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23 February 1942: Malta’s medical Supplies Running Out

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MEDICAL STOCKS URGENTLY NEEDED

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…

HMS P38

MALTA BASED SUBMARINE LOST

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)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 24 FEBRUARY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY 1942

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

ISLANDERS MAY BE DEPRIVED OF FRESH MEAT AS GOVERNMENT COMMISSION REVIEWS RATIONING IN MALTA

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…

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 OCTOBER TO DAWN 14 OCTOBER 1941

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.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 1941

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

ENEMY STARVED OF SUPPLIES FOR NORTH AFRICA CAMPAIGN

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.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 OCTOBER TO DAWN 7 OCTOBER 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 6 OCTOBER 1941

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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GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF BIDS FOR UNDERGROUND FACILITIES TO IMPROVE DEFENCE OF THE FORTRESS

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.

Wied-id-Dis

Wied-id-Dis

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 OCTOBER TO DAWN 6 OCTOBER 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 1941

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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LUFTWAFFE RECOGNISES MALTA IS A PROBLEM

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 OCTOBER TO DAWN 4 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Storms.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 3 OCTOBER 1941

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

MALTA AIRCRAFT WAS DELIVERING SECRET AGENT

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.

MALTA AIRMEN RECEIVE POSTHUMOUS MEDALS

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Cool and overcast.

No air raids.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1941

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

OPERATION STATUS PHASE II A SUCCESS

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.

NIGHT CURFEW FOR TROOPS

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.

SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS IN MALTA

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1941

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

TWO MALTA FULMARS KEEP SICILIAN AIR FORCES AT BAY

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

JUNIOR OFFICERS’ REST HOUSE – FROM 3 KOMR

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 AUGUST TO DAWN 9 AUGUST 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 8 AUGUST 1941

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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11 November 1940: Malta Reconnaissance Aids Successful Attack on Taranto

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‘OPERATION JUDGMENT’ A SUCCESS

Taranto Harbour after the attack

Taranto Harbour after the attack (1)

Reconnaissance from Malta has played a key role in a long-awaited major offensive on the Italian port of Taranto. Aircraft of 431 Flight have been monitoring enemy shipping movements in the Mediterranean for several weeks, looking for convoys supplying the Axis armies in North Africa which could be targeted for attack.  Photographs in the past few days showed five battleships, fourteen cruisers and twenty-seven destroyers lying at anchor in the port of Taranto.  

Royal Navy Commander in Chief Mediterranean Admiral Cunningham decided that the time was right for an attack under ‘Operation Judgment’ which had been originally planned for last month. Ships involved in recent convoy manoeuvres through the Mediterranean were given orders to head for Taranto.  The frequency of such Allied shipping movements in recent days helped to disguise from the Italians the fact that a major attack was developing.

Earlier today Pilot Officer A Warburton took off for a final reconnaissance of Taranto prior to the attack. He circled the harbour several times but then his cameras failed.  He dived down, making a tour of the moored Italian fleet low enough for his observer to identify the ships by name, before returning to Malta.  A further reconnaissance of the area was made by a Sunderland flying boat after dark and the operation was confirmed.

The reconnaissance images and information were rushed to the aircraft carrier Illustrious, which was to lead the attack.  The remaining task force included heavy cruisers HMS Berwick and York, light cruisers HMS Gloucester and Glasgow, and destroyers HMS Hyperion, Ilex, Hasty and Havelock.

 Shortly before 9pm, the first wave of twelve Swordfish took off from the aircraft carrier: six carried torpedoes, and six were loaded with 250lb bombs; two carried flares.  A second wave followed an hour later.  Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire the attack was pressed home.  Italian battleships Cavour, Littorio and Duilio were successfully torpedoed and put out of action, a heavy cruiser and a destroyer were damaged and an aircraft hangar set on fire.

By 3am all the Swordfish had returned to Illustrious, except two.  Pilot Lieutenant Bayley, Fleet Air Arm, was in the second wave of attackers when he came under fire.  His aircraft crashed near the cruiser Gorizia; his body was found the next day, but that of his Observer Lieutenant Slaughter was never recovered.  The two crew members of the second Swordfish are believed to have been taken prisoner.

Sir Andrew Cunningham

Sir Andrew Cunningham

While the attack on Taranto was proceeding, another force was attacking an Italian convoy in the Mediterranean. At just past midnight, cruisers HMS Ajax, Orion and HMAS Sydney, and two destroyers, HMS Nubian and Mohawk, engaged and damaged four Italian merchant ships and a torpedo boat; their accompanying cruiser fled the scene.

Early reports suggest that the Italian fleet has lost half of its capital ships in a single night, altering the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean. Reviewing the operation, Admiral Cunningham said:

“Taranto, and the night of November 11–12, 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 12 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Warm; clear and fine.

0808-0835 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 11 NOVEMBER 1940

KALAFRANA  Sunderland on special moonlight patrol for naval co-operation in Taranto area.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Day spent organising the camp. Battalion medical examinations.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS The following reported for duty: Major H D Tanner, Captain W Arthur posted to CRE (S); Captain S Oliver posted to CRE(N), 2/Lt G H Lee posted to 24 Fortress Company, RE, 2/Lt E E Talbot posted to HQ Fortress Royal Engineers for duty as Bomb Disposal Officer.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Unloading of ammunition from convoy begun. Contact anti-tank mines received in Malta for the first time. Bomb Disposal UXB 250lb bomb in reservoir Luqa. 

(1)  www.fleetairarmarchive.net

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Posted by on November 11, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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19 October 1940: Malta Troops Need News of Relatives

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LACK OF MAIL DAMAGING TROOP MORALE

The continuing lack of a regular mail service to Malta is becoming a serious threat to the morale of troops in Malta. The latest delivery of mail arrived after a delay of three months. British newspapers are also carried by the mail delivery service and are therefore failing to reach the Island before they are obsolete.  

Dunkirk evacuation: Malta servicemen await news of relatives

Dunkirk evacuation: Malta servicemen await news of relatives

The Governor and C in C has reported receiving an increasing volume of enquiries from troops stationed in Malta regarding their serving relatives, particularly those who are served the late British Expeditionary Force following the evacuation of Dunkirk, but also those in Middle East units. However, the sheer number of information requests makes it impossible to deal with each one by telegram.

Today Lt Gen Dobbie has written to the War Office asking for all service casualty lists to date to be cabled to Malta immediately, and from now on every list to be sent by telegram as soon as published.

According to Rev Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: “The dates of posting ranged from June 8th to the last days of August! The second batch also took about three days to sort; and the dates were also June, July and August. All higgledy-piggledy. But it was news even if three months – nay – four months adrift. There were a few copies of the Times for the last days of May and a few issued early in June. In that of June 8th, (received on 2nd October) we discovered that our son Anthony had been Mentioned in Despatches. This is a great joy to us.” (1)

NO INTELLIGENCE CORPS FOR MALTA

The War Office informed the Governor and C in C by telegram today that the formation of an Intelligence Corps Section in Malta “is not considered necessary”.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine; cloudy at times.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ  Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish Fleet Air Arm patrolled Ionian Sea; nil reports.

KALAFRANA  Plan to reconnoitre Ionian Sea for enemy surface craft. Easterly sector not patrolled as Sunderland unable to take off due to heavy swell.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 19 recruits posted from depot.

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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