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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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3 December 1940: Allied Fleet Now Has Command of Mediterranean

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Prime Minister Winston Churchill and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound

FIRST SEA LORD REPORTS TO WAR CABINET ON MEDITERRANEAN SITUATION

It has always been the aim of the Admiralty to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet with the object of striking at Italy.  Until recently, other commitments have hindered the execution of this policy, but within the past few weeks it has been possible to spare more ships for the Mediterranean and recent successes against the Italians have shown the soundness of the policy.

As has been publicly stated, the damage to the Italian capital ships [at Taranto] would result in a temporary easing of the position in the Mediterranean.  Nevertheless, care must be taken to avoid reducing the strength of Admiral Cunningham’s forces below the level at which he would be able with confidence to carry the offensive against the Italians. 

As an indication of the state of Italian morale, the First Sea Lord drew attention to the recent naval action off Cape Spartivento in which Force H was engaged.  He described the action in some detail, and showed how unfounded were the Italian claims that it was the British units that had run away.  He expressed the opinion that it was a chance encounter, since the primary objective of Force H was to protect (i) a large military convoy going through the Mediterranean and (ii) one of the older capital ships which was being withdrawn as a consequence of a success at Taranto.

In his personal view, the Italian forces were probably sweeping to cover a convoy about to leave Palermo for Libya.  The convoy which Force H was protecting was carrying RAF drafts for Egypt to replace units sent to Greece, and reinforcements for the anti-aircraft defences and the garrison of Malta.  These latter are intended to make Malta reasonably secure for use as an advance base for light forces against Italian communications with North Africa.  Plans are afoot for further blows at the Italians.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and wet.

1355-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  No raid materialises.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER 1940

Nil report.

 

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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in December 1940

 

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2 December 1940: Enemy Raiders Retreat at Sight of Hurricanes

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'Molotov cocktail' petrol bombs may be used against tanks

‘Molotov cocktail’ petrol bombs may be used against tanks

DAY TO DAY ORDERS FOR TROOPS IN MALTA

Extract from Commanding Officer’s Conference, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment, 2 December 1940

Saluting

Complaints have been received that the AOCs car and RAF officers are not being saluted by soldiers.  All ranks must be acquainted with badges of rank of officers in the Royal Navy and RAF.  In certain cases it is difficult to distinguish Army officers in battle dress, but the tie should serve as a good identification mark.

Motor Cycle Trailers

Higher authority has ruled that not more than two trailers will be towed behind one motorcycle and that weight in excess of one cwt for each trailer will not be carried.  The motorcycle will not take a pillion rider.  Stores such as guns, tripods and belt boxes, should be carried on the trailers, while the lighter and less cumbersome items are carried by bicycle by the gun numbers.  OCs of Companies are to try out methods of carrying ammunition belts by bicycle.

Skin Diseases

The CO wishes Company Commanders to take active steps to reduce the number of skin diseases which can be dealt with by individuals themselves, eg cuts, IAT etc.  Flavine was issued to Companies and Company OCs are to investigate the possibility of giving every post commander a small bottle of this mixture to deal with minor casualties in his command.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO DAWN 3 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and wet.

1037 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft reported approaching the Island from the north east. 

1045 hrs  Friendly aircraft approach Malta from the west.  The raiders are spotted eight miles to the north east of Grand Harbour, turning to the south east, then east.

1050 hrs  Two Hurricane fighters land at Luqa.

1055 hrs  All clear sounds.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 DECEMBER 1940

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  COs conference at HQ.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Authority is given to issue a third blanket to troops.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  A lecture at Australia Hall on “Strategic Importance of Malta”.

MALTA SIGNAL COMPANY  Classification of Signallers of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment: 11 passed, one failed.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Molotov anti-tank bomb demonstrated. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party of 20 men under L/Sgt King lifted an anti-aircraft searchlight onto the roof of Ritz Mansions, Tigne.  Two sub-sections of 24 Fortress Company began building anti-tank walls and digging anti-tank trenches at Concezione.  Work commenced on two look-out posts.  No 1 Works Company began work on additional accommodation for 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Hompesch. 

 

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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in December 1940

 

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