the Special Boat Service

 

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

 

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28 March 1941: Italian Ships to Attack Malta at Dawn

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MALTA ON FULL ALERT

Troops across Malta were placed on high alert tonight as the Island expects an attack from Italian naval forces at dawn tomorrow. The report was based on intelligence information received at Malta high command that the Italians are to bombard the Island as a reprisal for attacks on the Italian city of Genoa.  Enemy fighters have been patrolling the seas around the Island all day without crossing the coast.  Four Italian cruisers have been spotted by reconnaissance aircraft in the vicinity of Malta.  The alert was followed by a series of bombing raids across the Island.

Valiant fires her guns in the battle of Cape Matapan today

Valiant fires her guns in the battle of Cape Matapan today

MEDITERRANEAN FLEET BATTLE AT CAPE MATAPAN TO PROTECT MALTA CONVOYS

While Malta is under threat of naval bombardment, the Mediterranean Fleet is engaged in a sea battle of the southern coast of Greece. The Fleet sailed yesterday into position off Cape Matapan to intercept an Italian battlefleet of one battleship, six heavy and two light cruisers plus several destroyers which were believed to be on a mission to intercept convoys through the Mediterranean to key Allied positions including Malta.

Vice-Adm Pridham-Wippell, commanding cruisers Ajax, Gloucester, Orion and the Australian Perth and destroyers engaged an Italian cruiser squadron this morning.  Admiral Cunningham who embarked from Alexandria with carrier Formidable and battleships Warspite, Barham and Valiant joined the battle and by noon the Italians had also been reinforced by the battleship Vittorio Veneto. Lieutenant-Commander John Dalyell-Stead of 829 Squadron Fleet Air Arm pilot took off from Formidable in his Swordfish and launched a brave attack on Vittorio Veneto and damaged the ship but was shot down in the return fire and perished. RAF aircraft joined the battle through the afternoon. By evening the Italian heavy cruiser Pola had been damaged, two more heavy cruisers and two destroyers sent to help her were also crippled by Royal Navy guns and finished off by the Australian Stuart. Pola was later abandoned and sunk by Navy destroyers.  The Mediterranean Fleet suffered no losses. 

PILOT’S LUCKY ESCAPE

A Hurricane fighter pilot was lucky to survive when his aircraft was attacked over Malta this afternoon. Sergeant Reginald Goode of 261 Squadron was one of four pilots ordered up just after 5 pm to deal with enemy aircraft which were carrying out harassing patrols around the Island’s coast.  The Hurricanes engaged a Messerschmitt 109 and a dogfight ensured.  Goode’s aircraft was hit from behind by a burst of machine-gun fire and he was hit in the back and neck by shrapnel.  He fought to regain control of the damaged plane and managed to land at Ghain Tuffieha but the Hurricane’s tail section broke off on impact.  Sergeant Goode was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MARCH TO DAWN 29 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0700 hrs  Continual patrols round the Island by enemy aircraft as yesterday; Hurricanes airborne when necessary. One Hurricane force-landed due to engine failure; the aircraft is written off but the pilot uninjured. 

1333-1345 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and cross the coast. They are engaged by anti-aircraft guns and turn away without launching any attack.

1718 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft patrolling close to the coast. Four Hurricanes on defensive patrol have a short combat with a ME 109. 

1726 hrs  One Hurricane has to make a forced landing near Ghain Tuffieha military camp; the pilot is seriously injured.

1750 hrs  All clear.

1820-1829 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2300 hrs  A warning is sent out by General Staff to all military units that four Italian cruisers have been seen close to Malta. Bombardment from the sea is to be expected at dawn.

0100-0148 hrs  Air raid alert for 18 enemy aircraft which fly over the Island from the north and use flares to light targets before dropping bombs in various locations, including Rabat, Imtarfa, Dingli, Hal Far, Kalafrana and Delimara. Reports indicate that some are delayed-action bombs.  Bombs in Rabat exploded in Hal Bajjada Street, College Street and the Nigret district, causing damage to buildings and killing and injuring people.  One civilian is killed and eight are wounded; several houses are demolished.  There is no moon, it is very dark and no Malta fighters are scrambled.  Anti-aircraft guns engage unseen targets with predicted barrage; no claims. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Utmost carried out a night attack on a convoy believed carrying German troops and stores; two transport ships believed sunk.

AIR HQ Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and Tunisian coast for enemy shipping.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for Greece with Mr Anthony Eden and other passengers.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (50kg).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

 

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Posted by on March 28, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

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