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5 July 1940: Mystery Aircraft Landing in Malta

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FRENCH AIR CREW ASK TO JOIN RAF

Hal Far and Kalafrana air bases were on red alert this evening after early warning systems spotted a single aircraft heading towards Malta’s south coast.  The plane approached a just before 10pm, showing full lights which suggested it was not on an enemy raider on a stealth mission.  It then began to circle Marsaxlokk Bay, signalling the word ‘FRANCE’ in morse code.  Five minutes later the aircraft landed at Kalafrana, where it was met by officers of the RAF.

French Latecoere with Sunderland at Kalafrana

French Latecoere with Sunderland at Kalafrana

The aircraft has been identified as a French Latecoere seaplane.  It was crewed by two NCOs who have flown to Malta from Bizerta in Tunisia.  The pilot has been named as Adjutant Duvauchelle and his crewman Wireless Operator Mehauas.  On being apprehended, the pair stated that they wish to serve with the Royal Air Force.        

In the lead-up to the French armistice with the Axis, it appears a message was issued inviting French planes to join Allied forces in the Mediterranean, including Malta.  However, in view of more recent attacks on Gibraltar by French aircraft, all French planes are now automatically regarded as hostile, unless and until they prove themselves friendly.

The two officers were placed under guard and taken to Malta’s War Headquarters for interrogation.  Meanwhile, the Island’s Air HQ has notified London of the events, requesting that the information be treated as top secret until further notice.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JULY TO DAWN 6 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine, warm and clear. 

2150-2155 hrs  Air raid alert.  An unidentified aircraft is reported approaching the south coast, showing full lights.  It then signals in Morse Code before coming in to land at Kalafrana. 

2233 hrs  2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers report a light emanating from near Tal Minsia Church which illuminated three times for eight seconds, with five second intervals.  An investigation is ordered.

0010 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft are reported in the vicinity of the Island but none crosses the coast and no bombs are dropped.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 5 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report.  1845 hrs  Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm left to attack the aerodrome at Catania.  Bombs dropped: 6 x 500lb, 24 x 250lb, 27 incendiary; some on the aerodrome and some on workshops.  Two hangars were hit and four fires started.  Several cruisers and destroyers were observed in Augusta.  All aircraft returned safely. 

KALAFRANA  Nine recruits medically examined for the RAF. 

LUQA  Strength of station:  officers 19; airmen 75; civilians 4.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Camp visited AM by GOC Troops, Major General S J P Scobell and PM by His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief.

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Posted by on July 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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2 July 1940: Businesses Open Air Raid Shelters to Public

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BUSINESSES RESPOND TO GOVERNMENT APPEAL FOR SHELTERS

Owners of businesses and club premises in Malta’s bombing target areas are opening their doors to provide shelter during air raids.  The Island’s newspapers have published details of six public shelters in the Sliema area alone.  The new shelters include the Chocolate Box Bar, Sliema Athletic Club, and St Julians Police Station as well as a motor vehicle garage and several privately-owned cellars.  The opening of the new shelters follows a recent appeal by the Government for garage owners to allow their premises to be adapted for use as public air raid shelters. (1)  

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

JERVIS DAMAGED IN HARBOUR

Destroyer Jervis was damaged today when she arrived at Malta from repairs in home waters.  The vessel bumped against the dock while berthing, sustaining damage to her bow.  The damage sustained was minor and after immediate repairs Jervis was declared fit for service.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1940

Weather  Misty early morning, then fine. 

0925-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft cross the Island apparently on reconnaissance.  Ack Ack batteries at Luqa open fire and split the formation.  Bombs are dropped two miles out to sea to the south but none on land.  Malta fighters are scrambled. 

1830 hrs  Gunfire is heard an estimated ten miles to the south.  Later reports confirmed that a destroyer was bombed by a seaplane.

2320 hrs  Lights are again seen from Tal Minsia but they are not signalling.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 2 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Jervis arrived. 

AIR HQ  Departures  2 Sunderland.  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Two Sunderlands left for patrol and Alexandria.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Nine recruits medically examined for the RAF.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Practice “Close Valletta”.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND  RSM A Caruana granted emergency commission as Lieutenant.

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

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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1 July 1940: Impossible to Send Fighters to Malta Says War Office

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NO FIGHTERS FOR MALTA

From:  The War Office                                                   To:  Governor & C in C Malta

Regret impossible at present to send any fighters but consideration is being given.  Aircraft are unable now to fly over French territory and there are therefore only two methods of getting planes to Malta.  First by flying off a carrier sent well into Mediterranean.  Second subsequent to establishment of near east route via Nigeria and Egypt to fly planes from Mersa Matruh.  Neither method feasible at present.

Sunderland flying boat

Sunderland flying boat

MALTA IS A VITAL FLYING BOAT BASE

The Commander in Chief Mediterranean has pointed out to the Admiralty the vital role of Malta as a flying boat base when the fleet is operating in the central Mediterranean.  However, the report goes on to say that present continued air raids and lack of defences at Malta make refuelling of the aircraft a hazardous operation, except during the hours of darkness. 

The C in C has asked the Admiralty to give urgent consideration to the provision of fighters for Malta, and further that more Sunderland flying boats be allocated to the eastern Mediterranean to replace casualties and assist in the valuable work already being done by the existing squadron.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine. 

No air raid alerts.

2135 hrs  Shots are heard from the direction of Mosta Fort or beyond.  On investigation the officer in charge at the fort reports having seen a light signalling followed by a shot near buildings at Ta Qali.  Heavy explosions were later heard out to sea.

The CO of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers is informed that a light has been seen from Tal Minsia, seeming to come from near the Officers’ Mess at St Andrews Barracks.  Investigation confirmed that the light was illuminated in a series of definite dots and dashes.  The source was determined as Tal Minsia Church.  Lights and shots have previously been reported in the same area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 1 JULY 1940

HMS Coral

HMS Coral

ROYAL NAVY  Coral attacked an Italian U boat 3.6 miles off St Elmo light.  Jade claims to have sunk an Italian U boat. 

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.  Aircraft casualties  0445 hrs Anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for patrol and Alexandria.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Three recruits medically examined for the RAF; one civilian candidate for a temporary commission.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Floriana Defence Company formed.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers 743 Other Ranks.  Troops made considerable progress on Platoon defensive positions which are almost complete.

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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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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

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.

MALTA PROPOSAL TO JAM GERMAN PROPAGANDA

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1940

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 JUNE 1940

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, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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29 June 1940: Malta Must Have Fighters to Survive

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GOVERNOR MAKES URGENT PLEA FOR REINFORCEMENTS

Hurricanes needed to defend Malta

Hurricanes needed to defend Malta

The Governor and Commander in Chief has told the War Office in London that Malta’s air defences must be strengthened if the Island is to survive.  In an urgent cipher telegram he wrote that, following the fall of France, he anticipates an increase in Italian attacks on Malta, as Mussolini seeks complete control of the Mediterranean.

Malta currently has only four serviceable Hurricanes along with the two Gladiators which have been in action since the onset of hostilities and are fast wearing out.  Lt General Dobbie stated that only by inflicting significant damage enemy attackers can he foresee deterring further heavy air raids.  To achieve this, Malta needs more fighter aircraft and personnel to service them. 

He added that the arrival of additional air forces would strengthen the morale of the civilian population who have already been placed under a considerable strain by the bombing of the past three weeks. 

MALTA AIR FORCES PLAN ATTACK ON ENEMY CONVOY

Aircraft stationed in Malta are standing ready to attack an enemy convoy in the Mediterranean, it was reported today.  Seven enemy cruisers and five merchant ships have been observed assembling at Port Augusta and are expected to follow a route along the east coast of Sicily, providing an excellent opportunity for attack.  The Vice Admiral Malta has ordered Malta’s Swordfish to stand by.

The Chief of Intelligence staff has confirmed that further important merchant and troopship movements are expected between Italy and North Africa. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1940

0445 hrs  Swordfish aircraft carry out anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance: nothing to report.

Military casualties  L/Std Emanual Anastasi, HMS St Angelo.                                        

Enemy casualties  Tenente Giuseppe Bracco, Tenente Giuseppe Germano, Midshipman Ottone Hirsch, Petty Officer Arturo Maroni, crew of an Italian submarine picked up by Sunderland Flying Boat, from an attacked Italian submarine and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 29 JUNE 1940

HMS Pandora

HMS Pandora

ROYAL NAVY  Proteus and Pandora sailed at 1900 hrs to take up patrol positions off Algiers and Oran.  A Sunderland aircraft arrived with four prisoners from Italian U boat Rubino which she had sunk. 

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  Naval co-operative patrols by three Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons: one sank a submarine, taking four Italian prisoners.  One other Sunderland left for UK.  Two recruits medically examined.  AC Farrugia, AC Galea and AC Buttigieg admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa.    

1st Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Since 2330 hrs on 27 June the Battalion has provided 90 Other Ranks to assist, with 1st Bn Dorset and 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regts in unloading an ammunition boat in Marsaxlokk Bay, working mainly afternoons and between 0200 and 0600 hrs.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Four public houses in St Paul’s Bay were put out of bounds to troops, to try and reduce the number of cases of drunkenness among troops in the area.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Reports of a suspicious character in civilian clothes found to be a Royal Malta Artillery sergeant on leave.  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk for two periods during the day.     

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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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28 June 1940: Malta Cut Off From Western Mediterranean

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CONVOYS FOR MALTA CAN NO LONGER BE SENT VIA GIBRALTAR

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. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JUNE TO DAWN 29 JUNE 1940

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 JUNE 1940

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, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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27 June 1940: Suspicious Signalling During Air Raids

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SUSPICIOUS LIGHTS DURING AIR RAIDS

Reports have come in of mysterious lights in Sliema during tonight’s air raids.  Shortly after the alert sounded at 2130 hours a light was reported in a window in Hughes Hallett Street.  Personnel of 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on duty nearby trained a rifle on the light which remained illuminated while enemy aircraft passed overhead. 

On investigation the window was found to belong to No 3, Arthur Flats, but there was no response from within.  The incident was followed up by local police who established that the flat belongs to a dockyard worker.  On gaining entry to the premises, they found that the electricity had been turned off at the metre.  As a precaution they removed all light bulbs.

Fort Mosta (NWMA, Malta)

Fort Mosta (NWMA, Malta)

This is the second similar incident in Sliema in four days.  On Sunday evening at 2200 hours a light was seen illuminating three times at the window of No 2, Mnajdra Flats, Hughes Hallet Street.  The flat owner, named as Mr Joseph Calascione, was not currently in residence.  The earlier incident was not reported as the investigating officer assumed the light was shown due to carelessness.  The authorities consider the similarity between the two incidents requires further monitoring.  Defence posts in the vicinity have been warned to keep a special look out for similar lights and report them at once.  

In a separate incident, investigations are also ongoing into unexplained lights in the area of Mosta Fort in the early hours of yesterday.  The lights were seen at 2245 and 2310 hours by defence posts of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Described as white Verey lights, the beams were first observed following an upward course between the old mill and Mosta Fort.  The source of the lights is believed to be an area between Naxxar, Lija and Mosta.

Less than an hour later, a report was received of two periods of short flashes, each lasting about five seconds, from a point south of St Paul’s directly underneath Selmun Palace.  Within moments, a further flashing light was seen in the neighbourhood of Nadur Tower. 

HMS Orpheus

HMS Orpheus

SUBMARINES LOST

Two submarines reported as overdue yesterday are now confirmed lost.  HMS Odin disappeared in the Gulf of Taranto.  The cause is unknown.  HMS Orpheus is believed torpedoed by an Italian submarine en route between Malta and Alexandria.

GOVERNOR TURNS DOWN FOREIGN LEGION FORCE

The Governor and Commander in Chief today turned down an offer from the Foreign Legion to bring French forces to Malta to fight against the Italians.  The offer came from Captain Robert, based in Sousa, who arrived yesterday (Wednesday) by submarine from Tunis, which he had left on 24 June.  This was before the French signed an armistice with Germany, but after Tunisian troops had received instructions to obey orders from a Bordeaux government. 

According to Captain Robert, the French Army in Tunis (and across North Africa) wishes to fight on, either in Tunis or outside, in Egypt or elsewhere.  He believes they should continue to fight the Italians and maintain North African ports against the Axis fleets but, if that is not possible, he proposes they fight from another Allied base. 

It is understood that Foreign Legion officers plan to seize local boats at Sousa and transport 1800 troops with armoured cars to Malta, escorted by two French submarines. Lt General Dobbie believes that, although additional troops on Malta would be useful, a French unit here might produce more problems than it would solve.  However, he put forward the possibility that the French might replace an Allied battalion in Egypt, which could then perhaps be spared to assist Malta. 

The War Office has confirmed that the Foreign Legion personnel will be accommodated in Egypt if possible.  However, even if that happened, it was made clear that the situation in the Middle East there does not allow for a British battalion to be sent from Egypt to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1940

Weather  Low cloud.

0905-0915 hrs; 1115-1125 hrs  Air raid alerts.  No attack. 

2130-2140 hrs  Air raid alert.  No attack.   It is reported that on the sound of the air raid alert a light went on somewhere in Tigne Mansions and stayed on until the all clear. 

0445 hrs  Swordfish aircraft carried out an anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance for Italian shipping but found nothing to report.

Military casualties  Signalman John Ernest Saunders, Royal Corps of Signals

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmelo Fiteni, age 40.  Marsa  George Gatt, age 7; Joseph Gatt, age 2. Tarxien  Angiolina Orland, age 30.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 27 JUNE 1940

KALAFRANA  Two Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons arrived from Middle East for Naval co-operative patrols using Kalafrana as a refuelling and re-arming base.  AC Sciberras admitted to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.

LUQA  Flt Lieutenant M Grennan transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  The Governor and Commander in Chief visited Battalion Headquarters and Fort Benghaisa.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A large number of sand bags were filled throughout the day at Ghain Tuffieha Bay; 250 of these were taken up to Ta Saliba for the purpose of strengthening sangars.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Orders received for working party to stand by for unloading stores from ship at Marsaxlokk; troops moved at midnight.

 

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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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