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21 November 1941: Malta Fights Off Italian Attack

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“Rose to the sound of much noise: the Italians were indulging in a low flying attack on aerodrome at 7.15am.” 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 22 NOVEMBER 1941

Ta Qali in 1941 (NWMA Malta)

0713 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two waves of six and nine Macchi’s approached Island from NE.  Six enemy aircraft with another six providing high cover attacked Hal Far and Ta Qali aerodromes with cannon and machine gun fire, causing very slight damage.  One Swordfish damaged.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack, also light machine guns engaged claiming three Macchi 202’s damaged.  Hurricanes engaged, one Macchi being shot down in sea, and three damaged.  One Hurricane slightly damaged.  One Hurricane crashed on Attard-Rabat road.  Pilot uninjured.

0906 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three enemy aircraft approached Island shot returning Photo Reconnaissance Unit Hurricane into sea.  Pilot rescued.

1412 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

1714 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Seventeen Macchi’s approached Island.  Fifteen Hurricanes airborne, four of whom intercepted with no observed results.  One Hurricane missing, 1 slightly damaged.

RAF Hurricane 1941

1850 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approached Island from north, crossed coast Grand Harbour and went out over Delimara.  Bombs dropped in sea East of Delimara.

2230 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

Military casualties Flight Sergeant Richard Allinson Cousens, Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve, 185 Squadron; Private Francis Talbot, 1st Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 21 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned from patrol off Cephalonia, having unsuccessfully attacked two escorted merchant vessels at long range.  A second diversionary operation to support the Eighth Army offensive in North Africa, codenamed “Landmark” commenced – a convoy and Force “K” sailed at 1300.  Four Albacores carried out A/S patrol south of Malta.  Four Swordfish and four Albacores attacked convoy and escort 12′ east of Cape Spartivento.  Four torpedoes were dropped and one hit claimed on a cruiser and one on a merchant vessel of 7000 tons.

LUQA  One Blenheim 18 Squadron and one 107 Squadron SF11 patrol.  One Blenheim 107 Squadron special patrol. One Wellington S/D flight located convoy.  Twelve Wellingtons 40 Squadron attacked convoy. Four Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked convoy. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 70; dealt with (2 x 43lb incendiary; 68 x Thermos).

 

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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in 1941, November 1941

 

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30 October 1941: No Axis Convoys Seen in Mediterranean For a Week

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REPEATED RECONNAISSANCE FROM MALTA HAS DETECTED NO CONVOY ACTIVITY

British War Cabinet Report for week 23-30 October

HMS Urge

HMS Urge

The British SS City of Lincoln and SS Dunedin Star have arrived at Gibraltar from Malta after having been unsuccessfully attacked on three occasions by enemy aircraft, two of which were probably damaged.  Air reconnaissance has failed to locate the SS Empire Guillemot; she may have been sunk off the Algerian coast.   HM Submarine Urge has reported that she torpedoed two ships off Kuriat Island on the coast of Tunis.

Blenheims from Malta made a number of daylight attacks on objectives in Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Although reconnaissance and sweeps were flown in search of shipping, no convoys were located and there were no reports of the successful attacks which have been a feature of our operations in the central Mediterranean in the past.  Night attacks were made on Naples and Tripoli. 

On two days a total of 16 Blenheims, after an unsuccessful search for shipping in the Gulf of Taranto, attacked targets in southern Italy. A goods train at Cotrone was destroyed, and hits were seen on the railway line and several bridges.  At Cantanzaro factory buildings, sidings and a pumping station were hit, resulting in a large fire accompanied by dense clouds of black smoke, probably from burning oil.  Bombs also fell on factories at Locari and Siderno, where the gas works were hit and a large fire broke out.  Five Blenheims bombed Licta, Sicily, and all bombs were seen to burst in the target area.  Six Hurricanes also attacked a factory and railway sidings at Ragusa.  Two night attacks were made on Naples by a small force of Wellingtons but weather was bad and no results were observed.

Twenty Blenheim sorties were flown over the African coast. The principal objectives were Misurata, the coast road and an enemy camp.  Accurate observation of results was generally impossible, but a building at Buerat was seen to be demolished and two fighters were damaged on the ground at Zuara.

Tripoli was attacked on five nights of the week by a total of 36 Wellingtons. Several sustained attacks were made, lasting on one occasion for five hours and on another for eight.  Hits were seen on the moles, seaplane station and on the railway yards, where there was a large explosion and fires broke out. 

Government and civilian property in Malta was slightly damaged during a night attack by four Italian aircraft. A daylight raid by four bombers, preceded by 27 fighters, resulted in a fuel dump being set on fire and other minor damage.  One enemy fighter was destroyed and a bomber and a fighter severely damaged; one Hurricane was lost.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Cloudy and overcast.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 3 Blenheim, 1 Catalina, 5 Wellington. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland special search.  Photoreconnaissance Reggio Calabria aerodrome and Tripoli. 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 3 Albacores attacked the railway junction at Conicalli, with bombs.  One failed to locate the target and dropped a bomb on main road east of Palermo.  4 Albacores dropped bombs on the sulphur factory at Licata with good results.

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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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28 October 1941: Malta University Opens Lectures to Servicemen

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  • Four Flying Fortresses land in Malta
  • Submarine Ursula ‘spirited’ attack on the Calabrian coast
  • Submarine Urge sinks one Axis ship, breaks back of second
Flying Fortress

Flying Fortress

FEE REDUCTIONS FOR THOSE IN NEED

The Rector of the University of Malta has intimated that he will be only too pleased to grant permission to Army personnel to attend any lectures which, on the examination of the candidate’s qualifications, will be considered to be of use to them. Subjects offered include Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, Architecture, Medicine and Law. 

Fees will be £3 3s 0d per subject for one year’s attendance, including registration up to £9 9s 0d for attendance at all subjects on a course. The Governor may remit or reduce all or any of the fees in case of hardship.  Applications can be made via the candidate’s commanding officer via the Command Education Officer at the Castille.

SUBMARINE MISSING

The submarine Tetrarch has been reported missing after delivering stores and Kerosene to Malta.  She left the submarine base on Sunday heading for Gibraltar where she was expected to put in on her way to refit in the UK. Tetrarch was last heard of yesterday, when she made contact with the submarine P34 while both vessels were in the Strait of Sicily.  Submarine commanders suspect she struck one of the many Italian mines in the area. 

FLEET AIR ARM CREW LOST

An Italian News Bulletin refers to the attack by Malta bombers tonight, when the Albacore aircraft of Midshipman P Brown and S/Lt J Scott failed to return from a raid on Comiso aerodrome:

“During the British night attack on Comiso, our fighters, which took to the air when they received the alarm sighted enemy bombers flying in the direction of Sicily and pursued them towards Malta. Our fighters over took the enemy and succeeded in giving a few machine-gun bursts to one of the RAF bombers which was hit and dodged into the clouds to evade our fighters.  However it cannot be excluded that it crashed into the sea.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Much colder.

0856-0932 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north. One crosses the coast, flies over Valletta at 23000 feet and is engaged by three Navy anti-aircraft guns firing on ‘height control’, without result.  The second comes within six miles of Grand Harbour then circles, eventually flying over Mellieha Bay.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and the lead fighter sees a Macchi ahead but too far away to intercept. 

2103-2110 hrs; 2130-2150 hrs  Air raid alerts for four and then two enemy aircraft which turn away before reaching the Island.

Military casualties Midshipman Peter A Brown, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR); Sub-Lieutenant James T Scott, RNVR; both 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned from patrol off Kuriat having sunk one merchant ship and broken the back of another anchored off Kuriat. Ursula returned from patrol off Calabrian coast.  No ships were sighted, but a spirited bombardment of a railway bridge was carried out in the face of opposition from two machine guns and two riflemen.  The appearance of an armoured car from the local garage, a flying boat and the fact that the gun jammed caused Ursula to withdraw.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 4 Fortress, 1 Maryland. Departures 3 Fortress, 1 Maryland, 1 Sunderland, 4 Wellington. S/D Flight Special patrol. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked Buerat el Esun. 40 Squadron 6 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Sicily. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands special patrol.  Photoreconnaissances Tripoli, Catania-Avola and Sicily. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked Buerat el Esun. 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 7 Albacores sent to carry out a bombing raid on Comiso aerodrome scored hits on hangars and the officers’ mess causing fires visible 20 miles away.  Very intense fire light anti-aircraft fire from all directions of the aerodrome; one Albacore failed to return (crew Midshipman Brown and S/Lt Scott).

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Malta Volunteer Defence Force personnel attended a lecture on the use of grenades. The MVDF were most keen and the lecture room was crowded.  The MVDF will be armed with Italian hand grenades and they will need to feel confident in their use.

 

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

 

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4 July 1941: 14 Killed 6 Missing and 19 Injured by Bombs on Hamrun

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Hamrun in 1930s

Hamrun in peacetime

BOMBS LAND NEAR ARP HQ

The community of Hamrun suffered a severe blow tonight when several 250kg high explosive bombs landed on the town. In one of the most intense bombing campaigns of recent months, seven aircraft of the Italian Regia Aeronautica launched a series of four raids between 1030 at night and 2 in the morning. 

Shortly before midnight, bombs landed near the local headquarters of the Air Raid Precautions volunteers, destroying six houses and seriously damaging a water main. At least 14 people were killed, including one Maltese serviceman; another six residents are currently unaccounted for.  19 more were injured, including 10 seriously.

BBC TO BROADCAST ON ‘GALLANT DEFENCE PUT UP BY MALTA’

Personal Telegram for General Dobbie from General Collins

“I hope to be able to say something of the gallant defence put up by Malta in a broadcast on 24 July. I would be grateful for any facts about the life of the Garrison and the inhabitants likely to interest relatives at home which can be broadcast, as well as local colour etc.  Details of the numbers of attacks made on Malta, enemy aircraft brought down, the skill of the anti-aircraft artillery and so on would I think be of interest to all at home.”

In a separate telegram the War Office has asked the Governor and Commander in Chief whether the BBC special programme (maltagc70 13 June 1941) for forces in Malta is appreciated, whether reception is good and times are suitable.

HURRICANE PILOT KILLED IN UNEXPLAINED CRASH

A Hurricane pilot was killed today when his aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from. Sergeant Thomas Hackston of 126 Squadron took off from Safi without any problem but within minutes the fighter was seen to crash into the sea.  The reason for the crash remains a mystery.

The Hurricane was one of 44 which on 6 June took off from an aircraft carrier in the western Mediterranean to fly to Malta as part of ‘Operation Rocket’. One of the 44 fighters was found to have defects and returned to its carrier. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1941

HMS Gloxinia

HMS Gloxinia

Weather  Fine; humid

1013-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 Macchi 200 fighters escorting an unidentified reconnaissance aircraft approaching from the north west. They come to within 10 miles of St Paul’s Bay when they are intercepted by four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron.  One Hurricane attacks three Macchi fighters, damaging one badly which descends in a spin from 8000 feet.  A second Hurricane badly damages a Macchi six miles north of Spinola. Several others are damaged.  The enemy aircraft split up and recede north east.  Ten more Hurricanes pursue the raiders as far as Cape Passaro but do not engage again. HMS Gloxinia picks up the body of a dead Italian pilot who is buried at sea. 

2231-2243 hrs; 2259-2333 hrs; 0007-0036 hrs; 0107-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 7 enemy aircraft: operating singly or closely following each other in pairs they cross the coast at about 16000 feet. In the first three raids Malta night fighters are scrambled and searchlights active but there are no illuminations due to haze, and no engagements.  In the last alert only searchlights and anti-aircraft guns are active; no claims.  Bombs are dropped on Hamrun near ARP headquarters, destroying houses and causing civilian casualties.  In other attacks bombs are dropped near Mosta and Lija with no serious damage or casualties; others are dropped in the sea.  One of the raiders fires its machine guns in the direction of Filfla for no apparent reason.

Military casualties Gunner Karmenu Dingli, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Thomas Hackston, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Hamrun Carmelo Azzopardi, age 24; Walter Azzopardi, age 16; Lorenza Burlo, age 56; Carmelo Burlo, age 55; Anthony Burlo, age 33; Francis Criminale, age 47; Carmelo Criminale, age 21; Paul Criminale, age 17; Mary Criminale, age 12; Ines Micallef, age 13; Francis Sant, age 56; Joseph Woodhouse, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Gian Paolo Mantovani, 7o Gruppo, 54o Stormo, Macchi 200 fighter pilot shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Urge returned from patrol south of Messina having sunk cruiser believed to be Bolzano, obtained one hit on a 9000 ton merchant vessel and blew up a train in a tunnel.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheims 110 Squadron, 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay, 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Homs, Sirte and special patrols. 110 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked troop motor transport on the Buerat-Sirte road, with three direct bomb hits on lorries plus others destroyed by machine-gun fire. 

HAL FAR  Sir Oliver Lyttleton, AOC Middle East, visited Hal Far with the AOC Mediterranean.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  We start a scheme which includes the whole of the Army on the Island. Even the Malta volunteers will ‘play’ after working hours.  At 2045 hrs we received the order ‘Exercise Asia’ which starts the scheme off.  Certain defence posts were then manned and leave automatically stopped.  Umpires posted at each Battalion HQ and each Company outlined the scenario: an attacking force is gathering in Southern Italy and there is heavy bombing of our aerodrome defences.

 

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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