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25 May 1942: Enemy Hits Back Hard After Convoy Attacks

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Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

REPRISALS FOR ATTACKS ON AXIS BASES AND SHIPPING

Yesterday’s attacks on enemy shipping have prompted immediate reprisals from the enemy today.  All three airfields were targeted in a raid at dusk this evening in one of the heaviest attacks in recent days.  The enemy action seemed designed to knock out Wellington and Albacore aircraft which have restarted successful offensive operations again against Sicilian aerodromes and enemy shipping.

PROSPECT OF INVASION STILL LOOMS

“The Photographic Reconnaisance Unit had detailed the construction of airstrips in Italy for gliders. Field Marshall Kesselring seemed to have convinced Hitler, Mussolini and General Rommel that Operation Herkules [the invasion of Malta] should go ahead in July. General Student, who commanded the bloody aerial assault on Crete, was developing similar plans for Malta.

On the evening of May 25 a large German air raid on Gasr El Arid, in Libya, intending to knock out as many of the RAF planes in North Africa as possible, started Rommel’s “Operation Theseus”, his last great advance that died at El Alamein. He had decided that the best way to win the Mediterranean was to conquer North Africa first, then take on Malta. His strategy was generally flawed, as aircraft from Malta could intercept his supplies. Especially with the new supplies of Spitfires. As it turned out, Rommel was a much better tactician than a strategician. Kesselring was correct, Operation Herkules was necessary to knock out Malta prior to defeating the Allies in North Africa. 

The rest of May would turn out to be the harshest month yet.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 MAY TO DAWN 26 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; slight.

0530-0610 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

0830-0945 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0855-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires airborne from Ta Qali and see two ME 109s but do not intercept.

1420-1550 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a 60 strong enemy formation, including three Italian bombers, forty-two ME 109s and Italian fighters attack Luqa.

1457 hrs  16 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons Luqa are scrambled too late to contact the bomber force; they engage the fighter escort.  F/Sgt Goldsmith damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  P/O Caldwell fails to return.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron also engage the enemy.  F/O West destroys one Italian Re 2001.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  S/Ldr New damages one Cant 1007.  F/O Lee damages one Cant 1007 but is then himself hit in the wing and engine.  Sgt Brennan damages one Re 2001.  Sgt De Nancreds damages one ME 109.

1503 hrs  Three Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM 84 aircraft drop eighteen 100kg bombs on the Luqa area from a high level.

1938 hrs  Waves of enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft: no combat is reported.

1945 hrs  Nine JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers with an escort of 20 plus fighters attack all three aerodromes, plus Kalafrana and Corradino.  Raiders are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Delimara gun position is hit, killing seven members of 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment Royal Artillery.

At Luqa bombs fall near the main stores and damage the aerodrome including a large crater on the main runway.  Delayed action bombs are dropped in the dispersal area and near the runway.  Two Wellingtons are damaged.

2057 hrs  Three JU 88s attack, dropping nine high explosive bombs on the Safi strip and Mqabba areas.

2145 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne from Luqa to intercept six JU 88s: no engagement.  They land at Ta Qali.

Night  Eleven enemy raiders come in and drop bombs at various places on the Island including areas around Valletta.  In the early hours of the morning, high explosive bombs on Hamrun cause damage to civilian properties, killing thirteen and injuring six.  The enemy engaged by barrage gunfire.

2300 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa at 2035 hrs lands at Ta Qali.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali airfield, on top of the caves between the western dispersal hut and Imtarfa.

0106-0213 hrs  Nine raiders drop bombs on Luqa.  An unserviceable Wellington is burned out and a number of craters made in the dispersal area.

0139 hrs  One aircraft drops two bombs on Misrah Blandun and two bombs on the Safi strip.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Caldwell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 601 Squadron; Lance Bombardier Alfred Broadhurst, 4 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner John Fitzsimons, 5 Battery, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner William Kelly, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Walter Longville, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sergeant John McCarthy, 4 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner George O’Brien, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harold Ward, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Borg, age 35; Stella Borg, age 34; Carmel Borg, age 3; William Brimmer, age 38; Carmela Brimma, age 62; Joseph Darmanin, age 68; Concetta Decelis, age 64; Adelaide Fabri, age 32; Antonia Falzon, age 60; Carmela Felice, age 66; Carmela Pace, age 5; Paul Rizzo, age 70; Doris Rizzo, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 25 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Harbour craft swept Grand Harbour entrance and destroyed one mine.  About 20 tons of fuel oil was extracted from Breconshire in drums and landed by small craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, Five Beauforts, two Blenheims to LG 222; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed on take-off: crew uninjured.  One Blenheim damaged while taxiing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.

LUQA  0815-1035 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Augusta Harbour.  2054-2345 hrs  Two Wellingtons 104 Squadron despatched to bomb a train ferry at Messina.  Bombs straddled the target and some fell in the south and south east of the harbour.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Summer dress is adopted for all purposes.

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

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  CSM May was buried in the Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

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

 

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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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24 May 1942: Malta on the Attack as Enemy Bombers Stay Away

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Wellington bombers

EXTRA WELLINGTONS ALLOW FOR RENEWED OFFENSIVE

The arrival of a delivery flight of nine new Wellington bombers today strengthened the Island’s forces for the campaign against Axis convoys supplying Rommel’s forces in North Africa.

Overnight, three Wellingtons of 104 Squadron assisted by S/D Flight attacked a southbound convoy of one merchant vessel of 5000 tons and one of 1000 tons plus two destroyers 135 miles from Benghazi.  Observers report a successful hit on the the large merchant vessel.  One of the destroyers was also machine-gunned during the attack.

NO BOMBING RAIDS TODAY

Malta’s skies were free of enemy bombers today, as the Axis count their losses in the recent battle for supremacy in the air.  Even the endless fighter sweeps were kept at bay by a constant series of patrols by the Island’s Spitfire squadrons.  One JU 88 reconnaissance aircraft and two Italian Macchi fighters were destroyed and a third Macchi damaged in the two air combats today.

Monitors following Radio Roma heard them describe the plight of the Italian bomber pilots sent to attack Malta by night as “a hard lot.  We are blinded by searchlights, hammered by the AA guns, pursued and ambushed by night fighters.  There is no seeing the enemy till the British guns start spitting death at your bomber.” (1)

Thanks to them, for the first time in many weeks Malta’s inhabitants enjoyed a quiet night, with no air raid sirens.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 MAY TO DAWN 25 MAY 1942

Weather  Little wind; no cloud.

0705-0948 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour and east Sicilian aerodromes.

0716-0757 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa on interceptions: no combat.

0745-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

0906-1118 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.

0930-1045 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne; nil report.

1056-1153 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.

1225-1305 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

1313-1414 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled form Hal Far.  P/O Halford destroys one JU 88.

1445-1530 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

1545-1625 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept three enemy aircraft.  P/O Dicks-Sherwood destroys one Macchi 202 and damages another.  P/O Barlow destroys one Macchi 202.

Night  No enemy activity.

Military casualties  Sergeant Arnold Merritt, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 104 Squadron; Gunner Thomas Hunter, 223 Battery, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 24 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Nine Wellingtons from LG 106; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Albarcores from BU-Amud; three Blenheims, six Beauforts, two Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; five Wellingtons to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing: pilot killed, rest of crew injured.

LUQA 2110-0220 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate and bomb convoy then [guide] Wellington force onto same.  2133-0430 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search of Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Marittimo area.  2206-0255 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron are despatched to attack southbound convoy in co-operation with the S/D Flight Wellington.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 28 anti-personnel ‘Thermos’ bombs.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Work completed on Hal Far.  Work in Safi strip began. 17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks widening and levelling runway.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion drums and pipes beat the retreat at Mosta.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group Ltd 1992

 

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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23 May 1942: German Air Force Retreat From Sicily

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GOVERNOR REPORTS FEWER LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS IN SICILY

From:  Governor and C in C Malta  To:  C in C Middle East  Rptd: War Office

Spitfires over Malta

Enemy.  Military situation report for week ending 23/5.  Day bombing effort was almost negligible.  Total of five JU 88s, eight Cants only.  Also fifteen fighter bombers – large number of fighter sweeps continue using mainly ME 109s, some Macchi 202s and Re 2001s.  Total of 25 night bombers mostly Br 20s.  Photo-reconnaissance shows further decrease [German Air Force] in Sicily; all JU 87s now gone.  Approx only 100 JU 88s remain.  Considerable decrease fighters also.

Following enemy aircraft claimed during week.  By Ack Ack: damaged 2 JU 88, 1 Macchi 202.  By RAF: destroyed 1 JU 88, 2 Br 20, 2 Cant, 13 ME 109, 1 Macchi 202, 5 Re 2001; probably destroyed 1 Br 20, 1 Cant, 5 ME 109, 2 Re 2001; damaged 2 Do 24, 2 Cant, 4 ME 109, 2 Macchi, 4 Re 2001.

Slight E boat activity continues.  Italian Petty Officer Urisoker taken 19/5.  On special mission recce coast defences Zonqor point to two miles north.  Specialist in Davis apparatus, dressed in diving suit for submerging when fired upon.  Full report through naval channels.  On 20/5 spy with [wireless-transmission] set, rations etc caught.  Pro-Italian Maltese landed by motor boat from Sicily.  Unable to scale cliffs and captured.  Full report through defence security channels.

Own troops.  Large working parties for RAF continue.  500 pen-building; 300 servicing Spitfires; 150 servicing bombing up Wellingtons.  Military damage negligible during week.  Army Bomb Disposal Section disposed 31 UXB totaling six and a half tons.  Casualties one Other Rank killed; three Other Ranks wounded.  Further 17 Spitfires arrived also Wellingtons.

Conclusion.  Enemy air activity slackening further.  Movement of German Air Force elsewhere continues.  Indication that raids by E boats or human torpedoes or landing raids being considered by enemy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MAY TO DAWN 24 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0716 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming plot of five Cant 1007s in ‘vic’ (1) formation with a large escort of RE 2001s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s, approaching the Island from the north.  12 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell, Sgt James and P/O Tilly destroy two Re 2001s and one ME 109.  P/O Jones probably destroys one Cant and F/Sgt Schade one ME 109.  Sgt Jones damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001; F/Sgt Schade damages one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: the pilot is unhurt.

0720 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.

0739-0745 hrs  Cant bombers drop ten 100kg bombs each on Ta Qali, making craters at dispersal points.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0835 hrs  The alert sounds for a small number of enemy fighters on patrol.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They land at 0919 hrs without engagement.

0926 hrs; 0949 hrs  Alerts sound for small numbers of enemy fighters patrolling near the Island.

1400-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1611 hrs  Four ME 109s approach the Island and make a reconnaissance flight over all three aerodromes.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They land at 1654 hrs with no interceptions.

1855-1923 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a fighter sweep: nil report.

1905-2015 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are scrambled for incoming fighters: nil report.

2020 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  The two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.  The four Spitfires land at 2110 hrs without engagement.

2145-2217 hrs, 2145-0010 hrs; 2235-2250 hrs  One Beaufighter each time is scrambled from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

2212-2257 hrs  ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and drop bombs on Hal Far.  JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi, and on Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome unserviceable for the night.

A delivery Wellington crashes on landing: Sgt Merrit is seriously wounded; other members of the crew have minor injuries.

Military casualties  WO II Carmelo Zahra, (BSM), 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; WO II Cyril May, (CSM), 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Kirkop  Spiro Bartolo, age 73.  Luqa  Andrew Farrugia, age 8.  Sliema  Antonia Pace, age 77.  Zejtun  Vincent Axisa, age 68.  Zurrieq  Carmel Axiaq, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 23 MAY 1942

HMS Porpoise

ROYAL NAVY  The Commander in Chief ordered Porpoise to be sailed from Alexandria to Malta with stores.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS went out after a convoy: no sightings.

LUQA  0705-0914 hrs  One Spitfire  photo-reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  All stood down until 1300 hrs except for skeleton staffs.  Inspector General Air Marshal Ludlow Hewitt visits Station.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continued.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Pte Merson was slightly injured by bomb splinter at Hal Far.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 1 Italian Thermos bomb).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by.  CSM May died in Imtarfa Hospital.

(1)  A tight V formation of one lead aircraft and one wingman close behind on each side – more commonly used by the Royal Air Force

 

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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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22 May 1942: Honours for Malta’s Civil Defence Heroes

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LONDON GAZETTE ANNOUNCES AWARDS FOR CIVIL DEFENCE

Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood        St James’ Palace, SW1, 22nd May 1942

The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the undermentioned appointments to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and for the following awards of the British Empire Medal to the persons named below for their brave conduct in Civil Defence in Malta:-

Air Raid Precautions Zabbar

To be An Additional Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-

Charles Henry Sansom, CMG, Air Raid Precautions Officer, Malta  It is mainly due to the leadership and administrative ability of Mr Sansom that his department has consistently performed magnificent work and shown itself capable of standing up to very severe tests during the enemy air raids on Malta.  His courage and energy have been an example to all.

To be Additional Members of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-

Louis Demajo Albanese, Superintendent of Passive Defence, Malta  For two years Superintendent Albanese has been in charge of an Air Raid Precautions Centre which has functioned rapidly and efficiently under his courageous leadership.

Anthony Attard, Telephone Engineer, Malta  Mr Attard has shown consistent skill and initiative in the expansion of the telephone service to meet war requirements.  Air raids have caused considerable damage to cables and Mr Attard has shown courage when effecting repairs which involved exposure to danger.

John Attard, Mains Engineer, Electricity Branch, Water and Electricity Department, Malta  During the intense air raids on the Island breakages in the electricity mains have occurred in many places almost every day.  Mr Attard and his gangs have worked untiringly day and night, often to have their work brought to nothing by further bombing almost as soon as it was completed.  He has shown splendid devotion to duty and his work has contributed to the Island’s resistance by ensuring that interruptions of electric power have been reduced to a minimum.

Charles Jones, Superintendent of Passive Defence, Malta  Mr Jones has shown consistent and marked leadership, resolution and efficiency while in charge of Sliema ARP Centre.  On numerous occasions he has displayed personal courage and it is due to his example that the Centre in his charge has on all occasions performed its work rapidly and efficiently.

Arthur Mortimer, Senior Engineer, Water Branch, Water and Electricity Department, Malta  In conditions of acute difficulty, Mr Mortimer has been responsible for maintaining the water supply for the Island.  Recently difficulties have greatly increased and the Water Branch has been under continuous strain.  It is largely due to Mr Mortimer’s ability and example that the Water Service has been run with such conspicuous success.

AWARDED THE BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

Francis Calleja, Passive Defence Reservist, Malta; Caneelo Galea, Passive Defence Reservist, Malta  A man was trapped in the basement of a house which had been demolished by a bomb.  All entrances to the basement were blocked but Calleja and Galea managed to reach him through a small ventilator.  Although there was serious danger of all three being trapped and crushed by a further fall of masonry the two Reservists succeeded in rescuing the victim.

Vivian Charles Byers Degrey, Inspector of Police, Malta  Inspector Degrey has displayed outstanding ability and calmness in periods of crisis.  He has been in charge of a squad of constables who volunteered to carry out certain defence work on aerodromes.  It is due to his courage and leadership in the face of numerous attacks by the enemy that the work has progressed satisfactorily.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MAY TO DAWN 23 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly.

0715-0830 hrs  The alert is raised for an incoming formation of enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no engagement.

0808-0840 hrs  Another formation of fighters is plotted approaching the Island.  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They climb to 22000 feet and are then recalled.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but do not engage; they land at 0925 hrs.

1054-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: none are sighted.

1100-1200 hrs  A further alert for incoming ME 109s, including five fighter-bombers which drop bombs on Hal Far and Misrah Blandun.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and intercept two Messerschmitts off Kalafrana.  P/O McNair destroys one.

1617 hrs  Four ME 109s make a reconnaissance flight over Hal Far.

1920-2010 hrs  A formation of 17 enemy aircraft approaches the Island.  Four aircraft drop bombs on the Kalafrana and Hal Far areas while the remaining fighters carry out a sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: Sgt Dodd probably destroys one ME 109.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron and four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but report no interceptions.  One Spitfire 603 Squadron is slightly damaged.

2030-2310 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol from Luqa: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2045 hrs  Two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.

2310-0240 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: no combat.

0305-0500 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: destroys one BR 20 and probably destroys another.

0324 hrs  Two hostile aircraft approach from the north at 17000 feet and drop bombs in the sea and at Ta Silch.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.  A Beaufighter is airborne and destroys one Br 20 and probably destroys a second.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Michael McCluskey, Royal Naval Volunteer Resereve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 22 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Hudson, one Lodestar from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore failed to return from operations: crew missing.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa: 2 Officers and 50 men on pen-building; 2 Officers 50 men crater-filling; 1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Reveille is put forward to 0600 hrs.  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 9 (1 x 500kg, 7 x 250kg, 1 x Italian AP bomb container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued – aerodrome tasks now from early morning to mid-day.  1800 hrs  Brigade Observation Post at Tal Minsia handed over to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.

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

 

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21 May 1942: Maltese Man Branded Axis Spy

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  • Enemy activity increased
  • No Italian fighter sweeps
  • 103 enemy aircraft destroyed over Malta since May 5

RESCUED MAN IN BOTCHED SPYING MISSION FOR ITALIANS

Carmelo Borg Pisani

A man who was rescued from a cave beneath the Dingli cliffs has been identified as a possible enemy spy.  Calling himself Caio Borghi, he was apparently discovered yesterday by Sliema evacuee Robert Apap, waving and calling for help from near the cave at Ras id-Dawwara, between Dingli and Imtahleb.  Apap reported him to the Royal Malta Artillery at a nearby defence post, who raised the alarm.  Borghi was apparently stranded when the sea washed away his equipment and he was unable to climb the cliffs to safety.  Rescued by the high speed launch from Kalafrana, he spoke to his rescuers only in Italian, and claimed to be from Italy.

Ras id-Dawwara

However, when he arrived at Imtarfa Military Hospital he was recognised by Captain Tommy Warrington as Carmelo Borg Pisani, a former boyhood neighbour from Senglea.  Admitting that he had been brought to Malta under cover of darkness to report back on conditions and defences on the Island, Borg Pisani was taken into custody pending further enquiries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MAY TO DAWN 22 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0530 hrs  The alert is raised for incoming enemy aircraft.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept them but do not engage.

0602 hrs  Five ME 109s make a dive-bombing and strafing attack on Hal Far aerodrome.  Sgt Dewhurst, recently awarded the Military Medal, is killed, as well as one Leading Aircraftsman; another three airmen are injured, one seriously.

0620 hrs  Raiders passed.

0955 hrs  ME 109s approach the Island and carry out a fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept, without results.

1035 hrs  Raiders passed.

1230-1330 hrs  ME 109s approach again and patrol round the Island.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept, with no results.

1255 hrs  Four Spitifres 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to attack enemy aircraft.  P/O Lambert destroys one ME 109.  The Spitfires land at 1402 hrs.

1349-1455 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: they sight two ME 109s but there is no combat.

1900-1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

2230-0020 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

2304-2351 hrs  An alert for four raiders, two of which drop hundreds of 4kg anti-personnel bombs on Hal Far, Safi and Luqa.

Military casualties  Sergeant James Dewhurst, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Reginald Hanley, Royal Air Force (VR); Aircraftsman William King, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Anthony Pace, age 24.  Kirkop  Spiro Bartolo, age 73.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Gerhard Beitz, pilot of Bf 109 Messerschmitt fighter shot down into the sea, rescued by RAF Launch and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 21 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Hudson from Heliopolis; three Blenheims from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 222.

HAL FAR  2156 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS take off to attack a convoy southbound in the Lampedusa area.  Owing to the efficiency of the smoke screen the Albacores return with their torpedoes.  One Albacore is missing: S/Lt Barnes, pilot, S/Lt McGlusky, observer.  The other two Albacores landed at 0412 hrs.

LUQA  0700-0915 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and south east Sicilian aerodromes.  2123-0359 hrs  One Wellington on armed search for a convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers: attacked one destroyer.

TA QALI  4 Officers and 36 Airmen commended for outstanding good service during recent operations.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Pen building party at Luqa reduced to 2 Officers and 50 men.  Other parties unchanged.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private Hillear slightly injured by bomb splinters at Hal Far.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 10 (6 x 250kg, 2 x 35kg, 2 x Italian AP bomb containers).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  B Company moved from Ta Salvatur to Ta Karceppu. Night working party: 6 Officers and 200 Other Ranks building pens for aircraft.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party Ta Qali 100 men and 50 standing by.

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

 

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20 May 1942: Malta’s Suffering Far Exceeds UK Blitz, Parliament Told

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Houses of Parliament, London

BRITISH DO NOT REALISE SCALE OF ATTACKS ON MALTA, SAYS LORD PRIVY SEAL

In two days of debates over the War Situation in the House of Commons, Ministers have emphasised to the British Parliament the real extent of the bombing suffered by Malta in the previous two months.  Speaking yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Clement Attlee, said:

“…In Libya a considerable portion of the German air force has to be employed, and in the watch on the Mediterranean and in the attacks on Malta.  I think everyone has been thrilled by the magnificent defence put up by our troops and by the people in Malta.  Watching day after day, one realises the weight of that attack.  There has been nothing like it for continued weight of attack in any other part of the world during this war.  It has been a tremendous attack.  All credit is due to the people of Malta, and to their gallant Governor, General Dobbie, now in this country after very hard service, whose place has been taken by General Lord Gort. But Malta has not only defended itself; it has occupied the attention of a very large portion of the German Luftwaffe.”

Contributing to the debate, Mr John Wardlaw-Milne (member for Kidderminster) questioned the scale of enemy action against the Island: “…I think he said that a considerable proportion of the Lufwaffe was occupied in fighting against Malta?  Does he really believe that?  Does he really believe that a considerable proportion of the whole of the air forces of Germany is occupied against Malta?  If so, all I can say is that I wish he would give the House the information on which he bases that view…”

Sir Stafford Cripps, The Lord Privy Seal, today responded to that question in a speech about the conduct of the war: “I do not think that either the House or the country realises the enormous degree of attack which Malta has suffered, and the enormous number of aircraft we have had to get into Malta in order to counter that attack….During the month of April no fewer than 5,000 sorties were flown by the Germans against Malta, and more bombs were dropped on the island during that period than were dropped in this country in any month during the worst period of the blitz.  And if one realises the area of Malta compared with the area of this country one appreciates what a vast concentration there was…”  Hansard, May 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MAY TO DAWN 21 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly.

0835-0935 hrs  The alert is sounded for a small group of incoming enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons from Luqa and four Spitfires 185 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: no engagements.

0935 hrs  A second small plot of enemy aircraft approaches.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali.  P/O McLean and P/O Northcott chase two ME 109s down to deck level but observe no results.

1000 hrs  Sgt Sim 185 Squadron from Hal Far lands at Ta Qali due to shortage of petrol.

1035 hrs  A third small group of enemy fighters is reported heading for Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali and sight two ME 109s but have insufficient height to engage.

1114 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for more enemy fighters approaching the Island.

1137 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.  They land at 1205 hrs without engaging the enemy.

1413 hrs  A formation of some six ME 109s is reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept: no engagement.

1534 hrs  Five ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.

1555 hrs  The fighter bombers drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, causing craters on the runways.

1600-1700 hrs  Two Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagements.

2032 hrs; 2150 hrs; 2302 hrs  A total of nine enemy raiders drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on Luqa airfield and dispersal areas.

2148-2247 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne on patrol: no engagements.

0037-0215 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa to search for delivery Wellingtons: nothing sighted.

0310-0326 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne on patrol but returns with radio transmitter failure.

Military casualties  Sergeant Frank Howard, Pilot, 777674, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 601 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 20 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  One Albacore failed to return from a mission against small convoy previously reported by SDF Wellington. The sortie was unsuccessful due to the effective smoke screen laid by escorting destroyers.  The sailing of Porpoise with stores from Alexandria to Malta was held up on account of the mine situation at Malta.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT 0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa: 3 Officers and 100 men on pen-building; 2 Officers 50 men crater-filling; 1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 4 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 2 x Italian AP bomb containers).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

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

 

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19 May 1942: New Spitfire Patrols Keep Enemy at Bay

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Cant Z 1007 bis in Sicily

SPITFIRE NUMBERS DETER ATTACKS

With the successful arrival of 17 more Spitfires, the RAF today maintained an almost constant patrol of Malta’s airspace, ready to intercept any incoming enemy formations.  Having suffered heavy losses since 10 May, the enemy is sending few bombers to attack Malta, and those mainly under cover of darkness.

The few bombers attempting a raid this afternoon were heavily attacked and prevented from landing bombs on target.  Spitfires destroyed two bombers and damaged three more, plus one fighter.

MALTA BOMBERS BACK ON OFFENSIVE

Malta forces launched an attack overnight on a convoy northbound out of Tripoli.  The RAF pounced on a merchant vessel and two destroyers 35 miles off Tripoli.  The enemy raised a thick smoke screen which made observation difficult.  Despite the poor visibility, bombs were dropped from 2000 feet and scored hits on enemy vessels.

MALTESE CIVILIANS COMMENDED FOR BRAVE SEA RESCUE

“The Air Officer Commanding brings to notice the courageous action of Joseph Camenzuli, 40 Anny Street, Valletta, and two brothers, Emanuel and Vincent Mappa, of 42 Fontera Street, Valettta in their rescue of a British fighter pilot.

On Sunday 10th May 1942, during the height of a heavy air raid on Malta, a Spitfire pilot was shot down.  He baled out, coming down in the sea over a mile from the shore.  As he reached the sea, his dinghy opened, and he was soon endeavouring to run towards land.

Despite the fact that there were many enemy fighters in the vicinity, the three men mentioned, without thought of personal danger, manned two boats and struck out strongly towards the pilot who had been wounded.  He was quickly brought ashore and hurried away in an ambulance.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MAY TO DAWN 20 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0840-0905 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagements.

0921-0950 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is reported heading towards the Island.  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  Five ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep: no engagements.

1047 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is plotted heading towards the Island.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no interceptions.

1115 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali.  15 ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep: no engagements.

1145 hrs  Raiders passed.

1226-1300 hrs  One Spitfire from Luqa carries out photo-reconnaissance over Malta, including Luqa and Ta Qali.

1330 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of ten ME 109s.  Both Spitfires open fire at a ME 109 but with no results.  The ME 109s split into pairs over the Island and carry out a fighter sweep.

1440 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of Cant 1007s escorted by ME 109s and Re 2001s. Ten Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are also scrambled from Luqa:  P/O Caldwell destroys one Cant 1007 bis and damages another.  Two Spitfires are slightly damaged in combat.  F/Lt Lawrence, 185 Squadron damages a Macchi 2002.

1508-1550 hrs  Three Cant 1007s escorted by nine ME 109s and five Re 2001s attack Luqa and Safi strip from 23,000 feet.  100 high explosive bombs are dropped but land well clear of the target, several hitting Gudja and Birzebbugia.  Small anti-personnel bombs are also dropped in Ghar Dalam area.  One civilian is killed; L/Cpl Savage, Pte Venton and Pte Holes, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt are wounded.

1515-1615 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagements.

1653-1713 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa on patrol for intercept enemy aircraft: no engagements.

1756-1838 hrs  Four Spitifres 126 Squadron are scrambled form Luqa on patrol for enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1900-2015 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept six ME 109s patrolling near the Island: no engagements.

2026 hrs  The fighters are followed in by a small formation of six JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack (LAAA) and anti-aircraft light machine guns engage: LAA damage two of the raiders.

2045 hrs  Four JU 88s then go on to attack Ta Qali and Zebbug.  Bombs are dropped on the eastern dispersal area of Ta Qali, causing a number of craters and setting one Spitfire on fire.

Night  Five enemy bombers approach the Island singly: all bombs are dropped in the sea.

0320-0400 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne from Luqa and destroys a Cant 1007 bis.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmel Pace, age 30.  Paola  Consolat Bondin, age 6.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 19 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores attacked a M/V escorted by 2 destroyers and obtained hits on one destroyer and the merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  2230 hrs  Three Albacores of NAS took off to attack a convoy consisting of one merchant vessel and three destroyers northbound from Tripoli.  Hits were scored on one destroyer and the merchant vessel was also probably hit.  All three Albacores returned safely at 0330 hrs.

LUQA  2115-0310 hrs  One Wellington on armed search in area north of Tripoli locates a convoy and drops flares and bombs.

TA QALI  Miss Cottrell commenced work as shorthand-typist.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa: 3 Officers and 100 men on pen-building; 2 Officers 50 men crater-filling; 1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 5 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 250kg, 2 x Italian AP bomb containers).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by.

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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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