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2 August 1940: Twelve Hurricane Fighters Arrive in ‘Hurry’

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MALTA HAS NEW FIGHTER FLIGHT     

Hurricanes fly in to MaltaTwelve Hurricane fighters flew in to Malta today to strengthen the Island’s air defences. At 0740 hours this morning RAF Luqa received a message to stand by for the arrival of two separate formations, each of seven aircraft.

In ‘Operation Hurry’ the twelve Hurricanes and two Skuas left the Clyde aboard HMS Argus which sailed for Malta on 20 July escorted by four destroyers. The convoy was then joined by two more destroyers, two battleships and one cruiser for the hazardous journey through the western Mediterranean. During their journey, the Mediterranean fleet made a diversionary attack on Cagliari, while a cruiser patrolled the area searching for possible hostile vessels.

The convoy escorted Argus to a point west of Malta from where the Hurricanes took off to fly the remaining distance to the Island in two formations, each guided in by one of the Skuas. At 083 hours the first formation was sighted over Hal Far and within minutes the Skua and Hurricanes were circling over Luqa aerodrome.

The first Hurricane landed successfully; the second plane was circling very low when his engine failed and the aircraft crashed. The Commander in Chief of the aerodrome dashed to the scene of the crash in his car, rescued the pilot, helped him into the car and drove him to the medical incident room at Luqa camp from where he was referred to the Military Hospital at Imtarfa suffering from abrasions and slight concussion. He has been named as Pilot/Sergeant F N Robertson, 66 Squadron. A guard was mounted over the wreck of the Hurricane. The other machines landed safely.

Skua

Skua

Minutes later the second formation of one Skua and six Hurricanes was seen approaching Luqa from the direction of Hal Far. The aircraft circled the aerodrome before the Hurricanes landed safely. As the Skua approached the runway it seemed to wobble and landed heavily on one wheel, skidding along on its left wing for about 200 yards before crashing over the air raid shelter near the control tower. The pilot escaped unhurt and the aircraft is repairable.

The RAF ground crews for the new aircraft arrived separately in Malta aboard submarines Pandora and Proteus.  Declaring Operation Hurry a complete success, the Governor hopes that it will form a model for the future supply of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and hot.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 2 AUGUST 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 1 Hurricane. 1845 hrs One Hudson on reconnaissance Cagliari.

LUQA  Strength of Station: RAF 21 Officers, 121 Airmen; Army 9 Officers, 250 Other Ranks; civilians 4.

 

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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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1 August 1940: Guns On The Way But No Gunners

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GOVERNOR STRUGGLING TO RECRUIT FOR ARTILLERY

3.7 inch gunEight heavy and ten light anti-aircraft guns are on their way to Malta, with more heavy guns to follow. All will be accompanied by supplies of ammunition. Welcoming the news, the Governor and Commander in Chief informed the War Office that there is significant doubt whether the Island will have sufficient servicemen to man the guns.

In a telegram sent today, he reports that the rate of recruitment is slowing considerably in Malta, due to the limit of the local population and requirements of other units on the Island. As a result it has been impossible to build up any reserve forces and no reinforcements are in place to man the new guns. Without additional Royal Artillery or signals personnel from the Middle East, the all-important artillery will sit idle.

MALTA SHOULD LAUNCH AIR OFFENSIVES

Malta should be a base for striking and general reconnaissance air forces, says the Air Officer Commanding Mediterranean. In a message to the Air Ministry in London, the AOC said the forces should be brought to the Island as a matter of urgency. He believes that much of the sea reconnaissance currently undertaken by Sunderlands operating out of Alexandria could be operated successfully from Malta.  

The only attacking aircraft at Malta are Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm and offensive operations from Malta are therefore limited. The AOC proposes that one complete squadron of 15 aircraft would produce results out of all proportion to its size and recommends they be despatched as soon as other commitments allow.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 1 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Aircraft patrol reported one destroyer, two tankers, one large merchant vessel and many smaller ones in Cagliari Harbour, and three submarines leaving harbour.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND  1000 hrs  Two 4.7” naval guns were installed at F Verandah, Marsa, and manned by 3rd Heavy Battery, Royal Malta Artillery. These guns are known as ‘Barker Section’.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers, 743 Other Ranks.

 

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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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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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