Tag Archives: HMS Utmost

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

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

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

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

Utmost nearly rammed by destroyer

Utmost nearly rammed by a destroyer today


Weather  Storms.

No air raids.


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

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

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

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


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


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14 September 1941: Blenheim Crew Rescued After Night Adrift in Dinghy

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HMS Utmost


Three airmen stepped ashore at Manoel Island from the submarine HMS Utmost today feeling lucky to be alive after they spent a night in the sea off the coast of North Africa.  Sgt Brandwood, Sgt Miller and Sgt Mee were the crew of one of eight Blenheims which set out on Friday to attack an enemy convoy off the coast of North Africa.  In a fierce counter-attack by enemy destroyers escorting the convoy, three of the Malta bombers were hit.  The Blenheims of Squadron Leader Charney and Sergeant Mortimer were destroyed, and their crews killed. 

Sgt Brandwood’s starboard engine was hit and put out of action; then the bomb bay caught fire. As the crew struggled to put out the flames the Blenheim crashed into the sea.  The bomber sank beneath the waves but then miraculously resurfaced.  A badly injured Sgt Mee managed to release the rubber dinghy and the three airmen climbed in.

The remaining Blenheims circled back over the area and gave a signal to show they had spotted the dinghy. As soon as they landed at Luqa they reported the stranded dinghy and an immediate air and sea rescue search was launched.

Meanwhile the three airmen spent an uncomfortable night in their dinghy, interrupted by the booms and flashes of other attacks on enemy shipping. RAF Blenheims from Malta searched for them without success.

Then at 0800 hrs yesterday morning the airmen became aware of a submarine approaching. After several anxious minutes they realised it was friendly and were soon safely aboard HMS Utmost.  The submarine dived below the surface to avoid enemy detection as it headed for Malta. (1)


Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned, having rescued the crew of a Blenheim.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Maryland. Departures 10 Hurricane, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Lampedusa, Zuara and Tripoli.  1 Blenheim, 1 Beaufort special patrol, 1 Blenheim special search.

TA QALI  6 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A small church parade for A and HQ Coys at Barracca Church. Now that the Church has re-opened we will send a party each Sunday.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party moved to Gozo.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History


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Posted by on September 14, 2021 in 1941, September 1941


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26 June 1941: Five Hour ‘Nuisance’ Night Raids on Malta

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Rev R M Nicholls describes the impact of Italian ‘nuisance raids’ and considers the invasion of Russia

Italian bomber over the Grand Harbour dark“Ten days ago we returned to Valletta to sleep. There had not been much night bombing, and my wife wished to return. If blitzes occur we shall go back to Birkirkara.  On our first night back we had five raids spread over many hours; and for…three nights we have had raids more or less continuously from about ten pm till 2 or 3 o’clock o’morning.  Last night was the longest period for some time.  It seems to be Italians; and the technique seems to be for a single plane to cruise about, at a height out of reach of either searchlights or guns; then after half an hour of this to drop three or four bombs and bolt for home.

After a short interval the ‘Raider Past’ is sounded and a little later the ‘All Clear’. Then, ten minutes after, another plane approaches and the poor folk who have just climbed back into bed have to turn out again and go back to the rock shelters.  I lie and read, or write, in our funk-hole hearing the distant or near drone; and then zonk – a couple of bombs give their metallic roar.  ‘Now he’ll go home’ I say to myself. But last night one of them met one of our fighters waiting or searching for him and down he went into the sea…

The Cretan business is over and we lost. I am told that the C-in-C Mediterranean said that it had to be held at all costs; but we failed. Largely through our usual mismanagement, said an officer who heard a lecture by someone who came here to tell us about it.

Now has come the invasion of Russia. That was a tremendous surprise to me.  I never dreamt of it.  But I can see the point clearly.  Hitler is afraid lest Russia should attack in the Balkans just as he has all his forces engaged in a great attack on Britain.  Russia did something of the same sort early in the war – Finland, Poland, and later Bessarabia.  While Hitler was busy Stalin might well attack the Dardanelles.  I think that this kind of explanation is really more likely than the mere demand for oil and grain.” (1)


Troops across Malta were reminded today of the rules governing the posting and censorship of letters written by service personnel. The communique states that all such correspondence addressed to any address overseas must be forwarded to the battalion’s orderly room for censorship and posting.  On no account must such correspondence be posted in the civil Post Office or in any other way than through the orderly room.  Failure to adhere to these rules will incur the severest disciplinary action.


Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

Military casualties Flight Sergeant Harry S M Bolton, Royal Air Force (RAF), 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ernest W Gimson, RAF, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Brian P Hanson, RAF Volunteer Reserve, 69 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY  Reconnaissance of Taranto Harbour AM showed two liners in harbour, but PM reconnaissance showed a convoy of four large ships steering south off Taranto. Utmost successful attack, sank 6000 ton ship.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish bombed shipping and port facilities in Tripoli Harbour.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance. 4 Marylands made a high-level bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour in daylight, dropping 3000 lbs of high explosive, damaging Spanish Wharf and causing fires. 148 Squadron 4 Wellingtons made a successful night bombing attack on Tripoli Harbour.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

(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 June 26, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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24 June 1941: Malta Submarine on Cloak and Dagger Mission

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Malta-based submarine HMS Utmost returned to patrol today after taking part in a daring ‘cloak and dagger’ mission on enemy soil. Utmost left Malta a week ago for her 8th war patrol in the Mediterranean.  Lt Commander Cayley’s orders were to patrol the Tyrrhenian Sea at the mouth of the Straits of Messina and seek an opportunity to destroy a vital railway line used to transport Axis military resources to join convoys for North Africa.

A suitable target was identified yesterday and under cover of darkness Utmost surfaced and headed for the shore.  Just after midnight a small folding boat, a Folbot, was launched from the submarine 400 yards off the coast and special forces personnel Lt D R Schofield, Royal Fusiliers, and Lance Corporal F C Morgan rowed ashore.  They set charges within a railway tunnel with the aim of blowing up a train as it passed through, then rowed back to the submarine which remained close to shore to observe the results.

At 2 am the train passed through the tunnel but the explosives failed to detonate. The Folbot was launched again and Schofield and Morgan rowed ashore for a second attempt.  They placed the explosives and waited for some hours but no train materialised.  As daylight was approaching they decided to blow up the railway and return to Utmost, reaching the submarine at 5am.

Utmost dived and left the area unchallenged to continue her anti-convoy patrols. (1)


Weather  Hot and sunny.

1018-1035 hrs; 1135-1152 hrs  Air raid alerts for several enemy formations heading towards the Island.  20 Hurricanes in total are scrambled but the raiders remain far to the north of Malta and do not come close enough for the Hurricanes to engage.  Several interceptions are attempted but the enemy aircraft recede out of reach in every case.

Military casualties  Fusilier Joseph Burke, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Cook Francis Borg, Malta Auxiliary Corps.


ROYAL NAVY  All available submarines including Urge, Unbeaten, Upholder sailed to patrol positions to intercept an important convoy believed proceeding through Straits of Messina to Tripoli.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 4 Wellington 148 Squadron. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron 7 Maryland missions on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.

KALAFRANA A Heinkel Float Plane arrived from UK to undertake special operational work for the Government Intelligence Section, manned by civilian personnel.



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Posted by on June 24, 2021 in 1941, June 1941


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