Tag Archives: Fleet Air Arm

11 August 1942: Axis Air Forces Massing in the Med


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Heinkel HE 111


Malta photo-reconnaissance pilots are reporting large concentrations of torpedo-carrying aircraft at Cagliari, Decimomannu and Pantelleria, accompanied by a corresponding number of fighters.  An unusual number of E Boats and MAS have also appeared in Trapani and Pantelleria.  They also report a significant increase in German aircraft, including 30 JU 88s, 20 Heinkel IIIs and their transports, JU 52s, a Gotha 242 and three DFS 230 gliders.


Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

     0620 hrs  An enemy aircraft reports sighting of the Malta convoy.

     0645 hrs  Ashanti, Ledbury, Zetland, Wilton, Bramham, Bicester, Foresight and Derwent commence fuelling off Gibraltar.

     0732 hrs  Vice-Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic warns convoy commander Vice Admiral Syfret that German reconnaissance aircraft are active in the Western Mediterranean.

Convoy aircraft carriers


0800 hrs  Coltsfoot, one of the corvettes screening the refuelling operation, reports that two torpedoes have been observed position 37 degrees 56 mins north, 1 degree 40 mins east.

0815 hrs  Radar contact alerts the convoy to the presence of enemy reconnaissance aircraft.  Two sections of four fighters from the convoy take to the air and patrol in turn throughout the day. Enemy JU 88s are flying at 20,000 feet or more, making it difficult to intercept.

0839 hrs  German submarine Uarsciek which has been shadowing the convoy overnight surfaces sends a radio signal to Rome.

1015-1105 hrs  Air raid alert for 21 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled: they sight enemy fighters but make no contact.

        1055 hrs  A message informs Syfret that a report of the convoy has been broadcast by Rome to “all units and stations”.

        1128 hrs  Nelson and Charybdis report probable torpedo discharges, at about 3 miles.

        1218 hrs  Aircraft carrier Furious, screened by Lightning and Lookout moves out to the port quarter of the convoy for Operation ‘Bellows’  –       the delivery of Spitfires to Malta.

        1229 hrs  Two flights of eight Spitfires are flown off the carrier.

Eagle is hit


1315 hrs  Eagle is hit on the port side by four torpedoes, fired from German submarine U 73, all within an interval of about 10 seconds.  Her engine rooms are damaged and boiler rooms flooded.  Operation Bellows is suspended while Lookout and Laforey are ordered to stand by Eagle.  Tug Jaunty also proceeds immediately towards the stricken carrier.

1323 hrs  Eagle heels rapidly over to port and sinks.  Laforey, Lookout and Jaunty pick up 927 survivors of a crew of 1160.

1350-1410 hrs  Operation Bellows resumes and the rest of the 38 Spitfires are flown off Furious.  One has a defect and lands on Indomitable.

1410-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1420-1430 hrs  Enemy aircraft approach from the starboard beam and pass directly over the convoy at a great height but do not attack – believed to be photo-reconnaissance.  Eagle’s survivors are transferred to Keppel, Venomous and Malcolm.

1634 hrs  Syfret receives a message warning that the enemy will probably make a JU 88 attack at dusk.  The convoy is made ready to put up a screen of anti-aircraft fire.

1410-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1515-1600 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the arrival of Spitfires at Malta: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

1710-1805 hrs; 1746-1800 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on patrol: nothing to report.  Seven delivery Spitfires arrive at Hal Far: one is slightly damaged on landing.  The air raid alert sounds, probably for friendly aircraft.

1810 hrs  36 Spitfires are reported to have landed safely in Malta.

1825-2350 hrs  Nine Beaufighters of 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali, their mission to shoot up Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes in Sardinia.  They carry out a low-flying attack; most of the aircraft exhaust their ammunition on widely dispersed aircraft.  At Elmas, one hangar and two multi-engined aircraft are set on fire and planes badly damaged.  At Decimomannu, two Liberators and two Wellingtons co-operate in the attack.  All bombs are seen to burst on the aerodrome.  Five multi-engined aircraft are set on fire, of which two explode, and several others are seriously damaged.  Fires could be seen from up to 20 miles away.  Some of the Beaufighters are hit by splinters but are still serviceable.

1700-2045 hrs  The convoy is continuously snooped by three or more enemy aircraft, closely monitored by the fleet’s own fighters.

1830 hrs  Transfer of survivors to Keppel, Venomous and Malcolm is achieved.  Operation Bellows completed, five destroyers form a screen for Furious to depart for Gibraltar.

1854 hrs  Syfret orders the Senior Officer of destroyers to station Hunt class destroyers close to the flanks of the convoy by sunset.  In the event of an attack, the screen is to increase distance from the convoy to 6000 yards.

2030 hrs  Syfret receives confirmation that Cairo and 24 destroyers have been refuelled.  Radar reports show that the air raid is approaching.

HMS Victorious


2056 hrs  15 minutes after sunset, 30 JU 88s and six Heinkel 111 torpedo-bombers attack.  Destroyers on the port bow begin firing, followed almost immediately by the cruisers and battleships, and deter the Heinkels.  The JU 88s dive from 8000 feet to 2-300 feet.  Two aim for Victorious dropping two bombs close to her stern but cause no damage; the carrier’s own guns shoot both down.  One JU 88 drops two bombs near the refuelling vessels, one of which falls between the oilers and the escort, another dives on Jaunty but she counter-attacks, damaging the bomber with Oerlikon fire.  The convoy barrage is very effective; at least three enemy aircraft are shot down by ships’ gunfire.  No damage was done to any ships.  During the raid, radar picks up evidence of some submarine activity and three depth charge attacks are made by Quentin.

The convoy’s fighters are airborne to intercept the attackers but are unable to engage them due to poor light.  Some friendly fighters attempting to return to their carriers are fired on by their own ships.

2300-2340 hrs; 0005-0045 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for eight aircraft which approach Malta singly. Bombs are dropped on the Zabbar area.

Military casualties  Leading Air Fitter Peter Jones, HMS St.Angelo.

Operation Pedestal casualties CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.


ROYAL NAVY  Hythe escorted P31 and P34 from Marsamxett to end of searched channel. Submarines then proceeded on patrol and Hythe anchored at Marsaxlokk.  A Baltimore on reconnaissance sighted Force Y 30 miles 090 degrees from Kuriat.The disposition of Italian Naval Units as ascertained by reconnaissance aircraft during the day was as follows: Taranto one Littorio and three Cavour battleships; Messina, two cruisers; Naples, one cruiser.  Otus sailed and proceeded to Gibraltar.

HMS Matchless


For Operation Pedestal Force Y, consisting of M/Vs Troilus and Orari escorted by Matchless and Badsworth sailed at 2030 hrs. Two Motor Launches escorted this force to a point one hour’s steaming from the end of the swept channel and then returned to Marsaxlokk where they anchored for the night.  Enemy warships were reported as having sailed from Cagliari at 2345 hrs, and to be steaming E at 25 knots.

AIR HQ  One Wellington attacked an enemy naval force consisting of two cruisers and two destroyers in position 295 degrees Cape San Vito, Sicily, 60 miles course 90 degrees, speed 20 knots.  Four 500lb bombs were dropped, straddling one cruiser.

Arrivals  Three Liberators, two Wellingtons from Shallufa; two Spitfires from Middle East; one Beaufort, two Marylands from LG 226; 37 Spitfires from Navy operation.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter suffers engine failure and crashes into the sea; crew uninjured.  One Spitfire pilot misjudges the runway; pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4.  Dealt with: 1 High Explosives, delayed-action (500kg).

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Posted by on August 11, 2022 in 1942, August 1942


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22 May 1942: Honours for Malta’s Civil Defence Heroes

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Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood        St James’ Palace, SW1, 22nd May 1942

The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the undermentioned appointments to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and for the following awards of the British Empire Medal to the persons named below for their brave conduct in Civil Defence in Malta:-

Air Raid Precautions Zabbar

To be An Additional Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-

Charles Henry Sansom, CMG, Air Raid Precautions Officer, Malta  It is mainly due to the leadership and administrative ability of Mr Sansom that his department has consistently performed magnificent work and shown itself capable of standing up to very severe tests during the enemy air raids on Malta.  His courage and energy have been an example to all.

To be Additional Members of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-

Louis Demajo Albanese, Superintendent of Passive Defence, Malta  For two years Superintendent Albanese has been in charge of an Air Raid Precautions Centre which has functioned rapidly and efficiently under his courageous leadership.

Anthony Attard, Telephone Engineer, Malta  Mr Attard has shown consistent skill and initiative in the expansion of the telephone service to meet war requirements.  Air raids have caused considerable damage to cables and Mr Attard has shown courage when effecting repairs which involved exposure to danger.

John Attard, Mains Engineer, Electricity Branch, Water and Electricity Department, Malta  During the intense air raids on the Island breakages in the electricity mains have occurred in many places almost every day.  Mr Attard and his gangs have worked untiringly day and night, often to have their work brought to nothing by further bombing almost as soon as it was completed.  He has shown splendid devotion to duty and his work has contributed to the Island’s resistance by ensuring that interruptions of electric power have been reduced to a minimum.

Charles Jones, Superintendent of Passive Defence, Malta  Mr Jones has shown consistent and marked leadership, resolution and efficiency while in charge of Sliema ARP Centre.  On numerous occasions he has displayed personal courage and it is due to his example that the Centre in his charge has on all occasions performed its work rapidly and efficiently.

Arthur Mortimer, Senior Engineer, Water Branch, Water and Electricity Department, Malta  In conditions of acute difficulty, Mr Mortimer has been responsible for maintaining the water supply for the Island.  Recently difficulties have greatly increased and the Water Branch has been under continuous strain.  It is largely due to Mr Mortimer’s ability and example that the Water Service has been run with such conspicuous success.


Francis Calleja, Passive Defence Reservist, Malta; Caneelo Galea, Passive Defence Reservist, Malta  A man was trapped in the basement of a house which had been demolished by a bomb.  All entrances to the basement were blocked but Calleja and Galea managed to reach him through a small ventilator.  Although there was serious danger of all three being trapped and crushed by a further fall of masonry the two Reservists succeeded in rescuing the victim.

Vivian Charles Byers Degrey, Inspector of Police, Malta  Inspector Degrey has displayed outstanding ability and calmness in periods of crisis.  He has been in charge of a squad of constables who volunteered to carry out certain defence work on aerodromes.  It is due to his courage and leadership in the face of numerous attacks by the enemy that the work has progressed satisfactorily.


Weather  Wind south-westerly.

0715-0830 hrs  The alert is raised for an incoming formation of enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no engagement.

0808-0840 hrs  Another formation of fighters is plotted approaching the Island.  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They climb to 22000 feet and are then recalled.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but do not engage; they land at 0925 hrs.

1054-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: none are sighted.

1100-1200 hrs  A further alert for incoming ME 109s, including five fighter-bombers which drop bombs on Hal Far and Misrah Blandun.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and intercept two Messerschmitts off Kalafrana.  P/O McNair destroys one.

1617 hrs  Four ME 109s make a reconnaissance flight over Hal Far.

1920-2010 hrs  A formation of 17 enemy aircraft approaches the Island.  Four aircraft drop bombs on the Kalafrana and Hal Far areas while the remaining fighters carry out a sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: Sgt Dodd probably destroys one ME 109.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron and four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but report no interceptions.  One Spitfire 603 Squadron is slightly damaged.

2030-2310 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol from Luqa: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2045 hrs  Two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.

2310-0240 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: no combat.

0305-0500 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: destroys one BR 20 and probably destroys another.

0324 hrs  Two hostile aircraft approach from the north at 17000 feet and drop bombs in the sea and at Ta Silch.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.  A Beaufighter is airborne and destroys one Br 20 and probably destroys a second.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Michael McCluskey, Royal Naval Volunteer Resereve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Hudson, one Lodestar from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore failed to return from operations: crew missing.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa: 2 Officers and 50 men on pen-building; 2 Officers 50 men crater-filling; 1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Reveille is put forward to 0600 hrs.  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 9 (1 x 500kg, 7 x 250kg, 1 x Italian AP bomb container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued – aerodrome tasks now from early morning to mid-day.  1800 hrs  Brigade Observation Post at Tal Minsia handed over to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.

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Posted by on May 22, 2022 in 1942, May 1942


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23 February 1942: Malta’s medical Supplies Running Out

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From:  Governor & C in C Malta                                                   To:  The War Office

1.  Government medical stocks are estimated generally speaking to last four (repeat four) months with the exception of certain item very urgently required which were specified in my COSUP 51631 of 26/1 to Crown Agents and for which I have requested despatch by air.  Other items of which we have less than three months supply are specified in monthly lists and should be accorded priority of shipment.  I have consulted the pharmaceutical profession regarding stocks of medical stores held by chemists and a survey of their stock position is now being undertaken.  Result of survey will form subject of a further telegram…



Having left Malta on 16 February on a mission to attack a large convoy aiming to supply Axis forces in Tripoli, HMS P38 was attempting to attack the convoy to the north of Tripoli when she herself was attacked and forced to surface.  Further gunfire and depth charges sank the submarine, with the loss of all 32 hands. (1)


Weather  Mixed: rather cold; wind stronger.  Low cloud later; wind south west.

0758-0832 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters approach from the north, circle the Island, then recede.

0920-1005 hrs  18 enemy aircraft approach from the north.  One JU 88 bomber crosses over Grand Harbour, apparently on reconnaissance.  Fighter-bombers attack the Hal Far area.  Various small formations of ME 109s patrol the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Bombs are dropped near Tal Papa; one explodes close to a gun position, killing two Other Ranks of the Royal Artillery, and injuring three.  The gun and predictor are put out of action.

1024-1047 hrs  Two ME 109s approach from the north, apparently on patrol.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne; guns do not engage.

1122 hrs  Eight JU 88s, three ME 109 fighter bombers and fifteen escorting fighters approach from the north and attack Ta Qali, Kalafrana, Luqa and Safi.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, claiming two hits and shooting down one JU 88.  The aircraft catches fire and pitches into the sea three miles out, west of Filfla: three bale out and one is rescued by 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1240 hrs  Ten Hurricanes of 185 Squadron are airborne  and attack two JU 88s and six ME 109s: claiming two JU 88s damaged; and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One Hurricane crash lands at Hal Far.

1246 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Safi landing strip, killing one Other Rank of 4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment, and injuring another two.

1339 hrs  All clear.

1409-1442 hrs  Eight ME 109s and two unidentified aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no fighters are airborne.

1500 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled.

1528-1821 hrs  Twelve ME 109s approach the Island in two formations.

1540 hrs  The first formation dives on Ta Qali and drops twelve bombs, damaging the Guard Room, Billet No 15, blackouts and motor transport vehicles.  LAC Calton is injured and later dies in hospital.  The eleven Hurricanes attack four ME 109s: no claims.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

The second formation makes a complete circuit of the Island: four come in over Ghain Tuffieha and drop two bombs.

1700-1800 hrs  ME 109s search for their own aircraft in distress.

1800 hrs  Two JU 88s come in at 10000 feet and drop bombs in French Creek and on the Safi strip.  No barrage is fired due to the proximity of own fighters.

1907-1920 hrs  Two bombers approach the Island, drop bombs in the sea ten miles to the north and recede.

2046-2056 hrs  One aircraft comes to within 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, apparently on a search, then recedes north.

2127-0229 hrs  Eleven enemy bombers come in, crossing and re-crossing the coast at various points.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Grand Harbour, near Ghar Lapsi, near Bubaqra observation point, near Gudja, in Kalafrana area, Ta Qali and Luqa areas, on Ta Karach Heavy Ack Ack position (causing one slight injury), near Hal Far, on the Safi strip, in the sea off Delimara and on Marfa Ridge.  Twelve barrages are fired.

0330-0400 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north, drops eight bombs on the coast near St Georges, crosses the Island and recedes northwards over Gozo.

0421-0508 hrs  One aircraft crosses the coast three times at various points and is barraged twice.  Bombs fall in the sea east of Qawra Tower before the aircraft recedes north.

0536-0601 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north and is barraged, causing him to drop his bombs four miles east of Torri L’Ahmar.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Michael Holdsworth and Sub-Lieutenant Norman Clark, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (shot down overnight: 24/2/1942); LAC Douglas Calton, Royal Air Force; Private Thomas Frampton, 4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Gunner Sidney Atkins, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance-Bombardier Harold Glover, 74th LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, aged 30 years.

Enemy casualties  Werner Wonde.


AIR HQ  Departures  One Flamingo to Heliopolis; three Blenheims to Mersa Matruh.

HAL FAR  Night 23/24th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack anchored ships of the coast of Tripoli.  The ships were not sighted; aircraft returned to base with torpedoes.  Weather: visibility one mile; hazy.  Three more Albacores 830 Squadron despatched to attack same ships.  S/Lt Cramp crashed soon after take-off: crew unhurt.  S/Lt Holdsworth was shot down off Tripoli.  Missing crew: S/Lt Holdsworth, pilot, S/Lt Clark – observer.  The third aircraft did not sight the ships and returned to base.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.  37 Squadron  One Wellington despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  No shipping located.  Aircraft bombed main quay.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties on Luqa 140 men.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Mortar platoon took over camps at Dingli and Rabat.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs near C and D Companies and in Siggiewi area during the night.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.   

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

(1)  Further information on the sinking of P 38

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Posted by on February 23, 2022 in 1942, February 1942


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13 October 1941: Malta Faces Harsher Rationing as Convoy Situation Worsens

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Bread essential for morale, say experts

Bread essential, experts say


The supply of Malta by sea is now under severe threat: that is the conclusion now reached by the Island’s high command. Several important foodstuffs have become increasingly scarce since July, especially meat, and the Island is now facing the prospect of further shortages.  A conference of experts has been convened to discuss ways to make food stocks last longer between supply convoys. 

Their initial report reveals that the poorest in Malta rely mainly “on bread, edible oil, sugar and tinned milk. Tinned meat and tinned fish are extensively used for eating with bread.  Kerosene is universally used for cooking.” (1)

Asked to review possibilities for further rationing, or at least economies, in food consumption, they report: “The rations of coffee, tinned meat and tinned fish are very tight and could not be reduced without causing hardship.  Similarly no material reduction could be made in the rations of soap and matches.  A small reduction could be made in the ration of fats and edible oil, perhaps saving 150 tons a year.  The ration of sugar could, if necessary, be reduced, although sugar is a most important item in the diet of the Maltese, especially in the case of children…  The ration of kerosene is very strict considering that all cooking and heating is normally done with kerosene and that it is also very commonly used for lighting.

The main imported commodities which are not rationed are cheese, tinned milk, frozen meat, rice, tea, flour and bread… Butter has not been rationed because stocks are large…  Tea has not been rationed because it is only consumed by a comparatively small section of the population…  It has been found possible to control cheese and rice satisfactorily without rationing them…Issues of frozen meat have been severely limited, and with the increasing shortage of local meat, this commodity is becoming difficult to obtain… Further economies would be difficult, but the Island could of course subsist entirely on tinned meat if necessary…

Bread is much the most important article of consumption with the people of Malta. It is also a very heavy item in the import programme…  No material reduction in consumption has been attempted…  Such a reduction would not only cause hardship to the poorer classes, it would also have a bad effect on morale…  It is undesirable that any rationing of bread should be attempted…


Weather  Heavy rainstorm early evening.

1122-1140 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters approaching the Island from the north east escorting a reconnaissance aircraft. When the raiders are still 12 miles from Malta, they split into two; six raiders recede and the remaining three cross the coast over Kalafrana to carry out reconnaissance.  Ten Hurricanes are scrambled and the reconnaissance aircraft turns away rapidly.  The Hurricanes chase the raiders back to the Sicilian coast but are unable to catch them.

1444-1500 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north east at great altitude and cross the coast over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to gain sufficient height to intercept. 

0535-0640 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island. Nine cross the coast, split into two formations and dive down to an average height of 400 feet to launch a machine-gun attack on an area from the Cisk factory right across Luqa and the Safi dispersal area.  One bullet hits a Wellington bomber causing slight damage. 

The raiders are engaged at 11000 feet by a heavy anti-aircraft barrage and also by Bofors as well as searchlight and infantry light machine-guns. A Bofors position at Safi hits and damages one Macchi, a Bofors at Luqa hits and damages another two.  A third Bofors at Imsierah hits and damages a fourth.  A light machine-gun manned by 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment at Safi fires a long burst into another Macchi.

Five Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders as they leave their attack. P/O Barnwell of Malta Night Fighter Unit shoots one Macchi fighter down into the sea but then does not return to base.  It is thought his engine may have cut out over the sea.  A search is launched.  


ROYAL NAVY  Thorn left on patrol.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron 1 Maryland patrol north Ionian Sea; 1 Maryland search for convoy; 1 Maryland special patrol. Photoreconnaissance Tripoli. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked motor transport on the Benghazi Road. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington shipping sweep. Fleet Air Arm 1 Fulmar bombed and machine-gunned eastern perimeter of Castel Vetrano aerodrome causing three explosions. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish sent to attack convoy of 2 merchant ships and 2 destroyers south of Lampedusa dropped 5 torpedoes leaving one merchant vessel low in the water and on fire.  

KALAFRANA 0025 hrs Sunderland T9050 landed safely at Kalafrana having lost an airscrew, the controls being also damaged. Captain of the aircraft was F/Lt Milligan of 230 Squadron, with 8 passengers on board.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  His Excellency the Governor & Commander in Chief visited the Battalion.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981


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Posted by on October 13, 2021 in 1941, October 1941


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6 October 1941: 80 per cent of Axis Supplies Sunk by Malta Attacks

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Count Ciano (r) with Hitler & Mussolini

Count Ciano (r) with Hitler & Mussolini


The ongoing success of aircraft and submarine attacks launched from Malta against Axis supply convoys is starving the enemy campaign in North Africa of troops, equipment and food. According to the Italian foreign secretary Count Galeazzo Ciano: “The supplies…are becoming more and more difficult. Only twenty per cent of the material set aside for September has been shipped and delivered.” (1)

Attacks from Malta on targets in southern Italy and Sicily are also having an impact, according to Italian news bulletins:

4 October  “British aircraft attacked Catanzaro Marina in southern Italy in daylight yesterday dropping a certain number of bombs and hitting the railway station and some residential dwellings.  Two people were killed and twelve injured among the civilian population.  Some railway lines were damaged.”

6 October  “Yesterday afternoon British planes were over the town of Catania and dropped a certain number of incendiary bombs and [high] explosive bombs of small calibre.  The bombs caused some damage and killed four civilians.  An enemy bomber and a fighter were shot down by anti-aircraft guns and fighters respectively.”


Weather  Fine and cool.

1946-1957 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but turns away before reaching the coast.


ROYAL NAVY  Ursula returned from patrol south of Messina.  Trento and seven destroyers passed north through the Straits out of range, but an enemy report broadcast was never received. Sokol returned having failed to locate a missing Blenheim crew.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Beaufighter, 13 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron 4 Maryland special patrols. 107 Squadron 1 Blenheim searched for the dinghy of Sgt Hamlyn and crew.  4 Blenheims shipping sweep over Gulf of Syria. Fleet Air Arm 2 Fulmars on offensive patrol over aerodromes in Sicily dropped high explosive bombs on hangars and a slipway at Marsala and incendiaries on Licata, plus high explosive bombs and incendiaries on Gerbini dispersal area.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company carried out firing practice with Vickers guns from beach pill boxes at towed targets; results highly successful.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  ‘Stand to’ periods for static companies at 0500 hrs and 1730 hrs.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  A mine was reported onshore near a beach defence post and reported to the Royal Navy who removed it.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Two detachments gained 1st and 2nd places in an inter-battalion firing competition.

(1) Siege Malta, Ernle Bradford, Pen & Sword 2003


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


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5 October 1941: Malta Urgently Needs Underground Fuel Stores

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From: Governor & C in C Malta                     To:  War Office, copy to C in C Mediterranean

The following for Chiefs of Staff:

A stage in the rearmament of Malta has now been reached where I believe that the Chiefs of Staff should give consideration to the major works which are necessary to complete the defences of this fortress. It has not been possible to advance this problem previously as our main work efforts have been directed for the past 15 months at protecting the population, and this has occupied the major part of our specialised labour force.  It is now possible however to review the problem generally with a view to ensuring that our labour is used for the next two or three years in such a way that the defences of the fortress will be developed in the most efficient manner.



The defence works involved are as follows:

  • (a) Shelters for the civilian population: It is hoped that by the end of November this year every civilian in Malta will have two square feet of bomb-proof shelter. From that time it will then be possible to consider further diversions of labour from this work to the service.  It will be appreciated that the provision of two square feet per person will in no sense complete the shelter scheme and much further work will be required. 
  • (b) The provision of underground workshops in HM Dockyard: These are already underway and will take from two to three years to complete.
  • (c) The construction of an underground supply depot for the Army (work on this has started already)
  • (d) The provision of a secure supply of electricity
  • (e) The provision of an underground flour mill
  • (f) The provision of adequate underground storage for white oils
  • (g) The provision of underground hangars for aircraft
  • (h) The provision of a new Army magazine at Wied-id-Dis
  • (i) The provision of bomb-proof shelters for submarines at Marsamxetto

Labour items for (a) to (f) can be made available; (g) is already underway. It is estimated that items (h) and (i) can be commenced as soon as the remainder of the Government shelter construction scheme is completed.  Items (a), (b) and (c) are already underway. The provision of (d) and (e) are essential requirements of the defence of the Fortress.  Without an underground flour mill our whole scheme to maintain supplies within the Fortress to last eight months may be largely nullified. 

Item (f), the provision of underground oil storage, is my main concern. We need to store about 7000 tons of kerosene, 3500 tons of benzine and 9000 tons of aviation spirit.  These figures cover the whole requirements of the Fortress.  It is hoped that provision will be made for the storage of kerosene by the conversion of No 20 Underground Oil Fuel Tank in HM Dockyard.  No provision yet exists for the bulk storage of benzine.  Storage for 1000 tons of aviation spirit is almost complete at Manoel Island and for 1000 tons of aviation spirit in the Ghar Dalam installation is nearly ready.  This latter installation when completed early next year will provide 2500 tons of storage.  We therefore lack storage for 3500 tons of benzine and 5500 tons of aviation spirit.  The provision of underground tanks to contain these quantities is the most imperative need in the Fortress at the present time.  The present method of importing great quantities of white oils into the Fortress in tins is most wasteful of shipping space and is inviting a major disaster.  At present we have no alternative but to accept this risk but I want to eliminate it as quickly as possible.

I therefore earnestly recommend that the Chiefs of Staff should give approval forthwith for the execution of three Defence Works mentioned in the preceding paragraph. They are our main weaknesses at present and we must overcome them at all cost.  If approval is given detailed plans for the storage of white oils will be forwarded immediately.  The expenditure involved is insignificant compared with the sums of money which have been spent and are being spent on the defences of Malta, yet each of the three works has a major effect on the security of the Fortress as a whole.

Our initial efforts to construct bomb-proof hangars have not been entirely successful owing to the nature of the rock encountered and the Air Officer Commanding therefore prefers to rely on dispersal until we can complete these hangars. They will take much longer than originally anticipated.  I agree with this view.

Items (h) and (i) are essential to complete our defences. I would welcome approval in principle for these works in order to assist our plans for allocating labour.  The lack of these defences is at present being primarily counteracted by the principle of dispersal but this can never provide such a satisfactory solution as bomb-proof cover.  With good fortune we should be able to commence them all before the end of next year. 

Finally I desire to mention the construction of a graving dock for battleships. This is a very great undertaking and at present the Vice Admiral Malta (VAM) considers that the other major defence works to which I have referred in this telegram should be completed before the dock is commenced.  With the experience gained in this war I agree with the VAM that such a dock is an essential adjunct for the maintenance of the Mediterranean Fleet. 

Summed up it is the unanimous view of the senior officers in the Fortress that in order to complete our defences approval should be given forthwith for the schemes covering electricity supply, flour milling and the storage of aviation spirit, and that approval in principle should be given for the construction of major defence works which I have described. I request that an early decision may be given in order to avoid any loss of time in commencing the necessary excavations.      

From: War Office                                 To:  Governor & C in C Malta

Your telegram was considered by Chiefs of Staff. They were of the opinion that you should proceed with the three projects (d), (e) and (f) without delay.  Please therefore forward as soon as possible detailed proposals.


Weather  Fine and cool.

0934-1005 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of three enemy fighters. Only the second formation crosses the Island, passing over Grand Harbour at great altitude.  Five Hurricanes 185 Squadron and twelve 249 Squadron are scrambled but are unable to reach the necessary height for interception.  The raiders recede northwards with no engagement.

1511-1542 hrs  With no prior alert, six enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north, cross the coast at 27000 feet and immediately split up. Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and twelve 249 Squadron are scrambled but again are unable to reach the necessary height to intercept.  Two heavy anti-aircraft guns fire pointer rounds. 

0018-0023 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of friendly aircraft.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Antonia Camilleri, age 24.


AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Bombay. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Sicily, reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour area and convoy. 107 Squadron 2 Blenheims searched for Sgt Hamlyn and crew without success.  2 Blenheims attacked railway installations at Catania. Fleet Air Arm 2 Fulmars on offensive patrol on aerodromes in Sicily.  One attacked Trapani aerodrome and Marsala seaplane base.  The other attacked aerodromes at Gerbini and Catania, dropping high explosive bombs on the Gerbini dispersal area and both aerodromes were machine-gunned at low level.

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Until further notice curfew will be from 2100 hrs to 0545 hrs.


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Posted by on October 5, 2021 in 1941, October 1941


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3 October 1941: German Press Calls for Malta to be ‘Reduced by Constant Attacks’

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The German press is now calling for action to be taken against Malta in response to the Island’s role in attacks on Axis convoys, according to international media today. Under a picture of Grand Harbour, one caption reads: “The British stronghold in the Mediterranean has stood hundreds of enemy air attacks.  A German newspaper states that Malta can be reduced only by constant attacks.  The Luftwaffe recognises that the Island is a problem.”

Claims also appeared in the international press today from the Italian media that the country’s torpedo carrying aircraft sank five British cruisers during their attack on last week’s ‘Operation Halberd’ convoy. The Italians also claim that four merchant ships were torpedoed, at least three of them sunk.

However, the newspaper counters with a statement from the Admiralty in London that one ship of the convoy was damaged in an air attack and was sunk because it could not be towed. One escorting warship, HMS Nelson, was damaged by a torpedo which caused her to reduce speed; there were no casualties.

Utmost nearly rammed by destroyer

Utmost nearly rammed by a destroyer today


Weather  Storms.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned from patrol north of Messina.  Enemy cruisers were sighted, but Utmost was nearly rammed by a destroyer and could not attack.  A 5000 ton merchant vessel was hit off Marittimo. 

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Beaufighter, 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols east Tunisian coast and three special patrols. 107 Squadron 8 Blenheims attacked Marina di Catanzaro.   Fleet Air Arm 2 Fulmars on offensive patrol over Trapani and Marsala machine-gunned floatplanes and bombed hangars and slipways. At Trapani a JU 87 is attacked and badly damaged.  On the return journey one Fulmar dive-bombed warehouses at Licata.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (50kg)

11th Bn LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS Two Italian mines were found floating near a Battalion defence post; one was destroyed by the Royal Navy.


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


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16 September 1941: Malta Swordfish Lost on Clandestine Mission

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Swordfish missing after raid

Swordfish missing after raid


A Malta-based Swordfish aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm is believed to have crashed today while undertaking a secret mission to North Africa. Pilot Lt C B Lamb, with S/Lt J E Robertson took off in the early hours of this morning.  Their passenger is believed to have been a secret agent who they were to land in the Vichy French territory of Tunisia.  A message has been received to indicate that they survived the crash but it is believed they are currently being held for interrogation.

Lt Lamb previously served as a Swordfish pilot aboard HMS Illustrious. He was among the first wave of aircraft when the successful attack was launched on the Italian fleet at Taranto in November 1940.


Posthumous military awards were announced today for two Malta airmen who were killed as a result of their aircraft crashing on return from a mission over Sicily on 10 August.

London Gazette, 16 September 1941: The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Distinguished Flying Medal: Sergeant Campbell Clark, 69 Squadron (deceased), Sergeant Richard Saxby Mutimer, 69 Squadron (deceased)

Sergeants Clark and Mutimer have displayed a high standard of ability throughout the 40 operational missions in which they have participated as wireless operator-air gunner and air observer respectively. Sergeant Clark showed great keenness to engage the enemy, using his guns with damaging effect, while Sergeant Mutimer always willingly co-operated with his pilot when the opportunity for offensive action occurred. They have damaged or destroyed three Italian flying boats and, in one machine gun attack on an enemy aerodrome, destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged several.


Weather  Cool and overcast.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Aircraftsman James Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.


ROYAL NAVY  Ursula, Unbeaten, Upholder and Upright proceeded for interception of a fast convoy to east of Tripoli. Triumph sailed for special service and patrol in the Adriatic.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Crotone, Augusta, Catania and Syracuse. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Swordfish laid 6 mines in the entrance to Tripoli harbour.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Main body of the Battalion moved to Gozo for a month’s training and left a small rear party in Malta. Battalion headquarters in the Citadel, Rabat; A Company at Xewkija, B Company at Nadur, C Company at Gharb, D Company at Rabat, E Company at Xghajra.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (2kg incendiary)

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  D Company and B Company take over Hal Far from 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion left Gozo and returned to Malta aboard Royal Lady. A and E Companies went to Ta Qali with two mortar detachments and one section of carriers.  Bn HQ Signals and Carriers at Ta Saliba, 2 Platoon valley posts, C Coy St Paul’s Bay, B Coy Victoria Lines, D Coy Strickland House, HQ Coy less detached details Ghain Tuffieha Camp. 


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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in 1941, September 1941


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13 September 1941: 45 New Hurricanes for Malta

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HMS Furious

HMS Furious


45 Hurricanes flew in to Malta today, the second reinforcement of fighters to arrive on the Island in a week. Their arrival completes Operation Status which was intended to deliver some 60 Hurricanes in total.  However, the first phase last Tuesday was only partially completed, when guide Blenheims did not arrive to escort fighters from their aircraft carrier to the Island.

Ark Royal returned to Gibraltar on Wednesday and, following a rapid turn-round, embarked with 26 Hurricanes. A second carrier Furious departed with a separate protective force carrying another 20.  They were due to rendezvous yesterday for the Hurricanes to fly off to Malta but the event had to be postponed. 

Early this morning seven Blenheims from Malta reached the rearranged rendezvous ready to guide the Hurricanes to their destination. All but one of the 46 fighters took off successfully and completed a safe transit to the Island.  The remaining Hurricane crashed on take-off.


New curfew regulations have been introduced for 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.  From today no serviceman may be away from his billet after 1930 hours except those on 24 hours or 3 days’ leave.  In addition, only 25 per cent of men may be away on leave at one time.  The regulations are designed to ensure that posts can be quickly manned against surprise attack.

However, the Battalion commanders recognise that the new requirement to stay in at night make it imperative that the men have more NAAFI accommodation and a recreation room. The Battalion is trying to find a suitable place for an HQ Officers Mess so that the present Mess may be given over to the men.


From: Governor & C in C Malta                         To: War Office

We are still short of the following infantry officers in Malta: 4th Bn The Buffs 4, Kings Own Malta Regiment 5, Devonshire 9, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt 4, 1st Bn Hampshire Regt 8, 1st Bn Dorset Regt 7, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt 7, 8th Bn Manchester Regt 4, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers 8: total 56.  The Middle East reports that officer material is drying up.  A small class of NCOs sent to their officer training unit will not be ready until next year.  I request the early despatch of as many as possible to meet the deficiency.


Weather  Fine and warm.

1117-1130 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Ten Hurricanes 249 Squadron and nine 195 Squadron are scrambled.  The raiders turn away before reaching Malta and there are no interceptions.


AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour. 69 Squadron 1 Blenheim special patrol; photo-reconnaissance east Sicilian coast. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims searched for missing Blenheim crews.  3 Blenheims search and sweep for shipping, central Ionian Sea. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania dropped high explosive bombs south east of Gerbini and incendiaries near Moto.

TA QALI  8 officers and 6 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Ark Royal. 6 officers and 5 sergeant pilots arrived by Hurricane from HMS Furious.  8 officers and 7 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East. 


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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in 1941, September 1941


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8 August 1941: Two Fulmar Fighters Giving Malta Raid-Free Nights

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Fairey Fulmars

Fairey Fulmars


Nightly offensive patrols by Fairey Fulmar fighters over Sicilian air bases have significantly reduced the rate of air raids on Malta, according to a Senior Air Intelligence Officer. Only two Fulmars at a time – and sometimes just one – with their nightly patrols over Sicily and short, sharp bomb attacks on airfields are managing to disrupt the Regia Aeronautica air campaign. 

“It may not be realised by all what valuable work is being done nightly by Fulmar aircraft operating from Malta. Besides the damage they are inflicting on the enemy by small bombs and machine-guns, not to mention an occasional aircraft shot down while taking off to raid Malta, it must also be realised that while the Fulmar is on its patrol over Sicily, sometimes for long periods during the night, it is causing considerable alarm among the Sicilians and creating amazing confusion among the staff attempting to organise their raids on Malta. 

Often [as a result of the Fulmar attacks, enemy] raiders are forced to land at another aerodrome. Often raiders cannot take off at all (and a change of programme does not suit the Italians).  The anti-aircraft gunner must so frequently fire at their own aircraft returning that the Fulmer does not get his fair share of Ack Ack.  While the Fulmar is over Sicily, most of the Island is kept in a state of air alarm.

The above are just a few points which speak for themselves to show the alarm and despondency caused by our Fulmar crews who carry out keenly a sometimes dull and tiring job of work.

H M W Thomas-Ferrand, Squadron Leader, Senior Air Intelligence Officer


An Army Officers’ Rest House is being opened at the Officers’ Mess, Tigne, and is for the use of officers of the rank of Captain and under only. The inclusive daily charge for accommodation and meals (less tea) will be 7/6d per day.  Amenities available free will be billiards, tennis, squash and sea bathing (within two minutes).  Lady visitors are allowed to meals and to use the amenities.  The date of opening will be announced in due course.


Weather  Squally.

0856-0920 hrs  Air raid alert for three JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers which approach from the north and cross the coast over Grand Harbour before receding over Delimara without dropping any bombs. Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.  Hurricanes of 185 Squadron are scrambled but raiders remain at 29000 feet and Hurricanes do not intercept.  F/O Oliver bales out when his engine fails out at sea.  He is rescued by a Float Swordfish.

1229-1241 hrs  Air raid alert for three JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers which approach the Island from the north at 26000 feet, turn west over Gozo and change course on two more occasions before eventually crossing the Island from Ghain Tuffieha to St Paul’s Bay without dropping any bombs. Hurricanes of 185 Squadron are scrambled but altitude of raiders prevents engagement.


ROYAL NAVY  HM Submarine Thunderbolt arrived with aviation spirits for Malta.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 3 Blenheim. Departures 2 Beaufort, 3 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Strike force patrols of Tunisian coast and western Ionian Sea.  Reconnaissance of Tripoli and Misurata.  Photoreconnaissance Catania port and aerodrome, Augusta and Syracuse. 38 Squadron 7 Wellingtons sent to attack Tripoli.  A total of 16000lbs of high explosive bombs, 1500 lbs of anti-personnel bombs and 5280lbs of incendiaries were dropped on target from a height of 7000 feet, between 0155 and 0317 hrs, causing large fires and explosions. 105 Squadron 5 Blenheims sent to attack ships in Catania harbour causing underwater explosions near ships and the quay.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  Fulmar patrolled Gerbini and Catania area, dropped bombs on Gerbini aerodrome starting fires.  It is believed that his Fulmar gave Malta a raidless night. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar patrol over Catania and Gerbini, gunning five bombers and dropping one flash bomb. In a second Fulmar patrol in the afternoon three bombs are dropped on Gerbini starting two fires.  The Fulmar flies on to Comiso and drops three bombs on the aerodrome; results not observed.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  260 men working throught the night on unloading of convoy ships.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion providing working parties day and night for unloading of convoy ships.


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Posted by on August 8, 2021 in 1941, August 1941


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