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27 January 1941: Malta Needs More Ammunition Now

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Royal Malta Artillery

13000 shells used against Illustrious blitz (NWMA Malta)


Malta will need immediate and regular ammunition supplies if the current rate of air raids continues.   Lt Gen Dobbie has written to the War Office with an account of anti-aircraft ammunition used during the recent heavy attacks. 

In just three days in the defence of Illustrious against enemy bombers – 16, 18 and 19 January – almost 13000 shells were used, compared to 3300 across the other 17 days to 20 January. Over 8000 shells were fired against the Luftwaffe on 19 January alone, when the Harbour barrage was at its strongest.

In the light of this, the Governor and Commander in Chief pointed out to the War Office the need for regular supplies of ammunition to Malta, increased in proportion to the heightened usage, so that the Island does not risk a critical lack of ammunition should the intensity of attacks continue.

Responding to Lt Dobbie’s signal, the War Office has asked him to place appropriate orders with the Middle East, as soon as stocks of any category of ammunition fall below 90 per cent of what is needed. Replacement stocks are already being prepared for shipment to Malta to replace the recent heavy usage.


At the same time, the War Office is prepared to review Malta’s anti-aircraft defences in the light of the recent heavy scale of attacks, especially dive-bombing. Although the existing estimate of 112 Heavy Ack Ack and 60 Light Ack Ack guns, once fulfilled, is seen as adequate, more Light guns could be considered for around the aerodromes.  Lt Gen Dobbie has responded by asking for a further 12 for the purpose, preferably mobile, plus another 20 to hold in reserve. 


Six Swordfish from Malta attacked an enemy convoy in the Mediterranean today. A convoy had been spotted by reconnaissance aircraft steering south and in a prime location for attack.  The Swordfish, escorted by two Fulmars, were despatched at 1350 hrs to the given co-ordinates.  One merchant vessel was sunk, the second was missed by torpedoes and the armed merchant cruiser acting as escort was near-missed by bombs.

Tonight three Wellingtons from Malta attacked Capodichino at Naples tonight and secured direct hits on buildings. Two others bombed the Central Station, with its junction and goods yards.  The attacks follow successful raids earlier this week on aerodromes at Catania and Comino in Sicily.


Weather  Windy.

2025-2115 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft reported approaching Malta. It appears to retreat then comes back in at low altitude before turning away over Grand Harbour and dropping three bombs in the sea three miles off.  It is thought that the raiders are unable to distinguish the Island, as no searchlights are exposed – the only lights being flare paths lit for returning Wellington bombers.  The Royal Artillery report a man signaling with a red lamp.

0614-0630 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft reported nine miles south of Delimara, approaching the Island. It appears to retreat, then minutes later without warning a JU 88 bomber returns to attack Luqa aerodrome from 6000 feet. Two bombs hits a barrack block, killing four RAF sergeants and wounding eight, plus one Leading Aircraftsman.  The aerodrome’s anti-aircraft guns open fire and claim a hit on the raider.

Military casualties  Private Philip John Thomas, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.


AIR HQ  F/Lt G Burgess DFC posted from HQ Mediterranean to 69 Squadron for flying duties. 0500-1527 hrs Sunderland on anti-convoy patrol eastern Tunisian coast with striking force standing by.  0700 hrs reported small merchant vessel. 1025 hrs reported two merchant vessels with one escort vessel.  7 Swordfish and 2 Fulmars detailed to attack, sinking one 5000 ton merchant vessel.  A second 8000 ton merchant vessel was hit but the escort ship escaped damage.  All aircraft returned safely. 

LUQA 148 Squadron: 9 Wellingtons bombing raids on Naples, Catania and Comiso.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Four officers and 50 other ranks left for Fort Ricasoli to undergo three weeks’ Bofors training.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  E Company occupied Hal Far static defence posts around the aerodrome.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Private J P Thomas C Company is killed by accidentally setting off an anti-tank mine in a coastal minefield.


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


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