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18 September 1941: Malta Aircraft Launch Round the Clock Offensives

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AOC Malta co-ordinating attacks on Axis convoys  (c IWM CM3068

AOC Malta overseeing attacks on Axis convoys (c IWM CM3068

SWORDFISH, BLENHEIMS AND WELLINGTONS ATTACK DAY AND NIGHT

War Cabinet Report for the Week 11-18 September

On 13 September a reinforcement of 45 aircraft for Malta was flown off HM Aircraft Carriers Furious and Ark Royal, escorted by units of the Gibraltar force.  One Hurricane crashed on taking off from Furious, the pilot was killed; two were damaged on landing.

On 11 September, naval Swordfish operating under the Air Officer Commanding Malta sighted a southbound convoy consisting of seven merchant vessels and six destroyers, 75 miles north of Kerkennah Island. Thereafter a series of night and day attacks was successfully carried out by Swordfish, Blenheims and Wellingtons with the result that three merchant vessels, total 24000 tons, were probably destroyed and all the other merchant vessels, total tonnage 26000, were hit on one or more occasions.  Three Blenheims were shot down in daylight but the crew of one was rescued by HM Submarine Utmost.

During an offensive sweep of the central Ionian Sea, three Blenheims attacked a small convoy 100 miles south-west of Cape Matapan. A 3000 ton merchant vessel was hit at least twice and seriously damaged. 

On three nights a total of 24 Wellingtons from Malta bombed Tripoli. On one night six aircraft reported hits on ships lying alongside Spanish Quay, and many other bursts were seen on or near ships in the harbour.  Swordfish and Wellingtons also laid mines in and outside the harbour and around the North Mole.

On the night 11-12 September Wellingtons dropped 16 tons of bombs on Palermo and straddled the dry dock containing a merchant vessel. On 17 September five Blenheims bombed two munition factories at Licata with very good effect; many direct hits were made on each target, and three large sheds and one other large building in the centre of the installation were demolished.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY   Upholder sank the 19,500-ton transports Neptunia and OceaniaTriumph damaged Italian steamer Ardor (8960grt off Cape Cimiti in the Adriatic. The tanker was able to proceed into Crotone Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland, 1 Wellington. Departures 2 Beaufort. 38 Squadron 8 Wellingtons attacked Tripoli. 69 Squadron Marylands special patrol and reconnaissance Tripoli.  1 Blenheim reconnaissance Crotone, Augusta and Syracuse. 107 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked shipping at Tripoli. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 8 Swordfish attacked a northbound convoy with torpedoes and bombs, stopping one merchant vessel. 

 

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

 

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2 September 1941: Rationing Bites as Malta Church Leader Loses 3 Stone

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HMS Ursula returns from ops

HMS Ursula returns from patrol

A REFLECTION ON TWO YEARS OF WAR

Diary of Reverend Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta: 2nd September 1941

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the declaration of war. What a time it has been. If an Armistice came tomorrow, I think that the time would seem to have been short; and, apart from our loss of our son Anthony, I should feel that I had not suffered in health in spite of having lost three stones. My wife I think, has suffered more. She has never spent a whole summer here before, to say nothing of two, with the possibility of a third…

We have had a whole week free from night raids. But the moon is now once again nearly at the full, and it has begun again. Last night there was 4 or 5 hours of it but we were out at Birkirkara and though I heard three ‘Alerts’ … I went into the garden to have a look. I heard what I thought was a plane very near and very low, I ran like a stag, dropping one slipper in the garden! It dropped a small bomb in Sliema; I heard the bang and saw the burst. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

Military casualties Leading Aircraftsman James Curtis, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 126 Squadron; Aircraftsman II John Davidson, RAFVR, 126 Squadron; Aircraftsman Martin L Preston, RAFVR; Leading Aircraftsman William A Thompson, RAFVR, 126 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula returned from interception of convoy east of Tripoli.  Escort only sighted. Triumph returned from operations on north coast of Sicily.  Viaduct blown up and 6 Italian fishermen brought to Malta after their craft had been mistaken for an E boat and sunk.  One hit claimed on a cruiser at northern entrance of Messina Straits.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Blenheim, 2 Beaufighter. Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Beaufighter. 69 Squadron Photo-reconnaissance Licata shows considerable damage done by Blenheims on 30 August.  2 Fulmars offensive patrol Gerbini-Catania areas attacked aircraft, dropped bombs on aerodromes and made a low-level machine-gun attack on a dispersal area. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 9 Swordfish on shipping sweep east of Cape Spartivento attacked a convoy of 7 destroyers and 5 merchant vessels scoring several hits.  All 8 torpedoes were released; one ammunition ship blew up and disappeared; two more ships were badly damaged.

TA QALI  During a monthly inspection a mine exploded, killing three airmen; another is still missing. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  2 NCOs and 16 men of Maritime Royal Artillery Regiment from merchant ships in the Harbour were attached to the Battalion. They will remain until the ships leave Malta.  The last batch of men from ships was most helpful and it is hoped these will be the same.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Northern Infantry Brigade gave instructions for one NCO and two men to be sent every evening to each listening post to keep a lookout during the hours of darkness.  

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

 

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

 

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