Tag Archives: HMS Cachalot

7 August 1941: Axis Fighter Numbers in Sicily Back to Full Strength

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HMS Cachalot

HMS Cachalot

The fate of the crew of HMS Cachalot was confirmed today in a report to the War Cabinet in London.  The submarine was rammed on 1 July by an Italian torpedo boat as she was returning to Alexandria from ‘club run’ to deliver urgent supplies to Malta.  According to unconfirmed Italian reports, HMS Cachalot was sunk and her crew taken the crew prisoner.

The War Cabinet also heard how attacks from Malta continue to have an impact on Axis shipping and military installations on both sides of the Mediterranean:

“HM Submarines Upholder and Utmost each sank a large enemy merchant vessel in the central Mediterranean. HM Submarines Utmost and Unique made successful forays on railway communications in southern Italy. 

Blenheims and Beaufighters from Malta continued their offensive against enemy shipping and aerodromes. A ship of about 8000 tons inTripoli harbour received a hit which was followed by a violent explosion, and a ship of about 5000 tons alongside was set on fire.  During this attack two hits were made on a building believed to be Air Headquarters.  Two ships in Lampedusa harbour were also hit, and a schooner of 800 tons was sunk off Misurata.  A convoy consisting of six merchant ships and six destroyers was attacked off Lampedusa by seven Navy Swordfish from Malta.  Two ships (8000 and 6000 tons) were sunk and, on the following morning, 8 Blenheims hit two similary ships, probably sinking one and severely damaging the other.  It is possible that a destroyer was also damaged.

Beaufighters attack

Beaufighters attack

Beaufighters attacked the aerodromes at Borizzo, Sicily and Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy, destroying two bombers and about ten fighters, and damaging many others. Navy Swordfish obtained ten direct hits on the submarine base at Augusta, Sicily, on the night of 5-6 August.  Large fires were caused on the submarine jetty.  Malta reconnaissance aircraft have maintained a constant watch on enemy shipping and aerodromes, and in the course of their patrols have bombed Messina, where a cruiser was narrowly missed, and machine-gunned enemy bombers at Zuara, destroying one and severely damaging at least three others.

The enemy have shown no inclination to approach Malta by day, but four night attacks were made, though no serious damage resulted. On the night of 5-6 August three of the ten raiders were destroyed by Hurricanes and on the following night when three aircraft approached the island one of them was shot down.”


Weather  Squally.

AM  Enemy rescue aircraft with fighter escort carry out several searches between Sicily and Malta. Hurricane fighters remain on patrol throughout.

1113-1128 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by enemy rescue search as above. Patrol withdraws without approaching the coast.

2322-0012 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching from the north. One crosses the coast alone, the other two together.  250 kg high explosive bombs are dropped on Naxxar, Salina, Zonqor Point and Gudja.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but searchlights do not illuminate the raiders and there are no engagements.


AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 6 Wellington. Departures 3 Beaufighter. 69 Squadron Photo-reconnaissance of Comiso reveals that the number of fighters has returned to its previous high of 53.  Photo-reconnaissance Comiso, San Giovanni, Reggio, Tripoli.  Reconnaissance of Homs, Misurata, Lampedusa. 105 Squadron 8 Blenheims sent to attack convoy scored direct hits; one aircraft damaged but all returned safely. 38 Squadron  6 Wellingtons successfully attacked Tripoli damaging harbour facilities and causing fires.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Two shifts of 100 men each on working parties unloading convoy ships during the night.

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 7, 2021 in 1941, August 1941


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30 July 1941: Malta Can Survive Only 100 Days Without Better Food Security

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Grain to be stored and milled underground

Grain to be stored and milled underground

With the Malta Garrison now fully manned, the Governor and Commander in Chief is turning his attention to the security of supplies essential to the survival of the Island during the current siege, especially foodstuffs. The production of flour is currently under threat, as Lt Gen Dobbie explains in a telegram to London:

“It is…important to provide a means by which the milling of wheat can be carried out under all conditions. At present we need to mill about 100 tons of flour each day for the civilian population.  Mills which carry out this work are concentrated in one small area at the head of Grand Harbour, and there is very considerable danger that the great majority of the might be put out of action suddenly, particularly if the Germans resume their mine-laying activities.  If this occurred the ability of the Fortress to withstand the siege would be reduced to approximately 100 days, which is the maximum period for which large stocks of flour can be stored in this climate.

This problem was recognised by the Naval authorities some time ago, and a small underground mill to provide part of the requirements of the Services was installed with the approval of the Admiralty. This mill is quite inadequate in size for the present storage of the garrison.  The only satisfactory solution is to provide for the milling of the whole of the requirements of the Island, including the Services, under a bomb-proof shelter…

Excavation can be provided as necessary with the existing mining force as part of the shelter construction programme… Experience with the underground Naval mill has shown that in this climate air conditioning is essential for maintenance and satisfactory production throughout the year.

I should be most grateful if an urgent investigation could be carried out with the appropriate milling firms in England and a report furnished as to whether satisfactory mills could be provided. If so I will examine the local problems arising from the scheme, in particular the arrangement which would have to be made with local milling companies…

All the Services here recognise the extreme importance of this problem…the destruction of our existing mills would nullify all arrangements which have been made to enable us to resist for approximately eight months. In other words, Malta could not resist a siege for more than 100 days if the existing flour mills were destroyed.  I consider this unsatisfactory state of affairs must be [rectified] as quickly as possible.   


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

With reference to your telegram of 25 May authorising the formation of a Static Group of Kings Own Malta Regiment including ten platoons for Fort defence. Authority is now requested for the formation of an eleventh platoon for the defence of Gharghur radio station.  The importance of this has increased owing to the employment by the RAF of RDF sets.


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

I propose to arrange the manning of an additional 24 eighteen-pounders by reorganising 26 Defence Regiment in three batteries. Detailed proposals for this establishment involve only minor additions to personnel.  Please cable approval.


Weather  Sunny with a cool breeze.

2332 hrs  A mine guard loop indicates the presence of a vessel. The minefield is detonated but a subsequent search reveals no wreckage.

Night  An enemy fighter patrol approached to within 25 miles of Malta then turn back.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not made contact as raiders retreat before engagement.

HMS Cachalot

HMS Cachalot (1)


ROYAL NAVY  Parthian arrived with stores and kerosene from Alexandria. HM Submarine Cachalot was rammed and sunk by the Italian torpedo boat General Achille Papa while on passage from Malta to Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  4 Blenheim, 5 Wellington. Departures 5 Blenheim, 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Sicily.  6 Beaufighters successful ground-strafing operation Elmas aerodrome and seaplane base, southern Sardinia destroying eight aircraft and damaging many more and causing a large fire in a hangar.  One Beaufighter attacked a large transport aircraft south of Pantelleria putting two engines out of action before running out of ammunition; the enemy aircraft was last seen descending towards the sea.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  NCOs and men attached to 59th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery on Bofors guns returned to the Battalion.  

(1)  Source Wikipedia WP:NFCC#4  


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Posted by on July 30, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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