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13 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Malta

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WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

 

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Posted by on September 13, 2017 in 1942, September 1942

 

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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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30 August 1942: Rations Cut Again – Meat Only Twice a Week

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

Please pass to Secretary of State for the Colonies and Chiefs of Staff MidEast please pass to Minister of State Cairo.

1.  Unloading and dispersal of supplies from convoy is now complete except for aviation and benzene, fortress can hold out until early December.  Aviation spirit position has been reported separately to Chiefs of Staff in HQ Med Sig 0726 of 25/8.  Benzine consumption has been reduced to 15,200 gallons per week but even so stocks will only last until mid-November.  Benzine can be made to last until target date by drawing on 77 octane but this is likely to be required for blending with aviation spirit.  We have 600 tons of 77 octane available, of which 250 tons are held as fortress reserve of MT spirit and 100 tons are needed for consumption by naval and RAF craft.

2.  Target date of early December allows for following adjustments of consumption on civil side:

  • (i)  Bread ration for men between 16 and 60 will be increased by 3½ ounces per day to 14 ounces.
  • (ii)  Fat ration will be at half normal ration level during September but I hope to increase it to normal level at beginning of October.
  • (iii)  Regular issues of edible oil will be made at normal ration rates.
  • (iv)  There will be regular issues of coffee with possibly one period skipped.
  • (v)  Regular weekly issues of kerosene will be made as from 1st October but at summer rather than higher winter rate.
  • (vi)  Domestic electricity supply will be restored on 1st October.
  • (vii)  Brewing will be resumed as soon as possible.
  • (viii)  Present reduced rations of sugar and soap will be maintained, sugar being issued twice every three half-monthly periods and soap once very two periods.

3.  Victory kitchens now have 60,000 persons registered and 170 kitchens are in operation.  Further rapid expansion is possible but supply of vegetables cannot be further increased while potatoes are now almost unobtainable and meat supply is not as great as was expected and is already falling off.  In future it will be possible to provide meat on only two days a week instead of five, and this may later have to be reduced to one if registration increases as expected. 

Victory Kitchen

In this situation I have been carefully considering the future of the Victory kitchens.  Allowing for small increases in rations now being made, calorie value of rationed foods per day for a man between 16 and 60 who is member of average size family is 1300, or 200 calories below figure normally taken as minimum.  Outside rations, very little food is obtainable.  Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are all too scarce to be rationed, even if this were possible from other points of view.  Marketing of meat and vegetables is now under control of Government and no meat except poultry and rabbits and small amount only of vegetables is being sold on open market.  Victory kitchens provide only satisfactory method of distributing evenly what meat and vegetables are available and if we were now to revert to old arrangement under which kitchens provide meals only on surrender of rations allowing majority of meat and vegetable supply to return to open market, effect would be that poorer classes would get very little, while those who are prepared to pay any price would obtain what they wished.

4.  I am satisfied that in our present food situation it is essential to continue existing policy of providing one meal a day through kitchens outside rations so as to raise calorie value of diet to about 1800 calories.  This can only be done by introducing considerable quantities of imported supplies into the menus.  I have decided accordingly that all civil supplies of dried vegetables, dried eggs and cheese shall be allotted to the communal feeding department and that [pasta] shall be issued through kitchens on a substantial scale, estimated to absorb 230 tons of flour per month on an average registration of 150,000 persons.  This allotment of flour has been allowed for in calculating target date.  Menu will then consist of macaroni and cheese on two days, minestra on two days, meat and vegetables on two days and an egg dish on one day.  I anticipate that effect of new policy will be to encourage rapid increase in registration.

5.  In spite of increased issues described above, the civil food situation is still causing me considerable anxiety.  Rates of rations and general scale of diet remain low.  No signs of serious malnutrition have yet appeared but prolonged continuance of present food shortage must have its effect both on health and morale and shortage will be more seriously felt in winter.  Anything which can be done by special means at any time before another convoy is run, to supplement diet by importing concentrated foodstuffs or food of small bulk, will help greatly.  I will telegraph our immediate requirements of these types of food in the course of the next two days in case any special opportunity occurs to send such supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud: visibility 15-20 miles.  Wind variable becoming southerly; light.

No air raid alerts.

1105-1215 hrs; 1625-1725  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron then ten 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on patrol: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by Hythe.  Una sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Day  Nine Beauforts escorted by eleven Beaufighters were despatched to attack an enemy convoy.  Night  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Ten Spitfires went out to area 15-30 miles south east of Correnti Island and patrolled at 20000 feet over returning Beauforts.  No enemy aircraft seen.

TA QALI  Final movement of 248 Squadron pilots to United Kingdom.

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2225
  • Total number of alerts this month 141
  • Bombing raids  day 39  night  20
  • Raid-free days  3
  • Night raids  37
  • Raid-free nights  12
  • Alerts for own planes  8
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  2 days, 56 mins
  • Average length of alert 29.1 mins
  • Killed  41 (15 men, 12 women, 14 children)
  • Seriously injured  33 (10 men, 14 women, 9 children)
  • Buildings seriously damaged  58

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during Operation Pedestal were landed at Malta. 207 of whom sailed in Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury on 18th August. The remainder being evacuated by air as opportunity arises.  The bulk of the cargo was unloaded by 23rd August, about 12,000 tons of furnace fuel, 3600 tons of diesel fuel, and 32,000 tons of general cargo having been received.  The enemy made no attempt to bomb any of the ships after they had arrived in harbour, or, in fact, once they were within comfortable range of shore based fighter protection.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine, visibility 20-30 miles.  Wind south-westerly, light; varying north westerly, light to moderate.

Day  No air raid alerts.

0915-1005 hrs; 1515-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron then four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali carry out patrols: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2221-2246 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approached from the north but receded before crossing the coast.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmela Ellul, age 30.  Mqabba  Emanuel Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Paola  Emanuel Paris.  Qormi  Spiro Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML carried out sweep of the area extending seaward of entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett to the 40 fathom line, and swept two moored mines and one conical float.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Bisley to LG 224.

INFANTRY  R Company, Lancashire Fusiliers, took over area from E Company, 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, and vice versa.

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

Reports released today show that 936 Axis aircraft have been destroyed over Malta or by Malta-based aircraft since Italy entered the war in June 1940.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

1300 hrs  One anti-personnel bomb explodes on Ta Qali aerodrome, seriously injuring three Maltese children: two of them die in hospital.

1858-1907 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turn back five miles from the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Francis Sammut, age 16; Carmel Tanti, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  2150 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron were despatched to attack a 4000 ton tanker with an escort of two destroyers near Corfu.  They dropped four 250lb and twenty 500lb bombs with several near-misses: the convoy continued on course.  One Wellington missing.  0130 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  No enemy sighted.

Arrivals  Four Beauforts, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off, crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter undercarriage collapsed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0930-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far carried out a high level sweep over Correnti Island, Noto, Ragusa and Pozzala in Sicily.  No enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.  1315-1325 hrs  The Spitfire of Pilot Officer Cheek crash-landed on an air test: his tyre burst on take-off and he had to land ‘wheels up’.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Gun Operations Room in a cricket match: results Luqa 108 (Neale 46), GOA 97.  Camp Cinema: Captain Fury.

TA QALI  0705-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1200-1315 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine 249 Squadron Ta Qali on a sweep over Sicily saw ships believed to be tankers outside Licata Harbour.  The Spitfires are met with heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire over Licata at 11000 feet but see no enemy aircraft.

Nos 242, 314, 502 and 841 AME Stations, Observer Corps Detachments at Dingli, Torri L’Ahmar and Ghargur, Officers’ and Airmen’s rest camp at St Paul’s Bay taken over by this Station for administration and rations.

INFANTRY  0545 hrs  Exercise to test the alertness of sentries and communications within 4 Brigade.  Also rapid destruction of parachutists in the Brigade area.  Exercise began with firing of three Verey lights around Marsaxlokk Bay.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company are performing coast patrol duties at Il Kaus; B Company are manning Tal Virtu observation post.

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

“We have some very grave shortages.”  Letter from Rommel to his wife, 30 August 1942

Malta-based attacks on southbound convoys in the Mediterranean have forced Field Marshal Rommel to give up his attempt to retake El Alamein.  The Island’s air and naval forces have starved the Axis of more than half of the supplies they need to continue the battle in North Africa.  Rommel originally intended to begin a major offensive against British forces on 26 August but had to postpone due to a shortage of fuel, thanks to the sinking of two tankers in the Mediterranean.

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

With a promise that another convoy would set out immediately from Italy, at 2330 hrs on Sunday Rommel launched an attack at Alam el Halfa but came up against a massive minefield and a well-equipped British force under Lt Gen Montgomery.  But nine Beauforts and eleven Beaufighters had already set off from Malta to attack the supply convoy, which had been spotted by 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance pilots.  At the same time destroyers, bombers and naval aircraft launched heavy attacks on Axis stores and workshops close to the battlefield.

Yesterday Malta-based submarine P 35 sank a southbound 5000 ton merchant vessel and the Island’s bombers stand ready to act immediately to any further attempts to re-supply the enemy.  Attacks continued today with Wellington bombers targeting a tanker and Navy Air Service Albacores striking a merchant vessel and escort with torpedoes.

After three days of relentless allied bombing and artillery fire and faced with a precarious supply situation Rommel has been forced to call off the attack and withdraw his forces.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0915-1020 hrs; 1015-1055 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on intercept patrol and sweep: no sightings.

1015-1045 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1303 hrs  Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight one Macchi 202.  F/Lt Hetherington, W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Farmer each fire a burst in turn, all obtaining strikes.  The tail of the Macchi is shot off and the aircraft goes down streaming glycol.  The remaining aircraft recede without coming within 25 miles of the Island.

1930-1950 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Corporal Arthur Simpson, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P34 swept out but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky DSEA hatch.

AIR HQ  1305 hrs  An offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily.  One Macchi 200 is shot down.  Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the tanker targeted last night, now 10 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The drop six 500lb bombs on the tanker, scoring one hit and causing a large explosion, followed by clouds of white smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa two Beauforts one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.    Aircraft casualties  One Hudson tyre believed burst during take-off, crashed and burned out: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1720-1830 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over Sicily and encounter enemy aircraft.  2129-0235 hrs  One Swordfish with flares and two Albacores NAS located and attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by two destroyers and a small flak ship, 15 miles north east of Cape Spartivento heading easterly.  They located the target just off the toe of Sicily and score hits with two torpedoes, one aft of the funnel and one aft of the bridge, followed by a violent explosion.  They leave the vessel down by the stern and belching clouds of black and white smoke.  A later photo-reconnaissance report showed the merchant vessel aground close to where it had been attacked.

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

“The Air Officer Commanding sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron (Reconaissance) for successful attacks on two successive nights, when Wellingtons scored direct hits on an important tanker heading for North Africa and also near-misses on destroyers.  The loss or even the disabling of the enemy tanker should greatly assist the British fighting Rommel.”

69 Squadron crew disembark Baltimore Luqa 1942 (c) IWM GM 1042

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0935-1030 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1701-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Two enemy fighters fly over Comino Channel at 20,000 feet.  Spitfires chase them back to within 10 miles of the Sicilian coast but are unable to intercept.

1845-1930 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. Clyde and P43 were also swept out to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI  1540-1635 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance circled Linosa and spotted a new building – ‘apparently’ a church.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

Two Albacores Royal Naval Air Squadrons were despatched today to finish off the merchant vessel beached after their previous attack on Wednesday night.  One Albacore scored a torpedo hit on the ship’s port quarter, while the other scored a direct hit with a 250lb bomb on the destroyer alongside, and straddled the merchant vessel with two other bombs.   Photo-reconnaissance later showed that the merchant vessel had a large gap in her starboard side.

Later tonight two Wellington bombers took advantage of intense darkness to attack a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice.  They dropped a total of eight 500lb bombs on the ship but were unable to observe results, which will await confirmation by photo-reconnaissance.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Local thunder; rain with bright periods.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0848-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy fighters approach at low altitude, apparently intending a low-level machine gun attack, but turn back while still eight miles off the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1459-1544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eighteen enemy fighters approach the Island; four are identified as ME 109s.  Some of the raiders skirt the Zonqor coast, while others patrol five miles north of Gozo.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light out to sea, 80 degrees RA 4.

2313-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but turn back when 20 miles north west of Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William Storer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Ronald Rooke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Night  Two Albacores RNAS were despatched to attack a merchant vessel beached eight miles north of Bianca.

AIR HQ  1720 hrs  Six Beauforts and six Beaufighters were despatched to attack a convoy off Cape Spartivento but failed to locate the target.  Night  Two Wellingtons attacked a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice, dropping eight 500lb bombs on the ship.  No results are seen due to the intense darkness.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire had engine trouble, force-landed: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1000-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a Rodeo raid over Sicily but encounter no enemy aircraft.  PM  Seven Spitfires were despatched on a sweep over Sicily.  The leader had a faulty radio and broke formation: owing to a misunderstanding the rest followed suit and as a result the Spitfires returned to base.

LUQA  Luqa beat the RASC at cricket by nine wickets: RASC 36, Luqa 38 for one wicket.  Camp cinema: Second Chorus.

TA QALI  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1320-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance sighted two unidentified aircraft but did not intercept due to a radio fault and subsequent misunderstanding.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Major General Scobie, GOC troops Malta, visited the Battalion.  This is the second time the Bn has been under his command – Tobruk October 1941 was the first.

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd:  The War Office

1.  Enemy activity confined 48 fighter sorties by day and 6 bomber sorties by night.  One JU 88 crossed coast; good [searchlight] illumination.  Bombs on land.  One Macchi 202 destroyed, two ME 109s probably destroyed.  Own losses nil.  Recently there has been a large decrease in the numbers of bombers and fighters in Sicily, particularly German.

2.  Own air offensive continues.  150 Spitfire sorties over Sicily also 4 Beaufighters by night.  Malta based air attacks on convoys to Libya continue resulting in 1 tanker blown up, 1 tanker stationary, 2 merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one destroyer hit by bombs; near-misses one merchant vessel, one destroyer.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.  Intensified training being carried out.  Small parties employed on aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0910-0958 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron and five from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire of 249 returns early, its hood blown off.

Grand Harbour

12 ME 109s and Macchi 202s cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires intercept some of the enemy over Grand Harbour and others 20 miles off Zonqor.  249 Squadron engage six ME 109s. P/O Williams scores strikes on one.  P/O Giddings attacks a second; he sees no strikes but a panel flies off the port wing of the enemy aircraft.  Hal Far pilot F/Lt Charney destroys one Macchi 202.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires see three ME 109s and four other fighters six miles east of Zonqor and chase them back towards Sicily: no engagement.

1725-1825 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a reported formation of enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

2250-2317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach the Island; one recedes 40 miles from the coast.  The other, a JU 88, crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of Birkirkara.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no interceptions.  Searchlights effect one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report several white verey lights off the Delimara area.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Wellingtons, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0640-0800 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft encountered.

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

TA QALI  1145-1315 hrs  Thirteen Spitfires 249 Squadron (two returned early) and nine of 229 Squadron (one returned early) were despatched on a Rodeo raid.  Two enemy fighters are seen but not intercepted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26.  Dealt with: 7 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 116 anti-personnel bombs, 18 oil incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on September 5, 2017 in 1942, August 1942, September 1942, Uncategorized

 

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15 August 1942: Santa Marija – Convoy Survivor Ohio Arrives on Feast Day

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – FINAL DAY                                

Maltagc70 returns 22 August with weekly diary.  For updates direct to your computer sign up to follow (see R)

 

“I think I am speaking for all in saying that we are disappointed at not doing better but we should like to try again.”  E N Syfret, Vice-Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding, Operation Pedestal

Ohio inched into Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

OHIO COMES IN – WITH HER CARGO OF FUEL

Early this morning the tanker Ohio was cradled into Grand Harbour to a rapturous welcome.  Maltese and military crowded every available space to cheer the battered ship as she passed through the arms of the harbour entrance and into shelter.

Her decks barely above the water line, the tanker was carefully inched into her place in history, and berth at Parlatorio Wharf in French Creek – where Illustrious had also survived an enemy bent on her destruction.  After a traumatic twenty four hours, Ohio was berthed in shallow water and settled on the bottom.

Of the merchant ships now in harbour, Port Chalmers is undamaged and Melbourne Star only superficially. The Rochester Castle has been hit by a torpedo and water entered Nos 1 and 2 holds.  The Brisbane Star has also received a torpedo hit forward and No 2 hold was slightly flooded.  The Ohio‘s engine room was partly flooded due to a hit by a heavy bomb, and the port side of the pump room had been holed by either a mine or a torpedo.  However, the majority of her fuel cargo is intact and available.

Survivors disembark Ledbury, NWMA Malta

“That these five ships did make their goal is a magnificent tribute to the resolution shown by all concerned, and a special word of praise is due to the gallant Master of the Ohio (Captain D W Mason), to Penn (Lieutenant-Commander J H Swain, RN), Ledbury (Lieutenant-commander R P Hill, RN) and Bramham (Lieutenant E F Baines, RN), to the Malta local forces, and to the Royal Air Force based on Malta. (1)

“WE WERE A SITTING TARGET” – OHIO GUNNERS DESCRIBE LAST HOURS OF TANKER’S JOURNEY

Seven planes appeared above and we shouted to the bridge who thought they were Spitfires and told us so. The ‘Spitfires’ banked and screamed down narrowly missing us with bombs but one hit the Ohio square on the stern. We really thought the whole damn lot of us were going to blow up, but our luck held. Thank God! The attack was so sudden that B gun only fired eight rounds. It was getting dusk and the planes were able to get gloriously close to us without being seen. We saw one going away which appeared to be badly damaged…

Darkness came as a godsend and then we really got to work…we decided that the Bramham should go alongside the tanker on her starboard side and that we should tow her between us…at last we were secured to the skipper’s satisfaction and although we were a lovely target for any lurking submarine we remained still until the following morning. Then we started the last stage of the hellish trip to Malta at seven knots!

All that day we were left alone, this being due to the fighter escort from Malta.  We sighted the Island at 1930 and hoped we would make it that night. But we were informed that we would not arrive till next morning. So it was at 0800 the next day we steamed through the breakwater into the Grand Harbour at Malta. Two ships, small destroyers, of only 1600 tons, with an oil tanker between them had safely brought the last ship of the convoy safely to its destination. The people of Valletta lined the harbour to cheer us, and the military band played ‘Hearts of Oak’ as we entered, making us feel very fed up because we did not ask for praise. We had only done what we set out to do.”  W R Cheetham and D Burke, WW2 People’s War (2)

CONVOY SURVIVOR REMEMBERS

“The attacks were terrifying; I cannot think of another word.  The worst for me were the Stukas; their sirens made the most appalling noise.  The sky was absolutely mottled with flak from the ships…nothing had ever been seen like it.  The destroyers too were simply remarkable.  To me, the worst sight of all was seeing Eagle go down, because you could see both planes and men sliding into the sea; you could actually hear the screams and yells…It was extremely frightening; no it was not frightening, it was terror, absolute terror.“  Survivor Frederick Treves, Junior Apprentice on Waimarama (3)

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 15 AUGUST 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rpt: War Office

Food for Malta unloaded from convoy c IWM GM 1478

1.  Four merchant vessels and one tanker arrived ex convoy from UK out of original 14 ships.  Only one of these unscathed.  Approx gross tonnage 47000 mixed cargoes essential foodstuffs, ammunition, black and white oils.  Supply situation will be considerably easier.  General relief at arrival though cost fully realised.  Two M/Vs and two D/Rs slipped away from here under cover of operation taking with them 44 German and 15 Italian from P of W cage.  Arrived Gibraltar safely.

2.  Army carrying out bulk of unloading operations as few naval personnel to assist.  Total 3000 men working in three shifts day and night with civilian assistance are unloading 5000 tons per day and dispersing to field dumps and near consignees.  Further 1500 men being provided assistance to RAF servicing, refuelling aircraft and ensuring maintenance aerodromes.  All available transport in use.  150 Royal Artillery personnel working smoke screen.  Operation proceeding satisfactorily.

3.  Other than attacks on convoy enemy air activity over Island has consisted of fighter sweeps only and slight night bombing.  Total of 32 night bombers, few of which crossed coast.  Total RAF claims 23 destroyed, three probables, ten damaged, including three destroyed by night fighters.  Ack Ack no claims and few engagements.  RAF offensive against Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes to protect convoy also providing permanent umbrella.  Further reinforcement of Spitfires arrived.

4.  Military casualties nil except six Other Ranks wounded on convoy.  Reinforcement 31 all ranks details arrived on convoy, also 90 carrier pigeons.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 AUGUST TO DAWN 16 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10 to 15 miles.

Day  Spitfires keep up a standing patrol over Grand Harbour.

0530-0655 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol over convoy ships: no sightings.

0555-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol over convoy ships: no sightings.

0620-0730 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept possible enemy raiders: no sightings.  Sgt Ballantine runs into a stationary Spitfire on landing: both aircraft are damaged but he is unhurt.

0623-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on convoy patrol: no sightings.

0643-0816 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the incoming tanker until it arrives in Grand Harbour.

Ohio discharges her cargo (NWMA Malta)

0755 hrs After an epic struggle by her gallant Master and escorts, SS Ohio in tow of Penn and Bramham enters Grand Harbour followed by Ledbury. The sweepers and motor launches enter Marsamxett.

0905-0920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft.  Capt Swales and Sgt Tarbuck together destroy one ME 109.  Sgt Tarbuck’s Spitfire has airscrew trouble and he is forced to bale out but is picked up unhurt by the High Speed Launch.

0955-1025 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1100-1205 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

PM  Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out three patrols over shipping in Grand harbour.

1445-1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept possible enemy raiders; four return early.  Lt Hetherington sees one ME 109 streaming glycol but does not make contact.

1535-1540 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol see two enemy aircraft but cannot make contact.

1800 hrs  Force X and Force Z arrive at GibraltarThe damaged ships of Force Z, sent home earlier in the operation, also all reached Gibraltar safely except the destroyer Foresight which had to be sunk by Tartar who had tried to tow her in.

1910-2015 hrs  Four JU 88s are reported nearby, escorting an enemy ship.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but visibility is poor and they do not locate the enemy.

1935-2020 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

2230-2235 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which drops bombs in the sea before receding.

Military casualties  Gunner Carmel Grech, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Frederick Hornsey, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Pauline Grech, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 AUGUST 1942

HMS Utmost

ROYAL NAVY  A smoke screen was developed over the Dockyard on two occasions for large formations of aircraft, but no bombs were dropped.  Utmost and P 46 arrived from Gibraltar to join Tenth Submarine Flotilla, the former having obtained one torpedo hit on an Italian AMC off Marittimo.  After dark the presence of E Boats was suspected and fire was opened by shore batteries on one occasion, but no results observed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Spitfire to LG 224; two DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  One special Swordfish and two Albacores from Hal Far are despatched on a shipping strike off the west coast of Sicily.  Weather conditions are very bad and they sight nothing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2.  Dealt with: nil.  BD Sections manpower on convoy and transport duties except for party standing by to deal with unexploded bombs Grand Harbour.  Also dealt with week ending 15 August: 62 anti-personnel bombs.

(1) E N Syfret, Vice-Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding, Operation Pedestal

(2)  ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’  INSERT LINK!!!!!

(3)  Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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14 August 1942: 3000 Men Unload Convoy

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAY BY DAY

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OPERATION CERES UNDERWAY

Operation Ceres underway c IWM GM1475

3000 army personnel are now working night and day to unload the supplies delivered by the newly-arrived convoy.  All possible vehicles are engaged in the task, code-named ‘Operation Ceres’.  In addition, 1500 army personnel are still working on the aerodromes for servicing and refuelling aircraft, and repairing runways as required to keep Malta’s fighters in the air and protect the precious cargoes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 AUGUST TO DAWN 15 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Dawn  Having spent the night in futile attempts to tow Ohio, Bramham, Penn and Rye are joined by Ledbury.  Further attempts to tow the sinking tanker are more successful, albeit very slow.  The ‘cortege’ is joined later by Speedy and two Motor Launches from Malta.

AM Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled on five occasions to patrol over the incoming shipping.  No enemy activity encountered.

0545-0650 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on convoy patrol fly near to Linosa and see a tanker which opens fire on them: no damage.

0625-0750 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron on convoy patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0630 hrs  ML 168 arrives in Malta with 68 convoy survivors on board.

0700-0825 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on shipping patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0740-0845 hrs; 0805-0940 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on shipping patrol: nothing to report.

Ohio inched towards Malta

0830 hrs  Commander minesweepers reports sweepers in company with Bramham and Penn, with tanker Ohio in tow, very deep in the water and almost unmanageable.

0850-0905 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0912-1300 hrs  A long series of almost constant air attacks on Force X by dive bombers, high level bombers, torpedo bombers and dropping of mines or circling torpedoes by low-flying aircraft.  JU 88s bombers near-miss HMS Kenya, causing a small fire in a boiler room.

0925-1100 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne: four to act as cover for the oil tanker Ohio and escort, the remainder as cover for a merchant vessel; nothing to report.

1000-1125 hrs  Spitfires from Ta Qali patrol over the convoy.  F/Lt Swannick sights a JU 87 diving on the ships.  He fires a 2-3 second burst from 100 yards and sees hits on the starboard wing: claims damaged.

1120-1250 hrs; 1145-1320 hrs; 1210-1340 hrs  Four Spitfires 229/249 Squadrons airborne at a time on convoy patrol: nothing to report.

PM  Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled on four occasions to patrol over the incoming tanker and naval escort: no enemy activity.

1225-1345 hrs; 1340-1440 hrs  Four Spitfires 229/249 Squadrons airborne at a time to provide cover to a merchant vessel: nothing to report.

Damaged Brisbane Star in Grand Harbour

1415 hrs   MV Brisbane Star arrives in Grand Harbour, holed in her bows.

1450-1625 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort covering the approach of the tanker Ohio.  One float plane and two fighters attack suspected raiders: no strikes are seen but target aircraft were later identified as friendly.  No warning had been issued by Fighter Control and the attacked aircraft did not give any warning that they were friendly until after they had been fired on.

1455-1610 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron escorting Ohio are diverted to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  F/Sgt Parks sees one unidentified aircraft which he describes as twin-engined with a white upper surface and presumes is friendly.

1530-1550 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Twelve Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no sightings.

1550-1705 hrs;1725-1905 hrs; 1750-1925 hrs  Four Spitfires 229/249 Squadron at a time patrol over the tanker: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1800 hrs  Force X escapes the attacks unscathed joins Force Z: together they head for Gibraltar.

1820-1910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve Spitfires are scrambled to intercept and sight six fighters but do not intercept.  Five minutes later three ME 109s appear and dive on Spitfires.  Sgt Hogarth is attacked from behind and bales out: he lands in the sea three miles off Zonqor and is rescued by HSL 128.  F/Sgt Hiskins scores cannon strikes on one ME 109 at 100 yards.  The Messerschmitt is last seen diving towards Grand Harbour, streaming black smoke.

1830-2035 hrs  One Albacore from Hal Far carries out an anti-submarine patrol over the incoming tanker.

Ohio supported by Penn and Ledbury

1840 hrs  Ohio and the ships assisting her are within sight of Dingli.  In spite of frequent air attacks, during one of which the tow was parted by a bomb, and the great difficulty experienced in towing, slow but steady progress is bringing the tanker closer to Grand Harbour.

1915-2015 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the tanker but are diverted several times to intercept enemy aircraft. Two aircraft return early.

2030-0040 hrs  One Swordfish from Hal FAr carries out an anti-submarine patrol over the incoming tanker.

2035-2110 hrs; 2205-2325 hrs  Air raid alert.

Night  After dark the presence of E-Boats was suspected and fire was opened by shore batteries on one occasion, but no results observed.

A total of seven enemy aircraft approach the coast.  Only two cross the coast, both of which are shot down by Malta night fighters: no bombs are dropped on land.  Bingemma Fort fires four rounds at a shipping plot 1000 yards west of Bingemma Battery.  Forts Madalena and Leonardo engage a shipping plot 12000 yards north east of St Elmo.  Four rounds are fired.  Searchlights expose but nothing is seen.

Military casualties  Nil.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 14 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  On reports of surface plots Coast Artillery Searchlight sweeps were carried out and star shell fired, but no enemy craft were sighted.

Brisbane Star entered Grand Harbour at 1430 hrs and Hythe and Hebe rejoined Commander M/S.  Continuous cover was given by fighter aircraft during the day, and together with the anti-aircraft protection afforded by the sweepers, succeeded in preventing the enemy from accomplishing his task of sinking Ohio and Brisbane Star.

Robust

Tug Robust was escorted to Marsaxlokk by Beryl and Swona to stand by to assist with towing and was reported later to be towing ahead of Ohio. She proved, however, to be unsuitable for such a heavy tow and after bumping Penn and damaging her, she was not employed any more.  Flag Officer Commanding North Atlantic reported safe arrival of Force “Y”.  Fire was opened twice during the night on the information of RDF plots and it is considered that on each of these occasions E boats were driven off. The sound of engines was also heard and searchlights were switched on, but no targets were illuminated.

Since 0900 on 12th August, nine enemy aircraft were shot down by ships’ fire with eight probably and three possibly destroyed. The merchant vessels’ own anti-aircraft guns accounted for four of those definitely destroyed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons, one Spitfire to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down: pilot baled out uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3.  Dealt with: 2 High Explosives (1 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg).

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13 August 1942: RAF Fly 179 Sorties to Protect Pedestal

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY DIARY                         

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“CHEERIO, GOOD LUCK, BALING OUT – PORT ENGINE ON FIRE

These were the last words of Beaufighter pilot David Jay to his crewman Sergeant McFarlane this morning, before their aircraft plunged into the Mediterranean.  Pilot Officer Jay, a New Yorker who volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force, was flying one of five RAF Beaufighters of 248 Squadron which took off frm Malta this morning to provide vital air cover for the approaching convoy.

Beaufighter takes off from Luqa

They ran into a fierce battle as the Stuka bombers and fighters attacked, countered by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the convoy ships.  Several ME 109s turned from the convoy to chase the Beaufighters.  Moments later, Pilot Officer Jay was overheard by another aircraft saying his farewell to Sgt McFarlane, who was heard to answer him before their radio fell silent.  Both were reported missing.

Wellington bombers were also engaged in bombing missions today over enemy aerodromes used as bases for attacks on the convoy.   One Wellington making its second attack on Comiso was damaged by flak.  The aircraft made it back to Malta but crashed near Luqa, killing the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sergeant Harry Fox.  Pilot P/O Shepherd and three other crew members (Sgt Langley, Sgt Maslin, and Sgt Thompson) were injured in the crash but survived.

Beaufighters and Spitfires flew 179 sorties and 46 patrols today, providing constant cover for the convoy.  14 enemy aircraft were destroyed, with three probables and nine damaged, for the loss of one Beaufighter and four Spitfires from Malta.  Two of the Spitfire pilots are confirmed safe.

Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron reported that, especially given they had no direction aid from Force X, he considered the fighters performed “a magnificent job of work throughout the day”.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 AUGUST TO DAWN 14 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

SS Waimarama explodes

Dawn  The convoy is some 50 miles behind schedule but is now close enough to come under the protection of Malta’s Beaufighters and long-range Spitfires.  HMS Ashanti, flagship of Rear-Admiral Burrough, Commander, 10th Cruiser Squadron is leading the protective force of HM Ships Kenya, Charybdis, Intrepid, Icarus, Fury, Eskimo and Somali, covering the merchant ships Melbourne Star, Clan Ferguson and Rochester Castle.  HMS Ledbury is five miles astern escorting the damaged SS OhioSS Dorset is afloat and underway but is detached from the convoy and unescorted.  SS Port Chalmers, escorted by HMS Pathfinder and HMS Bramham is ten miles off with HMS Penn beyond standing by SS Waimarama, which is on fire. SS Brisbane Star has spent the night close to the Tunisian coast.  The ship is boarded by the French authorities who are persuaded to treat the crew fairly.

0505-0910 hrs  One Beaufighter 248 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol to cover the convoy sights one JU 88 and several ME 109s; no combat.

0527-0835 hrs  Four Beaufighters 248 Squadron are dispatched on convoy patrol; one does not get airborne and is damaged.  W/Cdr Pike attempts to intercept a JU 88 but is counter-attacked by several ME 109s.  One bullet hits his Beaufighter in the stern; the crew is uninjured.  W/Cdr Pike does not return fire.

0639-0726 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol over Malta: no sightings.

0712 hrs  Rear-Admiral Burrough orders HM Ships Eskimo and Somali to return and stand by HMS Manchester.  On their way to do so they picked up survivors of SS Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

0730 hrs  Five Beaufighters 248 Squadron are dispatched on protective patrol over the convoy.

0810-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol over Malta: no sightings.

Ohio deck after collision with JU 87 c IWM GM1469

0810 hrs  JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on the convoy, concentrating on SS Clan Ferguson, which receives a direct hit and blows up.  HMS Charybdis reports seeing two aircraft dive on the merchantman and only one coming, the other is presumed destroyed in the explosion.  Ledbury rescues 45 of her crew.

0925 hrs  Ju 87 dive-bombers attack, while Italian aircraft lay parachute mines ahead around the convoy.  The Stukas target Ohio which has rejoined the convoy.  The tanker suffers several near-misses: her steering gear is disabled but her guns shoot down one JU 87 which collides with the ship.  Port Chalmers is set on fire but continues underway.

The Beaufighters of 248 Squadron approach the convoy as enemy bombers and fighters attack, countered by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ships.  Several ME 109s over the convoy chase the Beaufighters.  Pilot P/O Jay his crew Sgt McFarlane are reported missing.

Dorset under air attack c IWM GMA11173

 

0941 hrs  HMS Kenya is attacked by dive-bombers and suffers near-misses.

1017 hrs; 1050 hrs  Two more dive-bombing and minelaying attacks bring more near-misses for Ohio and for SS Dorset.  HM Ships Penn, Ledbury and Bramham stand by as protection for the two ships.

1020-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are dispatched to patrol over the convoy.  They sight two Junkers bombers: the first has not dropped its bombs and is chased away by a Spitfire.  The second has dropped its bombs when F/Lt Northcott attacks, firing from 400 yards down to point-blank range: he observes masses of strikes.  F/Lt McRuder fires at the same aircraft and also observes many strikes: the aircraft is ‘probably destroyed’.  P/O Barbour fires but does not see the results due to oil on his windscreen.  The Spitfire pilots note that the JU 88 had unusual bottle-green camouflage and no crosses could be seen.

1120 hrs  Italian torpedo bombers attack the convoy, dropping torpedoes too wide of the ships to cause damage.  Ships’ companies observe Malta Beaufighters and Spitfires engaging the enemy and shooting down at least four enemy aircraft.  The convoy has now reached the range of Malta’s main Spitfire forces and the enemy stays clear.

1130-1230 hrs; 1145-1245 hrs; 1200-1315 hrs; 1230-1340 hrs; 1245-1304 hrs; 1335-1450 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons Ta Qali patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.  Through the afternoon Spitfires of 185 Squadron are also scrambled in sections of four on fifteen occasions to provide cover for the incoming convoy.  No enemy aircraft are encountered.  One Spitfire crashes on take-off, writing off the aircraft and badly injuring the pilot, Sgt Chewley.

1350-1515 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol over the convoy.  F/Lt Watts gets in a three-second burst on an enemy bomber and sees strikes on the port wing (claims damaged).

1400-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on convoy duties.  F/Sgt Parkes’ engine blows up; he bales out and is picked up, unhurt, by the naval launch.

1420-1520 hrs; 1440-1610 hrs; 1500-1605 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1500 hrs  17th Minesweeping Flotilla and 3rd Motor Launch Flotilla sail from Malta and carry out a sweep of searched channel, with orders to rendezvous with the convoy Force X and take over the escort of merchant vessels.

1550-1710 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1600 hrs  Dingli monitors sight three merchant ships escorted by two minesweepers.

1600 hrs  Force X makes rendezvous with the Malta minesweeping forces.  SS Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle are turned over to the local escort, under the Senior Officer, Minesweepers, aboard HMS Speedy.  HM Ships Penn, Bramham and Ledbury remain with the damaged SS Ohio and Dorset while the remainder of Force X withdraws to the west.

Rochester Castle enters Grand Harbour c IWM GM1430

1630-1750 hrs; 1810-1920 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1740-1910 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol sight one JU 88.  P/O Jones fires and is sure his aim is accurate but cannot see strikes due to dazzle from the enemy cockpit.  Sgt Wynn fires twice, seeing strikes both times.  Sgt Beurling fires; the starboard engine catches fire and pieces fly off.  The bomber dives into the sea (destroyed).

1810-1935 hrs; 1815-1935 hrs  Four and then eight Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol see no enemy aircraft.

1815 hrs  Rochester Castle enters Grand Harbour, followed by Melbourne Star and Port Chalmers.  Two Motor Launches land the wounded at Sliema and then proceeded with 17th Minesweeping Flotilla to assist Dorset and Ohio.

1945-1950 hrs; 2225-2235 hrs; 2345-2355 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 6 enemy aircraft of which only 3 cross the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.

2014 hrs  Ohio and Dorset are attacked again.  Dorset is set on fire and she sinks.

2030 hrs  Force X departs for Gibraltar leaving orders for Bramham, Ledbury and Penn to rendezvous later.

Crowds cheer the arrival of SS Port Chalmers c IWM GM1426

2100 hrs  Rye reports that she is assisting Penn to tow Ohio with 2 Motor Launches as A/S screen.  A vessel south of Lampedusa is considered to be the Brisbane Star.  Hythe, Hebe, and 2 Motor Launches are despatched to rendezvous with her at 0800 hrs on 14th.

0130 hrs  Force X is attacked by E-Boats off Cape Bon.  The ships engage and one is blown up.

0450 hrs  A U-boat attacks Force X off Fratelli Rock, just missing HMS Ashanti.  HMS Kenya attempts to ram the submarine without success.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Robert Buntine, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Harry Fox, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer David Jay, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant John Tanner, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 13 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  See above.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Hudson, one Spitfire, four Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis, two Baltimores from LG 98.  Departures  Two Liberators to Fayid; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; two Spitfires to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot the aerodrome and crashed: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner killed; rest of crew injured.  One Beaufighter failed to return from patrol: crew missing.  One Spitfire crashed on the aerodrome: pilot injured.  One Spitfire crashed in the sea through enemy action: pilot injured.  Two Spitfires believed shot down by enemy action: pilots missing.

LUQA  Intensive activity surrounding inbound convoy.  Station strength has gone up to 2783.  All entertainment is stopped; the cinema is used for accommodation which is very cramped – not enough beds, airmen sleeping with only two blankets.

TA QALI  Extensive operations: 32 Spitfires and 16 Beaufighters attacked enemy aerodromes and provided cover to the convoy.  1200 gallons of petrol were used in one day.  All ranks worked from dawn to dusk and through the night, servicing aircraft to enable the operation to proceed.

W/Cdr Wyatt was observing a Beaufighter taking off from his car when the aircraft failed to lift and turned to make another attempt.  In the dark, the pilot did not see W/Cdr Wyatt’s car and the aircraft swung into the side of the vehicle, the Beaufighter’s propeller ripping open the side of the car.  W/Cdr Wyatt escaped with slight injuries but was admitted to hospital.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6.  Dealt with: 5 High Explosives, including 1 delayed-action (3 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg).

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12 August 1942: Convoy Attacked by Bombers, Fighters and Submarines

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY EVENTS ON MALTAGC70                                                                                                                                    

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AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 AUGUST TO DAWN 13 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.  A beautiful sunny day, with calm seas.

0530 hrs  Radar reports of enemy snoopers start to come in at first light and all ships go to the first degree of readiness.

0600 hrs  Cruising Disposition No 17 is formed.

0610 hrs  Air defence begins for the convoy. Twelve fighters are flown off in a constant air patrol to be maintained all day, reinforced as necessary.

0741 hrs  HMS Kenya spots torpedo tracks and turns, avoiding three torpedoes.

Convoy barrage deters enemy

0907 hrs  Air raid: 19 JU 88s are reported approaching at high level.  The bombers come in over the fleet from right ahead, drop their bombs and are away in about six minutes. Two JU 88s are shot down and a third retires to the south’ard on fire fore and aft and losing height.  16 convoy fighters also engage, shooting down eight destroyed, three probable and two damaged.  No damage was done to any ship; one convoy fighter is lost.

An Italian SM79 shadowing the convoy is shot down by two Fulmars from 884 Squadron soon afterwards. Other snoopers keep trying to probe the defences but are deterred by volleys from the destroyers main guns.

0920 hrs  Laforey attacks a submarine which dives to escape; Fury detects her 12 minutes later and along with Foresight hunts her down, dropping several depth-charges. The Italian Submarine, Brin, evades the destroyers and escapes.

0940 hrs  Captain (D), 19th Destroyer Flotilla orders all destroyers to rejoin the convoy, as the U-Boat, is no longer a danger to the convoy.

0800 hrs  Sub-depot parties standing by in Malta, ready for the convoy.

0930-1055 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled.  P/O Ogilvie destroys one Heinkel 111 sixty miles east of the Island – the Squadron’s 100th victory.

1135-1150 hrs  Pathfinder confirms an asdic contact and attacks heavily, assisted in the hunt by Zetland.  Both ships lose contact and rejoin the convoy.

Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

1210 hrs  Ashanti reports at least nine enemy raiders approaching from ahead.  Fighters intercept, shooting down one aircraft, the smoke of which can be seen from the fleet.  Cruisers and destroyers in the van open fire: one aircraft probably destroyed.  10 SM 84 bombers drop motorised mines in the path of the convoy while Fiat Falcos mount a diversionary attack to divert destroyers’ fire: a few drop small bombs. The convoy executes an emergency turn of 90 degrees to port to avoid the mines: no damage to any ships.

Another wave of 33 SM 79s and 10 SM 84s approaches in formations of five or six some armed as torpedo-bombers, with a fighter escort of Re 2001s.  A few SM 79s head for Nelson but all torpedoes are dropped well away from the convoy before they withdraw.  One torpedo-bomber is shot down by ships’ fire.

1230-1240 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol; they sight only friendly aircraft.

Nelson’s guns fire back

1300 hrs  A third wave of 37 JU 88 bombers arrives in small groups at 10-15000 feet, too high for Hurricanes to intercept.  Eight Fulmars do engage.  The JU 88s dive-bombe the convoy and also drop canisters with small black parachutes.  Nelson, Rodney, Cairo and several MT ships suffer very near misses. A stick of bombs falls around Deucalion; one pierces the ship but fails to explode; two are near-misses but the explosion of one damages the ship, reducing her speed. No 1 hold is half flooded and No 2 completely flooded.  Bramham is detailed to stand by her and then to escort her via the coastal route to Malta.  Convoy fighters pursue the enemy: one JU 88 is probably destroyed by gunfire and several damaged.  Lt R Johnson of 806 Squadron is lost.

1345 hrs  Two Italian Re2001 fighter-bombers dive on Victorious dropping 100lb bombs, killing six men and wounding two.  One glances off the flight deck without exploding.  The attackers fly low over the convoy and are taken for returning friendly fighters, so get away unscathed.  Tartar reports a submarine and attacks with depth charges.

1417 hrs Zetland reports a submarine on the surface on the horizon and is seen to alter course and steam south at high speed, before being ordered back to her station as the submarine is not a danger to the convoy.  The information is passed to Bramham who is near the location with Deucalion.  After several more reports of submarine sightings and asdic contacts, convoy commander Syfret orders destroyers on the convoy flanks to release depth-charges on each side of the screen every ten minutes between 1400 and 1900.

1616-1641 hrs  Pathfinder reports a confirmed asdic contact which she heavily attacks twice in quick succession.  Zetland joins Pathfinder and remains until the contact is no longer a danger.

1640 hrs  Tartar reports “torpedo in sight starboard” and immediately counter-attacks.  A few minutes later Lookout, astern of Tartar, reports a submarine in sight.  Both ships make two attacks, hunting the U-Boat until she is no longer a threat.

HMS Ithuriel comes in to ram Cobalto c IWM A11411

1649 hrs Ithuriel sights a periscope and part of a conning tower on her starboard bow and immediately attacks.  She obtains contact at 900 yards and counter-attacks with asdics.  The attack brings the U-Boat to the surface and Ithuriel opens fire, turns and finally rams it.  The Italian U-Boat Cobalto sinks: three officers (including the Captain) and 38 ratings are taken prisoner.

1717-1747 hrs; 1754-1832 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron at a time on patrol: nothing sighted.

1726 hrs  Syfret orders Wilton to replace Bramham in Force X.  Reports are coming in of small formations of enemy aircraft are coming in and expected to make an air attack on a considerable scale.

Survivors from Cobalto on board Ithuriel c IWM A11414

1749 hrs  Ithuriel, still at a distance after picking up prisoners from Cobalto, is attacked by four JU 88s and one CR 42 fighter-bomber.  She is undamaged but her speed has been reduced to 20 knots by the ramming and her A/S is out of action.

1757-2225 hrs  Six Beaufighters 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali to act as fighter escort to the incoming convoy.

1800 hrs  The convoy alters course to pass through the Skerki Channel.

1813 hrs  Syfret informs the convoy that Force Z will turn to the westward at 1915 hrs.

1830 hrs  The first formation of enemy aircraft is sighted; reports suggest 100-120 enemy raiders, many of them fighters.  Against them the convoy had 22 fighters in the air, who continually harass and break up the incoming enemy formations.

1835 hrs  The first attack by 13 torpedo bombers as well as an unknown number of high level bombers, dive bombers and minelaying aircraft.  The convoy makes an emergency turn to avoid the mines and torpedoes.  40 more torpedo bombers are reported ahead.  They are followed in by a formation of twelve Stukas which attack Indomitable, who is quickly obscured by splashes and smoke from two large fires.  One bomb hits the forward AA gun positions, killing more than twenty of the Royal Marines detachment. Another lands near the forward lift, penetrates the upper gallery deck and explodes above the main hangar deck. The wardroom, crowded with off-duty pilots and observers, is wrecked by a bomb, killing all the occupants. In all 50 men are killed and 59 wounded.  Victorious is now the only aircraft carrier with a useable flight deck.

Indomitable hit; Charybdis stands by

Italian SM 79s attack Foresight: a torpedo hits the stern, breaking her back and bringing the ship to a halt.  There are many near misses across the convoy but no other ships are damaged.  Tartar goes to Foresight’s assistance and subsequently took her in tow.  Indomitables fighters destroy nine enemy aircraft, plus two probables and one damaged, for the loss of two fighters; one pilot is saved.  One JU 87 is probably shot down by ships’ gunfire.

1855 hrs  With the damage to Indomitable Syfret orders Force Z to turn about immediately, 20 minutes sooner than planned, leaving Force X to head on for Malta.

1927 hrs  Indomitable reports that fires are under control and she can steam 17 knots.  Her steering gear becomes temporarily disabled but soon after 2030 hrs she is up to 28½ knots.

1910-2220 hrs  Three Beaufighters 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali on a mission to attack Pantelleria aerodrome.  They fire several bursts at aerodrome on the ground: a fire is seen on the west of the aerodrome but it is too dark to see other results.

1955-2020 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nothing to report.

1956 hrs  Italian submarine Axum inflicts the first serious damage on the convoy, firing four torpedoes.  Cruiser Nigeria is hit on the port side, flooding and listing to port.  Two torpedoes strike the cruiser Cairo, destroying her stern and disabling engines.SS Brisbane Star is also hit but not badly damaged.  The tanker Ohio is hit in the pump room; the ship is torn open and the main steering disabled; kerosene tanks burst into flames.

2010 hrs  The Navy flashes that there are enemy aircraft overhead.  Explosions are seen near the convoy ships and a large vessel is hit and begins to smoke heavily.  VHF contact is lost and the Beaufighters are fired on by convoy ships.

Nigeria stopped and on fire

2015 hrs  Nigeria is under control and is stopped to transfer Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron and his staff to HMS Ashanti.  The ship is soon able to proceed at 14 knots and heads for Gibraltar, with HM Ships Bicester, Wilton and Derwent as escort.  Cairo has to be sunk as soon as survivors have been taken off.  The loss of Nigeria and Cairo leaves the convoy with no fighter-direction equipment.  The convoy is scattered and in disarray.  Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron in HMS Ashanti proceeds to direct the convoy.  Ashanti and Penn put up a smoke screen against the western horizon to protect the convoy from an impending air attack.

Three Beaufighters of 252 and three of 248 Squadron Malta are despatched to carry out a dusk machine-gun and cannon attack on Pantelleria.  Only three aircraft find the aerodrome; starting a fire in the west corner.  A Wellington reconnaissance plane reports six separate fires burning on the aerodrome.

2038 hrs  25 minutes after sunset, a severe dive bomber and torpedo bomber air attack is launched on the convoy.  30 JU 88s and seven Heinkel torpedo-bombers escorted by six ME 110s attack from the north west, targeting the merchantmen.  Brisbane Star is hit by a torpedo which blows a hole in both sides; she takes on water.  Her master decides to keep inshore until morning.

2050 hrs  Having suffered 18 near-misses, Empire Hope receives two direct hits on No 4 hold: ammunition and aviation fuel explode and her stern is on fire; her engines stop.  The order is given to abandon ship and her survivors picked up by Penn before she is sunk.  Glenorchy is bombed and explodes, with few survivors.

2102 hrs  Clan Ferguson is hit by an aerial torpedo and blows up with her load of 2000 tons of aviation petrol and 1500 tons of explosives. 96 survivors reach the Tunisian coast where they are interned by the French.

HMS Kenya

2112 hrs  The Italian submarine Alagi fires four torpedoes at Kenya which avoids all except one which strikes her on the forefoot.  She is able to make 25 knots and remain with the convoy.  Eleven merchant ships are still underway but only three or four are in visual touch with HM Ships Manchester, Kenya and Ashanti behind, while three destroyers are ahead. Syfret hears of the attacks on Force X and sends Charybdis, Somali and Eskimo as reinforcements.

2130 hrs  Two torpedo bombers attack SS Deucalion out of the shadows near the Cani Rocks, where she had been proceeding separately with HMS BramhamDeucalion‘s gunners fire back but one explosive hits the ship, which bursts into a mass of flames.  The order is given to abandon ship before she sinks.  Having picked up survivors, Bramham proceeded to overtake Force X.

2125-2130 hrs; 2215-2235 hrs; 2305-2340 hrs; 0105-0140 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Four enemy aircraft approach Malta singly: bombs are dropped on Gozo and in the sea.

Night  Two Malta-based Wellingtons locate and attack an enemy naval force comprising four cruisers and eight destroyers heading to intercept the convoy in the Ustica-Cape San Vito area, course west, speed 20 knots.  Eight 250lb bombs are dropped but are seen to overshoot: no hits claimed.  The cruiser force seems to alter course immediately after the bombing, as when a single Wellington makes a second run over the ships 20 minutes they are heading towards Palermo.  The Wellingtons make four runs in total over the cruisers, dropping flares each time.  Each time the ships split up and break formation.

One Wellington makes two bombing sorties on Comiso Aerodrome and reports three explosions on target.

0034 hrs  40 minutes after the leading ships of Force X pass Cape Bon, two E-Boats are detected by radar on the port beam and engaged by all ships.

0120 hrs Two Italian Motor Torpedo boats torpedo the cruiser Manchester.

Manchester’s rescued crew covered in oil

0140 hrs  HMS Pathfinder goes alongside Manchester and after discussion with the Captain embarks 150 of the ship’s company, proceeding under orders to join Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron.  The Commanding Officer, HMS Manchester decides to abandon and sink his ship, the last of the ship’s company leaving at 0245 hrs.

0222-0634 hrs  Two Albacores and one Swordfish of NAS, Malta are sent out to attack enemy cruisers between Pantelleria and Sicily.  They are unable to locate the targets.

0330 hrs  In further running fights with E-Boats three merchant ships, Santa Elisa, Almeria Lykes and Wairangi, are also hit.  SS Wairangi is hit in the engine room and SS Almeria Lykes before No 1 hold.  Both ships are abandoned and their crews picked up some hours later by HM Ships Eskimo and Somali.  Neither ship is seen to sink though both are reported as left in a sinking condition.  SS Santa Elisa is sunk later in a bombing attack.  Only Rochester Castle is hit right forward but survives to rejoin the convoy.  At least one and possibly two E-Boats were destroyed in counter-attacks.

0500 hrs  It is decided to scuttle Manchester which is seen to sink.  Most of her survivors reaching the Tunisian coast and internment.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                    Civilian casualties  Nil.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 12 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  PRU Spitfire reported that the Italian Naval force had left Messina.  Hythe swept P35 into Marsamxett.  At 1730 Rye sailed to lay navigational marks, and P43 proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance photographs showed three aircraft burned out at Decimomannu aerodrome and one at Elmas.  Three Beaufighters of 252 and three of 248 Squadron were despatched to carry out a dusk machine-gun and cannon attack on Pantelleria.  Only three aircraft found the aerodrome; started a fire in the west corner but later a Wellington reconnaissance plane reported six separate fires burning on the aerodrome.  One Liberator and one Wellington also attacked Pantelleria aerodrome; results unobserved.

Arrivals  Two Hudsons, three Spitfires, two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Liberator from Shallufa; three Baltimores from LG 98.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter force-lands; crew uninjured.  One Maryland’s hydraulic system fails; crew uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5. Dealt with: 2 High Explosives (1 x 500kg; 1 x 250kg)

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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11 August 1942: Axis Air Forces Massing in the Med

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY EVENTS ON MALTAGC70  

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Heinkel HE 111

TORPEDO BOMBERS JOIN ENEMY FIGHTING FORCE 

Malta photo-reconnaissance pilots are reporting large concentrations of torpedo-carrying aircraft at Cagliari, Decimomannu and Pantelleria, accompanied by a corresponding number of fighters.  An unusual number of E Boats and MAS have also appeared in Trapani and Pantelleria.  They also report a significant increase in German aircraft, including 30 JU 88s, 20 Heinkel IIIs and their transports, JU 52s, a Gotha 242 and three DFS 230 gliders.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

     0620 hrs  An enemy aircraft reports sighting of the Malta convoy.

     0645 hrs  Ashanti, Ledbury, Zetland, Wilton, Bramham, Bicester, Foresight and Derwent commence fuelling off Gibraltar.

     0732 hrs  Vice-Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic warns convoy commander Vice Admiral Syfret that German reconnaissance aircraft are active in the Western Mediterranean.

Convoy aircraft carriers

 

0800 hrs  Coltsfoot, one of the corvettes screening the refuelling operation, reports that two torpedoes have been observed position 37 degrees 56 mins north, 1 degree 40 mins east.

0815 hrs  Radar contact alerts the convoy to the presence of enemy reconnaissance aircraft.  Two sections of four fighters from the convoy take to the air and patrol in turn throughout the day. Enemy JU 88s are flying at 20,000 feet or more, making it difficult to intercept.

0839 hrs  German submarine Uarsciek which has been shadowing the convoy overnight surfaces sends a radio signal to Rome.

1015-1105 hrs  Air raid alert for 21 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled: they sight enemy fighters but make no contact.

        1055 hrs  A message informs Syfret that a report of the convoy has been broadcast by Rome to “all units and stations”.

        1128 hrs  Nelson and Charybdis report probable torpedo discharges, at about 3 miles.

        1218 hrs  Aircraft carrier Furious, screened by Lightning and Lookout moves out to the port quarter of the convoy for Operation ‘Bellows’  –       the delivery of Spitfires to Malta.

        1229 hrs  Two flights of eight Spitfires are flown off the carrier.

Eagle is hit

 

1315 hrs  Eagle is hit on the port side by four torpedoes, fired from German submarine U 73, all within an interval of about 10 seconds.  Her engine rooms are damaged and boiler rooms flooded.  Operation Bellows is suspended while Lookout and Laforey are ordered to stand by Eagle.  Tug Jaunty also proceeds immediately towards the stricken carrier.

1323 hrs  Eagle heels rapidly over to port and sinks.  Laforey, Lookout and Jaunty pick up 927 survivors of a crew of 1160.

1350-1410 hrs  Operation Bellows resumes and the rest of the 38 Spitfires are flown off Furious.  One has a defect and lands on Indomitable.

1410-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1420-1430 hrs  Enemy aircraft approach from the starboard beam and pass directly over the convoy at a great height but do not attack – believed to be photo-reconnaissance.  Eagle’s survivors are transferred to Keppel, Venomous and Malcolm.

1634 hrs  Syfret receives a message warning that the enemy will probably make a JU 88 attack at dusk.  The convoy is made ready to put up a screen of anti-aircraft fire.

1410-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1515-1600 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the arrival of Spitfires at Malta: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

1710-1805 hrs; 1746-1800 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on patrol: nothing to report.  Seven delivery Spitfires arrive at Hal Far: one is slightly damaged on landing.  The air raid alert sounds, probably for friendly aircraft.

1810 hrs  36 Spitfires are reported to have landed safely in Malta.

1825-2350 hrs  Nine Beaufighters of 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali, their mission to shoot up Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes in Sardinia.  They carry out a low-flying attack; most of the aircraft exhaust their ammunition on widely dispersed aircraft.  At Elmas, one hangar and two multi-engined aircraft are set on fire and planes badly damaged.  At Decimomannu, two Liberators and two Wellingtons co-operate in the attack.  All bombs are seen to burst on the aerodrome.  Five multi-engined aircraft are set on fire, of which two explode, and several others are seriously damaged.  Fires could be seen from up to 20 miles away.  Some of the Beaufighters are hit by splinters but are still serviceable.

1700-2045 hrs  The convoy is continuously snooped by three or more enemy aircraft, closely monitored by the fleet’s own fighters.

1830 hrs  Transfer of survivors to Keppel, Venomous and Malcolm is achieved.  Operation Bellows completed, five destroyers form a screen for Furious to depart for Gibraltar.

1854 hrs  Syfret orders the Senior Officer of destroyers to station Hunt class destroyers close to the flanks of the convoy by sunset.  In the event of an attack, the screen is to increase distance from the convoy to 6000 yards.

2030 hrs  Syfret receives confirmation that Cairo and 24 destroyers have been refuelled.  Radar reports show that the air raid is approaching.

HMS Victorious

 

2056 hrs  15 minutes after sunset, 30 JU 88s and six Heinkel 111 torpedo-bombers attack.  Destroyers on the port bow begin firing, followed almost immediately by the cruisers and battleships, and deter the Heinkels.  The JU 88s dive from 8000 feet to 2-300 feet.  Two aim for Victorious dropping two bombs close to her stern but cause no damage; the carrier’s own guns shoot both down.  One JU 88 drops two bombs near the refuelling vessels, one of which falls between the oilers and the escort, another dives on Jaunty but she counter-attacks, damaging the bomber with Oerlikon fire.  The convoy barrage is very effective; at least three enemy aircraft are shot down by ships’ gunfire.  No damage was done to any ships.  During the raid, radar picks up evidence of some submarine activity and three depth charge attacks are made by Quentin.

The convoy’s fighters are airborne to intercept the attackers but are unable to engage them due to poor light.  Some friendly fighters attempting to return to their carriers are fired on by their own ships.

2300-2340 hrs; 0005-0045 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for eight aircraft which approach Malta singly. Bombs are dropped on the Zabbar area.

Military casualties  Leading Air Fitter Peter Jones, HMS St.Angelo.

Operation Pedestal casualties CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 11 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe escorted P31 and P34 from Marsamxett to end of searched channel. Submarines then proceeded on patrol and Hythe anchored at Marsaxlokk.  A Baltimore on reconnaissance sighted Force Y 30 miles 090 degrees from Kuriat.The disposition of Italian Naval Units as ascertained by reconnaissance aircraft during the day was as follows: Taranto one Littorio and three Cavour battleships; Messina, two cruisers; Naples, one cruiser.  Otus sailed and proceeded to Gibraltar.

HMS Matchless

 

For Operation Pedestal Force Y, consisting of M/Vs Troilus and Orari escorted by Matchless and Badsworth sailed at 2030 hrs. Two Motor Launches escorted this force to a point one hour’s steaming from the end of the swept channel and then returned to Marsaxlokk where they anchored for the night.  Enemy warships were reported as having sailed from Cagliari at 2345 hrs, and to be steaming E at 25 knots.

AIR HQ  One Wellington attacked an enemy naval force consisting of two cruisers and two destroyers in position 295 degrees Cape San Vito, Sicily, 60 miles course 90 degrees, speed 20 knots.  Four 500lb bombs were dropped, straddling one cruiser.

Arrivals  Three Liberators, two Wellingtons from Shallufa; two Spitfires from Middle East; one Beaufort, two Marylands from LG 226; 37 Spitfires from Navy operation.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter suffers engine failure and crashes into the sea; crew uninjured.  One Spitfire pilot misjudges the runway; pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4.  Dealt with: 1 High Explosives, delayed-action (500kg).

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

 
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