Tag Archives: 830 Squadron

7 October 1941: Italian Forces Attempt E-boat Raid on Malta

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Italian Motoscafo Turismo (E-boat)

Italian Motoscafo Turismo (E-boat)


Italian air and naval forces attempted a repeat of July’s E-boat attack on Grand Harbour tonight but were deterred by efficient measures to defend Malta’s coastline. The first sign of the attack came at just before 2100 hrs when enemy aircraft closed in for a bombing raid.  In an attempt to distract the coastal guns, the six raiders all approached from different directions, dropping bombs in various locations around the coast.

While the raid was in progress, coastal monitors detected a flotilla of E-boats approaching the north coast of the Island, which then split into two formations. Aware that the tactic of a diversionary air raid was used in July, military chiefs raised the alert of another possible seaborne raid on Grand Harbour.  Coastal searchlights went into action, illuminating their offshore zones every 15 minutes.  The Central Infantry Brigade ordered troops to man all infantry beach and harbour posts in the Grand Harbour area immediately.  Naval vessels went on the offensive, dropping 60 depth charges throughout the night. 

At 2200 hrs a third formation of seaborne craft was reported off the coast but an hour later monitors reported that all enemy craft had left the area. No further incidents were reported but the extra precautions remained in place until dawn, when enemy aircraft carried out reconnaissance over the area where surface craft had been seen.


Weather  Fine.

1050-1200 hrs  Air raid alert for some nine enemy aircraft in two formations which cross the coast. 16 Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no interceptions.  It is thought the enemy is trying decoy tactics again.

2051-2135 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft which approach the Island from various directions and drop bombs in the sea without crossing the coast. Two Malta Night Fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and interception is not possible.

2100 hrs  Surface craft are detected 30000 yards off the coast of Malta and the alert is raised for a possible E-boat attack on Grand Harbour. Coastal searchlights are exposed every 15 minutes and the Royal Navy drop depth charges.  Central Infantry Brigade immediately mans all infantry beach and harbour posts in the Grand Harbour area in preparation for an attack.  Double sentries are posted on positions. No further incidents take place.    

2200 hrs  A third formation of seaborne craft is reported.

2300 hrs  All seaborne craft have left the area. Double sentries are maintained at beach posts throughout the night.  Troops are ordered to sleep at their posts.

0500 hrs  Beach and harbour posts stand down; status returns to normal.


AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 1 Wellington on shipping search.  7 Wellingtons attacked shipping at Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands patrol east Sicilian coast and east Tunisian coast; 2 Marylands on special patrols; photoreconnaissance of Tripoli. 107 Squadron 1 Blenheim searched for the dinghy of Sgt Hamlyn and crew; nothing found.  1 Blenheim attacked a merchant ship off Zuara. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish attacked a merchant vessel off Lampedusa and also Lampedusa Harbour.  One Fulmar despatched to attack Comiso and Gerbini aerodromes; the aircraft failed to return to base.  Pilot A/PO Arthur Jopling and observer Lt Manning are missing.  One Fulmar carried out a search to within four miles of the Sicilian coast without success.


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


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11 September 1941: Malta Fighters Winning Battle for the Skies

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Hurricanes dominate Malta skies

Hurricanes dominate Malta airspace


Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: diary entry 11th September 1941

“I am writing this during a raid at 2100 hrs. Guns are firing which is very unusual. There is no moon; which may have something to do with it. Latterly, our fighters have had much the best of it. Two nights ago friends who were staying at Gozo saw one of their bombers caught in our searchlights, and our fighter chasing it (also in our searchlight) out to sea. Both were firing at one another. The Iti was brought down.

I heard of the worst case of pilfering from the convoys today. Somebody got away with 470 cases, not bottles. The size of the haul makes one give a grudging admiration, when I have lads in prison for stealing a few packets of cigarettes! With whisky at, say 15/- per bottle, this is a value of over £4000. It must have been a whole lighter full, and there must have been a number of people in the syndicate. We are told that somebody is suspect; I hope he gets caught.” (1)


A naval operation for the reinforcement of air forces in Malta was successfully carried out. It is estimated that at least 20000 tons of enemy shipping have been sunk or damaged by Allied aircraft in the Mediterranean.

On 4 September five Blenheims attacked ships in Crotone, which had taken refuge there as a result of a very successful attack made by Swordfish the previous night. One 6-8000 ton merchant vessel was hit and an explosion resulted, and two other ships were attacked (results not observed).  One Blenheim was shot down by anti-aircraft guns. 

On the night of 6-7 September seven Naval Swordfish, operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta, intercepted a northbound convoy of three merchant vessels and three destroyers. One vessel of 6000 tons was hit three times and almost certainly sunk, and a 6000 ton tanker was hit twice with torpedoes.

A total of 34 tons of bombs was dropped on two nights by Wellingtons on Tripoli. The first attack was made on motor transport depots in conditions of excellent visibility.  The attack was pressed home from a very low level; all the bombs fell in the target area, where large fires among vehicles and buildings were reported.  The harbour was the objective of the second attack; three hits were obtained on a medium-sized merchant vessel and a number of bombs fell on the Spanish Quay.

On two successive nights Wellingtons from Malta attacked the docks at Palermo and dropped a total of 32 tons of bombs. Many hits were made on the three main quays and dry dock, and some extensive fires started.  Three large merchant vessels lying in the harbour may also have suffered damage.  These attacks were followed by two night raids by a total of 16 Wellingtons on the power station, landing stages and ferry ships at Messina; over 22 tons of bombs were dropped and many hits obtained on the targets.  A large fire was reported in the Citadel area of the town.

On 4 September a daylight raid on Malta was attempted by a force of 20 Macchi 200s, which were intercepted by Hurricanes at sea. Later in the day 12 more Macchis were employed to cover rescue operations.  In the course of these two operations nine of the enemy fighters were destroyed, two probably destroyed and five others damaged, against our loss of two Hurricanes.

Formations of from one to six aircraft have attacked Malta on most nights of the week. The few bombs dropped have caused negligible damage.  One Cant Z1007 was illuminated by searchlights and shot down in flames by Hurricanes.


Weather  Fine and warm.

1135-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for a report of nine enemy aircraft which approach to within eight miles north of Grand Harbour at 23000 feet. Ten Hurricane fighters are scrambled.  Eight of 249 Squadron are unable to attain sufficient altitude to attack.  The two Hurricanes of 185 Squadron follow the raiders to within 10-15 miles of Sicily but cannot reach them and return to base.

2047-2210 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy aircraft approaching the Island. One turns back well before reaching Malta but the remaining four cross the coast and drop bombs on land around Kalafrana and Ta Qali.  Ant-aircraft guns engage; no claims.


AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked Palermo. 69 Squadron 5 Blenheims on sweep of Ionian sea; attacked shipping. 105 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a convoy of 6 merchant ships and 7 destroyers off the Tunisian coast.  5 torpedoes were fired, sinking one merchant ship and damaging a second. 2 Fulmar offensive patrols over Sicilian aerodromes unable to attack due to thick cloud; they dropped high explosives and incendiaries on chemical works at Licata and machine-gunned harbour installations, then dropped high explosives and incendiaries on the railway at Sciata starting a fire.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Private Clapham buried with full military honours.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History


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Posted by on September 11, 2021 in 1941, September 1941


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29 August 1941: Maltese Overseas Could Enlist to Defend Island

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15 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli

15 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli


Maltese citizens currently living in Turkey could be invited to enlist for military service in the defence of the Island. According to the War Office in London, reports coming out of Turkey indicate that within Maltese communities in Istanbul and Smyrna a number of individuals may be eligible for general military service. 

If he wishes to recruit personnel for the defence of Malta, Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has been invited to communicate with the British Ambassador in Istanbul or the British Consul in Smyrna. The British Colonial Office is also willing to assist, and the Foreign Office has offered to provide free passage for suitable candidates from Turkey to the nearest territory where they could be enlisted.


Bathing from the quay at the Royal Malta Yacht Club is prohibited to Service personnel except those having access to the changing accommodation in the Yacht Club. Men wishing to swim in this neighbourhood will find excellent facilities and refreshments at the Services Swimming Pavilion (Rocco Baths) which is 300 yards further east along the Harbour.  The entrance is on the Great Siege Road opposite the end of the Main Ditch.  Admission is free. 


Weather  Sunny and hot.

1300 hrs  Six enemy raiders are reported leaving the Sicilian coast. Malta fighters are scrambled but there is no interception.

1728-1740 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft which approach from the north. Six cross the coast over St Paul’s Bay at great height, then recede without dropping any bombs.  20 Malta fighters are scrambled but there is no combat.

Military casualties  Private Lorenzo A D Beabey, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.


ROYAL NAVY  Upholder and Ursula brought to short notice and sailed to intercept convoy east of Tripoli.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Bombay. Departures 2 Blenheim, 1 Bombay. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, patrols of Cape Bon and western Sicily and photoreconnaissance Sicilian coast.  Two 40lb bombs are dropped on land west of Lampedusa harbour. 38 Squadron 15 Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping and specified targets in Tripoli hitting vessels and buildings and causing damage and several fires. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 9 Swordfish sent to attack a convoy of 6 destroyers and 3 merchant vessels south of Cape Spartivento.  Owing to an effective smoke screen only one hit was scored on an 8000 ton merchant vessel.  Two Hurricanes returning from a special patrol see a small schooner a mile offshore at Pozzello and dive to attack; no damage caused.   

HAL FAR  2 Fulmars patrolled over Comiso, Gerbini and Catania, dropping two bombs on Gerbini and machine-gunning a control building.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (2kg incendiary).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  One other rank of D Company was killed at Pembroke Ranges.


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Posted by on August 29, 2021 in 1941, August 1941, Uncategorized


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2 July 1941: Long Nights in Air Raid Shelters Affect Civilian Morale

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Shelter crowdedLong nights spent in often uncomfortable air raid shelters are disrupting the lives of civilians. The enemy raiders’ tactic of extending the period under alert up to several hours is taking its toll.  Charles Grech later recalled the effect on his boyhood community of nights under alert which:

“tired out people and lowered their morale, creating physical and mental exhaustion. Sometimes, air raid warning signals were given at 7pm and would remain in effect throughout the whole night, till 8am the following morning.  Women, children and older people took cover in the shelters and spent the entire night there.  Some men, especially those who had a day’s work ahead of them, only go down to the shelter when they heard gunfire.  It was not unusual to see men racing to the shelter in their underpants or pyjamas…and only realised this when they got down there and stood in front of a gaggle of wide-eyed women.

Sometimes, one or two women would also pluck up courage to leave the shelter and come back with some hot coffee and something to eat for their children or parents or some warm milk for baby. [My] mother was quite organised for this eventuality and the first thing she did in the evening was prepare a thermos flask full of coffee and pack some food in her basket in case of emergency. (1)


  • Rifles: 17318
  • Mortars: 111
  • Machine guns:
  • Bren 634
  • Lewis 616
  • Vickers 293
  • Thompson sub. 168
  • Besa 6


Weather  Hot and humid.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish layed mines in approaches to Tripoli Harbour; they also bombed three large and several small motor vessels and started fires.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 8 Blenheim 110 Squadron, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 6 Wellington.  Aircraft casualties 69 Squadron  Marylands reconnaissance Pantelleria and Tripoli Harbour. 82 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked Homs destroying barracks and vehicles.  3 Blenheims attacked Buerat barracks, destroying vehicles.   148 Squadron 7 Wellingtons bombed port facilities and ships in Tripoli Harbour; ships damaged. 

TA QALI  Two Hurricanes collided on landing, both badly damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2.

(1) Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech translated by Joseph Galea Debono, Midsea Books 1998


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Posted by on July 2, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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10 May 1941: Maltese ‘Deserving of Highest Praise’

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Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

Lt General Dobbie has written a top secret personal letter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London today outlining the impact of the recent heavy bomb and mine attacks on Malta and its citizens.

I am very grateful for your message of sympathy for civilian casualties and loss of property in recent air raids. The small number of casualties in comparison with the destruction of buildings is due partly to the movement of population from areas most liable to attack and partly to the increasing provision of safe shelters dug in the rock, particularly in the most dangerous areas.

The outstanding feature of the last month has been the frequent occurrence of night raids by about 40 bombers dropping parachute flares and mines as well as bombs. Damage both from mines and bombs has been widespread but has been greatest in Valletta.  The main street and several others are blocked with great quantities of stone from destroyed buildings and will take a long time to clear with our limited resources.

This extensive damage to their principal city which was founded immediately after the Great Siege in 1565 and has stood unchanged since the time of the Knights has been profound shock to Maltese sentiment and damage to several large churches including the Cathedral of St John has given deep offence. Added to that but separate from it is the material loss caused to large numbers of individuals by the destruction of property and businesses which it has taken them years to acquire. 

Nevertheless the reaction of the people is deserving of the highest praise. They have been hardened in anger towards the enemy and are facing their own individual calamities with cheerfulness and fortitude.  With the first light after the destruction of their homes and shops, they are busily engaged with hammers and boards covering up damage where they can and rescuing their stock and possessions from among the debris to make another start.  As one of them recently said after the destruction of his home: “We will endure anything except the rule of these barbarians and savages.”  The homeless are received by others, especially among the poorer classes, with most remarkable hospitality and people in undamaged areas have been living for nearly a year with comparative cheerfulness in conditions of close overcrowding and consequent discomfort.

The great majority are, I am sure, quite unshaken in their belief in final victory and the Prime Minister’s recent statement that Malta will be defended with the full strength of the Empire (maltagc70 7 May 1941) meant very much to the people here.  They ask for retaliation against Italy.  They know that it is the Germans and not the Italians who have done them greatest injury but retaliation upon Germany from England is too far off to give them the same satisfaction that they would derive from retaliation upon Italy whose reaction they could vividly picture whose present immunity so close at hand is a source of lively irritation.  Unfortunately that balm has been for some time lacking.

I am very sure that the people would be greatly heartened by a message from Her Majesty’s Government at the present time. They feel they are sharing in the Empire’s struggle and though they know that their misfortunes are very much less than those of the people in England, they would like it to be known there that they are sharing in that way too.


Malta troops face a continuing serious shortage of rifles after the War Office today turned down a request for urgent additional supplies. The Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief has requested supplies of almost 4000 rifles, (maltagc70 17 April) more than half of which are needed to arm new Maltese conscripts. 

However, the War Office has replied that there are also serious deficiencies of supplies in the Middle East and India. It is therefore possible to send only 1000 to Malta, which is the maximum currently available in the UK.


Weather  Overcast with poor visibility.

1136-1150 hrs Air raid alert for three ME 109 fighters which patrol round the Island.  Their presence suggests the passage of JU 52 transport aircraft north to south off Malta.  Three Beaufighters are sent to investigate; one fails to return.  The other two Beaufighters find no trace of the JU 52s.  A fourth Beaufighter is sent to search for the missing aircraft.  F/Lt J Lowe and F/Sgt J H Tranter are reported missing.

1408-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for a small formation of ME 109s which patrol round the Island without crossing the coast.

1843-1942 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109 fighters which approach the Island, split up and patrol at 20000 feet.  One group circles for some time off Kalafrana before one ME 109 dives down and machine-guns a Sunderland at its moorings in Marsaxlokk Bay; the aircraft burns out and sinks.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the ME 109s, claiming one probably shot down.  Heavy and light anti-aircraft guns also engage; Bofors claim a direct hit on a Messerschmitt. 

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant John Joseph Lowe, Flight Sergeant John Henry Tranter, Royal Air Force, 252 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY  Foresight arrived for repair of defects.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland shuttle from the Middle East via the Greek coast.  Maryland patrol off eastern Sicilian coast.  Maryland photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli; about 25 merchant ships seen, some 9000 tons.  Maryland Ionian Sea patrol.  Maryland shuttle service to Zante and back. 252 Squadron Nine Beaufighters carry out a daylight successful strafing attack on aerodromes at Catania and Comiso doing much damage.  Wellington bombers night attack on Tripoli caused several large explosions and large fires.  All aircraft returned safely. 

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Five aircraft carried out operational flight against Tripoli; all aircraft returned safely.


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


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22 April 1941: Night Blitz on Valletta and Harbours

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Enemy flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

Enemy flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)


A massive air raid was launched over Malta’s capital tonight in what is believed is an attempt to destroy the convoy which arrived yesterday. The air raid alert just after sunset was followed by what authorities described as an endless stream of aircraft heading towards the Island.  At least 40 bombers were involved in the raid, including JU 87 dive-bombers, JU 88 and Heinkel HE 111s, as well as accompanying ME 110 fighters. 

1st Bn Cheshire Regiment whose job is the defence of Valletta and the Dockyard areas describe what happened:

“Soon after dark Malta experienced what is now known as a ‘blitz’. Many aircraft were over for about 1¾  hours.  A large number of flares were dropped, making the night as bright as day.  Quantities of bombs were dropped, and some mines, a large percentage of which came down on civilian buildings. 

Two bombs landed about 20 yards outside our Battalion HQ, and a third landed right in the courtyard, hitting a slit trench, which was luckily empty – and narrowly missing one which was full of men. Other bombs fell in our Company areas but there were no casualties.” 

A total of 36 high explosive bombs of 500kg and 333 of 50kg were dropped, 40 houses around the Dockyard and across Valletta were demolished. Ten civilians are reported missing, believed buried under debris, four have been rescued so far, all seriously injured.


Weather  Fine; cloudy later.    

0625-0650 hrs  Air raid alert as enemy aircraft approaching the Island and carry out reconnaissance. Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; nothing to report.

1609-1730 hrs  Air raid alert for a large formation of ME 109s escorting one JU 88 bomber approaching the Island from the north. While the fighters circle, the bomber crosses the Island on reconnaissance at 2200 feet.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the fighters, while anti-aircraft guns engage the JU 88; no claims.

1810-1840 hrs  Air raid alert for a single unidentified enemy aircraft which circles the Island, probably on meteorological reconnaissance. Four Hurricanes are scrambled but the aircraft does not cross the coast.

2038-2206 hrs  Air raid alert. An endless stream of aircraft is reported heading to Malta from Sicily.  40 enemy aircraft, including ME 110 fighters and JU 88 bombers which carry out a large-scale bombing raid, dropping numerous bombs and mines on the Dockyard, damaging offices and communications and destroying a Sergeants’ Mess.  Flares are used on a moonless night to illuminate targets.  A trawler is also damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on Hal Far, Zurrieq, Safi and Ta Qali.  A Hurricane night fighter is scrambled while searchlights illuminate the raiders but they are too far away for interception.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage with 13 predicted barrages and Bofors also engage; one JU 88 is damaged.  One enemy mine is exploded in mid-air.

Civilian casualties Valletta  Vincent Schembri, age 60.


ROYAL NAVY Jervis (Captain D14) with Juno, Jaguar and Janus returned from Tripoli convoy operations.  Another heavy night bombing and minelaying attack by enemy aircraft. 

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland special reconnaissance Tunisian coast, sighted two merchant vessels at sea on the same course and a destroyer hugging the coast.  

HAL FAR  New draft arrived to join 830 Squadron.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 20; dealt with 3 (3 x 50kg).


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


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15 April 1941: Malta Faces Labour Shortages

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Labour is in demand for digging of shelters

Labour is in demand for digging of shelters


Malta is facing a severe labour shortage and urgent action is required, according to the Governor and Commander in Chief. The shortage has been caused by the introduction of compulsory military service, as well as the high demand for additional labour services from the military and civil government.  To make up the shortfall, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie proposes to recruit casual labourers under 21 years of age and to pay them at the current adult rate of pay.  He will also arrange for the re-employment of skilled tradesmen over 60 years of age.


Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief plans to enlist volunteers and conscripts in order to fully man the newly-formed Royal Army Medical Corps Malta section. Personnel will be signed up for the duration of the war and service in Malta only.  A few specially selected men will also be enrolled in the non-Malta RAMC, also for the duration.


Heads of Branches and Institutions and District Medical Officers were requested to ask their medical staff and officers to ring the Fortress War Headquarters in case it was necessary for a person to proceed outside a town or village during curfew hours (when there was no air-raid on) and should movement be necessary during curfew hours (between the sounding of an air-raid warning and the “All Clear” signal).


LONDON GAZETTE 15 APRIL 1941  “The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the publication of the names of the undermentioned as having been commended for brave conduct: Corps of Royal Engineers (Malta Section) No 576 Sapper Spiru Zammit.”


Weather  Very cold and blustery; wet overnight.

2010-2055 hrs  Air raid alert for suspected enemy aircraft. A Wellington bomber approaches from the north and is attacked by small arms fire from the ground.  The pilot flashes the correct recognition signal before coming in to land safely and without damage.

0010-0223 hrs  Air raid alert for three, then 12, then 14 enemy aircraft which approach from the north in close succession and drop bombs on Ta Qali, Rabat, Imtarfa, Mosta Fort, Madliena, Siggiewi, Dingli, Targa, Naxxar, Attard, Ricasoli, Grand Harbour, St Clements, Luqa aerodrome and Siggiewi. Bombing seems indiscriminate with no apparent definite objective apart from the Mental Hospital at Attard, which is singled out by several aircraft and straddled by 20 bombs; one patient is killed and nine injured.  A large number of bombs fail to explode.  A Malta night fighter is scrambled but searchlights illuminate targets on only two occasions and there are no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft guns engage raiders heavily five times; no claims.  

0237-0405 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which circle the Island separately on ‘nuisance’ raids’. One anti-aircraft battery engages; no claim.

Military casualties  Private James Boorman, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regt).

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Carmela Cassar, age 29.


ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 2 Swordfish despatched overnight to locate and shadow a convoy of 5 merchant vessels and 3 destroyers reported by Maryland. Convoy located off Kerkenah when British destroyers had begun action.  Aircraft located another southbound convoy at 1357 hrs.   A later sighting gave the convoy speed as 8 knots.  14th Destroyer Flotilla, destroyers Jervis, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian sailed at 1800 hrs under cover of rain and low cloud for a shipping sweep off Kerkennah Bank.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping; convoy of five merchant vessels and three destroyers. Second Maryland despatched to shadow convoy for destroyer striking force.  Maryland reconnaissance Palermo unsuccessful due to low cloud and rain.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  We have taken over a number of Lewis guns for use in the defences. A short refresher course is being held today and tomorrow.  B Company moved to their Dockyard position at the Naval Canteen.  One platoon of C Company took over their old HQ at Notre Dame Ravelin.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 32.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY Classification of Signallers of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment (passed 5, failed 5).

(1) 18 January 1941


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


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12 April 1941: Malta Swordfish and Destroyers Pursue Axis Convoy

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HMS Mowahk

HMS Mowahk


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

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

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

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

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

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


Weather  Fine.    

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

1935 hrs  Four destroyers leave Grand Harbour.

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

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

0134 hrs  All clear.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


Weather  Fine.  

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

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

1554 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

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


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

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

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

KALAFRANA   Sunderland arrived from Middle East with freight.


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


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13 August 1940: Malta Government to Control All Imports

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Malta’s Governor and C in C, Lt Gen Dobbie, has today put forward proposals for keeping the Island supplied while the fortress is under siege. In a message to HM Government in London, he made it clear that co-ordination is now essential, saying: If the ability of this fortress to resist attack is not uniformly strong, weakness at one point will affect the whole. It is thus of paramount importance that all reserves should be maintained at a uniform standard, eg advantage of the presence of stocks of ammunition and military stores for a specific period would be greatly diminished if reserves of essential foods and materials for the local population are not maintained for a similar period.

Wembley Store (2)

Wembley Store (2)

The supply of Malta now relies entirely on convoys from the Eastern Mediterranean but, with the dangers they face, supply runs must be kept to a minimum. As a result, shipping space must be used to the best advantage, so that only essential supplies are brought to the Island at the right time and the in right quantities. In addition, the Island needs to hold a reserve sufficient for at least six months, with an extra two months in hand, in order to sustain the Island in the event of the loss of a convoy. These time frames are supported by Vice Admiral Malta and the C in C Mediterranean.

To achieve effective supply runs, Lt Gen Dobbie proposes to co-ordinate all requirements for the Island, including those of the Services, of the Government and the civil population. The Government will assume responsibility for importation of all foodstuffs and other materials which are essential to the life of the community, so that the correct quantities are ordered and arrive when they are needed. Local importers – whose supply chains have been disrupted since the siege began – will be formed into pools, allowed to purchase supplies and to apply a small profit in selling to retailers.

The Governor stressed that stores for the civilian population and for the Armed Services must have equal priority. He therefore proposes that Government requirements for items such as building materials, coal, wheat and refrigerated substances be co-ordinated with the needs of the Services to ensure availability and to avoid wasting capacity on convoys. Though essential items will take precedence, the Governor also recognised that some space must be allocated for such items as books and toiletries which are deemed necessary to preserve morale on the Island.

Subject to the agreement of HM Government, Lt Gen Dobbie will telegraph an itemised list of the supplies needed immediately to bring Malta’s stocks up to a level sufficient for eight months, assuming that the next convoy will take two months to reach the Island. He then proposes a rolling programme of supply convoys to keep the level of stocks at the required minimum.


In a separate development today, the Welfare Branch of the War Office in London cabled the General Officer Commanding, Malta asking for a list of items needed to support the welfare of troops on the Island, including sports gear, games, wireless, books, woollen comforts and cigarettes.


All Italian street names in Valletta, Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa have now been translated or replaced with English names. (1)


Three Swordfish destroyed: crews missing

Three Swordfish destroyed: crew missing

Two Swordfish aircraft were reported missing and a third crashed ditched in the sea off Malta tonight after a bombing raid on Sicily. The aircraft were with six others sent from Malta on a mission to attack shipping in Augusta. They faced intense fire from coastal batteries. Two of the Swordfish were shot down; Acting S/Lt D Edmondson and his Telegraphist/Air Gunner are believed killed. It is believed the crew of a second aircraft were picked up by the Italian Navy. Lt A F Hall’s Swordfish was also hit by Ack Ack fire but managed to reach a point four miles off the coast of Malta, near Ta Silch, before ditching in the sea. The crew survived and were rescued from their dinghy.


Weather  Fine and hot.

0857-0937 hrs  Air raid alert for a reported formation of enemy aircraft approaching Grand Harbour. No raiders cross the coast.

Military casualties  Acting S/Lieutenant D S Edmondson, pilot, 830 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY   2100 hrs Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm took off to carry out low-bombing and torpedo attacks on shipping in Augusta; results doubtful. Despite intense fire from coastal batteries six returned safely; two were reported missing and the crew of one picked up by the Italians. A third crashed four miles from Ta Silch; the crew were saved. PM A floating mine was reported off Torri L’Ahmar.  

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 3 Swordfish. 1500 hrs One Hudson reconnaissance of Augusta.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  Unexploded incendiary bomb found broken up in the dining room at San Pietru. It had passed through the corrugated iron roof and a table, and stuck in the concrete floor. Pieces were removed.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO saw Brigade Commander at HQ to discuss employment of reinforcements.

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd, 1992

(2) The Wembley Store, Valletta – still open for business


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Posted by on August 13, 2020 in 1940, August 1940


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