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10 November 1941: Royal Navy Sinks Axis Morale

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Upholder

Upholder sank two Axis vessels

AXIS LEADERS ‘DISMAYED’ AT DESTRUCTION OF SHIPPING

While a vital supply convoy to Malta was being unloaded in the safety of the Dockyard, the Axis were taking stock of the impact of Sunday’s Force “K” attack.  Italian leaders were dismayed at the destruction of all the merchant ships and a destroyer in their convoy, while their British attackers escaped unscathed.  Furious that essential manpower and supplies for his North Africa campaign had failed to arrive, Rommel suggested to Berlin headquarters that the entire Mediterranean supply line was in jeopardy.  It was becoming clearer that Mussolini’s forces were not able to counter the threat from Malta.     

Yet their retaliation was swift.  Six air raid alarms were sounded in Malta through Sunday night: at 1941, 2211, 2309, 0027, 0122 and 0210 hours.  A total of twenty five enemy aircraft approached the Island but they dropped the majority of their bombs in the sea, mainly thanks to excellent work of the searchlight operators.  During the first raid they illuminated a BR 20 Italian bomber, which was promptly engaged by a RAF Hurricane and damaged.  In the second raid another enemy aircraft was reported ‘probably destroyed’ by Hurricanes.  Just before the second alarm a Hurricane crashed soon after taking off, near Wardia Ridge: the pilot successfully baled out at 500 feet. 

"Thermos" bombs: often picked up by civilians with fatal consequences

“Thermos” bombs: often picked up by civilians with fatal consequences

CLUSTER BOMBS ON REFUGEES

Overnight the Regia Aeronautica showered more anti-personnel bombs on a civilian area.  This time it was Birkirkara, a town now heavily populated with refugees from the Grand Harbour area who had fled there for safety.  Yet again, hundreds of Thermos bombs lay in narrow streets and lanes: 142 them were reported as high priority and dealt with by the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Section the same day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 11 NOVEMBER 1941

1109-1120 hrs Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1700-1716 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft (probably Macchi 200’s) approach the Island from the North and carry out reconnaissance.  Ack Ack guns engage by immediate barrage as enemy aircraft cross the coast; no claims.

Military casualties   James Lawrence, 1stBattalion The Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Parnis, age 26, John Parnis, age 17. Gzira  Carmelo Xuereb, age 23.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 10 NOVEMBER

ROYAL NAVY  Upholder arrived, having sunk one submarine (not confirmed) and one destroyer [in the aftermath of the Force “K” attack].  Four Albacores attacked Catania aerodrome.  One aircraft machine-gunned Ragusa.  Eight Swordfish carried out search in vicinity of Messina without result.

HAL FAR  Overnight five Albacores, 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm (FAA) despatched to attack Augusta.  Bombs dropped near Nafta tank causing small fire and others on north end of submarine base.   Weather good and all aircraft returned safely.  One Fulmar made a night intruder patrol over Cape Passero.  Weather unsuitable for locating aerodrome.  No results.  Four Albacores, 828 Squadron FAA despatched to attack Catania aerodrome.  Results unobserved owing to bad weather conditions.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  Six Blenheims 107 Squadron shipping sweep Gulf of Sirte.  Three Wellingtons 40 Squadron nuisance raid Brindisi.  Two Wellingtons 40 Squadron nuisance raid Naples.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 142; dealt with (1 x 250kg HE; 139 x Thermos; 2 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on November 10, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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9 November 1941: Malta Braced for Reprisals

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“LATELY WE HAVE BEEN BOMBING NAPLES AND NO DOUBT THERE WILL BE REPRISALS

“I am told that the BBC in a broadcast made some allusion to the base from which Naples was bombed …This was the more unwise since there was a Convoy on its way to us from Alexandria.

It arrived on November 9th; and a thrilling thing it was. Two battleships (HMS Ramillies and HMS Barham) two cruisers, a number of destroyers, and (I think) five big cargo ships. And even so we were not bombed. It is almost incredible. All these ships passed up our narrow Grand Harbour, which is but 300 yards wide though a mile long. The battleships fastened themselves to buoys, and the smaller stuff went alongside the Dockyard walls just off the main harbour. Oilers presumably came alongside the big ships for re-fuelling.

And yet we were not bombed. For the space of several hours some 16 ships were crowded into a space of about one square mile. Half a dozen resolute airmen could scarcely fail to hit something. What is the explanation? An officer in the inner circle of information said he was as mystified as myself. Either the Italians have cold feet, or they are short of materials. The Staff were saying ‘Hurry up with those oilers! Get these ships out of here’, while the Italians lay doggo.” (2)

CLUSTER BOMBS HIT HILLTOP COMMUNITY OF RABAT

Exactly a week after the first cluster bomb attack on Valletta, the hilltop community of Rabat awoke to the same terrifying sight of Thermos bombs scattered throughout the narrow streets.  Superintendent Philip Pullicino of the Special Constabulary and his men worked alongside local police and ARP volunteers in a co-ordinated operation to find and guard every single bomb, until Bomb Disposal Officer Lt George Carroll and his Section arrived to deal with them.  Working in teams of three, by the end of the day the Bomb Disposal men had dealt with over 80 Thermos bombs in the town.

A street in Rabat

One report given to Sapper Tom Meager and his mate was from an elegant private house, where they were directed upstairs to a bedroom.  According to instructions, Tom knew they should explode the bomb. Reluctant to destroy a home, he decided on a bold action: 

“I sat on the end of the bed and the chap that was with me was on the veranda, looking out…I said ‘Check down there and make sure everybody’s clear.’  The Police had been told beforehand to make sure everybody was either clear of the area or stayed indoors.  I said [to my mate]: ‘Are they clear yet?’  and he said, ‘Yes, all clear.’

So I bent down and picked this thing up like that [resting horizontally on two open hands] and carried it to the window.  Just as I put my arms out of the window to drop it, [my mate] said, ‘Hold it – a woman has just come out of the door up the road!’  and I said, ‘Well tell her to get back inside!’  He yelled at her but she wouldn’t go back in.  She went on up the road, so I hung on there, thinking ‘Come on, hurry up!’

I said, ‘I’ve got to let it go!’ and I did.  And I’m sure to this day that it went off before it hit the ground.  But the woman was safe enough.”  (2)   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 10 NOVEMBER 1941 

1030-1035 hrs  Air raid alarm for two Macchi 200’s which carry out reconnaissance of Luqa, Hal Far and Grand harbour areas.  Ack Ack fire one barrage.

1347 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two unidenfied enemy aircraft approach from North, reach the coast near Delimara Point and then recede North.  Ack Ack guns engage by barrage fire. 

1709 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Approx three Macchi’s carry out reconnaissance of the Island.  No engagement by Ack Ack or Hurricanes.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 9 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY:  Force “K” returned to harbour, having sunk one destroyer and damaged two destroyers, and sunk seven MVs  No casualties or damage on our side.  Five Albacores attacked Augusta with good results.

HAL FAR:  Overnight five Albacores, 828 Squadron FAA despatched to attack the submarine base at Augusta. Large fire was started amongst the oil tanks. Light Ack Ack very intense and accurate.  Two Hurricanes, 185 Squadron despatched on escort patrol. F/O Bailey failed to return to base. Three Swordfish carried out submarine patrol. Nothing was sighted.

Casualty:  Flying Officer Graham G Bailey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve , 185 Squadron..

LUQA:  One Blenheim 107 Squadron, one Blenheim 18 Squadron on SF11 Patrol.  Six Blenheims 107 Squadron, five Blenheims 18 Squadron shipping sweep Gulf of Sirte.  Nothing sighted.  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron nuisance raid on Naples.  Two Wellingtons 104 Squadron nuisance raid on Messina.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 80; dealt with (85 x Thermos).

(1)  Extract from diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 (2)  Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010

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Posted by on November 9, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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8 November 1941: Malta Faces Shortage of Ammunition Supplies

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GOVERNOR & C IN C ASKED TO WITHDRAW BREN ROUNDS

From: Governor & C in C Malta                 To: The War Office                19042 cipher 8/11. Your (SD12) 6/11)

“150 Bren LMG and 150,000 rounds .303 are being withdrawn from units for issue to Lt. Col. Ede as ordered. This can only be done by weakening the essential defences of Malta as we hold no reserve Bren guns and stocks of SAA are not really adequate. Replacement is too problematical to be satisfactory. Suggest provision should be made from reserve stock of Mideast.”

MALTESE MERCHANT NAVY CASUALTY

News reached Malta  today that Maltese merchant seaman Anthony Cutajar died after his vessel ‘Hazelside’ was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-68 on 28 October in the South Atlantic, 600 miles SE of St Helena.

Grand Harbour

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 9 NOVEMBER 1941

0937-0955 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two Macchi 200’s approach the Island from the north east, cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area, proceed on to Filfla and recede North.  Ack Ack fire a barrage.

1155-1220 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four Cant 1007’s escorted by approximately eighteen Macchi’s drop bombs from Rinella in a long line to just short of Luqa village; no damage or casualties.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the Macchi’s with results as follows: three Macchi’s destroyed, one probably destroyed, one damaged.  One Hurricane is destroyed, one damaged. the pilot is landed safely.

1730 hrs  Royal Navy Force “K” sailed to intercept a convoy in the Ionian Sea.  Five Albacores attacked the submarine base at Augusta.  Large fire started.

1941, 0143 and 0549 hrs Three alerts for a total of sixteen enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  Practically all bombs were dropped in the sea.  One enemy aircraft drops anti-personnel bombs in the Rabat area – no damage.

Military casualties   Sergeant William A Hopkinson, Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Sergeantt WOAG Montague Keam, DSM, Royal Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Gerald C Pryor, Royal Canadian Air Force. 

Enemy casualties  Pilot Captain Mario Pluda, commander of 73a Squadriglia, 9o Gruppo, 4o Stormo; fighter pilot Sergeant Major Luigi Taroni were shot down and killed.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1941

LUQA: One Blenheim of 18 Squadron and one from 107 Squadron on recce Kerkennah, Zuara, Tripoli. Six Blenheims of 107 Squadron and six of 18 Squadron attacked a convoy off Cape Spartivento.  Sgt Hopkinson of 18 Squadron and F/Lt Pryor of 107 Squadron failed to return.  One Wellington S/D Flight ASV on shipping search. Four Wellingtons of 104 Squadron attacked Brindisi and Messina. Elevn Wellingtons of 40 Squadron and six Wellingtons of 104 Squadron attacked Naples, Palermo, Catania, Syracuse and other targets.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 1 (1 x 150kg).

 

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Posted by on November 8, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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6 November 1941: Malta Air Forces Attack Sicily

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FLEET AIR ARM ATTACK NAVAL BASES AND FACTORY

Sicily

Sicily

In the early hours of the morning five Albacores of 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm attacked the Italian naval harbour of Augusta and the main port of Licata. One stick of bombs landed on the submarine base at Augusta, and a fire was started at a munitions factory in Licata. All aircraft returned safely.  In a separate operation, Hurricanes of 185 Squadron attacked a factory east of Pozzallo in south eastern Sicily.

DISPOSAL OF THERMOS BOMBS AT RICASOLI

Ricasoli is the latest area to be cleared of Thermos bombs.  An announcement has appeared in the Times of Malta today from the Commissioner of Police warning the public that a series of small explosions will be heard in the vicinity of Ricasoli between 9am and 4pm.

1217-1235 hrs  Air raid alert caused by the return of friendly aircraft. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER 1941

HAL FAR 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  5 Albacores attacked naval installations at Augusta and Licata. All aircraft returned safely.  185 Squadron  2 Hurricanes carried out a patrol over the SE corner of Sicily, with four more of the Squadron’s Hurricanes acting as cover.  A factory east of Pozzallo was attacked.  No opposition encountered. 

LUQA  107 Squadron 5 Blenheims were despatched to attack Mellana aerodrome but were unable to locate target. They attacked barracks and M/T depots near Tripoli. 40 Squadron  2 Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Naples; another Wellington carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 0; dealt with (10 x Thermos).

 

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Posted by on November 6, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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5 November 1941: Italians in Stukas over Malta

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Junkers JU87 over Malta 1941

Junkers JU87 over Malta

GERMAN BOMBS DROPPED ON THE ISLAND

Rumours have been circulating for some time that Italian pilots are flying German ‘Stuka’ JU87 dive-bombers over Malta.  Unexploded German bombs reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal in recent days – not seen on the Island for some time – provide further evidence to support the claims.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 6 NOVEMBER 1941

1049-1106 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Six Macchi 200’s approached from N. and carried out recce of area, Grand Harbour, Delimara and Luqa.  Two Heavy Ack Ack positions engaged by barrage, others by Pointers.

1900 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Several enemy aircraft approached Island, only one crossing coast.  Searchlights effected illumination, Ack Ack fired barrages.  Bombs dropped in sea.

2132 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Only one of several aircraft reported in vicinity came over island.  Ack Ack fired barrages.  Enemy aircraft, a German JU87 piloted by Italians, was hit and crashed on coast East of Dowdall’s Hotel, Marsa Scirocco.  Two occupants of machine killed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Gordon Lowe, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Reginald Morris, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); Sergeant Harry Vickers, RAFVR; all 18 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Vittorio Bragadin; air gunner Amleto Bruttini, gunner Angelo Gatti; pilot Armando Tosi; all 238 Squadriglia, 96 Gruppo Autonomo .

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Five Albacores bombed Augusta and Licata – dropping 6,000 lbs of bombs and 80 lbs incendiaries.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars carried out patrols of the Pantelleria and Lampedusa region against enemy air ferry service. Nothing was sighted.

LUQA  18 Squadron  8 Blenheims attacked convoy. Sgt Vickers & Sgt Morris failed to return. 1 Wellington attacked convoy. 104 Squadron  10 Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito and Mellaha aerodromes. 40 Squadron  8 Wellingtons attacked Castel Benito aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10.

 

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Posted by on November 5, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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4 November 1941: Cluster Bombs Criticised in The Times

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“IT IS REMINISCENT OF THE BORGIA MENTALITY OF POISONING THE ENEMY IF ONE CANNOT GET AT HIM IN A SQUARE FIGHT.”

Times of Malta, Tuesday 4 November 1941

Main streets of Valletta were scattered with ‘Thermos’ anti-personnel bombs

“In a recent raid the enemy adopted cowardly tactics in attacking civilians.  Well aware from the publicity given in the world Press of the safety afforded by our rock shelters, an enemy raider, which met the fate it deserved, dropped a comparatively large number of mickie-mouse bombs or booby traps, which did not explode on impact with the ground as they fell, but which became highly dangerous when handled by inexperienced persons.  Among their victims were two young boys and a woman.

It appears that the Police during and after the raid found a large number of these small unexploded bombs.  Some foolish acts were committed.  These dangerous missiles were picked up and carried to the Police Station, where they were lined up in a row.  It was sheer luck that there were no casualties among the Police who cleared the streets of these explosives; they seemed to have a charmed life.

Indubitably the Police exceeded their instructions when they handled these bombs; their quick clearance, however, fortunately without fatal accidents to the Force, undoubtedly saved life, for these bombs, lying about in the street, would have been a deadly trap for unsuspecting persons and children proceeding to and from the shelters during the night’s air raids.  These booby traps are dastardly weapons, likely to prove fatal to the inexperienced.  It is reminiscent of the Borgia mentality of poisoning the enemy if one cannot get at him in a square fight.  It lays a trap for civilians in the street, when they cannot be reached in the shelters.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 5 NOVEMBER 1941

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Trusty returned from patrol off Cephalonia, having sunk one ship and gathered much useful information.

AIR HQ  107 Squadron  Six Blenheims Luqa carried out search for convoy.  185 Squadron 2 Hurricanes on offensive patrol over Sicily.  A train was successfully attacked and put out of action.  Many signal boxes on the railway line between Noto and Cape Passero were shot up.  A factory west of Pazzallo was also attacked with no visible results.  Weather 10/10 cloud at 6000/8000 feet.  828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  5 Albacores attacked the submarine base at Augusta. Owing to bad weather only two of the five reached the target.  Military barracks were bombed causing a fire.  All aircraft returned safely.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 0; dealt with 14(13 x Thermos; 1 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on November 4, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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2 November 1941: Times Profiles Bomb Disposal Men

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 TIMES PROFILES ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL MALTA

Times of Malta, 2 November 1941

“BOMB DISPOSAL

The 24thFortress Company includes that which interests every civilian in this war – Bomb Disposal Sections.  The men of these sub-units of the Engineers are responsible for the ‘disposal’ of unexploded bombs here, and dangerous as is their task, they are the last to claim any special merit for their job.  Quietly efficient, experienced in handling their dangerous charges, both here and in Britain, these soldiers take their orders in a routine manner.

MATTER OF FACT COURAGE

Their attitude is a commendable one.  Trained and provided with the very latest information concerning the types of fuzes and explosives they are likely to encounter, they simply ignore any further danger.  The bomb disposal officer, under whom they work, examines each new charge, and, when his decision is made and line of action decided upon, Sappers of the Bomb Disposal Section carry on as if with a parade-ground order. 

Despite their reluctance to allow the factor of heroics to be associated with them, these Sappers have, nevertheless, done sterling work here, amid breathtaking hazards.  Readers will appreciate also that these risks are taken in a premeditated manner, without the exhilaration of actual battle to lend a spur to courage.

Nothing at any hour comes amiss to these soldiers.  They are prepared to tackle at any time of the day or night any enemy missile from a small fire bomb to the heaviest high explosive.  In Britain they have tackled all types of Nazi bomb, while their experience in Malta covers both German and Italian efforts.”

GOVERNOR & C IN C MALTA: REPORT FOR OCTOBER

There were five day raids and ten night raids during October. Casualties were seven killed and seven seriously injured (3 men, 2 women and 2 children in each case). 12 houses and 1 store demolished or seriously damaged. Reduction in price of essential imported commodities was announced on 30th October and has had admirable effect locally.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 NOVEMBER TO DAWN  3 NOVEMBER 1941

0855 hrs Air raid alarm.  No engagement.

1201 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three plus Macchi fighters approached Island from NE split formation and crossed coast just S of Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged by means of barrage and height control fire.

2216 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approached Island from N and dropped bombs in sea off Tal Qroqq.

Military casualties  Sergeant Harold Forth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve  (RAFVR); Sergeant Ernest Spry, RAFVR, both 40 Squadron, Sergeant Ian McCalman, Royal Australian Air Force.

Enemy casualties   Tenente Francesco Toscano, pilot; Sottotenente Felice Bussolin, Sottotenente, pilot.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 NOVEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Four Albacores sent to attack sulphur factory at Licata with good results.  Submarine HMS Tetrarch under command of Lt.Cdr. George H Greenway, RN has failed to arrive in Gibraltar, having sailed from Malta on 26 October 1941 for refit in the USA. She is presumed lost while passing over Italian mines off Capo Granditola, Sicily.

HAL FAR Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron on enemy ferry service patrol off Panteleria. Two Fulmars, Fleet Air Arm also on patrol off Pantelleria.  Nothing sighted. 

LUQA  Wellingtons of 40 Squadron attacked Castel Benito aerodrome in company with Wellingtons of 104 Squadron. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 28 (27 x Thermos; 1 x 2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on November 2, 2021 in 1941, November 1941

 

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27 October 1941: Malta Command Fair Opens to Entertain Troops

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command-fair-sacra-infermeria-try-4GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF PERFORMS OPENING CEREMONY

The Command Fair in Valletta was officially opened this afternoon by His Excellency the Governor. Lt Gen Dobbie was welcomed by a military guard of honour.  After officially declaring the fair open, he inspected the guard and toured the attractions.  The Fair in Merchants Street will be open from 1500 hrs to 2200 hrs daily to all ranks of all Services and their friends.  Attractions will include a shooting gallery, boxing booth, variety shows, games of skill, stalls, canteens and prizes.  There is no entrance fee and prices have been kept low to ensure access for all ranks.  Profits from the fair will be donated to selected charities

EXTRACT FROM ITALIAN NEWS BULLETIN 27 OCTOBER 1941

Italian news bulletins have reported on raids by Malta aircraft on Saturday night on the Libyan coast. Five Blenheims attacked barracks at Misurata and six struck a main road between Zuara and Benghazi.  Wellingtons carried out a nuisance raid on Tripoli.

According to the Italian media: “British planes raided Benghazi, Tripoli and Misurata. At Benghazi and Tripoli ‘not great damage’ was caused, and no casualties are reported.  A Blenheim was shot down by German anti-aircraft guns.  Its crew were taken prisoner.” 

According to Malta Air Intelligence reports, it is quite possible that the Blenheim mentioned is that of Sgt Shaver who failed to return from raid on the Zuara-Benghazi road.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Wet and windy.

0758-0810 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders retreat before crossing the coast and there is no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 OCTOBER 1941

AIR HQ 18 Squadron 4 Blenheims attacked a railway line north of Crotone. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissances Augusta and Castel Benito.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (2kg incendiary).

 

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Posted by on October 27, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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24 October 1941: Malta Supply Ship Missing

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Catalina

A Catalina made a thorough search

EMPIRE GUILLEMOT FAILS TO MAKE RENDEZVOUS

SS Empire Guillemot, the ship which delivered fodder to Malta on 19 September, has been reported missing on her return journey to Gibraltar. The merchant ship should have departed at the end of September during ‘Operation Halberd’ but was delayed. A week ago she embarked along with SS Clan Macdonald but returned to port later with engine trouble.

Empire Guillemot finally left Malta on Wednesday morning, at the same time as other merchant ships City of Lincoln and Dunedin Star.  The three were to take separate routes to Gibraltar. 

A Catalina aircraft from Gibraltar which had been scheduled to escort Empire Guillemot through the final leg of her journey was unable to find her anywhere near the rendezvous point.  A Swordfish was then diverted to aid the search but could find no trace of the merchantman.  A further search by three aircraft this morning also drew a blank, and the vessel is now feared to have been sunk.  

Another convoy supply ship which left Malta today was attacked shortly after leaving Grand Harbour. Clan Ferguson had just set out for Gibraltar when enemy aircraft appeared in her wake and launched an attack a short distance from the Island.  As the enemy was clearly aware of her voyage, it was decided the merchant ship should return to Grand Harbour immediately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1015-1026 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which cross the Island at great height. Fourteen Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders retreat before there is any interception.

1356-1407 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi fighters which approach from the north, cross the coast near Grand Harbour, pass over Kalafrana and turn away to recede northwards – probably on reconnaissance. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled but cannot reach sufficient height to intercept; there is no engagement by Ack Ack guns.

Civilian casualties  Gozo John Pisani, age 49.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY Tetrarch arrived from Alexandria with stores and kerosene. Clan Ferguson sailed independently for Gibraltar.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Maryland, 2 Sunderland, 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Beaufighter, 7 Wellington. SD Flight 1 Wellington search for convoy. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked a factory at Licata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  Photoreconnaissance Castel Vetrano and Tripoli. 104 Squadron 4 Wellingtons attacked Naples; 2 recalled due to bad weather.  6 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm  2 Swordfish searched for missing Wellington; search unsuccessful.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The General Officer Commanding, Malta, carried out an inspection of C Company. It is the system that the infantry company command co-ordinates the defence of all areas in his sector.  The inspection therefore included three forts, six Bofors and an 18 pounder position. The GOC was most pleased.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 2 Section 173 Company completed a workshop and store for Bomb Disposal at Polverista Gate. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 6; dealt with 6 (2kg incendiary).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  4 other ranks disembarked and posted to SWS Malta.

 

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

 

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18 October 1941: Nine Air Raid Alerts in 17 hrs – Five Killed

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Albacores over Malta

Albacores over Malta

ISLAND UNDER ALERT THROUGH THE NIGHT – HEAVIEST BOMBING FOR WEEKS

Malta suffered its heaviest night of bombing for many weeks tonight. Seven air raids sounded throughout the night in a bombing campaign which seemed to intend an air raid on the Island every hour.  Italian Cant and BR 20 bombers approached from different directions and dropped a large number of large and small high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the Island.

In the first attack, a large bomb destroyed a house in Bur Marrad, St Paul’s Bay. Five civilians were killed and three people wounded, including two servicemen.  According to military authorities, the traumatised villagers refused to accept help from the Army, saying they preferred to wait for the arrival of the demolition squad. 

An hour after the all-clear the alert sounded for a single bomber approached the south-east coast but dropped bombs in the sea off Zonqor Point. Almost exactly an hour later, two more bombers approached and separated, one turning to approach from the north-west and dropping high explosive bombs near Mgarr, severing telephone lines. The second approached from the north-east then turned in towards St Thomas’ Bay, dropping high explosive bombs in the sea.  

Shortly after 1am another bomber approached from the north west and dropped 2kg anti-personnel bombs near searchlight positions on Bajda Ridge. The alert sounded again an hour later, followed by a sixth but in both cases the raiders turned back before reaching the Island.  The final alert came just before 5am when a single bomber approached Dingli from the west but dropped all bombs in the sea.  The final all-clear sounded just 15 minutes later.

828 SQUADRON ARRIVES IN MALTA

A new Squadron arrived today to joined the Fleet Air Arm force at Hal Far. 828 Squadron, with 11 Albacores and one Swordfish will strengthen the torpedo bomber force in Malta, which has carried out many successful operations against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean.

The reinforcements left the UK under ‘Operation Call Boy’ on 1 October for Gibraltar, where they were transferred to the carrier HMS Ark Royal for shipment towards Malta.  The Carrier sailed under escort two days ago through the western Mediterranean and reached a point early this morning from where the aircraft could take off for Malta.  A second Swordfish destined for Hal Far which took off from Ark Royal did not arrive and is presumed lost.  The pilot Sub Lt D Muller RNVR, and observer Sub Lt A Denby RNVR are missing.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine.

1125-1137 hrs  Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which cross the Island on reconnaissance. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to intercept due to height of raiders.  No engagement by Ack Ack guns.

1522-1553 hrs  Air raid alert for two Macchi 200s which cross the coast to the west of Delimara at great altitude, on reconnaissance. They fly northwards over Ta Qali, turn about over Gozo and fly down the east coast of Malta, then turn over Luqa to Delimara, eventually receding northwards.  Anti-aircraft guns fire pointer rounds.  Nine Hurricanes are airborne but unable to intercept.

Night   Seven air raid alerts sound through the night. Two Hurricanes at a time are airborne but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

2046-2120 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers which approach the Island separately from the west and north. Large high explosive bombs are dropped in the sea near Filfla and in the St Paul’s Bay area.  A house is demolished at Bur Marrad.  Five civilians are killed and one seriously wounded.  One soldier of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is seriously injured in the ankle and another slightly.  According to military authorities, villagers refused help from the Army, saying they preferred to wait for the arrival of the demolition squad.

2219-2244 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which drops high explosive bombs in the sea east of Zonqor Point.

2321-2351 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching separately from the north west and north east. The first drops 12kg bombs on land near Mgarr, severing telephone lines, and in the sea off Ghain Tuffieha.  The second drops bombs in the sea six miles east of St Thomas’ Bay.

0117-0137 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy aircraft which approaches from the north west and drops 25 x 2kg bombs near Bajda Ridge searchlight positions; no damage or casualties.

0215-0225 hrs; 0338-0348 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

0455-0510 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the west to within eight miles of Dingli and drops high explosive bombs in the sea before receding westward.

Civilian casualties  St Paul’s Bay (Bur Marrad)  Francis Bonnici, age 50; Carmela Bonnici, age 44; Joseph Bonnici, age 16; Frances Bonnici, age 6; Emanuel Bonnici, age 4.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Truant proceeded on patrol in Adriatic. Rorqual left for minelaying, and thence to Gibraltar.  828 Squadron of eleven Albacores arrived, ex operation Call Boy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a factory north of Crotone. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols south eastern Tunisian coast and special patrol.  Photoreconnaissances Palermo, Trapani, Taranto and Naples. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on convoy search. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish were sent to attack a convoy of 4 merchant ships and 4 destroyers.  At least one merchant ship was hit, with fires visible for 10 miles.

HAL FAR  Eleven Albacore aircraft No 828 Squadron arrived at Hal Far under the command of Lt/Cdr Langmore.

TA QALI  New airmen’s barrack block taken over.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (500kg).

 

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Posted by on October 18, 2021 in 1941, October 1941

 

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