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22 April 1942: ‘Malta’s Darkest Hour’ – Only 7 Spitfires Fit to Fly

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‘MALTA’S DARKEST HOUR’ – SPITFIRE PILOT BUCK MCNAIR

‘Buck’ McNair (Canadian Aces)(1)

“Within an hour of landing the radar plotters showed the Luftwaffe were up and leaving their bases in Sicily. It took three hours to get all of the Spitfires refuelled, and rearmed due to the excessive security. Also, despite assurances the cannons had not been air-tested in England and had to be set-up and there was a problem with faulty ammunition. All of the regular hands took off in what new Spits were ready and were into the first of a series of heavy raids intended to destroy as many of the new fighters on the ground as possible. The Germans were quite successful. Forty-eight hours later only seven of the forty-six Spitfires remained fit to fly. The old hands could only look at each other. It was Malta‘s darkest hour.”  Robert Wendell “Buck” McNair (1)

AIRMEN FIRE ON ENEMY RAIDERS FROM THE GROUND

Airmen are encouraged to fire rifles from slit trenches at low-flying enemy aircraft.  Many rifle brigades are formed and the morale of airmen considerably improved.  During raids 21st and 22nd April from the machine-gun site on top of the caves:  W/O Satchell damaged one JU 88 and two ME 109s; S/L Westmacott damaged one JU 88 and one ME 109.   In the morning raid, W/C Satchell hit three JU 88s.  War Diary, Ta Qali, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 APRIL TO DAWN 23 APRIL 1942

Weather  Strong south-westerly wind.  100% medium cloud.

0435-0500 hrs; 0728-0759 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for incoming aircraft: nothing transpires.

0915 hrs  36 enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: one JU 88 probably destroyed.

0932 hrs  11 JU 88s drop bombs from a high level on Luqa near Schinas Reservoir, and on the Safi strip.  One Wellington is damaged by shrapnel.

0945 hrs  Three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88: hits claimed.

Seven Spitfires 249 & 603 Squadrons are airborne from Ta Qali and see 20 JU 88s heading inland over St Paul’s Bay.  They attack.  Four Spitfires return to Luqa after a few minutes.  P/O West (249) attacks a second wave of JU 88s, damaging one, and also later attacks and damages the reconnaissance aircraft.  F/Sgt Hurst destroys one ME 109.  P/O Murray does not return.  Two Spitfires crash on landing: pilots unhurt.  Total destroyed 1; damaged 2.

1000 hrs  25 JU 88s drop over 100 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, causing craters and further damage to buildings.

1018-1120 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.

1219 hrs  Approximately 50 enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  15 JU 88s carry out a high level bombing attack on Ta Qali and Mosta.  22 JU 87 Stukas and 12 JU 88s attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs across a wide area including Valletta and Floriana, Corradino and Addolorata.  In Floriana bombs explode on the Central Civil Hospital, St Calcedonio Square and St Johns Ditch. 

1349 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1705 hrs  Massed formations of enemy aircraft approach the Island from the North, splitting into various plots to attack Ta Qali, Luca and Safi, Hal Far and the Grand Harbour area.

1724 hrs  Six Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  P/O Jemmett is believed to have been shot down near Rabat.

Two Hurricanes from Hal Far are airborne and intercept 12 JU 88s heading for the airfield with a fighter escort of ME 109s.  P/O Wigley probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Ormrod, DFC, is missing.

1730 hrs  Twelve JU 88s carry out a high level bomb attack on Luqa, damaging workshops and equipment stores.  One Hudson previously written off is now burned out.  Two Wellingtons and a Blenheim are damaged.  A bombing raid on Hal Far by five JU 88s partly demolishes the Torpedo Shop and damages one Hurricane.  A raid on Ta Qali by 13 JU 88s leaves further craters and buildings damaged.  The enemy concentrate on cuttings which they apparently believe are underground hangars.

1740-1750 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

1740-1810 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed by five guns.  One gun claims two hits on one aircraft and flames emitted.

1750 hrs  21 JU 87s and 26 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour, including Valletta and Floriana, Kalkara and the Dockyard.  Bombs land between ADS Zabbar and the Cottonera Lines.

Bombers target several anti-aircraft guns.  Two Light Ack Ack gun positions are hit by bombs, killing five Other Ranks and wounding seven, including one seriously.  A bomb explodes close to Tal Handaq Heavy Ack Ack gun position wounding one Other Rank and putting two guns out of action.  Others land close to San Pietru gun position, setting ammunition on fire, and Gudia searchlight position wounding one Other Rank.

1800 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers raid Ta Qali, demolishing the main billet at Bukana Camp.

1850 hrs  All clear.

2200 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment at Ghar Lapsi report a boat showing a light four miles offshore.

2240-2251 hrs  The alert sounds for one aircraft which does not cross the coast.

0225 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island and drops bombs in the sea off Torri l’Abjad.

0300-0330 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north east and drops mines on Zonqor Point.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Frank Jemmett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 601 Squadron; Pilot Officer Gordon Murray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 603 Squadron; Pilot Officer Oliver Ormrod, Royal Air Force VR, 185 Squadron; Squadron Leader Stewart Surridge, MC, Royal Air Force VR.

Private James Barrowman and Private Roy Douglass, 1st Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry.

Gunner Tom Berry, Gunner James Booth, Gunner Michael Kelly, all 223 Bty, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Cecil French, Bombardier Harry Gentle, Gunner William Gilbert 182 Bty, Gunner Gilbert Nixon, Bombardier Albert Norris, all 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sergeant Bernard Alliston, 276 Bty, 68 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Emmanuela Gatt, age 60. Valletta  Vincent Schembri, age 60.   Zejtun  Joseph Scicluna, age 18.  Zurrieq  Emanual Mangion, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned from uneventful patrol south of Pantellaria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gambut; one Wellington, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to 108 MU.

LUQA  0605-0650 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft on interceptions: no combat. 1408-1457 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance east Sicilian aerodromes.  2105-0540 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched to attack a convoy: bombs dropped but no results seen.  2040-0555 hrs  Twelve Wellingtons 148 Squadron are despatched in three waves to attack Comiso aerodrome.   Bombs are dropped in the dispersal area but no fires seen.

TA QALI  Two senior NCOs and 35 airmen attached from Kalafrana for temporary duties.  A salvage section is attached from Luqa.  An attachment of 48 airmen from Kalafrana is accommodated in Boschetto Gardens.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties continue as yesterday; B Company still salvaging.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Seven Other Ranks were wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali: one died same day.  One Other Rank killed by enemy action on Ta Qali.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs at Haywharf – Offices, Stores and Equipment destroyed, 2 engines damaged.  Bomb nr NAAFI Lintorn damaging 24Coy store and destroying depth charge – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 19; dealt with 17 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 12 x 50kg; 1 x 15kg anti-personnel).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Working parties from Battalion on aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2100 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Two unexploded bombs of 250kg and 500kg are reported 400 yards south of a gun position; not evacuated.

(1)  From Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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21 April 1942: Malta’s Troops Praised World Over Says CO

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Maj Gen D M W Beak

SPECIAL MESSAGE TO ALL RANKS OF THE ARMY 21 APRIL 1942                      

FROM MAJOR-GENERAL D M W BEAK VC DSO MC, GENERAL OFFICER COMMANDING TROOPS, MALTA

“I wish you all to know how much I appraise and appreciate the steadfast and excellent work you have been giving and still are to our cause which is the cause of all free people.

You have been experiencing a tense period fraught with intense difficulties.  Nevertheless you have responded gallantly and never once failed or faltered.  You are sticking to the job with a cheerfulness and fortitude which is beyond praise.  Much has been asked of you but more have you given.The spirit of your effort is representative of the best which the British breed has ever produced in its long history of brilliant achievement and that is saying much.

I know you are straining at the leash to be able to get at the enemy.  Nothing can be more trying than having to ‘sit and take it’.  The day will come when we shall ‘rise and give it’ and then I know you will not be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

There must be many questions passing through your minds which cannot, at the moment, be answered.  Remember that there are no points in the present situation which are forgotten and no efforts lacking to see it through to a successful conclusion.

Your spirited work is known and praised the world over but nowhere is it better known, more understood and appreciated, than in this Island by those of us who are fully in the picture.  Your effort is magnificent.  You may be justly proud.”                                       

ME 109

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT: FEARLESS RETALIATION

Troops of D Company, 3rd Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment were attacked by two Messerchmitt fighters while out on a route march at noon today.  As the ME 109s swooped low over the march, the infantrymen primed their rifles and returned fire.

Later this afternoon a number of ME 109s flew low over the sector of 1st Battalion, whose Ack Ack Platoon immediately responded with a volley of machine gun fire.  An hour later, A Company of 3rd Battalion opened fire on another enemy aircraft, which then crashed into the sea about four miles off the coast.

AMERICAN PILOT LOST

American pilot Hiram Putnam was killed this afternoon when his Spitfire hit a steel wireless mast and crashed.  Texas born Putnam, serving as a Pilot Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, had been attacked with cannon fire by an enemy fighter.  It is believed he was mortally injured by the attack: his aircraft which spun out of control and crashed into the pylon near quarters of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment who immediately mounted a guard at the site.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 APRIL TO DAWN 22 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; 50% cloud at 15000 feet.

0722 hrs  Large formations of enemy aircraft, including over 70 bombers plus fighter escort,  approach the Island.

0830 hrs  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron based at Hal Far are airborne and intercept twelve JU 88s.  P/O Horricks claims one JU 88 probable and one ME 109 damaged.  Sgt Finlay damages one ME 109.  Sgt Fullalove 229 Squadron is missing.

Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are also airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are destroyed; one JU 88 damaged.  One Spitfire from Luqa is shot up by ME 109s and crash-lands at Hal Far; the Pilot F/Lt Barnham is uninjured.  P/O Brooker does not return.

13 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, aiming for what they believe to be underground hangars beneath the airfield.

Six JU 88s carry out a medium level bombing raid on Luqa causing slight damage to a Maryland.

0845 hrs  As the JU 88s turn away from their attack on Luqa, they are intercepted by six Spitfires from Ta Qali.  S/L Grant and P/O Plagis between them destroy one JU 88.  P/O Plagis destroys one ME 109 and Sgt Hesselyn damages one.  F/O Buchanan damages one JU 88.

35 JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali in two waves, dropping some 150 high explosive bombs on the airfield, causing craters in dispersal roads and damaging buildings.  Four Spitfires are written off and five slightly damaged.

0910 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack the Dockyard, Corradino and Marsa Creek.  SS Pampas is hit.

0910-0930 hrs  Six guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s.  One gun claims a hit on the nose of a ME 109: smoke appears and gunners claim the aircraft as ditched in the sea.

1032 hrs  All clear.

1210 hrs  Several plots of enemy aircraft are identified approaching the Island from the north.  Bombers peel off to attack Salina Bay, damaging billets of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment and wounding one Other Rank at Salina gun position.

1220-1335 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft, claiming one JU 88 probably destroyed; two JU 88s and one ME 109 damaged.  S/L Bircher is shot down: pilot safe.

1230 hrs  16 enemy bombers and fighter bombers head for Ta Qali but are attacked by eight Spitfires before they reach the airfield.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one JU 87 and one ME 109, damaging another.  P/O Watts destroys one ME 109.  F/O Buchanan destroys one JU 87.  P/O Watts damages one ME 109.

1235-1305 hrs  Twelve JU 88s with fighter escort head drop bombs Hal Far airfield.  Bombs are also dropped on the Safi strip.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109s and twelve JU 87s dive-bomb Ta Qali, dropping 25 bombs on the aerodrome and causing craters but the runway remains serviceable.

1335 hrs  Raiders passed.

1450-1530 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa carry out a search for a missing Spitfire pilot: nothing sighted.

1612 hrs  Several formations of enemy aircraft approach the Island in waves, dividing to attack Grand Harbour, Ta Qali, Luca and Safi.  ME 109s flying low over the sector manned by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment are engaged by their Ack Ack Platoon: no claims.

13 bombers attack the Grand Harbour area: San Pietru gun position is bombed.

20 JU 88 bombers carry out another heavy bombing raid on Ta Qali airfield.

1640-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: one JU 88 possibly damaged.

1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali dive to attack ME 109s but two are themselves jumped by the enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1720 hrs  Nine Spitfires from Ta Qali attack enemy aircraft.  F/Lt McQueen destroys one ME 109 F; Sgt Brennan probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Lt McQueen damages one JU 88.  Total enemy aircraft destroyed ten; damaged seven.

1740 hrs  Two ME 109s and six JU 88s bomb Hal Far, severely damaging one Hurricane.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the enemy aircraft: hits claimed.

1744 hrs  Eight JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa and Safi.  One latrine and a wash house are demolished and the main runway is cratered.  Two Wellingtons are burned out and written off and one damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on Tal Handaq gun positions.

1910-1945 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron carries out another search for the missing Spitfire pilot: nothing sighted.

2121-2210 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north but does not cross the coast.

Night  The air raid alert sounds for eight aircraft approaching the Island singly.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

0340 hrs  One German airman comes ashore at St Thomas’ Bay and gives himself up to 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment at Munshar searchlight detachment.  He is held at Fort Ta Silch.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hiram Putnam, 126 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Stanley Brooker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 601 Squadron; Corporal Peter Clarke, Royal Air Force; Sergeant John Fullalove, Pilot, Royal Air Force (VR), 229 Squadron; Lieutenant George Treadwell, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Joseph Salkeld, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Vincent Zammit, age 39.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Uproar P31 returned from patrol off Spartivento with leaking rivets.  Jade sunk by bomb.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eight Wellingtons from Kabrit; one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  four Wellingtons, one Beaufighter, one Beaufort to 108 MU.

LUQA  1130-1330 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes.   2259-0505 hrs  Five Wellingtons 148 Squadron to attack Comiso aerodrome.  Bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and surrounding area, and on Augusta.  Bursts are seen but no results confirmed.

TA QALI  Aerodrome runway serviceable.   More tents and land taken in Boschetto Gardens.  Kitchens re-erected.   Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding. Cut in rations – difficult to feed men adequately already.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties as for yesterday.  Likely to take some time yet.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1400 hrs  Lt Treadwell is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.  1500 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson are buried at Pieta Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15; dealt with 17 (3 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 9 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Bynter is wounded by an aircraft machine-gun bullet.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bn moved to new headquarters at 415202 from 423199.  Pte J Salkeld, A Company, died of wounds received as a result of enemy action on 18/4/42.

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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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20 April 1942: 46 New Spitfires Bombed on the Ground

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Spitfires at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

NEW SPITFIRES SLOW TO GET OFF THE GROUND

“The fighter strength was reinforced on the 20th by the arrival of 46 Spitfires from UK…Prior to the above mentioned reinforcement there was a period when it was not possible to have any fighter aircraft airborne at all, due to unserviceability.  It was very noticeable that with the arrival of the fighter reinforcements, the enemy preluded his bombing attacks with fighter sweeps and maintained fighters over the Island even after the bombers had made their get-away.

During the period when the 46 Spitfires were necessarily grounded for refuellling and re-arming and brought into a fully operational condition, many were damaged on the ground by enemy action.  The inability to scramble our aircraft was due in the first place to the fact that minor details such as cannon testing were not done, and it would appear that the aircraft had come straight from the factory without being tested to see that they were fit to fly operationally.”   War Diary, Air HQ Malta, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 APRIL TO DAWN 21 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; no cloud, fine.

0615-0635 hrs  Air alert sounds for a single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0810 hrs  63 enemy bombers plus fighter escort approach the Island from the north in several plots.

“Pampas” ablaze (NWMA Malta)

0815 hrs  30 JU 88s bomb the Grand Harbour area, including Floriana, Pieta and Marsa Creek.  In the Dockyard the Abattoir is bombed; Pampas is hit and set on fire.  A shelter in St Lawrence Street, Senglea is hit by a bomb and partly collapses, killing one person and injuring five.  Manoel Island is hit by several bombs, damaging offices and workshops, as well as the pier.

One stick of bombs falls on Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery, wounding two Other Ranks.  The bombers are engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment.

18 of the JU88s target Pieta, Marsa and Floriana: bombs land on the Argotti Gardens, St Anne’s Street, Gunlayer Street and Square, Market Street, Magazine Street, Mall Gardens and Mall Street, St Calcedonio Street, First Street and New Street.  One person is killed and one seriously injured.

22 JU 87 Stukas and 11 JU 88s bomb Kalafrana and Hal Far.  Delimara Gun position is hit – one gun is damaged.

0830-0855 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s and JU 88s: hits claimed.

0935 hrs  All clear.

1000 hrs  23 Spitfires land at Ta Qali from Gibraltar.

1046-1106 hrs  Two enemy aircraft patrol to the north of the Island.

1100 hrs  23 more Spitfires are reported landed safely at Ta Qali.

1230 hrs  Over 100 enemy aircraft – JU 87s, JU 88s and ME 109s – head towards the Island in several waves and divide to attack the Grand Harbour area, Ta Qali, Luqa, Hal Far and Delimara.

23 JU 88s and 30 JU 87 Stukas attack Grand Harbour and Floriana, where bombs cause extensive damage to the Parade Ground, St Philip’s Garden, Lintorn Barracks, Kingsgate, Rundle Garden, Mall Gardens, the Granaries and Sliema Bus Terminus.

12 JU 88s raid Hal Far, damaging barrack blocks and leaving craters on the aerodrome.  One petrol bowser is destroyed.  Four JU 88s bomb Delimara point.

1250 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far engage twelve JU 88s.  P/O Noble and P/O Wigley each claim one JU 88 damaged.  Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron intercept another formation of JU 88s.  F/L Lloyd and SGt Brooks each damage a JU 88; Sgt Tweedale claims two destroyed.

1250 hrs  JU 88s heading south from Grand Harbour are engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment at Hompesch: hits are claimed.

1315-1330 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s and JU 88s: hits claimed.

1330 hrs  Fifteen JU 88s dive bomb Luqa airfield, Safi strip and the dispersal areas.  One Maryland is damaged by a Bofors shell.  Incendiary bombs are dropped, setting the grass on fire.

1400 hrs  Another wave of enemy raiders drops bombs on Ta Qali.  Sgt Taylor destroys one ME 109 and one JU 87.  He is slightly injured by perspex splinters in the face. P/O Sergeant damages a JU 88.  Aircraft cannons are reported to have jammed continuously owing to bad ammunition.

1430 hrs  Twelve more JU 88s attack Floriana and Valletta, where bombs explode in St James and Porte Reale.

Four ME109s drop bombs on St Paul’s Bay near positions of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1715 hrs  For the third time massed formations of enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island, dividing to attack. Ta Qali is the main target but Luqa and Safi, Hal Far and the Dockyard are also bombed.

1720 hrs  20 JU 88s carry out medium-height bombing of Luqa aerodrome.  Several ME 109s machine-gun the airfield: two Spitfires are shot up on the ground.  Craters are blown in the Siggiewi end of the main runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported near the bomb store, close to the Zurrieq road.

1730 hrs  Five Spitfires 601 Squadron take to the air to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: only one returns to Luqa, at 1840 hrs.

1800 hrs  31 JU 88s attack Ta Qali: many bombs land on the camp, including several delayed action bombs.  Ghain Znuber is machine-gunned, causing three casualties to D Company, 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; one serious.

1805 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs from the Safi strip to Ta Karach ridge.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous enemy bombers: hits claimed.

1815 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hompesch.  One stick of bombs falls between Bluebell Troop (1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt) and Zejtun and another at 497225.

1825 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun B Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Zejtun School and fly out to sea over Zonqor Ridge.  Troops retaliate with light machine gun fire: no hits claimed.  One stick of bombs falls 400 yards west of St Clements Church.

1853 hrs  Raiders passed.

1925 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island without crossing the coast.  They are followed in by a formation of bombers with fighter escort.

1930 hrs  Eleven Spitfires from Ta Qali and five from Luqa are scrambled to intercept the incoming aircraft.  Six of the Spitfires from Ta Qali have a dog fight with ME 109s.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.  P/O Brooker damages one ME 109.  Sgt Brennan destroyes one ME 109 and one JU 88.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Sergeant destroys one JU 88.  F/Lt McQueen destroys one JU 88.   F/Lt Lucas damages one ME 109.

P/O Putnam is killed and F/Sgt Ryckman is missing.  F/Lt Johnson successfully bales out over Luqa.  Two Spitfires are slightly damaged.  Total enemy aircraft: 8 destroyed, one probably destroyed, six damaged.

2000 hrs  Nine remaining JU 88s carry out a dusk attack on Ta Qali.  Many incendiary bombs are dropped during the raid, evidently intended to destroy the newly-arrived Spitfires.

2020-2044 hrs  Nine aircraft approach the Island in two waves: three are illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped in the Dockyard area.

Night  Six alerts are sounded for single approaching aircraft.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Luqa, Corradino, Hal Far and in the sea.

2336-0115 hrs  One JU 88 bomber comes in from the north and drops incendiaries near a Pioneer billet near Tarxien, which are extinguished by the Pioneer platoon.

0240-0327 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and drops bombs and incendiaries between two defence posts of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt causing a slight fire among crops, which is quickly put out.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer George Ryckman, Royal Canadian Air Force, 402 Squadron; Gunner Lewis Evans, Lance Sergeant James Golding, Gunner Sidney Nurse, Gunner Alfred Phillips, all of 484 Bty, 4 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sapper Leonard Soper, Mentioned in Despatches, 16 Fortress Coy., Royal Engineers; Police Constable C Cachia HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Henry Moakes, age 42.  Hamrun  Dr Annetto Montanaro LLD, age 79.  Mosta  Concetta Mifsud, age 80; Rev Joseph Mifsud, age 50.  Rabat  Louis Agius, age 20; Giovanna Maria Bezzina, age 20.  Sliema  Carmel Rogers, age 71.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde carried out successful trial and sailed for Gibraltar.  Upholder 48 hours overdue.  46 Spitfires arrived – Operation Calendar – USS Wasp.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed on landing: crew unhurt.  Spitfire PRU 907 departed from Gibraltar for Malta missing: no further news.  Arrivals  47 Spitfires, 13 Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; four Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Blenheims to Gambut.

LUQA  1042-1225 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes.  2135-0135 hrs  Seven Wellingtons S/D Flight on search for and strike enemy tanker and escort: attack carried out.

TA QALI  F/O Penny is discharged from No 90 General Hospital.  More Spitfires arrive.  20 Officers (603 Squadron) accommodated.  Aerodrome serviceable – repairs proceeding.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs near the entrance of Battalion HQ.  Pte Kilshaw HQ Company hit by piece of stone: mouth cut.  Working parties resumed as Saturday.  C Coy 80 men and A Coy 40 men Valletta.  D Coy 40 men at Ospizio salvaging RAOC stores.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bastion shelter hit by bomb, bomb on north Square Lintorn Barracks, no casualties. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15; dealt with 20 (2 x 1000kg; 5 x 500kg, 12 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Regimental silver removed from Valletta.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs 150 yards wide of Battalion HQ west to east.  Spitfire hit steel pylon and crashed in area at 417208: guarded by this unit.  Aerodrome working party started working at night instead of during the daytime.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2130 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.

ROYAL ARTILLERY HQ  Ammunition restrictions raised to cover arrival of Spitfires.

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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19 April 1942: No Fighter Planes to Defend Malta – 15 Ack Ack Guns Hit – 71 Killed

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Clear-up in Floriana (NWMA Malta)

NO FIGHTERS UP AGAINST 276 BOMBERS  – BOMB HITS CARE HOME

For the second day in a row no RAF fighters took to the air today to intercept incoming enemy formations.  The Luftwaffe were able to arrive in Malta’s air space unhindered and carried out heavy raids on Grand Harbour and all the airfields, dropping a total of 436 tons of bombs (442,376 kg).  Anti-aircraft positions were a main target: fifteen were hit, killing thirteen Gunners and injuring many more.

TRAGEDY IN HAMRUN

The community of Hamrun is in mourning today after a heavy high explosive bomb struck a care home, killing many of the patients and their carers.  St Paul’s Home for the Elderly was run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, many of whom were among the 34 killed in the explosion.

GEORGE CROSS JOINS VICTORY V

“Great exhilaration is being shown by the people of Malta since the award of the George Cross by His Majesty the King.  Replicas of the cross are being chalked on all the buildings alongside the ‘Victory V’ sign.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly.  30% high cloud – fine.

0710 hrs  Air alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0806 hrs  60 JU 88 bombers and 24 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers escorted by fighters are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa, dropping four bombs from each plane.

0845 hrs  Massive formations of JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, including Marsa Creek and Valletta. The San Lorenzo Tunnel is hit, causing a partial collapse.  SS Pampas is set on fire and part of the Tram Depot is destroyed.

Royal Artillery HQ reports bombs on San Pietru gun position – one gun slightly damaged; Benghaisa gun position – gun out of action slightly damaged and three Other Ranks wounded; and on Tal Qroqq, Hompesch and Marsa gun positions.

Msida Bastion (NWMA Malta)

A large formation of JU 88s attacks Valletta.  A stick of bombs falls on Old Mills Street: no casualties.  Eight JU 88s peel off to target Msida Creek: the Ospizio Barracks are hit.

0900 hrs  Two formations – five JU 88s and four ME 109 fighter bombers – carry out high level bombing and dive bombing on Luqa airfield, cratering the runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported in the Beaufort dispersal area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

0915 hrs  Bombs explode north of Zabbar and between close to three defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Light Machine Guns of their Battalion HQ and D Company engage one JU 88: no hits claimed.

0954 hrs  Thirteen JU88 bombers raid Kalafrana and another eight attack Hal Far causing ten craters on the runway and dispersal areas.  Barrack blocks are hit, one Hurricane is burned out, one Albacore and one Swordfish slightly damaged.

1003 hrs  Raiders passed.

1015 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report an unexploded bomb UXB 150 yards from Post RA3 and another at map reference 489224.

1121-1143 hrs  Four enemy aircraft (suspected to be ME 109s) approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

1325 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour Hal Far, Luqa and the Safi strip.

1330 hrs  A massive wave of JU 87s and JU 88s attacks the Grand Harbour area.  The Police Office at Dockyard Main Gate is wrecked, and a surgery damaged.  Several bombs land on Valletta, including one on a shelter in Merchant Street.  In Floriana, Argotti Gardens, the Police Station and the Government Dispensary are hit.  Bombs destroy several houses in St Francis Street: 13 casualties are later recovered from the rubble.  Royal Artillery HQ reports direct hits on the Santa Maria gun position with 14 casualties.

1340 hrs  A large formation of aircraft bomb Marsa crossroads, blocking the road, Marsa Creek and Marsa Ack Ack Battery, where there are six casualties.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 attacks Hompesch: one stick of bombs lands close to a 3″ Ack Ack Battery and other positions of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Their D Company gunners engage one JU 88 turning away from the attack: no hits claimed.

1445 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte D Macpherson, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are killed by an enemy bomb.

1400 hrs  Twenty JU 87s and JU 88s attack Hal Far, badly damaging the Officers’ Mess and other quarters, including barrack blocks, cookhouse and the NAAFI.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  One stick of bombs falls across Hagiar Qim Battery causing some damage to equipment.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1325 hrs  JU 87s, 88s and ME 109s carry out high level and dive-bombing raids on Luqa aerodrome, cratering the main runway, and on Safi strip.  Transit Flight offices and Works and Buildings offices are damaged beyond use; four previously damaged billets are written off.

1446 hrs  Raiders passed.

1530 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map position 518219.

1557 hrs  Four aircraft (suspected to be ME 109 fighter bombers) approach from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.

1600 hrs  A delivery flight of seven Hurricane lands successfully.

1626 hrs  Raiders passed.

1630 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports two unexploded bombs at map position 512227.

1800 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are identified approaching the Island.

1812 hrs  A large formation of bombers attacks the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, French Creek and Marsa Creek.  Bombs on Floriana cause considerable damage to the NAAFI Club in Parade Ground, Portes des Bombes area and Valletta Wharf.

Ack Ack gunners score a direct hit on one JU 88 and the aircraft disintegrates in mid-air.  Manoel gun position is hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding one officer and 5 Other Ranks.  Naxxar, Tal Qroqq, Benghaisa and Hompesch Heavy Ack Ack positions report near misses; the HQ of 32 Light Ack Ack is demolished.

1830 hrs  JU 87 and 88 bombers attack Hal Far.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s: hits claimed.

1840 hrs  One lone JU 88 carries out a high level bombing attack against Hompesch.  One bomb lands on the camp of Battalion HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt but there are no casualties.

1940 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four air raid alerts sound for six enemy raiders.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Safi, Hal Far and Kalafrana.  No fighters are airborne.

2245-2340 hrs  One Italian BR 20 aircraft approaches from the north and drops a number of 12kg bombs round Bir-id-Deheb, and from Ghaxaq to the Safi strip.

0130 hrs; 0238-0251 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds for single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0330-0600 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Joseph Galea, HMS St.Angelo;  Gunner Anthony Cunningham, 7 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Alfred James, 1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Henry Livingstone, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Mifsud, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Anthony Saliba, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Gunner Cyril Bunn; Gunner Sydney Carter; Lance Bombardier Charles Castle; Bombardier Andrew Cullen; Gunner James Ditheridge; Gunner John Mansell; Gunner Thomas Smith; Gunner James Stewart; Gunner Samuel Vickers, all of 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.  Lance Bombardier Albert Johnson and Bombardier Cyril Pughe, both 190 Bty (6th Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment), 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties Gudja   Anthony Borg, age 46.  Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15; Josephine Gingell, age 40.

Hamrun  Marianna Attard, age 70; Filomena Azzopardi, age 70; Rosaria Azzopardi, age 70; Francesca Bonello, age 75; Silvia Bono, age 71; Carmela Borg, age 91; Giovanna Borg, age 72; Lucrezia Borg, age 55; Rosa Calascione, age 70; Mary Calascione, age 40; Maria Camilleri, age 70; Mary Camilleri, age 70; Joseph Caruana, age 77; Teresa Casabene, age 58; Marianna Cassar, age 65; Joseph Cuschieri, age 75; Catherine Cauchi, age 66; Concetta Darmanin, age 70; Carmela Debono, age 80; Pauline Ferro, age 80; Josephine Galea, age 70; Sister Teresa Garabaldi, age 53; Antonia Hyzler, age 75; Mary Kelly, age 90; Emanuela Laferla, age 70; Teresa Meilak, age 90; Teresa Micallef, age 60; Virginia Micallef, age 60; Grace Pace, age 80; Clara Pace, age 70; Giovanna Potenza, age 70; Sister Therese Sciberras, age 85; Mary Vella, age 69; Rosa Zahra, age 70.

Msida  Francesca Bianco, age 70; Vincenza Caruana Mamo, age 74; Joseph Grech, age 76; John Zammit, age 78.  Sliema  Emanuel Borg, age 16.  Valletta  Violetta Bone, age 16; Joseph Borg, age 14; Herman Scerri, age 14.  Zabbar  Angela Degabriele, age 75; Josephine Gatt, age 34; Mary Lia, age 38; Saviour Mallia, age 33; Joseph Mallia, age 30; Grace Tedesco, age 23.    Zejtun  Paul Despott, age 16.  Zurrieq  Carmel Callus, age 43; Anthony Inguanez, age 13.

Enemy casualty  Josef Bauer.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar with passengers.   Attacked by ME 109 off Grand Harbour and returned at 2200 hrs.  Una proceeded on patrol west of Tripoli.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Hurricanes, two Blenheims from Gambut; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  2152-0920 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight search for and attack enemy shipping.  Sight one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats: no attacks made.

TA QALI  20 airmen attached to this station from Luqa for one day.  One Chief Petty Officer and twelve seamen ex Breconshire attached to this station for armament duties.  Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1 Dorset L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson killed by a bomb at Gzira.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 50 men working on electric light mains in Valletta continued working today; other parties stood down.  Several incendiaries in and around Horn Works.  Pte Livingstone, B Company, killed by shrapnel.  Pte Holmes injured and admitted No 90 General Hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0215 hrs  Lt Treadwell dies in No 90 General Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work continued on aerodromes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  NAAFI in Lintorn Bks demolished by bomb.  Further bombs on Floriana Parade Ground – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 13 (1 x 1000kg; 3 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  1700 hrs  No 4 Platoon now located at Ta Salib cross tracks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  One bomb lands close to B Company cook house of 3rd Battalion.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Final day for Hal Far working party.  2100-0630 hrs  Both working parties numbering all available Officers and men at Luqa and Hal Far to complete first set of pens for new aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A working party of 130 Other Ranks is employed at Luqa during the hours of darkness.

(1) Army News, Darwin, Australia, 19 April 1942

 

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18 April 1942: Skies Clear – Raiders Return With 1000 bombs

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KALAFRANA SHELTERS UNDER FIRE

“…we were being bombed mercilessly. By that time my parents had hired a private shelter and organized it [to] live in.  That meant that we did not have to jump out of bed at night and run, at panic speed, to the shelter whenever the sirens blared the air raid warning. If we were awoken at night by the noise of the guns and falling bombs, it was just a matter of turning over and go back to sleep…it was definitely safer in those instances when incoming enemy planes were not detected until they were on top of us dropping their bombs.

The shelter was in a stone quarry out in the fields. There were three other shelters besides ours. Two were next to ours on the same quarry face but the other one was on an opposite corner, hewn, as it later turned out, in a rather queer manner.  Although situated nearer to Kalafrana than our proper home, it was still considered to be at a safe distance.

However, the shelters in the quarry must have attracted the attention of the Luftwaffe commanders who regularly scanned the terrain on photographs taken during reconnaissance flights…on one occasion, when my sister and I were just outside the entrance to our shelter, it just occurred to me to lift my head up and I saw the front of a Junkers 87 on a vertical dive right over us. I suddenly pushed my sister into the shelter entrance and I followed. When we were about five or six feet inside the shelter, we felt a terrific blast pushing us in. It was a bomb, dropped by the enemy plane I had just seen. True, there was an air raid on at that time but the planes were attacking Luqa airfield quite a distance away. We thought we were safe but that 87 I saw must have been detailed to attack our spot.

The shelter on the corner away from us was hit and it gave in. It would not have collapsed had it been properly planned and constructed. There were people inside that shelter and as it turned out, a seven year old boy and his nine year old sister were killed. Their mother was maimed when a large piece of rock landed on her leg… Joseph Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 APRIL TO DAWN 19 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.  Clear; no cloud.

0612-0704 hrs  Two ME109s patrol the Island.

0717-0743 hrs  One aircraft is spotted to the west of Malta but does not cross the coast.

0855 hrs  15 JU 88s bomb Hal Far.

0920-0936 hrs  One bomber accompanied by two fighters carries out reconnaissance.  On crossing the coast they are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

0947 hrs  26 JU 88 bombers attack Kalafrana and Ta Silch.  One Other Rank 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed and three slightly injured at Dowdalls Motel.  The buildings and hangars at Kalafrana suffer severe damage and a small fire breaks out in the Gzira petrol station.  One defence post is hit, knocking off its corner.  Bombs are also dropped on the Wied Znuber area.

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s carry out high-level bombing and dive-bombing over Luqa, leaving craters on the runway.  One unserviceable Wellington is burned out.

1020 hrs  JU 88 bombers attack Delimara Fort and Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

1030 hrs  Six JU 88s attack Hal Far, damaging one Fordson and some buildings.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged.  1030 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

1140 hrs  Three bombs explode near the Headquarters of A Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment at Bubaqra.

1200 hrs  A stick of bombs explodes close to B Company 1st Bn Dorset Regt at Zejtun, injuring Lt G H Treadwell and Capt N H Golding.

1220 hrs  Four waves of JU 88s approach the Island and split into formations to bomb the Grand Harbour area, Luqa, Safi and Hal Far.

16 JU 88s bomb the three runways; 27 JU 88s target Grand Harbour and surrounding areas, including Floriana, Corrodino, Msida Creek, Manoel Island and Tigne.  The Royal Malta Yacht Club at Hay Wharf receives a direct hit.  1st Btn Dorsetshire Regt reports an attack on Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery by JU 88s: bombs also fall between Bluebell Troop and Hompesch.  Enemy aircraft are engaged by light machine gun fire from Bn HQ.

1227 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Hal Far, leaving five craters on the aerodrome and damaging the Airmen’s cookhouse.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged.

1228 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Bubaqra area.

1230 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

1255 hrs  All clear.

1405-1452 hrs  24 JU 87s and 36 JU 88s attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Birzebbuga, where the petrol tank is set on fire.  An underwater mine cable is broken.  Three JU 87s target Delimara Fort and Ack Ack Battery.

1439 hrs  15 JU 88s targeting Hal Far cause ten craters on aerodrome and dispersal area.  One Hurricane is burned out.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

1650 hrs  45 JU 88s bomb Grand Harbour, Marsa Creek, Dockyard Creek and the Abattoir, and Zabbar.  Tal Handaq, Tal Qroqq and Manoel gun positions are also bombed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1655 hrs  Eight JU 88s carry out a high-level bomb attack on Luqa, Safi and Siggiewi.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1806 hrs  Raiders passed.

1811 hrs  24 JU 87s and 27 JU 88s and three ME 109s approach the Island and split into separate formations to bomb Delimara, Kalafrana, Birzebbuga, Benghaisa and Hal Far.  Bombs hit RAF main workshops, Delimara and Benghaisa Forts.  Delimara searchlight projector is damaged.  There are 16 casualties.

1817 hrs  15 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa, cratering the runway.  One unserviceable Hudson and one Wellington under repair are burned out; one Maryland is slightly damaged and two Hurricanes under repair are written off.  A motor roller is badly damaged.

1830 hrs  20 JU 87s bomb Hal Far, damaging barrack blocks and cratering the aerodrome.

1928 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four alerts for seven Italian BR 20 bombers.  Bombs are dropped on Latnia, Mosta and in the sea.

2030-2105 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on interceptions: no engagements.

2105 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

2220 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Bombs are dropped in the Latnia area.

0012-0042 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on interceptions: no engagements.

0355 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0455 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Shipwright 1st Class John Burns, HMS St Angelo; Flight Lieutenant Archibald Beer, Mentioned in Despatches (Three times), Royal Air Force; Corporal Kenneth Hayter, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Jack Smith, Royal Air Force; Sergeant F M Smith, serving at Kalafrana RAF Base; Bombardier Anthony Bonello, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Sergeant Gaetan Cristina, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner George Ford, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Galea, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Henry Marshall, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Michael Mizzi, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties Birzebbugia  Carmel Cutajar, age 31.  Cospicua   (PC 49) Carmel Borg; (PS 850) V. Walton, age 40.  Marsa  Joseph Formosa, age 78.  Zejtun  Joseph Bonavia, age 9.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures  Four Blenheims, one Wellington, one Hudson, three Beauforts to 108 MU.

TA QALI  Extensive preparations pushed on with pens during day and night by Police, Army and ground crews, under Pilots.  Maintenance pushed up for arrival of Spitfires.  Many air raids during day – no bombs on camp.  Runway serviceable.  No scrambles.

ROYAL ARTILLERY HQ  Fort Delimara one NCO, three Other Ranks wounded.  Fort Tigne and Tigne LAA positionn 1 Other Rank killed, 6 wounded.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All activity resumed. Working parties in Valletta continue: 80 men from C Coy, 40 men from A Coy.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  U/L/Cpl Leonard Percy Galton A Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed at Dowdalls Motel (W/T Cadre) and L/Cpl Barnes (Carrier Platoon), L/Cpl May (A Coy) and Cpl Sear (E Coy) are slightly injured.  Sector post R33 received a direct hit.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Lt Treadwell and Capt Golding were injured by a bomb at Zejtun.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 8 (2 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Pte Salkeld A Company received serious injuries from a bomb splinter when member of aerodrome working party.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0800 hrs  Hal Far and Luqa working parties continue.  2230 hrs  Luqa working party now operating during hours of darkness to accelerate completion of tasks.  Hal Far working party to work at night also.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  130 Other Ranks working on Luqa overnight.

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17 April 1942: Hundreds of Troops Ordered Immediately to Airfields

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A PAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

After endless weeks of heavy air raids which have terrorised the Island and laid waste to Valletta and many other communities, for three days now the enemy has barely appeared in the skies.  A strange silence has followed the few air raid sirens which have sounded.  Heavy clouds hanging over Malta have held the bombers at bay.  As the dust settled, allowing the Islanders to take stock of the destruction, this morning’s Times of Malta announced that they have been awarded the George Cross.

This afternoon Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie broadcast to the nation “I am quite sure that everyone in Malta felt a real thrill of pleasure when he learned of the high honour His Majesty the King has been pleased to bestow on this Island Fortress.  This thrill may have been all the greater since, perhaps, the honour was unexpected.  For it is a new thing which His Majesty has done…  I do not recall an instance when an honour of this kind has been conferred by a British Sovereign on a community….”

TROOPS LABOUR ON AERODROME IMPROVEMENTS: PURPOSE TOP SECRET

Orders have been issued dated 17 April 1942 for hundreds of troops from all three Infantry Brigades to be available with immediate effect to begin work on the airfields.  The manpower is in addition to Army personnel already stationed on airfields for repairs between enemy raids.  The reason for the move has not been released, fuelling speculation of a new delivery of fighter aircraft.

Troops building aircraft pens

LUQA  Working party of 250 soldiers and 6 lorries to construct 12 fighter pens in sandbags.  160 soldiers and 8 lorries to extend and heighten 8 Wellington pens.  50 soldiers and 2 lorries for salvage work.

 

HAL FAR  400 soldiers to enlarge 20 fighter pens.  50 soldiers for salvage work.  24 lorries.

 

TA QALI  50 soldiers to widen and surface outlet to main road for dispersal.  500 soldiers to enlarge 25 fighter pens.  100 soldiers to spread earth in and level tracks.  20 soldiers for salvage work and 30 lorries.

These are in addition to soldiers already employed 200 per aerodrome for filling bomb holes and making runways serviceable immediately after attack; building pens, digging slit trenches by the pens, repairing taxi tracks, camouflaging pens.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 APRIL TO DAWN 18 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; 100% cloud.

1438 hrs, 1517 hrs; 1735 hrs  Air raid alerts but aircraft do not cross the coast.  Continued bad weather prevents any operations on a large scale.  

Night  Alerts are sounded for aircraft approaching the Island but none cross the coast. 

Military casualties  nil.  Civilian casualties  nil

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 17 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sokol sailed for Gibraltar for repairs.  Torpedo Depot damaged during air raid.

HAL FAR  Group Captain J E G H Thomas, DFC, assumed command of RAF Station, Hal Far.

LUQA  No operations.

TA QALI  Four steam-roller drivers from the Army are attached to this Station.  No scrambles; aerodrome repairs pushed on; aerodrome strip serviceable.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company still employed in Valletta.  Work likely to last some days.  A Company still salvaging. D Company clearing roads in Company area.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 7 (1 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg, 4  x 50kg).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Working party of 450 Other Ranks and 15 Officers commenced on Hal Far aerodrome for an indefinite period.  Task: building protection walls for aircraft.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0800 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.  1800 hrs  This unit mans the observation post at Tal Virtu.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion supplied working parties for building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion working party on Luqa: 360 Other Ranks.

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16 April 1942: Malta’s Defences ‘Truly Desperate’

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  • The George Cross must surely lift morale but the threat remains
  • Will desperately needed Spitfires come and save Malta?
  • Valletta and Grand Harbour devastated; airfields cratered – what else will the Luftwaffe find to bomb?

    Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

LT GEN SIR WILLIAM DOBBIE REPLIES TO THE KING

“The people and garrison of Malta are deeply touched by Your Majesty’s kind thought for them in conferring on the fortress this signal honour.  It has greatly encouraged everyone, and all are determined that by God’s help Malta will not weaken but will endure until victory is won.”  Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie, Governor & Commander in Chief, Malta

FIGHTER SITUATION “DESPERATE”  – MALTA ENVOY TO LONDON REPORTS “SOMETHING BIG UNDERWAY”

News of the award of the George Cross is expected to be a significant boost to morale, but the battle to defend Malta goes on.  Supplies of ammunition for the anti-aircraft guns are fast running low.  The airfields are badly cratered and hundreds of troops struggle to carry out running repairs needed after each heavy bombing raid.  And with every raid, fewer serviceable aircraft are able to take to the skies against a determined Luftwaffe. 

“The situation in Malta was becoming truly desperate, fighter aircraft were at a minimum, ammunition for the heavy anti-aircraft guns around the airstrips was rationed to 15 rounds per gun per raid, food was minimal in quantity and quality, water for washing was almost unheard of, and fuel was used only for aircraft.

The [Commander-in-Chief] sent S/L Ed Gracie, CO of 126 Squadron to London to stir up the bureaucrats and get more fighters for Malta. This was underway anyhow but Gracie managed to underscore how truly desperate it was on Malta. Another delivery of Spitfires was being planned. Gracie sent a message back to the effect that something big was underway.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 APRIL TO DAWN 17 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind cold, northerly. 100% cloud; poor visibility.

0635 hrs; 0835 hrs; 1525 hrs  Air raid alerts are sounded for fighter patrols and single aircraft approaching the Island on reconnaissance.  No bombing raids.

Night  Enemy aircraft appears suspended due to bad weather.

Military casualties  Private Paul Attard, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Joseph Caruana, age 12.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 16 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and berthed at Msida to disembark stores and fuel.  Submarine P34 returned from patrol on account of leaking rivets.

LUQA  No operations.

TA QALI  Bad weather prevents operations.  Extensive salvaging of equipment from blitzed camp proceeding.  Billeting of personnel arranged and moves completed as follows:  Malta Night Fighter Unit – Protection Office, Rabat; Runway & Maintenance Crews – Messina House; 126 Squadron – billets in Mosta; SHQ and remainder – tents in Boschetto Gardens.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Large working party required for work in Valletta to clear debris of water mains.  C Company sent two officers and 80 men.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 6 (1 x 1000kg; 2  x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0800 hrs  Hal Far working party continued.  1600 hrs  Battalion ordered to find additional working party of 1 Officer, 130 men for Luqa.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  F Troop, 225 Light Ack Ack Battery, RA relieved from their positions by E troop 196th/65th Light Ack Ack Regiment, RA, for a period at Rest Camp.

(1) Adapted from the diary of Malta pilot Robert Wendell “Buck” McNair, Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

 

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Posted by on April 16, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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