Tag Archives: Royal Malta Artillery

16 August 1941: Royal Malta Artillery is Example to Allied Troops

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Harbour guns praised

Malta’s harbour guns vigilant


The Royal Malta Artillery has been held up as an example to Allied Troops across all war fronts. In a speech today, the Secretary of State for War stressed the need for British Troops to maintain constant vigilance, quoting as an example the Maltese defenders’ recent successful action against the Italian attempted invasion:

“On 26 July there were certain coast defences on the Island of Malta manned by the Royal Malta Artillery which had not opened fire for the whole of the war. There they had stood at their posts, day after day, night after night.  What a good reason for boredom; what an excuse for relaxing vigilance.” 

The Secretary of State then followed with a description of the attack, saying “by the skill and unceasing watchfulness of the Royal Malta Artillery, a British machine-gun detachment and some anti-aircraft guns manned by Maltese, this first serious attack of Italian surface craft was smashed.”


Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

1730 hrs  Four enemy aircraft cross the Island at 24000 feet unseen by Malta fighters.

0430-0505 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the coast and drops incendiary bombs just outside the boundary of Hal Far aerodrome. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.

Military casualties  Lance Corporal Joseph Muscat, Royal Army Service Corps.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmelo Pisani, age 29.


AIR HQ Departures 1 Blenheim, 4 Hurricane. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on striking force patrols.  Photoreconnaissance of Catania port and aerodrome.  Four Hurricane fighter sweeps over Southern Sicily in the morning and afternoon.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish attacked central quay and merchant ships at Catania harbour with determination and great success; large fires and explosions were observed.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion gave a charity dance at the Vernon Club from 1430-1630 hrs in aid of the Volunteer Aid Detachment.  The Regimental Dance Band played and the show was a great success.  HE the Governor and Lady Dobbie were present.  The sum of £25 was handed over to the charity.  In the evening the band played for a dance at the Sliema Club.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.


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Posted by on August 16, 2021 in 1941, August 1941


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29 July 1941: Maltese Gunners Praised for Defence of Harbour

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The Chief of Imperial General Staff in London has written personally to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief praising the efforts of the Royal Malta Artillery in Saturday’s attack on Grand Harbour by Italian combat boats:

“Please convey my congratulations to all ranks of the Royal Malta Artillery manning fixed defences on their great success in breaking up the determined enemy sea-borne attack on Grand Harbour. The action of these gunners has excited universal admiration here in the United Kingdom.  The skill and determination shown by them will act as a strong deterrent to future enemy attacks by sea.”

Lt Gen Dobbie replied immediately:

“Your message to the Royal Malta Artillery is greatly appreciated by all ranks. It was a really good show and I agree will discourage future [enemy] efforts.”

In a separate communique today, the War Office asked for further details of the methods used by the Harbour Fire Command against the Italian raid for the benefit of Allied commands in other theatres of war:

“Request details of recent successful action by twin 6 pounders against E boats and submarines. Details such as the warning obtained, the ranges at which the enemy were engaged, the effectiveness of coastal artillery searchlights if used, the effectiveness of the distribution of fire scheme, any lessons learned from the action in the employment of the 6 pounder twin will be most useful as no practical experience in Motor Torpedo Boat defence has been gained in this country or other commands abroad.”


Lt General Dobbie has strongly resisted a suggestion by the War Office in London that the establishment of the Royal Engineers in Malta could be reduced.

Fortress Royal Engineers units in Malta currently comprise 24 Fortress Company RE, 173 Tunnelling Company RE, RE Bomb Disposal, and two Works Companies RE Malta Territorial Force. The total establishment is 26 officers, 34 WOs/sergeants and 914 rank and file.  The units are responsible for military and defence construction, engineering and repair projects as well as providing manpower for infantry duties.  The Royal Engineers bomb disposal unit also deals with all unexploded bombs across Malta and Gozo outside of the boundaries of RAF airfields and the Royal Navy dockyard.  In a concise response to London today, General Dobbie wrote: “No possibility of disbandment of any unit can be foreseen.”


Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.


AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Sicily and Tripoli.

TA QALI  New Armoury taken over.


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Posted by on July 29, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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6 July 1941: Heavy Bombs on Paola & St Julians Destroy Homes and Kill 6

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BR 20 bombers

BR 20 bombers


Fifteen civilians were killed and 14 injured when heavy bombs struck the Dockyard community of Paola tonight. In a series of four air raids spread over five hours, more than 20 enemy bombers crossed the coast singly at intervals at a height of 17000 feet, dropping over 240 high explosives, many of them 100kg and 250kg.  Bad weather hampered defensive operations by Malta’s night fighters who were scrambled in pairs for each of the raids but were unable to engage the enemy bombers. 

The first four raiders approached the Island at about 1030 pm but made no significant attack, dropping bombs on rocks at Mellieha Bay and in the sea. An hour later the second wave of ten BR 20s crossed the coast north west of Grand Harbour and dropped several 250kg bombs on Paceville in St Julians, demolishing four houses and damaging ten others with no casualties.  Bombs were also dropped on Ta Braxia Cemetery and Sa Maison in Pieta.  Anti-aircraft guns opened fire but were unable to locate their targets.

Just after 1am a single bomber crossed over Grand Harbour and dropped 15kg bombs on Marsa. The heaviest raid came towards 3am when the final wave of 12 bombers approached, crossing the coast in three separate formations between Grand Harbour and Delimara.  One formation headed directly over the Harbour area and dropped several sticks of 250kg and 100kg bombs across Vittoriosa and the heart of Paola, where the civilian casualties occurred.


RMA Gunner recalls a summer at Ghain Tuffieha

“In July 1941 we handed over the Naxxar Silent Gun Position to 6th HAA Battery [Royal Malta Artillery] – also of our regiment – and my troop moved to Ghajn Tuffieha.  Battery HQ joined the other troop at Ta’Giorni…

We established ourselves in the wooden huts at Ghajn Tuffieha Camp, the same huts we used to go into as Boy Scouts when we were ‘camp followers’ to our older friends in the Kings Own Malta Regiment machine gun platoon in 1938. I took over four 3 inch 20 cwt guns but this time they were deployed in two Silent Gun sites – two guns in each – with no instruments to direct the fire.

It was a very busy time for us for we had to stack a very large quantity of 3 inch 20cwt ammunition in a cave situated close to one of the sites. Early every morning the whole troop, except for guards and cooks, marched uphill for nearly two miles to get to Bajda Ridge (Biddy).  Here, from time to time, a huge Matador gun tower arrived loaded with ammunition, which we had to unload and carry to a cave off the road…  Each box was made of steel with separators to take four live cartridges; one former stevedore had a lump of hard skin on his right shoulder the size of half a tennis ball.” (1)


Weather  Stormy.

2218-2252 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft approaching from the north. Two Hurricanes are scrambled but do not engage due to bad weather.  The raiders drop bombs on rocks at Mellieha and in the sea.

2313-0049 hrs  Air raid alert for ten enemy BR 20 bombers which approach the Island and drop high explosive bombs on St Julians demolishing several houses, on Pieta, and in the north of Grand Harbour. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders with two barrages; no claims.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns open fire; no claims.

0106-0206 hrs  Air raid alert for a single bomber which crosses the coast and drops bombs on Marsa. Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

0228-0317 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft which approach the Island in three separate formations. They cross the coast singly between Grand Harbour and Delimara, and drop bombs on Paola killing several civilians. Bombs are also dropped on Vittoriosa and near St Thomas’ Bay.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

Military casualties Private Frank Watson, 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment; Private Emmanuel Tanti, Kings Own Malta Regiment.                                              


ROYAL NAVY Mine detonated in Floating Dock. P33 arrived from Gibraltar. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish bombed and laid 5 cucumbers off Tripoli. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Blenheims, 1 Catalina. 82 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked shipping Palermo Harbour. 

HAL FAR  One Fulmar patrolled over Catania and attacked a large aircraft which burst into flames.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All ranks were kept in barracks owing to ‘Exercise Asia’; organised bathing parties were allowed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal Section busy on unexploded bombs. Exercise review concludes that all our drivers should be trained soldiers as MAC drivers have a tendency to go to ground under bombing. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4.

(1) Recollections of a Malta HAA Gunner, Maurice G Agius, Allied Publications 2008


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


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4 July 1941: 14 Killed 6 Missing and 19 Injured by Bombs on Hamrun

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Hamrun in 1930s

Hamrun in peacetime


The community of Hamrun suffered a severe blow tonight when several 250kg high explosive bombs landed on the town. In one of the most intense bombing campaigns of recent months, seven aircraft of the Italian Regia Aeronautica launched a series of four raids between 1030 at night and 2 in the morning. 

Shortly before midnight, bombs landed near the local headquarters of the Air Raid Precautions volunteers, destroying six houses and seriously damaging a water main. At least 14 people were killed, including one Maltese serviceman; another six residents are currently unaccounted for.  19 more were injured, including 10 seriously.


Personal Telegram for General Dobbie from General Collins

“I hope to be able to say something of the gallant defence put up by Malta in a broadcast on 24 July. I would be grateful for any facts about the life of the Garrison and the inhabitants likely to interest relatives at home which can be broadcast, as well as local colour etc.  Details of the numbers of attacks made on Malta, enemy aircraft brought down, the skill of the anti-aircraft artillery and so on would I think be of interest to all at home.”

In a separate telegram the War Office has asked the Governor and Commander in Chief whether the BBC special programme (maltagc70 13 June 1941) for forces in Malta is appreciated, whether reception is good and times are suitable.


A Hurricane pilot was killed today when his aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from. Sergeant Thomas Hackston of 126 Squadron took off from Safi without any problem but within minutes the fighter was seen to crash into the sea.  The reason for the crash remains a mystery.

The Hurricane was one of 44 which on 6 June took off from an aircraft carrier in the western Mediterranean to fly to Malta as part of ‘Operation Rocket’. One of the 44 fighters was found to have defects and returned to its carrier. 


HMS Gloxinia

HMS Gloxinia

Weather  Fine; humid

1013-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 Macchi 200 fighters escorting an unidentified reconnaissance aircraft approaching from the north west. They come to within 10 miles of St Paul’s Bay when they are intercepted by four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron.  One Hurricane attacks three Macchi fighters, damaging one badly which descends in a spin from 8000 feet.  A second Hurricane badly damages a Macchi six miles north of Spinola. Several others are damaged.  The enemy aircraft split up and recede north east.  Ten more Hurricanes pursue the raiders as far as Cape Passaro but do not engage again. HMS Gloxinia picks up the body of a dead Italian pilot who is buried at sea. 

2231-2243 hrs; 2259-2333 hrs; 0007-0036 hrs; 0107-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 7 enemy aircraft: operating singly or closely following each other in pairs they cross the coast at about 16000 feet. In the first three raids Malta night fighters are scrambled and searchlights active but there are no illuminations due to haze, and no engagements.  In the last alert only searchlights and anti-aircraft guns are active; no claims.  Bombs are dropped on Hamrun near ARP headquarters, destroying houses and causing civilian casualties.  In other attacks bombs are dropped near Mosta and Lija with no serious damage or casualties; others are dropped in the sea.  One of the raiders fires its machine guns in the direction of Filfla for no apparent reason.

Military casualties Gunner Karmenu Dingli, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Thomas Hackston, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Hamrun Carmelo Azzopardi, age 24; Walter Azzopardi, age 16; Lorenza Burlo, age 56; Carmelo Burlo, age 55; Anthony Burlo, age 33; Francis Criminale, age 47; Carmelo Criminale, age 21; Paul Criminale, age 17; Mary Criminale, age 12; Ines Micallef, age 13; Francis Sant, age 56; Joseph Woodhouse, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Gian Paolo Mantovani, 7o Gruppo, 54o Stormo, Macchi 200 fighter pilot shot down and died.


ROYAL NAVY Urge returned from patrol south of Messina having sunk cruiser believed to be Bolzano, obtained one hit on a 9000 ton merchant vessel and blew up a train in a tunnel.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Blenheims 110 Squadron, 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay, 1 Catalina, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli, Homs, Sirte and special patrols. 110 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked troop motor transport on the Buerat-Sirte road, with three direct bomb hits on lorries plus others destroyed by machine-gun fire. 

HAL FAR  Sir Oliver Lyttleton, AOC Middle East, visited Hal Far with the AOC Mediterranean.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  We start a scheme which includes the whole of the Army on the Island. Even the Malta volunteers will ‘play’ after working hours.  At 2045 hrs we received the order ‘Exercise Asia’ which starts the scheme off.  Certain defence posts were then manned and leave automatically stopped.  Umpires posted at each Battalion HQ and each Company outlined the scenario: an attacking force is gathering in Southern Italy and there is heavy bombing of our aerodrome defences.


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


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1 July 1941: Malta Commands Resists Reduction in Artillery Defences

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  • No of air raid alerts 67 (including 25 night raids)
  • Days without air raid alerts 7
  • Total time under alert 32 hours 2 mins
  • Average length of alert 28.7 mins
  • Civilians killed by enemy action 5


  • Unexploded bombs dealt with April-June 1941 total 224
  • High explosives total 45 (15g 21, 50kg 9, 100kg/250lb 8, 150kg 2, 250kg/130lb 2, 500kg 3)
  • Incendiaries 175
  • Anti-personnel 5
Royal Malta Artillery  (NWMA Malta)

Royal Malta Artillery (NWMA Malta)


From: Gov C in C          To: War Office

The War Office is proposing returning to the Island a Maltese artillery battery at present serving in North Africa. Since volunteering to serve overseas before Italy joined the war, 5th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery Royal Malta Artillery has been with Allied forces in Egypt since May 1940. 

However, the War Office plan includes the release of one British battery from the increased garrison currently planned for Malta, a proposal which has been firmly rejected by the Island’s Governor and Commander in Chief today:

“I cannot surrender a British battery in its place. It appears probable that 5th HAA Battery will have to be broken up on its return to Malta.  I trust no, repeat no, alteration will be made in the numbers or units destined for Malta under your telegram of 19 June.”


The Italian pilots of two Macchi 200 fighters shot down on 27 June have been named as 2nd Lieutenant Neri de Benedetti and Sergeant Alfredo Sclavo, both of 90th Fighter Squadron.


Weather  Hot and humid.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Sergeant James Walford Hamborough, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Edward Jamieson, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Ronald Rolfe Jowett, RAF; Sergeant Arthur Joseph Lassner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Hay George Simpson, RAFVR.                                           


AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 6 Blenheim, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol western Sicilian coast and east Tunisian coast.  Patrols Cape Bon to western Sicily and Pantelleria-Lampedusa area.  At 1730 hrs six merchant vessels were seen north east of Pantelleria heading south. 82 Squadron 4 Blenheims despatched Homs bombed the coast road causing several craters; one lorry destroyed, reservoir received direct hit.  Six more Blenheims were despatched tonight to attack a staging post at Homs and Beurat; they are not yet due back in Malta. 148 Squadron 5 Wellingtons attacked Spanish Port Mole, Tripoli.  Bombs were dropped from 10000 feet, achieving six direct hits on the Spanish Mole and others on the base of Karamanli Mole.  A fire was started on the edge of the town.  One medium merchant vessel probably two direct hits, believed set on fire but hidden by heavy smoke screen.  Anti-aircraft fire experienced.  One Wellington made a second attack on Tripoli, the others could not be turned round in time to do so due to poor visibility.  All Wellingtons returned safely.

LUQA  Four Wellingtons arrive, one of which fires the recognition signal and sets alight a small cornfield near the airfield.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths officers 26; WOs 7; other ranks 122.

ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY  1st Coast Regt strengths 31 officers, 1307 other ranks; 11 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 17 officers, 437 other ranks; 2 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 22 officers, 643 other ranks; 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regt strengths 19 officers, 591 other ranks.


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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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7 May 1941: Churchill Determined to Fight for Malta

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Maryland reconnaissance aircraft missing

Maryland reconnaissance aircraft missing


Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill has made clear the importance of the Island of Malta to the war effort. In a keynote speech to the House of Commons today as part of a two-day debate on the war situation, Mr Churchill said he has noted a tendency in some quarters, especially abroad, to talk about the Middle East as if the Allies could afford to lose their position there and yet carry on the war to victory on the oceans and in the air. 

On the contrary, he said, no-one must under-rate the gravity of the issue being fought in the Nile Valley. “The loss of the Nile Valley and the Suez Canal, the loss of our position in the Mediterranean and of Malta, would be among the heaviest blows we could sustain,” said Mr Churchill.  “We are determined to fight for them with all the resources of the British Empire, and we have every reason to believe that we shall be successful.”


In a cable to the War Office today the Governor and Commander in Chief revealed that the intake of conscripted men into the armed services in Malta has been much smaller than estimated. The shortfall has resulted in shortages of manpower for essential tasks, especially in the Royal Malta Artillery.  Further postings of personnel to the Island will be essential if adequate defences are to be maintained.


A Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft of 69 Squadron has been reported missing this evening, after failing to return from a reconnaissance mission. Piloted by Flying Officer John Boys-Stones, the aircraft was despatched from Luqa to reconnoitre a convoy after an attack by Beaufighters earlier today.  The Observer of the missing Maryland has been named as Sergeant J M Alexander and the Wireless Operator/Gunner Sergeant Jack Levy.


Personnel from the Channel Islands now serving in Malta are becoming increasingly anxious about the welfare of their families at home. Cables and letters have been sent to the Islands through the International Red Cross but no replies have been received for at least six months, if at all. The Channel Islands have been under German occupation since 30 June last year.  Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office today asking for assistance in restoring better communications with civilians on the Islands.


Weather  Overcast with low cloud.

0904-0925 hrs; 1019-1048 hrs  Air raid alerts for a formation of ME 109 fighters which carry out patrols round the Island  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no engagements.

1319-1340 hrs  Air raid alert; for eight ME 109s spotted heading towards the south east coast. Guns at Delimara and Benghaisa forts open fire and the raiders retreat without crossing the coast

1548-1620 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 which approaches the Island escorted by six ME 109 fighters. The JU 88 crosses the Island on reconnaissance and is engaged by heavy anti-aircraft guns; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled. The weaver of the formation collides with another aircraft; both crash and are written off.  Pilot Sergeant H H Jennings died when his aircraft hit the ground near Gharghur. The other pilot Sergeant Walker, managed to bale out before his aircraft plunged into the sea

2032-2141 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. Low cloud makes it difficult to locate targets and some raiders turn away without dropping any bombs.  Others drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome and in the sea off Tigne.  Four bombs hit a military post near Ghar Dalam, destroying a store and damaging an accommodation hut.  Three men are slightly wounded.  Searchlights illuminate raiders twice and anti-aircraft guns fire an immediate barrage; no claims.  A Hurricane night fighter is scrambled but does not engage.

Military casualties Flight Sergeant William James Griffiths, Royal Air Force; Flight Sergeant Ralph Hepple, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Henry Horace Jennings, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 261 Squadron; Flight Sergeant John Richards, Royal Air Force VR, 200 Squadron. Sergeant J M Alexander, Observer, Flying Officer John Boys-Stones, pilot and Sergeant Jack Levy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, of Glenn Martin Maryland, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Gatt, age 51. Mosta Saviour Galea, age 82.


ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron operations against small a convoy inside Lampedusa which already been attacked by Blenheims.

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Bombay. Departures 1 Bombay. 69 Squadron Maryland despatched reconnaissance Naples returned to report a convoy: 5 Blenheims 21 Squadron and 3 Beaufighters 252 Squadron despatched to attack; two ships received direct hits and a Beaufighter shot down an Italian transport plane.  A second Maryland sent to reconnoitre the convoy after the attack has not yet returned.  Maryland photo-reconnaissance Taranto.  Planned reconnaissance of Naples delayed 24 hours.     

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  C and D Companies spent the day on the range firing rifle practices.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 14; dealt with 5 (5 x 50kg).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY 15 pdr cable from Fortress to Lintorn and 10 pdr cable miniature range to Lintorn broken by enemy action 2 March now repaired.


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Posted by on May 7, 2021 in 1941, May 1941


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30 April 1941: Two Nights’ Raids ‘A Nightmare to All Who Lived Through Them’

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Greek Orthodox Church destroyed

Greek Orthodox Church destroyed

Communities across Malta, both civilian and military, are left reeling after a second night of intense and heavy bombing raids. Substantial damage was done to the Dockyard (see below) but Valletta fared the worst: hardly a window is left intact across the ancient city.  St John’s Co-Cathedral has been seriously damaged; almost destroyed.  The Oratory and Vestry are heavily damaged, while the main door has been blasted and destroyed.  The Museum and precious paintings have suffered badly. The two belfry towers have been damaged.  The church of the Greek Orthodox community has also been destroyed.

The City’s Law Courts, the Exchange, St James Hotel and several banks have been demolished, three cinemas were hit and several cafes, restaurants and business premises in Kingsway were either destroyed or damaged. A total of 47 shops and 27 houses have been destroyed.  Kingsway Main Gate is now blocked by debris.

In the Dockyard, storehouses and wharfs as well as several vessels were badly damaged. The main Malta strike force had left harbour when the first raid began.

In Sliema 86 houses were demolished, another 80 and a convent seriously damaged. 20 more houses and a police station were damaged by bomb blast.  In Mosta mines destroyed several houses.

Clearing debris in Valletta

Clearing debris in Valletta

Further afield, air raid shelters in Luqa and Zebbug were hit by mines. In Luqa 45 civilians taking cover in two adjacent shelters were saved after a dangerous rescue operation by three policemen. In Zebbug both the entrance and the exit of the shelter were blocked by debris from the collapsed house above.  17 were trapped inside: 11 were rescued by the Hamrun Demolition Squad, the other six were found to be dead. (1)

First reports suggest that in total four children were killed in the raids and four other civilians buried under bomb rubble are feared dead; five civilians have been seriously injured.

It has been reported that damage to communications caused in last night’s bombing raid hampered the control of 14 Hurricanes scrambled to counter-attack the raiders and no engagements take place.


Weather  Fine.

0755-0810 hrs Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers escorted by three ME 109s approaching the Island. They are assumed to be on reconnaissance but fly over Grand Harbour and drop bombs on St Angelo and nearby boats.  An explosion 200 yards offshore causes a dghajsa carrying twelve Royal Malta Artillery (RMA) personnel towards Ricasoli Barracks to capsize.  Witnessing the incident from the barracks, Lieutenant Joseph E Agius dives into the sea and with the help of two RMA recruits rescues eleven men encumbered by greatcoats. (2)

0817-0835 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 which crosses the Island on reconnaissance.

1047-1120 hrs; 1146-1226 hrs  Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.

1200 hrs  Communications with Fortress HQ put out of action by last night’s raid are restored.

1757-1836 hrs  Air raid alert for six HE 111 bombers escorted by six ME 109s which approach the Island and drop bombs and mines on the Grand Harbour area including Valletta, where a bomb explodes on the corner of St Nicholas Street and Kingsway. The motor vehicle entrance to St Nicholas St is completely blocked by debris. One bomb lands on Maddalena Sacristy and another on the Orphanage.

In the Dockyard a stick of bombs falls along Garden Reach. A submarine store is demolished and a small fire starts.  The CO2 plant receives a direct hit.  Stores at the entrance to St Theresa Tunnel are damaged and debris blocks the road.  The road outside the East Gate is blocked by a large crater and debris from a destroyed house.  A stick of bombs lands close to the HQ of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Anti-aircraft guns engage and destroy one enemy aircraft. 

2034-2254 hrs  Air raid alert for a first wave of 35 enemy bombers including JU 87 Stukas, JU 88s and HE 111s which approach the Island in relays. The first relay of 20 comes in two waves, the first high to attract the defences.  The second wave then glides in low to lay mines in the Harbour and its approaches. Two parachute mines explode in the city, destroying the Law Courts, a church, houses and shops in Kingsway.  Another 15 bombers then approach, dropping parachute flares across Grand Harbour and Valletta followed by 150 high explosive bombs, causing extensive damage.

In the Dockyard a bomb on inflammable stores starts a large fire which is hard to bring under control. The road outside is blocked by a large crater, making it difficult for fire appliances to gain access.  A machine shop is hit, blocking the road into St Theresa Tunnel.  A large bomb on No 2 dock demolishes buildings and causes further damage to HMS Encounter.  No 3 dock caisson receives a direct hit, flooding the dock and with it the vessel Coral. Trusty Star – the only LL minesweeper currently in action – is sunk at Machinery Wharf. Fermoy in No 5 dock is further damaged and sinks. The Baulk Timber Store receives a direct hit, causing much damage to the roof.  A bomb close to Corradino Tunnel blocks a ventilation shaft. The Boat House is hit by four or five small bombs, not all of which explode. 

Some of the bombers (identified as Heinkels) are illuminated by searchlights over Grand Harbour and anti-aircraft guns put up a barrage; no claims. One Hurricane is scrambled but does not engage the raiders. 

11 more Heinkel bombers cross the coast over St Thomas’s Bay and head for Luqa aerodrome, dropping 53 high explosive bombs across the area. Two mines are dropped on the Ta Karach Ridge, one blows out the door of a gun position. A further formation of 11 HE 111s crosses the coast and attacks Ta Qali, dropping mines and 80 high explosive bombs.  A large mine falls in the garden of the Attorney General Sir Philip Pullicino family just below the bastions in Mdina and fails to explode; the family is evacuated.

Military casualties  Gunner Alfred Allison, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Edgar Bartolo, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Calleja, Royal Malta Artillery; Master at Arms Leslie George Hunt, HMS St.Angelo; Bombardier Joseph Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Marine Edward Joseph Mullard, Royal Marines; Bombardier Carmelo Pulis, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Vella, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Senglea  Irish Ashmore, age 11; Agnes Ashmore, age 9; Tommy Ashmore, age 4; Charles Zarbe, age 13; Edward Zarb, age 12; Mary Zarb, age 10. Valletta Carmela Caruana, age 71; Vincenza MacGill, age 33; Edwidge Zarb Cousin, age 5.


ROYAL NAVY HMS Abingdon is damaged by suspected acoustic mines while sweeping. Royal Navy Bomb & Mine Disposal  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with during the month: 37.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Three Wellingtons arrived from Gibraltar and left later with a Wellington of 148 Squadron that had been under repair.   

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C and D Companies spent the day on the practise firing ranges.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1155 hrs One man was injured at Corradino by a bomb explosion. Strengths 36 officers, 884 other ranks, 2 RAOC (attached).  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Blitz on Valletta, severe damage to Strada Reale; RE assisted with clearance. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 29; dealt with 2 (2 x 50kg).  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 190; dealt with 50.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strength officers 36, NCOs 24, other ranks 640.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Enlisted during April 6 volunteers, 21 conscripts. Strengths officers 28, WO/Sgts 30, other ranks 669.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS    MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Four storemen returned from Ordnance Dump, Gozo. Strengths officers 25, WO 8, other ranks 122; Armourers other ranks 7; Artisans other ranks 4. 

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1700 hrs L/Cpl A Watton buried at St Andrews Cemetery.

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

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


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Posted by on April 30, 2021 in 1941, April 1941


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29 April 1941: Heaviest Bombing Yet in 6½ Hour Raid

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Malta experienced its heaviest bombing raid of the war so far tonight when nearly 90 enemy aircraft came over and dropped mines and bombs. The raid followed an earlier attack in which another 84 bombs were dropped on Grand Harbour. 

From just before 9 this evening the Island was under alert for 6½ hours as raiders launched their attacks in two waves, dropping over 800 high explosive bombs from 50kg to 1000kg on the Grand Harbour, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields and several inland villages. Parachute mines were laid in the harbours and approaches.

Bombing Aub Auvergne now law courtsSeveral 1000kg were among the bombs which landed on Valletta, badly damaging many buildings including St John’s Cathedral, a church, theatre and cinema, and causing a large fire. A bomb demolished the corner of Merchants Street and St Christopher Street, as well as several shops in Kingsway.  Another fire started in Floriana.  The Dockyard fire engine was sent to assist civil fire engines in tackling the blazes. Fort St Elmo was damaged, one officer and three men killed. Electricity and water supplies and telephone communications have been badly affected. 

In the Dockyard bombs hit two dock areas, forming numerous craters. Workshops and stores were completely demolished and three damaged, a nearby wharf is now blocked by debris. HMS Encounter in dry dock was damaged by bomb splinters, then a bomb penetrated the forecastle and exploded inside the ship, blowing a hole in her bottom. A bomb hit the bridge of Fermoy in No 5 dock and passed through the hull, causing her to settle by the bow.

Bighi Hospital and Fort St Angelo were hit by bombs; two marines and two dockyard personnel were wounded and one master at arms is missing. One of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers was killed and one injured; one of Royal Malta Artillery was killed and two injured.  The guard room of HQ 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment was hit by a bomb and destroyed, along with the recreation room; rifles are written off. 

In Zabbar five houses were demolished and three damaged by four bombs; two women are injured. In Cospicua 16 bombs were dropped demolishing eight houses and badly damaging five houses and seven shops. 10 houses were demolished at Marsa, one civilian killed and one injured.

86 bombs were dropped on the Ta Qali area alone, where some 22 flares were seen floating down to illuminate the target. Several mines exploded on land, including one near Luqa where a serious fire broke out. Several sticks of bombs were dropped on the south and south west perimeters of Luqa aerodrome, severing telephone communications.  One stick of bombs landed near the entrance to a dugout of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment; there are no reported casualties.

In Zurrieq, six bombs damaged 17 houses and injured one woman; bombs also fell near the HQ of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment.  18 bombs were dropped on the village of Zebbug and many more on the outskirts. 4 houses and a store were demolished and 106 houses damaged, many seriously; six civilians were killed.  The mine dropped near Tad-Dawl Chapel and failed to explode.

Buildings including a hangar and messes were damaged at Ta Qali; 13 unexploded bombs were reported across the aerodrome. Three Hurricanes were damaged and will be out of action for a week. 

During the raid troops across the Island were placed on full alert for a possible enemy parachute landing. The Island went into shut-down as road blocks were put in place.  The alarm was triggered by a report of parachutists who had baled out of an enemy aircraft shot down during the raid earlier this evening.  Once it was confirmed there were no more parachutists at large the precautions were relaxed but barriers remained closed as a precaution. 

A total of eight civilians were killed and 15 seriously wounded. 34 unexploded bombs were reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal.  Only two JU 88 bombers were shot down in the raids, one by Bofors fire.  The second was hit by Ack Ack fire before being destroyed by Hurricane fighters.


The War Office has written to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief today warning that there will be a delay in the arrival of the much needed additional anti-aircraft units. Shipping will not be available to transport 68 Heavy AA Regiment to join the next planned convoy WS 7 for onward travel to Malta.  However, the telegram confirms that 199 Heavy AA Battery is expected to arrive in the Middle East on WS 7 and will be transported to Malta as soon as possible.  The date of embarkation will be notified later.


Weather   Fine.    

0744-0815 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1051-1115 hrs Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which approaches the Island and carries out reconnaissance. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1835-1920 hrs  Air raid alert for six JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s which approach the Island and carry out a high level bombing attack on Grand Harbour, dropping 24 high explosive bombs of 250kg and 60 of 50kg. One private of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment is wounded.  One JU 88 is hit by anti-aircraft fire using height control and then attacked by Hurricanes; it crashes just above the Naval Ranges at Ghain Tuffieha.  The crew of four bale out: one lands on Pembroke Ranges and is captured by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, the other three in the sea nearby and are rescued and taken prisoner.  One ME 109 is also believed shot down by a Hurricane.  One Hurricane is damaged on landing.

2050 hrs  Air raid alert for 70 JU 88 and HE 111 bombers which cross the coast in two waves and launch a heavy raid for four hours, dropping some 700 high explosive bombs and mines on the Grand Harbour area as well as the Luqa and Ta Qali areas and several villages. Parachute mines are dropped on Grand Harbour, off the harbour entrance and in Sliema Creek. 

Searchlights are effective, illuminating raiders 13 times for 2 minutes each. Heavy Ack Ack fire 34 predicted barrages, some of which succeed in turning the enemy off course; one JU 88 is shot down by Bofors fire.  Some mines are exploded by Bofors guns. 

2232 hrs  Infantry Brigades issue an alert to all troops: “Take parachutist precautions.”

2332 hrs  All defensive barriers are closed and road blocks manned.

2340 hrs Parachutists are confirmed as eight in number and identified as having baled out from aircraft engaged in an earlier air raid. Anti-parachutist precautions are relaxed but the barriers remain closed.  

0030 hrs  All clear.

0112-0130 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but does not cross the coast.

0144-0314 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 Heinkel HE 111 bombers which approach from the north and drop mines and bombs on Grand Harbour and Valletta, as well as Ta Qali, Zebbug, Qrendi, Mosta and Balzan. 144 high explosive bombs are dropped and mines laid.  Heavy Ack Ack fire nine predicted barrages; no claims.

0313 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Herbert Cecil Hermon, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Ralph Norman Tapper, Royal Air Force; Lance-Corporal Alexander Booker Watton, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Gunner Joseph Zarb, 3 Battery, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Senglea  Carmel Degiorgio, age 34. Valletta  Brother Bonaventura Attard, age 21; Brother Hilarion Borg, age 22; Nazzareno Cachia, age 38; Connie Grech, age 45; Philip Grech, age 23; Brother Marcellino Pisani, age 22.  Zebbug  Rochani Tikamadas, age 48. 

Enemy casualties  Weldwebel Rudolf Lenzner, pilot; Unteroffizier Paul Kietzmann, air gunner, Weldwebel Wilhelm Heller, Observer; Helmut Hartlich, Wireless operator; crew of JU 88 bomber 5th Staffel, 2nd Gruppo, shot down and taken prisoner.


AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.    

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Training exercise held in spite of a very disturbed night due to heavy air raids and a false alarm of parachutists.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland (RAAF) arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and freight.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A and D Companies on the range firing MMG. During night air raids Bn HQ guard room was hit by a bomb and destroyed, along with the recreation room.  Much kit and stores destroyed.  The Bn fire engine turned out and gave useful assistance.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 34; dealt with 0.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Classification of Signallers 4th Bn The Buffs (passed 4, failed 0).

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Workshops personnel returned to Gzira from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1700 hrs Fusilier H E Hawkins was buried at St Andrew’s Cemetery.


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Posted by on April 29, 2021 in 1941, April 1941


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28 April 1941: Six Destroyers Join Malta Strike Fleet

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HMS Kelly

HMS Kelly

Six destroyers arrived in Malta today to operate as a striking force against Axis supply lines to North Africa. The First Sea Lord reported to the War Cabinet in London today that Operation Salient has now been successfully carried out.  The destroyers Kelly, Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling, Jersey, and Jackal left Gibraltar yesterday as Force S, making a decoy turn towards the Atlantic before doubling back eastwards and through the Mediterranean for Malta.  The light cruiser HMS Gloucester is also remaining at Malta with the strike force.

Breconshire sailed from Malta today after a rapid unloading of her cargo of supplies. The fast transport ship is escorted on her return to Alexandria by the cruiser Dido, minelayer Abdiel and destroyers Imperial, Jaguar, Jervis and Juno. Imperial has just completed repairs after being damaged by a mine last October.  Destroyer Janus is remaining at Malta for repairs.


The Dockyard Defence Battery is to be disbanded after 1 year and 283 days of service. Members have been given the option of joining as regular soldiers the Royal Malta Artillery which has now assumed responsibility for the guns.  Three members of the Battery were recommended awards in January for their bravery under fire during the attacks on HMS Illustrious.  Lt F W Angle was awarded the Military Cross, Sgt L Apap and Bombardier G Balzan were each awarded the Military Medal.


Weather  Fine.  

0906 hrs  Six destroyers and two cruisers enter Grand Harbour.

0920-0935 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 which crosses the coast at Marsaxlokk at 20000 feet on reconnaissance before turning away over Spinola Bay. Three escorting ME 109 fighters are engaged by Hurricanes; one is probably destroyed.

1105-1205 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 with an escort of three ME 109s which carries out reconnaissance at 20000 feet over the Island.

2050-2200 Air raid alert for approximately 30 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, and in twos and threes. They drop mines and bombs on the Dockyard, Grand Harbour and Valletta areas causing damage to Dockyard buildings and civilian property.  Bombs fall near a defence post manned by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, killing one Fusilier and seriously wounding a NCO.  Mines are also laid off Grand Harbour and Tigne.  Bombs are also dropped on the Naxxar area and Ta Qali.  Searchlights illuminate five times and anti-aircraft guns fire predicted barrages between 6000 and 12000 feet; one enemy aircraft is probably destroyed.

0107-0235 hrs  Air raid alert for eight JU 88 bombers escorted by 17 ME 109s which approach the Island from the north and drop mines off Grand Harbour and bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta, Floriana and Senglea, as well as St Julians.  Government property in Valletta is badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns fire 14 barrages.  One JU 88 is shot down by anti-aircraft guns; the crew are seen baling out.  One ME 109 is severely damaged.  13 unexploded bombs are reported in the Rinella area.

Military casualties  Fusilier Harry Edward Hawkins, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties Marsa  Joseph Dimech, age 11.


ROYAL NAVY Operation Salient was successfully carried out. Dido and Abdiel arrived and sailed after unloading certain important stores.  Destroyers of 14th Destroyer Flotilla with Imperial (which had completed repairs after being mined in October 1940) sailed with Breconshire for Alexandria.  Captain (D), 5th Destroyer Flotilla, arrived and remained with six destroyers of his flotilla and Gloucester, as the Malta Force. Janus remained for docking and repairs. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrol eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli was chased out to sea by a fighter; no damage. 148 Squadron Transferred to Middle East; departed for Kabrit. 82 Squadron Arrived Malta.  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar arrived AM and departed later for Middle East. 

HAL FAR  New draft of 25 RAF personnel arrived.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company spent the day on the range on shooting MMG practices.   With the limited amount of ammunition available, ranging and traversing practices were fired.  1700 hrs  Personnel from ‘Picnic’, all from B Company, returned from Gozo and went to new billets in the docks.  At 0115 hrs bombs fell on the billets; all personnel were in shelter and there were no casualties but kit and equipment were damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Acting Lieutenant Colonel G R McMeekan, RE (CO of Fortress Royal Engineers) to be temporary Lieutenant Colonel.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  2 platoons of B Company and one section of 4 Platoon returned from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bombs fall near defence post R15 killing Fusilier H E Hawkins and seriously wounding L/Cpl A Watton, both of HQ Company.


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Posted by on April 28, 2021 in 1941, April 1941


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10 April 1941: Shortages Put Anti-Aircraft Guns Out of Action

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A lack of essential equipment has put several anti-aircraft guns across Malta out of action. Three urgent orders for supplies made two months ago have not yet been fulfilled.  Only a handful of the 18 bearing and elevation receivers ordered on 10 February have arrived.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has made an urgent request to the War Office for the balance of the equipment to be flown to Malta immediately.


The War Office has decided that Special Service troops currently Malta would be better deployed in the Middle East. In a telegram today to the Governor and Commander in Chief, the WO expressed the belief that there is no likely role for them in Malta command.

The Independent Company, Special Service Battalionexpert in covert sea to land operations – arrived in Malta as part of Operation Colossus in February.  The unit is normally based at Manoel Island but has most recently been in Gozo as part of the anti-invasion operation ‘Picnic’. 

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie has responded to the War Office pointing out that the Special Service personnel are very usefully employed in Malta. However, accepting that the unit is directly under the command of the Chief of Staff Mediterranean, he has agreed reluctantly to the transfer, if the unit’s skills are urgently required elsewhere.


Weather  Fine.  

1230-1320 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross Gozo from north to south and then from south to north over Hal Far and San Rocco.  Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no engagement.

1517-1530 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. They circle to the west and north of the Island before moving away northwards.  Nine Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement reported.

1554 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Henry Pateman, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.


ROYAL NAVY  One southbound convoy located by air reconnaissance. 830 Squadron despatched after dark but failed to intercept. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: 8 destroyers, 12 plus merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance Palermo Harbour: 2 cruisers, 5 destroyers, 14 merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping sighted convoy; 830 Squadron being despatched for torpedo attack. 

HAL FAR  PM  Operational flight by 8 aircraft 830 Squadron, target Tripoli; all returned safely.

KALAFRANA   Sunderland arrived from Middle East with freight.


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


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