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11 October 1941: Malta Command Must Explain Loss of Bomb Disposal Officer

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RAF Blenheim

RAF Blenheim

ROYAL ENGINEERS OFFICER WAS WORKING FOR THE RAF

The War Office sent an urgent telegram today calling on Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief to account for the death of Lt Edward Talbot in an air crash. The Royal Engineers officer was aboard one of two RAF Blenheim bombers of 107 Squadron which are now believed to have collided while evading enemy fire on Thursday night during an attack on enemy shipping. 

Talbot was one of only two Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers currently in Malta; he had been on respite from his bomb disposal duties since May, when his command was transferred to Lt G D Carroll, RE. The Army bomb disposal squad is responsible for all unexploded bombs across Malta and Gozo, outside of RAF and Royal Navy premises.  However, with a shortage of suitable officers on the Island to fulfil all military needs, after several weeks of rest Lt Talbot was recently redeployed to assist the RAF.

In an immediate reply to the War Office, Lt Gen Dobbie stated: “Lieutenant Talbot attached RAF station Luqa for Intelligence duties. (My POR no 52 September 25 refers.) Army and RAF Intelligence officers exchanged periodically by local arrangements between Air Officer Commanding and General Officer Commanding [Army].”

In a further message Lt Gen Dobbie explained: “In order to ensure adequate liaison with RAF I have found it necessary in the general interest of the Fortress to attach four specially selected Officers for air intelligence duties. Three Officers are attached to aerodromes and one does duty with RAF Headquarters.”  It is understood that Lt E E C Talbot was carrying out one of the four intelligence roles, based at Luqa aerodrome.

Two more Malta Blenheims of 107 Squadron were lost today in a mission against enemy shipping. The bombers were among six sent to attack a convoy in the Gulf of Sirte.  Flying Officer R Greenhill’s Blenheim was shot down by enemy defensive fire.  Sergeant A Rough’s aircraft was reported to have been damaged and then crashed into the sea.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 OCTOBER TO DAWN 12 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

0935-1029 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the north. First a single raider crosses the coast over St Julian’s Bay, then turns northwards.  Then six raiders split into two formations and circle 15 miles off the east of Grand Harbour before retiring northwards.  11 Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not gain sufficient height to intercept before the formation returns towards Sicily.

1636-1655 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters which fly over Grand Harbour and retire northwards. 9 Hurricanes area scrambled but cannot gain sufficient height to intercept.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0251-0319 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Ronald A Greenhill, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Gerald F McLeod, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Robert N Parker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Alfred D M Routh, RAFVR; Sergeant Alan M Smith, all 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 1 Maryland shipping search; 3 Marylands on special patrol.  Photoreconnaissance Tripoli town and harbour, Trapani and Castel Vetrano. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked shipping in the Gulf of Sirte.  F/O Greenhill and Sgt Routh failed to return. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar attacked barracks at Passero, dropping incendiaries and machine-gunning buildings. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish were sent to attack 2 merchant ships and 1 destroyer southbound off Marittimo.  The leader lost contact with the torpedo aircraft, who returned to base with torpedoes.  The leader alone located the convoy and attacked the leading merchant vessel; results not observed.

TA QALI  New airmen’s barrack block taken over.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Five Fusiliers are attached to RAF Luqa.

 

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

 

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10 October 1941: Malta Bomb Disposal Officer Killed

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Lt E E C Talbot, GC, RE

Lt E E C Talbot, GC, RE

BOMB DISPOSAL OFFICER WAS ABOARD MISSING BOMBER

Malta’s first Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer has been reported missing, presumed killed. According to reports, he was aboard one of two Blenheim aircraft which failed to return from an attack on enemy shipping off the south coast of Italy last night. 

The missing Blenheim pilots have been named as Wing Commander C F A Harte and Flying Officer Whitford-Walders, both of 107 Squadron. Two other Blenheims involved in the mission returned safely to Luqa.  Early today, the RAF in Malta picked up Italian radio reports stating that two aircraft collided over the coast near Cape Spartivento with no survivors.

Lt Edward Talbot GC, MBE arrived last November to assume command of the Island’s Bomb Disposal Section. He has been on respite leave from bomb disposal duties since early May.  According to the current serving RE Bomb Disposal Officer, Lt George Carroll, his friend Lt Talbot had for some weeks been working with the RAF, collecting the reports from pilots on their return from operational missions. (1)

BRITISH PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN

The following communications have been approved today by the British Underground Propaganda Committee for transmission via rumour networks, in a bid to undermine morale among Axis troops and civilians:

Italy for general Mediterranean distribution

  • A ship with 500 Italian soldiers on board sailed into Malta and surrendered. They have mutinied and killed their officers.
  • During the last ten days seven [Axis] supply ships have put into Malta and surrendered. The British show special signal lights for deserters, who are given the choice of going to India or England. (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 OCTOBER TO DAWN 11 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Cooler with some rain.

1033-1052 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of six enemy fighters which cross the Island. 13 Hurricane fighters are scrambled but there are no engagements.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ  Departures 2 Blenheim. 38 Squadron 6 Wellingtons attacked convoy. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands on special patrol.  1 Maryland on convoy search.  Photoreconnaissance of Tripoli. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims searched for missing Blenheim crews. 221 Squadron 2 Wellingtons searched for convoy. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish carried out two attacks on a convoy of 3 merchant ships, 1 tanker and 5 destroyers.  The first lasted from 2208 to 2230 hrs during which the 3 merchant vessels were damaged, 2 seriously.  The Swordfish returned to base and refuelled, then attacked the convoy again at 0440 hrs, at the end of which two merchant ships were sunk.

ARMY HQ  Air Officer Commanding Vice Marshal Lloyd gave a lecture at the Marsa Club on the activities of the RAF in Malta, attended by officers and NCOs.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

(2) Whispers of War: Underground Propaganda Rumour-Mongering in the Second World War, Lee Richards, 2010

 

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

 

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24 September 1941: Lack of Luftwaffe in Mediterranean Leaves Malta Free to Attack

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Spanish Mole, Tripoli, after a raid (AWM MED0210)

Spanish Mole, Tripoli, after a raid (AWM MED0210)

LUFTWAFFE ABSENCE LEAVES AXIS CONVOYS VULNERABLE, BRITISH WAR CABINET HEARS

The absence of German aircraft in the Mediterranean has left Axis convoys vulnerable to attacks from Malta, the British War Cabinet heard today in its latest progress review. According to the report, for three months it has not been possible for the Germans to allocate adequate aircraft for the protection of the important supply route between Tripoli and Sicily, or for attacks on Malta.  In the face of heavy commitments in other theatres such as the Eastern Front, the German Air Force is facing a shortage of suitably trained air crews.  Luftwaffe command has been forced improvise, such as using a long-range bomber reserve training unit on operational duties.

During the past week Blenheim and Swordfish aircraft from Malta have sunk or seriously damaged 45000 tons of enemy shipping between Sicily and the African coast. An enemy destroyer was also seriously damaged off Tripoli.

Reconnaissance aircraft from Malta have continued to search for enemy shipping convoys which were subsequently attacked on every possible occasion by Naval and RAF aircraft, with the following results:

  • Laden schooner, total loss
  • Laden schooner, blew up (explosion destroyed attacking Blenheim)
  • 24000 ton liner hit repeatedly by Blenheims, last reported stationary
  • Destroyer direct hits amidships, badly damaged
  • 8000 ton merchant vessel (MV) 2 hits by Blenheims, damaged
  • 3000 ton MV, sinking and on fire
  • 8000 ton MV, sunk
  • Small MV hit by torpedo, probably sunk

On five nights Wellingtons made 33 sorties against Tripoli and dropped a total of over 50 tons of bombs. These attacks were principally directed against the harbour and, in addition to a number of hits on the Spanish and Karamanli Moles, many bombs were seen to fall on shipping lying alongside.  The barracks and buildings near the wireless telegraph station also were successfully bombe.

Two Blenheims made a good daylight attack on heavy motor transport and petrol tankers on the Misurata-Sirte road, resulting in considerable confusion, and the destruction of one petrol tanker and serious damage to 30 other vehicles; one Blenheim is missing. Another attack by 11 Blenheims was made on the barracks at Homs and Misurata causing serious damage.  Hits were also made on motor transport dumps and petrol lorries, and troops were sprayed with machine-gun fire with good effect.  Two of our aircraft collided over the target and a third crashed.

Enemy bombing activity has been on an extremely small scale. The only attack on Malta was on the night of 19-20 September, when one out of six aircraft crossed over the Island and dropped some incendiaries which did no damage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and fresh.

0005-0035 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the west. Two only cross the coast and drop high explosive bombs on the Bajda Ridge area.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no engagement.

0047-0058 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William E Law, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Squadron Leader Theophilus J S Warren, RAF, 107 Squadron; Flying Officer John T Waterfall, RAFVR, 107 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 13 Beaufighter, 2 Blenheim, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Catalina. 38 Squadron 2 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  6 Wellingtons attacked Palermo Harbour. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Marsala and Licata harbours and eastern Ionian Sea. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims attacked transport on Misurata road.  S/Ldr Warren failed to return; a search was carried out but was unsuccessful. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish laid mines outside Tripoli Harbour and dropped bombs on a barrack block.  A diversion created by Wellington bombers was very effective.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 5 (2 x 150kg; 3 x 2kg incendiary)

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  E Company began formation; HQ at 21 Ghain Dwieli Street, Paola. 

 

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Posted by on September 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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10 September 1941: Malta Pilots Receive Military Honours

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PILOTS’ AWARDS ANNOUNCED IN LONDON

Awards have been announced today for three pilots for their service while based in Malta.  F/O Warburton has been given a second military honour in recognition of his service as a reconnaissance pilot. The official announcement came today of a Bar to add to the Distinguished Flying Cross he was awarded in January.

London Gazette, 9 September 1941: The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

F/O Adrian Warburton

F/O Adrian Warburton

Flying Officer Adrian Warburton DFC, No 69 Squadron

“This officer is a most determined and skilful pilot and has carried out 125 operational missions. Flying Officer Warburton has never failed to complete the missions he has undertaken and, in the actions fought, he has destroyed at least three hostile aircraft in combat and another three on the ground.”

Flying Officer Roger Drew, No 69 Squadron

“In July 1941, this officer carried out an attack on the aerodrome at Zuara. Aircraft on the ground were machine-gunned, one being destroyed and others damaged.  Flying Officer Drew has also been responsible for the destruction of three Italian flying boats.  He has completed 120 operational flights, including a number of reconnaissances, and throughout he has displayed skill and enthusiasm.”

Pilot Officer Jack Buckley, 105 Squadron

“In August 1941, this officer attacked a 9000 ton merchant ship off Lampedusa. Destroyers, torpedo boats and a large number of lighters were removing a cargo of motor transport at the time but Pilot Officer Buckley attacked through a curtain of fire and, although wounded during the run-in, scored hits setting the ship on fire.  Subsequent reconnaissance revealed that a 700 ton sloop was also sunk as a result of the attack.”

DANGEROUS UXBS AT DINGLI

A new type of Italian high explosive bomb has come to light in Malta. Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G Carroll first encountered the bomb when he was called out to Dingli by one of his NCOs. 

“His squad had revealed the first of two small bombs, six feet under the narrow strip of fertile farmland overlooking the sea, below the Island’s radar station. The NCO did not recognise the bomb. Lt Carroll climbed down the ladder to take a look: from its size he estimated it at 50kg, but from its markings it was Italian – and certainly not one he had seen before.  The NCO had reported that the bomb’s base fuze was broken – so with any luck it might be harmless.  But if the central part of the fuze was still in place, it could be in a highly-sensitive condition.  Lt Carroll’s worst fears were confirmed: any attempt to take out this fuze could detonate the bomb.  Better to set a charge himself and have a controlled explosion.  He looked up: no luck.  They were too close to the radar station, especially if the second bomb went up as well.  What if that one could be got out of the way first?

Lt Carroll walked across to take a look: the lads were making good progress and the bomb was already exposed. He climbed six feet down the ladder into the shaft and squatted down beside the bomb: another damaged fuze.  Now he had two bombs that were too unstable to move.  Nor could they be exploded this close to the radar station.  He had just one more option – but it meant putting himself at risk.  The entire base plate would have to be unscrewed from each bomb.  It was possible, but it had to be done without disturbing the broken fuze.  And twice. 

He gave the order for the men to retreat. This was a job for the Bomb Disposal Officer alone.  As soon as his Sergeant signalled that they were out of range, Lt Carroll began to unscrew the base plate of the first bomb, taking care to avoid touching the vulnerable fuze. Grasping it firmly, he gently eased it away from the carcass and climbed the ladder with his prize.  Soon the second base plate was off and Lt Carroll could afford to relax.  However, there was the matter of yet another unknown bomb to consider.  He ordered the parts of both bombs to be carried back to Lintorn Barracks.  He had a report to write.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Emmanuel Bartoli, age 55; Carmel Borg, age 61.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked power station, train and ferries at Messina. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance Tripoli, plus special search and patrol.  

TA QALI  4 officers and 9 sergeants left for Luqa by Hurricane to proceed to the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1900-0730 hrs Brigade Exercise: an ‘attack’ was made on the Battalion sector. Carriers and mobile platoons did excellent work and the whole area was well covered by fie from our static posts.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 3 (2 x 50kg; 1 x 12kg anti-personnel)

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  The Battalion participated in a Brigade exercise, attacking the defended positions on the Cottonera Lines held by 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

 

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

 

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6 September 1941: More Vital Foods Rationed and Prices Fixed

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'Call up' for men to dig shelters

‘Call up’ for men to dig shelters

MALTESE DAILY DIET FACES RESTRICTIONS

Malta’s population faces a hungry winter as more essential foodstuffs are added to the list of strictly rationed items. Rationing of edible oil, margarine and lard has already come into force.  Plans are now being made for the rationing of tinned fish and tinned meat, which will be put into effect later this month.

At the same time, the Maltese Government has decided to set up a Central Prices Board is being set up to fix the prices of local produce as well as goods imported by traders, in order to avoid the exploitation of shortages and ensure fair pricing across the Islands. The Board will also hear complaints by traders and the public with regard to prices.  Local committees are being set up all over the Island to oversee pricing in their areas and act as a point of contact for any concerns about excessive charges.

MALTA’S SKILLED CRAFTSMEN IN COMPULSORY ‘CALL UP’

Skilled workers such as miners, masons and stone cutters throughout Malta and Gozo are to be ‘called up’ to help with essential defensive works across the Islands. The measure is designed to speed up the construction of air raid shelters and other essential defence projects for the Malta Garrison. 

In a first step towards instituting compulsory service for skilled manpower to help in the defence of Malta, every suitably skilled man between the ages of 16 and 60 will be required to register with the Director of Compulsory Service. First to register will be all employees of the Government and military services.

The Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief has been concerned about the rate of construction, particularly of shelters for the civilian population. Having unsuccessfully bid for a skilled workforce to be sent to Malta from elsewhere, he is keen to ensure the maximum use of locally available tradesmen in completing the necessary works.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and fresh.

0010-0050 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the north at 14000 feet and drops bombs in the sea six miles off the coast before turning away. Two Hurricanes were scrambled but as searchlights could not illuminate the raiders at such distance there was no engagement.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington.  Striking force patrols Ionian Sea and east Tunisian coast by two Marylands, one Blenheim and one Beaufort. 69 Squadron Maryland patrol east Sicilian and east Calabrian coasts.  2 Fulmar sent to patrol Catania and Gerbini developed engine trouble so went to Comiso and dropped incendiaries.  The crew returned to Malta, change aircraft and took off again at 0001 hrs for Catania where they dived and machine-gunned the airfield, damaging three aircraft.  At 0115 hrs they dived on Gerbini airfield, dropping incendiaries and machine-gunning three more aircraft on the ground. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish attacked a northbound convoy of three merchant ships and three destroyers south of Pantelleria.  One merchant ship was claimed as sunk, and one damaged.  5 torpedoes were released.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2; dealt with 2 (70kg incendiary)

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The CO commented on the narrow escape of personnel during last nigh’s raid and emphasised the importance of maintaining a rigid blackout.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  One NCO and 14 men attached to RAF Luqa as mechanics.

 

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Posted by on September 6, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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4 September 1941: Malta Defenders Destroy 12 Enemy Aircraft in 24 Hours

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air combatSIX MACCHI FIGHTERS DESTROYED IN DAYLIGHT RAID

Malta’s defenders shot down a total of 11 enemy aircraft today in just three engagements. Mid-morning a large formation of 20 Macchi fighters approached the Island.  21 Hurricanes in total (twelve of 126 Squadron and nine of 185 Squadron) were scrambled and intercepted the raiders when they were still some distance north of Grand Harbour. 

F/Lt Jeffries spotted a Macchi circling at 19000 feet 30 miles off the coast and led his section of 185 Squadron in the attack. The Macchi was last seen diving vertically towards the sea.  Four Macchi fighters then counter-attack but the Hurricanes manage to evade them. 

126 Squadron engaged the raiders at 20 miles off the coast. S/Ldr Rabagliati attacked two Macchis, reporting one spinning down towards the sea emitting smoke.  P/O Burke attacked two Macchis in turn, claiming hits on both; one was seen diving down towards the sea.  F/O Carpenter engaged three Macchis at high altitude, shooting one down. P/O Russell and F/Lt Lefevre attacked and shot down one Macchi apiece.  Three enemy parachutes were observed descending towards the sea; a fourth Italian also baled out but his parachute did not open. 

One Macchi only crossed the coast, flying at low altitude over Kalafrana and Hal Far. Bofors gun positions launched a fierce barrage and the Macchi was last seen losing height over Dingli Cliffs.

This afternoon it was the turn of Malta fighters to go on the offensive. Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron headed for Cape Passero on the southernmost point of Sicily, where a formation of twelve Macchi fighters had been reported in the air.  It became clear that the Macchis were protecting a hospital aircraft which was flying at sea level.  The Hurricanes launched an attack and a fierce dogfight ensued, during which three Macchis were destroyed, plus one probable, and two damaged.  Two Hurricanes were shot down; P/O G V Smith and Sgt J C Kimberley are missing.  The Hurricanes turned back towards Malta with the Macchis following close on their tails.  One Hurricane was hit by a bullet during the return flight but otherwise all remaining aircraft returned safely.  Speaking after the engagement, S/Ldr Barton said, “This is the toughest engagement I have experienced to date: the Macchis just stayed and fought.” 

Then in the early hours of this morning two enemy bombers took advantage of the approach of Wellington bombers to reach the Island without interception. High explosive bombs were dropped in the sea and incendiaries over Kalafrana and Marsaxlokk before two Malta night fighters can intercept.  Searchlights illuminate one of the bombers and the Hurricanes engage, shooting it down in flames into the sea, to “the cheers of half of Malta” according to one eye-witness.  Two crew members were seen to bale out of the bomber but after a thorough search only one could be found and rescued.

The bombers in tonight’s raid were later identified as Cant Z 1007s. This is the first known incident of the bomber being used in night raids over Malta.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1043-1115 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island. 12 Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled and attack the formation 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, shooting down four Macchis and damaging another.  Nine Hurricanes 185 Squadron also engage the raiders out to sea, shooting down one. One Macchi crosses the coast and flies over the Island at low altitude.  Bofors gun positions at Kalafrana and Hal Far engage, both claiming hits, and the Macchi is observed losing height over Dingli Cliffs.

1546 hrs  Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron engage 12 Macchi 200 fighters five miles off Cape Passero. Three Macchis are destroyed, plus one probable, and two damaged.  Two Hurricanes are shot down; P/O Smith and Sgt Kimberley are reported missing.  The Macchis follow the Hurricanes back towards Malta.  One Hurricane is struck by a bullet during the return flight. 

0443-0530 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island with incoming Wellington bombers. The raiders drop high explosive bombs in the sea at Delimara Point, and incendiaries over Kalafrana and in fields near Marsaxlokk.  Searchlights illuminate a bomber which is engaged by Hurricane fighters and shot down in flames into the sea. Two crew bale out; one wounded man is rescued and taken prisoner.  The bomber is later identified as a Cant Z1007, the first time that this type has been identified over Malta at night.

Military casualties  Sergeant John E Jones, wireless operator/air gunner, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Lewis D Parry, observer, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant Walter H Wallace, pilot, RAFVR, 107 Squadron; Sergeant James C Kimberley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 249 Squadron; Pilot Officer George V Smith, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Sergente Luigi Contarini, 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; Pilot Sottotenente Andrea Della Pasqua, 9o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; Pilot Tenente Colonello Carlo Romagnoli, Tenente Colonello, Commander of 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol in Straits of Messina having sunk a schooner Q ship.  Vichy convoys and a hospital ship were sighted but nothing else.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance of Kerkennah area, western Ionian Sea and Tripoli.  Two Fulmars patrolled Catania, Gerbini and Comiso; bombs dropped on Comiso and Catania. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Three Swordfish, two with torpedoes and one with a mine, left for Tripoli to attack shipping outside harbour. No shipping was located but a mine was laid outside the harbour; torpedoes were not released.  38 Squadron 13 Wellingtons attacked motor transport depot destroying several buildings and starting fires. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked shipping and port facilities Crotone Harbour.  Enemy fire blew off the wing of Sgt Wallace’s Blenheim and the aircraft crashed, killing the crew. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion held a defence scheme exercise in conjunction with the Fortress Royal Engineers and troops of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers.  ‘Enemy parachute troops’ attacked targets in Corrodino, the Dockyard, Floriana and Valletta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 37 (1 x 500kg; 36 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on September 4, 2021 in 1941, September 1941

 

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3 September 1941: Malta Swordfish Blow Up Axis Ammunition Ship

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9 Swordfish attacked convoy

9 Swordfish attacked convoy

ONE AXIS SHIP SUNK, OTHERS DAMAGED IN CONVOY STRIKE

Swordfish aircraft from Malta sank a 6000 ton Italian steamer loaded with ammunition overnight, as well as badly damaging two other ships. The nine Swordfish took off late last night under cover of darkness on a search for a reported enemy convoy sailing southwards out of the port of Naples.  At just after midnight they located the 6000 ton steamers Andrea Gritti, Riallto, Vettor Pisani, Francesco Barbaro and Sabastiano Venier escorted by four destroyers to the south south east of Cape Spartivento. 

The Swordfish released eight torpedoes at the transport ships. Andrea Gritti immediately exploded and sank.  Francesco Barbaro was damaged and taken in tow by the destroyer Dardo to be nursed into the port of Messina.  At least one other of the merchant ships is believed to have been badly damaged in the attack.  All of the Swordfish returned safely to base.

PRISONERS OF WAR

From: Governor & Commander in Chief, Malta                            To: War Office

I regret to report that the following military ranks are missing, believed prisoners of war:

  • Lt Dudley R Schofield, Royal Fusiliers
  • Sgt Derek J De Nobriga, XRRC
  • L/Sgt Robert H Brown, London Scottish
  • L/Cpl John E A Ferguson, London Scottish
  • L/Cpl Frank C Morgan, Royal Fusiliers
  • L/Cpl Luke J Morris, Royal Ulster Rifles
  • L/Cpl Albert M Andrews

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1120 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve enemy aircraft which approach from the north east to within 50 miles of the Island. 20 Hurricanes fighters are scrambled but only one of the raiders continues its approach as far as 10 miles off the coast before turning back.  A single fighter then crosses the Island at 16000 feet on reconnaissance. 

2315-2336 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft approaching from the north west. No attack is made.  Two Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not engage.

0040-0115 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach from the south and drop bombs on the south east of the Island. Two Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not engage.

0154-0328 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the east. Bombs are dropped on Grand Harbour, Paola and the north of the Island.  Incendiary and high explosive bombs are dropped on the north east side of Ta Qali aerodrome, damaging one Hurricane by splinters and bursting a water main outside the Officers’ Mess.  Bombs are dropped in the Hal Far area, slightly wounding two gunners at a light anti-aircraft gun position; one bomb fails to explode.  Two Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not engage.

0500-0535 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching from the north. Searchlights are active in the north of the Island.  No aircraft cross the coast.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  3 Swordfish left for Tripoli and released one torpedo and bombs at a destroyer outside harbor; one hit claimed with a torpedo and one with bombs.

AIR HQ Departures 3 Beaufighter. Blenheim carries out patrol to the north west.  69 Squadron  Photo-reconnaissances of railway east of Tripoli, and Messina-San Giovanni area.  5 Blenheims despatched to attack a convoy. 105 Squadron  5 Blenheims searched for convoy; no sighting. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 3 Swordfish destroyed tanker outside Tripoli harbour and attacked other shipping in area.  2 Fulmars on patrol over Gerbini   and Catania machine-gunned aircraft on the ground at Gerbini and dropped bombs on the aerodrome.  One Fulmar’s petrol tank was pierced by a bullet and it had to ditch in the sea north of St Paul’s Bay; the crew were rescued unhurt.  

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A new Officers Club opened this evening in Valletta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 31.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  0800-1230 hrs Training exercise; anti-parachutist training.

 

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

 

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1 September 1941: Malta is New Base for 10th Submarine Flotilla

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RAID SUMMARY AUGUST 1941

  • No of air raid alerts 30
  • No of raids 25 (including 18 night raids)
  • Days without air raid alerts 15
  • Total time under alert 18 hours 38 mins
  • Average length of alert 38 mins
  • Civilians killed by enemy action 5; injured 5
  • Buildings destroyed/badly
HMS Upholder

HMS Upholder

FLOTILLA COMMAND AT MANOEL ISLAND

A new 10th Submarine Flotilla has been formed with its base at Malta.  ‘U’ Class submarines have been operating from the Island for some time, carrying out successful operations against enemy convoys.  These smaller submarines, such as Unbeaten, Upholder, Upright and Ursula, have been found to be more suited to conditions in the Mediterranean.  Leading 10th Flotilla will be Commander George W G Simpson who has been appoint to the command of HMS Talbot, the submarine base at Manoel Island, Malta

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

1039-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north and cross the coast over St Paul’s Bay without dropping any bombs. Selected gun emplacements fire pointer rounds.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not engage.

2111-2206 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy bombers which approach singly from the north east and drop incendiary bombs plus a small number of high explosives across Marsa, Hamrun, Gudja, Pembroke Ranges and Island Bay, and in the sea north of St George’s. High explosive bombs are dropped on Pembroke Ranges.  One bomb falls on a tennis court at Sliema.  Four people are slightly wounded in the raid.  It is believed that they did not go into a shelter.  Three Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.  P/O Robertson crashes on landing; he is unhurt. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  5 Swordfish searched area to eastward for northbound convoy without success. Upholder returned from interception of convoy east of Tripoli.  Convoy sighted and attacked without success.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Beaufighter, 5 Blenheim. Departures 2 Beaufighter, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Reconnaissance east Tunisian coast.   Special search by Blenheim.  2 Fulmars offensive patrol Gerbini-Comiso area dropped incendiaries on Gerbini and Augusta. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli power station dropped bombs and incendiaries causing damage and fires. 105 Squadron 7 Blenheims attacked chemical works, ship and railway in southern Calabria.  5 Hurricanes fitted with cannon despatched on a special railway patrol near Pozallo Railway Station.  They dived on a train and attacked from the rear, hitting the engine and driver’s cabin.  Coaches in the station were also hit.  Machine-gun fire retaliated from both sides of the line; Sgt Parker’s windscreen was hit by one bullet.   

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion took over 4 Bren carriers. They will undergo 2 weeks’ maintenance training under the Malta Tank Troops billeted by us, before being used in C Company sector.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 3 (2kg incendiary)

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  14 other ranks disembarked and posted to SWS Malta.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 25 officers, 8 WO1, 189 other ranks.

 

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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in 1941, September 1941, Uncategorized

 

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28 August 1941: Malta on Full Alert as E-boat Engines Heard Offshore

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Defence post 1ATROOPS MAN BEACH AND HARBOUR DEFENCE POSTS

Malta troops were ordered to man defensive positions to prepare for a possible enemy E-boat invasion. The sound of motor boat engines was heard off the coast of Gozo just after 11 o’clock last night.  8th Battalion Manchester Regiment, currently stationed on the Island, were ordered to ‘stand to’ at all beach defence posts.  Shortly before midnight a message was immediately relayed to Malta, where beach posts were also quickly ordered to ‘stand to’.  All artillery positions defending Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour were ordered to man their guns.  Troops remained on red alert until daylight today when they were stood down.  Military chiefs confirmed today that boats had approached the Island but had not come within range of the coastal guns.    

NIGHTLY RAIDS ON TRIPOLI FROM MALTA – WAR CABINET REVIEW 21-28 AUGUST

Attacks were made on Tripoli on five nights. Wellingtons operating from Malta made a total of 52 sorties and dropped over 86 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs.  These attacks, which were most successful, were concentrated on the harbour area and on military stores and supply dumps.  Direct hits were made on quay warehouses, which were probably destroyed, and some very extensive fires were reported in the harbour and in a military supply dump area.  Damage was also caused to shipping and harbour installations, and one merchant vessel was revealed to have a broken back and sank alongside Spanish Quay. 

Some successful attacks were carried out against shipping plying between Sicily and the African Coast. Two Blenheims made three hits on a 4000 ton merchant vessel north east of Kerkennah, which was claimed to be sunk.  Unfortunately, one of these aircraft hit the mast and crashed in flames.  Two schooners with an escort vessel were attacked and destroyed by four Blenheims in the Gulf of Sidra.   On another occasion a bomb exploded on the deck of a merchant vessel of 1000 tons, and a schooner was machine-gunned and left sinking.  Other Blenheims, unable to locate any enemy shipping, made an attack on lorries travelling on the Tripoli-Benghazi road.  A night attack on 27-28 August by Navy Swordfish resulted in one hit on a vessel of 8000 tons; this was followed by flashes and a red glow.

The enemy made two minor attacks on Malta by night. On the second of these, two aircraft believed to be JU 88 bombers, were seriously damaged by Hurricanes.  During daylight on 26 August, nine Macchi 200s were intercepted by Hurricanes 50 miles from the Island; three were shot down, one falling onto a village in Sicily, and two others probably destroyed, for the loss of one Hurricane.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 AUGUST TO DAWN 29 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

0625 hrs  Troops on beach defence posts are ordered to ‘Stand down’.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Marianna Vella, age 42; Mary Vella, age 14; Carmela Vella, age 11; Andrew Bella, age 7; Carmel Vella, age 4; Teresa Vella, age 3.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. Departures 3 Blenheim, 2 Hurricane, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland searches of Ionian Sea, photoreconnaissance of Tripoli and patrols eastern Sicilian and east Calabrian coasts.  F/O Warburton dropped two 40lb bombs on buildings 10 miles west of Homs scoring direct hits and two more on barrack blocks south of Homs scoring a direct hit. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims sent to attack merchant ships scoring several hits.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 40 (2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on August 28, 2021 in 1941, August 1941

 

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27 August 1941: Malta Convoy Ships Armed to Face Western Mediterranean

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Maritime Artillery Bofors gun (c) IWMA16249

Maritime Artillery Bofors gun (c) IWMA16249

MALTA GUNNERS JOIN CREW AND SHOOT DOWN ATTACKING AIRCRAFT

Gunners from the Malta Garrison were sent aboard two merchant ships to help defend the vessels against enemy attacks in the western Mediterranean, it was revealed today. The merchantmen were returning to Gibraltar after delivering their cargoes to Malta last month under ‘Operation Substance’. 

In a telegram to the War Office in London, the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief confirmed that eight-man Bofors gun crews supplied by the Malta Garrison embarked on SS City of Durham on Saturday, and on SS Deucalion yesterday.  The Bofors crew on each sailing was joined by nine other ranks of the Maritime Anti-Aircraft Regiment and three personnel from gun crews of the Operation Substance convoy.  Each of the ships was equipped with two Bofors by Malta Command. 

According to radio reports, SS Deucalion was attacked early today by Italian torpedo aircraft.  The Bofors guns were put into action and are reported to have shot down one of the attackers.

37 UNEXPLODED BOMBS REPORTED TODAY

A total of 37 unexploded bombs were reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal today. Reports came from areas along a six-mile path from Zeitun, through Marsa and Hamrun to Birkirkara and Lija.  All the bombs were confirmed as 2kg incendiaries.  28 were found in Msida alone and were probably dropped in the same container.  In nearly every case the Bomb Disposal Officer found that the fuze had fired but had failed to ignite the filling.  Teams of his Section are checking each area for additional bombs before removing all the unexploded incendiaries. (1)

MALTA GARRISON AUGUST 1941

  • Malta Tank Troop
  • Malta Signal Company
  • HQ Fixed Defences
  • HQ Royal Artillery (RA): 4 Coast Regt RA, 17 Defence Regt RA, 12 Defence Regt RA, 1 Coast Regt Royal Malta Artillery (RMA), 26 Defence Regt, 12 GOR, 12 AADC HQ
  • 7 Light Ack Ack Brigade (LAA): 32 LAA Regt RA, 74 LAA Regt RA, 3 LAA Regt RMA, 4 Searchlight Regt RA/RMA
  • 10 Ack Ack Brigade (AA): 2 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regt RMA, 4 HAA Regt RA, 7 HAA Regt RA, 10 HAA Regt RA, 11 HAA Regt RMA
  • Royal Engineers (RE): HQ Fortress RE, 24 Fortress Coy RE, Bomb Disposal Section RE, No 1 Works Coy RE (Malta Territorial Force), No 2 Works Coy RE (Malta Territorial Force), 173 Tunnelling Coy RE, Works Services
  • Northern Infantry Brigade: 4th Bn the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regt), 8th Bn Manchester Regt, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment
  • Southern Infantry Brigade: 1st Bn Hampshire Regt, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt, 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt
  • Central Infantry Brigade: 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt
  • Royal Army Medical Corps: 30 Coy 90 General Hospital, No 45 General Hospital, 15 Field Ambulance, 161 Field Ambulance, 57 Fd Hygiene Section, Convalescent Depot, Medical Stores
  • Royal Army Ordnance Corps: LAD Det (12 Fd Regt RA), 2 Ordnance Depots, 2 Ordnance MT Sub-Depots, 1 Ordnance Ammunition Depot and Sub-Depot, 2 Ordnance Workshops
  • Other: RA CH D (7CE, 6RC), 72 Det Royal Army Pay Corps, Army Dental Corps, QAIMNS, CMP, RTD, Kings Own Malta Regiment Static Group

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 AUGUST TO DAWN 28 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

2305 hrs  The sound of engines is heard off Gozo.

2355 hrs  8th Bn Manchester Regiment is ordered to ‘stands to’ at Gozo beach defence posts.  Reports are received on Malta that a number of enemy motor torpedo boats are in the vicinity of the Island.  Malta beach posts are ordered to ‘Stand to’.

0145 hrs  Orders are issued to all posts firing over Grand Harbour to be ready for ‘Stand to’.

0245 hrs  Central Infantry Brigade orders coastal defence posts surrounding Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour to be manned.

0330 hrs  All posts are now manned.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 AUGUST 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Upholder returned from patrol off Marittimo, having sunk a ship thought to be Italian Fleet Auxiliary Tarvisio, a 2000 ton merchant vessel, and obtained an extremely doubtful hit on a cruiser.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Marittimo-Pantelleria, shipping patrol south of Lampedusa and photoreconnaissance of Comiso, Gerbini and Catania. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims sent on a special sweep of Ionian Sea.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 9 Swordfish attacked a convoy 37 miles north west of Lampedusa. Due to cloud cover only one torpedo was released hitting a merchant ship.  One Swordfish crashed on take-off; crew safe.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 37.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

 

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

 

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