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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, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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27 June 1941: Malta Fighter Numbers Up As 21 Hurricanes Arrive

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OPERATION ‘RAILWAY’ PASSES SAFELY THROUGH MEDITERRANEAN

Hurricane reinf on carrierThe first phase of a major operation to increase the fighter force on Malta was successfully completed today as 21 Hurricanes landed on the Island. The latest delivery followed the success of Operation ‘Rocket’ three weeks ago (6 June 1941 maltagc70). Having delivered her cargo to the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier HMS Furious returned to port in the Clyde to load up an even larger cargo of 64 Hurricanes and 9 Swordfish.  The carrier sailed for Gibraltar on 22 June where 22 Hurricanes for Malta were transferred to HMS Ark Royal.  Escorted by cruisers Renown and Hermione plus five destroyers, Ark Royal passed safely through the western Mediterranean to her rendezvous point early this morning.  Blenheim aircraft flew out from Gibraltar to the rendezvous to escort the Hurricanes onward to Malta.  One Hurricane failed to reach the Island and has been reported missing.  

GOZO TO HAVE PAID COAST WATCHERS

Malta’s sister Island of Gozo is to have its own band of paid coast watchers. The measure is part of a move to increase security in the light of an expected Axis invasion which may target Gozo as a possible foothold from which to launch a main attack on Malta.  The War Office has agreed to the recruitment of 70 coast watchers for the Island who will be paid from Army funds at a rate of 4 shillings per day. Each watcher will also be issued with one suit of denim battledress.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1010 hrs  Hurricanes begin landing at Luqa from Operation Railway.

1146-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for a SM 79 bomber escorted by 25 Macchi 200 fighters which approach Grand Harbour from the north. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage, destroying six Macchis confirmed, plus two probable, and damaging the SM 79 and other fighters.  Two Macchis are seen to crash; one near Birzebbuga is completely burned out and scattered over four fields.  The pilot bales out but the parachute fails to open; his body is found near Ta Karach and an ambulance attends the scene.  The second Macchi crashes into the sea; its pilot is rescued and taken prisoner.  P/O Barnes, who shot him down, visits the Italian pilot for afternoon tea.

2152-2220 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching from the north.  Seven heavy anti-aircraft guns launch a barrage and one aircraft recedes north.  The other crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour and drops 50kg bombs between Valletta and Sliema, including Pieta Creek.  One bomb demolishes a house in Pieta, where a crater in the road causes a traffic diversion.  One gunner is killed and three injured.  50kg bombs are also dropped in the sea off Salina Bay and St Thomas’ Bay.  Anti-aircraft guns launch a barrage; no claims.  Hurricane night fighters are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate raiders and there are no interceptions.

0305-0350 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north and drops 50kg high explosive bombs on Zabbar and Marsa, as well as Ta Qali and in the sea off the north coast. One stick of bombs start a fire at Salvatore Gate which is soon under control.  Several unexploded bombs are reported on land.  Anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.  Malta night fighters do not intercept due to lack of searchlight illuminations.

Military casualties  Lance-Bombardier Frederick J Hopkinson, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Alfredo Sclavo, pilot of Macchi 200, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, shot down and died. Sottotenente Neri de Benedetti, pilot of Macchi 200, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, shot down and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 27 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  A convoy of four liners (same as  departed Naples 25 June) arrived in Taranto, but not known whether these were original four.  The ships were later attacked in harbour by Blenheim aircraft which claim to have damaged Esperia (causing slight damage) and Neptunia

AIR HQ  Arrivals 21 Hurricane, 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron 6 Maryland reconnaissance missions.  82 Squadron 3 Blenheims made a surprise low-level bombing attack on Tamet aerodrome, setting fire to three aircraft and machine-gunning others, as well as personnel on the ground. 148 Squadron 6 Wellingtons night bombing raid on Tripoli Harbour, especially Spanish Wharf and the main unloading facilities.

TA QALI  10 Hurricanes arrived ex Ark Royal. One overshot aerodrome on landing; pilot uninjured.

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

 

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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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23 June 1941: Booby-Trap Bombs Hidden in Domestic Items

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TROOPS WARNED NOT TO TAMPER WITH SUSPECT OBJECTS

Troops in Malta have been given new warnings about booby-trap anti-personnel bombs. The Bomb Disposal Officer first issued a warning in April that small explosive canisters resembling shaving sticks or film containers had been dropped in Libya.  The warning has since been extended to include cigarette lighters, fountain pens, shaving sticks and similar objects.

fountain pen bomb enhanceThe canisters are evidently in two sections, often with a lid which explodes when unscrewed. Under orders issued today, troops have been told not to attempt to unscrew or dismantle any suspect object of this nature.  The following action is to be taken should they be found:

  • If on Military property, they should be collected by an officer or NCO, placed carefully in a bucket or similar container and stored in a safe place where they cannot be reached by unauthorised persons.
  • The matter will then be reported to General Staff in the same way as for unexploded bombs.
  • As it is unlikely that these objects would be dropped singly, before any are reported as being suspect, the locality must be carefully searched for others.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT HAS NEW UNIT

A new unit of Kings Own Malta Regiment has been officially inaugurated today. The KOMR Static Group will be led by Temporary Captain A V Mallia who has been appointed Acting Major in recognition of his new responsibilities.  His assistant will be Lt J F Pace Bonello.

Two Companies of 3rd Bn KOMR will be absorbed into the Static Group as A and C Companies; one Company of 2nd Bn KOMR will also be added.  Three other platoons of 2nd Bn KOMR will be included in the establishment of the Static Group but be under other commands at Pembroke and Tigne.

The Static Group KOMR will have its headquarters at St Andrews Barracks.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JUNE TO DAWN 24 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

Two submarines are reported surfacing three and six miles respectively from Marsalforn. Swordfish are sent to investigate but see nothing.  It is suspected that the submarines were searching for the missing pilot of a Macchi fighter shot down yesterday.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish despatched to attack Spanish Quay and port facilities in Tripoli Harbour. 7000 lbs of high explosives and 450 lbs of incendiaries were dropped.  Direct hits were observed on the railway, and a fire is started near a customs house. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 1 Heinkel 115 float plane. Departures 8 Blenheim.  4 Hurricanes attacked flying boats moored at Syracuse, scoring a number of hits on boats, a hangar and barracks.  69 Squadron 4 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance. 82 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked an enemy ship near Kerkennah; scored near-misses.  Two aircraft went out for a second attempt to sink the ship but it had disappeared.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  HE Governor & Commander in Chief visited Luqa to inspect the defences.

 

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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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22 June 1941: RAF Observer Flies Stricken Blenheim Back to Malta

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GERMANY INVADES THE SOVIET UNION

According to the BBC. In a pre-dawn offensive, German troops pushed into the USSR today from the south and west, with a third force making their way from the north towards Leningrad.

Bristol Blenheim

Bristol Blenheim

RAF OBSERVER TAKES CONTROLS FROM INJURED PILOT

RAF Observer Sergeant J S Sargent has been praised today for taking the controls of the Blenheim aircraft of which he was crew member and flying the aircraft back to Malta. The Blenheim was one of six of 82 Squadron was on their first mission since arriving on the Island two days ago.  Their task was to attack an enemy convoy of three merchant ships with destroyer escort heading for Tripoli.

The Blenheims caught up with the convoy off the island of Lampedusa and dived in turn to release their bombs over the ships from a low level. The escort destroyers launched a heavy burst of defensive fire badly wounding the pilot F/Lt T J Watkins in both legs.

As the Blenheim’s Air Gunner Sgt Eric Chandler recalled: “Black puffs of smoke could be observed and after an interval, which seemed like ages, the sea both ahead and to each side of us started to erupt, as heavy shells hit the water…

“A sharp jolt to our machine not only indicated that we had also been hit but threw me violently against the side of my turret. An unbelievable pain paralysed my right arm.  I ducked down to check the arm, quite expecting to find it had been blown off!.  As I did so, a snaking line of Bofors tracer played across the aircraft, passing through the Perspex cover of my turret.  This brought me to life with a vengeance and a determination to fight back.” (1)  An Italian CR 42 had attacked the Blenheim; Chandler opened fire and shot the fighter down into the sea.

Seriously injured and losing a lot of blood, the pilot F/Lt Watkins began to lose consciousness. Sgt Sargent volunteered to take the controls of the Blenheim and managed to fly the aircraft back to Malta.  As they approached the Island, F/Lt Watkins was helped back into the pilot’s seat and landed the aircraft safely.   

All six Blenheims released their 250lb bombs in the raid and one merchant ship is believed damaged. Two other Blenheims were hit during the raid.  Squadron Leader J Harrison-Broadley and his crew have been reported missing after their Blenheim was hit, caught fire and ditched into the sea.  A rubber dinghy was seen leaving the aircraft and it is hoped that the crew survived.  Another Blenheim was attacked hit by a CR 42 fighter; the pilot was injured but returned safely. (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1118-1135 hrs Air raid alert for four separate formations of two or more aircraft approaching from the north. One formation turns at 35 miles and recedes.  A second circles at about 45 miles from Malta.  Two Macchi 200s approach to within eight miles of Gozo.  27 Hurricanes are scrambled, of which six intercept and attack, shooting down one Macchi 200 fighter into the sea.  A search finds no survivors.  A second escapes by executing a spinning dive almost to sea level before pulling out.  The remaining enemy fighters in the area turn away on the approach of the Hurricanes.

2015 hrs  A submarine is reported surfacing three miles north of Marsalforn Bay, Gozo.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Union successful attack, sank 2800 ton ship.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Blenheim. Departures 69 Squadron  5 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance. 82 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked convoy; one failed to return.

KALAFRANA  A Swordfish floatplane manned by personnel of Fleet Air Arm was allocated permanently to Kalafrana to augment existing facilities for rescue work.

(1) Fortress Island Malta: Defence & Re-supply During the Siege, Peter Jacobs, Casemate Publishers 2016

(2) F/Lt T J Watkins was subsequently awarded the DSO, and Sergeants Chandler and Sargent the DFM

 

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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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19 June 1941: 6000 Extra Troops for Malta

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Every serviceman must have rifle and bayonet

Every serviceman must have rifle and bayonet

REINFORCEMENTS ALLOCATED FOR MALTA BUT LIKELY TO BE DELAYED

Thousands of extra troops plus equipment and stores will soon be on their way to Malta, according to a telegram received from the War Office today. Marked ‘most secret – for officers only’, the message has been warmly welcomed by the Governor and Commander in Chief as well as all military commanders across the Island. 

The move follows an extensive review of the position of Malta after the successful German invasion of Crete. The strengthened Axis position in the Mediterranean places the Island firmly on the front line of the Allied campaign in southern Europe and North Africa.   Lt Gen Dobbie’s presentation of the challenges facing Malta (maltagc70 5 June) received a positive response two days later from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself (maltagc70 7 June).  Since then things have moved rapidly to provide the Island over 6000 extra troops and new RAF fighter squadrons to secure its future:

ARMY

  • Two infantry battalions total 1798
  • One HQ light anti-aircraft regiment and four batteries total 432
  • 173 Tunnelling Company total 225
  • And to replace troops intended for Malta but currently held up in the Middle East: two heavy anti-aircraft battery and one further light anti-aircraft battery total 679
  • Additional replacements for troops sent in WS7 but not arrived Malta total 1187
  • Additional replacements for troops sent in WS9 but not arrived Malta total 308
  • Additional replacements for troops prepared for WS10 but not arrived Malta: Royal Artillery 100; Royal Engineers 49

RAF

  • New fighter squadrons total 187
  • Servicing Blenheims 177
  • Operations room 18
  • Technical and other 62
  • General reinforcements 744
  • Equipment and stores: details to follow

However, although the reinforcements have now been allocated to Malta, the arrival of many is likely to be significantly delayed due to a lack of transport to bring them to the Island. According to the War Office telegram, the capacity currently available is at most 4600 and may be as low as 2000.  Malta’s Governor & C in C GCiC was therefore asked to cable the order of priority for the despatch of the above, showing each unit separately.  He responded immediately:

  1. Two RAF fighter squadrons, 200 servicing Blenheims and operations room total 619
  2. One infantry battalion total 899
  3. One HQ light anti-aircraft regiment and four batteries total 432
  4. Medical officers 32
  5. Replacements from WS7
  6. Replacements form WS9
  7. Two heavy anti-aircraft battery and one further light anti-aircraft battery total 679
  8. One infantry battalion total 899

In view of the proposed increases in infantry troops, Lt Gen Dobbie plans to increase the number of infantry brigades to three. In addition to the present Northern and Southern Infantry Brigades he will form a Central Infantry Brigade made up of three battalions.  Additional officers to form a Brigade HQ would be required for the new brigade, which would cover the harbour sector and Luqa aerodrome.

Lt Gen Dobbie ends by saying that it is essential that every man posted to Malta, including RAF personnel, brings a rifle and bayonet.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

1018-1038 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber escorted by 15 fighters which approach at very high altitude, then cross the Island from east to west, apparently on reconnaissance. Four heavy anti-aircraft guns engage, firing pointer rounds; no claims.

Military casualties Sergeant John N Harrison, pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Leslie R MacDonald, RAFVR; Sergeant Lancelot N Rowbotham, RAFVR; all 82 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Maryland, 3 Wellington, 1 Sunderland. Departures 3 Wellingtons. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance.  One fired on an aerodrome near Misurata, making two runs to machine-gun eight SM 79 bombers, setting three on fire.  1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance Comiso reports 5 Macchi 200s and at Gela 12 medium unidentified fighters. 82 Squadron 4 Blenheims sent to attack a merchant ship; one returned with wireless failure and a second landed in the sea near Malta, cause unknown.  The crew were not found.  The remaining two attacked the enemy ship scoring near-misses.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (15kg).

 

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Posted by on June 19, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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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, 2016 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, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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