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21 February 1942: Malta Needs Food, Fuel and Fighters to Survive

Malta – World War Two: to mark the 70th anniversary of the Island’s award of the George Cross on 15 April 1942, we recall events on this day 70 years ago, as a small island becomes the most bombed place on earth.                                                                                                           (Map of Malta)

  • Morale in the balance as heavy raids resume
  • Convoy losses and air attacks taking their toll
  • Civilian loss of life hits record levels
  • Food rations cut by half
  • Vital kerosene at half normal ration

TELEGRAM: IMMEDIATE NO.80 MOST SECRET  21st February 1942

From:  Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie)                                                To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

Repeated to the Commander in Chief Mediterranean GM 112

My telegram AA No 762 of 18th February to the War Office for the Chief of Staff.  I am anxious that the effect of the recent measures of restriction on the civilian side should be fully realised in London.  These measures are

  • (a)  Return to summer kerosene rations.
  • (b)  Prohibition of all bus traffic on Saturday and Sunday except for essential employees of the Government and the Services.
  • (c)  Curtailing of lengthy bus routes so that people will now have to walk considerable distances if necessary during raids to catch buses.
  • (d)  Further drastic reduction of already quite inadequate food rations.

(e)  Reduction of sugar rations to 21 ounces per half month.  It must be remembered that sugar is a more important article of diet in Malta than in England.

2.  As you know our consumption of all commodities was already restricted to the minimum level which I thought acceptable on a long term basis.  Some of the new cuts go below that level.  Civil consumption of kerosene – after bread the most important commodity for civil use in Malta – is now just above half its normal level.  Food consumption will be well under half normal.  Motor transport petrol on the civil side will be little more than a quarter what it was in July 1941 when strict control was started and even then it was far below peace-time level.

3.  You know our stock positions from my telegram under reference.  I feel that we have reached a critical point in the maintenance of Malta.  If the opportunity of the dark period in March is not taken to run in supplies, we shall have to wait until April when the lengthening days and possible intensification of the war may increase the risks at sea.  Our supply position will then be such that the loss of the whole, or even of a substantial part, of a convoy would create a most dangerous situation here.  The arrival in the meantime of small quantities of supplies by submarines or single ships would no doubt alleviate that situation to some extent but could not substantially change it.  Even if after April our position could be remedied before it became too late, it would not be easy to build up our stocks again to a safe level, and we should be faced with a further period of acute difficulty.

4.  Quite apart from the actual stock position the state of public morale is a most important factor.  The necessity for the recent measures of restriction will no doubt be accepted by the public but they cannot fail to have their effect on the morale, especially if they have to be kept in force for any length of time.  The spirit of the people throughout the heavier attacks of the recent weeks have been remarkably good, though loss of civilian life has been greater than during any other equal period.  Nevertheless there is some evidence of a beginning of despondency beneath the surface.  World events and particularly our set-back in Libya have their natural effect here but other causes nearer home operate more strongly.  The people have always drawn their greatest encouragement from the success in the air over their island and the arrival of convoys.  The consolation of the latter has not lain solely in securing food or other supplies.  It has also been a demonstration of our control of the surrounding seas.  The inferiority of our fighter aircraft to those of the enemy in performance has been a cause of marked depression.  Steps are being taken to reverse that situation but in the meantime the lowering effects of the present position are joined to those of the failure of the recent convoy and of the increased restrictions which that failure has made necessary.

5.  I have always maintained that this fortress stands on four legs:  the three services and the civil population.  If we are attacked, the duty of the latter will be to remain resolutely in their [homes] and I have no present reason to doubt that they would fail in that duty.  It must be remembered however that about a third of the garrison consists of Maltese troops who are naturally affected by the spirit of their families at home.  We have also to count, while preparing for attack, on some thousands of civilian workmen.  Inevitably there has already been some deterioration in the morale. That deterioration is not yet alarming and it is naturally important to prevent it from becoming so.

6.  For all these reasons I earnestly hope that an immediate decision will be taken to send us further supplies in adequate quantity by the quickest available means.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 22 FEBRUARY 1942

Daytime  Total of 50 ME 109s and JU 88s.  Bombs dropped on Kalafrana, Hal Far, Luqa, Ta Qali.  Enemy aircraft engaged by Heavy and Light Ack Ack and by Hurricanes.  One ME 109 destroyed and several JU 88 and other ME s damaged.  Extensive damage to service property and installations.  Casualties:  two soldiers wounded.

0756-0832 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s circles the Island and recedes.  One aircraft drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

0856 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north.

0917 hrs  The JU 88 attacks Hal Far, dropping four bombs and causing superficial damage to buildings.  One Swordfish is burned out; one Naval Rating killed.  One RAF serviceman is seriously injured; four Army personnel and one Naval Rating injured.  Heavy Ack Ack and fighters engage.

0920 hrs  The JU 88 is engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns at 5500 feet; no damage claimed.

0938 hrs  All clear.

1023-1058 hrs  Four JU 88 escorted by ME 109s approach from the north.  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at high altitude, while the other three drop bombs on Hal Far, Safi and Luqa.  Five Wellingtons under repair are further damaged; two Hurricanes are damaged.  One petrol bowser and the duty pilot’s tent are destroyed; the duty pilot is wounded.  Heavy Ack Ack and Light Ack Ack engage.  Four Hurricanes fire all their ammunition from short range.  Many strikes are claimed on the engines, fuselage and tail of one JU 88: aircraft is believed unlikely to reach base.

1150-1235 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fighters approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi landing strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Two ME 109s carry out a low flying attack against a Sunderland in Kalafrana Bay.  They are engaged by Light Machine Guns of 1st Bn Dorset and 2nd Bn Devon Regiments.

1333-1412 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by fighters approach from the north and drop bombs in the Safi – Gudja areas, damaging living quarters, a sound locator and searchlight position at Gudja.  Malta’s fighters up; no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1505-1521 hrs  Nine plus unidentified aircraft drop bombs in the sea 300 yards off Tigne from above the cloud.  Heavy Ack Ack fire barrage.

1555-1605 hrs  Two plus aircraft approach the north of Gozo, split up and recede north.  Fighters are airborne but do not intercept.

1648-1720 hrs  Twelve plus aircraft approach in three groups.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and Heavy Ack Ack launch a barrage over Grand Harbour.  Bombs are dropped on Island Bay from above the cloud.

1800-1944 hrs  Twelve plus aircraft come in and drop bombs from above cloud, east of Grand Harbour. Ten plus ME 109s follow and patrol south east of the Island at 9000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1950-2016 hrs  A nuisance raid of aircraft believed to be aimed at the Libyan ferry service and a diversion near Gozo.  No aircraft cross the coast.

Night 21/22  Almost continuous raids.  Bombs in the sea and on land at Delimara, Mellieha, Ta Qali, Tarxien, Marfa Ridge, Ta Silch, Torri Qalet Marku, Wardia Ridge, Valletta and Gudia.  Hal Far aerodrome is cratered; one Albacore slightly damaged.  One Hurricane slightly damaged at Ta Qali.  No casualties.

2045-2135 hrs  Air raid alarm.  No aircraft crossed the coast: bombs are dropped in the sea south of Hal Far and 25 miles east of the Island.

2153-2250 hrs  One aircraft crosses the coast four times and is barraged five times.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Tigne, Manoel Island, Hal Far and Benghaisa, and on land at Delimara.

2257-0043 hrs  One aircraft is barraged five times and drops bombs on land at Ta Qali, Mellieha, Valletta and in the sea near St Paul’s Bay, Comino, St Thomas’ Bay and Zonqor.  Many of the bombs are incendiaries; some are reported as unexploded (ie delayed-action bombs).

0024 hrs  One unexploded bomb is reported south of Tarxien (believed delayed-action).

0050-0527 hrs  Four aircraft operating singly and in succession carry out patrols and occasionally cross the coast.  One unexploded bomb is reported in French Creek (believed delayed-action); other bombs fall on Marfa Ridge (four), Hal Far (two), Ta Silch, the road house near Madliena, Torri Qalet Marku, Wardia Ridge, Ghallis Rocks and Gudia.  There are also bombs in the sea to the north of the Island.  Two low-flying ME 109s machine-gun an area in the vicinity of Wardia Battery.  Heavy Ack Ack fire five barrages.

0547-0604 hrs  One aircraft approaches Comino but does not cross the coast.

0639-0725 hrs  Four bombers operate individually in succession; only two cross the coast.  The first is barraged twice and drops bombs in the sea off Rocco.  The second, a JU 88, drops one bomb near Selmun Palace.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Frederick Bedford, HMS St.Angelo, Senior Observer, Fleet Air Arm, killed in action over St Paul’s Bay.

Civilian casualties  Mqabba  Anthony Ghigo (age 24).

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Sunderland, four Hudsons, one Flamingo from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to Shallufa, three Wellingtons to LG 224; three Hudsons to LG 224.

HAL FAR Night 21/22nd  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched on search for enemy shipping.  Area searched from Messina Straits on bearing 110 for 100 degrees.  Two Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to attack 4000 ton tanker off Tripoli.  One torpedo hit the ship.  Both aircraft returned safely.  One Albacore 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched on search for enemy shipping crashed in the sea off St Paul’s Bay on the way out.  Lt Bedford (Observer) is missing.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance special task; one Maryland SF3 patrol.

21 Squadron  One Blenheim despatched to attack shipping at Palermo; no attack made.

S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  2nd Bn Irish Fusiliers mount guard at the Governor’s Palace, St Anton.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Rain ceased overnight.  Air raids resumed.  Luqa working party resumed.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in 1942, February 1942, Uncategorized

 

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20 February 1942: Time Bombs Set to Terrorise Malta

Malta – World War 2.  CLICK HERE if this is your first visit to maltagc70.com.

BOMBS ON TAL VIRTU “DO NOT EXPLODE”

Tal Virtu

“[Royal Engineers] Bomb Disposal HQ received the news they had been dreading since the previous December: the bombs …were delayed-action.  The Luftwaffe had added a terrifying new tactic to their bombing campaign against the Island: unpredictability.  From now on, anyone finding or working on an unexploded HE bomb faced a fearful prospect: it could be a time bomb and set to explode at any moment – maybe even as they approached.

Both [RE] Bomb Disposal Officers had experience of Type 17 delayed-action [DA] fuzes on the Home Front.  Lt Carroll remembered how their introduction during the Blitz on London in 1940 reduced the life expectancy of Bomb Disposal Officers to a matter of weeks:

‘The Germans were amazed that their excellent bombs were not going off.  The only way they could tackle the matter was to kill the people who were dealing with the bombs.  They devised a clock, which would be set for any period between a few minutes and [eighty] hours.  So from then on the first requirement was to listen to the bomb.  If there was ticking, there was a clock inside which had to be stopped.’

…Overnight, the task facing the two Bomb Disposal Officers became significantly more hazardous and time-consuming.  Already hard-pressed to cope with the increasing numbers and weight of unexploded bombs on the Island, Lt Blackwell and Lt Carroll were now constantly on the alert for possible DA bombs.  In the four weeks following the 21 February raid, out of 177 UXB reports a dozen more bombs had DA fuzes.  As bombs became more complex and dangerous, the two BD Officers had to be much more involved with each one of them.

But every single buried bomb would now require a longer and more delicate bomb disposal operation.  The Germans did not need to drop a high percentage of delayed-action bombs to cause the extra disruption: once they started using them, the threat of an explosion without warning was achieved with every bomb that fell.”

From: UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 21 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.  100% low cloud; rain.

0646 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

0847-0902 hrs  One twin-engined aircraft crosses the coast near St Paul’s Bay and recedes over Ghain Tuffieha without dropping bombs.  Fighters up; no interceptions.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

0922-1010 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the south east, circles to the east and north, crosses the coast at St Paul’s Bay, flies over Grand Harbour and drops bombs in the Bighi area.  Fighters are up and an interception made.  Heavy Ack Ack engages.

1033-1122 hrs  Two bombers escorted by two ME 109s approach from the north.  One bomber drops bombs in the sea north of the Island, the other crosses the coast and drops bombs on Senglea from above the clouds, then recedes north. Malta’s fighters are airborne; no interceptions. Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1232-1303 hrs  One unidentified bomber approaches from the north and crosses the coast over Grand Harbour.  Bombs are dropped in Cospicua and Zeitun.  Aircraft then recede north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage. Malta’s fighters are up; an interception is made.

1423-1540 hrs  Four JU 88s approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea off Grand Harbour, and on Ta Qali, near the reservoir, and in the Mosta area. Malta’s fighters are up; no interceptions.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1545-1559 hrs  Air raid alarm: raid does not materialise.

1641-1719 hrs  Four unidentified aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the runway at Luqa.  Fighters are up near the enemy so Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1722-1739 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south east, turns three miles from the coast and recedes.

2152-2215 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Kalafrana area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2242-2252 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south east, turns 15 miles south west of the Island and recedes south east.

0205-0308 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west.  Bombs are dropped in the sea; others dropped on Tal Virtu area do not explode.

0312-0317 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east and drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Civilian casualties  Edward Griffiths; Mosta  Jimmy Gauci (age 3); Jessie Haig (age 40);  Zabbar  William Miller (age 55).

OPERATIONS REPORTS:FRIDAY 20 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Seven Wellingtons to Shallufa.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland Just 1 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol.

S/D Flight  One Wellington search Messina – C Colonne.

TA QALI  Further planes took off and landed at Luqa to operate there.  30 ground crews attached to Luqa.  Ta Qali aerodrome unserviceable except for take-off.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Normal work and training.  Brigade conference in the afternoon followed by COs conference.  Party returned from Tal Minsia operations.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Observation Post at Tal Minsia manned by the Intelligence Section.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Still very wet.  This unit takes over Observation Post at Tal Virtu for a week.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in 1942, February 1942

 

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19 February 1942: First Raid-Free Day Since 1 December

Malta – World War Two: to mark the 70th anniversary of the Island’s award of the George Cross on 15 April 1942, we recall daily events 70 years ago, as a small island becomes the most bombed place on earth.   

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING REPLACES ‘DONNER UND BLITZEN 

The only violent crashes heard over Malta today come from the continuing heavy storms.  After eleven weeks of constant air raids the enemy stays away as the Island battles with a natural onslaught from the weather.  Conditions also keep most Allied aircraft grounded, as floods make Ta Qali and Hal Far airfields unuseable.  But as the weather clears, the Luftwaffe will inevitably return.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 20 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind north east.  Continuous heavy rain; low clouds.  Storm conditions.

0845 hrs  Two aircraft of Ta Qali’s 249 Squadron scramble from Luqa: nothing to report.

0940 hrs  Six aircraft of 249 Squadron scramble from Luqa: nothing to report.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 19 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  Four Beaufighters to 108 MU; two Beaufighters to LG 224.

HAL FAR  No operations owing to very bad weather.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol.

21 Squadron  Three Blenheims despatched on mission.  Shipping sweep Kerkennah – Bjerba – Misrata.  No aircraft missing.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable owing to rain.  Three of six aircraft 249 Squadron scrambled 0940 hrs from Luqa went on as bombers to Comiso.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Heavy rain most of the day.  Battalion TEWT.  Companies did cross-country run in the afternoon.  Funeral of Private Hawksley at St Andrews.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion Skeleton Scheme in the area of Nadur Tower. Commanding Officer gave a lecture to Central Infantry Brigade on the “Defences of Tobruk” at the British Institute, Valletta.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party temporarily cancelled due to aerodrome under water.  Gales still blowing.  Battalion signal exercise for all officers: failed to contact A and D companies owing to atmospheric interference.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in 1942, February 1942

 

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18 February 1942: Convoy Loss Causes Fuel Crisis

Malta – World War 2.  CLICK HERE if this is your first visit to maltagc70.com.

  • Continuous thunderstorms flood airfields and damage buildings
  • Ta Qali barracks leaking: conditions ‘deplorable’
  • Storm conditions prevent enemy raids and air ops

    Lt Gen Dobbie

GOVERNOR WARNS FUEL STOCKS WILL RUN OUT IN JUNE

From: Governor & C in C Malta                                                    To:  The War Office

IMMEDIATE. Secret Cipher Telegram AQA 0762 cipher 18/2. Most Secret.

Following for Chiefs of Staff.  Most Secret.

The non arrival of the recent incoming convoy has accentuated a supply situation which is already unsatisfactory.

2.  Present position is that supplies generally will last until end of June with following important exceptions.

(a)  Kerosene will last only till mid June and coal early June.

(b)  Motor transport petrol will last until end of April or early May.  This does not include Fortress reserve of 750 tons DTD 230 and 224 which it is essential to keep in case we are attacked.

(c)  Submarine diesel is down to two months and furnace oil (for HM ships and civil generating station) to 5900 tons.  Bombs are at three months on present consumption.  Stocks of cement, timber and small arms ammunition are inadequate.

3.  All service and civil expenditure of petrol has been cut to the bone.  Training of army units is almost at a standstill and important works have been stopped or curtailed.  Further cuts would prejudice our offensive activities and defence of Island.  Consumption of all other items has been reduced to a minimum, especially drastic cuts having been made on coal, fodder and kerosene.

4.  The minimum amount required for month to prevent stocks of all items service and civil falling below present level is 15000 tons, on basis of present consumption reduced as it is to siege conditions.  It would be most undesirable to have to remain indefinitely on this basis.

5.  Until situation in Cyrenaica radically changes difficulties of getting convoys from east will not diminish.  Consider it essential to explore seriously and very urgently possibility using all other available means of getting supplies not only from east but from west also.  This is all the more important if situation French North Africa is likely to deteriorate.  I am sure these things are being closely considered by you but I feel it important to point out very clearly that the problem is an urgent one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 19 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather   Wind north west.  Continuous rain; very cold.

1016-1022 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Cyril Jennings, Royal Navy, St Angelo (died of wounds); Private Alexander Hawksley, 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  No operations owing to very bad weather.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just 2 patrol; one Maryland Just 1 patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Part of Old Station HQ building blown off.  Aerodrome unserviceable due to rain and weather conditions.  Steps taken to find alternative accommodation due to damaged, leaking barrack blocks.  Two houses taken at Mosta and men moved in.  Conditions on camp deplorable.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Petrol-less day.  Heavy rain all day.  No air raids.  Private Hawksley died in Central Civil Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that all A Company and details were safe in the Middle East.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Weather very squally.  Marqee used as Orderly Room ripped by wind and had to be struck.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued but cancelled at 1200 hours – extremely heavy rain: heaviest this winter.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  The Battalion supplied working parties for Ta Qali aerodrome, approximately 100 men.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in 1942, February 1942

 

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17 February 1942: Malta’s Worst Ever Winter

Malta – World War Two: to mark the 70th anniversary of the Island’s award of the George Cross on 15 April 1942, we recall events on this day 70 years ago, as a small island becomes the most bombed place on earth. 

STORMS REPLACE THE HAIL OF BOMBS

Wellington bombers

Gales and heavy continuous rain keep the enemy away but make life in Malta very uncomfortable in stone buildings designed for hot, dry weather.  Rainfall is currently twice the average for February in what is becoming the worst winter on record.  Ta Qali and Hal Far are little better than lakes, preventing the Malta’s air forces from taking to the air to protect convoys or take on the enemy.  Road conditions and the lack of available fuel mean that most journeys on the Island have to be on foot – often for miles.

WEATHER BRINGS RESPITE TO MOURN THE DEAD

Funerals take place today at St Andrews Cemetery for five servicemen killed by the bomb which destroyed the Regent Cinema on Sunday.  Meanwhile it has been announced that another serviceman has died as a result of injuries sustained in the raid.

FOUR WELLINGTONS LOST

Four Wellington aircraft from a delivery flight for Malta were lost overnight.  The four were among a group of thirteen which left Gibraltar overnight heading for Luqa.  Italian news has reported one Wellington shot down in flames by fighters from Castel Vetrano airfield, with a crew of six taken prisoner.  A second Wellington is also reported forced down at Modica by German fighters.  The aircraft was undamaged but its crew of seven were captured.  A third was shot down into the sea by JU 88 aircraft just 45 kilometres from Malta.  F/O J Willis-Richards was rescued by an Italian destroyer; the remainder of the crew did not survive.  The fourth Wellington crashed on landing at Luqa airfield: the aircraft is a write-off but the crew escaped uninjured.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 18 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  80% cloud.  Wind southerly.  Rain continuously during the day; cold.

0906-0943 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s flies over the Island from south to north at 24000 feet without dropping bombs.  Aircraft believed to be on reconnaissance mission.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

No further alerts  Rain and storm conditions continuous.  Little friendly aircraft activity during the night owing to bad weather.

Military casualties  Wing Commander Norman Mulholland DFC, Royal Air Force (RAF); Sergeant Arthur Wills Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Leonard Brain; Sergeant Edward Anstee RAF Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant James Andrews, RAF; Private Alexander Wilson, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment died from injuries received in the bombing of the Regent Cinema.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Carmel Briffa (age 60).

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; one Sunderland from Gibraltar; thirteen Wellingtons from Gibraltar (four missing).  Departures  One Sunderland to Gibraltar, one Wellington to Shallufa, one Wellington to LG224, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just I patrol photo-reconnaissance (PR) Corfu harbour; one Maryland PR Agostoli, Navarin, Patras, Just 2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Beaufighter PR Sicilian aerodromes.

S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable except for take-off.  Squadrons left to operate at Luqa.  40 personnel attached Luqa; rations arranged.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Re-grouping of NIB to create as large a mobile reserve as possible.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Meanee Day (1).  Battalion parade on Floriana Parade Ground: spoiled by rain. Funeral of Private Wilson and Private Byers at St Andrews.  Rest of the day a holiday.  No air raids: weather too bad.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  The regimental funeral took place of the late Adjutant Captain P Low, Captain H Gough and Fusilier Haunce at St Andrews’ Cemetery.  The Brigadier and representatives of all military units attended.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Private A Wilson died at 90th General Hospital as a result of injuries received on Sunday 15th February.  Corporal Langdon’s injuries are not so serious as at first thought.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Heavy rain all day.  Aircraft activites hampered.  Luqa working party continued.

(1) Named after a battle in India on 17th February 1843, in which the Cheshire Regiment played an important role.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in 1942, February 1942

 

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16 February 1942: Malta Must Have More Guns

Malta – World War 2.  CLICK HERE if this is your first visit to maltagc70.com.

  • Regent Cinema rescue effort continues
  • Malta’s defenders learn from Tobruk

COASTAL DEFENCES NEED URGENT REINFORCEMENTS

Secret Cipher Telegram                                                                                        AQA 0726 cipher 16/2

From: Governor & Commander in Chief Malta                                                         To:  The War Office

Anti-aircraft Guns Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

First.  Additional equipment not allowed for in present 1st Coast Regiment War Establishment should read as follows.  QF 12 pounders Bugibba two.  QF 12 pounders Delimara two.  QF 18 pounders Grand Harbour two.  BL 4.7 inch Isola two.  BL 4 inch Ta’ Xbiex two.  BL 4 inch St Angelo two.  QF4 inch Manoel done.  MMG .5 inch Marsamxett two.  Moving lights Leonardo two.

Second.  Above equipment manned at present by 1st Coast Regiment by reducing other detachments throughout.

Third.  Additional Inner Harbour Defences specified in ‘First’ will be manned permanently.  Detailed proposals for Establishment new Inner Harbour Defence Battery will follow.

Fourth.  (A) Great difficulty in obtaining Royal Malta Artillery [RMA] personnel within reasonable time.  Formation of new Inner Harbour Defence Battery involved splitting 1st Coast Regiment and formation new 5th Coast Regiment requiring additional HQ establishment.  (B) Split indicated in (A) above will entail proposed reorganisation as follows.  1st Coast Regiment as at present less Delimara and Campbell Batteries with Inner Harbour Defence Battery in addition.  Proposed 5th Coast Regiment to include Delimara and Campbell Batteries with 13th Defence Battery RMA from 26th Defence Regiment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 17 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; rough at times.  70% low cloud; rain at times.

0942-0959 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by six ME 109s flies up the north coast from east to west.  No bombs are dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1045-1114 hrs  Three ME 109s patrol to the south.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne; no interceptions.

1136-1158 hrs  One JU 88 crosses the coast over Grand Harbour and drops eight bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns at Hal Far engage one JU 88 at 5000 feet.  Eight Hurricanes are airborne; no engagement.

1224-1248 hrs  Three plus ME 109s patrol around the Island without crossing the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1329 hrs  Two JU 88s and six ME 109s approach from the north.  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Qali area and in the sea off Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Fighters are up; no interceptions.

1410 hrs  One JU 88 flying at 12000 feet drops four bombs on St Paul’s Bay; demolishing a house –  civilian casualties.

1415 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali camp causing numerous small bomb craters on the aerodrome and damaging Headquarters at 126 Squadron dispersal.  Three Hurricanes are damaged; Cpl McAlpine is slightly injured.  The aerodrome is currently still serviceable.

1510 hrs  All clear.

1532-1555 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approach from the north, fly across Mellieha Ridge from south to north and recede without dropping bombs.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.  Fighters up; no engagement.

1720-1727 hrs  Four ME 109s approach from the north but do not cross the coast.  No scrambles from Ta Qali; the weather is deteriorating.

2032-2113 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, comes no closer than five miles and drops bombs in the sea.

2146-2210 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, drops bombs five miles north east of Gozo and recedes.

Military casualties  Bn Quarter Master William Woodley, 65th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Kirkop  Michael Farrugia (age 31);  St Paul’s Bay  Emanuel Borg (age 60); Valletta  Joseph Cremona (age 21).

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 16 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Wellingtons to Shallufa; three Beaufighters to LG 10.

HAL FAR   Night 16/17th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron laid one mine outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition nil: weather good.

LUQA  69 Squadron  Special search for enemy striking force.

40 Squadron  One Wellington SW Tripoli diversion raid.

S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  1700 hrs  Lt Col E A Arderne DSO OBE, 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry lectured to officers of brigade on “Tobruk”.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Commanding Officer gave a lecture to Central Infantry Brigade on the “Defences of Tobruk”.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn: C Company return to Bn Sector from Ghain Tuffieha and occupy Marfa east.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.  Casualties still being extricated from Regent Cinema.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in 1942, February 1942

 

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15 February 1942: 20 hours of Air Raids – 41 Killed by Single Bomb

Malta – World War 2.  CLICK HERE if this is your first visit to maltagc70.com. Do you have family memories of Malta in World War Two? MaltaGC70 would like hear from you.  Email: bdmalta@btinternet.com.

  • Malta under alert for 19 hours 58 minutes
  • Daytime air raid lasts 10 hours 51 minutes
  • 141 enemy bombers and fighters
  • 175 High Explosive bombs dropped on Luqa and Valletta area
  • Bomb brings down cinema onto audience
  • Mine disposal hero killed
  • Eight enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged

CINEMA HIT DURING SUNDAY AFTERNOON FEATURE

Regent Cinema rescue operations (NWMA Malta)

At 1754 hrs today a single JU 88 bomber turned inland towards Fort St Elmo and aimed a stick of four 250 kg bombs along the peninsula of Valletta.  One hit the Casino Maltese, killing at least eight people, the next struck the Palace and the third smashed into the Regent Cinema.  The auditorium was almost full for the afternoon showing of ‘The North-West Mounted Police’ starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  The building collapsed onto the audience, most of whom were servicemen enjoying their Sunday leave.  Early estimates are 15 civilians and 26 servicemen killed and at least 29 wounded.

Servicemen and civilians who had been sheltering nearby rushed to the scene to help, followed by the Police, ARP squads and medical teams:  “…we saw a harrowing scene, with limp and moving limbs entangled between the debris.  We searched for the injured to whom we administered first-aid before rushing them to hospital; our timely intervention saved a few lives.”  ARP Sergeant-Major John Mifsud (1)

Mr Anton Caruana Galizia is killed in the raid – a man described as “a popular and prominent Maltese” by the Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral:   “I remember the day my father’s brother, Anton Caruana Galizia, was buried.  He had been hit by a splinter from a bomb dropped on Valletta in February 1942.  My father was preparing to leave for the funeral and I remarked on the black tie he was wearing.  He answered, ‘It is not half as black as my heart’.  It was a remark I shall never forget. I was seven years old.”  Anne Parnis, Glenelg, S Australia, 2011.

ROYAL NAVY MINE DISPOSAL OFFICER KILLED

Lt Cmdr W Hiscock, DSC, GC

The deaths have been confirmed of Lieutenant Commander William Ewart Hiscock, DSC, and Mrs Alice Beatrice Hiscock.  The bomb and mine disposal officer and his wife were killed by an enemy bomb which landed directly on their home in St George’s Barracks.  Lt Cdr Hiscock, Royal Navy (Retired) was appointed to ‘miscellaneous duties, sea mine disposal’ at HMS St Angelo, where he has served since 1939.  He will receive the posthumous award of the George Cross for disarming a hitherto unknown type of Italian torpedo machine in 15 feet of water of St George’s Bay in September 1941.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 16 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  30% cloud; bright periods.  Wind westerly.

0745-1836 hrs  One continuous air raid.

0745 hrs  Twelve ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0840 hrs  Five Beaufighters from 252 Squadron detachment at Luqa take off to return to Egypt but are warned to return to base due to an incoming enemy raid.  Some fail to hear the message and one is shot down by ME 109s a few miles east of Malta.

Seven JU 88s approach from the east and drops bombs on Luqa and the Safi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage by Height Control destroying one JU 88 which crashes in flames on land near Bubaqra and damaging a second which left the Island smoking badly.  Ten guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery fire 176 rounds, most guns claiming hits on the enemy.  One gun destroys a JU 88 making its escape.

0940-1040 hrs  Wing Commanders Satchell and Rabagliati lead 242 Squadron and 1435 Flight in an attack on three JU 88s without result.  They then attack five ME 109s.  W/Cmdr Satchell shoots off the tail of one and watches the aircraft hit the water: claims one destroyed.  W/Cmdr Rabliati attacks one ME 109 which turns over and went straight into the sea.

0955 hrs  Bombs on are dropped on Safi landing strip and Ta Karach.  One Other Rank is killed and two injured in the raids.

1000 hrs  While enemy fighters patrol off Kalafrana, three JU 88 approach over Kalafrana to bomb Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  All guns of 225 Light Ack Ack battery at Hal Far engage and shoot down one JU 88 which crashes into the sea south of Dingli.

1045 hrs  Twelve aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali and attacked three JU 88s and one ME 109.  No claims.

The ME 109s continue to patrol south of the Island at varying heights up to 18000 feet in formations of up to six aircraft.

1055 hrs  Hal Far aerodrome is attacked again by enemy aircraft.  Three JU 88s at 4-600 feet are engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns.  Four positions each claimed one hit.

1100 hrs  Three JU 88 approach over Comino and drop bombs on the Safi strip from a height of 9000 feet.  Barrages are fired and the bombers split up, one receding north over Sliema and the other two south.

ME 109s continue to patrol off the Island.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 dives to 7000 feet over Kalafrana Bay, is engaged by Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire and drops bombs in the sea.

1415 hrs  One JU 88 approaches over St Paul’s Bay at 12400 feet, dives towards Grand Harbour at 6000 feet and drops bombs on Sliema sea front.  Both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1430 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and dives towards Grand Harbour at 4-5000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped on St Angelo.

1500 hrs  Enemy fighters continue their patrols off the Island.

1636 hrs  A returning Maryland is attacked by two ME 109s.  One ME 109 is shot down but the Maryland itself is so damaged that it has to make a forced landing in Kalafrana Bay.  All the crew are safe.

1715 hrs  Twelve aircraft under S/Ldr Beazley of 249 and 605 Squadrons are scrambled to escort another Maryland.  They are jumped by ME 109s.  They take evasive action but are not successful.  Pilot Officer Lowe of 605 Squadron is shot down into the sea and reported missing.

1800 hrs  One JU 88s dives over Valetta and scores a direct hit on the Casino Maltese, the Palace and the Regent Cinema.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1951-2337 hrs  Fourteen aircraft approach from the north but only two cross the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0052-0150 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0310-0358 hrs; 0427-0535 hrs  One aircraft at a time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.

0620-0708 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.  No bombs reported.

Military casualties  Leading Stoker William Dempster, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman J W Mills, HMS Cleopatra; Ordinary Seaman W Walker, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman Alexander Barr, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class Ronald Williams, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class John W. Wilsdon, HMS Maori; Stoker 1st Class George Cole, HMS St.Angelo.

Aircraftsman Robert Kemp, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Corporal Gordon Singer, RAF; Sergeant John Webb, RAF; Flight Sergeant Clive Mulholland, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Aircraftsman 2nd Class Arthur Sydney Day, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Granville Jackson, Royal Canadian Air force; Aircraftman 1st Class Henry Gorman RAF VR; Sergeant Alan Largent, RAF VR; Sergeant Daniel Keane RAF VR.

Private Francis Byers, 1st Battalion (Bn) The Cheshire Regiment; Private Frank Wilson, 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment; Private William Dudman, 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Private Vincent Vella, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Thomas Wallwork, 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers; Sergeant Robert Cass, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Fusilier Albert Haunce, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers; Capt Henry Gough, 2nd Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers; Captain Peter Low, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara   Pio Carabott, age 34.  Floriana  Gerald Ciantar, age 19; Giulio Mifsud, age 19.  Hamrun  Joseph Cassar, age 30; Mary Cassar, age 19; Renzo Flores, age 65; Albert Zammit, age 26.  Paola  John Attard, age 20; Toni Farrugia, age 14; Michael Wickan, age 19.  Pieta  Frances Patsy Cutter, age 19.  Sliema  Melita Abela, age 26, Joseph Amodeo, age 24.  Valletta  Dr R Bonello MD, age 52; Dr A Caruana Galizia LL.D, age 46; Joseph Cassar, age 17; Francis Cremona, age 16; Joseph Falzon, age 17; Frank Farrugia, age 13; Raffaele Mallia, age 54; Frangiska (Kitty) Mamo, age 17; Fr Gerald Pace OC, age 40; Manasser Reginiano, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Gretz, 7/LG 1, pilot JU 88 bomber pilot shot down.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire:  Pilot Leutnant Waldemar Stadermann, Observer Oberfeldwebel Walter Hesse, Air Gunner Unteroffizier Martin Knobloch, Wireless Operator Oberfeldwebel Albert Stahl; all of 6/KG 77.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HM ships Penelope, Legion, Lance arrived.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Clare from Cairo; one Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Clare, one Whitley to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to 108 MU; five Beaufighters to LG 10 (two reported missing).

HAL FAR  Night 15/16th  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack an enemy force of four cruisers and eight destroyers.  Hits were observed on two cruisers and one destroyer.  Ack Ack and moderate smoke screen effective.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland special search.

S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special search.

TA QALI  Continuous air raids during the day; many scrambles.  No night operations.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Reinforcements arrived from Middle East:  1st Bn Durham Light Infantry 2 Officers; 4 Other Ranks; Malta Tanks 4 Other Ranks.  1st Durham Light Infantry Fourth Rifle Company which had been expected failed to arrive.  1800 hrs  Bomb scored direct hit on Regent Cinema, Valletta during performance.  Numerous service personnel and civilians buried under debris.  1 Cheshire casualties:  three Other Ranks killed; four Other Ranks injured.  Working parties of 1 Cheshire co-operated with civilian ARP in extricating casualties.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Up to this date 1 Hamps had one killed and two injured as a result of enemy action.  8 King’s Own had one killed and three injured when bomb fell on Regent Cinema.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT During the afternoon the Regent Cinema in Kingsway, Valletta received a direct hit.  There were a large number of service personnel in the building at the time.  Casualties were fairly heavy; exact numbers not yet known.  We lost Private F Wilson and Private F Byers, A Company, killed; Privates Hawksley, Blinkham, Richards and Harrod injured.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that A Company and details of Battalion had arrived from Middle East and were at the dockside.  However, it turned out that only two Officers and four Other Ranks had arrived and the ships carrying the remainder of the details and A Company had been forced to return to the Middle East through enemy action.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  The Regent Cinema in Valletta received a direct hit.  The cinema was full at the time, causing many casualties.  Two men of 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers were injured and admitted to hospital.  Rescue parties from 24 Fortress Coy and 173 Tunnelling Coy RE were sent out and did admirable rescue work for 18 hours.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  This was a very sad day for the Battalion.  At 1750 hrs a bomb fell on Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Among the casualties was the Adjutant, Captain P Low and OC A Company Captain H Gough: they were both killed.  Fusilier Haunce of C Company was also killed.  The bodies were recovered and brought to Battalion Headquarters.  This loss of the Adjutant  Capt Low and Capt Gough, both very popular and efficient officers, is most keenly felt by all the officers and men of the Battalion.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Four men of this unit were injured when a bomb fell on the Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Private A Wilson and Corporal T Langdon were the most seriously injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party.  Bombs at Sliema and St George’s Barracks.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a heavy raid on Valletta a cinema was hit causing a number of Army personnel casualties.  The Battalion was fortunate in sustaining only one slight casualty: Private W Butler.

(1) From ‘Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten’, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in 1942, February 1942

 

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