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MALTA COMMAND - April to December 1942


Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Penelope, light cruiser in Malta Grand Harbour , damaged 4th April 1942
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Malta area, September 1939 to March 1942


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From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 4th June 1942

Malta No. 322/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 30TH APRIL 1942, is forwarded:





1st April


During heavy air raid P.36, PANDORA, and drifter SUNSET were sunk.


HAVOCK, SOKOL, SWONA, GIRL MARGARET and a number of small craft were damaged, and UNBEATEN was damaged while bottomed.


TALABOT received one hit with a heavy bomb. Submarine workshops were damaged.


One Albacore and one Swordfish at Hal Far were burnt out.



n.b. no 2nd, 3rd April



4th April


GLAUCOS received three direct hits with bombs, and sank, LANCE two direct hits, and PENELOPE hits and damage from splinters and fire.


5th April


HAVOCK sailed at 2000 and ran ashore off Kelibia, being subsequently destroyed by her own crew at 0400/6.


During raids on Grand Harbour, ABINGDON and GALLANT were damaged and beached.


LANCE received a direct hit while in dock and was blown off the chocks and partially submerged.


KINGSTON and PLUMLEAF were also hit and damaged.


6th April


URGE returned from patrol in Tyrrhenian, having sunk one 6 inch cruiser, shelled a merchant vessel, and blown up a train.


UPHOLDER proceeded for patrol west of Tripoli and P.34 on the Calabrian coast.


7th April


Further damage caused in the Dockyard by air raids and the floating crane was sunk.


P.31 returned from patrol in Upper Tyrrhenian Sea.


8th April


During dive bombing attack on Grand Harbour, PENELOPE ran out of ammunition and Captain was wounded.


KINGSTON damaged and in sinking condition.


PENELOPE sailed for Gibraltar 2000. Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.


9th April


P.35 returned from patrol off Lampion. Two unsuccessful attacks.


UNBEATEN proceeded for rendezvous with UPHOLDER then to Gibraltar for repairs.


10th April


Admiralty House, Vittorioso, badly damaged by heavy bomb.


JADE received further damage.


11th April




Rinella W/T Station damaged.


URGE proceeded for patrol between Lampion and Pantellaria.


12th April


UNA returned from patrol off Spartivento having sunk one 8000 ton ships.


TALABOT again hit by bomb.


13th April


P.31 proceeded for patrol off Messina.


Two Swordfish and one Albacore made unsuccessful sortie.



n.b. no 14th, 15th April



16th April


CLYDE arrived from Gibraltar and berthed at Msida to disembark stores and fuel.


P.34 returned from patrol on account of leaking rivets.


17th April


SOKOL sailed for Gibraltar for repairs.


Torpedo depot damaged during air raid.



n.b. no 18th April



19th April


CLYDE sailed for Gibraltar with passengers. Attacked by M.E. 109 off Grand Harbour and returned at 2200.


UNA proceeded on patrol west of Tripoli.


20th April


CLYDE carried out successful trial and sailed for Gibraltar.


UPHOLDER 48 hours overdue.


21st April


P.31 returned from patrol off Spartivento with leaking rivets. Nothing to report.


JADE sunk by bomb.


22nd April


URGE returned from uneventful patrol south of Pantelleria.



n.b. no 23rd April



24th April


 Torpedo Depot further damaged in air raid.


25th April


PORPOISE arrived from Alexandria with passengers, fuel, and stores.


P.35 return from patrol off Kerkenah, sank on 5000 ton ship and obtained one hit on a smaller one.


Naval rest camp and St. George's Barracks bombed by large formations of JU 88s.


26th April


P 31 sailed for Alexandria.


One Swordfish and one Albacore attacked three destroyers and 3 M.V.s south of Linosa and obtained one hit on a M/V.


27th April


URGE sailed for Alexandria.


One Swordfish and one Albacore made a successful sortie on 3 destroyers and on M/V obtaining one hit on an M/V, 340 degrees, 30 miles from Pantelleria.


28th April


Tug, fire float, and water boat sunk during air attack on Dockyard.


29th April


PORPOISE and P.34 sailed for Alexandria.


30th April


UNA returned from patrol off Pantelleria. Nothing to report.





2. Outstanding events in April


(i). Losses and damage during heavy attacks on harbours and dockyard.


(ii). Operations of Naval Air Squadrons


(iii). Safe passage of PENELOPE to Gibraltar


(iv). Submarine Successes


(v). Loss of submarine UPHOLDER


(vi). Loss of HAVOCK.


(i). Losses and damage during heavy attacks on harbour and dockyard


The dockyard and harbours were heavily raided on ten separate days and P.36, PANDORA, GLAUCOS, KINGSTON, LEGION, JADE, and SUNSET were sunk. The ABINGDON was beached after being damaged by near misses and subsequently capsized. The LANCE was blown off the chocks in No. 2 dock, and badly damaged, and many other ships and small craft were damaged. All dry docks received varying degrees of damage and only No. 1 is now serviceable. The floating crane was sunk by a direct hit.


(ii). Operations of Naval Air Squadrons


Naval aircraft made four sorties, two of which were successful, when two merchant vessels were each hit with one torpedo. The strength of this squadron is now reduced to two Albacores and one Swordfish.


(iii). Safe Passage of H.M.S. PENELOPE to Gibraltar


H.M.S. PENELOPE sailed for Gibraltar on April 8th having, since her arrival on February 15th, successfully defended herself again repeated air attacks, during the last of which her Captain was wounded. She arrived safely at Gibraltar on April 10th.


(iv). Submarine Successes


URGE sank a 6 inch cruiser in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and also shelled a M/V and blew up a train. The UNA sank an 8000 ton M/V off Spartivento, and P.35 sank a 5000 ton M/V and obtained a hit on a smaller vessel off Kerkenah.


(v). Loss of H.M. Submarine UPHOLDER


UPHOLDER (Lieutenant Commander M.D. Wanklyn, V.C., D.S.O., Royal Navy) proceeded on patrol on April 6th, but failed to return and was reported as being overdue on April 20th.


(vi). Loss of H.M.S. HAVOCK


H.M.S. HAVOCK sailed for Gibraltar on the night of April 5th. She ran ashore, however, off Kelibia and was destroyed by her crew at 0400 the following morning.





3. Summary of Air Raid Alarms


(a).Total raids during month (2216 – 1934) = 283


Including – Blank Days – nil


Nights free from raids – 6


Night raids – 96.


The "Take Cover" was not given during 70 raids.


(b). Total time "warning" to "raiders passed" 298 hours, 21 minutes = 12 days, 10 hrs, 21 mins.


(c). Average time per raid = 63 minutes.


(d). Total time under cover = 131 hours, 12 minutes.


Percentage time under cover = 44%.


(e). Raids affecting Dockyard and Naval Establishments.


April 1st, Raid No. 1940. Bombs on building Submarine Workshop and E.E.M.'s Drawing Office, interior demolished.


April 2nd, Raid No. 1946. Large bomb at entrance to No. 11 Shelter (Victualling Yard). Large bomb at west end of Church Tunnel blocking it badly. Large bomb on Storehouse at Boathouse Wharf blocking road to Corradino Tunnel.


April 4th, Raid No. 1960/1961 K.H.M.'s and S.V.Y.'s houses demolished also M.E.D.'s Drawing Office. W.O.'s Mess, Cypher and Coding Staff's rooms and Wardroom Galley in Admiralty House, Vittoriosa. S.N.S.O.'s Offices, buildings on top of Sheer Bastion, and M.E.D.'s Offices wrecked. No. 4 Dock Caisson hit, dock flooding, dock pump out of action due to electrical power damage. Bomb on N. end of Corradino Tunnel causing many casualties from blast. 16 killed, 50 injured. Extensive damage to N.A. Depot Wharf.


April 4th, Raid No. 1962. ST ANGELO – Victualling Yard Bridge demolished. Considerable structural damage in Victualling Yard.


April 4th, Raid No. 1963 St Theresa Tunnel Dockyard Creek completely demolished.


April 5th, Raid No. 1970. Further damaged to Victualling Yard. Hit on centre of Tunnel leading to No. 11 shelter. Cooperage store and houses collapsed and blocked tunnel.


April 5th, Raid No. 1972. Near miss at N. end of Bakery Wharf caused serious subsidence of Wharf. Police Quarters, 27 Store and G.D. Station rendered unsafe. Bombs on Store Wharf, Yard Machinery Shop, and S. end of Short Tunnel. Road blocked outside 40 and 41 Refuges. Large bomb on side of No. 2 Dock. Caisson punctured, dock flooded. Large bombs on No. 1 Boiler Shop and Gunmounting Wharf, later caused crater extending 20 feet inwards from edge of Wharf.


April 6th, Raid No. 1985. Bombs on Club House Wharf. Cranes on Hamilton Wharf hit and wrecked. Floating crane wrecked.


April 7th, Raid No. 1993. Bomb on Store Wharf near Sheer Bastion caused large crater and final collapse of C.D.'s Officers. Boom Defence Yard, Marsa, badly damaged, considerable damage to gear round the Yard.


April 9th, Raid No. 2027. Heavy bomb outside 41 Refuge, partly blocking entrance. Road on East side No. 4 Dock blocked. Gunmounting Shop, M.E.D. Tool Room wrecked. Corradino Hill Road blocked. Hit on R.N. Canteen. Further extensive damage to Storehouse at N.A. Depot.


April 10th, Raid No. 2034. Bombs on Joiners, Fitters, and Painters Shops and Sawmills. Considerable damage and several road blocks. Large travelling crane at head of No. 4 Dock badly damaged. Bombs on M.E.D.'s Pattern Shop and Gunmounting Shop caused serious damage. Bomb wrecked part of Boathouse. Heavy bomb outside "K" magazine, N.A. Depot. Road blocked.


April 13th, Raid No. 2036. Steam Hammer Shop demolished. Further damage to Sawmills. Admiralty House, Vittoriosa, demolished.


April 13th, Raid No. 2058. Bomb on N.A. Depot wrecked hand crane and tore up rail tracks. Bomb on R.N. Abattoir, Marsa.


April 19th, Raid No. 2105. Hit on San Lorenzo Tunnel causing partial collapse.


April 19th, Raid No. 2016. Police Office at Main Gate wrecked, surgery demolished.


April 20th, Raid No. 2117. M.M.B. Manoel Island received several hits. Offices and workshops damaged. Also pier.


April 22nd, Raid No. 2144. Bomb on Bakery in Victualling Yard. Comparatively little damage to machinery.


April 23rd, Raid No. 2152. Bomb outside No. 31 Refuge wrecking entrance and Section H.Q. Casualties 2 killed, some minor injuries.


April 28th, Raid No. 2192. Bomb on Carmine Tunnel, E.E.M.'s Drawing Office Demolished. Bombs on Store Wharf caused road blocks and sank lighters, water vessel, and tug alongside.


(f). Casualties. 8 dead, 93 wounded (not including Service personnel).


(g). Unexploded Bombs


Rocket Bomb




1000 kg. S.C.




1000 kg. S.D.




500 kg. S.C.




500 kg. S.D.




250 kg. S.C.




50 kg. S.C.




50 kg. S.D.




U.P. Bombs







(sgd) R Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 31st July 1942

Malta No. 427/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 31ST MAY 1942, is forwarded:



1st May


M.L. 126 carried out anti E Boat patrol.


2nd May


A doubtful sighting report of a submarine was received from a beach post, but not confirmed.


3rd May


During a raid in the early hours of the morning, a fire was started in the Armament Supply Depot, which was quickly got under control and finally extinguished at 1000 hrs.


Owing to water seepage only 22 tons of oil fuel were extracted from BRECONSHIRE during night 2nd/3rd.


Submarine P.35 proceeded on patrol and special operations.


Operation of towing oil light back from Marsaxlokk postponed owing to weather.


4th May


Captain (S), Tenth Submarine Flotilla and staff left for Alexandria by air.


Oil lighter and tug C.308 at Marsaxlokk machine gunned by M.E. 109s, only slight damage was caused, but during a later raid, the oiler lighter was dive bombed and sunk.


5th May


C.308 and H.L. 235 returned from Marsaxlokk.


Bombs were dropped in Victually Yard and on Carradino Heights causing only slight damage.



n.b. no entry for 6th May 1942



7th May


M.L. 130 on patrol. At 0143 a hot action took place about six miles off Grand Harbour, lasting about twenty minutes. Nearly an hour later there was a loud explosion, and a vessel which appeared to be M.L. 130 was seen burning until five o'clock. The R.A.F. rescue launch proceeded to the spot but searched unsuccessfully for survivors. Wreckage and part of a carley float established the fact that M.L. 130 had been lost probably due to an explosion caused by a fire started during an enemy light craft.


8th May


Submarine OLYMPUS sailed at 0430. At about 0800 several men were seen swimming towards shore, and on landing were found to be survivors from OLYMPUS. They stated that the submarine had struck a mine at 0500 hours. All available boats were sent out to search the spot where she went down. There were only twelve survivors (including those who swam ashore) and three of these were wounded. Three bodies were recovered. C.308 and ST ANGELO sweeping Grand Harbour entrance channel, escorted by BERYL and M.L. 126.


9th May


Further sweep of Grand Harbour entrance channel with all available minesweeping craft.


58 Spitfires arrived a.m. and 30 enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged during the day's air fighting.


10th May


Considerable enemy air activity during the night, and it is suspected that a number of mines were laid off Grand Harbour.


BERYL and TRUSTY STAR were in action with E boats which were driven off to the N.E. BERYL observed the tracks of three torpedoes.


WELSHMAN entered harbour at 0530. In spite of frequent air raids, during the course of which she was "near missed" six times and slightly damaged, WELSHMAN completed unloading by 1330. Protective smoke screen was used over the Dockyard for the first time and proved effective, though the area covered by the smoke was heavily bombed. WELSHMAN was successfully swept out of the harbour and to sea at 2130.


Submarine P.35 sailed and Greek submarine TRITON arrived Marsaxlokk


During the night, which was very dark, the sound of E boat engines was heard off Grand Harbour.


11th May


All sweepers returned to harbour at 0230, except C.308. She struck a mine at about 0300 and sank. Seven survivors were picked up by the boom patrol picket boat. The Commanding Officer and eight of the crew were lost. Tug ST ANGELO detonated six mines.


12th May


The Greek submarine TRITON sailed for Alexandria at 0030 with passengers.


13th May


Some confidential papers, probably from C.308, were washed ashore.



n.b. no entries 14th/15 May



16th May


A shipping plot was picked up at 0105 to the North of the Island, and the sounds of engines was heard. Searchlights were exposed but nothing was illuminated. Campbell Battery fired two rounds by the plot at an unseen target. At 0204, Four E boats were picked up by the searchlights and engaged by Tigne Battery at 10,000 yards. They retired under cover of smoke, but were again illuminated a few minutes later, when both Tigne and Rocco forts engaged, firing 22 rounds. The enemy again made smoke and retired to the northwards. At 0235 an explosion was heard bearing 050 degrees from St. Elmo. At daylight, one E boat was observed stopped in position 073 degrees St. Elmo 10,000 yards. Fort Rocco engaged and scored a direct hit. Hurricanes then appeared on the scene, and machine gunned the enemy who replied with cannon fire. Shortly after our fighters had broken off the engagement, the E Boat was attacked by M.E. 109s and finally sank in position 097 degrees 15,800 yards. E boat activity was again suspected from 3 – 5 miles off shore during the night of 16th/17th, but searchlight sweeps failed to pick up any targets.


17th May


Hurricanes carried out a dawn search for E boats without result.


Albacores returned from an unsuccessful sortie against shipping.



n.b. no entry for 18th May



19th May


Three Albacores attacked a M/V escorted by 2 destroyers and obtained hits on one destroyer and the merchant vessel.


20th May


One Albacore sailed to return from a short against small convoy previously reported by S.D.F. Wellington. The sortie was unsuccessful due to the effective smoke screen laid by escorting destroyers.



n.b. no entries for 21st to 24th May



25th May


Harbour craft swept Grand Harbour entrance and destroyed one mine.


About 20 tons of fuel oil was extracted from BRECONSHIRE in drums and landed by small craft.


26th May


BERYL and tug ST ANGELO carried out sweep of main entrance channel with EDDY, TRUSTY STAR, and SWONA as danlayers. EDDY struck a mine returning to harbour and sank with the loss of eight hands. The Commanding Officer and ten ratings were saved.


The sweep was abandoned owing to unsatisfactory conditions, only one mine having been swept.


Owing to S.E. swell, no operations of defuelling BRECONSHIRE were possible.


Seven Wellingtons bombed Messina. One battleship was reported anchored one mile south of the harbour.



n.b. no entry for 27th May



28th May


Just after midnight 27th, a Beaufighter sighted 18 E boats 25 miles south of the island, and claimed to have damaged three of them.


ST ANGELO and TRUSTY STAR carried out sweep and cut seven mines off the Grand Harbour.


Four Albacores and two Swordfish on an unsuccessful sortie. All returned.


29th May


ST ANGELO and TRUSTY STAR continued sweeping.


30th May


ST ANGELO, BERYL, TRUSTY STAR, and SWONA sweeping. ST ANGELO struck a mine and sank mile from breakwater. Four hands were lost.


20 tons of oil fuel recovered from BRECONSHIRE.


31st May


TRUSTY STAR, BERYL, and M.L. 126 sent to Marsavlokk to sweep the approaches to that Harbour.


H.M. 235 sweeping off Grand Harbour.


17 tons of oil fuel recovered from BRECONSHIRE.





2. Outstanding Events in May


 (i). Minelaying by E Boats and possibly by submersible craft.


(ii). Arrival of WELSHMAN and use of smoke screen to protect her against aerial attack.


(iii). Departure of Captain (S), Tenth Submarine Flotilla, and Tenth Submarine Flotilla for Alexandria.


(v). Arrival of reinforcements of fighter aircraft.


(i). Minelaying by E Boats and possibly by submersible craft. Reports of the sound of engines at sea, and shipping picked up on R.A.F. plots, indicated that enemy small craft were operating off the N.E. Coast of the Island, probably minelaying. Patrols by M.L.s and trawlers were instituted, working in conjunction with coast defence searchlight sweeps.


On the morning of the 8th, M.L. 130 was sunk after being in action for 20 minutes with superior forces. The following day, OLYMPUS was mined off Grand Harbour when proceeding to Alexandria. These events seem to have marked the beginning of a period of mining activity on the part of the enemy, the intensity of which was not appreciated until later. The R.D.F. sets available have proved unreliable in detecting E boats and these craft, possibly supplemented by submarines, operating on dark nights, under the cover of the sound of aircraft engines have worked for the most part undetected, under the noses of the lookouts.


The only occasions on which E boats were actually sighted were:


(1). M.L.130's action on the morning of the 8th,


(2). A/S trawler BERYL and TRUSTY STAR's action on the morning of the 10th when they sank one and drove off the remainder, and


(3). The illuminated engagement by the coastal artillery of a number of E boats on the night of the 15th/16th.. On this occasion at least one of the enemy was disabled and was attacked at dawn by Spitfires and finally sunk by M.E. 109s before she could be brought in.


Between the commencement of this period and the end of the month, the sweepers, C.308, EDDY, and ST ANGELO, all struck mines and were lost, fortunately with only a small loss of life. The lack of shallow draft minesweepers made the clearing of the channels a hazardous operation, which was tackled by all ships that could be made available with great determination and untiring persistence. After the loss of C.308, ST ANGELO, SUNSET and EDDY the A/S trawler BERYL – who had been converted to Mk. lll equipment, continued the sweeping who with M.L. 126 preceding her to clear the shallow mines.


(ii). Arrival of WELSHMAN and use of the smoke screen to protect her against aerial attacks


H.M.S. WELSHMAN left Gibraltar on the 8th, successfully evaded identification by enemy forces, and arrived Grand Harbour at 0530 on the 10th. She was examined by a JU 88 at 1000 on the 9th while under French colours, but guns were kept fore and aft and no attack developed.


She escaped all but very minor damage from splinters, during a day of intense air attacks. A chemical smoke screen was used to the first time at Malta and undoubtedly prevented precision bombing. This combined with a very heave barrage and a wealth of Spitfires not only save WELSHMAN from anything worse than a near miss, but inflicted such casualties on the enemy that daylight raiding was brought to an abrupt end. WELSHMAN sailed at 2130 on the 10th, arriving safely at Gibraltar at 1942B on the 12th having brought valuable and much needed stores, ammunition, aircraft spares, and ammunition to Malta.


(iii). Departure of Captain (S) 10 and Tenth Submarine Flotilla for Alexandria.


The loss of four submarines by air attack while in harbour, and the difficulty of giving crews of boats back from patrol any proper rest, eventually caused the Tenth Submarine Flotilla to be temporarily withdrawn to Alexandria. On the 4th, Captain (S) and his staff left by air for that port, leaving a care and maintenance party under Lieutenant Commander Marsham in charge of the depot.


(iv). Attempts to salvage fuel oil from BRECONSHIRE


No suitable ships or lighters being available, an attempt has been made to extract oil fuel from H.M.S. BRECONSHIRE in drums. In spite of the unfavourable weather, 50 tons have been salved in this manner in the three days upon which it has been possible to work.


(v). Arrival of reinforcements of fighter aircraft


On the 9th, 60 Spitfires arrived having been flown off from U.S.S. WASP, two being lost on passage. Shortly after arrival, each group was fuelled and ready for combat, some aircraft being in the air and fighting within 35 minutes of arrival. During the day, thirty enemy aircraft were destroyed and damaged, for a loss of three Spitfires.





3. Summary of Air Raid Alarms


(a). Total raids during month (2464 – 2217 = 248




Blank Days nil


Nights free from raids 2


Night raids 62


The "Take Cover" was not given during 98 raids.


(b). Total time "Warning" to "Raiders Passed" 182 hours, 53 mins = 7 days, 14 hours, 53 minutes.


Average time per raid 44 minutes


Total Time Under Cover 77 hrs, 52 mins = 3 days, 5 hrs, 52 mins.


Percentage of Time Under Cover 42.6%


(c). Air Raids affecting H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments


2/5/42, Raid No. 2232 (0148 – 0514) Bombs in N.A. Depot, causing fires in Spencers' Stores. Building had already been damaged. Some equipment destroyed. Police Fire Brigade attended, and fire was quickly reduced to a smouldering state, being finally extinguished at 1020.


10/5/42, Raid No. 2306 (1043 – 1140) Two bombs on dockside, No. 5 Dock, causing superficial damage only to WELSHMAN. Two bombs in Factory and in roadway near Foundry. Six craters between No. 1 Generating Station and Ship Fitting Shop. Other bombs on already damaged Gun Mounting Store, Smithery, and No. 4 Boiler Shop. Harbour Launch No. 261 sunk.


Raid No. 2308 (1402 – 1542) Heavy Bomb on top of No. 54 Refuge causing leakage of water into the Refuge as on previous occasions. Two craters in road opposite Saw Mills, blocking raid. Small fire in Manager, Constructive Department's Pattern Shop, extinguished by Section 5 Trailer.


Raid No. 2309 (1812 – 1952) Bomb in Coppersmiths; shop and one in road adjacent to it causing road block. Crater on Bakery Wharf, and damage to Leading Man of Wharf's Office, and oil Store.


No Dockyard casualties.


(d). Unexploded Bombs


500 kg. S.C. German




500 kg. S.D.German




250 kg. S.C. German




250 lb Italian




U.P. Bomb







(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 7th August 1942

Malta No. 439/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 30TH JUNE 1942, is forwarded:



1st June


PORPOISE arrived from Alexandria, being swept to bottoming berth at 0600 by BERYL and M.L. 126. Sweepers returned to harbour with TRUSTY STAR. PORPOISE surfaced at dusk and proceeded to Kalafrana, to unload cargo.



n.b. no 2nd June



3rd June


BERYL sweeping Marsaxlokk entrance and approaches.


4th June


BERYL sweeping Marsaxlokk entrance and approaches.


5th June


BERYL sweeping Marsaxlokk entrance and approaches.


6th June


BERYL sweeping Marsaxlokk. Harbour sweeping Grand Harbour entrance.


7th June


PORPOISE sailed for Alexandria and BERYL returned to Grand Harbour.


8th June


Grand Harbour entrance sweep abandoned owing to engine room defect in Tug ROBUST. BERYL proceeded to Marsaxlokk to act as Asdic link for CLYDE arriving from Gibraltar.


CLYDE arrived and secured alongside Shell Pier at 2200.


BERYL returned to Grand Harbour.


9th June


32 Spitfires arrived having flown off from H.M.S. EAGLE.


5 mines swept in Grand Harbour and Marsamxett entrances.


10th June


Sweep of Grand Harbour entrance channel. M.L. 126 was attacked by three M.E. 109s and shot down one and damaged another. The Captain and First Lieutenant, and three ratings were slightly wounded.


TRUSTY STAR struck a mine 3 miles 054 degrees from Fort St. Elmo and sank. One Maltese seaman was injured, the remainder of the crew being picked up unhurt.


11th June


BERYL, M.L. 126, and Harbour Launches continued sweep. BERYL's sweep damaged.


12th June


CLYDE sailed at daylight.


Sweeping continued until BERYL's sweep was damaged by a mine exploding.


M.L. 125 unsuccessfully attacked by M.E. 109s.



n.b. no entry for 13th June



14th June


Sweeping continued and Munscair Rock buoyed.


15th June


H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived Grand Harbour at 0730 and unloaded all stores at 1330.


16th June


The first ship of Convoy HARPOON entered harbour at 0200. The convoy consisted of S.S. ORARI and TROILUS escorted by CAIRO, WELSHMAN, six destroyers, four fleet minesweepers, and six M.L.s. ORARI and MATCHLESS were damaged by mines in entrance to Grand Harbour and BADSWORTH was damaged off Zonkor Point. HEBE received a near miss from a bomb, which damaged forward. The Polish destroyer KUJAWIAK was, however, sunk by mine. There was only one air raid during the day, which caused no damage. CAIRO and four destroyers sailed for Gibraltar at 1930. While returning to harbour after having acted as a navigational mark, JUSTIFIED struck a mine and sank with the loss of 3 Maltese ratings.


17th June


Two magnetic mines were detonated by SWONA in Grand Harbour entrance channels.


18th June


Three mines detonated in Marsamxett and Grand Harbour entrance channel.



n.b. no entry 19th June



20th June


SWONA sweeping Grand Harbour and Marsamxett entrances.


Unloading of TROILUS and ORARI completed.



n.b. no entry 21st June



22nd June


Eleven mines swept in entrance channels. Two parachute mines reported dropped off Marsaxlokk.



n.b. no entry 23rd June



24th June


Three mines swept away.


25th June


Minesweepers and M.L.s sweeping entrance channels. Fourteen mines swept.


26th June


Six mines swept.


Surface plot investigated by Beaufighters with any tangible result.


27th June


One mine cut. Sweeping curtailed by unfavourable weather.


28th June


Nineteen mines swept. Sweepers were machine gunned by M.E. 109s from 5000 feet without causing damage or casualties.


29th June


Weather unsuitable for sweeping.


30th June


Weather unsuitable for sweeping.


30th June


S.S. KING OF ENGLAND escorted by M.L. 462 proceeded to Marsaxlokk, arriving 2150. KING OF ENGLAND pumped 100 tons of fuel oil from BRECONSHIRE during the night.






2. Outstanding Events in June


(Note: Operations in connection with arrival of convoys are the subject of a separate report).


(i). Unloading of TROILUS and ORARI


(ii). Arrival of H.M.S. WELSHMAN


(iii). Minesweeping Operations


(iv). CLYDE and PORPOISE cargo trips.


(v). Arrival of Spitfire reinforcements


(i). The TROILUS and ORARI entered harbour early on the 16th, the latter ship being damaged by a mine in the entrance and unloading was commenced as soon as the ships were berthed, the former being worked by Maltese and the latter Service Labour. Work proceeded continuously by day and night unless large formations of bombers were believed to be approaching the Dockyard area. Working parties were then sent to shelters ashore, lorries near the ships dispersed, and a smoke screen put up over the harbour. Less than four hours were lost in this way during the five days and four nights of the unloading, although more than ten were spend under alert. Actually no bombs were dropped on the harbour area during the unloading period.


12, 000 tons deadweight of cargo were unloaded by p.m. 20th, when the Naval and military working parties were released and the remainder of the unloading was completed under normal conditions by Maltese stevedores.


(ii). Arrival of H.M.S. WELSHMAN. After a passage without incident, H.M.S. WELSHMAN entered harbour at 0730 on the 15th, unloaded, oiled, and reammunitioned, and sailed at 1400/15 to reinforce Force X.


She reentered Grand Harbour at dawn on the 16th with Force X and sailed at 1930 on that day with CAIRO and destroyers for Gibraltar, arriving 1815/18th.


(iii). Minesweeping Operations. BERYL, SWONA, M.L. 126, H.L. 196 and 235 and Tug ROBUST – the last for one day only – were continually employed sweeping main channel until the arrival of the convoy and 17th Minesweeping Flotilla. They were on two occasions attacked by M.E. 109s, one of which was destroyed and another badly damaged by M.L. 126. The Captain, First Lieutenant, and 3 ratings aboard the M.L. were wounded in this attack. On the 18th, the 17th Minesweeping Flotilla commenced operations and by the end of the month, the first three miles of the entrance channels were cleared and sixty mines had been accounted for.


TRUSTY STAR was mined and sunk on the 10th and JUSTIFIED on the 16th.


(iv). Clyde and Porpoise Cargo Trips. Submarine PORPOISE arrived from Alexandria with cargo on 1st June and unloaded at Shell Pier, Marsaxlokk, during hours of darkness, proceeding to a bottoming pier off Delimara Point each day at dawn. She sailed on the 7th. The following day, CLYDE arrived and carried out the same procedure, sailing for Gibraltar on the 12th.


(v). Arrival of Spitfire reinforcements. On the 9th, a further reinforcement of 32 Spitfires arrived, having flown off from H.M.S. EAGLE, and made the passage without incident. (n.b. handwritten note: the reinforcement on the 9th June was Operation SALIENT. On the 3rd June, in Operation STYLE, 27 Spitfires arrived.)





3. Summary of Air Raid Alarms


(a). Total number of raids during month (2637 – 2465) = 173




Number of blank days nil


Number of Night Raids 60


Number of raid free nights 4


Alerts for own planes 11


Number of "Take Covers" sounded 89


Number of Raids with no "Take Cover: 92


(b). Total Time "Warning" to Raiders Passed = 87 hrs, 43 mins = 3 days, 15 hrs. 43mins.


Average per raid 30.4 mins.


(c). Total time under cover 28 hrs, 34 mins = 1 day, 4 hrs. 34 mins.


Percentage of time under cover32.5%


(d). Raids affecting Dockyard and Naval Establishments


23rd June, Superficial damage to roof and staircase of Superintendent, H.M. Victualling Yard's Food Dump at Musta. All the stores in the damaged section were removed without loss of damage.


(e). Unexploded Bombs dealt with – June 1942


1 German 1000 kg. S.D. in Senglea.


1 German 1000 kg. S.D. in Lawrence Church


1 German 250 kg. S.C. in No. 8 Oil Fuel Tank, Corradino.



(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta.





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 27th August 1942

Malta No. 470/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the FOLLOWING DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 31ST JULY 1942, is submitted:


1st July


S.S. KING OF ENGLAND returned from Marsaxlokk escorted by M.L. 462, having recovered 100 tons of fuel oil from BRECONSHIRE.


2nd July


Minesweeping in progress. 22 mines swept.


3rd July


4 mines swept. Channel considered clear as far as Zonkor Point.



(n.b. no entry for 4th July)



5th July


Weather unsuitable for Fleet Sweepers. M.L.s carried out sweep of approaches to Grand Harbour. Heavy interference on G.L. and R.D.F. sets during the night.


6th July


Eight mines swept.


7th July


HEBE and RYE sweeping – 9 mines cut.


Unconfirmed plots of shipping during the night.


Naval Air Squadrons attack on shipping in Messina unsuccessful owing to bad visibility. One Albacore failed to return and one Swordfish crashed on landing.



(n.b. no entry for 8th July 1942)



9th July


M.L.s clearing S.W. leg of channel of shallow draught mines.


10th July


M.L.s clearance sweep. Low visibility scirroco. SWONA detonated 1 mine off entrance to Grand Harbour.


Heavy interference on R.D.F. and G.L. sets 10th/11th – note on Type 271 or G.C.I. Vague reports of surface craft in St Paul's Bay area. Nothing confirmed.



(n.b. no entry for 11th July)



12th July


Q.B.B. 197 channel completed by 17th M.S. and M.L.s. No mines cut.



(n.b. no entry for 13th July)



14th July


Naval Air Squadrons carried out search for shipping, but returned without sighting, being unable to formate.


15th July


31 Spitfires, flown off from H.M.S. EAGLE arrived without incident.


Minesweepers operating over Q.B.B. 197 channel and approaches to Marsaxlokk. No mines swept.


16th July


H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived at 0618 with naval and military stores, and powered milk, edible oil, and soap for the Civil Government. Arrangements were made for the Dockyard smoke screen to be put up when large formations of bombers were approaching, during the say, and for a reduced screen between 2100 and dawn. There were no heavy raids this day. Marsaxlokk and approaches swept by Oropesa, S/A and L.L.


17th July


Smoke screen was put up for one formation of bombers, during the day, and once after dark.


18th July


H.M.S. WELSHMAN sailed at 1945, having sustained no damage from air attack. The only deliberate attacks on her were made at night when a few bombs were dropped in the Dockyard area.


Submarine PARTHIAN arrived at Marsaxlokk with stores from Gibraltar


Q.B.B. 197 swept by SPEEDY and Grand Harbour entrance by SWONA.


19th July


PARTHIAN unloading stores at Marsaxlokk during the night.


20th July


Submarine P.42 arrived and entered Marsaxmett.


SPEEDY swept Q.B.B. 197 and Marsaxlokk entrance. 1 Cutter cut. SWONA swept Marsaxmett entrance.


21st July


A surface plot south of Filfla may have been Submarine P.44 on the surface. She arrived at 2045 and was swept in Marsaxlokk by SPEEDY.


PARTHIAN completed unloaded and proceeded to Dockyard to make good minor defects.


A further reinforcement of 28 Spitfires from H.M.S. EAGLE arrived without incident.


Torpedo carrying Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an enemy convoy and claimed hits on one merchant vessel and one destroyer.


Q.B.B. 271 swept by SPEEDY and HYTHE. 3 mines cut.


22nd July


Captain (S) 10th Submarine Flotilla and his staff arrived by air from the Middle East.


A doubtful report of a periscope being sighted off Grand Harbour was not confirmed.


HYTHE and M.L.s commenced sweeping new area.


23rd July


BERYL carried out gun trials at sea.


24th July


Fleet Sweepers cleared new channel except for 100 yards along inshore edge. 13 mines cut.


Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked a convoy off Cape Gheroghambo and hit and set on fire one merchant vessel. Three Beauforts did not return.


25th July


New Channel (Q.B.B. 273) cleared of mines. 2 cut.



(n.b. no entry for 26th July 1942)



27th July


Sweepers carried out a sweep of Q.B.B. 273. 1 mine cut inside channel and one outside.


28th July


SWONA and M.L.s swept approaches to Marsaxlokk.


Beauforts, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked convoy and damaged one merchant vessel, which was later seen in Navarin by P.R.U. Spitfire. 2 Beauforts failed to return.


29th July


CLYDE arrived and was swept into Marsaxlokk.


The inshore edge of Q.B.B. 273 was then swept and nine mines cut.


Italian flying boat landed in St Julian's Bay and surrendered. This aircraft was captured by the crew of one of the Beauforts, which crashed during the attack on the convoy the previous night, who while on passage from Navarin to Italy, overpowered the crew and forced them to fly them to Malta.


CLYDE discharged practically all her cargo on the night of 29th/30th.


30th July


P.42 sailed on patrol.


31st July


PARTHIAN sailed for Gibraltar.


P.34 arrived and swept into harbour by RYE. SWONA carried out sweep of entrance channel.





2. Outstanding Events in July


(i). Successful clearance of channels by 17th M/S Flotilla and M.L. Forces.


(ii). Arrival of WELSHMAN


(iii). Return of 10th Submarine Flotilla


(iv). Spitfire reinforcements.


(i). Channels Q.B.B. 197 and 273 were cleared during the month and 83 mines were swept. S.A. and L.L. Sweeps were frequently carried out in approaches to Grand Harbour, Marsamxett, and Marsaxlokk.


Submarines PARTHIAN, P.42, P.44, CLYDE, and P.34 were successfully swept into harbour.


(ii). H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived with naval and military stores and powdered milk, edible oil, and soap for the Civil Government, on the 16th. She sailed at 1945 on the 18th, having been delayed by the weather.


Air attack was on a small scale and the ship sustained no damage.


She was attacked by torpedo bombers, J.U. 87s and 88s on the passage from Gibraltar, but successfully avoided any hits and the return passage was without incident.


(iii). The arrival of Submarine P.42 marked the beginning of the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla. Captain (S), Tenth Submarine Flotilla and his Staff arrived on the 22nd, and by the end of the month, three submarines of the Flotilla were again operating from Malta.


(iv). On the 15th and 21st, further reinforcements of Spitfires were flown in from H.M.S. EAGLE. 31 arrived without incident on the 15th and 28 on the 21st.




3. Summary of air raids


(a). Total number of alerts during month (2825-2638) = 188.


Number of blank days nil


Number of night raids 57


Number of Raid Free Nights 15


Alerts for own planes 17


Number of "Take Cover" sounded 117


Number of Raids with no "Take Cover" 76


(b). Total Time "Warning" to "Raiders Passed" = 90 hrs. 3 mins = 3 days. 18 hrs. 3 mins.


Average per raid= 28.7 mins


(c). Total time under cover= 41 hrs, 34 mins = 1 day, 17 hrs. 34 mins.


Percentage time cover 46.2%


(d). Air raids affecting H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments


Night of 1st/2nd July, Superficial damage to roof stones of Superintendent, H.M. Victualling Yard's Food Dump at Wardija. Windows slightly damages by blast, but food stuffs undamaged.


Raid 2660 (0053 - -158) 3/7/42, Explosive incendiaries on Palace Tower. No casualties.


Raid 2691 (2323 – 0026) 8/7/42, Anti personnel bombs in Ghajn Dwieli, Manager, Constructive Department's Ship Fitting Shop and Melita Slip areas H.M. Dockyard. All main roads clear. Slight damage to roof of new Joiner's Shop. No casualties.


Raid 2811 (2238 – 2340) 28/7/42, Three bombs fell close to War Signal Station at Torri L'Ahmar, causing minor damage, but no casualties.


(e). Unexploded bombs dealt with during July 1942


19 – 2 kg. German "Butterfly" (anti personnel) bombs in H.M. Dockyard.


(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta




From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 25th September 1942

Malta No. 528/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 31ST AUGUST 1942, is submitted:





1st August


CLYDE sailed for Gibraltar being swept out by HYTHE, who subsequently swept P.31 into Harbour.


P.44 also sailed, carrying out night full calibre firing at Filfla before proceeding on patrol.


2nd August


P.43 and UNA arrived and were swept into Marsamxett Harbour by RYE.


3rd August


SPEEDY, RYE, HYTHE, and SWONA carried out sweep of 5 cable strip inshore of Q.B.B. 273. 4 moored mines were swept.


4th August


W.D. Vessel SNIPE carried out night run with Coast Artillery Searchlights.


5th August


P.44 returned from patrol off Kuriat, having scored 2 hits with 3 inch guns on a 2000 ton M.V off Linosa and was swept in by HYTHE.


M/S Flotilla swept 19 mines in Northern rectangle of Q.B.B. 273.


6th August


SPEEDY carried out Oropesa, S.A. and L.L. sweep of Marsaxlokk approaches and anchored there for the night. One moored mine was swept in inshore strip and this strip is now considered clear.


7th August


SPEEDY swept OTUS into Marsaxlokk and then swept centre line of Q.B.B. 273 while returning to Marsamxett.


OTUS remained bottomed off Delimara Light until dark, when she surfaced and proceeded alongside Shell Pier to unload cargo.


8th August


OTUS proceeded to bottoming berth at 0600, having discharged all cargo except five torpedoes. Minesweepers cut two mines while clearing special area. After dark, OTUS completed unloading.


9th August


HYTHE swept P.44 and UNA to end of swept harbour whence they proceeded on patrol.


10th August


OTUS sailed and proceeded to Gibraltar.


Day One for Operation PEDESTAL of which a separate report has been made.


Force "Y", consisting of M/Vs TROILUS and ORARI escorted by MATCHLESS and BADSWORTH sailed at 2030. Two M.L.s 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.


11th August


HYTHE escorted P.31 and P.34 from Marsamxett to end of searched channel. Submarines then proceeded on patrol and HYTHE anchored at Marsaxlokk.


36 Spitfires flown off from FURIOUS landed by 1810. They reported having seen EAGLE torpedoed and sunk at 1320.


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, 1 Littorio and 3 Cavour battleships


Messina, 2 – 8 inch cruisers.


Naples, 1 – 6 inch cruiser


Navarin, 2 – 8 inch cruisers and 31 destroyers and 2 - 8 inch cruisers and two destroyers were reported as having sailed from Cagliari at 2345, and to be steaming E at 25 knots.


Beaufighters successfully shot up Elmas and Decimomannu Aerodromes.


12th August


PRU Spitfire reported that the Italian Naval force had left Messina.


HYTHE swept P.35 into Marsamxett.


At 1730 RYE sailed to lay navigational marks, and P.43 proceeded on patrol.


13th August


17th M/S Flotilla and 3rd M.L. Flotilla sailed and carried out sweep of searched channel with orders to rendezvous with Force X and take over escort of merchant vessels, at 1500. It had by this time been ascertained that the latter consisted of ROCHESTER CASTLE, MELBOURNE STAR, and PORT CHALMERS, with the DORSET and tanker OHIO, both severely damaged. The PENN, LEDBURY, and BRAMHAM were standing by the two damaged ships.


BERYL sailed and having lit the mark buoys, carried out A/S patrol.


At 1600 Dingli S.S. sighted three M/Vs escorted by 2 sweepers, and at 1815, the ROCHESTER CASTLE entered Grand Harbour followed by MELBOURNE STAR and PORT CHALMERS.


Two M.L.s landed wounded at Sliema and then proceeded with the 17th Minesweeping Flotilla to assistance of DORSET and OHIO. The former was reported sunk at 2020.


At 2100, RYE reported that she was assisting PENN to tow OHIO with 2 M.L.s as A/S screen.


A vessel south of Lampedusa was considered to be the BRISBANE STAR and the HYTHE, HEBE, and 2 M.L.s were despatched to rendezvous with her at 0800/14.


14th August


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


At 0630, M.L. 168 arrived with 68 survivors on board.


At 0830, Commander M/S reported sweepers in company with BRAMHAM and PENN, with tanker OHIO in tow, very deep in the water and almost unmanageable. 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 was made, and although a successful outcome of the operation was very doubtful at times, at 1840, the ships were sighted from Dingli W.S.S.


At 1430 BRISBANE STAR entered Grand Harbour and HYTHE and HEBE rejoined Commander M/S.


Continuous cover was given by fighter aircraft during the day, and together with the A/A protection afforded by the sweepers, succeeded in preventing the enemy from accomplishing his task of sinking these two valuable ships. Since 0900 on 12th August, nine enemy aircraft were shot down by ships' fire with eight probably and three possibly destroyed. The M.V.s own A.A. guns had accounted for 4 of those definitely destroyed.


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 eh night on the information of R.D.F. 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.


At 0800, OHIO in tow of PENN and BRAMHAM followed by LEDBURY entered Grand Harbour. The sweepers and M.L.s entered Marsamxett.


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 A.M.C. 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.


Of the merchant ships now in harbour, the PORT CHALMERS was undamaged and MELBOURNE STAR only superficially. The ROCHESTER CASTLE had been hit by a torpedo and water had entered No.s 1 and 2 holds, and the BRISBANE STAR had also received a torpedo hit forward and No. 2 hold was slightly flooded.


The OHIO's engine room was partially 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.


16th August


Three Albacores of Naval Air Squadron searched without success for a M/V reported to the N.W. of Malta.


17th August


32 Spitfires were flown off from FURIOUS. One crashed on taking off and two returned to the carrier, but the remaining 29 landed in Malta by 1300.


Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an escorted M/V west of Linosa and obtained one torpedo hit. This ship was subsequently sunk by P.44, the force of the explosion being so great as to necessitate the submarine returning to Malta for repairs.


P.42 was swept into Marsamxett by HEBE.


PENN, BRAMHAM, and LEDBURY sailed at 2000 for Gibraltar.



n.b. no entry for 18th August 1942



19th August


RYE swept UNA and P.44 into harbour.


His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief left by air for Middle East, and Vice Admiral, Malta was appointed as Deputy during his absence.


20th August


Smoke was made for one large formation approaching, but no attack materialized.


705 of Q.B.B. 273 searched by 17th Minesweeping Flotilla.


As a result of an unsuccessful strike at a tanker escorted by four destroyers off Cape Stilo, 2 Beaufighters and 2 Beauforts were lost.


21st August


Beauforts claimed 1 possible and 2 probable hits on the tanker attacked the previous day.


Gibraltar reported the safe arrival of PENN, LEDBURY, and BRAMHAM.



n.b. no entry for 22nd August 1942



23rd August


While sweeping RORQUAL and P.34 from sea to Marsamxett, HYTHE had a gyro compass failure and while turning outside the swept channel in the vicinity 3, she cut two moored mines.


24th August


P.43 was swept in and P.46 out to sea on patrol.


The tanker attacked on 21st August was reported ashore in Saiada Bay. One Beaufort was lost during an unsuccessful strike on another tanker.


25th August


His Excellency returned.


HEBE swept UTMOST to sea on patrol.


26th August


RYE swept RORQUAL to sea.


27th August


P.35 reported having sunk a southbound M.V. in position 35-39N, 23-05E and Beaufort aircraft sank another M.V. in 33-59N, 20-57E.



n.b. no entry for 28th August 1942



29th August


HYTHE sailed and anchored at Marsaxlokk for the night.


30th August


CLYDE arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by HYTHE.


UNA sailed on patrol.


31st August


M.L. 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.





2. Outstanding Events in August


(i). Arrival of Convoy (Operation PEDESTAL) and its unloading (Operation CERES).


(ii). Reinforcement of Spitfires in Malta.


(i). Operations PEDESTAL and CERES form the subject of separate reports.


A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during these operations 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.


(ii). Reinforcements of Spitfires were flown off from H.M.S. FURIOUS on 11th August and 17th August, 36 being received on the former date, and 29 on the latter.





3. Summary of Air Raids


(a). Total number of alerts during the month (2926-2826) = 101.




Number of blank days 3


Number of night raids 37


Number of Raid Free Nights 12


Alerts for own planes 8


Number of "Take Cover" sounded 48


Number of raids with no "Take Cover" 55


(b). Total time "Warning" to "Enemy Passed= 48 hrs, 56 mins = 2 days, 56 mins


Average per raid= 29.1 mins


(c). Total time under cover = 15 hrs. 15 min.


Percentage time under cover 31.1%.


(d).Damage in H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments




(e). Casualties




(f) Unexploded bombs dealt with during August 1942




(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta.





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 12th October 1942

Malta No. 551/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 30TH SEPTEMBER 1942, is forwarded:





1st September


P.35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton M.V.


2nd September


P.34 swept out, but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky D.S.E.A. hatch.


The N.A.S. consisting of one Albacore and two Swordfish located a medium sized M/V off Spartivento and secured two torpedo hits.


3rd September


P.34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. CLYDE and P.43 were also swept out to sea



n.b. no entries for 4th and 5th September 1942



6th September


SPEEDY swept P.44 to sea and then anchored at Marsaxlokk.


An enemy M/V was attacked when in convoy off Cape Ducato, but Beaufighters and Beauforts, and was hit and probably sunk.


7th September


SPEEDY swept P.46 and UTMOST in from sea.


While towing targets in St Paul's Bay area, W.D. vessel CLIVE swept two mines with her towing wire.



n.b. no entry for 8th September 1942



9th September


SPEEDY, HEBE, RYE, and 4 M.L.s carried out a clearance sweep from position 210 miles to the northward. No mines were swept. The sweepers were reported as a convoy by German fighters.


The two mines cut by CLIVE's towing wire the previous day were sunk by gunfire.


10th September


At 2130, three M.T.B.s were reported from the plot one mile from the coast between Maddalena and St. Paul's Bay. Nothing was sighted.


11th September


P.35 was swept out by HEBE and proceeded on patrol.


12th September


HYTHE carried out search of Q.B.B. 273.


13th September


P.34 and P.42 returned from patrol and were swept in the HYTHE.


P.35 returned to harbour with engine defect.


14th September


RYE swept P.35 out, and UNA in from patrol. UNA reported one hit on 4000 ton M/V which probably sank.


15th September


3rd M.L. Flotilla carried out a searching sweep of N.E. coast between Sliema Point and Ras il Kaura at a distance of 2 miles from the coast, with the object of clearing the area used by army Launches towing targets and to give freedom of action to our surface forces in the event of their being required to take action against the enemy in these waters. Owing to the large number of partings only 10% clearance was effected. Many mines were observed 3 to 4 feet below the surface.


The Flotilla anchored in St Paul's Bay for the night.


16th September


3rd M.L. Flotilla carried out 90% clearance inside the bay, and then swept down to Grand Harbour without result.


SPEEDY carried out Oropesa search of Q.B.B. 273 and LL and SA search of Marsaxlokk.


17th September


SPEEDY swept P.43 from patrol and later HEBE swept UTMOST to sea.


Beaufighters attacked an unescorted M/V off Kelibia and claimed one hit with a bomb and many strikes with cannon shell. One Beaufighter was lost.


18th September


HEBE swept P.35 into harbour.


P.46 proceeded on patrol.


19th September


TALISMAN is 24 hours overdue.


P.211 arrived from Gibraltar, not having been expected until the following day. She was swept in by HYTHE.


P.44 arrived and reported having sunk two small ships and damaged another off Misurata.


PLOUGHBOY carried out trial SS and LL sweep of Grand Harbour entrance having completed 5 months of refit.


20th September


Surface plots were reported 15 miles off Grand Harbour, but faded by 0200 without having been confirmed.


21st September


With a view to eliminate the sharp turn in Q.B.B. 273 off Zonkor Point, and provide a transit line into Grand Harbour, SPEEDY, HEBE, and HYTHE carried out a clearance sweep of the small area of unswept water near position 2, and also a strip 4 cables inshore of the inshore edge of the new leg of the proposed new channel.


One anti sweeping device was cut and sunk by rifle fire.


22nd September


The new channel Q.B.B. 288 was declared open.


SPEEDY swept PROTEUS into harbour.


SWONA swept to Marsaxlokk and back.


3rd M.L. Flotilla swept area to N.E. commenced on 15th and 16th but had to abandon the operation after 4 hours owing to the weather. 6 moored mines were cut.


SWONA carried out SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk and approaches and also of Q.B.B. 273.


HYTHE swept P.35 to sea and P.46 in from patrol. She reported having sunk a schooner and two M/V.s



n.b. no entry for 23rd September 1942



24th September


PROTEUS sailed for Gibraltar, being swept out by HEBE.


Beauforts attacked an escorted M/V off Cape Stilo and fired two torpedoes, but no results were observed.


25th September


P.37 arrived from Gibraltar to join 10th S/M Flotilla and was swept into harbour by HEBE.


P.34 sailed for the United Kingdom, and P.42 and UNA on patrol, all being swept out by HEBE.


Weather unsuitable for air operations.


26th September


HEBE swept UTMOST in from patrol and then proceeded to Dockyard for retubing of boilers.


P.211 sailed, being swept out by HYTHE.


27th September


M.L. 459 and SWONA carried out sweeping operations in St. Paul's Bay and approaches. No mines were swept.


Beauforts unsuccessfully attacked an enemy convoy with torpedoes.


28th September


Sweep of St. Paul's Bay completed, and area now considered clear.


RYE swept P.44 out for patrol.


Wellingtons attacked a 4000 ton M/V off Messina with bombs without result.


N.A.S. consisting of two Swordfish and one Albacore searching for an enemy M/V found only an enemy destroyer, which they attacked with two torpedoes. One hit amidships was secured.


29th September


SPEEDY swept P.43 out on patrol.



n.b. no entry to 30th September 1942





2. Outstanding events in September


(1). Submarine Successes.


(2). N.A.S. successes.


(3). Minesweeping.


(1). Submarine Successes


On 7th September, the UNA torpedoed and sank an escorted M/V of about 4000 tons, similar to the RAMB class. On 13th September, P.44 obtained one torpedo hit on a small steamer, but failed to sink it, and it was later seen proceeding towards Sirte with air escort. P.44 sighted a small M/V in company with a schooner on 17th September and scored one hit on the former. Both vessels anchored in Zeleten roads, and at dusk, the submarine surfaced and engaged with gunfire, but finally had to fire two torpedoes in order to sink them.


On 21st September, P.46 engaged with her gun, and set on fire, a large southbound schooner. A medium sized M/V with lights burning and showing Vichy colours was sighted later, and as her name did not appear in either "Talbot-Booth" or Merchant Shipping index, and she was not conforming to the routing instructions for Vichy shipping, she was torpedoed and sunk.


The next day this submarine scored one hit on a 2000 ton southbound M/V. The ship burst into flames and was probably carrying petrol. The same night, UTMOST while returning from patrol, carried out a night bombardment of Linosa with the 12 pdr. for practice.


On 27th September, P.35 attacked a large escorted M/V, but as the first torpedo failed to sink her, she later followed up and attacked by moonlight, and obtained a further hit.


(2). N.A.S. Successes


On 2nd September, the small Naval Air Squadron secured two hits on a medium sized M/V off Spartivento, and again on the 28th were able to claim one hit on an Italian destroyer. In neither case was it possible to confirm that the ship was sunk.


(3). Minesweeping


There were no casualties due to mines during the month, and no evidence to show that any fresh mines were laid by the enemy.


The Fleet sweepers were employed in maintaining the channels for the arrival and departure of submarines, clearing a new area to eliminate the sharp turn in Q.B.B. 273 and to modify the channel in order to provide a transit from Position 2 into Grand Harbour, and an exploratory sweep to find clear water for submarines proceeding to their patrol positions for Operation PURGE.


The 3rd M.L. Flotilla and SWONA carried out searching sweeps of the St. Paul's area, which is now considered clear of moored and ground mines.


During these operations no enemy interference was experienced.


Q.B.B. 288 was declared open on 22nd September.


On 19th September, PLOUGHBOY completed 5 months refit and carried out trial singe L and SA sweep of Grand Harbour and Marsamxett approaches. Her SA boom proved unsatisfactory and is being modified.


No ground mines were detonated during the month.


Thirty three moored mines and five anti sweeping devices have been accounted for.


Total of moored mines disposed of is now 315.





3. Summary of Air Raid Alarms


(a). Total number of raids during the month (2983-2927) = 57.




Number of Blank Days 6


Number of Night raids 17


Number of Raid Free Nights 13


Alerts for Own Planes 7


Number of "Take Cover" sounded 24


Number of Raids with no "Take Cover" 33


(b). Total time "Warning to "Raiders Passed = 26 hrs, 5 mins = 1 day, 2 hrs, 5 mins


Average per raid 27.5 mins


(c). Total time under cover 5 hrs, 36 mins


Percentage time under cover 21.5%


(d) Damage to H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments




(e) Casualties




(f) Unexploded bombs dealt with during September 1942


1 – 50 kg German S.C. bomb. (Discovered under debris in Boundary Wall of Sail Loft, H.M. Dockyard. Date of Dropping Unknown.



(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 29th December 1942

Malta No. 707/0702/19/13


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 31ST OCTOBER 1942, is forwarded:





1st October


P.35 swept in by HYTHE and P.46 to sea. P.35 reported having sunk on escorted M/V S.W. of Stravothi.


A flash and the sound of an explosion were reported by the military at about 2000, 8 miles west of El Blate. As P.46 was estimated to be in this position at the time, she was ordered to report, which she did at 2020.


2nd October


RORQUAL swept into G.H. by RYE having arrived from Beirut with stores.


3rd October


HYTHE swept UTMOST out on patrol and PARTHIAN and P.43 in, the former with cargo from Gibraltar, the latter from patrol.


4th October


Clocks retarded 1 hour to Zone – 1.


2 Wellingtons with bombs and 2 with torpedoes attacked escorted M/V southbound from Taranto, and claimed one torpedo hit. The results of the bombing were not observed.


RORQUAL and P.43 sailed. UNA and P.42 arrived.


5th October


P.37 and PARTHIAN swept out by SPEEDY.


6th October


CLYDE arrived from Gibraltar with petrol and stores and P.44 from patrol, both being swept in by RYE. CLYDE berths in G.H. P.44 reported having torpedoed ship which had been beached after attack by Royal Air Force.


7th October


PORPOISE swept in from sea by SPEEDY, P.35 swept out by BERYL.


8th October


HYTHE swept CLYDE to sea, destined for Beirut with passengers and cargo.


9th October


P.212 arrived to join 10th S/M Flotilla.


10th October


PORPOISE sailed being swept out by HYTHE.


11th October


SPEEDY escorted P.42 to sea for patrol.


12th October


SPEEDY escorted UNA to sea for patrol.


Increased enemy activity resulted in 13 J.U. 88s and 12 fighters being destroyed and 14 other enemy aircraft probably destroyed. 28 were claimed as having been damaged. We lost seven Spitfires but the pilots of four were saved.


13th October


P.34 was swept in by SPEEDY.


The Luftwaffe again lost heavily at the hands of the Spitfires, 18 being destroyed and 6 probably destroyed without loss to ourselves.


14th October


HYTHE swept P.211 in from sea. P.211 reported having driven a 900 ton steamer ashore by gunfire and subsequently destroyed it by torpedo. She also reported two other M/Vs successfully attacked with torpedoes.


The enemy lost 24 aircraft in combat over Malta. Our losses were six Spitfires and two pilots.


Fleet Air Arm obtained 1 hit on a 7000 M/V which was subsequently beached at Homs.


15th October


A further 15 enemy aircraft were destroyed.


SPEEDY swept P.212 to sea and P.46 in. The latter reported as having sunk on loaded M/V and one in ballast.


16th October


HYTHE swept in P.43 who reported having sunk an 8000 ton southbound M/V.


Seven enemy aircraft were destroyed.


17th October


Enemy air tactics changed and fighter bombers appeared over the island. Four were destroyed


18th October


SPEEDY swept P.211 to sea.


F.A.A. obtained 1 hit on a 2/4000 ton M.V.


19th October


HYTHE swept in P.35 and P.247.


At 2115 there was an unconfirmed R.D.F. plot of a vessel 063 degrees 13 miles from Fort St Elmo, moving 30 knots from west to east.


F.A.A. attacked escorted convoy and scored hits on a tanker and a M/V. The latter was seen stopped.


20th October


P.42 swept in by SPEEDY, having been met and escorted by 2 M.L.s. Claimed hits on two merchant vessels in convoy. Batteries damaged by accurate depth charge attack.


21st October


HYTHE swept P.247 and P.35 to sea, and escorted P.37 and P.211 in. P.211 reported having sunk one southbound ship east of Pantelleria; P.37 two hits on southbound M/V.


22nd October


SPEEDY swept P.44 in from patrol.


23rd October


UNA returned from patrol and was swept in by HYTHE.


24th October


P.247 returned and was swept in by SPEEDY.


25th October


SPEEDY swept P.35 in from patrol.


26th October


HEBE swept P.212 in from patrol



n.b. no entries for 27th – 29th October



30th October


RORQUAL arrived from Beirut; was swept in by RYE.


The enemy's air effort gradually slackened after 20th October, and on 30th and 31st, there were no raids.



n.b. no entry for 31st October





Outstanding Events


(a). Air Attacks


(b). Submarine Operations


(c). Minesweeping


(d). Fleet Air Arm Attacks.


(a). Air Attacks


The increased attempts on the part of the enemy to send reinforcements to North Africa coincides with a renewal of his air attacks on Malta, presumably with a view to first putting out fighter support out of action, and then, having established air supremacy, preventing air and submarine attacks on his shipping by bombing the air fields, submarine base, and Dockyard.


Appreciating the fact that we were much stronger in fighters than when he was operating here early in the year, his original attacks were carried out by comparatively small numbers of bombers, escorted by large formations of German and Italian fighters. He kept this up for ten days but never succeeded in achieving his first object – the neutralization of our fighters – and suffered such heavy casualties by the end of October, he was forced to change his tactics. He was thus never able to interfere with our submarines and air attacks on his supply routes and their successful operations prevented the transfusion of men and material from Europe to Africa, which was indeed necessary for the continuation of the flow of Rommel's life blood.


From the middle of October until the end of the month, his attacks were made mainly by fighter bombers and were on a very reduced scale.


(b). Submarine Operations


Twenty seven attacks were carried out during the month, fourteen of which were successful. Three were against merchant ships already beached after air attacks. Ten merchant vessels, aggregating 23,900 tons were sunk as well and one fleet destroyer, a tug, and two schooners.


The strength of the Flotilla was brought up to eleven operational submarines by the arrival of P.212 on 9th October and of P.246 on the 19th.


(c). Minesweeping Operations


It does not appear that any enemy mines were laid during the month.


On 25 days, submarines were swept in or out.


The area between Grand Harbour and St Julian's Bay was swept on 27th October by the 3rd M.L. Flotilla, prior to divers working on the submarine telegraph cables. Three mines were disposed of bringing the total destroyed by this flotilla to 100.


(d). Fleet Air Arm Attacks


The Naval Air Squadrons have carried out eight operations during October. Seven were torpedo strikes and one a patrol against suspected enemy "E" boats. Eight torpedoes were dropped and two definite and two probable hits obtained.


A 7000 M/V was attacked and hit on 14th October and was subsequently beached at Homs where it was attacked again on the 17th.


On the 18th one hit was obtained on a 2/4000 ton M/V which was last seen down by the stern.


On the night of the 19/20 a convoy of one tanker and one M/V escorted by destroyers was attacked. Hits were obtained on both the escorted ships, in spite of an unusually effective smoke screen. The M/V was seen to be stopped.





Summary of Air Raids


(1). Summary of Air Raid Alarms


(a). Total number of raids during the month (2984 3135) = 152.




Number of blank days 2


Number of night raids 41


Number of raid free nights 19


Alerts for own planes 7


Number of "Take Cover" sounded 129


Number of raids with no "take cover" 36


(b). Total time "warning" to "raiders passed"98 hrs, 11 mins = 4 days, 2 hrs, 11 mins


Average per raid 38.2 mins


(c). Total time under cover34 hrs, 52 mins = 2 days, 6 hrs, 52 mins.


Percentage time under cover 55.8%


(2). Damage to H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments


(a). On 11th October 1942, extensive structural damage to buildings and roof of Victualling Stores Dump at 11, Annunziata Street, Tarxien. Stores have been removed.


(b). Raid 3020 (2037 – 2118) 11/10/42, One H.E. Bomb dropped on top of Corradino Tunnel at 2058. Lights extinguished in Refuge 65. No structural damage. No casualties.


(c). Raid 3079 (1858 – 1937) 18/10/42, About one dozen incendiary bombs dropped in various parts of the Naval Armament Depot. No damage. Bombs burnt out harmlessly. Incendiaries over Senglea, two of which (unexploded – see (4) below) fell in H.M. Dockyard.


(3). Casualties




(4). Unexploded bombs dealt with during October 1942.


Two 1 kg. German incendiary bombs, recovered from

(a). Roof of Gun Mounting Store.

And (b). Gun Ground



(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 9th January 1943

Malta No. 23/1061


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 30TH NOVEMBER 1942, is forwarded:





1st November


P.43 and P.37 were swept out by HEBE and RORQUAL by RYE.


2nd November


P.35, 44, and 46 to sea for patrol swept out by SPEEDY and PARTHIAN swept in by HEBE.


During the early hours of darkness, "E" boats were active in the vicinity of the island, and it suspected that they were engaged in minelaying. They were illuminated by searchlight and the Coastal defences opened fire.


3rd November


CLYDE arrived from Beirut and was swept in by HYTHE, SPEEDY, and four M.L.s, this large escort being employed as it was suspected that mines were laid the previous night.


SPEEDY swept P.211, 212, and 217 out and UNA and UTMOST also sailed, being swept out by HYTHE.


"E" Boats were again active round the island.


4th November


TURBULENT was swept in by RYE, who later swept PANDORA and TURBULENT out.


No mines have yet been swept in the areas where the "E" were operating on the two nights previous.


5th November


The A.S.V. Swordfish aircraft located and illuminated enemy "E" boats, but Beaufighter strike did not make contact.


6th November


PORPOISE arrived and was swept in by SPEEDY.



n.b. no entries for 7th, 8th November



9th November


CLYDE sailed being swept out by HEBE.


Fleet Air Arm attacked a force of three 6" cruisers and six destroyers on passage from Navarin to Messina, in position 144 degrees Spartivento 75 miles. Two explosions were observed, but all three cruisers were subsequently located at Augusta.



n.b. no entry for 10th November 1942



11th November


P.46 arrived and was swept in by HEBE.


12th November


HYTHE swept UTMOST in from patrol, and then went out again and swept MANXMAN into Grand Harbour. The latter ship brought much needed supplies of powdered milk, dried cereals, and preserved meat.


13th November


UNA and P.44 returned from patrol and were swept in by RYE.


SPEEDY, HYTHE, and HEBE carried out searching sweep of Q.B.B. 298 and swept six mines.



n.b. no entry for 14th November 1942



15th November


HEBE swept P.212 in. P.212 had on board 35 Italians and 27 recovered British prisoners of war, survivors from the torpedoed merchant vessel SCILLIN.


P.42 sailed for patrol, swept out by SPEEDY.


16th November


P.46 and P.212 were swept out by RYE.


17th November


HYTHE swept UTMOST to sea.


Fleet Air Arm Squadron obtained two hits on a 10,000 tanker which was left in flames.


18th November


WELSHMAN arrived and was swept in by HEBE, who then swept P.44 out and returned with P.45 and P.48.


19th November


Convoy M.W. 12 consisting of four merchant vessels, escorted by Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron, less ARETHUSA, and six Fleet Destroyers and ten Hunt class destroyers, was sighted by Beaufighters at dawn in position 122 degrees 134 miles from Delimara.


At 1605B, Rear Admiral Commanding 15th Cruiser Squadron in command of the operation STONAGE (n.b. as spelled in Diary) reported being shadowed by aircraft.


At 2230, Commander M/S in SPEEDY joined the convoy and reported ships in the order and made his E.T.A. as 2330.


20th November


All four merchant ships and EURYALUS and ten Hunts entered Grand Harbour by 0130 and unloading commenced at 0300/20.


21st November


RYE swept TURBULENT and P.35 in from sea.


The unloading of the convoy continued without any attempted interference by enemy aircraft.


22nd November


THRASHER arrived and was swept in by HEBE, who then swept TURBULENT to sea.


EURYALUS and ten Hunts sailed fro Port Said.


No air alerts sounded.


23rd November


SPEEDY swept TRAVELLER in from sea.


24th November


P.211, 247, and PORPOISE arrived and were swept in by HYTHE.


25th November


M.L.C. 511 carried out exercises with the Army in Comino Channel.


RYE swept P.212 in from the sea.




MANXMAN sailed for Minelaying Operations.


26th November


P.45 and P.48 sailed, being swept out by SPEEDY.


Unloading of convoy completed. A fire broke out in DENBIGHSHIRE, caused by petrol fumes in an empty hold becoming ignited. It was rapidly got under control and extinguished without very serious damage being caused.


27th November


P.37 sailed, swept out by SPEEDY.


MANXMAN sailed for Alexandria en route to Haifa.


28th November


THUNDERBOLT arrived and was swept in by RYE, who subsequently swept P.43 and TRAVELLER to sea.


29th November


HYTHE swept P.46 to sea.


30th November


HEBE swept P.35 out and P.311 and P.44 in from patrol.







(1). Arrival of M.W. 13


(2). Fleet Air Arm Operations


(3). Submarine Operations


(4). Minesweeping.


(1) Operation STONAGE


With the successful unloading of Convoy M.W. 12 the state of siege existing in Malta was considerably eased. This was achieved on 26th November, by which date the greater part of the cargoes of the four ships ROBIN LOCKSLEY, DENBIGHSHIRE, MORMACMOON, and BANTAM, were dispersed or under rock.


Apart from the comparatively light attacks delivered during the passage, no attempt was made in interfere with the convoy, and the unloading proceeded undisturbed.


After the tremendous efforts made by the enemy to neutralize Malta, one must reach the conclusion that his powers of offensive action have been seriously reduced or he would have made a greater effort to hold the advantage in the battle for supremacy in the Mediterranean, which his savage and costly attacks in this Island had gained.


The safe arrival of these four ships marked the start of a period of building up of supplies of stores, ammunition, and fuel, which now in progress, and which it is hoped with place Malta in a position to take a foremost part in the attack on the enemy's southern flank when the time comes.


(2) Fleet Air Arm Operations


During the month, the Naval Air Squadrons have carried out seven strikes against enemy shipping, and one operation against "E" boats. Out of eight torpedoes dropped, three definite and one probable hit have been obtained. In one attack against three Italian 6 inch cruisers escorted by five destroyers, two explosions were observed, but all three cruisers were subsequently sighted in harbour.


When a 10,000 ton tanker was attacked, two hits were obtained an the vessel was left burning from end to end.


Hurricanes with Fleet Air Arm pilots have carried out intruder patrols over Sicily.


(3) Submarine Operations


Between 8th November and the end of the month, twenty submarines of the 1st, 8th, and 10th Flotillas were operating from Malta in connection of Operation TORCH and others came under operational control of Captain (S), 10th Submarine Flotilla, when east of Long. 8 degrees East.


During this period, one Italian REGOLO class cruiser and one destroyer were damaged and two destroyers and one Italian "U" were sunk.


Hits were obtained on Merchant Vessels of 10,000, 5,000, and 4,000 tons, and four Merchant Vessels were definitely sunk. In addition to those, one tanker which was hit was subsequently beached and a tanker and merchant Vessel already damaged by air attack were sunk.


A small yacht and a brigantine were sunk, as the result of gun actions.


TURBULENT sank an Armed Merchant Cruiser, while she was on passage to Malta.


(4) Minesweeping


During the month, 24 German "Z" type mines have been swept. "E" boats were detected by Army R.D.F. on the nights of 2/3rd, 3/4th, 5/6th, 17/18th, and 21/22nd and it is possible that mines were laid on all these occasions.


A dangerous area was declared off Filfla, in the submarine sanctuary.


Clear water has been maintained in all the lanes of the channel, and on 25 days of the month submarines have been swept in or out.


The approaches to the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett have been searched by single L and S.A. on three occasions without result, and Marsaxlokk entrance has been unsuccessfully searched twice.







(1). Summary of Air Raid Alarms


(a). Total number of raids during the month (3136 – 3165) = 30




Number of blank days 11


Number of Night Raids 13


Number of Raid Free Nights 23


Alerts for own planes 7


Number of "take cover" sounded 21


Number of raids with no "take cover" 11


(b). Total time "warning" to Raiders Passed: 10 hrs. 35 mins


Average per raid 21.2.


(c). Total time under cover 5 hrs. 27 mins


Percentage time under cover51.5%


(2), Damage in H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments




(3). Casualties




(4). Exploded bombs dealt with during November 1942.





(sgd) R. Leatham

Vice Admiral, Malta





From: Vice Admiral, Malta


Date: 3rd March 1943

Malta No. 153/1061


To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


With reference to Med.94/22 of 3rd February 1940, the following DIARY OF EVENTS IN THE MALTA COMMAND FROM 1ST TO 31ST DECEMBER 1942, is forwarded:





1st December


UNA swept in from patrol by SPEEDY.


Naval Air Squadrons secured hits on 2 M/Vs off Kerkenah both of which were left burning.


2nd December


RORQUAL and TROOPER were swept in by HEBE.


D14 in JERVIS with JAVELIN, NUBIAN, and KELVIN sailed to operated with aircraft in attack on Convoy off Kerkenah. Naval Air Squadrons attacked first and obtained hits one which sank, the other being left burning. Destroyers sank one small destroyer.


3rd December


D14 and destroyers returned to Harbour.


4th December


H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived and was swept in by HYTHE, who also swept P.35 in, and PORPOISE out, on patrol.


Naval Air Squadrons attacked two M/Vs off Zuara and sank one, leaving the other in flames.


5th December


HEBE swept P.35 to sea. P.42 was swept in by H.M. 135.


Operation PORTCULLIS was concluded successfully by the safe arrival of the five M/V ALCOA PROSPECTOR, GLENARTNEY, AGWIMONTE, SUFFOLK, and YORBALINDA (tanker), escorted by H.M. Ships CLEOPATRA, ORION, EURYALUS, DIDO, seven fleet, one Tribal, and nine Hunts class destroyers. The M/Vs and Hunts had entered by 0730 and the remainder by 1000.


The passage of the convoy was effected unhampered by enemy action.




There was no activity on the part of enemy aircraft.


6th December


RORQUAL sailed, being swept out by RYE. HYTHE, HEBE, and RYE swept out 9 M/Vs in ballast, thus clearing the congested Grand Harbour. The escort consisted of ORION, 3 Fleet and eight Hunt class destroyers. This convoy was unsuccessfully attacked by enemy aircraft the following day.


Two Albacore bombed Calabria aerodrome.


The unloading of the convoy continued uninterrupted by air raids.


7th December


M.L. 168 swept P.45 in and M.L. 459 swept P.212 and P.247 to sea.


8th December


P.44 sailed for 24 hours exercises and was swept out by SPEEDY, who swept P.48 in.


14th Destroyer Flotilla, less JAVELIN, sailed to attack tanker reported by aircraft reconnaissance.


9th December


Destroyers returned having failed to locate target.


RYE swept P.43 in from patrol and P.44 from exercises.


10th December


Convoy MW.15 consisting of the two M/Vs AMERICAN PACKER and OZARDA arrived at 2100 escorted by ORION and four Hunt class destroyers.


11th December


H.M.S. ORION and Hunt class destroyers sailed to meet and escort convoy M.W. 16 to Malta, but were recalled on receipt of signal from Commander in Chief postponing operation.


P.44 swept to sea by HEBE.


M.E. 12 completed unloading, having discharged 28,577 tons of cargo in six days.


12th December


RYE swept in P.37 and PARTHIAN on their return from patrol. UNA sailed.


Four Hunt class destroyers sailed to meet convoy M.W. 16.


Albacores mined Sousse Harbour, and approaches during the night.


13th December


H.M.S. PALADIN arrived.


HYTHE swept P.51 in from patrol.


Three M.T.B.s sailed for Bone, with orders to carry out a sweep in the Gulf of Tunis on the way.


Force K sailed on offensive sweep for the south of Malta.


Convoy M.W. 16 arrived, consisting of the M/Vs CLAN MACINDOE and ERINNA (tanker) escorted by the Hunt class destroyers EXMOOR, CROOME, HURWORTH, HURSLEY, ALDENHAM, and BELVOIR. The convoy was left up the swept channel by SPEEDY.


Fleet Air Arm aircraft sank one 7000 ton M/V in position 37-37N, 12-00E.


14th December


Force K returned having failed to make contact with any enemy shipping.


Naval Air Squadrons torpedoed a Merchant Vessel beached north of Sousse, and also bombed the town and harbour.


15th December


P.35 swept in by HYTHE, having sunk two 2/3000 ton M/Vs.


PETARD and QUEEN OLGA arrived having sunk an Italian submarine and taken the crew prisoner. PETARD was damaged by collision with the submarine, which had surfaced after being damaged by depth charge attack. PALADIN and KELVIN were sailed as escort but returned early.


16th December


P.211 sailed for patrol.


17th December


Four M.T.B.s arrived from Bone.


Convoy M.E. 12 consisting of M.Vs AGWIMONTE, ALCOA PROSPECTOR, SUFFOLK, and GELNARTNEY, escorted by ORION, 2 Fleet, and four Hunt Class destroyers sailed. This convoy was ineffectively attacked by a few JU 88s on December 18th.


18th December


Albacores of the Naval Air Squadrons bombed the docks at Sousse and attacked E boats operating off Pantellaria.


During the night more than thirty enemy bombers attacked Luqa and destroyed nine Wellington and four Spitfires on the ground. One JU 88 was shot down by night fighters. This was the only occasion during the month on which bombs were dropped on the Island.


19th December


M.T.B. 265 arrived from Benghazi.


20th December


HERE picked up Sub Lieutenant Kempson of the Fleet Air Arm, who, after crashing in a Swordfish had been adrift in a rubber dingy for nine days. He as suffering from shock and exposure, but subsequently recovered.


P.42 sailed and JERVIS and NUBIAN left for operations.


21st December


P.51 sailed.


SPEEDY and RYE carried out sweep of Q.B.B. 288.


JERVIS and NUBIAN returned having sunk a 2000 ton M/V. Aircraft of 69 Squadron cooperated.


M.W. 17 consisting of M/V OCEAN VOYAGER and FORT TADOUSSAC arrived, escorting by ORION, PAKENHAM and Hunt Class Destroyers.


22nd December


P.45 sailed for patrol, swept by HYTHE.


23rd December


RORQUAL and TURBULENT were swept in from patrol by HYTHE. P.48 sailed.


P.211 arrived with 12 prisoners of war on board, captured from a schooner which she had sunk by gunfire.


24th December


HEBE swept UNA and P.44 in from sea.


25th December


PALADIN and JAVELIN sailed for offensive sweep.


26th December


Force K sailed for exercises with Naval Air Squadrons south of Filfla.


SPEEDY and RYE searched Q.B. 288 with negative result.


TURBULENT and P.37 sailed for patrol.


27th December


P.35 sailed for patrol.


Seven M.T.B.s sailed for Bone, but returning owing to bad weather.


PALADIN and PAKENHAM sailed for offensive sweep.


28th December


P.35 returned with suspected case of diphtheria.


PALADIN and PAKENHAM returned without having sighted any enemy.


Naval Air Squadrons torpedoed a 4000 ton M/V.


29th December


WELSHMAN arrived from Alexandria.


NUBIAN, JAVELIN, and P.43 carried out anti submarine and submarine attack exercises off Filfla.


TROOPER and THUNDERBOLT sailed for patrol.


30th December




31st December


EURYALUS, PAKENHAM, and JAVELIN entered Grand Harbour.


Four M.T.B.s arrived from Benghazi.





War Diary – Part II


During the month of December, nine merchant vessels and two tankers were escorted to Malta from the East.


58,500 tons of general cargo, and 18,220 tons of oil fuel were discharged, and the supply position, from being most precarious, became, in this one month, established on a firm basis.


The amount of aviation and M.T. spirit brought in relieved anxiety on this score, and it was possible to increase the civilian rations, thus improving morale, and saving a falling off in the general health of the population which was imminent.


No serious attempt to stop the convoys reaching port, or to interfere with their unloading was made, and the only occasion upon which bombs were dropped in the Island was on the night of 18th when Luqa aerodrome was attacked by about 30 bombers. Nine Wellingtons and some fighters, which were parked about the runways and landing grounds, were destroyed.


Full precautions for the safety of the valuable cargoes being landed were still taken, however, and it was endeavoured to combine swift unloading with the safe dispersal although the latter naturally slowed up the former to some extent.


1. Force "K" and destroyers operating from Malta were deployed on convoy escort duties, and also carried out offensive sweeps of the Tunisian coast, successfully cooperating with the Royal Air Force and Naval Air Squadrons in disorganising enemy's coastal traffic and sinking a number of ships.


2. Owing to the presence of these surface forces and frequent movements of M/Vs in convoy, the minesweeping policy was changed and the channel given a daily routine sweep.


Special sweeps were carried out before important movements.


The clearance of the dangerous area off Filfla was continued and nine moored mines were accounted for.


No ground mines were detonated during the month.


During 1942, 438 mines were swept in the waters round Malta and Gozo.


3. Twenty seven submarines were operational from Malta during the month, being mainly employed on TORCH and LIGHTFOOT. These were drawn from 1st, 8th, and 10th Flotillas, but were under the control of Captain (S) Tenth Submarine Flotilla when working between 8 degrees East and 19 degrees East.


4. Out of 26 attacks carried out, 9 were successful, and seven ships were reported sunk.


P.48 and P.222 were unfortunately lost during this period.


5. Naval Air Squadrons aircraft of 821 and 828 Squadrons were out on twelve nights during the month, and besides torpedoing twelve ships, six of which were seen to sink, bombed other ships and docks in Tunisia and Tripoli, and attacked E boats with bombs and machine guns. Mines were also laid in enemy waters.


6. This month was a most heartening one from every aspect. The change from the defensive to the offensive both at sea and in the air, the good news from Africa and Russia, and last but not least the improvement in rations, and inclusion of a few long absent luxuries brought everyone on their toes. The civil labour worked with a great will unloading the merchant ships, and combined with the Naval and Military to put these operations through in excellent time.


Considerable progress was made in the Dockyard, clearing debris, and repairing workshops, etc.


7. On December 18th, 248 Naval Cooperation Wing was formed under the Command of Group Captain Turner.


8. Work was commenced on the new M.T.B. base at Ta-Zbiex and boats of the 19th and 20th Divisions have been operating from Malta.







(a). Total number of raids during month (3166 – 3200) = 35.




Number of Blank Days 12


Number of Night Raids 8


Number of Raid Free nights 26


Alerts for own planes 9


Number of "Take Cover" sounded 11


Number of Raids with no "take cover": 24.


(b). Total time "warning" to "raiders Passed" 9 hrs, 30 mins


Average per Raid 16.3 mins


(c). Total time under cover 2 hrs. 58 mins


Percentage time under cover 31.2%


(2). Damage in H.M. Dockyard and Naval Establishments




(3). Casualties




(4). Unexploded bombs dealt with during December 1942




NOTE: The only bombing raid during the month was Night Raid 3190 (2307 – 0016) on 18th December, when bombs (H.E. and Anti Personnel) were dropped chiefly on Luqa and Ta Kali.



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