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13-19 September 1942: Malta Celebrates the George Cross

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presentation to People of Malta

 WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

14 September 1942: Mystery Loss of Flying Boat Clare

Short S30 flying boat ‘Clare’ (c) IWM CM6525

A Short S30 Flying Boat “Clare” which used to be a regular visitor to Malta has disappeared in mysterious circumstances off the coast of West Africa, near Bathurst, with the loss of all thirteen passengers and six crew.  Questions are to be asked in the UK Parliament about the loss of the aircraft which is believed to have developed mechanical trouble and caught fire before ditching into the sea.

Crewed by members of 37 Squadron – a RAF unit well known at Luqa airfield – who were seconded to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), the flying boat was en route from Lagos to Poole, in England when she went down.

Clare made the first BOAC flight from Britain to Cairo, and Malta was a scheduled stop on the route.  In February of this year while on the Island the flying boat survived an enemy bombing raid when she was damaged by incendiaries.  In October 1941 she carried King George of Greece and Sir Stafford Cripps on a visit to Gibraltar.

Reflecting their connections with Malta, five of the casualties of 37 Squadron are to be commemorated on the Island’s memorial.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0945-1040 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1343-1416 hrs  Six Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1539-1610 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine ME 109s cross the coast but refuse combat and turn back for home.

1750-1820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of a Rodeo mission: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2240 hrs  2nd Bn Devonshire Regt report seeing lights 4-5 miles out to see, 120 degrees from D Company HQ.

0450-0506 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea 5-10 miles north of the Island.  A Malta night fighter is airborne and chase on raider but are unable to engage.

Military casualties  Radio Officer Edgar Brent, BOAC; First Officer Anthony Cundy, BOAC; Sergeant Eric Lace, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 37 Squadron, serving with BOAC; Flying Officer George Musson, Flying Officer, Royal Air Force (O), BOAC, Captain; Radio Officer J Wycherley, BOAC; all crew of the flying-boat Clare.  Pilot Officer Albert Dixon, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 37 Squadron; Sergeant James Glansfield, Royal Air Force, 37 Squadron; Flight Sergeant William Kelly, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant James Maguire, Royal Canadian Air Force, 37 Squadron; Wing Commander Ronald Graham, RAF VR, commanding 37 Squadron; Squadron Leader John Parker, RAF VR, 37 Squadron; Warrant Officer Alick Turley, Royal Air Force, 37 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Rye swept P35 out, and Una in from patrol. Una reported one hit on 4000 ton merchant vessel which probably sank.

AIR HQ  Day  A wing sweep of eight aircraft from 185 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron led by W/Cdr Thompson carried out an extensive sweep of south east Sicily.  Enemy aircraft were reported north of Gela but not sighted.  2350-0250 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.

Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC3, one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter ran off the runway during take-off: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  0915-1020 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft were reported over Gela but the leader of the Spitfire formation had radio trouble and did not receive the message, so no contact made.  One Spitfire from Hal Far burst a tyre on taking off for wing sweep: the undercarriage collapsed and the airscrew was damaged; pilot unhurt.

TA QALI  0635-0725 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast: no sightings.  1700-1925 hrs  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo raid over Sicilian coast: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All men working on Luqa returned this morning: no men required until next month.

15 September 1942: Admiralty in Negotiations with Italians

SAFE PASSAGE FOR HOSPITAL SHIP UNDER THREAT AFTER SINKING OF ARNO

Hospital ship Arno pre-war as HMAT Wandilla

 

Rome radio has today alleged that Italian Hospital Ship Arno was sunk last Wednesday night by aerial torpedoes fired by British aircraft.  The incident took place about 40 miles east of Ras el Tin, Alexandria, with the loss of 27 lives.  If confirmed, this is first recorded incident of Allied action against a hospital ship but not the first since the outbreak of war. A Greek hospital ship was sunk by Italian aircraft in April last year and a Russian vessel sunk by German bombers in November.

The sinking threatens to undermine delicate negotiations with the Italian high command for the safe passage of a ship to take sick and wounded from Malta’s hard-pressed hospitals to Allied territories where they can be more easily catered for.

From:  Admiralty      To:  C in C Mediterranean    Rptd:  RA Malta; GHQ Middle East

SECRET

1.  Your 1117/7 Italian Government replied in June that they would order Axis armed forces to refrain from attack upon the area where our hospital ship was anchored at Malta provided embarkation took place in daylight.

2.  At same time they intimated that they would exercise their right under the 10th Hague Convention to examine the ship on passage to Malta and that this would be facilitated if the ship called voluntarily at Syracuse.  Nothing was said about the return voyage.

3.  The difficulty remains that under article 12 of 10th [Hague] Convention the Italians would have a perfect right to stop the ship on return voyage and move all sick and wounded as prisoners of war.  We also dislike the idea of putting one of our ships in Italian hands though the ships of the Italian repatriation scheme may be sufficient security for her return.

4.  Another possibility is to propose to the Italians that a neutral Red Cross Commission should examine the ship at port of departure, travel to Malta, supervise the embarkation and return with her.  This proposal would be accompanied with a request for absolute assurances for freedom from molestation on both outward and homeward voyages.  Italians may well refuse and recent sinking of Arno reduces chances of Italian acceptances.

5.  It would help us to know the degree of urgency to be attached to the voyage of a hospital ship to Malta.

NEW ENEMY AIRFIELD UNDER DEVELOPMENT

Photo-reconnaissance pilots today reported development of a new aircraft facilities at a former aerodrome 8½ miles south of Cotrone, near Cape Rizzutto.  Although much of the surface still appears unusable, extensive levelling appears to be in progress on the north side of the field.  A dispersal area with a small hangar and nine blast shelters have also been marked on the site.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0615-0655 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

ME 109 fighters

0830-0913 hrs  Air raid alert for twenty enemy fighters of which eight are identified as ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and nine Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.  Two ME 109s pass Blue Section moving in the opposite direction but are lost to view.  Two ME 109s dive on Red Section out of the sun: the Spitfires turn and dive after the enemy aircraft.  As they complete the turn, Sgt Peters is straggling.  A Spitfire is reported as performing aerobatics and cannon fire is also seen.  Four ME 109s are sighted but are impossible to intercept.  Sgt Peters does not return to base and is posted as ‘missing’.

0950-1115 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for Sgt Peters.  They encounter four ME 109s and engage but no claims are made.

1025-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for a fighter sweep of 20 enemy aircraft.  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft but do not engage.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol see two Macchi 202s.  F/Lt Roscoe fires a one-second burst at one Macchi and sees white smoke pour from the engine as the aircraft turns diving away.  P/O Scott turns to attack but is not seen again.  Sgt Turner attacks three enemy aircraft but is attacked himself from behind; no damage.  On heading back to base Sgt Turner is attacked by an unseen aircraft and is shot up; he is forced to land at Luqa.  P/O Scott is posted as ‘missing’.

1033 hrs  A friendly sea craft bearing 101 degrees is attacked and bombed by enemy aircraft: no damage.

1610-1650 hrs  Air raid alert for fifteen enemy aircraft on a fighter sweep: half cross the Island.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are despatched to patrol over Grand Harbour as cover for minesweepers.

1745-1825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: they engage four enemy fighters: no claims.

2330-2354 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft which approach the Island at great height: Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Only one raider crosses the coast and drops incendiaries and anti-personnel bombs on Ta Qali, Wardia and Mellieha areas.  The other aircraft drop bombs in the sea north east of Grand Harbour and south of Gozo.  Malta night fighters are airborne but do not intercept.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Bernard Peters, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve;Pilot Officer John Scott, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron;Private Norman Salmon, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 1942

Qawra Tower

ROYAL NAVY  3rd ML Flotilla carried out a searching sweep of NE coast between Sliema Point and Ras il Kaura at a distance of 2 ½ miles from the coast, with the object of clearing the area used by army Launches towing targets and to give freedom of action to our surface forces in the event of their being required to take action against the enemy in these waters. Owing to the large number of partings only 10% clearance was effected. Many mines were observed 3 to 4 feet below the surface.  The Flotilla anchored in St Paul’s Bay for the night.

AIR HQ  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea, believed due to enemy action: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1310-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a sweep over south east Sicily.  No enemy aircraft seen but accurate Ack Ack encountered near Comiso.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Aerodrome working parties took over duties from 2nd Bn Queens Own Royal West Kent Regt for one week’s work.  Two shifts of one Officer and 50 Other Ranks (OR) each for crater filling and general duties; two shifts of eight OR and 12 OR respectively for refuelling aircraft; one shift of 12 OR ammunition loading, one Sergeant and 16 drivers.

16 September 1942: Lt Governor Flies Home to Recover

Former Lieutenant Governor Sir Edward Jackson left Malta today for England.  Sir Edward collapsed two weeks ago with a suspected heart attack while he was deputising for Viscount Gort during his visit to the Middle East.  In recent months he has been greatly exercised in overseeing the supply situation in Malta and ensuring the survival of the Island until further convoys can reach the Island.  Mr D C Campbell, former Colonial Secretary of Gibraltar, has been appointed as his successor.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0855-0935  Air raid alert for twenty enemy fighters which approach the Island from the north at heights of 20-30000 feet.  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept (one returns early).  They see nine enemy fighters who attack the Spitfires from the port and stern.  The Spitfires break formation and evade the attack: no claims.

1140-1210 hrs  Air raid alert for eight enemy fighters in a sweep.  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they see enemy aircraft but do not engage.

1700-1710 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighters which approach within four miles north of Gozo before receding.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept (one returns early): no sightings.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert for twenty enemy aircraft approaching on a high fighter sweep.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Red Section sight enemy aircraft but are unable to engage.  Blue Section patrolling Grand Harbour see four ME 109s below them and dive to attack.  Sgt Wynn fires a two-second burst but makes no claim.

0008-0014 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft.  One drops his bombs in the sea immediately after crossing the Sicilian coast; the other drops bombs 15 miles north of Malta.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1942

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  3rd ML Flotilla carried out 90% clearance inside the bay, and then swept down to Grand Harbour without result.  Speedy carried out Oropesa search of QBB 273 and LL and SA search of Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicity.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released for the day.

TA QALI  0800-0845 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast: no sightings.

17 September 1942: Enemy Fear Malta Spitfires

According to intelligence summaries, the enemy will not engage with Malta fighters unless absolutely compelled to do so.  Their caution proved well-founded today, as three ME 109s and four Macchi 202s were defeated in dog fights by intercepting Spitfires during the morning.

MALTA BEAUFIGHTERS DISABLE AXIS MERCHANTMAN

This morning an unescorted 2000 ton merchant vessel was seen off the Tunisian coast, heading on a southerly course.  Six Beaufighters of 227 Squadron – five carrying bombs and one to deal with a reported air escort – were despatched to attack.  They found the merchant vessel 30 miles south of Keliba and dived down to mast height to attack.  Six 500lb and two 250lb bombs were dropped on the ship.  One direct hit with a 500lb bomb and several near-misses hurled the deck cargo into the sea.  The vessel came to a halt, listing to port, emitting brown and white smoke and pouring oil.

Cant Z 506 Airone

Later reconnaissance of the scene revealed a long streak of oil and wreckage spread over half a mile, while a Cant Z 506 circled overhead.  Some 40 large packing cases and three upturned ship’s boats were drifting nearby and four more boats pulled up on the beach in front of Hammamet village.

One Beaufighter has been reported lost in action.  Pilot Officer John Moffatt was making his first operational flight when his aircraft was hit and crashed into the sea, killing all the crew.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0850-0935 hrs  Air raid alert for 22 enemy aircraft in a fighter sweep.  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept (one spare returns early).  Blue Section sights enemy fighters 20 miles off Grand Harbour, go into line astern and attack.  F/Lt Roscoe fires a 2-3 second burst at a Macchi 202 and sees pieces fall off its wing roots and fuselage: aircraft probably destroyed.  P/O Farmer fires at the enemy leader and sees strikes on the ME 109: aircraft probably destroyed.  As he returns to base Sgt Irwin sees two ME 109s and fires a 4 second burst as he closes from 300 yards.  Thick grey smoke streams from the engine of one aircraft and the leg of its undercarriage drops down: aircraft damaged.

1100-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for 27 enemy aircraft which make a sweep, crossing the coast at Delimara and St Paul’s Bay in three formations.  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Irwin attacks a ME 109 head-on, seeing strikes on its wings and fuselage: one radiator falls off and glycol streams out – aircraft probably destroyed.  Sgt Irwin also attacks a Macchi from astern, seeing strikes on the fuselage and tail plane – aircraft damaged.  P/O Farmer is shot down in the sea and picked up later by the High Speed Launch: he suffers bruises only.

1555-1630 hrs  Air raid alert for 18 enemy fighters which approach at between 26000 and 30000 feet but do not cross the coast.  Two Spitfires Hal Far patrol over minesweepers but see no enemy aircraft.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled but see no enemy aircraft.

1700-1730 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters which approach in two formations.  Six Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far and patrol over the Island: no combat.

Night  No air raid alerts.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Dicker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Pilot Officer John Moffatt, RAF VR.

Civilian casualties  Mgarr  Saviour Bugeja, age 8.  Mosta  Carmel Bezzina, age 73.

Submarine P43 HMS Unison

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P43 from patrol and later Hebe swept Utmost to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea by enemy action: pilot rescued uninjured.  One Beaufighter missing from patrol: crew missing.

18 September 1942: A Raid-Free Day

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

No air raid alerts.

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1620-1735 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled on intercept patrol: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P35 into harbour.  P46 proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Luqa won their 11th successive cricket match, beating the Convoy XI at Marsa.  Luqa 161 for 3 wickets; Convoy XI 32 all out.

19 September 1942: Malta Troops in Landing Craft Training Exercise

TROOPS ON LANDING CRAFT EXERCISES

Two Motor Landing Craft arrived in St Paul’s Bay today.  Units of 2nd Brigade will carry out practice landings from these craft.  The nature of the future operation for which they will be used has not been revealed.

WW2 landing craft (c) IWM A17955

MALTA BOMBERS ATTACK TWO CONVOYS

Four Beaufighters of 227 Squadron today carried out a low-level bombing attack on three small vessels of about 1000 tons which were crawling along the coast from Tripoli towards Benghazi.  The Beaufighters came upon the convoy 24 miles east of Tripoli, just three miles from shore, where they attacked, dropping seven 500lb bombs close to the ships.  All three were also raked with cannon fire.  One of the ships ground to a halt; its wheel house collapsed and grey smoke pouring from the stern.  The other two ships headed for shore and were later reported heading back for Tripoli under tow.

Then tonight six Wellingtons of 69 Squadron launched an attack on a southbound convoy of two 7000 ton merchant vessels with seven destroyers as escort, 75 miles south of Sapienza.  An effective enemy smoke-screen made accurate bombing impossible but the bombers managed to unleash four 1000lb and twenty 500lb bombs on the convoy.  Pilots reported near-misses on two destroyers but results cannot be confirmed due to the restricted visibility.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air – day: total 209 fighter sorties; approx 50 crossed the coast.  Two ME 109s destroyed; two ME 109s, one Macchi 202 probably destroyed; four Macchi 202s damaged.  Our losses two Spitfires missing, one Spitfire destroyed (pilot safe); one Spitfire damaged (pilot unhurt).  Night:  18 bombers approached, only 3 crossed coast.  Bombs area Ta Qali, Mellieha, St Paul’s Bay; no damage.

2.  Own air – daylight:  (A)  Total 10 Beaufighter sorties: result one merchant vessel 2-3000 tons left stationary, oil pouring from sides; one ship 1000 tons left stationary.  Strikes with cannon and machine gun on three ships 1000 tons.  One Beaufighter missing.  (B) Total approx 70 Spitfire sorties offensive reconnaissance Sicily: two flying boats destroyed, one Macchi 202 damaged.  One Spitfire missing.  Night:  (A) Total six Beaufighters intruder patrols Sicily.  (B) Nine Wellingtons attacked two merchant vessels escorted by seven destroyers: no results seen due to effective smoke screen.

3.  Approx 250 Army personnel daily assisting RAF servicing etc.  Three UXBs totalling 0.6 tons disposed of not including incendiaries and anti-personnel.

4.  Military casualties and damage – nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  No air raid alerts.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1715-1835 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1755-1900 hrs  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are sent to search for a missing Spitfire from the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit: nothing found.

0237-0322 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  Only one crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of St Paul’s Bay.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Talisman is 24 hours overdue.  P211 arrived from Gibraltar, not having been expected until the following day. She was swept in by Hythe.  P44 arrived and reported having sunk two small ships and damaged another off Misurata.  Ploughboy carried out trial SS and LL sweep of Grand Harbour entrance having completed 5 months of refit.

AIR HQ  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from reconnaissance mission: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3.  Dealt with 1 high explosive 250kg; 1 anti-personnel container; 13 anti-personnel bombs; 30 oil incendiaries.

 

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Malta

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WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

 

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Posted by on September 13, 2017 in 1942, September 1942

 

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6-12 September 1942: Malta Prays as Children Cry for Bread

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DON’T MISS NEXT WEEK – 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF GEORGE CROSS PRESENTATION TO MALTA ON 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

 

“We were very close to starvation…I remember one particularly moving scene when a five year old boy with tears streaming down his face kept asking his mother for a slice of bread and the mother, weeping, saying, I haven’t got any, my son’… none of us there had any food to give him.”  Carmen Sapiano (1)

6 September 1942: Malta Unites to Pray for Deliverance

Barracca Chapel, Valletta

The population of Malta, military and civilian alike, attended churches across the Island today to mark a National Day of Prayer.  At 10 o’clock this morning the Army’s General Officer Commanding joined troops at the Barracca Church for a special service, followed by a parade outside the church and march back to barracks.  This evening the GOC inspected the Home Guard at Qormi, Birkirkara, Sliema and St Julian’s.

ATTACK ON AXIS CONVOY COSTS THIRTEEN AIRMEN

This morning two 7000 ton merchant vessels from Taranto were seen to join up with 4800 ton SS Ankara and another 7-8000 tons merchantman from Brindisi.  The convoy then proceeded south eastwards towards the Greek coast, escorted by eleven destroyers and patrolled by six Macchi fighters and six JU 88s.

Receiving details of the convoy, Air HQ Malta ordered nine Beauforts of 39 Squadron into the air, with eleven Beaufighters of 89 and 227 Squadrons.  At 1330 hrs this afternoon, the attacking force caught up with the convoy 30 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca and attacked.  Five of the Beaufighters drew the fire of the enemy air escort, destroying one JU 88, probably destroying a Macchi 200 and damaging one JU 88, one Macchi 200 and a flying boat.

Meanwhile the remaining six Beaufighters swooped in to divert defensive flak from the convoy, raking the destroyers and merchant ships with machine-gun and cannon fire, and dropping twelve 250 lb bombs, scoring several near-misses.  Cleared to reach their target, the Beauforts released eight torpedoes, scoring at least one hit and another possible on a merchant vessel, which began to belch smoke.  The Beauforts also destroyed one Macchi 200 and damaged two others as well as one JU 88.

Six Beauforts and two Beaufighters were damaged by enemy fighters or anti-aircraft flak during the raid.  One Beauforts and three Beaufighters failed to return from the raid: thirteen Air Force personnel have been reported missing, presumed killed.  The crew of the Beaufort piloted by Flight Sergeant Watlington had a lucky escape when their aircraft was hit and damaged by enemy fighters.  Wireless Operator, Sergeant Hugh McIllaney and Air Gunner, Sergeant Leslie Tester, were both wounded by shrapnel.  The Navigator Sergeant Charles Grant, rushed help, administering first aid to stop the bleeding.  Sgt Grant then took over the Vickers gun to ward off further enemy attackers.  Despite damage to The Beaufort’s hydraulics, flaps, tail assembly and turret, Flt Sgt Watlington managed to fly it back to Luqa and make a safe landing.

Later reconnaissance missions report that only three merchant ships and ten destroyers remained in the convoy: one merchantman was reported beached near Corfu.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

1405-1414 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft come to within 20 miles of the coast and then recede.

1720-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover a returning fighter sweep: no sightings.

1910-1935 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for missing aircraft.

Maqluba Church

2038 hrs  HQ Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a ‘golden rain’ rocket over west Zurrieq, moving towards Maqluba Church.  C Company patrol but report seeing nothing.  Rocket believed to have been used by villagers.

Military casualties  Sergeant Arthur Calvert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant James Cunningham, RAF VR, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; Sergeant Edward Cox, RAF VR; Sergeant Kevin Duncan, RAF VR; Lieutenant R Clifford Evans, South African Air Force, pilot; Flight Sergeant Roy Gibbons, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Donald Sharman, RAF, pilot; Sergeant Michael Wadham, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Robert Watson, RAF VR, all 39 [Beaufort] Squadron.

Sergeant Albert Cusworth, RAF VR, Navigator; Lieutenant Frederick Noome, South African Air Force, pilot; Flying Officer Dennis Partridge, Royal Australian Air Force, pilot; Sergeant Anthony Vivian, RAF VR, navigator; all 227 [Beaufighter] Squadron.

Gunner Carmel Buttigieg, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P44 to sea and then anchored at Marsaxlokk.  An enemy merchant vessel was attacked when in convoy off Cape Ducato, by Beaufighters and Beauforts, and was hit and probably sunk.

AIR HQ  Night  Four Wellingtons were despatched to attack enemy shipping: no sightings.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3, two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington ran off the runway during take-off and crashed into a Beaufighter: crew uninjured. One Beaufort crashed on landing with hydraulic and turret trouble: crew uninjured.  Six Beauforts and two Beaufighters were damaged by enemy fighters or flak while on shipping strike: one Beaufighter was seen crashing into the sea, two others and one Beaufort failed to return to base: all four crews are missing.  One Beaufort’s Wireless Operator/Air Gunner was killed but the rest of its crew returned uninjured.  Two Wireless Operators/Air Gunners were injured on board another Beaufort; the rest of the crew were unhurt and all returned to base.  The crews of the remaining two Beauforts escaped injury and returned to base.

LUQA  0730 hrs  Holy Communion in Poor House Cinema.  2030 hrs  Community hymn singing.

TA QALI  0700-0815 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron were despatched on offensive reconnaissance.  S/Ldr Woods attacked one of two 25 ton grey motor-driven two-masted craft, obtaining strikes on the hull and cabin with a four-second burst of cannon and machine-guns.  The other Spitfires did not fire, in some doubt as to the identity of the craft.  1110-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.

7 September 1942: Wellingtons Attack Surviving Axis Ships

RAF armourers prepare 500lb bombs for convoy attacks

The surviving vessels of the Axis convoy attacked by Malta air forces yesterday were today reported continuing on their course south eastwards.  Today three Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were sent to carry out a further attack.  Fifty miles north of Cape Aamer the Wellingtons came upon two merchant vessels with three destroyers as escort.  The bombers released twelve 500lb bombs which they reported landing within 10 yards of the larger merchant ship.  No damage report has yet been received.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 8 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0645-0745 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Beaufort crew: no sightings.

1210-1256 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled and orbit the Island at 12000 feet: nothing seen.

0103-0118 hrs  Air raid alert: one enemy aircraft drops bombs in the sea five miles north east of Grand Harbour.  A Malta night fighter is airborne and chases the unidentified raider but is unable to intercept.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Wallis Brown, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 1942

P46 HMS Unruffled returns to Malta after patrol

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P46 and Utmost in from sea.  While towing targets in St Paul’s Bay area, WD vessel Clive swept two mines with her towing wire.

AIR HQ 1928-2300 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Wellington, four Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts, three Wellingtons to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0748-0850 hrs  Seven Spitfires (one spare) flew over south east Sicily on Rodeo: nothing sighted.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI   1130-1240 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance (two returned early): no enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Coy fired light machine guns on Pembroke Range.  Other Coys on intensified training.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Brigade ordered special vigilance for mine-watching posts.

Tuesday 8 September 1942: Maltese Go Hungry As Rations Prove Inedible

Thousands who were served at Victory Kitchens today with a new rationed version of Balbuljata (2), using powdered eggs with minced vegetables, threw the food away in protest.  This is the second time a dish has been rejected as unpalatable: a week ago liver stew was found to be too bitter to stomach.

As well as claiming the Balbuljata was inedible, people expressed fury at the small portion on offer: no more than two tablespoonfuls, with another two of peas.  The Government decided that due to shortages the dish must remain on the Victory Kitchen menu but subscribers will be allowed to opt out of the meal by paying for six meals instead of seven weekly.  So far, very few have taken up the offer as they have no alternative way to feed themselves.  (3)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 9 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

1008-1032 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME 109s cross the Island at great height.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Malta fighters are scrambled to intercept: one Spitfire is shot down into the sea off Bubaqra Battery.  The pilot bales out and is later picked up uninjured by the Rescue Launch.

1050-1125 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1550-1700 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three unidentified enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1855-1920 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0001-0010 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft approach to within 15 miles of the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                         Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ   2240 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire was shot up by enemy fighters: pilot baled out, landed in the sea and was rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  1127-1251 hrs  Ten Spitfires (two spare, which returned early) flew over Lampedusa: nothing seen.  1824-1932 hrs  Five Spitfires flew over south east Sicily as far as Comiso on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft seen.

LUQA  Camp cinema:  Rhythm on the River

TA QALI  0750-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance (two return early): no enemy aircraft sighted.  1500-1600 hrs  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron and twelve of 249 Squadron on Rodeo (four of 229 return early).  Four enemy aircraft were sighted but no interception possible.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Coy commenced firing on Pembroke Range.  B Coy commenced changeover of billets Polverista to Dockyard.  C Coy normal training.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Lighter down in the sea 214 degrees Ta Silch Observation Post, two miles out.

9 September 1942: Black Marketeers Face Jail

32 days prison for stealing a tin of corned beef

…we could no longer get enough bread to satisfy our hunger on the grounds that supplies of flour are just about enough to meet the needs of the registered families.  At that stage my family began to really feel the hunger brought on by the shortages…Protection Officers, with their staff, had the job of organizing the distribution and control of food to the families in their district. Each family was issued with a Ration Card. On it was written the number of men, women and children and the total weight of bread the family is allowed per day. Besides the allowance of bread, on the card was written the quantities of other foodstuff allowed per fortnight… At the back of the card there used be a number of squares printed with a number in each square [to] represent the day of the month.

Black market was rampant in towns and villages. The suppliers were normally the farmers who insisted on gold rather than paper money for payment…In view of the very grievous situation Malta was in at the time, the authorities took an extremely serious view of any stealing of goods which was costing so many lives and ships to bring in to the starving population and the garrison. Just one typical example: caught stealing one tin of corned beef off an unloading operation in the ports was punishable with thirty two days imprisonment.”  J A Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0925-0935 hrs; 1010-1040 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1330-1342 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 enemy fighters approach but none cross the coast.

1313-1409 hrs  Ten Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far and patrol over St Paul’s Bay and the Island: nothing seen.

2236-2308 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft approach to within five miles of Dingli, dropping bombs in the sea.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy, Hebe, Rye and 4 motor launches carried out a clearance sweep from position 210 miles to the northward. No mines were swept. The sweepers were reported as a convoy by German fighters.  The two mines cut by Clive‘s towing wire the previous day were sunk by gunfire.

De Havilland Flamingo

AIR HQ   Twelve Spitfire sorties on offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  One Macchi 202 and one ME 109 destroyed for the loss of one Spitfire.  2250 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Flamingo, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from a fighter sweep over enemy territory; believed force-landed: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  0930-1045 hrs  Seven Spitfires flew over Sicily on Rodeo and attacked 3-4 enemy aircraft over Biscara.  Captain Kuhlmann shot down a Macchi 202.  Sgt Weaver, DFM crash-landed in Sicily and was taken prisoner.  1730-1840 hrs  Five Spitfires flew over Sicily on Rodeo: nil report.

LUQA  Camp cinema concert: Fly Gang in a new show.

TA QALI  0650-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no enemy sighted.  1400-1500 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance (one spare returned early).  A few bursts of light flak 45 miles north east of Gela.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT A Coy fired rifles on Pembroke Range.  B Coy continued move and D Coy moved from St Clements to Polverista.  Remainder on training.

10 September 1942: Victory Kitchens Need Urgent Review, Says Strickland

Colonel R Strickland today moved a motion in the Council of Government to appoint a Select Committee to report on the running of the Victory Kitchens and make recommendations for improvements.  The food distribution system is now struggling under the sheer weight of demand: since 1st August, the number of subscribers has trebled to 60,000.  Many have felt forced to join since the Communal Feeding Department is now commandeering all available produce, leaving those outside the scheme unable to obtain meat or vegetables.  Introducing his proposal, Col Strickland highlighted the people’s complaints:

“Extreme dissatisfaction prevails regarding the running of the Victory Kitchens, and the lot of the housewife has become well nigh impossible…The personnel employed in the Victory Kitchens is not suitable…[lacking] adequate knowledge of local customs and of Maltese habits and tastes…The Department is buying supplies at prices above the established controlled price…Cooks maintain that too much food is given to them, they do not cook it, by next morning it disappears…The cooking is bad…Another serious thing [is the] unequal portions being meted out…” (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather   Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0815 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0835-0930 hrs  Four  Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to cover 1435 Squadron returning from a fighter sweep.

1003-1111 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far area scrambled on intercept patrol: nothing seen.

2000 hrs  Observers report three shipping plots three miles north east of the island.

2020 hrs  C and D Coys, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report small craft in DELs, 30 degrees RA3. 

2030 hrs  Dorsetshire Regt report more craft in DELs: guns fire.

0005-0036 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach to within 10-15 miles of Gozo and drop bombs in the sea.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Sergeant Roland Ainsworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR);  Sergeant Thomas Kirkham, RAF VR; Sergeant William Law, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant James Pilling, RAF VR; Pilot Officer John Pope, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Ruskin Rice, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Joseph Sloan, RAF VR; all 202 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  2130 hrs  Three MTBs were reported from the plot one mile from the coast between Madliena and St. Paul’s Bay. Nothing was sighted.

AIR HQ  0010-0240 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily: no enemy aircraft seen.  Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  0636-0756 hrs  Five Spitfires flew over south east Sicily on Rodeo: nothing seen.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Merchant Navy in a cricket match at Marsa:  Luqa 107 for 6 declared; Merchant Navy 104.  Camp cinema:  Lady of the Tropics.

TA QALI  1000-1105 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on offensive reconnaissance.  Enemy aircraft were reported but none sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Coy fired rifles on Pembroke Range.  One Officer and one NCO attended bomb recce course under Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal.  B, C and D Coys held weekly night exercise.

11 September 1942: Malta Commanders Gather in Secret

Bomb damage in Palace Square, Valletta

Malta dignitaries, military and civil defence personnel gathered in Valletta today in conditions of the utmost secrecy to rehearse for the formal presentation of the George Cross to the Island which takes place on Sunday next.  With the recent reduction in air attacks and the evident superiority of the RAF in the skies over Malta, the Governor and Commander in Chief has decided it is now safe for the important ceremony to take place.  However, for security reasons it has been decided not to announce details of Sunday’s event beyond Malta’s shores.

The George Cross will be officially handed over by Lord Gort to Sir George Borg, Chief Justice of Malta at 9.15 am in Palace Square, which has been cleared of debris for the occasion.  The Royal Malta Artillery have been chosen to provide the guard of honour and the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment will play for the ceremony.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1024-1038 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy fighter approaches the Island at 6000 feet to within eight miles of Grand Harbour, then recedes.

1200-1250 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2330-0042 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach the Island.  One comes within five miles north of St Paul’s Bay and another 15 miles west of Dingli: both drop bombs in the sea.  The third crosses the coast and drops bombs on the northern end of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 was swept out by Hebe and proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Two Wellingtons were despatched to locate and destroy a submarine in the Benghazi area: no sighting.  Arrivals  One Hudson, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Shallufa.  Departures  One Flamingo, one DC3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  Camp cinema: At the Circus.

TA QALI  0725-0820 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1125-1300 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1830-1940 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on shipping patrol: no sightings.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Dress rehearsal for presentation of George Cross to Malta.

12 September 1942: Malta Air Forces 40 Attacks in 7 Days

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 12 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

Ta Qali

 

1.  Enemy air activity slight.  22 fighter sorties by day, 18 bomber sorties by night.  One bomber crossed the coast: bombs on Ta Qali.

2.  Beauforts and Beaufighters attacked a convoy of four merchant vessels and eleven destroyers.  One merchant vessel hit, one probably hit.  Two enemy aircraft escorting destroyed, one probable, six damaged.

3.  Military damage and casualties [in Malta] nil.  Training continues.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0925-1025 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1122-1226 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled and patrol the Island between Comino and Zonqor at 14000 feet: nothing seen.

1216-1308 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne as cover for returning Spitfires, patrolling ato 14000 feet, 30-40 miles north of Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2143-2203 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island at 23-26000 feet but drop all bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Grezzju Dalli, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe carried out search of QBB 273.

AIR HQ  Twelve Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Four Beaufighters were despatched on shipping strike: no sightings.  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter swung off the runway during take-off: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1530-1626 hrs  Four Spitfires were despatched on Rodeo to south east Sicily: nil report.

LUQA  Camp cinema concert.

TA QALI  1135-1235 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast encountered heavy Ack Ack at 16000 feet, accurate at height being only 250-500 yards behind Spitfires.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 18.  Dealt with: 10 High Explosives inc 2 delayed action (1 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg; 1 x 12kg AP); 18 anti-personnel bombs.

(1) The People’s War, Malta 1940/43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press, Malta 1998

(2)  Normally made with scrambled eggs, tomatoes and onion

(3)  Adapted from When Malta Stood Alone (1940-1943), Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta, 1981

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2017 in 1942, August 1942, Uncategorized

 

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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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30 August 1942: Rations Cut Again – Meat Only Twice a Week

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

Please pass to Secretary of State for the Colonies and Chiefs of Staff MidEast please pass to Minister of State Cairo.

1.  Unloading and dispersal of supplies from convoy is now complete except for aviation and benzene, fortress can hold out until early December.  Aviation spirit position has been reported separately to Chiefs of Staff in HQ Med Sig 0726 of 25/8.  Benzine consumption has been reduced to 15,200 gallons per week but even so stocks will only last until mid-November.  Benzine can be made to last until target date by drawing on 77 octane but this is likely to be required for blending with aviation spirit.  We have 600 tons of 77 octane available, of which 250 tons are held as fortress reserve of MT spirit and 100 tons are needed for consumption by naval and RAF craft.

2.  Target date of early December allows for following adjustments of consumption on civil side:

  • (i)  Bread ration for men between 16 and 60 will be increased by 3½ ounces per day to 14 ounces.
  • (ii)  Fat ration will be at half normal ration level during September but I hope to increase it to normal level at beginning of October.
  • (iii)  Regular issues of edible oil will be made at normal ration rates.
  • (iv)  There will be regular issues of coffee with possibly one period skipped.
  • (v)  Regular weekly issues of kerosene will be made as from 1st October but at summer rather than higher winter rate.
  • (vi)  Domestic electricity supply will be restored on 1st October.
  • (vii)  Brewing will be resumed as soon as possible.
  • (viii)  Present reduced rations of sugar and soap will be maintained, sugar being issued twice every three half-monthly periods and soap once very two periods.

3.  Victory kitchens now have 60,000 persons registered and 170 kitchens are in operation.  Further rapid expansion is possible but supply of vegetables cannot be further increased while potatoes are now almost unobtainable and meat supply is not as great as was expected and is already falling off.  In future it will be possible to provide meat on only two days a week instead of five, and this may later have to be reduced to one if registration increases as expected. 

Victory Kitchen

In this situation I have been carefully considering the future of the Victory kitchens.  Allowing for small increases in rations now being made, calorie value of rationed foods per day for a man between 16 and 60 who is member of average size family is 1300, or 200 calories below figure normally taken as minimum.  Outside rations, very little food is obtainable.  Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are all too scarce to be rationed, even if this were possible from other points of view.  Marketing of meat and vegetables is now under control of Government and no meat except poultry and rabbits and small amount only of vegetables is being sold on open market.  Victory kitchens provide only satisfactory method of distributing evenly what meat and vegetables are available and if we were now to revert to old arrangement under which kitchens provide meals only on surrender of rations allowing majority of meat and vegetable supply to return to open market, effect would be that poorer classes would get very little, while those who are prepared to pay any price would obtain what they wished.

4.  I am satisfied that in our present food situation it is essential to continue existing policy of providing one meal a day through kitchens outside rations so as to raise calorie value of diet to about 1800 calories.  This can only be done by introducing considerable quantities of imported supplies into the menus.  I have decided accordingly that all civil supplies of dried vegetables, dried eggs and cheese shall be allotted to the communal feeding department and that [pasta] shall be issued through kitchens on a substantial scale, estimated to absorb 230 tons of flour per month on an average registration of 150,000 persons.  This allotment of flour has been allowed for in calculating target date.  Menu will then consist of macaroni and cheese on two days, minestra on two days, meat and vegetables on two days and an egg dish on one day.  I anticipate that effect of new policy will be to encourage rapid increase in registration.

5.  In spite of increased issues described above, the civil food situation is still causing me considerable anxiety.  Rates of rations and general scale of diet remain low.  No signs of serious malnutrition have yet appeared but prolonged continuance of present food shortage must have its effect both on health and morale and shortage will be more seriously felt in winter.  Anything which can be done by special means at any time before another convoy is run, to supplement diet by importing concentrated foodstuffs or food of small bulk, will help greatly.  I will telegraph our immediate requirements of these types of food in the course of the next two days in case any special opportunity occurs to send such supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud: visibility 15-20 miles.  Wind variable becoming southerly; light.

No air raid alerts.

1105-1215 hrs; 1625-1725  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron then ten 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on patrol: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by Hythe.  Una sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Day  Nine Beauforts escorted by eleven Beaufighters were despatched to attack an enemy convoy.  Night  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Ten Spitfires went out to area 15-30 miles south east of Correnti Island and patrolled at 20000 feet over returning Beauforts.  No enemy aircraft seen.

TA QALI  Final movement of 248 Squadron pilots to United Kingdom.

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2225
  • Total number of alerts this month 141
  • Bombing raids  day 39  night  20
  • Raid-free days  3
  • Night raids  37
  • Raid-free nights  12
  • Alerts for own planes  8
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  2 days, 56 mins
  • Average length of alert 29.1 mins
  • Killed  41 (15 men, 12 women, 14 children)
  • Seriously injured  33 (10 men, 14 women, 9 children)
  • Buildings seriously damaged  58

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during Operation Pedestal were landed at Malta. 207 of whom sailed in Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury on 18th August. The remainder being evacuated by air as opportunity arises.  The bulk of the cargo was unloaded by 23rd August, about 12,000 tons of furnace fuel, 3600 tons of diesel fuel, and 32,000 tons of general cargo having been received.  The enemy made no attempt to bomb any of the ships after they had arrived in harbour, or, in fact, once they were within comfortable range of shore based fighter protection.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine, visibility 20-30 miles.  Wind south-westerly, light; varying north westerly, light to moderate.

Day  No air raid alerts.

0915-1005 hrs; 1515-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron then four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali carry out patrols: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2221-2246 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approached from the north but receded before crossing the coast.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmela Ellul, age 30.  Mqabba  Emanuel Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Paola  Emanuel Paris.  Qormi  Spiro Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML carried out sweep of the area extending seaward of entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett to the 40 fathom line, and swept two moored mines and one conical float.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Bisley to LG 224.

INFANTRY  R Company, Lancashire Fusiliers, took over area from E Company, 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, and vice versa.

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

Reports released today show that 936 Axis aircraft have been destroyed over Malta or by Malta-based aircraft since Italy entered the war in June 1940.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

1300 hrs  One anti-personnel bomb explodes on Ta Qali aerodrome, seriously injuring three Maltese children: two of them die in hospital.

1858-1907 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turn back five miles from the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Francis Sammut, age 16; Carmel Tanti, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  2150 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron were despatched to attack a 4000 ton tanker with an escort of two destroyers near Corfu.  They dropped four 250lb and twenty 500lb bombs with several near-misses: the convoy continued on course.  One Wellington missing.  0130 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  No enemy sighted.

Arrivals  Four Beauforts, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off, crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter undercarriage collapsed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0930-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far carried out a high level sweep over Correnti Island, Noto, Ragusa and Pozzala in Sicily.  No enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.  1315-1325 hrs  The Spitfire of Pilot Officer Cheek crash-landed on an air test: his tyre burst on take-off and he had to land ‘wheels up’.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Gun Operations Room in a cricket match: results Luqa 108 (Neale 46), GOA 97.  Camp Cinema: Captain Fury.

TA QALI  0705-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1200-1315 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine 249 Squadron Ta Qali on a sweep over Sicily saw ships believed to be tankers outside Licata Harbour.  The Spitfires are met with heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire over Licata at 11000 feet but see no enemy aircraft.

Nos 242, 314, 502 and 841 AME Stations, Observer Corps Detachments at Dingli, Torri L’Ahmar and Ghargur, Officers’ and Airmen’s rest camp at St Paul’s Bay taken over by this Station for administration and rations.

INFANTRY  0545 hrs  Exercise to test the alertness of sentries and communications within 4 Brigade.  Also rapid destruction of parachutists in the Brigade area.  Exercise began with firing of three Verey lights around Marsaxlokk Bay.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company are performing coast patrol duties at Il Kaus; B Company are manning Tal Virtu observation post.

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

“We have some very grave shortages.”  Letter from Rommel to his wife, 30 August 1942

Malta-based attacks on southbound convoys in the Mediterranean have forced Field Marshal Rommel to give up his attempt to retake El Alamein.  The Island’s air and naval forces have starved the Axis of more than half of the supplies they need to continue the battle in North Africa.  Rommel originally intended to begin a major offensive against British forces on 26 August but had to postpone due to a shortage of fuel, thanks to the sinking of two tankers in the Mediterranean.

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

With a promise that another convoy would set out immediately from Italy, at 2330 hrs on Sunday Rommel launched an attack at Alam el Halfa but came up against a massive minefield and a well-equipped British force under Lt Gen Montgomery.  But nine Beauforts and eleven Beaufighters had already set off from Malta to attack the supply convoy, which had been spotted by 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance pilots.  At the same time destroyers, bombers and naval aircraft launched heavy attacks on Axis stores and workshops close to the battlefield.

Yesterday Malta-based submarine P 35 sank a southbound 5000 ton merchant vessel and the Island’s bombers stand ready to act immediately to any further attempts to re-supply the enemy.  Attacks continued today with Wellington bombers targeting a tanker and Navy Air Service Albacores striking a merchant vessel and escort with torpedoes.

After three days of relentless allied bombing and artillery fire and faced with a precarious supply situation Rommel has been forced to call off the attack and withdraw his forces.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0915-1020 hrs; 1015-1055 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on intercept patrol and sweep: no sightings.

1015-1045 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1303 hrs  Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight one Macchi 202.  F/Lt Hetherington, W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Farmer each fire a burst in turn, all obtaining strikes.  The tail of the Macchi is shot off and the aircraft goes down streaming glycol.  The remaining aircraft recede without coming within 25 miles of the Island.

1930-1950 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Corporal Arthur Simpson, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P34 swept out but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky DSEA hatch.

AIR HQ  1305 hrs  An offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily.  One Macchi 200 is shot down.  Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the tanker targeted last night, now 10 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The drop six 500lb bombs on the tanker, scoring one hit and causing a large explosion, followed by clouds of white smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa two Beauforts one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.    Aircraft casualties  One Hudson tyre believed burst during take-off, crashed and burned out: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1720-1830 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over Sicily and encounter enemy aircraft.  2129-0235 hrs  One Swordfish with flares and two Albacores NAS located and attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by two destroyers and a small flak ship, 15 miles north east of Cape Spartivento heading easterly.  They located the target just off the toe of Sicily and score hits with two torpedoes, one aft of the funnel and one aft of the bridge, followed by a violent explosion.  They leave the vessel down by the stern and belching clouds of black and white smoke.  A later photo-reconnaissance report showed the merchant vessel aground close to where it had been attacked.

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

“The Air Officer Commanding sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron (Reconaissance) for successful attacks on two successive nights, when Wellingtons scored direct hits on an important tanker heading for North Africa and also near-misses on destroyers.  The loss or even the disabling of the enemy tanker should greatly assist the British fighting Rommel.”

69 Squadron crew disembark Baltimore Luqa 1942 (c) IWM GM 1042

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0935-1030 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1701-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Two enemy fighters fly over Comino Channel at 20,000 feet.  Spitfires chase them back to within 10 miles of the Sicilian coast but are unable to intercept.

1845-1930 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. Clyde and P43 were also swept out to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI  1540-1635 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance circled Linosa and spotted a new building – ‘apparently’ a church.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

Two Albacores Royal Naval Air Squadrons were despatched today to finish off the merchant vessel beached after their previous attack on Wednesday night.  One Albacore scored a torpedo hit on the ship’s port quarter, while the other scored a direct hit with a 250lb bomb on the destroyer alongside, and straddled the merchant vessel with two other bombs.   Photo-reconnaissance later showed that the merchant vessel had a large gap in her starboard side.

Later tonight two Wellington bombers took advantage of intense darkness to attack a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice.  They dropped a total of eight 500lb bombs on the ship but were unable to observe results, which will await confirmation by photo-reconnaissance.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Local thunder; rain with bright periods.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0848-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy fighters approach at low altitude, apparently intending a low-level machine gun attack, but turn back while still eight miles off the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1459-1544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eighteen enemy fighters approach the Island; four are identified as ME 109s.  Some of the raiders skirt the Zonqor coast, while others patrol five miles north of Gozo.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light out to sea, 80 degrees RA 4.

2313-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but turn back when 20 miles north west of Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William Storer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Ronald Rooke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Night  Two Albacores RNAS were despatched to attack a merchant vessel beached eight miles north of Bianca.

AIR HQ  1720 hrs  Six Beauforts and six Beaufighters were despatched to attack a convoy off Cape Spartivento but failed to locate the target.  Night  Two Wellingtons attacked a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice, dropping eight 500lb bombs on the ship.  No results are seen due to the intense darkness.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire had engine trouble, force-landed: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1000-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a Rodeo raid over Sicily but encounter no enemy aircraft.  PM  Seven Spitfires were despatched on a sweep over Sicily.  The leader had a faulty radio and broke formation: owing to a misunderstanding the rest followed suit and as a result the Spitfires returned to base.

LUQA  Luqa beat the RASC at cricket by nine wickets: RASC 36, Luqa 38 for one wicket.  Camp cinema: Second Chorus.

TA QALI  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1320-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance sighted two unidentified aircraft but did not intercept due to a radio fault and subsequent misunderstanding.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Major General Scobie, GOC troops Malta, visited the Battalion.  This is the second time the Bn has been under his command – Tobruk October 1941 was the first.

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

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

1.  Enemy activity confined 48 fighter sorties by day and 6 bomber sorties by night.  One JU 88 crossed coast; good [searchlight] illumination.  Bombs on land.  One Macchi 202 destroyed, two ME 109s probably destroyed.  Own losses nil.  Recently there has been a large decrease in the numbers of bombers and fighters in Sicily, particularly German.

2.  Own air offensive continues.  150 Spitfire sorties over Sicily also 4 Beaufighters by night.  Malta based air attacks on convoys to Libya continue resulting in 1 tanker blown up, 1 tanker stationary, 2 merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one destroyer hit by bombs; near-misses one merchant vessel, one destroyer.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.  Intensified training being carried out.  Small parties employed on aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0910-0958 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron and five from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire of 249 returns early, its hood blown off.

Grand Harbour

12 ME 109s and Macchi 202s cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires intercept some of the enemy over Grand Harbour and others 20 miles off Zonqor.  249 Squadron engage six ME 109s. P/O Williams scores strikes on one.  P/O Giddings attacks a second; he sees no strikes but a panel flies off the port wing of the enemy aircraft.  Hal Far pilot F/Lt Charney destroys one Macchi 202.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires see three ME 109s and four other fighters six miles east of Zonqor and chase them back towards Sicily: no engagement.

1725-1825 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a reported formation of enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

2250-2317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach the Island; one recedes 40 miles from the coast.  The other, a JU 88, crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of Birkirkara.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no interceptions.  Searchlights effect one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report several white verey lights off the Delimara area.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Wellingtons, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0640-0800 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft encountered.

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

TA QALI  1145-1315 hrs  Thirteen Spitfires 249 Squadron (two returned early) and nine of 229 Squadron (one returned early) were despatched on a Rodeo raid.  Two enemy fighters are seen but not intercepted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26.  Dealt with: 7 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 116 anti-personnel bombs, 18 oil incendiaries.

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

 
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23-29 August 1942: Malta Attacks to Halt Rommel’s Africa Campaign

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23 August 1942: RAF Begins ‘Circus’ Operations

Axis aircraft on Gela aerodrome

Three bomb-carrying Hurricanes (Hurri-bombers) escorted by Spitfires today carried out a ‘circus’ raid today on Gela aerodrome in southern Sicily.  Circus operations, introduced in 1941, involve sending a formation of bombers escorted by a larger number of fighters whose to act as bait and entice German fighters into combat on the RAF’s own terms.

The Hurricanes, of the Royal Naval Air Service based at Hal Far, took off at 1540 hrs this afternoon, accompanied by twelve Spitfires from Ta Qali.  Thick cloud obscured the intended target but S/Lt Pratt dropped his two 250lb bombs on military buildings north east of Gela town.  S/Lt White dropped his bombs on the town itself and S/Lt Elliot bombed Biscari Aerodrome.  In the poor visibility the enemy did not mount a counter attack and the mission returned safely to Malta at 1712 hrs.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR COLLAPSES

Malta’s Lieutenant Governor Sir Edward Jackson collapsed today.  Initial reports suggest a possible heart attack.  He has been deputising for the Governor since Wednesday, while Lord Gort is in the Middle East.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 AUGUST TO DAWN 24 AUGUST 1942

Two fighter sweeps of six and eight enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Hythe

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 23 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  While sweeping Rorqual and P 34 from sea to Marsamxett, Hythe had a gyro compass failure and while turning outside the swept channel in the vicinity 3, she cut two moored mines.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; four Beaufighters to EDCU.

24 August 1942: ‘Malta Punishes Enemy Raiders’

Valletta, Sunday

“On Friday afternoon Royal Air Force fighters destroyed five enemy aircraft over Malta.  After a raidless night, a fair-sized enemy fighter sweep approached the coast yesterday, but turned back and avoided combat when they saw British aircraft approaching.”  The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 24 August 1942

RAF MOUNT RODEO ATTACKS

Malta Spitfires launched their first ‘Rodeo’ attacks over Sicily today.  These hit and run fighter sweeps are designed to be surprise attacks on selected targets, in which Spitfires swoop to very low level and strafe airfields, dockyards and road and rail transport installations.  Despite the high risk involved in such attacks, all 15 Spitfires engaged in today’s raid returned safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 AUGUST TO DAWN 25 AUGUST 1942

Day  Three enemy aircraft approach the Island but do not cross the coast.  Spitfires are scrambled on intercept patrols: no engagement.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Lawrence Dewhurst, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 39 Squadron; Flying Officer Albert Turner, RAF VR, 39 Squadron; Sergeant George Leadbeater, RAF VR, 39 Squadron; Sergeant John Littlewood, RAF VR, 39 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 24 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 43 was swept in and P 46 out to sea on patrol.  The tanker attacked on 21st August was reported ashore in Saiada Bay.

AIR HQ  Eight Beauforts of 39 Squadron and eight Beaufighters of 227 Squadron of which three carried bombs attacked a convoy of two destroyers and a 7000 ton tanker, in position 272 degrees, Antipaxos 39 miles, course 130 degrees, 11 knots.  Although no claims were made, an apparent explosion was seen on the tanker, further results were unobserved.  One Beaufort was shot down during the attack.  Beaufighters dropped three 250lb GP bombs which slightly overshot.  One JU 88 was shot down over the convoy by Beaufighters.

Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the enemy tanker which had been beached in Saiada Bay, Corfu, after the Beaufort strike on 21 August.  Thirty-five 45lb fire bombs were dropped, all falling within 400 yards of the vessel, resulting in small explosions on the water and flames lasting about six minutes, followed by black smoke for another five minutes.

Arrivals  One Catalina, four Beauforts, four Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Catalina to Aboukir.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort failed to return from shipping strike:crew missing.  One Beaufort’s tyre burst and crash landed: crew uninjured.

25 August 1942: Pedestal Commander Reports on Convoy

Vice Admiral Syfret

Vice-Admiral E N Syfret today submitted his full report on Operation Pedestal to the Admiralty.  The report gives a detailed account of the convoy, from the assembly of ships in the Clyde, their first passage to Gibraltar and the repeated enemy attacks through the Mediterranean.

READ OPERATION PEDESTAL FULL REPORT – CLICK HERE

RAF ATTACK TANKER

21 Spitfires today carried out a second Rodeo raid over Sicily and six Beaufighters escorted by six Spitfires attacked an Axis fuel tanker off Tripoli.  The raids were not without casualties:  two Spitfires ditched into the sea with the loss of their pilots.  A Baltimore sent on search patrol failed to return.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 AUGUST TO DAWN 26 AUGUST 1942

AM  His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief returns from the Middle East.

1139 hrs  30 plus enemy fighter aircraft approach the Island but only half cross the coast.  Spitfires engage.

1520 hrs  Six enemy aircraft approach the Island, believed to be on reconnaissance.  Malta Spitfires scrambled: no engagement.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Basil Butler; Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Reginald Round, Royal New Zealand Air Force; both 249 Squadron.  Sergeant Eric Cragg, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer John Foster, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Raymond Harvey, RAF VR; Sergeant Mervyn McCrea, RAF VR; all 69 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 25 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept Utmost to sea on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; two Beauforts, eight Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Hudsons to Gibraltar; two DC3s, four Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires shot down in the sea: pilots missing, believed killed.  One Baltimore failed to return from search: crew missing.

LUQA  During the period 21-25 August there were no attacks on the aerodrome.  Station strength is decreasing.  Camp Cinema cleared and is running.

26 August 1942: Spitfire Pilots Shot Down in Defence of Malta

Two Spitfires pilots of 229 Squadron were lost this morning after they went to intercept a large formation of enemy aircraft approaching from Sicily:

“Ten miles north-east of the island of Comino the Squadron sighted a pair of Messerschmitts at 27,000 feet and then six more unidentified fighters at sea level. One section dived to investigate the unidentified aircraft during which Sergeant Cornish crashed into the sea, either shot down or having failed to pull out of the dive. Flying Officer Newman flying V S Spitfire EP190 reported that he was circling an aircraft in the sea; this was the last contact with him. Both pilots failed to return. It is thought that Flying Officer Newman had fallen victim to the guns of Ltn Schiess of Stab/JG53, although another pilot of Stab/JG53 also claimed a Spitfire during the same sortie, this was not confirmed.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 AUGUST TO DAWN 27 AUGUST 1942

Day  Two air raid alerts for a total of 56 enemy aircraft: only a few fighters cross the coast.  Army General Officer Commanding visited various gun sites with Commander, Royal Artillery.

JU 88 crashed at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

Night  Two alerts for a total of 18 aircraft: 13 cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Hal Far.  One JU 88 is destroyed.

0008-0110 hrs  Thirteen German and Italian aircraft drop high explosive and incendiary bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, causing superficial damage, and on Hal Far, damaging NAS Offices.  Houses are demolished at Kirkop.

Military casualties  Sergeant Clifford Cornish, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer Dudley Newman, RAF VR; both 229 Squadron.  Gunner Alec Balaam, 168 Battery, 74 LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber, shot down and killed: Unteroffizier Franz Diedl, Air Gunner and Unteroffizier Franz Rohringer, Observer.  Survived and taken prisoner: Feldwebel Ernst Klaus, Pilot and Unteroffizier Kurt Klawitter, Wireless Operator.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 26 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Rye swept Rorqual to sea.

AIR HQ Two [bomb-carrying] Hurricanes RNAS, operating with a “Circus” [of Spitfires], dropped bombs on Biscari aerodromes and military buildings.  Results were unobserved.

Night  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron made a successful machine-gun and cannon attack on Marsala flying boat station.  One merchant vessel with a chance light was attacked and the light extinguished, and one De 18 was shot down in flames.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa; one Bisley, one Wellington, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Beauforts, one DC3, four Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires missing on patrol; presumed enemy action: both pilots missing.

27 August 1942: Malta’s Air and Sea Forces Disrupt Rommel’s Supplies

SPITFIRE RODEO STRIKE SUCCESS

German Junkers aircraft, Comiso airfield

A bold series of Rodeo operations was mounted from Malta today on the aerodromes of Sicily.  Following recent photo-reconnaissance reports of increased numbers of Axis bombers in the area, three Spitfire Squadrons – a total of over 30 aircraft – were sent to carry out the high-risk low-level raids on Biscara, Comiso and Gela.  29 Axis aircraft were destroyed on the ground and 10 more in air combat, plus others damaged – for the loss of two Spitfires.  Wing Commander Arthur Donaldson recalled the loss of his second in command as they attacked Biscara:

“We maintained complete RT silence so as to arrive unheralded.  My Squadron was to attack Biscara.  The flak was intense.  I looked across at poor old Walter Churchill, and at that very moment he was shot down in flames, crashing in the middle of the aerodrome.  I saw a Dornier bomber about to take off and by the time he was in my sights he was airborne.  I chased him for about twenty miles.  He had smoke pouring out of him and he was losing height; and disappeared below a small hill.  I was not able to see him hit the ground, but it was obvious that he was a dead duck.” (2)

AXIS FORCES HARASSED

Meanwhile attacks by Malta-based forces on southbound Axis convoys are hitting home, as war in the Western Desert reaches a critical point.  Beauforts and Beaufighters sank a merchant vessel and damaged its escorting destroyer north of Benghazi, with the loss of one Beaufighter.  A Malta-based submarine sank a second merchant vessel in a torpedo strike.  The attacks are key to deterring a major planned offensive by German forces in North Africa, according to a US news agency:

Field Marshal Rommel in North Africa

“An attack in Egypt by Rommel is expected at any time, according to a radio dispatch from the special correspondent of the “New York Times” in the Western Desert. He says that the RAF is attacking streams of German trucks and supplies which are moving up to the front. They are causing death and havoc, but the stream continues to move up, bringing nearer “Der Tag” [The Day] which many observers believe will be an August day.

There is an air of alertness and expectancy along the El A|amein front: “It may be tonight,” said one British captain. “Our tanks are standing by in case anything happens.” It is not thought that Rommel will delay much longer, unless he has experienced greater supply difficulties than the British observers expected. The British and Dominion forces are taking the utmost precautions to keep themselves informed of Rommel’s movements. They are determined to avert a surprise attack.”  The Advertiser, Adelaide, 28 August 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 AUGUST TO DAWN 28 AUGUST 1942

Day  Two air raid alerts for a total of eleven enemy aircraft which approach the Island Spitfires intercept and no aircraft cross the coast.

Night  No raids.

Military casualties  Group Captain Walter Myers Churchill, DSO, DFC, Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Force), 605 Squadron; Flying Officer Percy Johnston, Royal Canadian Air Force, 200 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Eric O’Hara, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 227 Squadron; Sergeant Kenneth Seddon, RAF VR, Navigator with 227 Squadron.

Civilian casualties (see Air Raids 26 to 27 Aug)  Mqabba  Michael Cachia, age 11; Emmanual Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Qormi  Spiru Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 27 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 35 reported having sunk a southbound MV in position 35-39N, 23-05E and Beaufort aircraft sank another MV in 33-59N, 20-57E.

AIR HQ  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron and nine Beaufighters 227 Squadron, five with bombs, attacked a convoy comprising one destroyer and one 6000 ton merchant vessel, patrolled by one JU 88 and one Cant Z 1007, in position 329 degrees Cape Aamer 73 miles, course 190 degrees, speed 10 knots.  Beaufighters attacked first, dropping seven 250lb GP bombs and scoring one hit on the stern of the merchant vessel.  They also raked the merchant vessel and destroyer with machine guns and cannons from deck level.  The destroyer was left smoking from the stern.  Beauforts then attacked with torpedoes, scoring three hits on the merchant vessel which blew up and was left ablaze, and sinking with decks awash and back broken. The escorting Cant was destroyed by Beaufighters which also damaged the JU 88.

Night  Two Hurricanes made a bombing attack on Gela and Comiso aerodromes.  Results were unobserved owing to intense flak.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron attacked the seaplane hangar at Syracuse with machine gun and cannon fire, scoring many hits.  Motor transport near Pachino was also attacked and damaged.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa; one Spitfire from Burg el Arab; two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire missing on operation due to enemy action: pilot missing, believed killed.  One Spitfire failed to return from fighter sweep; believed force-landed: pilot missing.  One Beaufighter believed hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: crew missing.

28 August 1942: Malta Must Survive on Minimum Supplies, Warns Governor

In a radio broadcast today, the Governor and Commander in Chief warned the people of Malta of further hardships to come.  He asked their help to ensure the survival of the Island until a future convoy can reach them:

“Recently we have seen four merchant ships and an oiler reach Malta; this represents the largest number of ships which has arrived in the GrandHarbour since September of last year.  No sight could have been more welcome to us all than the arrival of the convoy after so many weeks of anxious waiting…

Ohio is towed into Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

When the last ship of the convoy, the US tanker Ohio, entered Grand Harbour as the sun rose on August 15, everyone in Malta was mindful of how the nine days of united prayer had been answered and was thankful.  We are also conscious that, when so many have risked so much and when so many lives have been lost to bring supplies to us from Britain, we also have a duty to perform ourselves.  These convoys are very hazardous operations and, were we to be improvident about the supplies which have reached us, we would do a real disservice not only to those who dared all to succour us, but also to ourselves.  It is our bounded duty to eke out our available stores to carry us forward as far as possible on the road to victory…

Convoys, such as this last convoy, are magnificent achievements, but they cannot be constantly repeated, and we must now steel ourselves to last out until a new target date.  We will play our part, as Malta has consistently played it in the past.  Our aim must be to keep our consumption of all foodstuffs and other commodities at the lowest possible level and so put off, for as long as we can, the date when another convoy has to reach our shores.” (3)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 AUGUST TO DAWN 29 AUGUST 1942

Day  One air raid alert for 14 enemy fighters on patrol.

Night  Three air raid alerts for a total of four Italian aircraft, two of which drop bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer George Bishop, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flight Sergeant Donald Leitch, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Ernest Magruder, Royal Air Force, 229 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant John Wallis, Royal Air Force, 42 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 AUGUST 1942

AIR HQ  Rodeo attack by 16 Spitfires over south east Sicily.  Night  Three Hurricanes RNAS carried out an intruder patrol over Comiso aerodrome; bombs were dropped but no results seen.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire missing over the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire had airscrew failure and crashed on land: pilot uninjured.

29 August 1942: Electricity to Stay Off Until 1 October

CONVOY CREWS VIP WELCOME

Sir Ronald Mackenzie Scobie

The General Officer Commanding Major General Scobie performed the official opening of a boxing match at the Command Fair.  The match, also attended by the Governor, was organised in aid of the Malta Convoy Fund recently set up to assist the widows and families of those lost during Operation Pedestal.  Free seats were allocated to the Merchant Navy for the event.  During his opening speech, Major General Scobie paid tribute to the seamen and thanked them for bringing the surviving convoy ships safely into Grand Harbour.

Today’s free match tickets are part of a series of events to show Malta’s appreciation of the ordeal during the Santa Marija convoy experienced by the merchant seamen.  Welcomed by enthusiastic crowds everywhere, their itineraries have included a tour of Mdina and a visit to Mosta Rotunda, as well as a demonstration of small arms fire at the Weapon Training School at Ghajn Tuffieha Bay.  Despite their exhaustion, a Merchant Navy team managed to hold Sliema Wanderers to a 1-1 draw in a football match at the Empire Stadium in Gzira.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 29 AUG 42

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

1.  Enemy air: activity during daylight confined to small fighter sweeps.  Approx 148 fighters approached Island.  One HE 111, one ME 109 destroyed; three ME 109s probably destroyed; four ME 109s, one MC 202 damaged.  Four Spitfires missing, four damaged (pilots safe).  Approx 25 bombers approached at night, only 13 crossed coast.  Bombs aerodrome area.  No military damage.  One JU 88 destroyed by Beaufighter; one JU 88 destroyed, one damaged by Ack Ack.

2.  Own air:  offensive sweeps by Spitfires over Sicily destroyed six enemy aircraft, four probable, one damaged in the air, others on the ground; shot up personnel and buildings.  Two day attacks by escorted Hurribombers on Sicilian aerodromes.  Beaufighters and Hurribombers also over Sicily by night.  Nine Beauforts and eight Beaufighters sunk one merchant vessel, destroyed two JU 88s, one Cant; damaged one JU 88, for loos of two aircraft.  Other strike unsuccessful.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.

4.  Convoy completely unloaded without incident.  Slight increase in civilian bread ration announced; kerosene ration increased; electricity to be restored from 1 October; other slight improvements.  Motor transport spirit cut further.  TOO nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 AUGUST TO DAWN 30 AUGUST 1942

Day  One enemy fighter sweep by 15 aircraft.

Night  One Italian bomber approached and dropped bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Dennis Pollock, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 1435 Squadron; Private Michael Debono, 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Gunner Arthur Mundy, 186 Battery, 74 LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 29 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe sailed and anchored at Marsaxlokk for the night.

AIR HQ  Eight Beaufighters 39 Squadron and eight Beaufighters 227 Squadron, four with bombs, attacked an enemy convoy comprising one 4-5000 ton tanker and one destroyer, escorted by one flying boat, one JU 88 and seven Macchi 202s, in position 120 degrees Ugento 10 miles, course 180 degrees 8 knots.  The Beaufighters attacked first, raking the tanker and destroyer with machine-gun and cannon fire, and dropping six 250lb bombs on the tanker, scoring near misses.  Beauforts then dropped four torpedoes scoring one direct hit amidships and one probable hit.  The tanker immediately blew up and burst into flames.  Later photos show the whole tanker ablaze, emitting dense clouds of black smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire overshot on landing; struck hole in aerodrome: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire believed shot down by enemy fighters: pilot missing, believed killed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 29.  Dealt with: 4 High Explosives (1 x 500kg; 2 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 55 anti-personnel bombs.

(1) From http://chippenham1939-1945; source Wiltshire Gazette, 3 Sept 1942 and Spitfires Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea

(2) Papers of Group Arthur Donaldson from The Air Battle for Malta, James Douglas-Hamilton, Pen & Sword 2006

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

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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16-22 August 1942: Convoy Supplies Will Feed Malta For 3 Months

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Malta is filled with admiration for the gallant efforts made to pass the convoy to the Island.  We thank you and are most grateful.”   Lord Gort to Chief of Naval Staff, Admiralty

WHILE MALTA CELEBRATES SANTA MARIJA CONVOY, COMMANDERS FACE SHORTFALL

Fuel and cooking oil delivered via Pedestal (c) IWM GM1448

While the Island continues to celebrate the arrival of supply ships and the oil tanker Ohio, behind the scenes Malta’s commanders are weighing up the real impact, if any, the delivery will have on rations and military operations.  The fuel off-loaded from Ohio will undoubtedly enable Malta’s air and submarine forces to defend the Island while mounting renewed attacks on enemy convoys.

At the same time, the Governor faces the hard fact that the food and general supplies delivered last week are only enough to extend Malta’s survival for a further three months.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of Operation Pedestal for the Maltese and the military garrison, is improved morale, as they now feel less isolated from their allies far beyond the Mediterranean.  It is hoped that these raised spirits will carry them through the undoubted further hardships to come.

SEAMEN REMEMBER LOST COMRADES

“We were escorting the damaged Indomitable back to Gibraltar. A typical Mediterranean evening, the sea flat calm, the sun still high in a clear blue sky and the silence was sheer bliss after the deafening clangour of the previous few days. Suddenly we could feel the ship losing speed, the flag was lowered to half-mast and our attention drawn to Indomitable. From the stern of the ship we could see bundles toppling into the sea as ‘Indom’ buried her dead. There were some 50 of them – a sight that remains vivid in my memory to this day.”  L Myers, HMS Rodney, WW2 People’s War (1)

16 August: A Day Without Warning

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 AUGUST TO DAWN 17 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine: visibility 10-15 miles.

0810-0905 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron and two of 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0945-0955 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: one had an oil leak and radio transmission was not working so they returned.

1045-1145 hrs; 1100-1210 hrs; 1105-1235 hrs; 1115-1230 hrs  Patrols by three to eight Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons: no sightings.

PM  Two patrols carried out by four Spitfires from Hal Far per patrol. 

1700-1810 hrs; 1800-1910 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol at a time: nothing sighted.

1820-1918 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far patrolled at 16000 feet between Grand Harbour and Gozo.

1900-2005 hrs; 1950-2030 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 then two of 249 Squadron on patrol: nothing sighted.  The second patrol returned early due to low cloud.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 16 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores of Naval Air Squadron searched without success for a merchant vessel reported to the north west of Malta.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Liberator to Fayid.

17 August: Navy Thanks RAF For Convoy Protection

The following is a précis of a message sent by the Royal Navy to RAF HQ Malta:  “The Navy are loud in their praise of the assistance given to the convoy by our fighter aircraft often operating under difficult circumstances.  They engaged and destroyed a great number of enemy aircraft and greatly contributed to reducing the scale of attack.”

NEW SPITFIRE DELIVERY

HMS Furious

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 AUGUST TO DAWN 18 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles

0815-0920 hrs; 0820-0855 hrs; 0925-1003 hrs  Four Spitfires at a time of 229 and 249 Squadrons Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1205-1240 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires from Hal Far (two of Green Section) are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  P/O Stenborg and Sgt Weaver jumps nine ME 109s.  Sgt Weaver shoots down two enemy aircraft and P/O Stenborg shoots down one, before being shot down himself by a ME 109.  He bales out and is picked up by the High Speed Launch.

Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are despatched to cover the arrival of Spitfires: no enemy action.

1300-1350 hrs; 1345-1430 hrs; 1510-1610 hrs; 1600-1710 hrs  Two Spitfires at a time of 229 and 249 Squadrons on patrol: no sightings.

PM  185 Squadron Hal Far fly 16 sorties over shipping in Grand Harbour.

1757-1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders: no sightings.

2000 hrs  Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury sailed for Gibraltar.

2320-2350 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Eugene Connell, Royal Canadian Air Force, 204 Squadron; Sergeant William Davis Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 204 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Edward Jackman, Royal Air Force, 204 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Walter Maconnell, Royal Canadian Air Force, 204 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 AUGUST 1942

HMS Hebe

ROYAL NAVY  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an escorted merchant vessel west of Linosa and obtained one torpedo hit. This ship was subsequently sunk by [submarine] P 44, the force of the explosion being so great as to necessitate the submarine returning to Malta for repairs.  [Submarine] P 42 was swept into Marsamxett by Hebe.

AIR HQ  1600 hrs  Six Beauforts 86 Squadron escorted by five Beaufighters 252 and 235 Squadrons, and four long-range Spitfires 126 Squadron, attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel, patrolled by four JU 88s and two enemy fighters, in position 280 degrees Lampedusa, 35 miles.  Two torpedo hits were scored on the merchant vessel which was left stationary, pouring white smoke and down by the stern.  Two Beaufighters dropped four 250lb [semi-armour-piercing] bombs, scoring one direct hit on the stern of the merchant vessel.  Beaufighters and Beauforts also attached the merchant vessel and other merchant craft with machine-gun and cannon fire.  During the attack, one JU 88 and one enemy fighter were probably destroyed.  Photographs confirm that the merchant vessel has been sunk.

Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar; 29 Spitfires from Naval operation.  Departures  17 Maryland to Abu Sueir; three Baltimores to LG 98; one Spitfire to Kilo 8; one Liberator to Fayid.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on aerodrome: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.  One Spitfire hit an obstruction on landing: pilot uninjured.

18 August: Malta’s Squadrons Praised For Attacks

Malta Spitfires refuelled and re-armed

“The Air Officer Commanding sends congratulations to Nos 217, 235, 126 and 1435 Squadrons for their successful attack on enemy convoy on 17 August 1942.  This was a fine example of good team-work between Beauforts, Beaufighters and Spitfires.”  Re-armed and refuelled thanks to the arrival of the recent convoy, Malta’s RAF Squadrons last night resumed their attacks on Axis convoys through the Mediterranean, with considerable success.  With the battle for control of the Middle East again reaching a critical point, Malta can resume its key role as a base for disrupting the supply of Rommel’s forces in North Africa.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 AUGUST TO DAWN 19 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  Spitfires from Hal Far made eight patrol sorties over Grand Harbour.

0815-0850 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Sgt Beurling reports seeing five hostile fighters, not seen by the other pilots: no contact made.

1045-1155 hrs; 1135-1230 hrs; 1215-1315 hrs; 1300-1415 hrs; 1400-1515 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons at a time are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1525-1630 hrs; 1550-1634 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft: no sightings.

1650-1715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept approaching fighters see six ME 109s above them, among some flak: no combat.  F/Lt Woods’ aircraft has a malfunctioning wing flap and lands at Luqa; he is unhurt.

2230-2245 hrs; 0035-0042 hrs  Air raid alerts. One enemy aircraft which comes to within 25 miles of Gozo and drops bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 AUGUST 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals Four Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Baltimore to LG 98; one Beaufighter to EDCU; four Beauforts to LG 224.

19 August: Gort Flies to Cairo to Meet PM Churchill

Winston Churchill at British Embassy Cairo August 1942 (c) OWM E15347

His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort flew to Cairo today to report in person to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, on the state of things in Malta following the arrival of the Operation Pedestal convoy.  To cover the Governor’s absence, Vice Admiral, Malta is appointed as his Deputy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 AUGUST TO DAWN 20 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine: little or no cloud, increasing later; visibility 10-15 miles. Wind light, variable, becoming east south east, moderate.

0955-1030 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve approaching enemy fighters.  Two groups of four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept; two aircraft return early.  The others sight three ME 109s above them: no combat.

1005-1050 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali patrol over a minesweeper: nothing to report.

1100-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1150-1305 hrs  Enemy aircraft are reported heading for the Islands.  Two Spitfires are scrambled to intercept  but the raid does not approach.

1749-1907 hrs  Seven Spitfires from Hal Far patrol north of St Paul’s Bay and Gozo: nothing sighted.

2315-2320 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs in the sea north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Private William Kelly, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gaetan Mansueto, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Rye swept Una and P 44 into harbour.

AIR HQ Arrivals Two DC3 from Bilbeis; Four Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to Shandur; six Beauforts, one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort engine failed; forced to land: crew uninjured.  One Beaufort shot down into the sea while on shipping strike:crew missing.

20 August: Air Crews are Lucky Survivors

One Beaufighter of 227 Squadron and one Beaufort of 39 Squadron have been reported lost following the latest attack by Malta air forces on an enemy convoy.  They were among a formation of twelve Beauforts and ten Beaufighters 227 Squadron on a mission to bomb a tanker and merchant ship with destroyer escort off Cape Stilo.  The two aircraft were hit by flak as the enemy fired barrages to defend their vessels. 

A Beaufort of 39 Squadron at Luqa

The Beaufighter of pilot Warrant Officer Donald Brixo from New Zealand and navigator Sergeant Douglas Paterson crashed into the sea.  Flying Officer Peter Roper of Canada was also shot down in his Beaufort; he radioed that he and his observer were injured while the remaining crew were unhurt.  Nothing more was heard of them and the crews of both aircraft have been officially reported missing. (2)    

Another Beaufighter was shot down today off Kalafrana Bay, killing the Wireless Operator/Observer, Sergeant George Leslie.  The pilot, Flying Officer Eyre, survived and was rescued by the High Speed Launch.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 AUGUST TO DAWN 21 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine: wind south south-east, light to moderate; visibility 10-15 miles.

1005-1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali and nine of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep.  Sgt Beurling sights two Me 109s but does not engage.

1115-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  They sight four ME 109s at 24000 feet, ten miles north of Grand Harbour: no engagement.

1520-1535 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft (two of 229 return early): no sightings.

1715-1820 hrs; 1955-2035 hrs  Four and two Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Leslie, 227 Beaufighter Squadron; Private Walter Wade, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 20 AUGUST 1942

Speedy makes a smokescreen over Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Smoke was made for one large [enemy] formation approaching, but no attack materialized.  705 of QBB 273 searched by 17th Minesweeping Flotilla.

AIR HQ  Twelve Beauforts 39 Squadron escorted by ten Beaufighters 227 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked a convoy comprising five destroyers, one 8000 ton tanker and one small merchant vessel, escorted by one Cant Z501 and six single-engined fighters in position 180 degrees Cape Stilo four miles, course 040 degrees, speed 5-10 knots.  It was estimated that the tanker was fully laden and had a draft of 22-24 feet.  Torpedoes were released with a 22 ft setting but no hits were seen on the tanker.

Explosions were, however, seen some distance from the convoy to port, but these may have been caused by bombs.  It is now believed that the tanker was not fully laden at the time of the attack and had a much smaller draft than originally anticipated.  This may have been why no strikes were made, as torpedoes were seen to run well.

Four Beaufighters dropped seven 250lb [semi-armour-piercing] bombs, scoring one possible hit on the stern of a destroyer.  The tanker and other craft were also raked with machine-gun and cannon fire.  A small pilot vessel was sunk by cannon fire a quarter of a mile ahead of the convoy.  One Macchi 200 and the Cant Z501 were damaged.

Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crashed into the sea: pilot rescued; Wireless Operator/Observer missing, believed killed.  One Beaufort and one Beaufighter  believed hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: Beaufighter observed crashing into the sea; both crews missing.  One Beaufort hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: pilot and A/Observer injured; rest of crew uninjured.

21 August: Oil Tanker Disabled in RAF Attack

RAF bombers have stopped a major delivery of fuel to Rommel’s forces in North Africa.  This was the second attempt by Malta Beauforts and Beaufighters to disrupt the enemy convoy, following an unsuccessful attack yesterday.  This time the attackers scored three torpedo hits and two near-misses with bombs on the 8000 ton oil tanker, which was brought to a halt, with oil pouring from both sides.  They also destroyed at least five enemy aircraft in the attack.  The tanker was later photographed beached in shallow water on the Corfu coast.

TIMES OF MALTA LAUNCHES ‘MALTA CONVOY FUND’

Lighters full of supplies for Malta (c) IWM GM1464

Malta’s leading newspaper today announced the launch of a fund to help the dependants of those killed trying to bring vital supplies to Malta in Operation Pedestal.  Subscriptions are already coming in from those keen to express their gratitude for the sacrifice of convoy crews, airmen and gunners who lost their lives in the dangerous mission to relieve the siege.  The funds raised will be co-ordinated by the Anglo Maltese League.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 AUGUST TO DAWN 22 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fair.

1335-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron and four 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  Two aircraft of 249 Squadron lose the formation and return early.  No enemy aircraft are sighted.  The wheel of F/Lt Lovell’s aircraft (229 Squadron) collapses on landing.

1814-1901 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far patrol over a homecoming strike force: no interceptions.

Military casualties  None named.                                                           Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 21 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Gibraltar reported the safe arrival of Penn, Ledbury and Bramham.

AIR HQ  1800 hrs  The tanker was again attacked by nine Beauforts 39 Squadron, escorted by eight Beaufighters 248 Squadron, and five Beaufighters 229 Squadron carrying bombs.  Position 003 degrees Paxos, 12 miles, course 170 degrees, speed 6 knots.  Three torpedo hits and two near-misses with bombs were scored on the tanker and a direct hit by a bomb was made on a destroyer.  All aircraft also attacked the tanker with machine-gun and cannon fire.  The Beaufighter escort shot down two P32s, one JU 52, two BR 20s and probably destroyed a JU 88.  Photographs taken after the attack show the tanker to be stationary and oil flowing from both sides of it.  Later photos show it to be beached in three fathoms of water in Saiada Bay, Corfu.

Departures  Three Beauforts to LG 224; one Beaufort to Shandur.  Transit aircraft missing  One Beaufort en route from Malta to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter forced down into the sea by enemy action: crew missing.  One Beaufort had engine trouble and crashed into the sea: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner slightly injured; rest of crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter’s tyre burst: crew uninjured.  One Beaufort believed hit by enemy flak, force landed in the sea: crew missing.  One Beaufort hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner injured; rest of crew uninjured.  One Baltimore;s engine cut on landing: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and A/Observer injured.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy flak crash-landed: crew injured.

22 August: Convoy 32000 Tons of Supplies but No Ration Increase

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

Military situation report for week ending [22 Aug] 1942

Convoy brought limited supplies (c) IWM GM1429

1.  Unloading convoy almost complete.  32000 tons unloaded, dispersed to and cleared from dumps mainly by army in 8 days.  This will provide approx. 3 months additional food at present reduced ration scale.  Slight increase in civilian bread ration may be possible; Army bread ration already increased one ounce to compensate shortage potatoes.  Certain variety items received will make Army rations less monotonous but no major alteration practicable.  Further economy in [motor transport] spirit necessary however.

2.  No attempt by enemy to attack convoy in harbour.  Activity confined to small fighter sweeps.  No bombers crossed coast day or night; almost constitutes a record.  3 ME 109s destroyed for loss of one Spitfire.

3.  29 torpedo-carrying Beaufort sorties escorted by bomb-carrying Beaufighters attacked enemy convoys to Libya.  One merchant vessel 7000 tons damaged – subsequently sunk by submarine P44.  One tanker hit and stopped.  Hits or near misses on two destroyers.  One Ju 52 and six other aircraft certainly destroyed and five damaged over convoys.  Three Beauforts, three Beaufighters missing.

4.  Winter accommodation in the form of a simple section hut being built by troops as civil labour used on aerodromes.  1400 Army still working on aerodromes.

5.  Military damage and casualties nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 AUGUST TO DAWN 23 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1715-1810 hrs  Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: no engagement.  One Hurricane force-landed with undercarriage trouble: Pilot S/Lt Elliot unhurt.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Norman Adams, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant George Form, Royal Air Force VR, 202 Squadron; Sergeant Cecil Lee, Royal Air Force, 202 Squadron; Sergeant Alan Morgan, Royal Air Force VR, 202 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 AUGUST 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals One DC3 from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane in accident on aerodrome: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 19.  Dealt with: 3 High Explosives, all 250kg, plus 42 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’

(2)  Warrant Officer Donald Brisco and Sergeant Douglas Paterson 227 Squadron and Flying Officer Peter Roper, 39 Squadron, and his crew survived and were taken Prisoners-of-War.

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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15 August 1942: Santa Marija – Convoy Survivor Ohio Arrives on Feast Day

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – FINAL DAY                                

Maltagc70 returns 22 August with weekly diary.  For updates direct to your computer sign up to follow (see R)

 

“I think I am speaking for all in saying that we are disappointed at not doing better but we should like to try again.”  E N Syfret, Vice-Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding, Operation Pedestal

Ohio inched into Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

OHIO COMES IN – WITH HER CARGO OF FUEL

Early this morning the tanker Ohio was cradled into Grand Harbour to a rapturous welcome.  Maltese and military crowded every available space to cheer the battered ship as she passed through the arms of the harbour entrance and into shelter.

Her decks barely above the water line, the tanker was carefully inched into her place in history, and berth at Parlatorio Wharf in French Creek – where Illustrious had also survived an enemy bent on her destruction.  After a traumatic twenty four hours, Ohio was berthed in shallow water and settled on the bottom.

Of the merchant ships now in harbour, Port Chalmers is undamaged and Melbourne Star only superficially. The Rochester Castle has been hit by a torpedo and water entered Nos 1 and 2 holds.  The Brisbane Star has also received a torpedo hit forward and No 2 hold was slightly flooded.  The Ohio‘s engine room was partly flooded due to a hit by a heavy bomb, and the port side of the pump room had been holed by either a mine or a torpedo.  However, the majority of her fuel cargo is intact and available.

Survivors disembark Ledbury, NWMA Malta

“That these five ships did make their goal is a magnificent tribute to the resolution shown by all concerned, and a special word of praise is due to the gallant Master of the Ohio (Captain D W Mason), to Penn (Lieutenant-Commander J H Swain, RN), Ledbury (Lieutenant-commander R P Hill, RN) and Bramham (Lieutenant E F Baines, RN), to the Malta local forces, and to the Royal Air Force based on Malta. (1)

“WE WERE A SITTING TARGET” – OHIO GUNNERS DESCRIBE LAST HOURS OF TANKER’S JOURNEY

Seven planes appeared above and we shouted to the bridge who thought they were Spitfires and told us so. The ‘Spitfires’ banked and screamed down narrowly missing us with bombs but one hit the Ohio square on the stern. We really thought the whole damn lot of us were going to blow up, but our luck held. Thank God! The attack was so sudden that B gun only fired eight rounds. It was getting dusk and the planes were able to get gloriously close to us without being seen. We saw one going away which appeared to be badly damaged…

Darkness came as a godsend and then we really got to work…we decided that the Bramham should go alongside the tanker on her starboard side and that we should tow her between us…at last we were secured to the skipper’s satisfaction and although we were a lovely target for any lurking submarine we remained still until the following morning. Then we started the last stage of the hellish trip to Malta at seven knots!

All that day we were left alone, this being due to the fighter escort from Malta.  We sighted the Island at 1930 and hoped we would make it that night. But we were informed that we would not arrive till next morning. So it was at 0800 the next day we steamed through the breakwater into the Grand Harbour at Malta. Two ships, small destroyers, of only 1600 tons, with an oil tanker between them had safely brought the last ship of the convoy safely to its destination. The people of Valletta lined the harbour to cheer us, and the military band played ‘Hearts of Oak’ as we entered, making us feel very fed up because we did not ask for praise. We had only done what we set out to do.”  W R Cheetham and D Burke, WW2 People’s War (2)

CONVOY SURVIVOR REMEMBERS

“The attacks were terrifying; I cannot think of another word.  The worst for me were the Stukas; their sirens made the most appalling noise.  The sky was absolutely mottled with flak from the ships…nothing had ever been seen like it.  The destroyers too were simply remarkable.  To me, the worst sight of all was seeing Eagle go down, because you could see both planes and men sliding into the sea; you could actually hear the screams and yells…It was extremely frightening; no it was not frightening, it was terror, absolute terror.“  Survivor Frederick Treves, Junior Apprentice on Waimarama (3)

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 15 AUGUST 1942

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

Food for Malta unloaded from convoy c IWM GM 1478

1.  Four merchant vessels and one tanker arrived ex convoy from UK out of original 14 ships.  Only one of these unscathed.  Approx gross tonnage 47000 mixed cargoes essential foodstuffs, ammunition, black and white oils.  Supply situation will be considerably easier.  General relief at arrival though cost fully realised.  Two M/Vs and two D/Rs slipped away from here under cover of operation taking with them 44 German and 15 Italian from P of W cage.  Arrived Gibraltar safely.

2.  Army carrying out bulk of unloading operations as few naval personnel to assist.  Total 3000 men working in three shifts day and night with civilian assistance are unloading 5000 tons per day and dispersing to field dumps and near consignees.  Further 1500 men being provided assistance to RAF servicing, refuelling aircraft and ensuring maintenance aerodromes.  All available transport in use.  150 Royal Artillery personnel working smoke screen.  Operation proceeding satisfactorily.

3.  Other than attacks on convoy enemy air activity over Island has consisted of fighter sweeps only and slight night bombing.  Total of 32 night bombers, few of which crossed coast.  Total RAF claims 23 destroyed, three probables, ten damaged, including three destroyed by night fighters.  Ack Ack no claims and few engagements.  RAF offensive against Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes to protect convoy also providing permanent umbrella.  Further reinforcement of Spitfires arrived.

4.  Military casualties nil except six Other Ranks wounded on convoy.  Reinforcement 31 all ranks details arrived on convoy, also 90 carrier pigeons.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 AUGUST TO DAWN 16 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10 to 15 miles.

Day  Spitfires keep up a standing patrol over Grand Harbour.

0530-0655 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol over convoy ships: no sightings.

0555-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol over convoy ships: no sightings.

0620-0730 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept possible enemy raiders: no sightings.  Sgt Ballantine runs into a stationary Spitfire on landing: both aircraft are damaged but he is unhurt.

0623-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on convoy patrol: no sightings.

0643-0816 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the incoming tanker until it arrives in Grand Harbour.

Ohio discharges her cargo (NWMA Malta)

0755 hrs After an epic struggle by her gallant Master and escorts, SS Ohio in tow of Penn and Bramham enters Grand Harbour followed by Ledbury. The sweepers and motor launches enter Marsamxett.

0905-0920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft.  Capt Swales and Sgt Tarbuck together destroy one ME 109.  Sgt Tarbuck’s Spitfire has airscrew trouble and he is forced to bale out but is picked up unhurt by the High Speed Launch.

0955-1025 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1100-1205 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

PM  Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out three patrols over shipping in Grand harbour.

1445-1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept possible enemy raiders; four return early.  Lt Hetherington sees one ME 109 streaming glycol but does not make contact.

1535-1540 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol see two enemy aircraft but cannot make contact.

1800 hrs  Force X and Force Z arrive at GibraltarThe damaged ships of Force Z, sent home earlier in the operation, also all reached Gibraltar safely except the destroyer Foresight which had to be sunk by Tartar who had tried to tow her in.

1910-2015 hrs  Four JU 88s are reported nearby, escorting an enemy ship.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but visibility is poor and they do not locate the enemy.

1935-2020 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

2230-2235 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which drops bombs in the sea before receding.

Military casualties  Gunner Carmel Grech, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Frederick Hornsey, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Pauline Grech, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 AUGUST 1942

HMS Utmost

ROYAL NAVY  A smoke screen was developed over the Dockyard on two occasions for large formations of aircraft, but no bombs were dropped.  Utmost and P 46 arrived from Gibraltar to join Tenth Submarine Flotilla, the former having obtained one torpedo hit on an Italian AMC off Marittimo.  After dark the presence of E Boats was suspected and fire was opened by shore batteries on one occasion, but no results observed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Spitfire to LG 224; two DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  One special Swordfish and two Albacores from Hal Far are despatched on a shipping strike off the west coast of Sicily.  Weather conditions are very bad and they sight nothing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2.  Dealt with: nil.  BD Sections manpower on convoy and transport duties except for party standing by to deal with unexploded bombs Grand Harbour.  Also dealt with week ending 15 August: 62 anti-personnel bombs.

(1) E N Syfret, Vice-Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding, Operation Pedestal

(2)  ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’  INSERT LINK!!!!!

(3)  Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2017 in 1942, August 1942

 

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