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1 December 1940: Aircraft Losses Since June – Malta 4, Italy 49

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  • No of raids 32
  • Days without air raids 13
  • Total time under alert 15 hrs 10 mins
  • Average length of alert 28½ mins
  • Number of Malta aircraft lost since June 1940: 4
  • Number of enemy aircraft destroyed since June 1940: 24 confirmed; 25 probable


Weather  Cold and wet.

No air raids.

floriana barracks bwOPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 1 DECEMBER 1940 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Fortress Royal Engineers re-organised to comprise 24 Fortress Company RE and Nos 1 and 2 Works Companies Malta Territorial Force (Embodied).  No 1 Bomb Disposal Section formed of NCOs and men of 24 Fortress Coy RE.  Personnel of this Section have been trained in bomb disposal work by Bomb Disposal Officer S/Lt E E Talbot, RE.

24 Fortress Company RE and HQ Fortress Royal Engineers vacated Casemate Barracks and occupied Lintorn Barracks.  No 2 Works Company employed on building accommodation for 2nd Bn Manchester Regt and Ack Ack searchlight station and section HQ at Bajda.  No 1 Works Company began work on a cookhouse at Zeitun School.  Two sections of No 1 Company are permanently accommodated at Marsaxlokk and two of No 2 Company at Ghain Tuffieha for work in those areas.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Unloading of ammunition from SS Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser continues. All Inspecting Ordnance Officer’s staff employed without break on the task of distributing and storing this ammunition.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion: 27 officers, 882 other ranks.    

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Posted by on December 1, 2020 in 1940, December 1940


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30 June 1940: Air Raids Since 11 June: 53. Only five raid-free days.

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Fuel shortages result in curfew for private cars

Fuel shortages result in curfew for private cars


To conserve fuel for essential supply and public transport services, Private cars have been banned from use after midnight unless carrying a special permit.  The measure has been brought in to conserve fuel for essential supply and for public transport services.


The British Ambassador at Cairo has made a request to the Admiralty in London that Malta’s wireless telegraph station should be used to jam German propaganda broadcasts to the Near East.  However, the Commander in Chief Mediterranean has raised concerns that this might provoke a counter action against Naval wireless telegraph communications.


Weather   Fine.

Italian SM 79

Italian SM 79

09401015 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations, each of four Italian SM79 aircraft, fly over the Island, dropping a total of 42 bombs.  Two Hurricane aircraft are scrambled but do not intercept.  One formation crosses the Island from Marsascala, dropping bombs on San Pawl tat Targa seriously wounding a farmer, another near a water reservoir at Naxxar, four on roads between Birkirkara and Mosta and six near Ta Qali reservoir, wounding five civilians.  The raiders turn and head for St Paul’s Bay, dropping their remaining bombs in the sea.  The second formation comes in from Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on San Pietru, Kalkara and San Rocco, then head for Hal Far, dropping some 17 bombs, and on to Mqabba and Zurrieq before crossing the coast south of Dingli.  Two civilians are killed and four wounded.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Genovese, age 21.


AIR HQ  1947-2215 hrs  Five Swordfish dive bombed oil refinery and oil tanks at Augusta, causing a fire.  Anti-aircraft only active after first bombs.  Bomb load carried: 12 x 250lb, 4 x 500lb, 20 incendiary.  All aircraft returned safely.  Reconnaissance by Hudson over Messina, Augusta and Syracuse.  Ack ack fire from cruisers at Messina very accurate at 20,000 feet.

KALAFRANA  Further patrols by 3 Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons.  During June many personnel were posted, attached or loaned to other units.  Newly enlisted Maltese recruits continued to arrive, some for disciplinary course, others for fitting out in preparation for posting to Middle East.  Three airmen from workshops interviewed and complimented by AOC for untiring energy and excellent work in carrying out important urgent repairs to the Radio Station.  AC Mifsud admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

LUQA  LAC G W Simon attached to Luqa from Kalafrana.     

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  The Bishop of Gibraltar conducted Divine Service at Battalion HQ with 50 Other Ranks and ten officers attending.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk.     


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


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28 June 1940: Malta Cut Off From Western Mediterranean

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The Admiralty has confirmed that there is currently no prospect of sending stores to Malta via Gibraltar.  The only Allied access route to the Island will now be from the Eastern Mediterranean.   This would require any supplies from the UK travelling the long sea route round the southern tip of Africa. 

C in Cs Middle East L to R: Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham; Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore; General Sir Archibald Wavell

C in Cs Middle East L to R: Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham; Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore; General Sir Archibald Wavell

The news presents a serious problem for the regular supply of Malta.  The Island is currently in urgent need of 100,000 sandbags, 5000 tons of goat fodder, 500 tons of coke and 6000 of coal, and medical stores.  The War Office has asked the Commander in Chief, Middle East, if he can spare these supplies until replacements can be sent via the Cape.

Within the next six months, it is anticipated that the Island will need a further 23000 tons of supplies for the Army, 10000 tons for the Dockyard and 2000 for the RAF.  The relevant ministries in the UK will be notified of the exact requirements, which will be prioritised according to urgency. 


Weather  Fine. 

0920 hrs  A defence post of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment reports signalling east of Boschetto area but nothing found. 

1305 hrs  Radio mast confirmed repaired and functioning.

1306-1358 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two formations of three enemy aircraft approach the Island at 15000 feet and attack Marsa, Delimara and HMS Terror.  Malta’s fighters engage the raiders who depart to the south west and south east.  One enemy aircraft is reported to be smoking and losing height 30 degrees from Terror and five miles out to sea.  An Ack Ack battery confirms seeing an aircraft diving towards the sea emitting quantities of smoke. 

1925-1940 hrs  Air raid alert.  No bombs dropped.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  2 Sunderland.  Departures  2 Sunderland.   

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from UK for refuelling and one from Middle East.  Five recruits medically examined.  Sgt Beaddie (N/Ord) discharged from hospital and returned to duty at Luqa.  Cpl Jasper returned to Kalafrana.  AC Galea and AC Buhagiar admitted to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

LUQA  Strength of Station: Officers 19; airmen 61; civilians 143.  Sgt G Beaddie, Nursing Orderly, attached on discharge from hospital.  Cpl C Jasper returned to Kalafrana. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A determined drive was made by all available personnel at Ta Saliba under the command of 2/Lt Booth to complete wiring and road blocks. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk for two periods during the day.     

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Posted by on June 28, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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15 June 1940: Malta Faces Mass Refugee Problem

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Floriana refugeesIt is estimated that since last Monday up 100,000 people have fled their homes.  The mass exodus from bombing target areas began as soon as the first air raids struck on Monday.  Refugees headed for every possible safe area of Malta, away from Grand Harbour, Marsamxetto or the airfields.  The population of Siggiewi alone has increased by some 5000.  Many families who had lived for generations in the Harbour areas knew no-one in their destination village but went anyway, knocking on the doors until strangers let them in.

Governor and Commander in Chief today paid tribute to the way in which those living near military objectives have behaved in the recent trying circumstances.  However, recognising the problems that have arisen from the mass removal of civilians from those areas to the villages, he said:

“For every village there is going to be appointed an officer who working in cooperation with the District Committee, the Police and the Special Constabulary, will be responsible for seeing that everything is done that can be done for the safety, health and welfare of the evacuees… [These officers] will make arrangements to improve the distribution of food and other essential commodities; they will take steps to see that the sanitary system and water supply is adequate…they will supervise billeting and see that all available accommodation is used to the best advantage.”

To coincide with the announcement, the Government Gazette published a set of regulations to underpin the establishment of refugee settlement centres in all villages outside the enemy bombing target areas.  Organisations will work together to find homes for refugees and persuade owners to accept them, and to convert public buildings, including schools, into emergency accommodation.  This includes partitioning rooms, making plank beds and collecting furniture, cutlery, china and clothes for refugees whose homes and belongings have been destroyed.


The Vice Admiral Malta today informed the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, that he now considers Malta unsuitable as a submarine base.  The decision follows the extent and number of air raids since Tuesday. In his message, the Vice Admiral proposed that all submarines should not return to Malta but proceed direct to Alexandria from their current patrol.

HMS Calypso

HMS Calypso

The recommendation comes after the tragic loss of HMS Calypso, which was confirmed sunk today by an Italian U-boat.  She was on an anti-shipping patrol against Italian ships heading for Libya when she was struck by a single torpedo.  Calypso is the first Royal Naval vessel to be sunk by the Regia Marina since Italy declared war on the Allies.  One officer and 38 ratings are missing, feared lost.


Weather  Early thundery showers, then clear sky with considerable haze to 5000 feet.  Gale force winds at times.

1035-1045 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft is already over the Island at 15000 feet and drops nine bombs on an approximate line from the Dockyard to Delimara Point, killing two civilians and injuring six more.  The raider immediately dives to 4000 feet.

1539-1353 hrs  Air raid alert.  Fighters take to the air but no aircraft area sighted.

1530 hrs  RAOC explode a bomb successfully near HQ of B Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.

1640 hrs  A loud explosion heard from the direction of Hal Far is reported as a possible delayed action bomb but later confirmed as a controlled explosion by the bomb disposal squad.

1716-1757 hrs  One enemy reconnaissance aircraft crosses over Mellieha.  Two enemy aircraft approach from the north east at 15000 feet and drop six bombs on open ground between Birzebugga and Hal Far.  One enemy raider is intercepted by Malta fighters and is hit but not shot down, and releases its bombs in the sea south of the Island.  The British pilot identifies the enemy aircraft as German from its twin water-cooled engines and swastika on the wings.

1920 hrs  One Gladiator carries out flying practice around Hal Far aerodrome and the Kalafrana seaplane base.  A Sunderland flying boat is also tested at Kalafrana Slipway.

2315 hrs  A defence post reports a flashing light near the Targa Gap; an investigation found nothing.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Anthony Borg, age 26.


ROYAL NAVY  During air raids today the Naval Armament Depot was hit and one lighter was sunk.

KALAFRANA  Sgt Beaddie, Medical Staff Luqa, transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa, with gastroenteritis.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 HE 250lb Tal Papa; 1 HE 130lb Isla Point, Senglea.

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

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


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14 June 1940: Malta Needs Fighter Aircraft

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Hawker Hurricane (c) IWM CI 120

Hawker Hurricane (c) IWM CI 120

The Governor and Commander in Chief has told London that Malta urgently needs fighter aircraft.  In a telegram today he urged the War Office to divert three Hurricane fighters currently en route for Egypt should be diverted at least temporarily to Malta, to defend the Island. 

The Governor’s plea follows bombing raids which have been much heavier and more frequent than anticipated, since Italy declared war on the Allies on Monday.  He added that, while the morale of the population remained high, he feared that it might deteriorate unless active visible measures were taken for their protection. 

The Governor’s request was very strongly supported by the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, who proposed that the spares should be rushed from Gibraltar to Malta by destroyer, instead of being taken round to Egypt by the cape.


The Malta Volunteer Defence Force is already providing an effective service in the defence of Malta.  Personnel are reporting for duty promptly following the air raid alert.  Their knowledge of their localities has proved useful in identifying unusual or suspicious activities in the area, and in liaising with local civilians.  Working alongside Infantry units, they have also erected and manned road blocks. 


RAF Headquarters have asked for assistance from the Commissioner of Police to keep unauthorised personnel and civilians away from crashed or force-landed enemy aircraft.  As well as the danger of explosion or injury, enemy aircraft are an important source of military intelligence.  It is vital that they remain out of bounds until they have been property examined by a competent RAF technical officer.


Weather  Overcast and gusty, north east wind; cloud base 10500 feet. 

Power Station

Power Station

0827-0856 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach at 8000 feet then dive to 4000 feet over Grand Harbour and Valletta dropping three bombs near the NAAFI and one opposite St John’s Co-Cathedral, which fails to explode.  Objectives appear to be HMS Terror, the Dockyard and the Power House.  High explosive bombs are also dropped on the Harbour, Ta’ Xbiex and Fort St Angelo, where one naval rating and one civilian are wounded by an incendiary bomb.  A minesweeper on patrol reports seeing one enemy aircraft damaged, and losing height rapidly, a portion of the port wing falling into the sea.  The aircraft flew off in a northerly direction at low altitude and is later observed coming down in the sea off St Paul’s Bay, leaving only a patch of oil. 

2200 hrs  A defence post reports a light flashing from the direction of Targa Gap; to be investigated.

0420 hrs  A defence post reports a light flashing for about 20 seconds near the pumping station and Naxxar Gap; to be investigated.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Anglu Farrugia, age 50.  Cospicua  Emanuel Gauci, age 50.  Gzira  Elvira Micallef, age 23; two unidentified females.


ROYAL NAVY  An air raid on Malta was carried out this morning in which St Angelo was struck by one heavy bomb.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Private H Kite and Private J Slade were buried with full military honours at St Andrew’s Military Cemetery.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: HE 250lb in Sliema now exploded in situ.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Sandbagging carried out undisturbed by troops and considerable progress made.

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Posted by on June 14, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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13 June 1940: Unexploded Bombs

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Sapper R H Walter, age 20, 24 Fortress Company, Royal Engineers (1)

Just after 9 am Sgt Major Robinson came to us and said, ‘I’m looking for three volunteers for a dangerous job. What about it you three?’  We looked at one another, none of us eager to reply without knowing the nature of this dangerous job. After a silence Sapper Scott said ‘What is this job, Sir?’ The Sergeant Major said, ‘Digging out an unexploded bomb over at Sliema.’  After giving the matter some thought Sapper Scott said ‘I’ll go.’  Sapper McDonald looked at me, hesitated and then said ‘All right, I’ll go.’  To be honest I wasn’t at all keen to volunteer but couldn’t bear the thought of being branded a coward so I replied ‘I’ll go.’

Lt W M Eastman RAOC

Lt W M Eastman RAOC

After we had collected the necessary tools and equipment and a 30 cwt lorry we were to report to Sliema Police Station.  We were met by Lt William Eastman of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, who would be the Officer in Charge of the whole operation. This was because at that time we had no Royal Engineer Officers qualified in Bomb Disposal work.

The unexploded bomb was located along Rudolph Street, some 300 yards from the Police Station.  It was three feet from the South side pavement.  The hole was about one foot in diameter and 18 inches deep, quite neat around the edges.

Lt Eastman ordered us to open up a hole 5 feet square, digging with sandbag-covered spades, removing as much of the rubble as possible with gloved hands. Only two men would work in the hole. On finding any trace of the bomb Lieutenant Eastman was to be informed and we were to await further instructions.  He also told us not to go deeper than 3 feet, and to break for lunch at 1 pm at a local cafe.  Police Sergeant Orr informed us that a local barkeeper had left a case of beer for us which was brought down to where we were working. It was a very hot day and the beer was most appreciated and nearly gone by lunchtime, however we had a second case of beer brought to us during the afternoon.

We started digging at 11.30 am. We stripped off to the waist and were wearing khaki shorts – our normal summer dress. We broke the surface of the road with pickaxes and once through the first six inches of hard-core the spoil was easier to get out. The hessian sandbags on the shovels proved a waste of time. The compacted sandstone needed crowbars and shovels, but we worked all the time with caution, and removed a lot of the rubble with our gloved hands.

By 1 pm we had reached a depth of 18 inches and stopped for lunch in the local cafe.  Several of the local inhabitants had made a collection of money to provide us with a meal and the beer, for which we thanked them.  I noticed that during the meal – and for that matter for the whole time that we had been digging – we were all very quiet; none of the normally constant chatter when Sappers are at work. I was tensed up to the point of being frightened and I did not relish the job at all. I suspected that the rest of the lads felt the same, but something none of us would admit.

By 3 pm we had got down to a depth of 3 feet but had found nothing, so we stopped work as instructed. Lt Eastman returned and under his guidance we pressed on with the digging, though from now on only one man worked down the hole in spells of just 15 minutes each, while the rest of us waited 50 yards away. Lieutenant Eastman stayed at the hole and kept in touch with our NCO Corporal Brewer by field telephone, reporting to him exactly what we were doing.

The bomb had severed a sewer pipe and raw sewage was seeping into the hole. It didn’t smell very nice and the earth was wet. However we plugged it with sandbags which stopped the flow of sewage into the hole.  By 4 pm we had reached a depth of 4 feet 6 inches and exposed the fins of the bomb. Work stopped and Lt Eastman went into the hole by himself to remove them. He told us that it was a 250 lb bomb: from here on we carried on digging with much more care.

We carried on digging until the light began to fade and at 9pm Lt Eastman decided called a halt for the day. He told us that we should locate the bomb the next day and it should be a straight forward job to defuze it and make it safe.  We loaded up the tools and covered the hole with a tarpaulin, anchored it down and placed red hurricane lamps around. Lt Eastman informed Police Sergeant Orr that the area must remain out of bounds to all the local inhabitants overnight.  We would return the next day and start work at 9 am.

We returned to Floriana Barracks, had a bath and changed into clean clothes before going over to the cookhouse for a meal, after which we were just in time for a glass of beer in the canteen. The lads were not so quiet as they had been whilst digging for that bomb.   I was very tired and went to bed: I had a good nights sleep, despite my apprehension for the day ahead.


Weather  Fine; low cloud.

0610-0702 hrs  Air raid alert for two Italian aircraft which approach from the north, fly down the coast to within eight miles of Delimara, circle Filfla and fly on southwards.

0840-0850 hrs  Air raid alert for two Italian aircraft, reported passing over St Paul’s Bay heading south; no bombs dropped.

0901-0905 hrs  Air raid alert.  No bombs dropped.

1137 hrs  Defence posts are warned of a friendly aircraft approaching, flying in at 8000 feet.

1210 hrs  An enemy bomber approaches at a height of 20000 feet and drops six large bombs on Kalafrana and near Benghaisa.  No air raid alert has sounded.  An Army working party are assisting an RAF officer in the removal of an unexploded bomb when an enemy bomb falls nearby. Private H Kite and Private J Slade are killed, Lance Corporal F Martin and Private C Aldridge are wounded, along with one Maltese RAF labourer and one civilian.  RAF Squadron Leader Warfield is slightly wounded.

HMS Diamond

HMS Diamond

1320 hrs  HMS Diamond is attacked by two enemy aircraft 20 miles south west of Malta.

1400 hrs  Air raid alert.  A Malta Gladiator is scrambled to attack.  Seeing the Gladiator, the enemy bomber releases several bombs prematurely on Mellieha, causing some damage to buildings, then escapes into cloud.   2nd Bn Devonshire Regt report an enemy aircraft at 5000 feet dropping bombs on Kalafrana, Birzebuggia and Hal Far.

1430 hrs  Malta defences are warned that HMS Diamond and a destroyer will patrol off the west of the Island this evening.

1610-1700 hrs  Air raid alert.  Bombs are dropped on Mellieha village.

1945-2007 hrs  Air raid alert.

2105 hrs  HMS Galatea leaves Grand Harbour.

2340 hrs  A defence post of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers reports hearing three bursts of light machine gunfire from the direction of Gharghur fort.  A further report suggests they came from behind the Roadhouse from the direction of the pumping station in Naxxar Gap.  On investigation, 2/Lt Salmonson establishes that sentries of Kings Own Malta Regiment at Mosta Fort fired six shots at that time.  Serjeant Parlato and two men went to investigate shots at 2400 hrs and were fired on from near a house by Targa Gap.  However, they saw neither a man nor the flash of a rifle.  They later spotted a man moving near the small chapel nearby and tried to round him up but failed to find him and withdrew.  They also report having seen a red light from the roof of the same house during the night.  A nearby defence post confirmed having occasionally seen a light on the Victoria Lines, including tonight, and also one from the direction of St Paul’s Bay.  The positions of both have been noted and possible sources will be investigated in the morning.

Military casualties  Private Henry Kite, Private John Slade, 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment.  

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Joseph Scicluna, age 24; two unidentified males; one unidentified female. 


HAL FAR  Unexploded bomb destroyed.

KALAFRANA  A bomb fell 30 yards from the Accounts Section which suffered superficial damage.  S/Ldr J M Warfield (HQ Medit) wounded in left side of neck by bomb explosion; needed five stitches.  C E Portelli in same accident received minor abrasions with mild concussion; transferred to ADS Tarxien.  One unidentified male corpse removed from the sea; collected by police 2200 hrs.    

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: incendiaries 3; HE 250lb in Sliema now uncovered.

(1)  Adapted from an account by Sapper Walter on

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Posted by on June 13, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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