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11 June 1941: One Year On Malta Defenders Destroy 215th Raider

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MALTA HAS HIT BACK

In the year since Italy has entered the war, Malta defences including fighter planes and anti-aircraft guns have brought down 155 enemy planes and 60 others badly damaged.

MAIL COULD BE DELAYED IN FAVOUR OF SUPPLIES FOR MALTA

Mail for Malta from the UK may have to be delayed if the Island is to receive urgently needed stores, the War Office warned the Governor & C in C today.  Following severe delays in mail deliveries at the end of last year, a new system has been operating by which most first class postal matter and all postcards have been despatched to Malta direct by Wellington service aircraft.  However, the recent urgent need for special supplies to the Island can only be met using the same aircraft capacity.  As a result, Lt Gen Dobbie will have to decide whether such deliveries must take precedence over the mail.  However, any decision will have to take account of the fact that the total allowed on Welllingtons from Gibraltar to Malta and the Middle East is limited to 100lbs per aircraft.

HMS Unique

HMS Unique

SUBMARINES AND SWORDFISH LAUNCH ATTACKS FROM MALTA

Report to the British War Cabinet to 8th June

On 3rd June HM Submarine Unique sank a laden 1000 ton merchant vessel in Lampedusa Harbour.  Early on the morning of 28th May a party from Upright carried out a landing four miles south-est of Punto Stilo Light, Calabria, and blew up the railway line.

On the night 7-8th June, seven Swordfish of the Feet Air Arm, operating from Malta, laid mines in Tripoli Harbour; as a diversion a bombing attack was also carried out, as a result of which several large fires were started at the west end of the harbour.  On the following night, Swordfish dropped flame floats, as it was thought the harbour might be covered with inflammable oil as a result of the sinking of MV Barmania, but no fires resulted; bombs were also dropped and a merchant vessel was fired.

Successful reconnaissances over the Ionian Sea and off the Eastern Tunisian Coast were carried out by Marylands from Malta. There are indications that the German air forces in Sicily have been drastically reduced. 

The enemy carried out a series of small night raids on Malta and some damage was caused to Luqa aerodrome; Ta Qali and Hal Far were also attacked by day. On the night 5-6th June, a HE 111 was held by searchlights and probably destroyed by a Hurricane; on another night two BR 20s were shot down into the sea.  Four Hurricanes intercepted four SM 79s fifty miles south of Malta, two of which they destroyed and badly damaged the others.  Another SM 79 with an escort of ME 109s attempted a reconnaissance of the Island and was also shot down into the sea 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JUNE TO DAWN 12 JUNE 1941

Weather  Strong winds.

0620 hrs  Air movement monitoring picked up two enemy aircraft patrolling four miles to the south of Malta. Hurricanes are scrambled and attempt to intercept; no claims.

0845-0930 hrs Air raid alert for an Italian SM 79 bomber on reconnaissance, escorted by ten ME 109 fighters approaching the Island from the north, then turning to cross the coast over Kalafrana towards Hal Far. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage heavily, breaking up the formation.  The ME 109s sheer off northwards and take no further part in combat.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the SM 79 bomber to the east of Filfla.  In the engagement, one Hurricane and the SM 79 crash into the sea close to one another off Benghaisa.  An extensive search recovers only one body, that of the Italian airman.  Pilot F/Lt Burnett of 46 Squadron is missing.

1407-1420 hrs; 1436-1453 hrs; 1540-1612 hrs; 1623-1640 hrs  Air raid alerts triggered by a total of 22 enemy aircraft in five formations patrolling 30 miles north of the Islands. Hurricanes are scrambled on each occasion and the raiders turn back before engaging or reaching the Island.

0200-0230 hrs  Air raid alert for three unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east to Zonqor Point. Two raiders cross the coast.  20 bombs are dropped off St Thomas’ Bay, in the sea two miles east of Kalafrana and also to the north west of Anchor Bay.  Nine red Very lights are seen fired from the sea east of Delimara Point.

0319-0338 hrs  Air raid alert for a single unidentified enemy aircraft which approaches from the north east and crosses the coast over St Paul’s Bay, dropping bombs between Ta Qali and Mosta, as well as eight east of Valletta.

0352-0410 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but turns back before reaching the coast.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Norman Whitmore Burnett, pilot, Royal Air Force, 46 Squadron; Squadron Leader Michael L Watson, Royal Air Force, 82 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  General Haining and party passed through Malta. Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Beaufighter, 1 Sunderland, 1 Cunliffe Owen Flying Wing.  69 Squadron  4 Marylands on reconnaissance.  1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance of Gerbini aerodrome, revealing 12 ME 109s and 3 SM 79s; also Catania aerodrome, identifying 20 twin-engined aircraft and 10 Italian fighters. 82 Squadron 2 Blenheims attack convoy; 1 shot down.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A demonstration was given on the use of Italian hand grenades.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A practical demonstration at Ghain Tuffieha of Italian grenades revealed them to be a poor weapon.   

 

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Posted by on June 11, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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3 June 1941: Malta to Expect 6000-Strong Invasion Within a Week

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40 motor torpedo boats ready in Sicily

40 motor torpedo boats ready in Sicily

ATTACK EXPECTED TO BEGIN 10-12 JUNE

Malta could be invaded within a week, according to the War Office. According to a telegram to the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief, a source of unknown reliability states that German and Italian troops in Sicily are undergoing intensive training for an attack on the Island.  The source also states that 6000 German and Italian parachute troops have arrived in Catania.  The attack is expected to begin between 10 and 12 June.

A second report has revealed that 1500 Italian parachutists, 1500 bicyclists and 3000 men are at Syracuse, with 120 65/17 guns, 40 torpedo-armed motor boats and light transports. There are also significant troop and aircraft concentrations at Caltanisetta.  However, the War Office gives a word of caution, stating that as yet has no firm confirmation of an intention to attack Malta.

BLENHEIM LOST IN CONVOY RAID

A Malta-based Blenheim aircraft was destroyed today during an attack on an enemy convoy this afternoon. The bomber was one of four of 139 Squadron who with another of 82 Squadron were despatched to attack Axis supply ships with an escort of destroyers.  The Blenheim piloted by S/Ldr Thompson DFC succeeded in hitting an 8000 ton merchant ship but was hit by debris from the resulting blast.  Following Blenheims reported that the aircraft exploded and crashed into the sea; there is little hope of survivors.  The other two crew members have been named as Sgt Hepworth and Sgt Turner. (1)

CLAMP DOWN ON WATER ECONOMIES

Troop company commanders are now required to submit a report every Monday to the effect that orders to economise on water are being complied with and that fresh water consumption within their respective companies does not exceed an average of 10 gallons per head per day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JUNE TO DAWN 4 JUNE 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1328-1340 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which carries out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour, escorted by twelve fighters. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no damage to enemy aircraft.  Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to reach height in time to engage the raiders.

PM  One Italian three-engined aircraft passing to the west of Malta is attacked by four Hurricanes of 249 Squadron and shot down in the sea.  The crew are seen on the wing.  The Gozo boat and Hurricanes conducted a search but were unable to find any survivors.

2125-2135 hrs  Air raid alert for four formations of enemy aircraft which approach the Island and circle east of Kalafrana and Grand Harbour for one and a half hours. 15kg bombs are dropped on land west of Island Bay and in the sea.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

2143-2300 hrs  Air raid alert. Two enemy aircraft cross the coast near Kalafrana and drop 15kg and incendiaries near the airfield and in the sea.  Searchlights illuminate the raiders on two occasions and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

2327-0045 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the south west and drops bombs in the sea south west of St Thomas’ Bay. During the raid four Swordfish aircraft land at Hal Far.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.  Night Hurricanes are airborne but unable to locate the raiders due to heavy cloud.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Six Swordfish in two unsuccessful attempts in poor visibility to intercept southbound convoys passing to the westward of Lampedusa.   Unique successful attack on Lampedusa Harbour; 1000 ton ship destroyed.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron 5 Maryland on reconnaissance. 4 Blenheims of 139 Squadron and 1 of 82 Squadron attacked a convoy escorted by destroyers: one ship blown up and a second set on fire. The Blenheim which bombed the latter ship was hit by debris from it and exploded; it then crashed into the sea.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bn has now formed mobile reserves of platoon strength in each Company area which will soon begin training in street fighting and dealing with parachutists.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 5 (1 x AA shell; 1 x 70kg incendiary; 2 x 50kg HE; 1 x 500 lb HE).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Training with Northern Infantry Brigade to practice assembly of a Composite Reserve Battalion at night, to prevent infiltration of parachutists at night and destroy them at dawn, and to test anti-parachute defences of Imtarfa Hospital.

(1) All three crew members survived

 

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Posted by on June 3, 2021 in 1941, June 1941

 

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31 May 1941: Valletta Law Courts Collapse into Main Street

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Bombing Aub Auvergne now law courtsEXPLOSION IN TIGNE CAUSES LAW COURTS TO COLLAPSE

Passers-by in Valletta were lucky to escape injury this afternoon when a large building collapsed into the City’s main street. The ruins of the building which housed the former Courts of Justice, already badly damaged by the blast of an enemy mine, caved in without warning leaving large blocks of masonry blocking Kingsway.  The collapse of the building, formerly the Auberge d’Auvergne, was apparently caused by shock waves from an explosion in the Tigne area. (1)

GENERAL STAFF REVIEW OF THE MONTH

The month of May has been noticeable for a gradual but marked decrease in German air activity. During the first few days the heavy night raids on the Dockyard continued with bombing and minelaying.  The cruiser Gloucester and part of the Naval light striking force finally left Malta on 2 May, and the Germans turned their attention to the aerodromes.  After a few days these too ceased.  Reconnaissance by JU 88s continued and about the middle of the month a squadron of ME 109 fighter bombers was operating from Sicily by day.  Towards the end of the month these left and it was apparent from the tactics that the Italians had once more taken over the night raiding of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1941

Weather  Fine.

1030-1040 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of a Glenn Martin Maryland.

No enemy air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 31 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY During the month three or four submarines were continuously on patrol. 830 Squadron had only five flying crews through the month.  Blenheims of anti-ship bomber squadrons reported successful attacks on twelve merchant vessels and two destroyers.  The Bomb Safety Officer dealt with 14 unexploded 50kg bombs and one 500kg. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Sunderland. Departures 2 Sunderland; 1 Beaufighter.  69 Squadron  2 Marylands patrol eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  2 Marylands patrol PM Ionian Sea to Greek coast. 82 Squadron Three Blenheim bombers attacked Florida II off Sfax; direct hits were scored, causing explosions and volumes of black smoke. 

LUQA  One Beaufighter left for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  As a result of General Alarm Exercise at beginning of week personnel are to be withdrawn from selected posts to form a mobile reserve. One platoon of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt will also come under this unit for operations.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 251; dealt with 109.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: officers 30; other ranks 684

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  69 conscripts enlisted during May.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths: officers 25, other ranks 123.

(1) Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

 

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Posted by on May 31, 2021 in 1941, May 1941

 

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30 May 1941: Malta Telephones & Telegrams Under Strain

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Fortress telephone exchange overloaded

Fortress telephone exchange overloaded

FORTRESS TELEPHONE EXCHANGE OVERLOADED

Troops have been informed that telephone calls must be restricted in order to reduce congestion of the Fortress Telephone Exchange. The measure has been introduced following damage to several cables in recent raids which have put communications under a severe strain. 

Troops have been told to make very effort to keep calls as short as possible; any lasting more than five minutes will be disconnected. A random listening check is also being undertaken and any calls considered unnecessary or in excess of five minutes will be brought to the attention of the General Officer Commanding.  Persistent offenders will have their telephones removed.

MALTA TELEGRAM SERVICE UNSATISFACTORY

The present system of private telegrams through Cable and Wireless to and from troops in Malta is unsatisfactory, according to the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief. In a message to the War Office today, he points out that it is now undesirable to divulge the names of units in Malta.  However, he believes that sending telegrams by cable instead of wireless telegraph will further increase the delay in transmission of messages, which is already the subject of some discontent among the Island’s troops.

Lt General Dobbie has requested that, in future, all cables should be sent by wireless telegraph. In addition, he proposes the address should include minimal information: for Other Ranks only the army number, rank and name or, for officers, the rank, name and initials, plus the single word Malta as the address.  Arrangements will be made for sorting and forwarding to the correct recipient.  Once confirmed, the instructions should be broadcast in a suitable form via the BBC in London.

EXTRA MILITARY VEHICLES ON THEIR WAY TO MALTA

14 motor cycles; 52 cars (2-seater) including 43 utility and 5 standard; 35 lorries 3-ton; 12 lorries 30 cwt; 13 ambulances; 5 vans 15 cwt; one petrol tanker; eight lorries 3 ton with seats (in lieu of eight motor coaches); two trailers; also spare parts. These now complete the establishment for Malta, with reserves. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 MAY TO DAWN 31 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine and warm. 

2143-2214 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach Grand Harbour from the north east but are turned away by a barrage from anti-aircraft guns, two raiders dropping their bombs in the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 30 MAY 1941

AIR HQ  Departures  8 Beaufighter. Remainder of 252 Squadron left for UK.  69 Squadron  Maryland patrol of eastern Tunisian coast; convoy not identified due to a mishap in the aircraft which went out of control over the target.  2 Marylands reconnaissance Malta to Greek coast for enemy naval movements.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli approaches for enemy shipping. 82 Squadron On information that Italian merchant vessel Florida previously attacked and damaged had been towed out of Sfax Harbour, three Blenheims despatched to attack and dropped 4 x 250lb bombs, scoring near-misses with delayed action bombs.      

LUQA  Eight Beaufighters left for Middle East, the other two remaining for repairs.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party left for Gozo AM; platoon includes one section of A Company and one section of D Company.

 

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Posted by on May 30, 2021 in 1941, May 1941

 

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27 May 1941: Blenheim Bombers Lost in Attack on Convoy

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Blenheim Mk IV BBLENHEIMS EXPLODE DURING LOW-ALTITUDE BOMBING RUN

Two Blenheims of 82 Squadron were shot down today while engaging in an offensive operation in the southern Mediterranean. The Blenheims were among six sent to attack a large convoy escorted by destroyers as it headed for Tripoli in Libya.  Early this afternoon they reached the six merchant vessels with their escort of eight destroyers and launched their attack. 

The bombers flew in low over the ships to release their bombs in the midst of very heavy anti-aircraft fire. Two of the merchant ships were hit but two of the Blenheims were also destroyed as they dived down towards the vessels.  It has been suggested that the resulting explosions destroyed two of the Blenheims.  The pilots of the two bombers have been named as Flt/Lt G M Fairbairn and Sgt E B Inman.  Their crews were Sgt R J Austin, Sgt K P Collins (1), P/O P J Higgins and Sgt S W Kemp.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0719-0745 hrs  Air raid alert for two Italian SM79 bombers which approach the Island possibly on their way south for reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

0923-0957 hrs  Air raid alert for two SM 79 bombers escorted by 12 ME 109 fighters which cross over the Island from the north at high altitude, apparently on reconnaissance, then split formation, reform to the east of the Island and recede northwards. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

2250-0010 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which cross over Grand Harbour singly, laying mines. Anti-aircraft guns fire one short barrage; no claims.

0025-0050 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the north. One stick of bombs is dropped on Gozo.

0335-0402 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber which crosses the Island, dropping bombs near Qormi.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald Joseph Austin Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), Flight Lieutenant Garnet Mackenzie Fairbairn, RAFVR, Pilot Officer Peter John Higgins Royal Air Force VR, Sergeant Edwin Bentall Inman, RAFVR, Sergeant Stanley William Kemp, Royal Air Force all 82 Squadron; Sapper Joseph Chircop, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 MAY 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Beaufighter. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance east of Malta to Cape Stilo.   Maryland reconnaissance southern part of eastern Tunisian coast reports convoy.  Maryland sent to locate ships reported by RAF finds convoy 80 miles east of Malta, escorted by 4 SM 79s and one Cant Z501. 139 Squadron Six Blenheims (five of 82 Squadron, one of 139 Squadron) attacked a large convoy escorted by destroyers.  F/Lt Fairbairn and Sgt Inman were shot down.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 252 Squadron left for Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The unit was examined by the Petrol Commission but no means were found by which either vehicles or petrol consumption could be reduced. Motor Transport staff were commended on their fuel controls.  Command Signal Exercise held at 0430-0815 hrs involving Bn HQ and Signals.  The exercise was to test out communications.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  0430-0815 hrs Bn and Company Headquarters took part in Malta Command Exercise No 2. The Battalion celebrated Bois des Buttes anniversary with a holiday: a Fur and Feather show was held during the morning and sports, games and entertainments in the evening.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg; 2 x 500kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Two companies to Xlejli Tower to take over defence of Luqa aerodrome. Remaining two companies disposed one at Zurrieq, one at Kirkop landing strip.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Command Signal exercise involving HQs down to Companies. Very little traffic through Battalion area. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  HQ and all three companies all on bicycles to concentrate on Marsa in the Southern Infantry Brigade reserve. Warning for ‘Picnic’ force to move issued to A Company.  Night interrupted with raids all night.

(1) Sgt K P Collins was injured but survived and was taken prisoner.

 

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Posted by on May 27, 2021 in 1941, May 1941

 

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21 May 1941: 50 Fighters & Bombers Arrive in Malta

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Blenheim Mk IV

Blenheim Mk IV

HURRICANES, FULMARS AND BLENHEIMS LAND THROUGHOUT THE DAY

The skies over Malta were busy all day today with the arrival of dozens of aircraft from the UK. 46 Hurricanes landed on the Island, along with 22 fighter pilots of 249 Squadron, RAF and Fulmars of the Fleet Air Arm. Operation ‘Splice’ began in Liverpool on 12 May with the loading of 64 Mk II Hurricanes onto the aircraft carrier HMS Furious at Liverpool. The carrier was escorted to Gibraltar, where she transferred 20 of the Hurricanes to HMS Ark Royal; 16 more will remain at Gibraltar.

The two aircraft carriers were then escorted through the western Mediterranean by the battle cruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield and six destroyers of the Mederranean fleet. A total of 48 fighters and four Fulmars took off from Ark Royal and Furious early today to be guided in to Malta by three Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft. En route, one Hurricane crashed off Cape Bon and a second is reported missing. After refuelling, 17 of the Hurricanes departed immediately for the Middle East.

In a separate operation, a detachment of 82 Squadron, Royal Air Force, also arrived in Malta. The Blenheim Mk IV aircraft took off from RAF Portreath in Cornwall to fly direct to the Island.  One Blenheim is reported to have crashed into the Mediterranean approximately off the north coast of Algeria; the pilot Flt/Sgt L Howard and crew Flt/Sgt C G Evans and P/O K G A Marsh are missing.  The rest of 82 Squadron is expected to follow during the next month; its role in Malta is to continue the attacks on enemy convoys and ports in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MAY TO DAWN 22 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0916-0946 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island from south east to north on reconnaissance at 20000 feet while its fighter escort patrols down the east coast. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber; no claims.

1117-1156 hrs  While numerous delivery Blenheims and Hurricanes continue to come in to land at Luqa, the air raid alert sounds for 15 ME 109 fighters which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on the aerodrome. Two Wellingtons are burned out, one Blenheim, one Hurricane and one Beaufighter damaged.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.

1650-1820 hrs  Air raid alert for four ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and patrol off the coast at 21000 feet for 1½ hours, possibly as a screen for the convoy reported by a reconnaissance Maryland. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interception.

1724-1750 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the Island and is engaged by anti-aircraft fire; no claims. No bombs are dropped.

0339-0420 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north east and drop bombs in the sea to the north east, east and south east of Grand Harbour. Anti-aircraft guns engage and manage to turn the leading raider off course.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY A large number of Hurricanes and Fulmars arrived safely from Force H aircraft carriers (Operation Splice).  Foresight left for Gibraltar at 2000 and Fifth Destroyer Flotilla sailed for operations at Crete. Urge sank one destroyer (part of covering force).

AIR HQ Arrivals 249 Squadron from UK.  4 Fulmar; 46 Hurricane. Departures 2 Sunderland; 4 Beaufighter, 17 Hurricane. 252 Squadron four Beaufighters to UK. 139 Squadron Following receipt of information of a small convoy 5 Blenheims were despatched to attack but failed to locate.  69 Squadron  Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast reports two convoys. 

HAL FAR  Four Fulmars and 14 Hurricanes arrived at Hal Far from Gibraltar; all machines landed safely.

LUQA One Maryland escorted Hurricanes to Malta from HMS Ark Royal.  Four Beaufighters 252 Squadron left for Gibraltar; two escorted Hurricanes to Malta.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Four other ranks embarked for repatriation to the UK.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg; 1 incendiary).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Northern Infantry Brigade exercise No 13: practice of formation of a composite battalion including E Company and Battalion HQ. The Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson KC gave lectures on Malta and some particular problems of civil government to officers and some other ranks at Ta Saliba. 

 

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

 

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1 August 1941: 80 Houses Destroyed, 39 Killed in July

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RAID SUMMARY JULY 1941

  • No of air raid alerts 72 (including 53 night raids)
  • Days without air raid alerts 7
  • Total time under alert 52 hours 18 mins
  • Average length of alert 53.5 mins
  • Enemy aircraft casualties: destroyed 21; probably destroyed 5; damaged 9
  • Malta aircraft losses 3 (including two pilots)
  • Civilians killed by enemy action to date 316
  • Civilians seriously injured to date 265

RAIDS, RATIONING AND SHELTERS

The Governor & C in C reports on conditions for civilians in Malta to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London:

During July there were 38 raids, two of them by day. 39 persons were killed (21 men, eight women and ten children) and 20 injured (eight men, eight women and four children).  80 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged.

By far the most important event in July was the arrival of the convoy; the successful unloading of which is now nearing completion. The effect of seeing so many ships in the harbour on the spirits of the population has of course been admirable.

Loaves now include 20-30% potato

Loaves now include 20-30% potato

During July a scheme for mixing up to 20%, but not more than 30%, of potatoes in bread was brought into effect, the object being to save imported wheat and to ensure a satisfactory market to farmers, thereby encouraging them to plant potatoes in future. The scheme was made compulsory as from 1st August.  Considerable difficulty was experienced in persuading the more conservative bakers to come into line, but they have all now done so.

Plans have been completed for rationing edible oil, margarine and lard and this will be done as from the middle of August. Butter will not be rationed, as our stocks are very satisfactory and it is eaten only by a very small proportion of the population.  Consumption is extremely low.

Shelter work has now been started in Gozo and 75 shelters are now being constructed there. No miners from the regiment are employed as it has been possible to obtain the whole force needed of 174 miners in Gozo.

MALTA BLENHEIM SHOT DOWN OFF LAMPEDUSA

A Blenheim aircraft of 82 Squadron has been reported missing tonight after it was shot down during a raid tonight on enemy shipping in the southern Mediterranean. F/Lt A B Broadley’s Blenheim was the lead aircraft of three sent to attack Axis ships off the island of Lampedusa.  The Blenheims scored direct hits on the ships but faced heavy defensive fire, during which F/Lt Broadley’s bomber was hit and forced to land in the sea half a mile offshore.  The air gunner of a second Blenheim was injured.

The other two members of the missing Blenheim crew have been named as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sgt V Marsh and Observer Pilot Officer A S Ramsay. All three arrived in Malta less than a month ago.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Alistair S Ramsay, Observer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 105 Squadron.                        

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 1 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ Departures 1 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Five reconnaissance flights, including one by five Marylands, covering Sicily, Tripoli, Lampedusa, Marittimo and Cape Carbonara.  One Swordfish Fleet Air Arm patrolled Ionian Sea. 105 Squadron 6 Blenheims sent to attack convoy failed to locate after a search. 82 Squadron 3 Blenheim successful attack on shipping in Lampedusa.  One Blenheim was hit by anti-aircraft fire and force-landed in the sea ½ mile from shore. The air gunner of another is was injured.      

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strength of detachment 27 officers, 189 other ranks.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion hands over defence posts in St Julians Bay, St Andrews Barracks area and Pembroke Ranges to 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers.

 

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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in August 1941

 

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31 July 1941: Malta’s 800th Air Raid Alert Today

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AIR AND NAVAL CHIEFS REVIEW JULY OPERATIONS FROM MALTA

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

Fulmars have disrupted enemy night raids

AIR HQ

The continued policy of the Command has been to intercept convoys en route between Italy and North Africa by day with the Blenheim detachments and by night with the shore-based Fleet Air Arm Swordfish. In addition, Wellingtons have concentrated on Tripoli port, causing considerable damage to the port facilities. 

82 Squadron carried out three attacks on military transport and barracks, and one attack on shipping. They were relieved by 110 Squadron on 4 July, and carried out successful attacks on shipping, harbours and key roads with the loss of six aircraft.  148 Squadron carried out 13 successful sorties during the month, chiefly on Tripoli.  Hurricanes of 46 and 185 Squadrons have made two successful attacks on seaplane moorings at Syracuse, at least three aircraft being burned out.

Beaufighters of 143, 252 and 272 Squadrons arrived towards the end of the month to cover a Naval operation. During their attachment they carried out two highly successful sorties against aerodromes in Sicily and Sardinia, destroying at least 38 aircraft and damaging many more.

Throughout the month Fulmars have patrolled over Catania by night and on one occasion shot down a bomber off Syracuse. Bombs were also dropped on aerodromes and towns.  The activities of these lone Fulmars has done much to harass the nocturnal operations of the Italians and on many nights prevented enemy bombers from operating.

The whole offensive has been possible through the reconnaissances of 69 (Maryland) Squadron, which was reinforced by three aircraft from Egypt. The Squadron aircraft have been equipped with bomb racks and although not employed on offensive work during the month they have released bombs over their objectives during reconnaissance.  They have also made two low-flying machine-gun attacks and at least two enemy aircraft were shot down during patrols.

249 Squadron carried out 29 day scrambles and 19 night scrambles. 46 Squadron, which was renamed 126 Squadron on 22 July, carried out 31 scrambles by day and 18 by night.  185 Squadron carried out 71 scrambles by day.

VICE-ADMIRAL MALTA

Malta submarines have carried out 13 patrols during the month. Four ships of approximate total of 16200 tons were claimed as sunk.  A further two ships of approximately 7500 total tonnage were probably sunk.  In addition, two hits each were obtained on a Condottieri “D” class cruiser and on a 500 foot floating dock.

830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm carried out three torpedo attacks on shipping. One hit was made on a tanker off Tripoli.  Two hits were made on a tanker off Lampedusa.  The total tonnage of these two ships is estimated at 10,000 tons.  One or both may have been sunk but of this there is no definite evidence.  In the third attack, a hit was obtained on the stern of a destroyer and a heavy explosion was observed in a ship of about 6000 tons.  This ship may have been sunk but the evidence is inconclusive.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

Day  Nine enemy aircraft come to within 25 miles of Grand Harbour and then turned back.  23 Hurricanes are scrambled but make no contact with the enemy.  S/Ldr Barton’s Hurricane’s engine fails and he has to make a forced landing but sustains no injuries. 

2200-2248 hrs  Air raid alert for a three enemy BR 20 bombers which approach singly from the north east and attack Grand Harbour, dropping 250kg bombs near the floating dock and on the Parade Ground of St Angelo destroying three mess rooms and injuring three people. Bombs are also dropped in the sea.  Hurricanes of 126 Squadron are scrambled. Searchlights illuminate raiders three times but the Hurricanes are unable to make contact.  P/O Stone chases a raider 30 miles out to sea but is unable to see it beyond the searchlights. 

2350-0017 hrs  Air raid alert for a single BR 20 which approaches from the north and drops 250kg bombs in the Grand Harbour area, as well as in the sea north east of Ricasoli. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 31 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  P32 arrived from United Kingdom. Upholder arrived from patrol off Marittimo, having sunk a 6000 ton laden merchant vessel, and obtained 2 hits on a Condottiere D class cruiser.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to intercept a southbound convoy of 4 merchant ships and 5 destroyers 20 miles west of Lampion.  Owing to poor visibility, convoy was located by ASV (radar).  2 torpedoes were fired and 1 hit obtained (unconfirmed).

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 3 Wellington, 4 Blenheim (leader had engine failure and all returned). 69 Squadron Marylands made 8 reconnaissance flights including Sicily, Elmas and Monserrato.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli strafed enemy aircraft on the ground at Zuara.  Marylands on special patrol. 105 Squadron 6 Blenheims sent to attack convoy but were intercepted by enemy fighters and returned without dropping bombs.

KALAFRANA  During July Sunderland and Catalina flying boats made considerable use of the station for flights between the Middle East and UK, with 28 arrivals and departures of aircraft during the month. Passengers included Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, Inspector General of the Royal Air Force, and Rt Hon Captain Lyttleton, AOC, Middle East.  The rescue Swordfish carried out 8 patrols and marine craft 6.  Numbers rescued during the month were 3 Italians by marine craft, 1 British and 1 Italian by floatplanes.  Total rescues since 11 June 1940 are 42 by marine craft (including 7 dead) and 3 by floatplane.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Regimental Dance Band is being reformed in the Battalion. Auditions were held and instruments have been begged, borrowed and bought.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths officers 31, other ranks 876, RAOC (attached) 2.  

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strength 22 officers, 393 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strengths 17 officers, 554 other ranks.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 27 officers, 8 WOs, 181 other ranks.

 

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6 July 1941: Heavy Bombs on Paola & St Julians Destroy Homes and Kill 6

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BR 20 bombers

BR 20 bombers

240 HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS OVER MALTA

Fifteen civilians were killed and 14 injured when heavy bombs struck the Dockyard community of Paola tonight. In a series of four air raids spread over five hours, more than 20 enemy bombers crossed the coast singly at intervals at a height of 17000 feet, dropping over 240 high explosives, many of them 100kg and 250kg.  Bad weather hampered defensive operations by Malta’s night fighters who were scrambled in pairs for each of the raids but were unable to engage the enemy bombers. 

The first four raiders approached the Island at about 1030 pm but made no significant attack, dropping bombs on rocks at Mellieha Bay and in the sea. An hour later the second wave of ten BR 20s crossed the coast north west of Grand Harbour and dropped several 250kg bombs on Paceville in St Julians, demolishing four houses and damaging ten others with no casualties.  Bombs were also dropped on Ta Braxia Cemetery and Sa Maison in Pieta.  Anti-aircraft guns opened fire but were unable to locate their targets.

Just after 1am a single bomber crossed over Grand Harbour and dropped 15kg bombs on Marsa. The heaviest raid came towards 3am when the final wave of 12 bombers approached, crossing the coast in three separate formations between Grand Harbour and Delimara.  One formation headed directly over the Harbour area and dropped several sticks of 250kg and 100kg bombs across Vittoriosa and the heart of Paola, where the civilian casualties occurred.

ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY AT WORK

RMA Gunner recalls a summer at Ghain Tuffieha

“In July 1941 we handed over the Naxxar Silent Gun Position to 6th HAA Battery [Royal Malta Artillery] – also of our regiment – and my troop moved to Ghajn Tuffieha.  Battery HQ joined the other troop at Ta’Giorni…

We established ourselves in the wooden huts at Ghajn Tuffieha Camp, the same huts we used to go into as Boy Scouts when we were ‘camp followers’ to our older friends in the Kings Own Malta Regiment machine gun platoon in 1938. I took over four 3 inch 20 cwt guns but this time they were deployed in two Silent Gun sites – two guns in each – with no instruments to direct the fire.

It was a very busy time for us for we had to stack a very large quantity of 3 inch 20cwt ammunition in a cave situated close to one of the sites. Early every morning the whole troop, except for guards and cooks, marched uphill for nearly two miles to get to Bajda Ridge (Biddy).  Here, from time to time, a huge Matador gun tower arrived loaded with ammunition, which we had to unload and carry to a cave off the road…  Each box was made of steel with separators to take four live cartridges; one former stevedore had a lump of hard skin on his right shoulder the size of half a tennis ball.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JULY TO DAWN 7 JULY 1941

Weather  Stormy.

2218-2252 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft approaching from the north. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage due to bad weather.  The raiders drop bombs on rocks at Mellieha and in the sea.

2313-0049 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy BR 20 bombers which approach the Island and drop high explosive bombs on St Julians demolishing several houses, on Pieta, and in the north of Grand Harbour. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with two barrages; no claims.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.

0106-0206 hrs  Air raid alert for a single bomber which crosses the coast and drops bombs on Marsa. Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

0228-0317 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft which approach the Island in three separate formations. They cross the coast singly between Grand Harbour and Delimara, and drop bombs on Paola killing several civilians. Bombs are also dropped on Vittoriosa and near St Thomas’ Bay.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

Military casualties Private Frank Watson, 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment; Private Emmanuel Tanti, Kings Own Malta Regiment.                                              

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Mine detonated in Floating Dock. P33 arrived from Gibraltar. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish bombed and laid 5 cucumbers off Tripoli. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Blenheims, 1 Catalina. 82 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked shipping Palermo Harbour. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar patrolled over Catania and attacked a large aircraft which burst into flames.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All ranks were kept in barracks owing to ‘Exercise Asia’; organised bathing parties were allowed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal Section busy on unexploded bombs. Exercise review concludes that all our drivers should be trained soldiers as MAC drivers have a tendency to go to ground under bombing. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

(1) Recollections of a Malta HAA Gunner, Maurice G Agius, Allied Publications 2008

 

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5 July 1941: Troops Deployed to Defend Gozo From Invasion

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Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

GOZO DEFENCE SCHEME IN PLACE

Troops of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment have been issued with detailed orders to prepare for a possible invasion of Gozo.  The strategy is designed to counter enemy seaborne landings at Marsalforn, Mgarr and Cala Dueira, and to prevent airborne landings in the area Xaghra-Nadur-Xewkija-Rabat. 

In the event of a seaborne landing at Marsalforn, one Company will cover its southern exits and occupy Il Kortin ta Gjain Damma. Another company based at Il Mirzuk will prevent the enemy from using the road between Marsalforn and Rabat.  One Company will be located in Mgarr against a possible seaborne landing there and another will occupy a key point of approach to the town.  To defend Cala Dueira one Company will cover the area of Torri tal Qawra and another Tad Bieji.   

To counter airborne landings troops will be based at Rabat, Xaghra, Nadur and Xewkija and there will be ten additional coast watches at key points around the Island.  In addition, should no orders be received, Company Commanders will use their initiative in dealing with any enemy landings which are not in their areas of primary responsibility.

SECOND AIRCRAFT CRASH IN TWO DAYS

A Blenheim aircraft crashed today within seconds of taking off from Luqa aerodrome. The Blenheim was barely airborne when it suddenly lost height and crashed near Gudja military camp.  Two of the crew were killed on impact, two others were rescued from the burning plane.  The Blenheim which was leaving for the UK was completely burned out.  A guard was mounted on the remains by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment until RAF salvage operations could be completed. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JULY TO DAWN 6 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

Night  Four air raid alerts during which in all ten enemy aircraft pass over the Island, seven of which drop bombs in the sea.  The other three dropped bombs on and near Mosta, in Lija cemetery and in fields near Zeitun and Birkirkara.  Hurricanes are scrambled five times and anti-aircraft guns fire several barrages; no claims.  

2243-2300 hrs; 2321-0034 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north east and drops bombs in the sea west of Kalafrana.  Searchlights illuminate the raider for two minutes and eight heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at 18000 feet; no claims.

0113-0133 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour and drops bombs near Ta Qali.

0151-0309 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching the Island singly from the north and drop bombs in the sea off St Thomas’ Bay, near Kalafrana, and on land near Ta Qali. Searchlights illuminate the targets for 2¼ minutes.  Anti-aircraft guns fire a barrage at aircraft south of Kalafrana; they immediately recede east and then northwards.

Military casualties Sergeant Alfred D F Murcutt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 82 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Oaten, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, RAFVR, 82 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Hamrun  Ines Serra, age 15; Nello Serra, age 13; Aldo Serra, age 10; Carmelina Serra, age 5; Carmel Grima, age 44; Emanuel Sammut, age 16; Emanuel Sultana, age 40; Pauline Verzin, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 JULY 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 5 Blenheim 82 Squadron. 69 Squadron  Marylands reconnaissance Sciacca, Castel Vetrano, Syracuse, Augusta, Gela, Tripoli and special patrols. 110 Squadron 4 Blenheims searched for reported ship without success. 

LUQA  5 Blenheims 82 Squadron left for Middle East, one crashed on Gudja, killing 2 and injuring 2.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion will move to Gozo for a 3 week training course starting on 15 July.

 

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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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