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Thread: Calling all Malta experts!

  1. #1
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    Default Calling all Malta experts!

    573095 Corporal Ronald Harding (full name), a Fitter IIE, previously serving at Aqir, was posted to Malta on 7 Aug 41 and a week later to 69 Sqn there, and with whom he appears to have served until Dec 43 before being posted back to England in Jan 44. While on Malta he was awarded a mention in despatches (2 Jun 43).

    According to family lore, Ronald made his way to Malta as a passenger in a submarine, but is this very likely even given the challenges facing travel to/from Malta at the time?

    I note also that there are a good number of AIR files pertaining to Malta listed on TNA's catalogue. Would anyone who is familiar with some or all of these be able to advise if any are likely to make mention of a groundcrew member such as Ronald by name?

    TIA,
    Errol

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    This is not a definitive answer but may help others in helping you.

    The comings and goings of submarines from/to Malta are well documented on the superb Naval History dot Net site

    https://www.naval-history.net/xDKWD-Malta1941.htm

    DIARY OF EVENTS – AUGUST 1941


    FROM……VICE ADMIRAL, MALTA
    Date………15th September 1941 Malta No. 305/0702/19/13
    To…………Commander in Chief, Mediterranean


    PART I

    With reference to Med. 94/22 of 3rd February, 1940, the following Diary of Events in the Malta Command from 1st to 31st August 1941 is forwarded:

    2nd August Operation STYLE successfully completed. FARNDALE returned with defects.

    3rd August UTMOST arrived from patrol north of Messina, having sunk a 4000 ton ship and blown up a train.

    4th August UNIQUE arrived from patrol south of Messina, having wrecked two trains.

    5th August 6 Swordfish attacked Augusta with bombs. All returned.

    6th August 7 Swordfish left to attack convoy of 6 destroyers and 6 M.V.s southbound in vicinity of Kerkenah Bank. All aircraft returned claiming at least 2 hits with torpedoes. 2 M.V.s observed in a sinking condition.

    9th August 4 Swordfish left to attack large M.V. at Syracuse. One torpedo was fired. Result unobserved, although pilot reported torpedo running true, when seen 1000 yards from target.

    10th August THUNDERBOLT sailed for Alexandria.
    4 Swordfish carried out night search of East Sicilian coast and eventually released 3 torpedoes at a 7 – 10,000 M.V. in Syracuse. Two hits claimed.

    12th August RORQUAL arrived from Alexandria with petrol and stores.
    P.32 sailed for patrol east of Tripoli.

    13th August 6 Swordfish left to bomb Augusta. Visibility poor. Chose individual targets and dropped their bombs mainly at Syracuse, causing fires and explosions.

    14th August 9 Swordfish made a very successful attack on a southbound convoy of 5 destroyers and 5 M.V.s. Hits with torpedoes claimed on 1 Destroyer and 3 M.V.s. All aircraft returned.

    _________________________________________

    Note that I have highlighted RORQUAL. This submarine "was well suited to carrying stores and in June 1941, after loading at Alexandria, became the first submarine to carry supplies to the beleaguered island of Malta. In all she performed, at considerable risk to the submarine, 5 storing runs to Malta in 1941 from Alexandria and in 1942 from Beirut. These were known as "magic carpet runs". The supplies consisted mainly of aviation spirit for the Hurricane fighters defending Malta airspace, kerosene for cooking and mail. Passengers were carried in both directions." (Bold mine)

    I hope this is not a red-herring. But the sub's log is available at TNA, though not digitised. A visitor maybe able to do a lookup - ADM 173/16941

    HTH

    A
    RAF Armoured Car Companies 1920-45 http://www.rafacciraq.com/

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    Many thanks Amrit.

    Found this elsewhere on the internet by searching 'Rorqual submarine log'. The dates are not quite a perfect match with Harding's service record posting but perhaps close enough. He may well have been one of the '18 other ranks'?

    Cheers,
    Errol

    31 Jul 1941
    HMS Rorqual (Lt. L.W. Napier, RN) departed Alexandria for Malta for her 3rd storage trip.

    Rorqual had on board:
    1 naval officer
    1 army officer
    18 other ranks

    1500 cases of aviation spirit
    4680 gallons of aviation spirit in bulk
    17285 gallons of kerosene in bulk
    1 ton of junction boxes
    2 tons of mail
    6 tons of stores

    Errol

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