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17 March 1941: Malta Needs Fighters More Than Ack Ack Guns

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More fighters needed to repel raids

More fighters needed to repel raids

ONLY AN IMPROVED FIGHTER FORCE CAN PROTECT THE AIRFIELDS

Increased ground defences will not be enough to protect the airfields without an increase in fighter strength, says Malta’s Commander in Chief. Responding to the Chief of Imperial General Staff about the effectiveness of light automatic machine guns against attacks (maltagc70, 15 March), Lt General Sir William Dobbie stressed again the need for more, and better performing, fighter aircraft as “the only satisfactory solution” to ensure the security of the aerodromes.  He also reminded the War Office that balloon barrages and RAF PAC Units (1) originally destined for Malta’s airfields had been diverted elsewhere.

Ground defences of the aerodromes and flying boat bases are currently: Hal Far Bofors 4, light automatics 20; Luqa Bofors 6, light automatics 31; Ta Qali Bofors 5, light automatics 27; Marsaxlokk (Kalafrana) Bofors 10, light automatics 29. It is believed that the effectiveness of the light automatics could be enhanced by the use armour-piercing ammunition (apparently none is currently available). 

However, Lt Gen Dobbie concludes: “after all, the only satisfactory solution is a greatly increased force of fighter aircraft with adequate performance. I have pressed for this and trust the War Office will press this claim.  Unless and until it is provided, an adequate deterrent cannot be expected, and Malta cannot play its part as a naval and air base.” 

Six Hurricanes have arrived in Malta from the Middle East to reinforce 261 Squadron but the Island’s fighter force is still only a fraction of strength of Luftwaffe attacks. Only a week ago (maltagc70, 7 March) Malta’s Air Officer Commanding, Air Vice-Marshal Maynard, stated that without an increased fighter force he cannot protect the Sunderland and Wellington bomber squadrons based in Malta.

The initial reply from the War Office made no comment on the prospect of further fighters, concentrating remarks on ground defences:

“Experience shows that the Bofors, particularly used with a predictor, is the most effective weapon against the dive-bomber. We request confirmation of this, or otherwise.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1941

Weather  Cold and wet, with some bright spells.

1036-1050 hrs, 1200-1214 hrs  Air raid alerts for approaching enemy aircraft which turn away without crossing the coast. Malta fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

1800-1811 hrs; 0238-0249 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 0730-1215 hrs 69 Squadron  Maryland photoreconnaissance Naples Harbour. Three convoys heading for harbour.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Operational flight against Tripoli postponed owing to bad weather.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Anti-tank screen demonstration by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Snipers course at Pembroke Ranges.

 (1) parachute and cable

 

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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

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20 November 1940: New Mail Service for Troops

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Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa today

Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa today

TELEGRAM SERVICE INTENDED TO MAKE UP FOR MAIL DELAYS

In view of what have been described as ‘abnormal delays’ in the mail service, a new scheme has been agreed with the Air Ministry to provide cheap means of communication for all ranks. It will come into effect immediately.

All ranks may send one private telegram per month to the United Kingdom according to the following conditions:

  1. Only applies to addresses in the United Kingdom
  2. Messages must relate to urgent private affairs.
  3. Text should not exceed twelve words.
  4. Addresses must be as short as possible.
  5. Charge for text will be one penny per word.
  6. Charge for address will be one penny per word.  If the address exceeds five words the excess words over five will not be charged for.
  7. Telegrams are to be written on ordinary service message forms to be obtained from Battalion HQ.
  8. The message will be censored and approved by an officer for transmission in plain language.  Careful censoring is essential as it must be borne in mind that it will almost certainly be intercepted by the enemy.
  9. Records are to be maintained by Companies showing the names of senders and payments made.
  10. Companies will pay into the Command Cashier at the end of each month the total cash received in respect of messages sent.  A statement will accompany the remittance showing the number of messages sent and the Fortress Headquarters authority for the service.

The success of the scheme depends on the careful control of the number of messages transmitted. Contents of messages must relate to essential business of an urgent nature and must not contain terms of endearment, congratulations or greetings.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 21 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and damp.

No air raids.

0930 hrs  Six Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Wellingtons. Departures 1 Sunderland. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for Middle East with passengers.

TA QALI 261 Squadron moved from RAF Station Luqa: 13 officers and 165 airmen being posted to this station for rations, accommodation, displine and duty.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Unloading of second convoy completed.

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Posted by on November 20, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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15 November 1940: Picture Postcards of Malta Seized by Censor

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Postcards could aid enemy landing plans

Postcards could aid enemy landing plans

POSTCARDS HOME COULD BE USEFUL TO THE ENEMY

The public has been warned against sending postcards abroad showing views of Malta which may provide useful intelligence to an enemy considering invasion. From now on such postcards will be withheld by the censors, without their senders being notified.

NEW ORDERS SUPPORT FAMILIES OF MALTA TROOPS

Troops of the King’s Own Malta Regiment have been reassured that their families will be properly paid, should any serviceman be admitted to hospital. According to general orders today, there have been cases of servicemen in the General Military Hospital at Imtarfa whose family have not been paid Family Allowance.  The matter has been brought to the attention of the Commanding Officer who has issued immediate orders to rectify the situation.  From now on, officers of the Regiment will ensure that when a married man is admitted to hospital his Family Allowance will be paid directly to his wife, to avoid future hardship.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 16 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Bright and fine.

1350-1407 hrs Air raid alert for four or more enemy fighters, believed to be Italian CR42s, which approach the Island ad 21000 feet. Anti-aircaft guns engage the raiders which turn away before crossing the coast.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 15 NOVEMBER 1940

TA QALI  F/O O’Connell posted to RAF Station Ta Qali as Medical Officer.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Governor and Commander in Chief Lt Gen W J S Dobbie, RE, CMG, DSO visited the camp.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Mine reported drifting near defence post J8.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Matches and fuzes made up locally burning for 7 seconds ordered for trial with petrol bombs. Large quantity of 18 pounders received from convoy is marked showing life of cordite charges expires 1942 and 1943.

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Posted by on November 15, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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8 November 1940: Former Airport Renamed RAF Station Ta Qali

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RAF TA QALI TO HOST FIGHTER SQUADRON

Ta Qali airfield before World War 2

Ta Qali airfield before World War 2

Malta’s former main airport was officially renamed today as Royal Air Force Station Ta Qali. The airfield’s new Commanding Officer is Wing Commander G R O’Sullivan leads a small HQ staff and the operational force is currently expected to be a single fighter squadron.

Ta Qali, which lies between Rabat and Valletta, was used as a civilian airfield before the war. Obstructions were placed on the site following the declaration of war by Italy, to prevent airborne landings by the enemy.  These have now been cleared ready for the full operation of the fighter station.

WELLINGTONS ATTACK ITALIAN TARGETS

Five Wellingtons from Malta today launched a successful bombing attack on the port of Brindisi, scoring a direct hit on the railway station. Four other Wellingtons attacked Naples, starting fires. 

SEVEN IN COURT ON CONSPIRACY CHARGES

Seven young men were charged in court today with “conspiracy and with having secretly distributed leaflets and other seditious matter”. After a trial before three judges, two of the accused were freed, three were sentenced to three years imprisonment, and the other two defendants were sentenced to four years. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 9 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1940

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland arrived from UK with spares and passengers.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Floating mine reported by detachment at Imtahleb, a few yards from the rockes at Ghar id Duieb. HQ of Northern Infantry Brigade notified.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  1077 cartridges, life-expired, placed under 100% surveillance test to avoid destruction.

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

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Posted by on November 8, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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30 October 1940: Ta Qali To Become Fighter Station

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Ta Qali

Ta Qali

TA QALI TO BE HOME TO NEW SQUADRON

The former Malta airport at Ta Qali is to be re-opened as a RAF fighter aerodrome. Air Headquarters Mediterranean issued instructions for Wing Commander J R O’Sullivan to proceed to Ta Qali airport with a small headquarters staff for the purpose of forming a temporary one squadron fighter station with immediate effect.  At 0900 hrs today, W/Cdr O’Sullivan left RAF Station Hal Far for Ta Qali with 14 airmen, including three senior NCOs, accompanied by a detachment of 17 men of the King’s Own Malta Regiment for guard duties.

By tomorrow, a maintenance party of 261 Squadron consisting of 24 airmen including three senior NCOs will arrive from RAF Station Luqa for the purpose of maintaining Hurricane aircraft operating from Ta Qali as a temporary measure. The majority of these personnel will continue to be accommodated at Luqa and will proceed daily to Ta Qali for duty. Several buildings at Ta Qali will be taken over for temporary accommodation: Torri Combo will operate as the Officers Mess, the Pottery as Barrack Rooms and Institute. Senior NCOs will be accommodated by 8th Bn Manchester Regiment in Chateau Bertrand until further notice. It is planned that Ta Qali airport buildings will be converted to offices, sick quarters and an armoury.

Ta Qali has not yet been iused for RAF operations. Teenager Charles Grech who lives near the airfield described what he saw: “It was obstructed with old buses, wrecked cars, lorries and hundreds of 50 gallon oil drums filled with earth. They were dispersed all over the airfield in order to prevent gliders or transport aircraft from landing there, in case of an airborne invasion…we once noticed there was a biplane looking very much like a Gladiator parked on the grass on one side of the airfield…this was a dummy made of wood and sack-cloth and it was set up as a decoy to give the enemy the impression that the airfield was operational in order to divert attacks from other targets, thereby giving Luqa and Hal Far airfields a respite.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep completed by Oropesa. Otus returned to harbour with defects.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland left for Middle East with important passengers.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 0515 hrs  Bn took part in Southern Infantry Brigade training exercise. Bn HQ and No 6 Platoon under war conditions and standing to until 0830 hrs.

(1)  Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech, trans Joseph Galea de Bono, Midsea Books 2002

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Posted by on October 30, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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