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15 November 1942: 700 Allied PoWs Die in British Sub Attack
At 2 o’clock this afternoon 27 recovered British prisoners of war and some 46 Italian prisoners were landed in Malta from HM Submarine Sahib (P 212). They are the only survivors from the torpedoed Italian merchant ship SS Scillin.
Scillin was carrying 814 Allied prisoners of war and over 200 Italian troops when she embarked from Tripoli on Friday. Sahib was on patrol in the area, intercepting supply convoys and troop transports in support of the Axis campaign in North Africa. Just before nine o’clock yesterday evening a Malta-based reconnaissance aircraft alerted her to the presence of a merchant ship. The submarine’s monitors soon detected the vessel off the Tunisian coast and its commander Lt John Bromage, with no knowledge of the ship’s passengers, ordered the attack.
HMS Sahib struck the merchant ship with a single torpedo. The missile hit the Scillin’s engine room and the ship sank in less than a minute. It was only when the submarine’s crew heard survivors in the water speaking English that the full implications of the sinking were realised. They responded quickly and within 35 minutes had rescued 27 Allied prisoners of war (26 British and one South African), plus 46 members of the Scillin’s Italian crew including the captain.
An Italian warship then approached and Sahib was forced to withdraw, abandoning the rescue and leaving another ten men in the water. According to survivors, the British prisoners were in very poor condition due to lack of food and medical treatment. Sahib’s torpedo blew out the bottom of the hold in which the British PoWs had been penned, and they died instantly.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 16 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather 100% cloud; rain.
0740-0855 hrs 1435 Squadron Luqa carry out a reconnaissance patrol between Linosa and Lampedusa: no enemy aircraft are sighted.
0820-0845 hrs Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.
0821-0835 hrs Air raid alert: aircraft turned out to be friendly.
0935-1055 hrs Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol to Lampedusa and Linosa: no enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire encountered.
1450-1530 hrs Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far search for missing delivery Beaufighters. Weather conditions are very bad and they find nothing.
1510-1540 hrs Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for the delivery Beaufighters. Visibility is nil, with cloud down to 500 feet, and nothing is found. One Spitfire does not return: Sgt Roberts is missing.
1620-1640 hrs One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is sent to search for missing delivery Beaufighters has to return due to the adverse weather.
Military casualties Flying Officer Henry Atkinson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 500 Squadron; Pilot Officer James Diack, RAF VR, 81 Squadron; Flying Officer Francis Jemmett, Royal Canadian Air Force, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Cyril Prior, RAF VR, 500 Squadron; Sergeant John Roberts, RAF VR, 249 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 15 NOVEMBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Hebe swept P 212 in. P 42 sailed for patrol, swept out by Speedy.
AIR HQ Five sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering the harbours and aerodromes of Sicily. Departures Two Liberators, four Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Abusuier. Aircraft casualties Two Spitfires on reconnaissance failed to return: pilots missing. One Spitfire shot down in the sea: pilot missing. Three Beaufighters missing in transit between EDCU and Malta.
1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY A Company took over Tal Virtu observation post and coast patrol.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 11th-15th November the Battalion has found one Officer and 50 Other Ranks as crater-filling party on Hal Far aerodrome. Working party also at Zabbar sub-depot: four 15 cwt and four impressed lorries; 16 Other Ranks manning trucks for convoy transport work.
16 November 1942: Convoy Embarks For Malta
Message from AOC Malta to Admiral Cunningham: “We are delighted to be able to assist your expedition from the west as well as the expedition from the east.”
The first convoy to Malta since Operation Pedestal (Santa Marija) in August sailed this morning. The embarkation of a convoy from the eastern Mediterranean has been made possible by the Allied Army advance following the Battle of El Alamein.
After a delay of 24 hours pending Allied occupation of the Gambut airfields, convoy MW 13 – codenamed Operation Stoneage – sailed from Suez and passed through the Canal to arrive at Port Said by dusk, proceeding straight to sea. The convoy is made up of four merchant ships, the 9000 ton Dutch ship Bantam, the British 8000 ton Denbighshire and two American ships: the 8000 ton Mormacmoon and 7000 ton Robin Locksley. The cruiser Euryalus and sevendestroyers are escorting them to the approaches to Alexandria.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 17 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather Much heavy rain, especially early, and low cloud; visibility nil.
Night One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa patrols north of the Island at 10000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.
Military casualties Nil. Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 16 NOVEMBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY P 46 and P 212 were swept out by Rye.
AIR HQ Departures One Hudson to Gibraltar.
HAL FAR Heavy rain rendered the aerodrome unserviceable.
LUQA No operations due to bad weather.
TA QALI Aerodrome unserviceable: no operations.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT 300 men standing by to unload HMS Welshman. Stood down about 1000 hrs: ship due to arrive tomorrow.
1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT 1300 hrs Party of 300 Officers and men standing by for convoy duties. 1330 hrs Party stood down.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT Bn found one Officer and 25 men as crater-filling party on Hal Far aerodrome. Working party also at Zabbar sub-depot: four 15 cwt and four impressed lorries; 16 Other Ranks manning trucks for convoy transport work.
2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Heavy rainfall all day stopped air activity.
24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS The following attachments from Malta Section took place leaving all British personnel at Bahar-ic-cahaq with the exception of 1 NCO and 10 sappers (Maltese). 10 Other Ranks attached to BD section. 16 Other Ranks attached to 173 Tunnelling Coy RE, 5 Other Ranks transferred.
17 November 1942: Army on Standby to Unload Convoy
Message to AOC Western Desert: “All ranks RAF Malta send heartiest congratulations to RAF Western desert and 8th Army on their brilliant victory over Axis forces. We are most grateful for your opening of our supply line from the east.”
OPERATION STONEAGE SHIPS REACH ALEXANDRIA
Convoy MW 13 and close escort arrived off Alexandria early today, where the accompanying Fleet destroyers were relieved by Hunt class ships of the 5th Flotilla. Led by the cruiser Euryalus, HMS Aldenham, Beaufort, Belvoir, Croome, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Hursley, Tetcott and the Greek Pindos departed for Malta with the four merchant ships at 15 knots at 0700 hours.
The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in Cleopatra, with Dido, Arethusa, Orion and the Twelfth and Fourteen Destroyer Flotillas, were sailed at 1330 hours, with the aim of reaching the convoy at daylight tomorrow.
SUBMARINE ‘CLUB RUNS’ TO END
In view of the improved situation in the Mediterranean, submarines of the 1st Flotilla are to discontinue carrying petrol and stores to Malta.
MALTA MONEY PROBLEMS
Currency in Malta is about to be ‘defaced’ to cover an acute shortage of one shilling coins on the Island. It has been decided that one shilling notes are urgently needed but supply of the currency from England is currently impossible. In an emergency measure, it has been decided to overprint old stocks of unused two shilling notes on both sides as ‘1 shilling’. These were originally printed in London and held in stock in Malta but never used.
The newly amended notes have been issued today and immediately become legal tender. They will remain in circulation until new one shilling notes can be printed in London and shipped to Malta. (1)
MALTA JOINT OPS SHOW FORCE
Malta air forces launched a joint operation this evening against an enemy tanker heading for North Africa. The 10,000 ton tanker escorted by two destroyers was located 46 miles from Homs. One special Wellington 69 Squadron was despatched with two Albacores of the Fleet Air Arm to attack. They located the convoy at 2155 hours and the Weelington dropped three flares. The Albacores then attacked from port and starboard with two torpedoes, each of which scored a hit amidships, causing terrific explosions. The tanker was set ablaze from stem to stern, the fire visible 80 miles away. The vessel then keeled over and sank. All the Malta aircraft returned safely to base.
Reconnaissance photographs taken today show that Tripoli has resumed its former importance as Rommel’s main port of entry for supplies to Libya, following the loss of Benghazi to the Allies. All available quays and jetties at Tripoli are occupied by merchant vessels or F boats unloading supplies.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 18 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather Thunderstorms in the morning, becoming showery to fair.
0650-0810 hrs Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol from Linosa to Lampedusa: no sightings.
0700-0740 hrs Two Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa fly 13 miles north of St Paul’s Bay on a search but have to return early due to adverse weather conditions.
1915-2035 hrs One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa patrols over Comiso aerodrome, Sicily. Pilot F/O Kinmouth shoots down one JU 88 which crashes in flames and damages another.
2308-2327 hrs Air raid alert: aircraft prove to be friendly.
Military casualties Flying Officer Eric Clegg, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant Harold Goggin, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 253 Squadron; Flying Officer Charles Kaye, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Walder, RAF VR, 18 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 NOVEMBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Hythe swept Utmost to sea. The tug Ancient which was damaged and sunk during the heavy air attacks in April 1942 was salvaged and taken in hand for refit.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Baltimore from LG 227; nine Beaufighters from Gambut; one Liberator, one Hudson from Gibraltar.
LUQA 69 Squadron Photo-reconnaissance: seven sorties covering harbours and aerodromes in Italy and Sicily. 2050-2150 hrs Seven Wellingtons (two 40 Squadron, five 104 Squadron) were despatched to attack El Aouina aerodrome: a fire was started near one hangar. 0330-0425 hrs Five Wellingtons attacked El Aouina: results not observed due to weather.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT Bn found one Officer and 25 men as crater-filling party on Hal Far aerodrome: working party cancelled at the end of the day. Working party at Zabbar sub-depot: four 15 cwt and four impressed lorries; 16 Other Ranks manning trucks for convoy transport work.
2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Dumps and sub-depot on four days’ readiness.
18 November 1942: Convoy Attacked – 159 Killed
The Operation Stoneage convoy was attacked today by German torpedo-bombers. HMS Arethusa was hit with the loss of 159 men. (CASUALTY LIST)
The first enemy attack came mid-morning, some four hours after the full convoy had assembled. Cruisers HMS Cleopatra, Orion, Arethusa and Dido with seven Fleet destroyers joined convoy MW 13 and close escort at dawn. Single engined fighters from Matruba and Beaufighters from Gambut were dispatched to provide fighter protection throughout the day.
At 1110 hours the convoy was attacked by six JU 88s: one aircraft was seen to crash and no damage was caused. Five hours later 26 JU 52s escorted by two fighters were seen passing ahead of the convoy heading northeast. Four of the Allied aircraft attacked the raiders and each claimed to have damaged one.
Once the attack had subsided the Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and Fleet Destroyers parted company in order to cover the convoy north towards Malta.
Minutes later an explosion was heard and convoy command received a signal: Arethusa had been hit. Taking advantage of the failing light, torpedo bombers had launched another attack and the cruiser had been struck amidships by an aircraft torpedo, killing 159 members of the crew. The ship was badly damaged and turned back for Alexandria, escorted by Petard.
Two more torpedo bombers attacked the convoy during the evening. The second is believed probably destroyed by anti-aircraft fire from the American merchantman Robin Locksley.
WELSHMAN DOCKS WITH SUPPLIES – UNLOADED IN RECORD TIME
The fast minelayer HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour from Algiers at 0920 hours this morning, having been delayed in the eastern Mediterranean by the recent bad weather. Under the codename Operation Analyst, Welshman has brought 110 tons of powdered milk, 25 tons of dried beans, 25 tons of dried peas, 110 tons of corned beef and fifteen 18″ aerial torpedoes, as well as 13 officers, 50 RAF airmen and 50 REME Other Ranks.
The food cargo was unloaded in 4 hours 5 minutes, Welshman’s fastest ever emptying in Malta, and second fastest ever. The Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort sent a personal message to 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment: “Congratulations on good work on unloading HMS Welshman.”
HMS Welshman is to be retained at Malta to be used for an operation to land troops in the Sousse area.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 19 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather Showery day; thunderstorms in the evening.
0640-0710 hrs Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron and three 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to provide protection for friendly shipping: no enemy aircraft seen.
0925-1035 hrs Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as escort to friendly shipping.
0945 hrs Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to provide escort for HMS Welshman.
1725-1730 hrs; 2032-2050 hrs Air raid alerts. Aircraft turned out to be friendly.
Military casualties Sapper Glanville Williams, 173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 NOVEMBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Welshman arrived and was swept in by Hebe, who then swept P 44 out and returned with P 45 and P 48. The two submarines arrived to join the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, having taken part in the early stages of Operation Torch as navigational marks off Algiers, then carrying out a patrol in the Gulf of Tunis. P 45 made three unsuccessful attacks in the area and P 48 two. With all torpedoes expended they were ordered to return to Malta.
AIR HQ Aircraft casualties One Beaufighter collided and crashed on landing: crew uninjured. Departures One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar.
HAL FAR 1755-1830 hrs Two Swordfish and one Albacore set out to attack an enemy convoy in the Cape Bon area. Very bad weather conditions forced them to turn back.
LUQA 69 Squadron Photo-reconnaissance flew seven sorties. 1824-2350 hrs Seven Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were despatched to attack Tunis aerodrome: all bombs dropped on the aerodrome and among buildings and hangars. All aircraft returned safely. 2325 hrs Four special Wellingtons 69 Squadron carried out separate patrols of the east of Taranto: one hospital ship sighted. 0030-0555 hrs Six Wellingtons were despatched on a second attack on El Aouina. Bursts are observed in the target area and one fire is seen.
ROYAL ARTILLERY Anti-aircraft artillery deployed for defence of convoy.
1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Battalion is standing by with all leave cancelled for work in connection with expected convoy. The Battalion is Brigade reserve and has been detailed for the following duties: 42 drivers to sub-depots; 4 parties of 1 Officer and 13 Other Ranks to act as fire-fighting parties on board the merchant vessels; 150 standing by at 2 hours’ notice as a reserve for all duties.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT Working party at Zabbar sub-depot: four 15 cwt and four impressed lorries; 16 Other Ranks manning trucks for convoy transport work.
2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Dumps and sub-depot come onto two hours’ notice.
19 November 1942: First Raid Since 6 November
MALTA’S WAR ROLE RECOGNISED IN BRITISH PARLIAMENT
“Malta has been one of the determining factors in the struggle for the conquest of North Africa, and we are particularly proud of the great contribution that it has made.” Mr Robert Richards, MP for Wrexham, House of Commons, 19 November 1942
MALTESE SPY FACES DEATH SENTENCE
The death sentence was passed today on Carmelo Borg-Pisani, who was discovered at Dingli on 21 May claiming to be Italian and found to be Maltese spying for the enemy. His crimes are listed as espionage, taking up arms against the Government and forming part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government. The sentence was announced in public in Malta.
THREE SPITFIRES LOST PROTECTING CONVOY
The covering force of cruisers and destroyers rejoined the Operation Stoneage convoy at daylight today to cover the next stage of the journey of four merchant ships to Malta. Enemy aircraft were reported carrying out reconnaissance searches for the ships but did not attack.
As the convoy approached within range of Malta, the Island’s aircraft provided umbrella cover. The ships were sighted at dawn by Malta Beaufighters, in position 122 degrees 134 miles from Delimara. Four Beaufighters, 42 long-range and 19 short-range Spitfires carried out continuous patrols over the convoy for the last leg of its voyage.
They faced very rough weather and during the morning three Spitfires crashed ahead of the convoy. P/O Kelley 126 Squadron was picked up by the convoy ahead; Sgt Roberts 126 Squadron was last seen in his dinghy near the convoy. P/O Park 185 Squadron suffered engine trouble near the convoy and had to bale out. A destroyer sped to his rescue but he was found to be already dead. The reasons for the other two crashes are unknown.
At 1400 hours Cleopatra, Dido, Orion and the six Fleet destroyers parted company with the convoy and returned to Alexandria. Just after 4pm the convoy’s commander reported being shadowed by enemy aircraft but there was no attack. Having patrolled continuously from dawn till dark, Malta aircraft finally escorted the convoy safely to within 30 miles of Grand Harbour.
At dusk the first raiders to cross Malta since 6 November were reported approaching the Island. Only one came close to dropping bombs on target, attempting to impersonate a returning RAF aircraft before being deterred by anti-aircraft fire.
Tonight operations by Malta’s RAF Wellingtons were temporarily switched from Tunis to Sicily, with bombing attacks on the German bomber bases of Catania, Gerbini and Comiso to deter attacks on the convoy. At 2240 hours the minesweeper Speedy led the ships through the mineswept channel and they entered harbour. Approximately 3200 troops and large numbers of civilians are standing by to unload the four merchant ships as soon as they dock.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 20 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather Thunderstorms and showers early, becoming fair.
1010-1105 hrs Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.
1210-1400 hrs; 1255-1440 hrs Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on patrol over the approaching convoy: no sightings.
1440-1635 hrs Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol over the friendly convoy: no enemy activity.
1515-1710 hrs Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol over the friendly convoy: no enemy activity.
1824 hrs Air raid alert for 10 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, in clear weather, coming to within 20 miles of the Malta convoy which is now 30 miles south of the Island. Two Beaufighters are airborne and approach the enemy raiders which split up, most going north. The remaining four cross over Gozo and Malta. One raider turns and comes in over Kalafrana Bay at 5000 feet. The searchlights illuminate the aircraft for two seconds but it is too far from the Beaufighters for them to engage. 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regt report the target as an unidentified aircraft giving friendly recognition and IFF signals. It seems to be firing verey lights but in the wrong colours.
1850 hrs B Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report the enemy aircraft flying over Ta Silch. The raider is engaged by Bofors and small arms fire over Fort St Lucien and drops bombs in the water off Delimara, before receding out to sea. There are no reports from the RAF of friendly aircraft being engaged by Light Ack Ack.
1901 hrs All clear.
2200 hrs A convoy consisting of four merchantmen escorted by a cruiser and eleven destroyers enters Grand Harbour in bright moonlight. No hostile air activity is observed in the vicinity of the Island.
0517-0535 hrs Air raid alert: aircraft turn out to be friendly.
Military casualties Warrant Officer Class II James Fearnside, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Clifford Gray, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant William Hammond, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Benjamin Holmes, RAF VR; Sergeant John Layton, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant John Mercer, RAF, all 104 Squadron.
Pilot Officer Gardner Kelly, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Park, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Henry Roberts, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Sergeant Nigel Steevenson, RAF VR, 111 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 NOVEMBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY HMS P 43 returned to Malta from taking part in Operation Torch, covering the approaches to Messina and the North west corner of Sicily. On 16 November she scored a hit with torpedoes on a medium sized tanker, then surfaced and attempted to finish her off by gunfire, but the tanker retaliated and she was forced to dive. The ship was last seen heavily listed and attempting to beach herself.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Hudson from Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties Three Spitfires crashed in the sea due to engine trouble: two pilots drowned, one missing. One Wellington shot down by enemy action: crew missing.
LUQA Message from AOC Sir Keith Park: “You and your squadrons are certainly leaving your mark upon the Axis. Grand work; keep it up.” Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering the harbours of Tunis and Bizerta. Six sorties by Baltimores of 69 Squadron on shipping search. A total of 14 Wellington sorties: targets Catania, Gerbini and Comiso; attacks considered successful. Five Wellingtons 104 Squadron and two 40 Squadron were sent to bomb Catania aerodrome. Bombs hit target and explosions were seen across the runway, buildings and dispersal areas. There was intense light and heavy flak. One aircraft did not return: Pilot F/Lt Mercer and crew Sgts Fearnside, Gray, Hammond, Layton and Holmes are missing.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT Midnight Bn provided three shifts of 96 Other Ranks to work 12 hour shifts unloading the Mormacmoon at Hamilton Wharf. Each shift was split into eight gangs of 12 men.
1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Midnight Two parties totalling four Officers and 78 Other Ranks reported to Canteen Steps and Hamilton Wharf for duties as lighter loading parties. Additional personnel employed at Marina Pinto.
1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY All drivers reported to sub-depots by 1530 hrs. All fire-fighting parties reported at allotted berthing places at 2200 hrs and were on board ship by midnight.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT Bn provided 10 Officers and 231 Other Ranks for unloading M/V Robin Locksley.
4th Bn THE BUFFS 77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties.
20 November 1942: Convoy Cargo Blaze – Fuel Supplies Destroyed
OPERATION STONEAGE DELIVERS
At 0130 hours this morning all ships of the convoy were reported to have arrived safely in Grand Harbour. All four merchant ships, with Euryalus and ten Hunt class destroyers berthed safely during the night. By 3 am 3200 troops plus civilians had begun unloading the merchant ships and dispersing the cargoes to dumps. A further 1800 troops are employed on the aerodromes.
FUEL DUMP FIRE
A serious fire has destroyed fuel supplies which had just arrived on today’s convoy. The fire broke out at 8.15 pm this evening at a storage dump near Hamrun, igniting quantities of kerosene and petrol which had just been delivered from Grand Harbour. It is believed that a back-fire from a transport lorry caused the blaze, which was brought under control before a very large amount of fuel was lost. No casualties have yet been reported.
SWORDFISH CREW MISSING AFTER OFFENSIVE OPS
The pilot of a Swordfish from Hal Far has been reported missing following a strike on enemy shipping today. One special Swordfish, one torpedo-carrying Swordfish and one Albacore were despatched to attack a 1300 ton merchant vessel bound from Sicily to Tunisia. They found the ship 14 miles west of Marittimo and the Albacores released one torpedo but results were not observed. The torpedo-carrying Swordfish suffered engine trouble and turned back for Malta. The aircraft was seen to crash into the sea as it approached the Island: a search for the crew has so far found nothing.
Four Beaufighters of 227 Squadron sent to carry out an offensive sweep found a westbound Italian merchant vessel, 32 miles east of Kuriat. They attacked at 1206 hrs, dropping two 250 lb bombs – one scored a direct hit amidships on the starboard side – and raked the vessel with cannon and machine-gun fire. The vessel was left stalling and the crew appeared to be preparing to abandon ship. Three Beauforts escorted by five Beaufighters were despatched at 1625 hrs to attack the same ship, scoring a probable hit with one torpedo: she was later seen sinking and abandoned.
Two JU 88s were destroyed in offensive sweeps in the Bizerta-Sicily area and tonight four Wellingtons made two attacks on Bizerta aerodrome, scoring many hits on the target area.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 21 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather Mainly fair except for slight morning showers.
0625-1240 hrs Sixteen sorties by Spitfires from Luqa as protective patrols over friendly shipping.
0840 hrs Convoy escort of one cruiser and eight destroyers leave Grand Harbour.
0950-1106 hrs Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.
1324-1347 hrs Air raid alert. Nine enemy fighters including ME 109s approach the Island at great height, believed to be on reconnaissance. Malta fighters are airborne and intercept the raiders north of the Island, forcing them to turn back.
1550-1650 hrs Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol over the Island: no enemy activity.
2153-2203 hrs Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.
0042-0450 hrs One Swordfish and one Albacore from Hal Far search for the crew of a missing Swordfish off the coast of Gozo: nothing seen.
Military casualties Sergeant Leslie Drywood, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 202 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Birzebbugia Mary Farrugia, age 44.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 NOVEMBER 1942
AIR HQ Arrivals Three Beaufighters from Gambut; one Beaufort, two Spitfires, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures One Hudson to Gibraltar.
HAL FAR 2110-2350 hrs; 0325-0516 hrs Two Hurricanes RNAS carried out intruder patrols over south east Sicily: no enemy air activity.
LUQA Cinema re-opened after being damaged by fire on 25 October: film “Little Old New York”. Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron over harbours and aerodromes in Italy, Sicily and Tunisia. 1255-1720 hrs Three Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched on an offensive sweep against enemy shipping in Misurata, Kerkenna, Pantelleria areas. One 2000 ton motor vessel was sighted and torpedoes dropped: no definite explosion observed.
ROYAL ARTILLERY Operation Instruction 69 orders the adjustment of aerodrome barrages to give protection to runways.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0200 hrs Ship docked and first food discharged by 0430 hrs. Mormacmoon is carrying a cargo of food, petrol, bombs and ammunition. Unloading during the day went well.
1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT 0800 hrs Shift II: 4 Officers and 78 Other Ranks lighter duties on Mormacmoon and Robin Locksley. 2000 hrs Shift III took over lighter duties from Shift II.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT Bn found 8 Officers and 230 Other Ranks for convoy and has unloaded 1150 tons from Robin Locksley in past 24 hours.
4th Bn THE BUFFS 77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties. Additional six Officers and 250 Other Ranks engaged as Brigade reserve.
21 November 1942: 14000 Tons of Cargo Unloaded in 60 Hours
CONVOY ESCORT SAILS WITH AXIS POW
HMS Euryalus and most of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla which escorted the four merchant ships to Malta have sailed for Alexandria. Euryalus took with her 28 German and Italian prisoners of war.
The crew of a Swordfish forced down into the sea off Gozo with engine trouble yesterday have been found alive. Sub/Lt Russell-Jones and Sub/Lt Moon were picked up this morning by the Kalafrana High Speed Launch.
SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 21 NOVEMBER 1942
From: Governor & C in C Malta To: C in C Middle East Rptd: War Office
1. Enemy air activity negligible. Two daylight alerts for fighters probably on reconnaissance. One night alert for 11 enemy aircraft but none crossed the coast. Two bombs in the sea.
2. RAF offensive and reconnaissance: air activity by RAF in support of Operation Torch continues; Beaufighters on daylight patrols area Bizerta-Sicily destroyed two JU 88s, one HE 115 shot up, two merchant vessels 2000 and 8000 tons – former hit, latter near missed by bombs. Flak ship also shot up. Merchant vessel 2000 tons later claimed by Beauforts. By night Wellingtons and Fleet Air Arm aircraft scored two torpedo hits on tanker causing heavy explosions and fire. Wellingtons bombed El Aouina, Bizerta, Catania, Gerbini and Comiso. All attacks considered successful. Beaufighters on night sorties shot up planes on the ground at Trapani.
3. HMS Welshman arrived carrying stores. Unloaded by Army personnel. Convoy four merchant vessels escorted by cruiser and destroyers arrived safely 0030 hrs 20 November. Cargoes being unloaded and dispersed to dumps by 3200 Army personnel and Maltese labour. 13672 tons unloaded in 60 hours. 1800 Army personnel on aerodromes.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 22 NOVEMBER 1942
Weather Variable; showers late evening.
0715-0845 hrs; 0830-0925 hrs; 1055-1225 hrs A total of 16 Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over friendly shipping.
1135-1315 hrs Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol over naval units: nothing sighted.
1235-1420 hrs; 1405-1520 hrs A total of 16 Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol: nothing sighted.
1320-1440 hrs; 1515-1630 hrs Four, then three Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: nothing sighted.
1529-1545 hrs Air raid alert for a number of enemy fighters which approach the Island at great height, probably on reconnaissance. None cross the coast. Seven Spitfires are airborne and patrol from St Paul’s Bay to the north of Gozo but see no enemy aircraft.
1855-1910 hrs Air raid alert. Raid does not materialise.
Military casualties Flight Sergeant Martin Lundy, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 21 NOVEMBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY The unloading of the convoy continued without any attempted interference by enemy aircraft. Rye swept Turbulent and P 35 in from sea. HMS P 35 returned to Malta from Operation Torch and patrol off the western coast of Calabria. P 35 sighted three Littorio battleships escorted by twelve destroyers on the 12 November off Cape Vaticano and fired a salvo of torpedoes with no damage. On 15 November she landed a rail sabotage party in the Gulf of Eufemia but owing to considerable barded wire entanglements they were forced to withdraw. At 1416 on 17 November she probably sank the 7000 ton Italian troop ship Piemonte.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Spitfire from Algier-Bone; one Liberator, one DC3 from LG 224, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties One Swordfish crashed in the sea: crew saved, uninjured. One Spitfire crash-landed near Mosta: pilot killed. One Wellington force-landed near Bone: crew believed safe. One Beaufighter crash-landed on the aerodrome: crew uninjured. Departures One Hudson to Gibraltar.
LUQA 1442-2013 hrs Six Beauforts 39 Squadron and other aircraft were despatched on an offensive sweep in the area south of Malta to attack any southbound enemy shipping. Nothing of importance was seen; all aircraft returned safely. One Wellington 104 Squadron and four Beaufighters 46 Squadron were despatched to attack Trapani aerodrome which was shot up by the Beaufighters. Aircraft on the runway were attacked with cannon fire. Six special torpedo-carrying Wellingtons 69 Squadron were airborne to attack a southbound enemy convoy of one cruiser, four destroyers and six merchant vessels. Bad visibility prevented the attack and all torpedoes were brought back to base.
TA QALI 1235-1600 hrs Six Beaufighters 272 Squadron acted as escort to Beauforts 39 Squadron for strike on shipping. 1250-1715 hrs Three Beaufighters despatched on an offensive sweep and reconnaissance in the area of Sousse, Sfax and Gabes: one HE 115 destroyed, one Flak ship shot up. 1255-1715 hrs Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep and reconnaissance: W/Cdr Buchanan destroys one HE 115; F/Lt Rankin and F/O Cobley damage a flak ship. Two Beaufighters damaged by flak and crash on returning to base.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT Unloading going well: cargo is fairly easy to handle. No 5 hold is finished as far as we are concerned; the remainder of its contents is coal. There is an occasional shortage of lighters. Our ship has 8000 tons of cargo.
1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Convoy duties as for yesterday.
4th Bn THE BUFFS 77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties. Additional six Officers and 250 Other Ranks engaged as Brigade reserve.
(1) Bank Notes of the Government of Malta, John E Sandrock, http://www.thecurrencycollector.com
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