malta 1943 war

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RAF and Royal Navy anti-shipping squadrons and submarines posed a significant threat to Axis supply and communications between Europe and North Africa, and both sides soon recognised the importance of Malta in controlling the Mediterranean. News soon reached Malta of Operation Torch, the Allied landing in Vichy French Morocco and Algeria on 8 November. By the 12 May, there were 50 Hurricanes on the island. Human casualties remained light. At the Battle of Gazala he would win a major victory while the Battle of Bir Hakeim was less successful. It also stood on the supply route between Italy and her forces in Libya. The carrier later sailed to America where she was kept out of action for a year. Some 60% of Axis shipping was sunk in the second half of 1941. On 16 Oct, the medical officer from RAF Kalafrana examined No 5166 Pino Armando who had sustained a colles fracture. Lascaris War Rooms: Turning the clock back to 1943... - See 3,926 traveller reviews, 1,567 candid photos, and great deals for Valletta, Malta, at Tripadvisor. The loss of nine submarines and their trained crews and commanders was serious. The British, in particular the Admiralty, suffered from having to cover the Suez Canal, with the Mediterranean Fleet under Admiral Andrew Cunningham and Gibraltar with Force H under Vice-Admiral James Somerville. During World War II Malta was in a pivotal position. On 13 Oct 1943, Italy declared war on Germany. 11: British troops enter Bari in southeastern Italy. [109] The damaged Kandahar was scuttled the next day by the destroyer HMS Jaguar. [116] The pressure increased and in January the RAF lost 50 Hurricanes on the ground and another eight shot down in combat. With Germany's success in May 1940, the plan was reduced to 20,000 men and included tanks. The vast flight deck offered a target of 6,500 square metres. Following this, and with a resurgence of the aerial bombardment of Malta, surface ships were withdrawn from the central Mediterranean in January 1942. [99] In October, 18,800 tons of Axis shipping was sunk. During that battle, Park had advocated sending small numbers of fighters into battle to meet the enemy. Mussolini also thought that Franco's Spain would soon be in the war. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, in command of Axis forces in North Africa, recognised its importance quickly. [61][62] In exchange they claimed 42 air victories, twenty of them (including one over Yugoslavia) credited to Müncheberg. [120], The British Navy and Air Commanders, as well as Governor Dobbie, argued for modern aircraft, particularly the Spitfire, to be sent to Malta. If one was caught, the other, it was hoped, would get through. [134] By the end of March 1942, 19 submarines had been lost. He suggested that if Rommel reached the Egyptian border once again in the coming months (the fighting at the time was taking place in Libya), the Axis could invade in July or August 1942 when a full moon would provide ideal conditions for a landing. This would have been followed by a seaborne landing of two or three divisions protected by the Regia Marina. [175] In September 1942, Rommel received only 24 per cent of the 50,000 tons of supplies he needed monthly to continue offensive operations. It weighed 2,000 tons and could reach 18 knots on the surface. Mines sank another 179 ships of 214,109 long tons (217,545 t) in total. Eventually 2,000 miners and stonemasons were recruited to build public shelters. It would not take long for the Royal Navy to realise the island's potential as a base for offensive operations, and thus conclude it was worth defending. 830 Naval Air Squadron sank or damaged the ships Andrea Gritti (6,338 tons) and the Pietro Barbaro (6,330 tons). [128] The Germans had watched their delivery and pressed home heavy attacks. Malta was beginning to starve. Their performance, already inferior to the Bf 109E-7, was further reduced as a result. [107] Just 12 days later, HMS Barham was sunk by a U-Boat. It was felt that a man with past experience of fighter defence operations was needed. [99] Among the contributors to the sinking of Axis shipping was No. Adolf Hitler was forced to rescue his ally. Along with the Great Siege of 1565, the most documented period of Malta's history is the Second World War. In the Mediterranean and on Malta, the Allies recovered and began offensive operations against Axis shipping bringing supplies to the DAK in North Africa. Several hundred tons of supplies, 2,000 soldiers and 200 tons of medical stores reached Malta untouched, which undid all of the work of the Luftwaffe in the first four months of 1941. He landed in the midst of a raid despite the fact Lloyd had specifically requested he circle the Harbour until it had passed. Kesselring began 1942 with a raid on New Year's Day. Lloyd had requested a highly experienced combat leader be sent and Turner's experience flying with Douglas Bader over Europe soon meant he was qualified to lead the unit. On 13 November 1941 the carrier HMS Ark Royal, whilst transporting aircraft to Malta, was sunk by a U-Boat. Operation Colossus signalled a dramatic turn around. The lack of food and water caused a sickness rate of 10 per cent among Axis soldiers. The last air raid over Malta occurred on 20 July 1943. [98], In concert with Royal Navy submarines, the RAF and FAA sank 108 Axis ships (300,000 grt) between June and September. Show more. It had a complete lack of battle experience. Witnessed by Andrew Cunningham, C-in-C of the Fleet from HMS Warspite, the Ju 87s scored six hits. Unfortunately no bomb-proof pens were available as the building project had been scrapped before the war, owing to cost-cutting policies. [155] The eastern convoy was forced to turn back after a series of naval and air engagements, despite the British ships still having 20 percent of their ammunition left. Fortress Malta (2003) pp. The Spitfire arrived in Malta in March 1942, providing the island with the RAF's main frontline fighter, German reinforcements were swift to arrive. Lloyd's bombers and a small flotilla of submarines were the only forces available to harass Rommel's supply lines into the autumn. The three fuel-carrying vessels were sunk by 28 October. The strike force had considerable success, which justified basing it at Malta despite the danger from air attack. [131] The Regia Aeronautica also pressed home attacks with determination. [26] On 12 June an Italian aircraft on a reconnaissance flight over Malta was shot down. [136] Kesselring reported to the German High Command that "There is nothing left to bomb. Malta International Airport Royal Air Force Siege of Malta (World War II) Malta RAF Maintenance Base Safi. The Germans took most of the oil from Romania and left scarce resources for Italy to pursue large-scale operations on the Mediterranean. It was considered insufficient to see them into Malta. [11] In 1940, conditions were more than favourable for an assault on Malta. The Italians deployed 54,000 mines around Malta to prevent it being supplied. During September, the Allies sank 33,939 tons of shipping at sea. Outside his office, in the underground headquarters at Lascaris, he hung a sign outside; "Less depends on the size of the dog in the fight than on the size of the fight in the dog". However, the Germans backed down over Italian protests. February 1942 saw thirteen raids on Malta in a single night. Over 17 days, the Luftwaffe suffered 34 Ju 88s and 12 Bf 109s destroyed and 18 damaged. [3], In the tiny but densely populated island, 5,524 private dwellings were destroyed, 9,925 damaged but repairable, and 14,225 damaged by bomb blast. [86] Around 65,000 tons made it into Malta altogether in July. [100] During November, submarines cut Axis supplies to Africa by 62 per cent of the total sent that month. The British confidence was eroded when aircraft began to dominate the actions at sea later-on in 1941 and 1942. The second would strike at the close escort, or, if unescorted, the bombers themselves. [5], Despite the absence of any operational airfields, at least one RAF Gladiator flew against a raid of 55 Savoia Marchetti SM 78a and their 20 escorting fighters on 11 June. Further convoys in November and December 1942 provided enough supplies to last until 1943 - breaking the siege. They sank five ships (mainly German) - Sabaudia (1,500 tons), Aegina (2,447 tons), Adana (4,205 tons), Isetlhon (3,704 tons) and Arta. [174], In August, Malta's strike forces had contributed to Rommel's difficulties in trying to force an advance into Egypt. The ship took 10 Hurricane fighters and 57 tanks with it. [11] The Italian and British surface fleets were evenly matched in the region, but the Italians had a significant numerical advantage in submarines and aircraft. More machines were collected, and the Korps reached a peak strength of 425. In supplies, the Axis lost 315,090 short tons (285,840 t). Two further attacks were made without result. Lloyd asked his bombers to attack at mast-height, increasing accuracy but making them easier targets for anti-aircraft defences. In July 1943, two months after the Afrika Korps surrendered in Tunisia, Malta played a prominent role as Allied headquarters and as a forward air base during the Allied invasion of Sicily. A destroyer, (HMS Kandahar) was also mined while attempting to assist the stricken Neptune. [181] On 16 October, it was clear to Kesselring that the defenders were too strong. The supplies included spares and aircraft. On 9 May 1942, Wasp and Eagle delivered 64 more Spitfires (Operation Bowery). British naval forces passed through to Malta, almost unchallenged. To the Italians (and later the Germans), air power was the key weapon against Malta. RAF forces on Malta could not afford to sit idle. Badly damaged, but with her main engines still intact, she steered for the now dubious haven of Malta. The Luftwaffe's two units were both Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Gruppen (Groups). In the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in material and lives. Most of the losses were to mines. In the first two months, around 20 RAF bombers and reconnaissance aircraft were shot down. But that gain came at a price. MALTA. [70], Further success was had by the Malta Convoys. For some reason, the Air Staff did not choose to do this earlier, when the bombing ceased in 1941, and the RAF forces on Malta became primarily fighter-armed while the principal aim changed to one of air defence. From April throughout the summer that year, the Islands were pushed to the brink, almost to capitulation. The ferry tanks, combined with a 29-gallon tank in the rear fuselage, brought the total tank capacity up to 284 gallons. Only six obsolete Gloster Sea Gladiator biplanes were stationed on the island, with another six in crates, when on 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on the United Kingdom and France. Park retaliated by ordering his fighters to climb no higher than 20,000 feet. The RAF dominated the sky over Malta. Legend has it that there were just three aircraft, Gladiators nicknamed 'Faith', 'Hope' and 'Charity' but, in reality, at least six Gladiators and also Hawker Hurricanes were deployed; the Hurricanes did most of the damage. The new force was named the Tenth Submarine Flotilla and was placed under Flag Officer Submarines (FOS) Admiral Max Horton who appointed Commander G.W.G. Although the civilian population was enduring, the threat of starvation was very real. In response to the threat Malta was now posing to Axis supply lines, the Luftwaffe renewed its attacks on Malta in October 1942. Among the written-off Axis cargo were precious fuel stores. Malta was a significant military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt. [63], In contrast, the Hurricanes were patched up and cannibalised beyond their expected service life. While the Regia Aeronautica was ineffective, so was the Italian Navy. Commanders Ian McGeoch (commanding HMS Splendid),[168] Hugh "Rufus" Mackenzie and David Wanklyn[169] had particular success. According to the 1937 census, most of the inhabitants lived within 4 miles (6.4 km) of the Grand Harbour, where the population density was more than six times that of the island as a whole. It envisioned an airborne assault with one German and one Italian airborne division, under the command of German General Kurt Student. Third, the preservation of his force was critical. The Navies and Air Forces shared in the destruction of 25 ships for 106,050 long tons (107,750 t), and Air Forces sank 1,326 ships, for a total of 1,466,208 long tons (1,489,736 t). Malta remained a British possession. [28] A further two Hurricanes crashed, with one of the pilots rescued by a Short Sunderland flying boat. [44], The British submarines failed to interdict the German ships transporting the German forces to Libya successfully. Supported by S and T Class vessels, they dropped mines. [88] Malta was now being used as a base for supplying Egypt. It offered a haven for British shipping to and from those places, but it also gave the British an excellent staging platform of offensive thrusts against naval, land, air and … On the first day, 55 Italian bombers and 21 fighters flew over Malta and dropped 142 bombs on the three airfields at Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali. The type began arriving in March 1942. Embry agreed, and recommended the Spitfire be sent in sufficient numbers. [124], To restore qualitive parity, on 7 March 1942, a contingent of 16 Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vs flew to Malta from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle as part of Operation Spotter. Malta entered the war sharply and suddenly. Throughout the war, the Axis Powers did not manage an invasion of the islands, although it was attempted in July 1941 and again in July 1942. For much of the following 2 yearts, the island was under almost constant air attack. [119], One-third of all raids were directed against airfields. The history of Malta is a long and colourful one dating back to the dawn of civilisation. [113] Actual Axis losses amounted to 135 bombers (80 German) and 56 fighters plus a number of other aircraft. SS Empire Song, which hit a mine and sank. At Kalafrana, all the buildings were close together and above ground. Achetez neuf ou d'occasion Soldiers’ rations were also reduced, from four to two thousand calories a day. Spooner 1996, p. 185 and Holland 2003, p. 388. There were three fundamental reasons for this. Rommel lost 44 per cent of his supplies on October, a jump from the 20 per cent lost in September. Malta was a significant military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt. This stemmed from a pre-war conclusion that the island was indefensible. The Bf 109F was more than a match for the outdated Hawker Hurricanes. 1943. It provided an increasingly potent offensive arm. Air Vice Marshal Keith Park replaced Lloyd as AOC. [29] The arrival of more fighters was welcome. On 6 December, another supply convoy under the codename Operation Portcullis reached Malta without suffering any losses. One reason for accepting heavy losses was the difficulty in bombing accurately. Supply issues were bad, the small German force left was forced to abandon operations on 22 April 1941. [11] In October 1939, the Mediterranean Fleet was moved east to Egypt, practically stripping the island of its naval protection. The vessels had to spend most of their time submerged, and the surrounding flats and residences where crews had enjoyed brief rest periods had to be abandoned. The end of the war saw the Islands economically and physically devastated. The fewer fighters he had in the air (he advocated 16 at most), the smaller target the numerically superior enemy would have. Conflicts. [17] The British leadership had further doubts about whether to hold the island in May 1940 when French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud reported that the situation in France was dire, but that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini might be appeased by concessions, including Malta. Articles incorporating text from Wikipedia, World War II campaigns of the Mediterranean Theatre, Aerial operations and battles of World War II involving Germany, Battles and operations of World War II involving Italy, Military history of Gibraltar during World War II, Combat History of the Supermarine Spitfire – The Defence of Malta (1942), The Air Battle of Malta, 1940–1942 (HMSO 1944),, June 11, 1940 – November 20, 1942 (2 years, 5 months, 1 week and 2 days), 716 fighters over the course of the campaign, circa. Stuka bombers based in Sicily were to pound Malta into submission. [1] The response was also naval. Müncheberg's Staffel was no more than 12 Bf 109s strong, yet this force gained air superiority over Malta in the first four months of 1941, There was some Allied success in April, with victory at sea in the Battle of the Tarigo Convoy. [151] Poor nutrition and sanitation led to the spread of disease. The state of the island was worse than he expected. This amounted to a 94 per cent success rate. 830 Naval Air Squadron, the British 10th Naval Flotilla and No. Until U Class vessels could be made available in numbers, British ''T'' class submarines were used. [127] While the Spitfires were a match for the Axis aircraft, many of the ones delivered in March and April were destroyed on the ground and in the air, where they were outnumbered. The Axis organised a convoy to relieve the difficulties. The Kriegsmarine sent nearly half of all the German U-Boats on operations in the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea to support the effort against Malta. 185 Squadron claimed 18 destroyed, seven probable victories and 21 damaged for 11 killed or missing. Submitted by Jason McDonald on Sat, 2014-07-05 03:18. [93], Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB Z5140. In response, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OLK or Air Force High Command) sent Fliegerkorps X (Flying Corps Ten) to Sicily, which arrived in January 1941, to strike at naval forces in and around Malta, as well as RAF positions on the island to ease the passage of supplies. The cruisers HMS Dido and Gloucester accompanied the ships as part of the force. The mounting shipping supply losses affected Geisler's ability to support Erwin Rommel and his forces, which caused tension between the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe. It became a linchpin in the British Empire overseas—a vital way station along Britain's lifeline, through Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. your own Pins on Pinterest Object details Category Art Related period Second World War (production), Second World War (content) Creator Langmaid, Rowland Production date 1943 Materials . Malta played an important role in the 1943 invasion of Sicily with the nerve centre being housed within the Lascaris War Rooms. This made Malta a dangerous threat to Axis logistical concerns. The strategic role of the island during the conflict. Simpson to command the unit. They flew to the French colony of Tunisia, but insecurity compelled them to seek friendlier surroundings. The island appeared to the Axis forces to be neutralised as a threat to their convoys. [160] at a cost of 16 aircraft. It was never carried out. Even technical staff, clerks and flight crews helped when required. Although frustrated, Kesselring was relieved the operation had seemingly been postponed rather than shelved. Malta during WWII (How was life for the Maltese during the war? The Axis bombing had already done severe damage to the Three Cities. ULTRA intercepted the planned convoy route, and alerted Malta's air units. Two freighters of the western convoy reached Malta and delivered supplies, making them the only ships out of a total of 17 to deliver their loads – a mere 25,000 tons of supplies. Il ... Malta had to be put out of action if the war in North Africa was to be an Axis victory. The AOC Middle East, Arthur Tedder, sent Group Captain Basil Embry to Malta to assess the situation. Secondary landings would go ahead at Gozo, an island adjacent and north of Malta as well as the tiny island of Comino, which lay between the two. It cost the British one Beaufighter, two Beauforts, three (out of six) Blenheims and one Wellington. First, there would always be fighters in the air covering those on the ground if one did not send their entire force to engage at once. [153], In June, the Royal Navy undertook Operation Harpoon and Operation Vigorous. The relief on Malta was significant as the British could concentrate their forces for offensive, rather than defensive operations. The Siege of Malta in World War Two. Simpson, and US Captain George Phillips, who replaced him on 23 January 1943, had much success. [179] Often, the Spitfires were asked to undertake flights of five and a half hours, travelling the same distance from London to Saint Petersburg. Staffel Jagdgeschwader 26 (26th Fighter Wing or JG 26), lead by Oberleutnant Joachim Müncheberg, quickly lead to a sudden and marked rise in RAF losses, as the experienced, confident, tactically astute, better-equipped and -trained German fighter units made their presence felt. Catch a glimpse of the Italian Fleet surrendering to the Allies in 1943 during World War II. This is the only tour available in Malta which is dedicated to Malta’s British history. He called off the offensive. Malta 1940-1943 . [74], During the first four months of German operations, the Luftwaffe had dropped 2,500 tons of high explosives on Malta. Maintenance was difficult. Kesselring responded by sending in fighter sweeps at even higher altitudes to gain the tactical advantage. Several thousands of meters were removed by Italian small vessels from 11 June to 16 August, effectively isolating Malta from the outside world. Owing to its exposed position, close to a potentially hostile Italy, the British had moved the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria in October 1939. The situation in North Africa required German air support, so the October offensive marked the last major effort by the Luftwaffe against Malta. [78] III./Kampfgeschwader 30 (KG 30) and III./Lehrgeschwader 1 (KG 1) flew sporadic night attacks during April. The only notable triumph was the sinking of the 13,089-ton Victoria merchant ship. Attacks on the airfields destroyed all the Wellingtons brought in in October. In the capital Valletta, some 11,000 people (two-thirds) left the area. [25] No RAF airfield on Malta was operational at that time. From 11 April to 10 May, just 111 Axis raids were carried out. [65], German air superiority was taking its toll on the island. Over the next 12 days the workers at the shipyard in the Grand Harbour repaired the carrier under determined air attack so that she might make Alexandria.

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