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2 March 1942: Malta’s Bombers on the Attack

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WELLINGTONS ATTACK AXIS BASE AT PALERMO

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers from of 37 Squadron based at Luqa launched a highly successful attack overnight on Palermo Harbour, an important base for convoys supplying Axis forces in North Africa.  Despite a smokescreen set off obscure the target, the Wellingtons succeeded in dropping 26 tons of bombs on shipping and dockyard facilities, including a shipyard, oil dump, warehouses and a seaplane base.  Two merchant vessels of 5000 and 9000 tons were sunk and a third was set on fire along with its cargo of motor transport.  Reconnaissance aircraft reported fires still burning six hours after the attack.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 MARCH TO DAWN 3 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 30% cloud.  Warmer.

0740-0819 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol the Island.

1038-1205 hrs  Nine JU 88s with fighter escort approach in two waves.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Safi Strip, Corradino, Cospicua and Zabbar.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two bombs land in Gudja army camp and behind HQ at Safi.  One Other Rank of 1st Bn Hampshire Regt is seriously wounded (died 5 March 1942).

1358-1443 hrs  Four JU 88s with fighter escort cross the south east coast, drop bombs on the Safi Strip and recede north.

1658-1850  Six JU 88 with fighter escort approach from the north and drop bombs on Grand Harbour and Lazaretto, from Ta Karach Ridge to Safi strip and Luqa airfield where one Wellington is damaged.

1941-0410 hrs  One continuous raid: thirteen raiders approach the Islandsingly, dropping bombs on land and in the sea.

1944 hrs  Three unidentified enemy aircraft attack Luqa, damaging one Maryland.  Bombs also land on Siggiewi, Tal Providenz (demolishing one building) and Ta Mehrla Chapel during the late evening.  near the Officers’ Quarters, Kalafrana.

2040 hrs  One JU 88 at 2-3000 feet is engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: one hit claimed.

2050 hrs  One JU 88 at 2000 feet diving to 500 feet is engaged by two guns from 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: one hit claimed.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman George Boorman, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Anthony Zammit, age 70.  Kalkara  Lorenzo Mejlak, age 55.  Zabbar  Grezzju Abdilla, age 45; Maria Abdilla, age 15.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Sunderland from Gibraltar.  Departures   Five Beaufighters, two Blenheims to 108MU; six Wellingtons, one Hudson to LG 224; one Sunderland to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  828 Squadron  One Albacore on search for enemy shipping:  one merchant vessel of 4000 tons in position 206 degrees Lampedusa 42 miles.  830 Squadron  Three Swordfish dispatched to attack the merchant vessel reported off Lampedusa.  The vessel was not located and all three aircraft returned to base at 0615 hrs 3 March.

LUQA 0740-1219 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) and SF 2A patrol, Lampedusa.  1216-1403 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron PR Palermo.  1403-1250 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron PR Pantelleria and SF 1A patrol.  2115-0312 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight special search.  2203-0540 hrs  Sixteen Wellingtons 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Palermo Harbour, sinking two ships, damaging and gutting warehouses and buildings on the northern mole and in the dockyard.  2320-0430 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron despatched on a torpedo attack on shipping; no attack made.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT   No Luqa working parties this week. Gas masks worn 10-1100 hrs.  First rehearsal for loading light equipment for mobile company carried out at Hornworks.  1700 hrs Conference at Marsa Club on Brigade wireless exercise.  Unexploded bomb hit post of B Company CA10: post needs complete rebuilding.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  C Company moved from Boschetto Gardens to Dingli and took up anti-parachute role in that area.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Debris from bombs on the outskirts of St Julians and blocking the coast road is cleared by a working party from C Company.  Brigadier De La Bere visits a demonstration of operational and ceremonial sentries at Battalion HQ.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on March 2, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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6 January 1942: Attacks to Neutralise Airfields To Begin Tomorrow

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TROOPS STAND READY TO DEFEND AIRFIELD POSITIONS

Infantry Brigade Operation Order 6 January 1942

British 3.7 inch (LAA) gun, London

British 3.7 inch (LAA) gun, London

Reliable information indicates that Germans may attempt neutralization of Malta aerodromes by heavy dive-bombing attacks beginning 7 Jan 42.  Necessary AA arrangements are being made which involve moving additional troops and Light Anti-aircraft guns into position to reinforce those already defending the airfields.

The intention is to provide maximum defence of aerodromes from ‘stand to’ throughout daylight on 7 Jan 42, both round the airfields themselves and in depth beyond the perimeters.  Positions have been ordered not to ‘stand down’ until further orders are received from Headquarters.

A wet and stormy night prevented enemy air raids, and the move of troops was carried out unmolested.  Malta’s troops are armed and ready.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 6 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold, overcast; low clouds, rain most of the day.

1053-1110 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1210-1225 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and aircraft drops bombs in St Thomas’ Bay area: three in the sea and one on the cliff ege.  No Hurricanes airborne.

1255-1305 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid did not materialise.

1430-1445 hrs  One aircraft approaches to within six miles of Grand Harbour, drops bombs in the sea and recedes.

1546 hrs  Air raid.  Four bombs are dropped in the waters of Marsaxlokk Bay between defence post BZ1 and Delimara.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 6 JANUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Breconshire sailed from Malta escorted by four destroyers: Lance, Lively, Jaguar and Havock

AIR HQ  Arrivals One Beaufighter, six Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 6/7th Four Swordfish 830 Squadron sent to attack convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers.  One merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons definitely hit amidships.  All aircraft returned safely.  Three Albacores sent to attack two merchant vessels and two destroyers.  One of the merchant vessels was attacked and hit.  The ship stopped.  Opposition usual light and heavy Ack Ack.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search Gulf of Hammamet;  one Maryland SF10b patrol.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF14 patrol.  Night 6/7th  S/D Flight one Wellington shipping search.  40 Squadron patrol.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable; no flying.  One air raid alarm.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  1030 hrs  New General Officer Commanding (Major General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC, visited Brigade and met officers.  Operation Order No 1 was issued in connection with strengthening anti-aircraft (Ack Ack) defences of Luqa aerodrome.

Bren Light Machine Gun

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  The Light Machine Gun (LMG) Ack Ack defence of all aerodromes and strips in the Bde area was considerably strengthened.  LMGs mounted were: Brens 133, Twin Lewis 17, Single Lewis 10.

1st BATTALION CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Orders were to man as many light machine guns and Vickers machine guns for anti-aircraft as possible.  Company commanders to recce and select positions at dawn.

1st BATTALION DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Brigade Commander ordered Reserve Company to move to area Safi strip to supplement Anti-aircraft defences and as many LMGs as possible mounted for Ack Ack by remaining companies.

1ST BATTALION HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion took precautions and ‘stood to’ all Anti-aircraft Light Machine Gun posts while the defence of Safi strip was thickened with extra Ack Ack LMG from the Battalion and from the Dorsets.

11TH BATTALION LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Operation Order No 1 from Central Infantry Brigade issued ref move of troops for intensification of anti-aircraft protection of Luqa aerodromes.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Orders received for reinforcing Hal Far anti-aircraft defence with an additional 9 guns:  59th Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA Bty) RA: 5 guns; 182nd LAA Bty RA: 2 guns; 186th LAA Bty RA: 2 guns.  Reconnaissance completed 2030 hrs.  Guns ready for action by dawn 7th inst.

8TH BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT  All LMG in the Battalion are to be mounted for anti-aircraft duty.  Approximately 50 men from Aerodrome Companies at Ta Qali filled in bomb holes on runways and dispersal areas.

2ND BATTALION ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Working party cancelled at Luqa due to wet weather.  Instructions were issued that Light Anti-Aircraft batteries and certain light machine guns would move to strengthen the Ack Ack defences of Luqa.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6.

 

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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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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)

ATTACK DETERRED BY COASTAL DEFENCES

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 OCTOBER TO DAWN 8 OCTOBER 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER 1941

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, 2016 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

DEFEAT OF RAIDERS LIFTS MORALE

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)

WAR CABINET REPORT FOR WEEK 4-11 SEPTEMBER

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 1941

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, 2016 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 LIVING IN TURKEY ELIGIBLE FOR SERVICE

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 RESTRICTIONS IN MARSAMXETTO HARBOUR

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. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 AUGUST TO DAWN 30 AUGUST 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 AUGUST 1941

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, 2016 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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PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EXHAUSTION COMMON

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)

ARMS STOCKS IN MALTA AS AT 30 JUNE 1941

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and humid.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 JULY 1941

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, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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10 May 1941: Maltese ‘Deserving of Highest Praise’

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GOVERNOR & C IN C PRAISES FORTITUDE OF CIVILIANS IN MESSAGE TO LONDON

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.

RIFLE SHORTAGES ACROSS MIDDLE EAST AND INDIA AS WELL AS MALTA

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 MAY TO DAWN 11 MAY 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 10 MAY 1941

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, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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