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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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13 August 1940: Malta Government to Control All Imports

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KEEPING MALTA SUPPLIED UNDER SIEGE

Malta’s Governor and C in C, Lt Gen Dobbie, has today put forward proposals for keeping the Island supplied while the fortress is under siege. In a message to HM Government in London, he made it clear that co-ordination is now essential, saying: If the ability of this fortress to resist attack is not uniformly strong, weakness at one point will affect the whole. It is thus of paramount importance that all reserves should be maintained at a uniform standard, eg advantage of the presence of stocks of ammunition and military stores for a specific period would be greatly diminished if reserves of essential foods and materials for the local population are not maintained for a similar period.

Wembley Store (2)

Wembley Store (2)

The supply of Malta now relies entirely on convoys from the Eastern Mediterranean but, with the dangers they face, supply runs must be kept to a minimum. As a result, shipping space must be used to the best advantage, so that only essential supplies are brought to the Island at the right time and the in right quantities. In addition, the Island needs to hold a reserve sufficient for at least six months, with an extra two months in hand, in order to sustain the Island in the event of the loss of a convoy. These time frames are supported by Vice Admiral Malta and the C in C Mediterranean.

To achieve effective supply runs, Lt Gen Dobbie proposes to co-ordinate all requirements for the Island, including those of the Services, of the Government and the civil population. The Government will assume responsibility for importation of all foodstuffs and other materials which are essential to the life of the community, so that the correct quantities are ordered and arrive when they are needed. Local importers – whose supply chains have been disrupted since the siege began – will be formed into pools, allowed to purchase supplies and to apply a small profit in selling to retailers.

The Governor stressed that stores for the civilian population and for the Armed Services must have equal priority. He therefore proposes that Government requirements for items such as building materials, coal, wheat and refrigerated substances be co-ordinated with the needs of the Services to ensure availability and to avoid wasting capacity on convoys. Though essential items will take precedence, the Governor also recognised that some space must be allocated for such items as books and toiletries which are deemed necessary to preserve morale on the Island.

Subject to the agreement of HM Government, Lt Gen Dobbie will telegraph an itemised list of the supplies needed immediately to bring Malta’s stocks up to a level sufficient for eight months, assuming that the next convoy will take two months to reach the Island. He then proposes a rolling programme of supply convoys to keep the level of stocks at the required minimum.

CREATURE COMFORTS FOR TROOPS

In a separate development today, the Welfare Branch of the War Office in London cabled the General Officer Commanding, Malta asking for a list of items needed to support the welfare of troops on the Island, including sports gear, games, wireless, books, woollen comforts and cigarettes.

ITALIAN STREET NAMES CHANGED TO ENGLISH

All Italian street names in Valletta, Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa have now been translated or replaced with English names. (1)

SWORDFISH PILOTS MISSING IN ACTION

Three Swordfish destroyed: crews missing

Three Swordfish destroyed: crew missing

Two Swordfish aircraft were reported missing and a third crashed ditched in the sea off Malta tonight after a bombing raid on Sicily. The aircraft were with six others sent from Malta on a mission to attack shipping in Augusta. They faced intense fire from coastal batteries. Two of the Swordfish were shot down; Acting S/Lt D Edmondson and his Telegraphist/Air Gunner are believed killed. It is believed the crew of a second aircraft were picked up by the Italian Navy. Lt A F Hall’s Swordfish was also hit by Ack Ack fire but managed to reach a point four miles off the coast of Malta, near Ta Silch, before ditching in the sea. The crew survived and were rescued from their dinghy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 AUGUST TO DAWN 14 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and hot.

0857-0937 hrs  Air raid alert for a reported formation of enemy aircraft approaching Grand Harbour. No raiders cross the coast.

Military casualties  Acting S/Lieutenant D S Edmondson, pilot, 830 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 13 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY   2100 hrs Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm took off to carry out low-bombing and torpedo attacks on shipping in Augusta; results doubtful. Despite intense fire from coastal batteries six returned safely; two were reported missing and the crew of one picked up by the Italians. A third crashed four miles from Ta Silch; the crew were saved. PM A floating mine was reported off Torri L’Ahmar.  

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 3 Swordfish. 1500 hrs One Hudson reconnaissance of Augusta.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  Unexploded incendiary bomb found broken up in the dining room at San Pietru. It had passed through the corrugated iron roof and a table, and stuck in the concrete floor. Pieces were removed.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO saw Brigade Commander at HQ to discuss employment of reinforcements.

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd, 1992

(2) The Wembley Store, Valletta – still open for business

 

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Posted by on August 13, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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1 August 1940: Guns On the Way but No Gunners

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GOVERNOR STRUGGLING TO RECRUIT FOR ARTILLERY

4.7″ Naval Gun now in use by Royal Malta Artillery

Eight heavy and ten light anti-aircraft guns are on their way to Malta, with more heavy guns to follow.  All will be accompanied by supplies of ammunition.  Welcoming the news, the Governor and Commander in Chief informed the War Office that there is significant doubt whether the Island will have sufficient servicemen to man the guns. 

In a telegram sent today, he reports that the rate of recruitment is slowing considerably in Malta, due to the limit of the local population and requirements of other units on the Island.  As a result it has been impossible to build up any reserve forces and no reinforcements are in place to man the new guns.  Without additional Royal Artillery or signals personnel from the Middle East, the all-important artillery will sit idle.

MALTA SHOULD LAUNCH AIR OFFENSIVES

Malta should be a base for striking and general reconnaissance air forces, says the Air Officer Commanding Mediterranean.  In a message to the Air Ministry in London, the AOC said the forces should be brought to the Island as a matter of urgency.  He believes that much of the sea reconnaissance currently undertaken by Sunderlands operating out of Alexandria could be operated successfully from Malta.   

The only attacking aircraft at Malta are Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm and offensive operations from Malta are therefore limited.  The AOC proposes that one complete squadron of 15 aircraft would produce results out of all proportion to its size and recommends they be despatched as soon as other commitments allow. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 1 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Aircraft patrol reported one destroyer, two tankers, one large merchant vessel and many smaller ones in Cagliari Harbour, and three submarines leaving harbour. 

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND 1000 hrs  Two 4.7” naval guns were installed at F Verandah, Marsa, and manned by 3rd Heavy Battery, Royal Malta Artillery.  These guns are known as ‘Barker Section’.   

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers, 743 Other Ranks.

 

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Posted by on August 1, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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29 November-5 December 1942: The Siege is Broken

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MALTA WAR DIARY  FINISHES 5 DECEMBER 1942

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29 November 1942: Starvation Rations Barely Eased Despite Convoy

Children in ruinsMalta has been holding its breath for news from the Government following the arrival of last week’s convoy.  The first one subject on everyone’s mind is food.  For many weeks, the Island’s armed forces and civilians alike have been on the verge of starvation.  The want of food has created a greater fear even than heavy bombing.  Children crying for want of food have become a common sight in the streets.  The death rate among babies and the elderly has risen, viral and infections diseases have increased.

Although they could not openly acknowledge it, the authorities knew that without the convoy supplies would have run out completely on 3 December.  Even with the latest delivery, stocks are only sufficient to feed the Island for another two weeks and there is no certainty when the next convoy will arrive.

Today’s announcement outlined the difficult choice faced by the Government: whether to raise rations in the hope of another convoy, or to be cautious until safe passage for supply ships is guaranteed.  In the event rations will be raised slightly, with an increase in the all-important bread allowance targeted at men from 16 to 60 in the first instance, starting 1 December.  For the rest of the population cheese and fats rations will be doubled and sugar restored to previous ration rates.  Any increase in other commodities will have to wait until further convoy deliveries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair.

0740-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to patrol Cape Scalabri as rear cover for returning bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1005 hrs  Spitfires from Luqa are airborne to provide cover for 185 Squadron returning from a bombing mission.

1100-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires of 185 Squadron: no enemy sighted.

1425-1605 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1640-1647 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

1220-1325 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron carry out a sweep over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.

Night  Beaufighters 89 Squadron on intercept patrol over the Island and surrounding area: no enemy aircraft seen.

0230-0505 hrs  One Swordfish is despatched to search for a missing Wellington crew: an oil patch is spotted on the sea, but no dinghy.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Emanuel Carabott, age 53.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1942

P 46 HMS Unruffled

P 46 HMS Unruffled

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 46 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Hurricane from Bone; two Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from Benghazi.  Departures  One DC 3, one Wellington to LG 224; one DC 3 to El Adem; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Bone; one Beaufighter to Algiers via Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort shot down by enemy aircraft: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Italy.  1730-2300 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were airborne to attack the docks at Bizerta in three waves.  Bombs fell near fuel tanks and among buildings, causing one large fire visible 50 miles away.  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were sent to lay mines in the entrance of Palermo harbour:  one was hit by flak and ditched into the sea.  The crew pilot F/Sgt Ellis Walker and Sgts R J McCallough, G R A Duffield and G D Stevens are missing.

TA QALI  0605-1055 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep strafed motor transport and railway in Pantelleria.  0725-0920 hrs  Two Spitfires 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0730-0830 hrs  Nine Spitfires, five carrying bombs, of 249 Squadron on bombing sweep:  bombs were dropped on Comiso aerodrome with good results.  Beaufighters had their most active day of the month, flying 18 sorties against shipping and aircraft in the north east area of Tunis.  1010-1330 hrs  Three Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: one coaster attacked and damaged.  1250-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: P/O Palmer destroyed one JU 52.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

30 November 1942:  Spitfire Bombers Turn Table on Axis

AIR RAID STATISTICS NOVEMBER 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date 3165
  • Total number of alerts this month 30
  • Number of blank days 11
  • Number of night raids 13
  • Raid free nights 23
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to Raiders Passed 10 hrs 35 mins
  • Average length of alert 21.2 mins

MALTA’S FIGHTER BOMBERS KEEP AXIS AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Having suffered for many months at the hands of Messerschmitt fighter bombers, Malta has turned the tables on the Axis with its own Spitfire Bomber force.  Brought into use for the first time at the beginning of this month, the Island’s fighter bombers have carried out many attacks on the southern Italian aerodromes, flying a total of 54 successful sorties in which they dropped 13 tons of bombs.

Main targets for the Spitfire Bombers are Comiso and Gela aerodromes.  Although many German and Italian fighters are still based in south east Sicily, they have shown a surprising reluctance to engage Malta’s fighter bombers.  On the few occasions when enemy fighters have been encountered the close escort of Spitfires has had no difficulty in driving them off.   Their busiest day so far was Wednesday 25 November, when Spitfire Bombers flew 19 sorties.

Today saw 13 sorties: the first this morning was by 185 Squadron.  Four fighter bombers with four Spitfire fighters as close escort were despatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Four explosions were observed to the rear of the main buildings east of the aerodrome.  On the way out, the second pair of Spitfire bombers was attacked from below by a Macchi 200.  Strikes hit Sgt Gunstone in Red 3, who fired three bursts in return, seeing strikes along the Italian’s fuselage and can claim one Macchi 200 damaged.  17 more Spitfires, nine of which were carrying bombs, attacked Comiso in two waves: one Macchi 200 was damaged.

272 SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICER BACK FROM THE DEAD

Two RAF officers walked into the RAF Officers’ mess today to the surprise and delight of their comrades who thought they had been lost in action.  Squadron Leader Antony (Tony) Watson, Commanding Officer of 272 Squadron, and his navigator Pilot Officer C F Cutting were reported missing on 14 November.  During an attack on El Aouina aerodrome, they were strafing a German JU 52 on the ground when their Beaufighter was hit by flak, damaging the starboard engine.  They were last seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis, six miles from the airfield.

S/Ldr Watson today related how he and P/O Cutting set fire to the Beaufighter, then set off to find the Allied lines, which they managed to reach without being captured.  Eventually they were able to hitch a ride back to Malta, where they have been duly given membership of the ‘Late Arrivals Club’.

NORTH AFRICAN VENTURE CANCELLED AGAIN

The proposed Army mission to a French port in North Africa was called off again today.  The move follows the report from the RAF, following a reconnaissance flight yesterday.  The project leader Major H M Vaux, MC, also liaised with 1st Army at present in Tunisia and, having reviewed all the information, Fortress Headquarters decided to cancel the proposed operation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 1 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Variable; local showers.

0705 hrs  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to search for a missing Beaufort: no dinghy is seen.

0755 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squaqdron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of fighter bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1615-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron  Hal Far on patrol Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2359 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on patrol over Pantelleria: no sightings.

0212-0214 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Clark, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Kenneth Gamble, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Laurence Helme, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Howarth, RAF VR; Sergeant Ronald McLean, RAF VR; Sergeant William Richards, RAF; all 39 Squadron.  Sergeant Donald Reeve, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Flying Officer Richard Twomey, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 30 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The move of 821 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (twelve Albacores) from the Western Desert was completed today. No aircraft were lost during passage. Hebe swept P 35 out and P 311 and P 44 in.  P 311 joins Tenth Submarine Flotilla, reporting an uneventful passage direct from the United Kingdom.

P 44 HMS United

P 44 HMS United

HMS Una arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Tunis. On 27 November, she torpedoed and sank a 4000 ton merchant vessel, one of two escorted by a destroyer.  The merchant vessel blew up causing superficial damage to the Una at 1200 yards.  HMS P 44 returned from a patrol off Burat-el-Hsun, Tripoli and Kerkennah areas. At 1845 hrs on 21 November, P 44 entered Burat harbour and engaged a schooner with her 3″ gun, scoring twelve hits; the schooner was considered sunk.

Axis shipping losses November 1942: 19 merchant ships sunk totaling 41,450 tons; 14 merchant ships damaged totaling 29,540 tons.

AIR HQ  Beaufighters on offensive patrols damaged two JU 52s, one SM 79 and two Macchi 200s in the air; destroyed two Cant Z 506s and damaged two more as well as one JU 52 on the ground.  One schooner, motor transport and a train were also shot up.

Two Beaufighters of 227 Squadron attacked a 1500 ton merchant vessel approaching Pantelleria harbour, sighted earlier by a Baltimore.  The two Beaufighters attacked from such a low level that one of them was slightly damaged by striking the funnel of the merchant ship, with its starboard propeller.  Two ME 109s made an abortive attempt to intercept.  Two direct hits were scored, causing a terrific explosion followed by a large column of black and white smoke.  The vessel can be considered destroyed.

Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down over enemy territory: pilot missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.  One Wellington crash-landed: crew uninjured.  Two Beauforts failed to return from operations: crews missing.

HAL FAR  12 delivery Albacores arrived from Middle East.  1004-1701 hrs  One Hurricane carried out a special mission: Hal Far to Bone and return.

Poor House Luqa

Poor House Luqa

LUQA  Strengths:  230 Officers, 665 NCOs, 2079 Other Ranks, 771 Army, 600 civilians.  Personnel accommodation made by fixing up Poor House with steel tubular 3-tier bunks.  Owing to inability to obtain beds from equipment sources, 1500 bunks were made.  Material was obtained from aerodrome obstructions and made entirely by RAF personnel working parties.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering the harbours of Naples, Palermo, Bizerta, Tunis and Sousse.

1425 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 126 Squadron, are despatched to attack Gela aerodrome: no enemy aircraft seen.  1718 hrs  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron were airborne to attack Bizerta: bombs were dropped on target and all aircraft returned safely.  1815 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in Bizerta and Tunis harbours.  Two aircraft failed to return and missing crews were named as: F/Sgt Twomey, F/Sgt Helme, Sgts Gamble and Howarth; P/O Brown and Sgts Richards, McLean and Clark.

TA QALI  0710-0820 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome: bombs were dropped on the runway.  0715-0810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a bombing sweep of Comiso aerodrome: all bombs dropped on and around target.  1155-1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped but results not observed.  Sgt Wendt does not return and is declared missing.   1535-1645 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Green dump cleared and guard dismounted.  Other convoy duties continue.  Company strengths 29 Officers, 788 Other Ranks; 3 Officers, 9 Other Ranks attached.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  For period 11-30 November working party provided at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries for food delivery, servicing aircraft and as mobile repair vehicles; two impressed lorries for crater filling; two motor cycles as special despatch riders; 16 Other Ranks to man above vehicles.  For period 18-30 November the following were working at Zabbar sub-depot:  four 15 cwt lorries, five impressed lorries and 16 Other Ranks for convoy transport work.  Throughout the month two Twin Lewis guns were manned in the anti-aircraft defence of Safi Strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Recce by CO of new central dump at Floriana for unloading of next convoy.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Strength of Company: 5 Officers and 226 Other Ranks.  During the month the CQMS store was completed except for finishing touches to roof and the messroom at camp was covered in.  Part of 2 Section billet, weakened by bomb explosions, fell down and is to be rebuilt.  Hot baths were constructed for the Company in No 3 Section billets.

 

1 December 1942: Another Convoy for Malta

A convoy of four merchant ships with a large escort of cruisers and destroyers sailed from Port Said at 1430 hours this afternoon heading for Malta.  The four merchantmen gathered at Lake Timsah by noon yesterday, when a conference was convened by the senior officer of the escort who had flown in from Alexandria for the meeting.

Glenartney

Glenartney

The merchantmen are named as British ships Glenartney and Suffolk, and the American vessels Agwimonte and Alcoa Prospector.  They are accompanied by the cruiser Orion and destroyers Belvoir, Hursley, Pakenham, Petard and Queen Olga (the Greek ship RHS Vassilissa Olga), who were sailed from Alexandria to Port Said to await the arrival of the supply ships.  Codenamed Operation Portcullis, convoy MW 14 was delayed by fog at Ismailia which has now cleared.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 DECEMBER TO DAWN 2 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

0720-0800 hrs; 0835-0910 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on standing patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1142 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turned back before they are seen, and while still 20 miles north east of the Grand Harbour.

1155-1305; 1335-1425 hrs; 1425-1535 hrs  12 Spitfire sorties 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1330-1350 hrs  Air raid alert for four approaching ME 109s which circle over Grand Harbour at a great height before receding north.  Pointer rounds are fired by six Ack Ack gun positions.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the raiders are too high to engage and avoid combat.

1350 hrs  One transit Wellington from the Middle East carried out an anti-submarine patrol.

1600-1710 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers of 249 Squadron.  They are attacked by enemy fighters and take evasive action: P/O Mowbray is reported missing.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Mowbray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Warrant Officer Class II (CSM) Berkley Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Alfred Syddall, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una swept in from patrol by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Benghazi; one Baltimore from LG 227; one Spitfire from Benina.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crash landed due to engine failure: two crew slightly injured.  One Beaufort missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire believed forced down into sea by enemy action: pilot missing.  One Wellington force landed: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0640-0735 hrs  Four Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 185 Squadron, were dispatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Bomber leader suffered engine cut when still 20 miles south of Sicily so jettisoned his bombs and returned.  The remainder of the bomber formation followed suit.  The escort then set course to Noto and returned: nothing seen.  1000 hrs  Hurricane left for Bone.

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid (c) IWM A161612

1827-0030 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores carried out a torpedo attack on enemy shipping off the west coast of Sicily.  1925-0040 hrs  Two special Albacores and five strike Albacores 821 Fleet Air Arm Squadron were dispatched to attack the same convoy but failed to locate the vessels.  2255 hrs  Fleet Air Arm Albacores damaged a tanker in a convoy of four merchant vessels and five destroyers when fifteen miles south of Marittimo at 2255. Sub/Lt Pratt and Sub/Lt Kendrick scored one hit on a 6-7000 ton tanker which was left ablaze.

LUQA  Personnel arrivals: 25 Other Ranks.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron on aerodromes and harbours of Naples, Taranto, Messina, Palermo and Trapani. 2215 hrs  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron patrolled the area of Gabes-Tunis.

TA QALI  29 airmen detached from Station to 39 Squadron, Luqa.  0800-0905 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Biscari aerodromes: explosions are seen on the airfield.  0905-1325 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted two unidentified aircraft: no engagement.  1040-1145 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1155-1635 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive patrol, one carrying bombs.  One crashed just after take-off: crew uninjured.  1530-1815 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep attacked a merchant vessel and set the deck cargo on fire.  1545-1655 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Gela aerodrome: bombs were seen to explode in the north west dispersal area.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Company billeted at Bahar-ic-Cahaq (less No 1 section on DEL stations with HQ at Haywharf, No 2 Section building pens at Qrendi and Maltese details working in barracks, attached to Bomb Disposal, or on convoy duties).

 

2 December 1942: Convoy Rescues RAF Crew Adrift in Dinghy

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ASSEMBLES IN MED

HMS Orion

HMS Orion

The cruiser HMS Orion escorted by destroyers Paladin, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Aldenham and the Greek Pindos sailed from Alexandria today to rendezvous with the convoy heading for Malta.  Late this afternoon Hurworth was found to have defects; at 1800 hrs she left the convoy to return to Alexandria.

Later this evening Petard spotted a small boat adrift on the sea.  It was identified as an RAF dinghy and its six occupants were rescued and taken aboard the destroyer.

Following a report from Vice Admiral Malta that furnace fuel was urgently required, a last-minute decision has been taken to include a tanker in the convoy.  A vessel which had been originally intended for a later convoy to Malta will now depart immediately from Benghazi.  Destroyers HMS Croome and Tetcott are on their way from Malta to Benghazi to act as escort for the tanker.

MALTA NAVAL FORCES IN COMBINED ATTACK

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

Royal Navy ships have wasted no time in returning to the offensive following their arrival in Malta last Friday.  Destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian launched a joint operation with Naval Air Squadrons to attack a convoy off Kerkennah.

The ships sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to intercept the enemy convoy of one tanker and two merchant ships, escorted by two torpedo boats and a destroyer, as they steered for Ras Turgeuness. At 2100 hrs aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and HM Submarine P 35 attacked the convoy south of Kerkennah and sank two merchant ships, seriously damaging another vessel.

The Force K destroyers arrived on the scene shortly after midnight and sank a torpedo boat destroyer which was engaged in picking up survivors from one of the merchant ships.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO 3 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.

0700-0815 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for a missing pilot: no sighting.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant William Guy, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo; Sub-Lieutenant Colin Taylor, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Trooper

HMS Trooper

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 104; one DC 3 from El Adem.  Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore lost on operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1500 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS which left for Bone yesterday returned: mission accomplished.  1730-2315 hrs  Three Albacores RNAS and eight 821 Squadron were despatched to attack two 5000 ton merchant vessels, one cruiser, one destroyer and one sloop in the Gulf of Gabes.  Both merchant ships were hit and left burning: fires could be seen 70 miles away on the return journey.  One Albacore landed at Luqa; another is missing, along with crew S/Lt Taylor and S/Lt Guy.

LUQA  No operations.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All drivers report to sub-depots for convoy unloading duties.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  COs conference on establishment of new dumps to be formed at Floriana under 2nd RWK called Pink Dump and at Attard under 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers called White Dump.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

 

3 December 1942: Tanker Joins Operation Portcullis Convoy

ESCORT STRENGTHENED AS SHIPS APPROACH MALTA

HMS Tetcott

HMS Tetcott

Minelayer HMS Welshman joined the Operation Portcullis convoy at daylight today on her way to Malta, taking advantage of the escort protection.  Then at 1700 hrs this afternoon the American tanker Yorba Linda, escorted by destroyers Croome and Tetcott linked up with the main convoy north east of Benghazi.  Soon afterwards, Welshman left the remaining ships to speed on ahead to Malta.

To cover the final approach of Convoy MW 14 to the Island, Force K cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus with destroyers Jervis, Kelvin and Nubian were sailed from Grand Harbour this evening.  They will provide protection for the convoy against possible surface attack.

US LIBERATORS ATTACK ITALIAN BATTLE FLEET

US Liberator bombers from the Middle East today attacked Italian ships in the Bay of Naples, sinking the Muzio Attendolo and damaging two other warships.  The Italian cruiser was photographed yesterday undergoing trials in the Bay of Naples, following recent repairs. 

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Major units of the Italian fleet have been observed gathered in southern Italian ports from where they could threaten Allied sea movements through the Mediterranean, including convoys which might attempt the run to Malta.  As well as Attendolo, three Littorio battleships and two other cruisers are presently at Naples; five other cruisers are in port at Messina and three battleships at Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fine; fair.

No air raid alerts.

1030-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1039-1131 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of base at 25000 feet: nothing seen.

1440-1525 hrs; 1550-1635 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Sergeant Everard Aspell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 108 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Semley, RAF VR, 40 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 DECEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hurricane from Bone; one Beaufighter from Gambut; one DC 3 from El Adem; one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington’s bombs hung up and exploded while aircraft was taxiing: two of crew killed, rest uninjured.

Hurricanes at Hal Far

Hurricanes at Hal Far

HAL FAR  1150 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS landed from a special mission.  He was attacked 50 miles off Kerkennah by one JU 88.  The enemy aircraft overshot and the Hurricane was able to counter-attack with several short gun bursts: claims one JU 88 damaged.

1840-0010 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack enemy shipping off the coast of Sicily.  Two 3000 ton merchant vessels were located 44 miles off Zuara moving at 8 knots.  Both ships were hit by torpedoes and blown up.  1900-2005 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack the tanker hit last night and since reported stationary 10 miles west of Marittimo.  The tanker was not located; only two hospital ships were seen in the area.  All torpedoes were brought back.

LUQA No operations.

TA QALI  0835-1330 hrs  Six Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0835-1145 hrs  Six Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted one JU 88 which is destroyed by F/Lt Rankin and F/O Coate.  0445-1000 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron are airborne to act as convoy escort: no sightings.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion provided a working party of 3 Officers and 200 Other Ranks for pen building on Qrendi aerodrome.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.  Three Officers reported daily to APM for traffic duties.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on co-operational duties (maintenance, refuelling, arming etc) with RAF at Luqa aerodrome, taken over from 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  57 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

4 December 1942: HMS Welshman Arrives Safely

WELSHMAN REPORTS MED QUIET FOR PASSAGE OF PORTCULLIS

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour today having left Convoy MW 14 yesterday evening.  The minelayer reported an incident-free passage through the Mediterranean.  Conditions appear favourable for the progress of the convoy.

Force K signalled at daylight that all vessels have joined up safely with Operation Portcullis the convoy and will remain in close escort throughout the day.  The ships are now within reach of Malta aircraft which will mount a constant escort for the remainder of their passage to Grand Harbour.  The arrival of Welshman has already attracted the attention of enemy aircraft which approached the Island on reconnaissance twice, triggering first air raid alerts in three days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0740-1245 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for the approaching convoy (one returned early): no sightings.

1025-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for ten ME 109s which cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area at a height of 25000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and see five unidentified aircraft making smoke trails north and south of Malta at 28000 feet.  On sighting the Spitfires below them, the enemy raiders turn northwards for home.

1100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa searches for the friendly convoy.

1400 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron searches in the Cape Bon area.

1440-1610 hrs  One Beaufighter 227 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to the convoy: nothing sighted.

1452-1507 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109s which approach the Island at 26000 feet and fly over Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they see the three ME 109s over Grand Harbour at 22000 feet.  The enemy aircraft dive away over the coast to avoid combat.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1600-1730 hrs; 1630-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are airborne to act as escort to the convoy: no sightings.

Night  One air raid alert: aircraft are identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Andrew Breakey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 18 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Curtis, RAF VR, 81 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Sidney Greene, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Simpson, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Peter Turner, RAF VR, 81 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept HMS Welshman and P 35 in, and Porpoise out to head for refit in the UK via Gibraltar.  Four MTBs arrived from Bone.  Naval aircraft attacked shipping in the Zuara area. Two merchant ships were hit, one of which sank in three minutes; the other was left burning.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 237; one Beaufighter from Souk El Arba; eight Hudsons, one DC 3 from El Adem; two Hudsons from Gibraltar. Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Algiers; eight Hudsons to El Adem.

LUQA  0900 hrs  Six sorties flown by photo-reconnaissance of 69 Squadron.  1930 hrs  One Beaufighter 39 Squadron patrolled over Comiso aerodrome at 32000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.  1700-2225 hrs  Six Wellingtons 40 Squadron and four 104 Squadron bombed the docks at La Goulette, Tunis.

TA QALI  249 Squadron operating from RAF Qrendi.  Air crew remain attached to Ta Qali for accommodation and rations only.  26 airmen arrived by air from Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HMS Welshman arrived No 5 Dock approx 0830 hrs.  Unloading commenced about 0915 hrs.  Bn provided 200 Other Ranks alongside 100 Other Ranks Dorsets.  Cargo was extremely difficult as it contained fifty 21” torpedoes among a miscellaneous cargo. The torpedoes were unloaded last so the whole operation was hampered.  The ship was not cleared until 1900 hrs.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Floriana Pink Dump and Attard White Dump marked out for reception of convoy cargoes.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

5 December 1942: The Siege of Malta is Lifted

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ARRIVES UNMOLESTED

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

At dawn today the four merchant ships Glenartney, Suffolk, Alcoa Prospector and Agwimonte, and the tanker Yorba Linda were safely in the shelter of Grand Harbour.  Commanders of Operation Portcullis report that, in spite of being shadowed at various times during the voyage, they encountered no enemy attacks throughout the entire passage from Alexandria. 

By 10 am the remaining ships of the convoy escort had entered Grand Harbour, bringing the number of warships and merchant vessels in the harbour to over 40. 

Two of the merchant ships are being unloaded by Army personnel and two by civil labour, who are working with great enthusiasm.  Approximately 3200 soldiers are employed on unloading and dispersing the cargoes to dumps.  A further 1800 are assisting the RAF in maintenance of aircraft and airfields to ensure the protection of Malta’s air space and offensive ops during unloading.  However, no attempt was made by the enemy to attack the ships in harbour, or even to approach the Island on reconnaissance during the day.

MALTA’S SUPPLY ROUTES SECURE

The arrival of a tanker with much-needed fuel relieves the concerns of military leaders.  More importantly, the second delivery of food and general supplies in a matter of days brings the chance of a real increase in civilian rations.  This should improve morale and help to stem the decline in the general health of the population which is giving real cause for concern.  The inclusion of a few long absent luxuries among the essentials brought a smile to many faces.

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

Malta’s commanders are cautiously taking the unhampered passage of Operation Portcullis as an indication that future supplies can be carried through without significant risk.  Since January 1941 two aircraft carriers, twenty warships and several submarines have been lost in attempts to supply the Island.

It has now been decided to run regular pairs of merchant ships for Malta alongside ordinary Western Desert Convoys to the Benghazi area, where surface forces from the Island will reinforce the escort for their final passage.  The supply of Malta – almost impossible a month ago – is now all but secure.  The siege is over.

SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 5 DECEMBER 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta         To:  C in C Middle East        Rept:  The War Office

1.  Enemy air: four daylight alerts for enemy fighters on reconnaissance.

2.  Convoy of four merchant vessels and one tanker escorted by cruisers and destroyers arrived safely am 5 December.  Unloading is proceeding well: 3200 Army personnel employed; a further 1800 on aerodromes.

3.  Spitfire bombers successfully attacked aerodromes Comiso, Gela and Biscari.  Spitfire close escort damaged one Macchi 200.  Beaufighters on daylight offensive sweeps area Tunisia destroyed two Cant Z ‘06 and damaged two more at moorings.  One Italian bomber, one transport damaged on the ground.  One JU 88 destroyed; three transports, two fighters damaged in combat.  Coaster 1100 tons, two destroyers, goods trains and lorries effectively shot up.  Merchant vessel 1100 tons set on fire and abandoned.  Two direct hits bombs causing violent explosion merchant vessel off Pantelleria.

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

 

By night approx 45 Wellington sorties docks Bizerta 23 sorties docks Tunisia.  Also successful attacks Catania, Trapani, Comiso and Gerbini.  Bombs dropped areas Ragusa, Augusta, Syracuse, Gela and Castel Vetrano.  Beaufighters bombed railways Tunis and shot up trains.   Reggio di Calabria attacked by two Beaufighters.  Beauforts laid mines entrance Bizerta, Tunis and Palermo harbours.  Albacores on shipping strikes sank two merchant vessels 5000 tons, blew up merchant vessel 3000 tons and set two other merchant vessels and a tanker on fire.  Other results unobserved.  Four destroyers Force K sank one enemy TBD.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy.

No air raid alerts.

0620-0940 hrs  Six aircraft 126 Squadron Luqa maintain a patrol for the arrival of a convoy.

0800-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

0845-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out shipping patrol: nothing seen.

1150-1310 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1335-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1455-1550 hrs; 1630-1725 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrols over the Island: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John MacDonald, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Thomas Mincher, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 35 to sea. P 42 was swept in from patrol by HM 135.  1600 hrs  HMS Welshman sailed for Alexandria with Paladin.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Halifax from UK; ten Hudsons from El Adem.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore overshot aerodrome and crash landed due to engine failure: crew uninjured.  One Wellington crashed into another aircraft while landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100-0100 hrs  Two Albacores 821 Squadron were despatched to bomb and illuminate for Beaufighters at Reggio di Calabria aerodrome.  One Albacore returned early with rear cockpit trouble; the other arrived too late over the target to contact the Beaufighters but dropped its bombs on the new corner of the aerodrome.

LUQA Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires.  1400 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron were despatched to attack Reggio Calabria.  One Beaufighter was slightly damaged by Ack Ack splinters: crew unhurt.  Night  One special Wellington carried out a shipping search in the Marittimo-Cavoli area: no sightings.

TA QALI  One senior NCO and four airmen arrived by air from Middle East.  0955-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1140-1425 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.  1345-1640 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron (one carrying bombs) on offensive reconnaissance attacked an enemy destroyer causing a small explosion and fire near the bridge.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A convoy arrived at dawn.  1100 hrs  The Bn began unloading the Glenartney at Hamilton Wharf in 3 shifts of 84 Other Ranks.  The vessel is carrying 8000 tons of cargo.  Unloading went well during the day.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  6 Officers, 107 Other Ranks unloading M/V Alcoa Prospector.

Agwimonte

Agwimonte

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  The Bn was detailed to provide: 3 Officers, 42 Other Ranks to report at 1000 hrs for traffic control; 5 fire-fighting parties of 1 Officer, 13 Other Ranks each, to live on board the merchant ships; 42 drivers, 6 vehicles, 3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks as general reserve.  2200 hrs  Fire-fighting parties reported to allotted berths and went on board the following vessels:  Alcoa Prospector, Glenartney, Agwimonte, Suffolk, Yorba Linda.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Arrival of convoy: Bn in position on Pink Dump in two shifts of 12 hours, day and night.  Total employed 14 Officers, 200 Other Ranks on Dump plus 2 Officers, 51 Other Ranks on motor transport sub-depot.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8.  Dealt with: High Explosives 1 x 50kg; anti-personnel bombs 8.

 

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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in 1942, December 1942, November 1942

 

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11 August 1942: Axis Air Forces Massing in the Med

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY EVENTS ON MALTAGC70  

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Heinkel HE 111

TORPEDO BOMBERS JOIN ENEMY FIGHTING FORCE 

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 11 AUGUST 1942

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

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LONDON GAZETTE ANNOUNCES AWARDS FOR CIVIL DEFENCE

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.

AWARDED THE BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MAY TO DAWN 23 MAY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 22 MAY 1942

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, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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