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30 January 1942: RAF Fight On Through Fire and Storm

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  • Enemy use cloud cover to attack Hal Far five times in four hours.
  • Ta Qali and Hal Far waterlogged: operations restricted to Luqa aerodrome.
  • Successful Wellington attacks on shipping at sea.

MALTA AIR FORCES OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS REPORT JANUARY 1942

Castel Vetrano aerodrome 1942

Squadrons covered the Italian convoy routes almost daily through January.  PRU Hurricanes and Beaufighters of 69 Squadron carried out frequent photographic reconnaissance of Sicily and North Africa.  Marylands destroyed one ME 109 and probably one ME 110.  Our losses were one Maryland and one PRU Hurricane.

Wellingtons of 40 Squadron carried out 26 operations, dropping 152 tons of bombs.  Tripoli was attacked fifteen times causing large fires, destroying buildings and damaging ships in harbour, as well as one 13000 ton liner, three merchant vessels, and possibly a cruiser.  There were four attacks on Catania and one each on Castel Vetrano (14 aircraft destroyed and 3 damaged), on Comiso and on Naples, damaging the railway station and an airframe factory.

Blenheims of 18, 21 and 107 Squadrons carried out seven operations against shipping, hitting one merchant vessel, and on transport and buildings around Homs, Zeiten and Misrata.  Blenheims also played a prominent part in the successful raid on Castel Vetrano.  During these operations four Blenheims were lost.  One ME 109 was probably destroyed.

Swordfish of 830 Squadron carried out 12 operations against shipping, 54 aircraft taking part.  One merchant vessel of 12000 tons was sunk, one destroyer, one 8000 ton tanker and four merchant vessels [of 2000-8000 tons] were hit.  From these operations one Swordfish is missing.

Twenty three Albacores took part in mine-laying operations as well as attacking shipping.  One merchant vessel 5000 tons was hit amidships; another of 4000 tons was left stationary and listing to port.  Three aircraft are missing.

Hurricanes of the Malta Night Fighter Unit began intruder raids over Sicilian aerodromes, with 17 sorties so far.  Two JU 88s were destroyed and a third damaged at Comiso, where a twin-engined bi-plane was also shot down in flames.  Four Hurricanes carried out a daylight raid on Comiso aerodrome, starting two good fires.

AIR RAIDS DAWN FRIDAY 30 TO DAWN SATURDAY 31 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west, strong and very cold.  50% cloud.  Bright periods; heavy showers.

0911-0934 hrs  One JU 88 bomber approaches the Island via Gozo and drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay and Ghaxaq areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  During the raid a number of ME 109 fighters patrol north and south of the Island.

1112-1135 hrs  Two JU 88s approach the Island: one crosses the coast over Hal Far and recedes without dropping bombs.  The other JU 88 is joined by another bomber which approaches from the north.  Both cross the coast, dropping bombs in the Hal Far area from a height of 15000 feet.  Ten Hurricanes are airborne: no engagement with the enemy.  Heavy Ack Ack did not engage.

1143 hrs  One JU 88 from the previous raid approaches again, dropping bombs on the shore near Leonardo before receding north.  Eight Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage; Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1219-1229 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hal Far, dropping four bombs just off the aerodrome.  Windows are blown out in Officers’ Mess.  No casualties.

1304-1340 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island from Mellieha to Ghain Tuffieha.  It then goes away to the south and re-approaches, crossing the Island from Dingli to Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Qrendi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack fire six barrages.  Six Hurricanes are airborne but are called in due to bad weather.

1428-1515 hrs  Two enemy aircraft follow a returning Maryland to within 25 miles of the coast and then recede.

1542-1743 hrs  Two JU 88s escorted by eight fighters patrol around the Island.  One JU 88 crosses the coast and drops bombs in the Dockyard area.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1923-2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast near Kalafrana and is met by a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  The aircraft drops bombs in the Benghaisa area.

2305-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east, drops bombs on the Kalafrana Bay and Hal Far areas, then continues a nuisance patrol at 5000 feet.

0043-0216 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the south of the Island, between Kalafrana and Hal Far.

0238-0314 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north east, passes the Island 18 miles to the east, turns and recedes north.

0348-0410 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east and attacks the Harbour, dropping bombs in the Dockyard and Zabbar areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

0528-0622 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, drops bombs in the Marsa area, recedes and makes three more attempts to cross the coast but each time is turned away by Heavy Ack Ack barrage.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Joseph Aquilina, age 38; Mary Rose Aquilina, age 34.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 30 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ Arrivals  Five Blenheims from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Cairo; one Wellington from Burg el Arab. Departures  one Blenheim to LG 224; one Hurricane to Mersa Matruh.

HAL FAR  Night 30/31st Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel of 8000 tons and one destroyer.  Three torpedoes released at merchant vessel which stopped and appeared to be listing to port when last aircraft left. All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland special search.  156 Squadron  Two Wellingtons shipping sweep Tripoli-Sirte-Misrata; five Wellingtons attacked motor transport park Benito Gate, Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable later in the day: no intruder operations..  Two Sections of 249 Squadron attached to Luqa for operations.  Concert at Mosta: Raffians “Babes in the Wood”.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs between RA7 and RA6.  No military damage or casualties.

8TH BN KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT MALTA  Bombs in D Company’s area during early morning.  Slight damage to civilian property.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 2 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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23 January 1942: 8 Hours of Night Bombing

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  • Italian troop-carrying liner sinks
  • Kings Own Malta Regiment to defend beaches
  • Two Gunners killed in action

Fairey ‘Swordfish’ with torpedo

SWORDFISH SINK ENEMY TROOP SHIP

Late last night nine aircraft from Hal Far were despatched to attack a large Italian convoy en route from Taranto to Tripoli.  Engine trouble and navigational problems forced the raiders to turn back before reaching the target.  One Albacore is reported missing, along with its crew, Pilot S/Lt Laidlaw and Observer S/Lt Roberts.

Aware that four previous convoys have made it through with reinforcements to Axis forces in Tripoli in the past ten days, Royal Navy command scrambled another force of six Swordfish to take up the chase.  Two returned with engine trouble but the rest made contact with the convoy of three merchant ships and a passenger liner, with an escort of twenty vessels.  Despite air cover numbering twelve JU 88 bombers, two of the Swordfish managed to launch torpedoes at the liner before making their escape.  All six aircraft returned safely to Hal Far.

Reports are coming in that a ship identified as the Italian 13000 ton fast passenger liner Victoria, has sunk with the loss of a third of the 1400 Italian and German troops who were on board.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT TO DEFEND BEACHES

The Kings Own Malta Regiment (KOMR) have been allocated increased responsibility for beach defences, to release British units for other duties.  The 2nd Battalion KOMR will now cover St Paul’s Bay and Ghain Tuffieha areas in the north west of the Island.

AIR RAIDS 23 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south.  50% cloud; warmer.  Aerodrome serviceable.

0619-0655 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the east and drops bombs in the sea south east of Delimara.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.  A second aircraft appears from the north, then turns east ten miles north east of Grand Harbour, circles north of the Island and then, when on a south-westerly course, drops bombs in the sea ten miles from Palace Look-out.

0729-0737 hrs  Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.

0819-0837 hrs  Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.

0846-0958 hrs  Two ME 109s approach from the north and patrol round the Island, machine-gunning a submarine, which crash-dived.  Fourteen plus aircraft then come in from the north, dropping bombs in the sea before patrolling to the east of the Island.  No aircraft cross the coast.

1040-1108 hrs  Four ME 109s patrol to the east and south of the Island, where the plot fades.

1140-1156 hrs  Four ME 109s approach from the north and carry out a patrol to the south of the Island.  A report of bombs in the sea south of Hal Far is unconfirmed.  Guns engage.

1211-1310 hrs  Eleven plus aircraft carry out fighter patrols, attacking minesweeper HMS Abingdon with grenades and machine-guns.  They also attack a Maryland which lands safely.  Two Hurricanes are sent up but do not engage.  Heavy Ack Ack engages.

1325-1328 hrs  Air raid warning. Aircraft identified as friendly.

1425 hrs  Twelve aircraft from 242, 126 and 249 Squadrons, Ta Qali, are scrambled and engage five JU 88s and several ME 109s.  Sgt Etchells attacks a JU 88 and gets in a five second burst: claiming ‘damaged’.  F/O Kay attacks a ME 109 and gets in two bursts from astern: claims ‘damaged’.  All Malta aircraft return safely.

1446-1555 hrs  Seven JU 88s, escorted by twenty fighters, approach from the north.  ME 109s machine-gun HMS Abingdon, WD [dredger] Lord Plumer and other small craft off Grand Harbour.  Private F Smith, acting as Ack Ack Light Machine Gunner on the vessel is killed.

Bombs are dropped on Gozo and on the north side of Hal Far dispersal area, damaging eight Hurricanes.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s and one Macchi 200.  They claim one hit on the Macchi, which recedes losing height.  Gunner J Dowling sustains a head injury from bomb splinters and suffers from blast, when a bomb drops near Harrow [gun] position.  He is rushed to hospital at Imtarfa, but dies soon after admission.

Military casualties  Gunner John Dowling, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment; Private Francis Smith, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment.

1637-1649 hrs  One JU 88 comes in from the north at 22000 feet, passes the island and approaches the coast from the south east, is engaged by heavy Ack Ack, turns away and recedes north.

1845-1912 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in Grand Harbour and on land.  Heavy Ack Ack fires three barrages.

2210-2245 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Safi strip, on Tal Papa/Hal Far crossroads and between Tarxien searchlight and Zeitun..  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage and searchlights.  Tarxien searchlight is machine-gunned.

2311-2352 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in St Paul’s Bay area and near Ta Qali.

0011-0054 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west and drop several bombs in the Latnia and Mqabba areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.

0150-0248 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west and drop bombs in Gudja area and in the sea.

0310-0329 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Rabat area, in Siggiewi, and on a searchlight position at Zebbug, with a direct hit on a generator.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.

0349-0411 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Mgarr area.

0427-0438 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in Targa and St Paul’s Bay areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fires two barrages.

0456-0545 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Bingemma area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 23 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  One Cathay to Lisbon.

HAL FAR  Seven Swordfish 830 Squadron and two Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack convoy of one battleship, four cruisers, fifteen destroyers, one liner and three merchant vessels.  All seven Swordfish returned early, either with engine trouble or because they failed to formate.  One of the Albacores failed to locate the convoy and the second Albacore failed to return to base.  Missing crew S/Lt Laidlaw, pilot, and S/Lt Roberts, observer (1).

Second striking force of six Swordfish despatched to attack above convoy.  Two aircraft attacked returned with engine trouble.  Two aircraft attacked one of the largest merchant vessels (12000 tons), torpedoes ran well in the direction of the ship and possible hits were scored although no results were observed.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Cairo 1 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 2 patrol; one Beaufighter Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto Harbour; one Beaufighter PR Messina, Palermo.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  1000 hrs  Funeral of Sgt Neale at Bighi.  Four airmen returned to Luqa and ceased attachment.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Inspection and check of War Accommodation Stores at Mosta and St Edwards.  Funeral of the late S/Cdr Newman RAOC at St Andrews Cemetery.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  45 officers and Other Ranks attended a lecture at the Marsa Club given on “The Anti-Aircraft Problem”.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Gozo boat again machine-gunned: no damage.  Lecture at Marsa on “The Anti Aircraft Problem”.  Working party of stevedores from this unit ceased [unloading convoy] as from tonight.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1 (500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  The crew were taken prisoner by Italian troops who also captured their Albacore aircraft (www.fleetairarmarchive.net)

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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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28 December 1941: Airfield Ack Ack Gunners Fight Back

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Searchlights scan night skies for raiders

Searchlights scan night skies for raiders

GERMAN BOMBER SHOT DOWN OVER HAL FAR

Anti-aircraft gunners shot down an attacking Luftwaffe bomber over Hal Far aerodrome in an air raid tonight. The single JU 88 bomber flying without fighter escort was spotted approaching Malta from the north early this evening.  Sources report that the pilot flew a complete circuit of the Island,  which allowed plenty of time for searchlights to pick up and track his progress.

The aircraft was seen to turn over the south coast, and dropped bombs the new landing strip at Qrendi.  The Island’s defensive Gunners were primed and ready to fire at the first sighting.  The JU88 flew into a barrage of Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors fire and fell into a steep dive, crashing in front of hangars at the edge of Hal Far aerodrome.  Members of 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment were manning defence posts within yards of the crash site but no injuries are reported.  There were no survivors among the JU88 pilot and crew. 

AIR RAIDS 28 DECEMBER 1941

0942-1020 hrs  Air raid alarm: 19 enemy aircraft approached the Island, only one crossing the coast.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1102-1116 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise. 

1235-1315 hrs  Air raid alarm: two enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs on the St Angelo area.

1507-1540 hrs  Air raid alarm: one JU 88 on reconnaissance escorted by 12 fighters, crossed over Grand Harbour.  Harbour guns fired a heavy Ack Ack barrage.  One Hurricane was lost.

1806-1840 hrs  Air raid alarm: six enemy aircraft crossed the coast near St Paul’s Bay and dropped bombs at Marsa and in the Mellieha area.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged; no claims. 

1940-2057 hrs  Air raid alarm: one JU 88 approached and carried out a complete circuit of  the Island before crossing the south coast and dropping bombs on Qrendi landing strip.  The raider was illuminated by searchlights for periods of two, one ,and half a minute.  Heavy Ack Ack shrapnel and Bofors engaged; the aircraft was hit and crashed west of Hal Far.

2324 hrs  Air raid alarm: two enemy aircraft approached from the north and probably laid mines south of the Island.  One aircraft machine-gunned Lapsi searchlight position – no damage or casualties.  Bofors and light machine gun engaged.  The second aircraft dropped bombs near Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Enemy casualties   Leutnant Wilfred Babinek, pilot; Gefreiter Heinrich Schwarz, wireless operator; Gefreiter Wilhelm Gutt, air gunner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 DECEMBER 1941

HAL FAR  Night 27/28th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition intense but inaccurate light Ack Ack.  Rain over target area.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland North African aerodromes, harbours of Zuara and Tripoli; one Maryland PR North African dromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked Mellaha aerodrome.  104 Squadron  Four Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked Homs Road.

TA QALI  Night 27/28th  Bombs dropped on various parts of the Island.  Night fighters airborne.  P/O Winton destroyed one enemy raider.  0942-1622 hrs  Four alerts.  Three scrambles: no interceptions, one Hurricane missing.  Sgt Owen rescued from sea, multiple gunshot wounds left arm.

HQ FIXED DEFENCES   ASV [search] set installed at Harbour Fire Command post Elmo for detecting the approach of E-boats.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Stick of bombs on Mehrla strip and north of Mehrla Church.   One unexploded bomb at 403186.

 

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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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27 December 1941: Malta Under Alert for 16 hours out of 24

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GHAXAQ FAMILY WIPED OUT BY ENEMY BOMBS

Hurricanes scrambled 10 times

Malta was under air raid alert for 16 hours out of 24 today as the Luftwaffe continue their post-Christmas campaign against Malta.  RAF Hurricane aircraft from Ta Qali were scrambled ten times to fight off enemy raiders.

An entire young family was wiped out early this evening when bombs hit the southern village of Ghaxaq.  The deceased have been named as John Abela, his wife Vincenza, 26, and their two children: one year old Teresa and baby Carmel, three months.  A fifth person, Michelina Busuttil, 47, was also claimed in this major blow to a small agricultural community.

ENEMY MINE-LAYERS DETECTED

Urgent orders were issued early this morning confirming the presence of enemy mine-laying vessels within reach of Grand Harbour.  The overnight watch of the Harbour Fire Command reported the sound of engines indicating the presence of surface craft just off the harbour entrance.

Despite regular searchlight sweeps, the engine noise continued.  On receiving the report, the Royal Navy suspected enemy E-boats are again engaged in laying mines while aircraft create diversions overhead.  The Harbour Fire Command was placed on high alert and continued searchlight sweeps at regular intervals throughout the night, but nothing further was spotted.

This morning’s operation instruction outlined measures to destroy the craft, which are laying mines within the range of the Harbour guns and searchlights.  The Harbour Fire Commander at Fort St Elmo is to be issued with a RDF (radio direction-finding) set by 1200 hours tomorrow, to give early warning of the presence of MTBs (motor torpedo boats).

The RDF equipment will switched on at intervals or when enemy ship movements are suspected.  Once a craft is detected, searchlights will be trained towards them but not switched on until the RDF shows the target to be within beam and gun range – to retain an element of surprise.

Meanwhile the Royal Navy is maintaining a patrol six miles off shore to intercept surface craft and prevent them from reaching Malta’s shores.  Any hostile vessels seen are to be immediately engaged, regardless of the presence of the naval patrol.  All harbour guns available will be used in such attacks, taking great care not to engage the naval patrol vessel.

AIR RAIDS 27 DECEMBER 1941

0822-0933 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine ME 109’s in two formations patrolled over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors engaged; no claims.

0931-1100 hrs  Air raid alarm: 14 fighter aircraft crossed the coast – no engagement.

1109-1245 hrs  Air raid alarm.  A formation of JU 88’s with large fighter escort approached the Island.  Hurricanes intercepted causing the enemy to jettison their bombs.  One JU 88 was confirmed destroyed, one ME 109 probably destroyed, one JU 88 damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

1450-1531 hrs  Air raid alarm: 33 enemy aircraft approached the Island, nine only crossing the coast; no bombs were dropped.

1617-1644 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1757-1926 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs at Ghaxaq, in the sea and near Corrodino.

1940-0520 hrs  Air raid alarm: seven alerts were sounded for a total of ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped in sea and on land near Hal Far, on Wardia Ridge and Luqa, where they caused slight damage to officers’ quarters.  At 2010 hrs an enemy raider was illuminated and shot down in flames into the sea.  A second illumination was effected during last alert when Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant William MacCosham, Royal Canadian Air Force, 179 Squadron; Gunner Thomas North, 4th Searchlight Regt, Royal Artillery/Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq John Abela, age 33; Vincenza Abela, age 26; Teresa Abela, age 1; Carmel Abela, age 3 months; Michelina Busuttil, age 47.  Sliema  Carmel Muscat, 17.

Enemy casualties German Hauptmann Eberhard Stahle, Stab II/KG 77, Pilot of a Ju.88 bomber, shot down into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines off Tripoli.

Whitley

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Two Wellingtons, one Beaufort, one Whitley from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 26/27th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Zuara Harbour.  Opposition spasmodic and inaccurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland special search (friendly) north half of C/V; one Maryland special search (friendly) south half of C/V; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance One Maryland Catania, Celibria.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked rail shipping Zuara-Tripoli; one Blenheim attacked rail transport at Zuara.  107 Squadron  Two Blenheims SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim attacked road transport at Zuara.

TA QALI  Hurricanes scrambled at 0822-0909, 0932-1038, 1109, 1237, 1450, 1531, 1617, 1637, 1757, 1918.  One JU88 destroyed.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Air alarms lasting throughout the day: High explosive bombs dropped in scattered parts.

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

 

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17 December 1941: First Battle of Sirte

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MALTA SHORT OF FUEL

Breconshire

The transport ship Breconshire failed to arrive at the expected time today, causing concern to the Island’s high command.  As a fast-moving supply ship, she has become a lifeline for the Island.  She is capable of carrying 5000 tons of oil as well as other essential goods.

The operations of Force K from Malta have placed a heavy demand on stocks of fuel oil.  Regular deliveries are vital to keep the ships at sea but the nearest source is a thousand miles away, through hostile waters policed by increasing numbers of German U-boats.

Breconshire is reported to have left Alexandria on Monday, escorted by three cruisers and eight destroyers under Admiral Vian.  Three vessels turned back.  Yesterday, six destroyers and two light cruisers set out from Malta to meet the supply ship and cover her final journey to Grand Harbour.

FIRST BATTLE OF SIRTE

At daylight this morning as the two forces reached the rendezvous point, British submarines reported the presence of Italian warships nearby.  The Allied convoy was crossing paths with an Axis convoy en route to Tripoli.

Admiral Vian’s force had already been spotted by an enemy reconnaissance pilot and Axis aircraft had attempted an engagement, without success.  By late afternoon the two opposing Naval forces were in sight of each other.  As a precaution, Breconshire was detached from the main convoy for protection, accompanied by two destroyers.

After a few minutes of largely defensive fire which produced only minor damage to two British destroyers, the Italian warships moved away, returning to formation to protect their convoy.  A possible sea battle had been avoided and Breconshire is reported as heading for Malta. 

But the threat to the Island’s naval forces is not yet over.   (To be continued)

GERMAN MINES EXPLODED

A German attempt to blockade the entrance to Grand Harbour has been foiled.  Mines were located today during one of the regular minesweeping operations on all approaches to the Harbour.  The TMA mines were laid by Kriegsmarine S-Boats on Monday night.  The drifter HMS Swona, adapted for minesweeping duties, exploded two of the mines.  Located in the direct path of ships leaving Grand Harbour, they could have severely damaged part of Malta’s Strike Force and possibly blocked harbour approaches with damaged or sunken vessels.

AIR RAIDS 17 DECEMBER 1941

0905-0924 hrs; 1324-1327 hrs; 1537-1550 hrs  Air raid alarms; raids do not materialise.

2252-2331 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approached from north.  Heavy Ack Ack fired three immediate barrages.   Bombs near Attard, Poorhouse and south of Marsa.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Neptune, Kandahar and Jaguar sailed at 1500 on operations.  Four Swordfish located a tanker with destroyer escort, and hit the former with two torpedoes.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Blenheims and eight Beaufighters from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 16/17  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack Catania aerodrome.  4940 lbs High Explosive and 300 lbs incendiaries dropped including thirteen delayed action bombs.  Opposition exceptionally intense and accurate at all heights.

LUQA  S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special shipping search.  69 Squadron  Three Marylands on special search, one shadowing fleet.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Unit 2  One PR Taranto, one PR Sfax.  18 Squadron  Three Blenheims special search, one for merchant vessel.  Two Blenheims SF 1 patrol.  107 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked transport between Pisida and Zuara.  Two Blenheims attacked transport between Sorman and Zuara.  P/O Keene failed to return. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1 (German 50kg).

 

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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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7 December 1941: Malta Under 11 Hour Night Alert

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AIR RAIDS 7 DECEMBER TO 8 DECEMBER 1941

0127 hrs Air raid alarm sounded after bombs dropped in sea south of Ghar Lapsi.  Two further raids approached and took over intruder patrols, attempting to shoot up returning Wellingtons [from last night’s attack on the Royal Harbour at Naples]. 

Ghar Lapsi (NWMA Malta)

A low level bombing and machine gun attack was made on Ghar Lapsi searchlight station, bombs dropped one mile south of Siggiewi.  No damage or casualties.  Ack Ack barraged twice, Bofors and Light Machine Guns engaged several low flying aircraft.

Rumours are circulating that Italian Regia Aeronautica pilots are flying German aircraft on missions over Malta.

0657 hrs All-clear sounds.  The Island has been on constant alert since 1959 hrs yesterday.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 7 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Swordfish left to attack one merchant vessel west of Malta, but failed to locate target.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beaufighters, two Wellingtons, one Halifax from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack Castel Benito Aerodrome.  One dropped bombs on Mellaha.  Bombs dropped on south side of Mellaha aerodrome causing large column of black smoke.  At Castel Benito dispersal areas were attacked and eight medium and one large fire started.  Opposition intense but inaccurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  S/D Flight  One Wellington shipping search. 69 Squadron One Maryland on anti-submarine patrol; one Maryland special search Ionian sea; one Maryland SF 12 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance  One Maryland Argostoli and Navarino harbours; one Maryland Tripoli Harbour.  PR Unit 2: one over Catania and Gela; another over Tripoli Harbour and Castel Benito.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim special search Kerkanna area for merchant vessel; one Blenheim 18 Squadron SF 2B patrol.  Five Blenheims despatched to attack convoy (failed to locate).  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol; five Blenheims despatched to attack convoy (failed to locate).  104 Squadron  Six Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.  Two Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3.

 

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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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29 November 1941: Air Crew Missing After Libya Strike

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ALBACORE FAILS TO RETURN TO HAL FAR

Albacore

Albacore

One Albacore has been reported missing after an air strike on a Libyan target last night by 828 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, based at Hal Far.  Five Albacores carried out the successful night raid on the Italian Regia Aeronautica base at Castel Benito near Tripoli.  Despite fierce enemy opposition, bombs were dropped among dispersal areas, destroying at least one aircraft and starting fires across the airfield.  The pilot of the missing Albacore has been named as S/Lt Walshe; his observer is S/Lt Lewis.

SECOND NAVY STRIKE FORCE FOR MALTA

Allied intelligence has discovered that Rommel’s fuel stocks are fast running out.  Seeing a real opportunity to cut off his supplies entirely, the Admiralty in London decides on an all out offensive against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean.  Malta is now to be at the spearhead of that attack. 

HMS Ajax

Already the base for Force “K”, Grand Harbour now sees the arrival of a second Strike Force “B” – including Ajax, Neptune, Kimberley and Kingston – carrying with them from Alexandria welcome supplies for Malta.  The Island is now equipped with four cruisers and four destroyers.

As if on cue, Axis supply ships set out from various Italian ports heading for Libya, closely observed by Malta’s reconnaissance pilots.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1941

1057-1106 hrs Air raid alarm.  One recce Macchi crossed at great height.

1710-1728 hrs Air raid alarm.  Two recce Macchi’s crossed at great height.

1937-1939 hrs Air raid.

Military casualty  Sergeant George Tolcher, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Force “B” arrives, consisting of HMS Ajax flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H B T Rawlings Commanding Seventh Cruiser Squadron, with Neptune, Kingston and Kimberley.  Force “K” arrives.

AIR HQ  Two Wellesleys headed in from Heliolopolis, one crashed in the sea; the crew was saved.

LUQA  0800-1127 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron special search.  0815-1140 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron SF 10 patrol.  0905-1030 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  Returned owing to bad weather.  Two Blenheims 18 Squadron SF 11 patrol.  Six Blenheims 107 Squadron attacked shipping in Navarino Harbour.  One Wellington S/D Flight special shipping search.  Ten Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked administrative buildings at Benghazi. 

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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in 1941, November 1941

 

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