June 16. Went on another raid yesterday; went after the Italian Fleet that had shipped out of Toronto Harbor to intercept a large convoy that was headed for Malta. If this convoy hadn't gotten through, the British would have had to quit Malta, for every other convoy has been knocked out. In desperation the British sent a convoy from the west and one from the east; I understand the one from the west was having a bloody hard time and was being butchered by, some one, but the convoy from the east got through after our raid turned the Italian Fleet back.
Through the remarkably accurate British Intelligence, we knew that the Italian Fleet was to leave to atop the British convoy. We knew the time they left, their direction, and their speed. 9n the way, we received a radio message in code, of course, telling us to alter our course 30 miles; this we did, and we found them without a bobble. We worked on our planes all day, got briefed, taxied into position till 2:00 a.m. and then took off at 3:00 a.m. Flew to the coast and rendezvoused; went in three flights of three ~ 7 of our ships and 2 Liberators (not much armour). We flew till 8:00 a.m. and sighted a fleet of ships; though we had British Naval Observers on each plane to facilitate identification of our target, we couldn't determine whose ships we were flying over, so we had to nearly make a run on them. They opened up with very accurate Ak-Ak fire and even put a splinter through the leading edge of our lead ship. Finally we decided we were over the convoy and not the Italian Fleet so we went on. We have radio equipment known as I.F.F. (Identification Friend or Foe) which sends out a wave length only known to the British and on approaching a British base or ship, we turn it on so as to call off the fighters. But in our present case, the rule of the sea says no naval vessel will be flown over unless you intend to bomb it - consequently any ship will fire at aircraft flying directly at it.
We flew till 9:00 a.m. and all of a sudden saw the Italian Fleet. Excitement was way up and we were all quite eager to have a really successful mission. We completely surprised them- they were slow in getting their Ak-Ak in to action ~ then they were very poor shot they were 4,000 ft. low. By the way, we were flying at 14,000 feet. We had hoped to hit the target in a coordinated attack with two groups of Beaufort fighters (torpedo planes) ~
One from Malta and one from the western desert. However, I saw only one low-flying plane; but most of the men said one group had just finished their attack. We veered off and made one run dropping our load of six 500 lb bombs in salvo.
Our plane got a direct hit on one of the two big battleships. This set it afire and from then on we were really in high spirits. The other ships in our formation managed a few hits because we fired both capital ships and caused them to turn and run for Italy. On heading home, we were flying low and fast nearly 250 with a small tail wind, I was flying then and moved into a tight formation much to the pilot's displeasure, but it was the only practice at defensive work (tight formations) I’d had. We had quite an argument over it, but I managed to stay in. About 10:30 a few M.E. 109's got on our tails and the formation moved in beautifully without a moment's loss. We went right down over the Mediterranean and scooted for home. By being low, we had naught to, worry about but our rather vulnerable belly. The M.E.s didn't know how to take all this and tried varied attacks which resulted in only a few bullet holes in our ship and the loss of one of theirs - one of the tail gunners got credit for it. We proceeded home and had quite a time buzzing lone ships - they'd futilely fire at us, but a short burst of our guns over their nose usually silenced them. We came into the field and from the cocky appearance of the one-pass landings, everyone knew we were successful. We landed about 2:00 p.m. and got to bed about 9 p.m. - nearly 40 hours at steady work. Today, we learned for sure that we fired both battleships and got one pursuit - a sub witnessed it all and gave us a favorable report. And so we saved Malta. I understand Malta has been bombed some 2,000 times _ at least 4 times every day. It is hard to see what good it is, but it is vital. Just learned an interesting report; the Italian radio just announced that their fleet intercepted and completely destroyed a British convoy, and one lone Italian pursuit plane knocked down 49 Allied planes ~ some story.
Seems hard to believe that anyone could possibly put out such puerile propaganda and hope any of it could be swallowed.