Thursday, November 10, 2005

Malta in April and May 1941

At atttempt was made to sneak a disguised merchant ship to Malta in late April. The ship, the SS Parracombe had a cargo of supplies and 21 Hurricanes. Unfortunately, the disguise was useless, as the ship was mined and lost off of Cape Bon. In late April, some Hurricane I and II fighters were flown in by aircraft carrier. This only brought the island fighter strength up to something over 40 aircraft. The defending fighters did not do very well in the first week of May. The results were attributed to the Hurricane I and inexperienced pilots. The Official History suggests that fatigue from the intense operations could have been a bigger factor. The decision was made to send the pilots from No.261 Squadron to Egypt and to retain the pilots from No.249 Squadron, due to arrive shortly. No.185 Squadron was formed, as well. Fighter command sent out new leadership and the control communications were improved. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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