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28 April 1941: Six Destroyers Join Malta Strike Fleet

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OPERATION SALIENT REINFORCES NAVY OPS AGAINST AXIS CONVOYS

HMS Kelly

HMS Kelly

Six destroyers arrived in Malta today to operate as a striking force against Axis supply lines to North Africa. The First Sea Lord reported to the War Cabinet in London today that Operation Salient has now been successfully carried out.  The destroyers Kelly, Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling, Jersey, and Jackal left Gibraltar yesterday as Force S, making a decoy turn towards the Atlantic before doubling back eastwards and through the Mediterranean for Malta.  The light cruiser HMS Gloucester is also remaining at Malta with the strike force.

Breconshire sailed from Malta today after a rapid unloading of her cargo of supplies. The fast transport ship is escorted on her return to Alexandria by the cruiser Dido, minelayer Abdiel and destroyers Imperial, Jaguar, Jervis and Juno. Imperial has just completed repairs after being damaged by a mine last October.  Destroyer Janus is remaining at Malta for repairs.

DOCKYARD DEFENCE BATTERY DISBANDED

The Dockyard Defence Battery is to be disbanded after 1 year and 283 days of service. Members have been given the option of joining as regular soldiers the Royal Malta Artillery which has now assumed responsibility for the guns.  Three members of the Battery were recommended awards in January for their bravery under fire during the attacks on HMS Illustrious.  Lt F W Angle was awarded the Military Cross, Sgt L Apap and Bombardier G Balzan were each awarded the Military Medal.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 APRIL TO DAWN 29 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

0906 hrs  Six destroyers and two cruisers enter Grand Harbour.

0920-0935 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 which crosses the coast at Marsaxlokk at 20000 feet on reconnaissance before turning away over Spinola Bay. Three escorting ME 109 fighters are engaged by Hurricanes; one is probably destroyed.

1105-1205 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 with an escort of three ME 109s which carries out reconnaissance at 20000 feet over the Island.

2050-2200 Air raid alert for approximately 30 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, and in twos and threes. They drop mines and bombs on the Dockyard, Grand Harbour and Valletta areas causing damage to Dockyard buildings and civilian property.  Bombs fall near a defence post manned by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, killing one Fusilier and seriously wounding a NCO.  Mines are also laid off Grand Harbour and Tigne.  Bombs are also dropped on the Naxxar area and Ta Qali.  Searchlights illuminate five times and anti-aircraft guns fire predicted barrages between 6000 and 12000 feet; one enemy aircraft is probably destroyed.

0107-0235 hrs  Air raid alert for eight JU 88 bombers escorted by 17 ME 109s which approach the Island from the north and drop mines off Grand Harbour and bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta, Floriana and Senglea, as well as St Julians.  Government property in Valletta is badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns fire 14 barrages.  One JU 88 is shot down by anti-aircraft guns; the crew are seen baling out.  One ME 109 is severely damaged.  13 unexploded bombs are reported in the Rinella area.

Military casualties  Fusilier Harry Edward Hawkins, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties Marsa  Joseph Dimech, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 28 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Operation Salient was successfully carried out. Dido and Abdiel arrived and sailed after unloading certain important stores.  Destroyers of 14th Destroyer Flotilla with Imperial (which had completed repairs after being mined in October 1940) sailed with Breconshire for Alexandria.  Captain (D), 5th Destroyer Flotilla, arrived and remained with six destroyers of his flotilla and Gloucester, as the Malta Force. Janus remained for docking and repairs. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrol eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli was chased out to sea by a fighter; no damage. 148 Squadron Transferred to Middle East; departed for Kabrit. 82 Squadron Arrived Malta.  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar arrived AM and departed later for Middle East. 

HAL FAR  New draft of 25 RAF personnel arrived.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company spent the day on the range on shooting MMG practices.   With the limited amount of ammunition available, ranging and traversing practices were fired.  1700 hrs  Personnel from ‘Picnic’, all from B Company, returned from Gozo and went to new billets in the docks.  At 0115 hrs bombs fell on the billets; all personnel were in shelter and there were no casualties but kit and equipment were damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Acting Lieutenant Colonel G R McMeekan, RE (CO of Fortress Royal Engineers) to be temporary Lieutenant Colonel.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  2 platoons of B Company and one section of 4 Platoon returned from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bombs fall near defence post R15 killing Fusilier H E Hawkins and seriously wounding L/Cpl A Watton, both of HQ Company.

 

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

 

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26 January 1941: Dockyard Defenders to Get Bravery Awards

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THREE ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY MEN PUT FORWARD FOR AWARDS

Military_Cross

Military Cross

Lieutenant Francis William Angle, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Cross

“This officer of the Dockyard Defence Battery was in charge of a MkVI A multiple pom-pom gun which was situated in a most exposed position about 200 years from the berth where HMS Illustrious was when subjected to intense dive-bombing.  He stationed himself on the director tower, and by his excellent example and coolness in the face of heavy bombing, encouraged his men to fire the gun with telling effect on the enemy.”

Sergeant Leone Apap, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Medal

“In the temporary absence of his officer on duty elsewhere, as a member of the Dockyard Defence Battery, he displayed remarkable qualities of leadership, initiative and courage. During the intense dive-bombing attacks on HMS Illustrious, on 19th January 1941, his MkVI A pom-pom developed a series of faults which eventually put the gun out of action.  Instead of applying routine procedures, which would have kept the gun out of action for some considerable time, he sent his detachment, except for three, to a safer place, while he, with the assistance of the three, set about clearing the faults.  This he was successful in doing in a short time, whereupon he reassembled his men, and once again went into action with considerable effect.  This NCO has consistently displayed a devotion to duty, which deserves commendation.”

Military Medal

Military Medal

Bombardier Gerald Balzan, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Medal

During the intense attacks on HMS Illustrious, many large calibre bombs fell within a few yards of the gun position, enveloping it in dust and smoke.  Showers of debris fell all around, and the NCO in charge of the gun became a casualty, together with two other men…Balzan, however, showed considerable courage and initiative, rallying the remaining three men…By his action, Bdr Balzan kept the gun in action until the end of the raid, when he attended to the three casualties.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JANUARY TO DAWN 27 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Fine; partially cloudy.

1528-1535 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island at 10000 feet on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns open fire.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled and attack the JU 88, chasing it back to the coast of Sicily.  The aircraft is last seen with smoke coming from its port engine. 

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Mary Healey, age 66.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Helmut Fund, pilot of reconnaissance JU 88.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 JANUARY 1941

AIR HQ 0540-1330 hrs Sunderland on anti-convoy patrol eastern Tunisian coast with striking force standing by. 0708 hrs sighted one tug and seven barges 72 miles south west of Lampedusa.  The striking force was not despatched owing to existing instructions governing action of aircraft against shipping at sea.  A Cant Z501 seen near the barges dropped bombs in the sea and left when the Sunderland turned towards it.  

LUQA 1330 hrs  69 Squadron (431 Flight):  1 Maryland reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes hampered by bad weather.

(1) Times of Malta, 4 August 2013

 

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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in 1941, January 1941

 

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9 January 1941: First Luftwaffe Bombing Raid on Malta

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JU 87 Stuka

JU 87 Stuka

STUKA DIVE BOMBERS LAUNCH FIRST ATTACK

Luftwaffe bombers today launched their first ever air raid on Malta. Shortly before; sunset this afternoon the air raid alert heralded the approach of nine enemy aircraft from the east.  Minutes later they swooped down over Marsaxlokk and aimed bombs at shipping moored in the Bay: no hits are reported but a trawler is reported to have returned fire.  A Maryland aircraft almost ran into the receding raiders as he returned to Luqa from a reconnaissance mission; however, he managed to land safely.

Observers at Kalafrana airfield identified the aircraft as German JU 87 Stukas. This is the first attack by aircraft of Fliegerkorps X which has been stationed in Sicily since last month.

SWORDFISH REINFORCEMENTS

Five Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers took off from HMS Ark Royal in the Mediterranean to fly on to Malta.  The manoeuvre was part of Operation Excess, the latest supply convoy operation organised by the Mediterranean Fleet.  The fly off of Swordfish reinforcements followed the rendezvous in the western Mediterranean of Ark Royal and the Fleet’s ‘Force H’ which will cover the approach of four more merchant ships to Malta.

DOCKYARD DEFENCE BATTERY NOW A MILITARY UNIT

The Dockyard Defence Battery which has put up a determined effort in the fight against enemy aircraft has now been established as 30th Light Ack Ack Battery.  Officers of the Battery are now in full-time military employment.  The Governor and Commander in Chief is taking steps for suitable financial allowances to be allocated to serving personnel.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JANUARY TO DAWN 10 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Clear and fine.

1007-1025 hrs  Air raid alert for a total of 15 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island in three formations. While most remain at 12-14000 feet, a formation of six dive down over Luqa and launch a machine-gun attack on the aerodrome.  Three Wellingtons are holed by bullets but none is badly damaged.  Five raiders then cross the coast and fly in a straight line from Zonqor towards Birkirkara.  

Malta fighters are scrambled and ground defences open fire. Four enemy aircraft are shot down by Hurricanes and one by anti-aircraft fire.  Three enemy aircrew are seen to bale out in different locations and one raider crashes two miles out to sea off Della Grazia.  One enemy air crewman is picked up from the sea and taken to military hospital.  One Hurricane lands at Hal Far during the raid.

1614 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of nine enemy dive-bombers approaching the Island from the east, three of them clearly identified as JU 87 Stukas. As they circle round to the south, a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft approaches Luqa from the South East but turns away.  The Stukas dive down over Marsaxlokk and target bombs on shipping moored in the bay; no damage is reported.  A trawler opens fire and reports hitting one enemy aircraft (unconfirmed).  One bomb explodes on land near a gun position with no damage or casualties.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept the bombers.  They spot a further formation of 12 CR 42s but these are too high to intercept.

1635 hrs  The Maryland circles Luqa again before landing safely. One of the crew is injured.

1654 hrs  All clear.

1755-1810 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the north east, then circles to the south. Three Hurricanes are airborne on patrol but no raid materialises.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Luigi Armanino, 88a Squadriglia, 6o Gruppo, 1o Stormo, Macchi 200 fighter pilot shot down and wounded, rescued and taken to hospital as a prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 JANUARY 1941

AIR HQ 0600-1312 hrs Sunderland closing patrol between Sicily and Sardinia for enemy shipping movements. 0550-1400 hrs Sunderland on patrol western Ionian Sea for enemy shipping. 1038-1400 Maryland reconnaissance Taranto. 1026-1613 hrs Maryland photographic reconnaissance Messina and Naples and investigate damage done by Wellingtons 148 Squadron;   faced three attacks by seven enemy fighters at Naples; too evasive action, some shots exchanged, no damage.  1007-1414 hrs  Maryland recce Cagliari, Trapani and Castelvetrano: Trapani aerodrome one SM 79, 20-30 fighters; Castelvetrano aerodrome one SM 17, one large biplane and three CR 42s.   

ROYAL NAVY  Operation MC 4 in progress.

LUQA  431 Flight: 1 Maryland reconnaissance Messina and Naples attacked by 7 Macchi 200s.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  St Georges fire trap commenced by 24 Fortress Company.

 

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Posted by on January 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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