Tag Archives: Royal Army Ordnance Corps

30 September 1941: Submarines Sink 49 Axis Ships in 3 Months

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RAF raid on German ammunition dump in Libyan desert August 1941

RAF raid on German ammunition dump in Libyan desert August 1941


Between June and the end of September, submarines have sunk a total of 49 enemy ships – an overall 150,000 tons – in the Mediterranean. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF this represented a high proportion of Axis shipping bound for Libya.

12 patrols were carried out during the month by submarines of 10th Flotilla.  In addition, Triumph proceeded to a successful patrol in the Adriatic, Perseus to an area off Kefalonia, and Otus and Osiris direct to Alexandria.

Unbeaten carried out a spirited bombardment of a tunnel which caused consternation to the local home guard, and Upright sank a destroyer of the Generale class.  The most successful operation was against a fast convoy east of Tripoli, during which Upholder scored one hit on each of Oceania and Neptunia in a night attack and after reloading returned to sink one of them with two torpedoes at dawn.  The other ship’s fate is unknown.  The Vulcania of the same convoy was intercepted by Ursula which scored one hit on the ship causing it to list slightly and reduce speed.

No bombs were reported as having fallen on the Dockyard or other Naval establishments. No unexploded bombs were dealt with by the Royal Navy during the month. 


During the month sweeps over enemy territory by Malta fighters, some equipped to carry 40lb bombs, were added to the strategy.

Marylands and photoreconnaissance Hurricanes of 69 Squadron have covered the Italian convoy routes daily as well as making frequent reconnaissances of Sicilian and southern Calabrian ports and aerodromes, and of Tripoli. Naples has also been visited.  The excellent photographs, visual and sighting reports obtained have indirectly been responsible for the increased pressure of offensive effort from Malta during the month.

Offensive Operations:  Wellingtons of 38 Squadron carried out 26 operations during September, with an average of eight aircraft on each sortie. Over 233 tons of bombs have been dropped on Tripoli during 17 raids, causing considerable damage to harbour installations and the town. Palermo has been attacked five times, Messina twice, Benhazi and Kuriat once each.

Blenheims of 105 and 107 Squadrons carried out 31 operations, 20 of these directed against enemy shipping. Considerable damage was done to the chemical works and harbour installations at Crotone, factories at Licata, transport centres at Homs, barracks at Misurata and a power station at Porto Empedocle.  Five sweeps have been made along the Tripoli-Benghazi road during which petrol tankers and other transport vehicles have been bombed and machine-gunned.

Hurricanes (equipped with cannon) of 249 Squadron attacked the railway station at Pozallo, while those of 185 Squadron have carried out three bombing raids on Comiso aerodrome. On one of these raids a Hurricane was lost but the pilot was subsequently rescued. 

Swordfish of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm carried out 16 operations, 13 of these against enemy shipping, and have sunk two motor vessels and one destroyer, as well as damaging others. Mines have been laid on two occasions in Tripoli Harbour and once at Palermo.  As a result of torpedo attacks two merchant ships are claimed sunk, one destroyer and three merchantmen probably sunk, seven damaged and a further five probably damaged. 

Beaufighters of 272 Squadron were attached to this command during ‘Operation Halberd’ and were used to attack Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes. Searches were also made south of Sicily for torpedo boats.

On 14 nights Fulmars have operated over aerodromes in southern Sicily, dropping small bombs and machine-gunning aircraft on the ground. One Fulmar force-landed in the sea; the crew were rescued.

Defensive Action: 126 Squadron carried out 31 scrambles during the month, 249 Squadron 22 and 185 Squadron 66. The Malta Night Fighter Unit had 22 scrambles and shot down two enemy aircraft.  Eleven enemy aircraft were confirmed destroyed, plus one probable and five damaged, against the loss of two Hurricanes.

Enemy Activity: There have been nine day alerts and 20 night alerts during the month. None of these raids was heavy and bombs have only been dropped at night.  Damage has been negligible and confined to civilian property. 


Malta fighters were attacked tonight by five enemy aircraft as they helped search for one of their own Hurricane pilots reported missing after a raid. Eleven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron had earlier attacked Comiso aerodrome but as they returned to their base at Hal Far they learned that one of their pilots, P/O Donald Lintern, was missing.  Five Hurricanes took off again to escort a Fulmar which was sent to search for the missing pilot.  As they circled the area to the north of Gozo, enemy aircraft approached and attacked the Malta fighters.  In the ensuing dogfight one of the enemy fighters was shot down.  P/O Lintern was not been found and the search was eventually called off.


Weather  Fine and fresh.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant Robert L Kitch, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 200 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald W Lintern, RAFVR, 185 Squadron.


AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Wellington. Departures 6 Beaufighter, 4 Blenheim fighter. Fleet Air Arm One Fulmar on offensive patrol over Gerbini and Catania aerodromes dropped high explosive bombs on Gerbini dispersal area. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons attacked a motor transport depot in Tripoli. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance eastern and southern Sicily, east Calabrian coast and Tripoli.  Patrol of east Sicilian coast and shipping search off Tripoli area. 107 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked shipping and motor transport near Misurata and Beurat.  1 Blenheim attacked a schooner.  1 Blenheim on search for shipping north of Crotone. 

HAL FAR  185 Squadron 11 Hurricanes attacked Comiso aerodrome, 5 carrying bombs and 6 acting as fighter escort. High explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on buildings and a dispersal area.  The aircraft of P/O Lintern failed to return. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Mobile machine-gun company carried out an exercise to the north west of Rabat.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths 33 officers, 870 other ranks.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 21 officers, 443 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 18 officers, 708 other ranks. Recruits joined in September: 77.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths 18 officers, 8 WO1, 214 other ranks.


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


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5 January 1941: Medals for Malta Bomb Disposal

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Captain R L Jephson Jones & Lt W M Eastman

Captain R L Jephson Jones & Lt W M Eastman


Malta’s first two bomb disposal officers have both been awarded the George Cross. The London Gazette made the official announcement of the awards to Captain R L Jephson Jones and Lieutenant W M Eastman, RAOC, which were made in recognition of their ‘most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out very hazardous work’.  According to the recommendation, the two officers:  “worked under dangerous and trying conditions and performed acts of considerable gallantry in dealing with large numbers of various unexploded bombs, some of which were in a highly dangerous state and of the German delay type.

On one occasion, these officers showed particular gallantry in dealing with an 1100lb (500kg) German bomb. Two attempts were made to explode this bomb but it failed to detonate; at the third attempt when it was in a most dangerous state, they succeeded in detonating it.  On a second occasion, these officers, assisted by a Master Rigger of H M Dockyard, succeeded in removing a 400lb high explosive Italian unexploded bomb which had been under water for a week in a 20ft deep well inside a house…”

Captain Jephson Jones and Lt Eastman with their Royal Engineers team tackled some 85 unexploded bombs and over 150 Ack Ack shells in the six months to November last year. With no formal training or specialist equipment available in Malta, they often had to improvise to get the job done. 

In a further development today, the War Office issued a caution to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief to place a press embargo on any mention of the two officers dealing with time bombs in coverage of their awards. (1)


The following Ack Ack ammunition was used during the period 31 December 1940 to 5 January 1941 inclusive, all services: 4.5” shells 33; 3.7” shells 194; 3” high explosive 66.


Weather  Rain and strong winds.

No air raids.

Military casualties WO2 Clarence Walter Tucker, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.


AIR HQ Arrivals One Sunderland. Reconnaissance carried out of main aerodromes in Sicily. 0755-1000 hrs Glenn Martin reconnaissance Catania including harbour and Noto.  Nothing in Catania harbour.  28 aircraft believed SM 79 and nine single-engined aircraft dispersed around the aerodrome. 0610-1200 hrs Glenn Martin reconnaissance Palermo; snowstorm encountered two 6in cruisers, ten merchant vessels in harbour. 0815-1010 hrs Comiso observed from 3000 feet: 13 CR 42 fighters and three transport aircraft, probably SM 75s.  Two fighters took off but the Glenn Martin withdrew without encounter.  Gela aerodrome and landing ground: no aircraft seen.  Trapani: 10 Macchi 200s and five three-engined aircraft – Ack Ack encountered from two gun positions.  All the aerodromes appeared to be waterlogged and in several cases aircraft seemed bogged down.

0810-1210 hrs  Glenn Martin photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli harbour from 10000 feet: three seaplanes near hangars; six destroyers, one merchant vessel 10000 tons, five of 8000 tons, seven of 6000 tons and eleven smaller.  Moderate to heavy Ack Ack encountered: fairly accurate.  Reconnaissance of Pantelleria: photos not taken due to 100 per cent cloud at 2300 feet over the island. 1429 hrs Sunderland from Gibraltar landed safely with nothing to report.      

KALAFRANA One Sunderland arrived from Gibraltar with passengers including Group Captain G H Livock, DFC, AFC, new Commanding Officer for Kalafrana.

LUQA 431 Flight: 2 Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli and Pantelleria; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Catania; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Trapani, Comiso and Gela; 1 Maryland reconnaissance Palermo. 148 Squadron: 6 Wellingtons bombing raid on Tripoli.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012    


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Posted by on January 5, 2016 in 1941, January 1941


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18 November 1940: Malta Shops Re-open All Hours

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Shopping hours extended

Shopping hours extended


The Government today lifted restrictions on opening hours of shops across Malta. The move has been welcomed by retailers, whose businesses have been affected by commodity shortages as well as shorter opening times.  The civilian curfew hours will remain unchanged.

The restrictions, introduced on 29 May, required shops to close one hour before the 8.30pm curfew time and to remain closed until the curfew lifted at 6 o’clock in the morning. With the lifting of these restrictions shop owners are free to return to their normal trading schedules, making it easier for civilians to shop outside of their own working hours.


Weather   Fine.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY HMS Newcastle arrived with RAF reinforcements. She developed boiler and condenser defects and remained for repairs. 

KALAFRANA  Marine Craft Section rescued two crew of a Swordfish from a rubber dinghy three miles off Benghaisa.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Responsibility for bomb disposal assigned to Lt E E Talbot, Bomb Disposal Officer, RE.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal taken over by Bomb Disposal Officer, Royal Engineers and so ceases to be responsibility of Inspecting Ordnance Officer.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion handed over guard duty at War HQ Lascaris and Barracca to 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment. 

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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in 1940, November 1940


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2 November 1940: Villagers Surround Crashed Italian Plane

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Civil police were the target of criticism today after crowds of civilians flocked unimpeded to the site of a crashed Italian aircraft. The Macchi 200 was engaged in an air raid over Malta today when it was attacked by a Hurricane and crashed between Zeitun and Hompesch.  Villagers from both communities immediately rushed to the scene and surrounded the wreckage, before a protective cordon could be established.  Military chiefs questioned the efficiency of the police who, they said, had not acted quickly enough to secure the area and keep the public away.  

The body of the Italian pilot was found near his aircraft; observers reported that he baled out but his parachute failed to open fully. He was confirmed dead by the military inspecting officer, who commented on the inferior quality of the parachute equipment.  The pilot has since been named as Abramo Giuseppe Lanzarini; his rank is unknown.

Adrian Warburton

P/O Adrian Warburon


A RAF navigator saved the life of himself and his pilot today after their Maryland was attacked by four Italian fighter aircraft. The Maryland of 431 Flight was on a reconnaissance mission to photograph Taranto harbor when the Italian fighters attacked.  A bullet struck the nose of the aircraft and hit Pilot Officer A Warburton, knocking him unconscious. 

As the aircraft plunged into a steep dive, Observer/Navigator Sergeant Frank Bastard acted fast, manoeuvering the unconscious pilot aside and grabbing the controls himself. He managed to stabilise the aircraft and keep it on a steady course until the pilot regained consciousness.  F/O Warburton was sufficiently recovered to fly safely back to Malta. (1)


Weather  Fine.

1228-1336 hrs Air raid alert for five Italian formations totalling 20 SM79 bombers accompanied by some 30 Macchi 200 and CR42 fighters which approach from the north and fly over the Island. Bombs are dropped four miles in front of Fort St Elmo.  Anti-aircraft guns open fire, splitting the first bomber formation.  Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled and attack the raiders in several dogfights at 17000 feet. 

One Macchi 200 is brought down by a Hurricane between Zeitun and Hompesch. The pilot bales out but his parachute fails to open fully and he is killed.  A second Macchi is possibly destroyed by another Hurricane.  Two CR42s are also damaged by fighters.  Ack Ack guns split the formations and shoot down one enemy aircraft.   After a brief lull bombers and fighters cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa hitting a hangar on the aerodrome, and on Zabbar, demolishing four houses.  2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment carries out a search for unexploded bombs on the aerodrome: three are reported.  No military or civilian casualties are reported.

Military casualties Sergente Abramo Giuseppe Lanzarini, 72a Squadriglia, 17o Gruppo, 1o Stormo, pilot of Macchi C200 fighter.                                                   


8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Fatigue parties cleaning Strickland House.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Despatch of Italian machine guns to UK. Bomb Disposal UXB High Explosive 1 Luqa.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Molotoff cocktail trials. 1800 hrs Cycle patrol mounted at Luqa. 

(1) For his actions Sergeant Bastard was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.


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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in 1940, November 1940


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1 November 1940: Malta Aircraft Bomb Naples

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Aircraft from Malta were involved in a heavy bombing raid on Naples today. Main targets were the seaport, industrial zones and railways to the east of the City, and a steel mill to the west.  The mission was part of a co-ordinated British attack against the ports of Naples and Brindisi.


One Sunderland flying boat of 228 Squadron is believed destroyed and another seriously damaged after they were attacked by Italian fighters today. The aircraft of Squadron Leader Menzies and Flying Officer S M Farries was on patrol over Sicily when it was intercepted by Italian fighters which launched a determined attack.  The Sunderland was severely damaged and was observed falling into the sea.  There were no reported survivors.

In a separate incident, a second Sunderland piloted by F/Lt Ware left Kalafrana to search for the crew of a Wellington aircraft which had failed to arrive in Malta. The flying boat was attacked by Italian Macchi 200 and CR42 fighters. Despite being riddled with large bullet holes, the Sunderland managed to limp back to Kalafrana. On landing, the pilot reported that Air Gunner Leading Aircraftsman R J Barton had continued firing at the enemy aircraft despite severe gunshot wounds to his neck and ankle. (1)  


Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

0655-0735 hrs Wellington bombers land at Luqa.


AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA A Sunderland piloted by F/Lt Ware, 228 Squadron attacked by Italian Macchi 200 and CR42 fighters: two airmen wounded and the aircraft damaged. Officers S/L Menzies and F/O Farries, four NCOs and four airmen of 228 Squadron have been reported missing after their aircraft failed to return from patrol off Sicily.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Tests carried out on petrol bombs; a solution was made which prolonged the life of the flame.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS B omb Disposal UXB  High Explosive 3, Zabbar, Latnia, Luqa.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1130 hrs GOC inspected bomb dumps. Nightly patrols of aerodrome mounted to prevent sabotage of Wellingtons. 

(1) Leading Aircraftsman R J Barton was awarded the DFM for his actions.

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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in 1940, November 1940


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24 October 1940: Anti-Italian Feeling Grows in Malta

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Kingsway or Strada Reale

Kingsway or Strada Reale


Anti-Italian feeling is growing among some groups of Maltese civilians. Increasing numbers of letters are being sent to newspapers seeking the eradication of Italian language and cultural symbols from Maltese life. One correspondent commented: “Whenever we hear the siren, there are only Italian planes, directed by Italian pilots, dropping Italian bombs…are we going to leave the Italian language on our walls? Are we to continue to write our address in Italian?…Is the Italian language to be continued to flow in our Secondary Schools? Street names are already being changed from Italian to English in response to demand. However, while the Government has sounded a note of caution, some views published in the press have enflamed anti-Italian feelings.

A minority of individuals have taken the matter into their own hands, accusing others of being Italian sympathisers. And only days ago an angry crowd gathered around an Italian pilot prisoner of war who had been taken to Valletta for some shopping. According to one report: “There was a great commotion in Strada Reale and it was only through the great tact of the Police that something very distasteful did not happen…It took the Police a long time to dissuade the crowd not to tear him to pieces.” (1)


Weather  Fine.

1131-1230 hrs Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft approaching from the north. The come within ten to fifteen miles east of Valletta and circle. Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled and the raiders turn away.

Military casualties  Gunner Emmanuel Callus, Royal Malta Artillery.


ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; four mines swept up in position 141 degrees Delimara 12.3 miles. Reconnaissance Swordfish and Skua Fleet Air Arm (FAA). Skua reported on landing seeing French 10000 ton liner coming out of the straits of Messina.

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties One Swordfish. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA and Sunderland 228 Squadron; Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil reports by all aircraft.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance are Malta-Tripoli-Jerba Island; reported on landing seeing one Italian destroyer and one merchant vessel in convoy. Operational base for Sunderlands transferred to St Paul’s Bay owing to sea conditions at Kalafrana.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT Ack Ack firing practice: the target was towed by aircraft. 10 hits were registered.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Petrol bombs tried out and proved successful. Tar used instead of oil, giving more sustained burning. Work began to prepare 500 to issue to Infantry Battalions.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Ltd Malta, 1981  

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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in 1940, October 1940


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23 October 1940: Swordfish Forced to Land Off Malta

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The crew of a Swordfish aircraft had to be rescued by a trawler today after their aircraft was forced to land in the sea within sight of Malta today. The Swordfish, of 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, was returning from reconnaissance of the Ionian Sea, searching for enemy surface forces. A recovery vessel was sent to the area to retrieve the stricken aircraft. After a thorough search it was concluded that the Swordfish had sunk.


Weather  Fine and fresh.

No air raids.


ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; no result. 1150-1535 hrs Skua Fleet Air Arm reconnaissance Malta to 25 miles north of Tripoli; nil report.

AIR HQ Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forces by Blenheim attached 431 Flight and Swordfish 830 Squadron; nil reports by all aircraft. Reconnaissance Glenn Martin 431 Flight reported one small merchant vessel, possibly hospital ship at 1240 hrs.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. High speed launch returned from Dockyard after repair of damage sustained in air raid on 21 July.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT C and D Coys sent a working party to the Castille for the removal of Ack Ack ammunition.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Work of unloading ammunition completed. Of 45000 cartridges QF40mm 8000 are found to be marked for issue in emergency only. Bomb Disposal One week bomb disposal course started by Inspecting Ordnance Officer with assistance of Lt W M Eastman. The course was attended by two officers and six senior NCOs of the Royal Engineers.

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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in 1940, October 1940


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