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23 March 1942: Malta Convoy Under 9 Hour Attack – Only 2 Ships Reach Harbour

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CONVOY FIGHTS ITS WAY INTO GRAND HARBOUR

SS Talabot (Times of Malta)

Having changed course frequently in an attempt to avoid detection by the enemy, Convoy MW 10 was unable to reach Grand Harbour under cover of darkness this morning as planned.  Approaching the Island in broad daylight, the convoy of four freighters – Breconshire, Clan Campbell, Pampas and Talabot – and their protective force headed for Malta.  From dawn onwards they were under constant air attack by a determined Luftwaffe.  Malta’s fighters put up a strong resistance against a total enemy force of 62 JU 88 bombers and 25 ME 109 fighters.

Only Pampas and Talabot made it safely into Grand Harbour; Clan Campbell was sunk and Breconshire disabled by Luftwaffe attacks.  Chiefs of Staff have reluctantly concluded that until Malta’s air space is safe no further convoys can be planned.  Without essential supplies, the Island will be unable to feed or defend itself.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MARCH TO DAWN 24 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south and squally; 100% low cloud – visibility poor.

0514-1423 hrs  62 JU 88s with an escort of 25 ME 109s attack the convoy as it approaches Malta and within Grand Harbour.

Hurricanes and Spitfires are airborne almost continuously from dawn until dusk, carrying out 42 sorties.  F/Lt Lawrence and Sgt Broad 185 Squadron destroy a Heinkel He111.  Sgt Horricks and Sgt Eastman 185 Squadron probably destroy a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mortimer-Rose, Sgt Eastman, P/O Wigley, F/Sgt Fletcher 185 Squadron and two pilots of 249 Squadron damage four JU 88s.  Sgt Ellis, P/O Noble and P/O Beckett score hits on two other JU 88s.  Many others are hit and forced to jettison their bombs.  Two JU 88s are damaged by Anti-Aircraft fire and others by HM ships.

PM  There is continuous Ack Ack fire out to sea but owing to bad visibility enemy planes are not visible.

0815 hrs  Talabot comes within sight of land, welcomed by two Hurricane fighters sent out to meet her.  Within half a mile of harbour she is attacked by a ME 109 but undamaged.

0915 hrs  Talabot enters Grand Harbour followed by Pampas, surviving another Messerschmitt attack in which four gunners are wounded.  Word has spread of the convoy’s arrival and cheering Maltese crowd the bastions to welcome the two freighters, with destroyers Kingston and Havock – both damaged yesterday en route to Malta – as they cruise into harbour.

HMS Breconshire

0920 hrs   Breconshire is in sight of Delimara Point when she is attacked by ME 109s with bombs and machine-gunfire.

0936 hrs  A JU 88 aims a bomb at Breconshire which explodes under the ship, stopping her engines.

1000 hrs  Another JU 88 aims bombs at Breconshire, causing further damage.  In the heavy swell, the ship begins to drift.

1020 hrs  Still 20 miles from Malta, the slower merchant vessel Clan Campbell is severely damaged by a dive-bombing attack.

1100 hrs  Clan Campbell sinks with the loss of her Captain and five hands.  The destroyer Legion is badly damaged.

1200 hrs  Efforts to bring Breconshire into port have to be abandoned: the weather is too rough for towing or disembarkation.  The ship, passengers and crew have to sit at anchor off Zonkor Point awaiting a tow.  One gun and crew of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery is transferred to Zonkor Point to provide protective cover.

Night 23/24th  Weather and visibility bad: no enemy action.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Basil Rivers, Mentioned in Despatches, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St.Angelo; Ordinary Seaman Norman McLeod, HMS Beaufort; Petty Officer John Blue, HMS Carlisle; Able Seaman J Hulme, HMS Havock; Able Seaman Arthur Adaway, HMS Kingston; Sub-Lieutenant John Carter, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Jordan, HMS Kingston; Leading Stoker Joseph Strange, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Querstret, HMS Kingston.  Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Cherry, Royal Artillery, attached to Malta Territorial Force; Gunner William Griffiths, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties   Kalkara  Agostino Mintoff, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 MARCH 1942

HAL FAR  Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol.  Fifteen pilots patrol in pairs from dawn to dusk.  PM  One Albacore despatched on shipping search: nothing sighted.  Owing to bad weather the aircraft landed in the sea.  Pilot Lt Head is saved but two others, S/L Rivers and L/A Tuttle are lost.

LUQA  No operations.

TA QALI  Orderly room established in St Edward’s College with accounts and Guard Room.  No operations: runway only is serviceable.  Salvage work proceeding.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy arrives from Mid East bringing reinforcements:  11th  Lancs Fusiliers one Officer; 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt, five Officers; 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry eight Officers, 92 Other Ranks.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy brings Officer reinforcements for Brigade as follows:  4 Buffs eight; 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers ten; 8th Bn Manchester Regt five.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1000 hrs  Gas masks worn for one hour.  1400 hrs  All Companies did weekly cross country run.  Heavy cloud during the day.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers joint the Battalion from the convoy.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  0400 hrs  Duty Officer warned that ‘A’ Company was arriving by convoy early in the morning.  By 1200 hrs two Officers and 40 Other Ranks had joined the Battalion in camp.  The remainder of the Company were on board Breconshire which had stopped ten miles out to sea owing to engine trouble.  The seven Other Ranks killed in the air raid on 21st March were buried in the Imtarfa Hospital Cemetery.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers arrived in Malta and were taken on strength.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  One gun and personnel are transferred to Zonkor Point to protect shipping.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 23.

 

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

 

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22 March 1942: Ta Qali Repaired in 24 Hours – Malta Convoy Attacked

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ROUND THE CLOCK REPAIRS GET AIRFIELD UP AND RUNNING AFTER CARPET-BOMBING

Reviewing the devastation caused by carpet-bombing of Ta Qali over the past 72 hours, Air Officer Commanding, Air Marshall Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd, concludes that the airfield is likely to be out of action for a week.  Responding to a call from Malta’s High Command, the Army joins forces with the RAF in an all out effort to repair the damage and get the runway operational.  Despite enemy bombing, and a heavy machine-gun attack by a formation of Messerschmitts, working parties labour tirelessly round the clock, and by dusk today the airfield was declared serviceable again.

HMS Kingston

FOUR HOUR BATTLE TO DEFEND MALTA CONVOY

Malta’s survival is under threat unless the Island gets essential supplies to keep going and withstand the enemy onslaught.  A small, fast-moving convoy of four freighters left Alexandria 48 hours ago with a large cruiser and destroyer escort, in an attempt to run essential items across the Mediterranean.  By 0930 hrs this morning the Italian Navy had closed on the convoy and attacked the escort ships.  Destroyers Havock and Kingston were hit during a day of engagement, before the attackers were beaten off at 1900 hrs.  The convoy is reported as still heading for Malta with its escort, including the damaged destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 100% low cloud.

0655-0801 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol south east of the Island.

0815-0840 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by seven ME 109s approach the Island.  The ME 109s drop four 250kg and twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali while the JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

0852-0907 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0917-0937 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0951 hrs  ME 109s patrol the Island while JU 88s carry out three bomb attacks.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi strip, and Ta Qali.  Malta’s fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage. HAA damage one JU 88.

1020 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs in a line from Luqa to Siggiewi.  One Maryland and one Wellington are burned out, two Blenheims damaged.   Two RAF and two Army personnel are injured.

1026 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s diving from 5000 to 2000 feet: two guns claim one hit each.  Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three JU 88s.  Sighting their quarry over Filfla, pilots P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley and Sgt Robb attack, scoring hits on fuselage and wings.  P/O Allardice fails to return.

1145 hrs  B Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment reports one fighter crashing into the sea off west Bassasa.

1235 hrs  Raiders passed.

1250-1305 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1318-1323 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1408 hrs  Ten ME 109s carry out a patrol, then swoop down over Ta Qali, machine-gunning the airfield.  Light Ack Ack engage and ground defences return heavy fire, damaging one ME 109.

1410 hrs  Two defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt spot one JU 88 flying low towards the coast and open fire: no claims made.

1440-1725 hrs  Enemy fighters patrol the Island.  ME 109s drop 16 HE bombs on Ta Qali. Malta’s fighters are up: no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1730 hrs  11th Bn Lancashire Regt reports aerial torpedo mines dropped around their coastline.

1733 hrs  Three Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to escort five Albacores.  20 miles from Malta the formation is attacked by two ME 109s.  F/L McQueen attacks one, closing to 50 yards, and sees the ME dive into the sea.

1738 hrs  Four enemy aircraft patrol east of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1827 hrs  One aircraft approaches to the north of Grand Harbour, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1919 hrs  Three aircraft approach to the north of Grand Harbour, then recede.  HAA do not engage.

1938 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south east, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1940 hrs  All clear.

2158-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Night  No air raids: weather deteriorating.

Military casualties  Signalman Claude Brown, HMS Havock; Ordinary Seaman Arthur Crane, HMS Havock.  Leading Stoker Henry Neuschaffer, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Daniel Ferris, HMS Kingston; Pilot Officer Philip Allardice, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Gunner Alfred Segon, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Bartolo, age 40; Saverin Galea, age 45; Grezzju Schembri, age 9.  Valletta  John Cachia, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Five Albacores carried out a shipping sweep without result.  An escort of three Spitfires accompanying the Albacores shot down an ME109.  One Albacore landed in the sea off Zonkor Point: two of the crew missing.  PM  Naval engagement: convoy very heavily bombed; no casualties.  Dark CS 15 returned to Alexandria.  Convoy split and proceeded independently to Malta.

AIR HQ  Departures  Six Beauforts, two Blenheims to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  PM  Five Albacores are despatched to attack an enemy convoy but are recalled.  One Albacore is attacked by an ME 109; no damage.

TA QALI   Large Army working parties and salvage parties arranged and work proceeded.  By nightfall runway made serviceable.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1930 hrs  Storm conditions NORAH and KATE.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Brown, L/Cpl Thomas and Fusilier Surgent injured by shrapnel.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 30.

 

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

 

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21 March 1942: 300,000kg of Bombs on Malta’s “Day in Hell”

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  • 300 tons of bombs on Ta Qali in 48 hours
  • 146 high explosive bombs target Mosta
  • 81 killed and many more wounded
  • Bombs on shelter in Mosta cause mass casualties
  • 5 enemy aircraft destroyed, 5 damaged
  • 9 Spitfires land safely ex Gibraltar

 

Ta Qali: 1600 bombs in 48 hrs

Ta Qali: 1600 bombs in 48 hrs

MASS BOMBING RAIDS ON TA QALI AND MOSTA

Raids on Ta Qali continued today with increased intensity.  In massive and widespread attacks this afternoon, communities surrounding the air base also suffered badly, as the enemy extended their targets to Mosta and surrounding communities of Rabat, Imtarfa and Balzan.  Casualties known so far are 20 military and 61 civilians killed and over 100 wounded.  22 civilians were killed in Rabat; 30 were killed and 45 wounded in Mosta, where a large number of bombs fell.

Today’s raids bring the total number of bombs dropped on Ta Qali in the last 48 hours to 1600.  Since Thursday night over 300 tons of bombs have left huge craters across the airfield, now said to resemble the surface of the moon.

Mosta (NWMA Malta)

Mosta (NWMA Malta)

A CHILD REMEMBERS

In Mosta, little Doris Vella was in the air-raid shelter with her mother.  Her father had just left them, on urgent business, and her two older brothers had just escaped their mother’s grasp, to go up and watch the German bombers:

“The next instant a deafening explosion plunged the whole place into darkness and sent us reeling against the walls of the cubicle.  In the ensuing panic I began to grope around and felt the heads of the three young ones.  The straw mattresses on the bunks caught fire and burst into flames…As our eyes got accustomed to the dim light we saw dead bodies piled on top of each other.  A number of RAF men appeared at the shelter entrance and picking their way through the pile of corpses grabbed us and took us outside.  We walked in a state of shock towards our house and saw carts carrying bodies.  We recognized that of Milda’s mother, a refugee from Vittoriosa, horribly mutilated.  The walls of Gafa Street were black with the blast of the explosion.  We learned later that three [bombs] had landed and exploded simultaneously at the entrance and the emergency exit of the shelter.”   Doris lost her father and two brothers in the raid.  (1)

SPITFIRE PILOT’S DAY IN HELL

One 1000kg bomb landed in front of the Point de Vue Hotel in Rabat, being used as a billet for RAF fighter pilots.  Buck McNair had just arrived back at the hotel when the bomb exploded:

“When I came to, I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t feel I was dead, but I didn’t feel whole. My eyes were open, but my jaws and chest didn’t seem to be there…I felt for my tin hat, then I started to be able to see just as if the sun was coming up after a great darkness. I tested myself. I felt carefully with my fingers and found that I had a face and a chest, so I felt better…

As I became more conscious, I found I was upstairs; but I knew I shouldn’t be upstairs. I should be downstairs. Then I realized I had been blown upstairs either through a door or through an opening at the turn of the staircase. I’d been thrown up 20 or 30 feet …

I went out onto the roof and back down the main staircase which was barely hanging in place. I saw the bodies lying at the foot of it. They were in a heap. There was no blood. The raid was still on – the All Clear hadn’t sounded. But everything seemed very quiet. Heavy dust covered the bodies. I looked at them – studied them. One was headless, the head had been cut cleanly away from the top of the shoulders. I didn’t see the head, but I could recognize the man by his very broad shoulders …

I heard a moan, so I put my hand gently on the bodies to feel which of them was alive. One of them I noticed had a hole, more than a foot wide, right through the abdomen. Another’s head was split wide open into two halves, from back to front, by a piece of shrapnel. The face had expanded to twice its size. How the man managed still to be alive I didn’t know. I thought of shooting him with my revolver. As I felt for it, I heard Bud Connell’s voice behind me. ‘Look at this mess!’

I put my hand against the wall, but it slithered down it. It had seemed dry with all the dust, but when I took my hand away I found it was covered with blood with bits of meat stuck to it – like at the butcher’s when they’re chopping up meat and cleaning up a joint. I turned to Bud. ‘For God’s sake,’ I said, ‘don’t come in here.’ Then I noticed that my battledress and trousers were torn and ripped …

Ronnie West appeared. It seemed natural to see him. He had been in the building with us, but he didn’t say anything about me being there. He didn’t seem to want to talk …Now an ambulance and a doctor arrived. The doc asked me to help him with the bodies. I said ‘Get someone else, I’ve seen enough.’…The realization of what had happened began to dawn very slowly … My left arm had gone out of joint when I was blown upstairs by the bomb, but I had shoved it back in place … (2)

SPITFIRES LAND THROUGH THE FIRE

In the midst of the onslaught, a delivery flight of nine Spitfires managed to land safely, having flown off HMS Eagle ex Gibraltar.  The aircraft were protected as they approached by Malta’s fighter squadrons.  An expected delivery of seven more Spitfires failed to arrive.  They were unable to take off from Eagle as a Blenheim aircraft due to escort them to Malta did not make rendezvous with the carrier.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MARCH TO DAWN 22 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; 80% cloud.

0900 hrs  Seven Messerschmitts drop twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali, near the Rock Shelter and by underground hangers: one bowser is burned out.

1000 hrs  Nearly 100 bombers, including several Heinkel HE 111, and about 20 fighters attack Ta Qali, in a repeat of last night’s raid, except that this time enemy aircraft approach in groups at greater height, not in ‘line ahead’.

Hundreds of HE bombs, mainly 250kg and 500kg, are dropped on and around the airfield, causing 27 craters and damaging the Pottery, control van and other vehicles.  Many fires are started.  Bombs which fell wide of the mark kill five military Other Ranks and wound another five, at Imtarfa.  Two Other Ranks from a working party are wounded. Two Beaufighters, two Hurricanes and one Spitfire are damaged.  One soldier and one civilian are killed; four soldiers, one pilot and two civilians are injured.  All work is called to a halt, due to the number of delayed-action bombs on aerodrome.  Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damaged two more.

1014 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers drop one 1800kg bomb each on Manoel Island and Bighi Hospital.

1107 hrs   Eight ME 110s with 25 ME 109s patrol the Island, then drop eight 250kg and twenty-seven 50kg HE bombs on Ta Qali and Rabat.  Seven Hurricanes from Hal Far attack the ME 110s, claiming four destroyed.  Pilots S/Ldr Mortimer-Rose, P/O Ormrod, P/O Beckett, P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley, Sgt Rose, P/O Milburn.  One aircraft returns early due to engine trouble.  Light Ack Ack gunners destroy one ME 109.  Malta’s fighters are airborne, but occupied in escorting nine Spitfires arriving from Gibraltar.

1135 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

1436 hrs  Between 60 and 70 bombers approach the Island from different directions with a relatively small fighter escort. Planes come in irregularly, in groups of two and three, at heights ranging from 10,000 to 16,000 feet.  Consecutive aircraft do not follow each other into a steep dive.  Hundreds of HE bombs are dropped from varying heights; mainly 250kg and 500kg but also several 1000kg, and some rocket bombs.  The main target is Ta Qali, where main damage is to assembly areas and approaches, petrol installations and a reservoir.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: three JU 88s are destroyed and three damaged.

1545 hrs  JU 88s and Messerschmitts carrying bombs target outlying districts, causing casualties and damage in Rabat and Imtarfa, Mosta, Balzan and San Anton. 

Two JU 88s attack Tigne and Manoel, dropping one 1800kg HE bomb each and demolishing buildings at Tigne Barracks.

1658 hrs   One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at 20000 feet.

1944 hrs  Two enemy aircraft drop bombs in the sea and on land near Dingli. Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2215 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Cecil Baker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve VR), 126 Squadron; Flying Officer John Booth, Royal Air Force (VR), 249 Squadron; Flying Officer James Guerin, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer William Hallett, Royal Air Force (VR), 126 Squadron; Pilot Officer Edward Streets, Royal Air Force (VR), 126 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Arthur Waterfield Royal Air Force (VR).

Private Stephen Gardiner; Private James Garnick; Private Charles Levey; Private James Joseph Murray, Private Robert Sadler; Private John Wake; Private John William Dewhurst (died 22nd March); all 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.  Lance-Corporal Peter Thompson, Royal Army Service Corps, attached Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps; Sergeant James Ure, Royal Army Service Corps, attached Royal Army Medical Corps; Private Raymond Siviour, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Lance-Corporal Pacifico Falzon, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force; Lance-Corporal Clarence (Terence) Gallagher; Corporal Douglas Baldwin; Lance-Corporal William Brown; Fusilier Harold Vernon; all 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Anthony Pace, age 24.  Balzan  Sister Paola Agius, age 73; Joseph Muscat, age 32.  Floriana  Francis Azzopardi, age 16; Publio Mercieca, age 16.  Mdina  Vincent Mizzi, age 13.  Mosta  Doris Borg, age 6; Teresa Cuschieri, age 70; Gio Maria Cuschieri, age 37; Anthony Degiorgio, age 79; Carmela Degiorgio, age 77; Maria Degiorgio, age 34; Georgina Dougall, age 42; John Fabri, age 9; Carmelo Fenech, age 11; Joseph Fenech, age 11; Giovanni Galea, age 66; Victor Galea, age 39; Kalanc Gatt, age 42; Francis Gatt, age 13; Giuseppe Gatt, age 9; Maria Gauci, age 8; Censu Gauci, age 5; Mary Grech, age 54; Alfred Montanaro, age 63; Mary Montanaro, age 60; John Montanaro, age 18; Olga St John, age 26; Zareno St John, age 3 mths; Pina Tabone, age 22; Santu Tonna, age 32; Bartholomew Vella, age 41; Carmelo Vella, age 12; Giuseppe Vella, age 9; Vincent Zammit, age 39; Ganna Zarb, age 48; unidentified female; unidentified male.  Msida  Salvu Vella, age 45.  Rabat  Carmel Abela, age 63; Louis Adami, age 29; Mary Adami, age 6; Albert Adami, age 2; Catherine Azzopardi, age 80; Rev. Robert Calleja, age 58; Lewis Caruana, age 2 mths; Domenic Ceci, age 84; Angelina Ellul, age 73; Spiru Galea, age 63; Teresa Galea, age 42; Peter Giordimaina, age 65; Alb. Laferla, age 45; Dolor Mangani, age 20; Felicia Mifsud, age 26; Gisuarda Mifsud, age 10 mths; Albert Mifsud, age 19; Harriet O’Neil, age 56; Gisuardo Portelli, age 71; Dr A Stilon LLD, age 64; Margherita Vassallo, age 28; unidentified female.  St Paul’s Bay  Rita Vella, age 6.  Zejtun  Carmelo Zahra, age 15.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 21 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Raid no 1843 Damage to Ricasoli Rifle Range.  Surgeon Rear Admiral’s Residence at Royal Naval Hospital demolished.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Nine Spitfires, two Blenheims from Gibraltar; one Sunderland from Aboukir.  Departures  Four Beaufighters, two Hudsons to 108 MU; one Wellington to Shalufa; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

HAL FAR  PM  One Albacore despatched on shipping search: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0807-1246 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Messina.

TA QALI  1600 hrs  Third blitz on Ta Qali [this afternoon], damaging the Officers’ Mess at Rabat and killing six officers including AFL (F/O) Waterfield, Intelligence Officer, and five pilots.  Over 1500 high explosive bombs plus incendiary bombs have been dropped on the camp in the last 24 hours.  Immediate steps are taken to arrange alternative accommodation for officers and airmen.  The entire personnel of 500 airmen have to be evacuated and housed in Rabat and St Edwards College.  There are a large number of absentees: police patrols are inaugurated and all shelters are searched.  Kitchen and ablutions are arranged and premises at Messina House are taken over.  All officers and airmen are arranged for by dusk.  All equipment is salvaged from the Orderly Room and Guard Room which are evacuated as the buildings are destroyed.  By nightfall a new Orderly Room is operational and new sick quarters are set up.  Equipment stores are installed in caves.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0915 hrs   Battalion drill parade. AC HQ under the CO Floriana.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  During a large scale air raid on Ta Qali aerodrome some bombs fell near Imtarfa Hospital for which B Company were supplying a guard.  One scored a direct hit on a guard tent: five Other Ranks were killed outright; one died of wounds the same day and another died of wounds on 22nd.  Four more Other Ranks were wounded and admitted to hospital.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  PM Blitz on Ta Qali: Quarter Master’s store hit.  Cpl Baldwin, L/Cpl Gallagher, L/Cpl Brown, Fusilier Vernon killed.  Battalion took one German parachutist prisoner.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Two more heavy raids on Ta Qali aerodrome.  4 Buffs working party one Other Rank killed, four Other Ranks injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Observation Post at Tal Virtu has several near misses during intense raids on Ta Qali during the past 24 hours.  Bombs in this unit’s area at Hamrun, St George’s, St Julian’s, Balzan and Birkirkara.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Another very heavy raid on Ta Qali aerodrome and some of the billets and posts were damaged.  Battalion suffers five casualties: one injured and four suffering from shock.  A Spitfire, a petrol pump and an ammunition van are set on fire.  Lt Cummins and his Platoon Sergeant Jones fought the fires and managed to put them out.  Air Officer Commanding visited the scene and thanked the personnel for their good show.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15.

(1) From The People’s War, Malta 1940-43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press 2002

(2) Diary of Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNair from Canadian Aces (Miles Constable)

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

 

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20 March 1942: Carpet Bombing of Ta Qali – 1000 HE Bombs in 2 Hours

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Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

 

  • Five-hour continuous air raid from 8am
  • 114 high explosive bombs on Valletta and Grand Harbour
  • 1800kg bombs dropped on the capital
  • Cannon shells fired at civilian area
  • 21 civilians, 5 military killed
  • Army called in to repair Ta Qali runways

MASS FORMATIONS OF ENEMY RAIDERS 

“’There was a red flag warning, I was making my way down the main street in Valletta, clambering over masses of rubble. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining.  Looking up at the bright blue sky between the buildings, I watched as some 30 or more German bombers went over my head… they seemed headed towards Ta Qali.  It was that sort of life.  As far as I could tell, almost everyone else was in shelter or heading for shelter – which I respected.  I was on my own out there.’

Lt Carroll was looking up at the forward party of the 74 aircraft attacking Ta Qali today.  The enemy turned on the airfield with all their might, determined to destroy runways and write off all the aircraft…In just 24 hours, the Luftwaffe dropped nearly a thousand bombs, totalling almost 300 tons, on Ta Qali – an area the size of a small English village.  In a similar period 500 tons of bombs were used across the entire city of Coventry in England.  Here was the first ever instance of carpet bombing on such a scale against a military target.  And it had just been inflicted on the tiny Island of Malta. 

Delayed action bombs were scattered all over the airfield, holding up repair work on the runways.  The RAF called on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to help with the sheer number of unexploded bombs (UXB).  In two days, RE Bomb Disposal alone have received over 70 UXB reports.”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; clear.

0805 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali, joining seven others from Hal Far.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to act as top cover for the eleven Hurricanes.  Spitfire pilots spot six ME 109s: P/O McNair attacks and destroys one.

0825 hrs  P/O Leggo’s aircraft is attacked by ME 109s and loses its tail fin, causing it to spin downwards. P/O Leggo tries to regain control but without success, and bales out but at 100 feet his parachute has no time to open: he falls to his death.  The aircraft crashes to the ground between Qrendi and Siggiewi.

0900 hrs  Six JU 88s bomb Sliema and St Julians.  Bombs land on St Julians Police Station and Rockyvale.  L/Cpl Patt and Fusilier Russell of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers is killed; two Fusiliers are injured and admitted to hospital.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88. 

0920 hrs  Two JU 88s approach and drop one 1800kg High Explosive bomb each near the Fish Market in Valletta, and in Grand Harbour. 

One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance from the north to the south of the Island at 30000 feet.  Five JU 88s approach Grand Harbour but are turned away by Heavy and Light Ack Ack, dropping all bombs in the sea off Ricasoli and St Elmo. 

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s approach and bomb Marsa, Jesuits Hill and Gzira.  One gun position at Jesuits Hill receives a direct hit: no casualties.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  During the raid a Dornier flying boat searches north of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engages at extreme range.  Military casualties:  two killed; two wounded.

1245 hrs  Bombs land near D and R Companies of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt, south east of Cisk Brewery.  Cannon shells are fired at Birkirkara, causing civilian casualties.

1250 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one JU 88: one hit claimed.

1311 hrs  All clear.

1618 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches, then recedes, at 25000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1707 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1720 hrs  44 JU 88s dive-bomb and machine-gun Ta Qali, killing 13 civilians.  Bombs cause considerable damage to barrack blocks and ablutions, roads and pens.  The aerodrome is cratered and unserviceable.  Several aircraft are damaged and one airman slightly injured.  Many fires are started.  Many delayed action bombs are used.  Ack Ack fires a strong response: four JU 88s are shot down and destroyed.

1816 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by sixteen ME 109s bomb Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1830 hrs  Three bombers dropped six bombs on Ta Qali, damaging Camp Magister and one billet.  LAC Armstrong is admitted to hospital, as is LAC Bond, who dies at 2345 hrs.

1919 hrs  About 50 aircraft, including JU 88s and fighter escort, head towards Malta in from North formed up in line ahead, at about 10000 ft. Heavy Ack Ack engage and as the raiders come with range of Bofors guns, the Light Ack Ack gunners open fire.  The shooting is extremely accurate in spite of difficult light. 

Enemy bombers get through to carry out a concentrated bombing attack on Ta Qali.  Bombs rain down on the airfield for half an hour causing numerous craters, though runways are not significantly damaged.  Many of the high explosive bombs carry delayed action fuzes. Large numbers of incendiary bombs are dropped on the camp. Two RAF personnel are wounded.  Other bombs fall near Mqabbe and Tal Liebru.

After dark, three further aircraft patrol to the south, then cross the coast and drop bombs near Mqabba and Tal Liebru and on Ta Qali.

2333 hrs  All clear.

0047 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island without dropping any bombs.

0241-0609 hrs  Four enemy aircraft drop bombs on Ghain Tuffieha, St Paul’s Bay and St Julian’s.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Douglas Leggo, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Leading Aircraftman George Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Lance-Corporal John Patt, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Harold (Joseph) Russell, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Edward Thompson, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Alessandro Camilleri, age 50; Salvo Gatt, age 49; Ganni Portelli, age 55; Emmanuele Vassallo, age 47.  Birkirkara  Anthony Gatt, age 12.  Hamrun  Carmelo Camilleri, age 11; Guisa Cuschieri, age 3; Francis Farrugia, age 13.  Lija  Salvu Mallia, age 45.  Marsaxlokk  Nardu Caruana, age 56.  Mosta  Salvu Dimech, age 70; Giovanna Frendo, age 75; Pietro Micallef, age 45; Rita Micallef, age 24; Duminka Micallef, age 18.  Naxxar  Zaru Grech, age 30; Joseph Sciberras, age 18.  Pieta  Lewis Camilleri, age 44. St Julian’s  Joseph Debono, age 45. Valletta  Margherita Buttigieg, age 44.  Zejtun  Salvu Spiteri, age 30.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and petrol.  Three Albacores dropped two torpedoes aimed at one light cruiser and one merchant vessel, 2000 tons, escorted by one destroyer.  Result unobserved.  0800 hrs – convoy MW10 sailed from Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Blenheims, four Beauforts , one Hudson from 108 MU; one Wellington from Shalufa.

HAL FAR  PM  Three Albacores 828 Squadron were despatched on a shipping search.  0415 hrs  A Convoy of one 2000 ton merchant vessel, one light cruiser, one destroyer position 190 degrees Messina 23 miles course 200 degrees, speed 10 knots.  Two torpedoes were aimed, one at the cruiser and one at the merchant vessel.  Aircraft had to take avoiding action due to flak.  Strikes not observed.

LUQA 1140-1710 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Trapani, Palermo and Cagliari Harbours; Elman aerodrome and vis. of Pantelleria.

TA QALI  Severest raids on aerodrome ever had.  Large numbers of incendiary bombs.  All officers proceeded to Camp immediately after first raid, to assist under direction of CO.  Army contacted: immediate repair of aerodrome arranged.  Lessons learned:  underground alternative accommodation should have been provided months ago, both for aircraft and personnel.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali.  Battalions of this Brigade provided working parties for filling up craters on the aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit takes over the Observation Post at Tal Virtu. 

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Extremely heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali aerodrome.  Battalion supplied working party for filling up bomb craters on the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

(1 ) Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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19 March 1942: 345 High Explosive Bombs on Malta in 24 Hours

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LUFTWAFFE RECORD OF ATTACKS ON MALTA 19 MARCH 1942

  • 1 JU 88**               4 x 250kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 4 ME 109**            4 x 250kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 5 JU 88**             20 x 250kg; 30 x 50kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 6 JU 88**             24 x 500kg (Marsaxlokk)
  • 10 JU 88**             8 x 500kg; 15 x 250kg; 36 x 50kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 3 JU 88**             12 x 250kg; 24 x 50kg (Luqa and Safi strip)
  • 6 JU 88**             20 x 500kg (West of Luqa)
  • 13 JU 88*            44 x 250kg; 100 x 50kg (Positions on South Malta)

*night **daylight

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  No cloud.

0710 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island.  One dives on a submarine in Grand Harbour, then flies over Ta Qali and Luqa at 5000 feet.  Light Ack Ack engage.

0725 hrs  Three gun positions of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one ME 109: no claims.

0740 hrs  All clear.

0957-1027 hrs  One JU 88 drops bombs on St Paul’s Bay and Wardia Ridge.  Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1053-1122 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1128-1143 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol round the Island without crossing the coast.

1405 hrs   Three JU 88s bomb Sliema, Gzira and St Julians. 

One Beaufort heading into Malta from Gibraltar crash-lands at Hal Far, its rear gunner wounded in combat with a ME 110.  The crew proceeds to Luqa.

1443 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty-four 500kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Hal Far and Benghaisa gun position.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  One man is injured at a Light Ack Ack position.  Two bombs hit headquarters of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, demolishing half of the buildings, including officers’ quarters.  2/Lt Wilsher and seven Other Ranks are admitted to hospital.

1500 hrs  One gun position of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claims.  One gun position is damaged by bombing and ammunition is destroyed.  Gunner McDermott is injured by bomb splinters and removed to No 45 General Hospital.

1540 hrs  All clear.

1617 hrs   One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance, followed by six JU 88s which drop 23 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

1630 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 36 HE bombs on Safi strip and Luqa.

1700 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty 500kg HE bombs on Luqa, east of Qrendi and Nigret.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One Wellington at Luqa is burned out, one damaged; one Maryland is slightly damaged.

1705 hrs  36 HE bombs land on Ta Qali camp, damaging two buildings.  One Beaufighter under repair is partly burned out; another Beaufighter, a fighter Blenheim and two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.

1718 hrs  A stick of bombs drops on the area of San Kristu church.

1800 hrs  Five JU 88s drop HE bombs through Mqabba village to within 300 yards of Zurrieq village, straddling headquarters of D Company, 4th Bn Hampshire Regt. 

1820 hrs  One bomb falls 100 yards from headquarters of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt; another near Tal Hniena Chapel.

2120-0016 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea, and on land across Qrendi, Kalafrana and Luqa.  Incendiary bombs are dropped on the Benghaisa area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0151-0306 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea and on land at Tal Qroqq and Ta Giorni.  Night fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by fighters.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Moloney, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Richard Morgan, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Paul Vassallo, age 50. Lija  Paul Azzopardi, age 39. Sliema  Mikiel Borg, age 64.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Spartivento having sunk a U boat and probably hit a large merchant vessel.  Embarked torpedoes and left again non patrol.  Upright sailed for Gibraltar and UK to refit.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims, seven Beauforts from Gibraltar.

LUQA  1536-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF5 patrol

TA QALI  No scrambles.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT CO and Company Commanders visited loading demonstrations at 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.  1930-2200 hrs  Night firing by platoons C Company on Pembroke Ranges.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Vehicle loading demonstration to be inspected by all Brigades.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Exercise attack on Victoria Lines by D and C Companies.  A and B defended.  Fusilier Thompson was hit by bomb shrapnel in Sliema and killed.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1st Bn reports a stick of bombs in the sea off Post MB5.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Demonstration Platoon and Company truck loading.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 1700 hrs  Lecture at Marsa for all officers on “Correct Orders to Forward Artillery in Support of Infantry Attack.”

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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18 March 1942: Three Hour Battle Over Malta – Blow by Blow Account

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  • 12 raids in 16½ hours
  • Aerodromes main target
  • Gozo passenger boat machine-gunned
  • Fighters prowl Malta’s coasts

‘Buck’ McNair (Canadian Aces)(1)

MALTA ADOPTS BATTLE OF BRITAIN TACTICS

“The Malta pilots quickly adapted Battle of Britain tactics to their situation under the tutelage of SL Turner. What Spitfires that could get airborne would try to attack the escorts first while the Hurricanes would come in just behind them and try to get at the bombers. This didn’t often work out, due to the overabundance of 109s in the air. However, on March 18 Buck damaged a Bf-109, and the next day he shot one down in flames.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MARCH TO DAWN 19 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; no cloud.

0727-0845 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by sixteen ME 109s drops bombs in the sea west of Anchor Bay, on land near Torri L’Abjad and near Miziep Pumping Station.  Four ME 109s peel off and machine-gun Marfa Beach, firing on the Gozo ferry boat disembarking at Marfa Jetty and injuring three passengers. ME 109s go on to carry out low-flying patrols around the coast.

0855-1216 hrs  Six ME 109s circle the Island, three patrol off the south east coast and three ME 109s patrol off Delimara.  Four ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island and two in the north.  Malta’s fighters engage.

1230-1308 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are  airborne to escort a Maryland south.  While still trying to locate it they see two of the patrolling ME 109s, five miles south of Delimara.  They attack: W/Cdr Turner damages one; P/O McNair damages one.

1326-1400 hrs  ME 109s patrol off the coast and to the north of the Island.

1430 hrs  Five Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of one JU 88 and twelve ME 109s.

1447 hrs  The Hurricanes attack and together damage a JU 88.  P/O Lester is shot up by a ME 109 and wounded.

1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, four Hurricanes 126 Squadron and seven 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept 24 JU 88 bombers in a series of formations, each with fighter escort.

1650 hrs  The four Spitfires are jumped by four ME 109s. One ME shoots down P/O Fox who bales out over the sea.  F/Lt McQueen attacks the ME and sees that go down into the sea.  P/O Sergeant attacks another ME, observing large pieces falling off.  P/O Lee attacks a JU 88, seeing strikes on the fuselage and black smoke from the port engine.

The Hurricanes close to within sight of the attacks.  F/Sgt Fletcher and F/Lt Stone see hits on the same JU 88 attacked by P/O Lee.

1711 hrs  Air raid on Hal Far.  Five JU 88s drop fifteen high explosive (HE) bombs, including three 1000kg.  Eight fall on the airfield.

1715 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage three JU 88s: one hit claimed.

1717 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 14 HE bombs including three 1000kg on Safi strip, and on Hal Far, damaging one Albacore, demolishing a hangar and leaving craters on the aerodrome.

1725 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages a JU 88: no claim. 

1725 hrs  One 1000kg bomb falls on Bubaqra village, damaging headquarters of A Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt and injuring the storeman.  An unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 50 yards away.  B Company reports one fighter in the sea near Filfla.

1730 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claim.

1735 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA engage one JU 88: two guns claim one hit each.  One of the gun positions is hit:  billets are damaged and rendered unserviceable.  Personnel have to be accommodated temporarily in tents.

1735 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Misrah Blandun area.

1755 hrs  Four bombs explode between the headquarters of B and D Companies, 3 Bn Kings Own Malta Regt (KOMR).  One 1000kg bomb is reported near RAF posts at Ghar Lapsi.  An unexploded bomb is reported at position 424193.

1755 hrs  Fighter aircraft return to Ta Qali but Sgt Mulloy and P/O Lester are reported missing.

1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne to escort the High Speed Launch in a search for P/O Lester.

1830 hrs  Seven JU 88s raid Ta Qali, dropping 45 high explosive bombs.  24 hit target, setting fire to and destroying two Hurricanes, one bowser and one tractor.  Bombs fall on the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for a short time.  One Hurricane and one Spitfire are slightly damaged.  LAC Parker is admitted to No 90 General Hospital with severe shock.

Several bombs fall around the camp of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt and on Qrendi strip.  One bomb explodes close to the HQ building. The guard commander is affected by bomb blast and taken to hospital suffering from concussion.

1845 hrs  Four JU 88s drop HE bombs on Luqa airfield.

1900 hrs  P/O Sergeant 249 Squadron attacks a ME 109 with several bursts: the aircraft dives steeply towards the sea, emitting white smoke.

1909 hrs  Raiders passed.

1955 hrs  An observer of 3rd Bn KOMR at Ghar Lapsi sights a bomber in the sea West of Filfla, one fighter south east of Filfla and another fighter south of Filfla.

P/O Lester is rescued by the High Speed Launch.

2235-2300 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast near St George’s and drops bombs on Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2355-0127 hrs  Eight single aircraft approach from the north.  Four cross the coast and bomb searchlight positions at Tal Balal and Mellieha, and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; one night fighter is airborne.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Arthur Delehaunt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 69 Squadron; Sergeant William Anderson, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Harold Fox, Royal Air Force VR, 249 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Grimley, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant George Mulloy, Royal Air Force VR, 126 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Parker, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  St Paul’s Bay  Carmela Muscat, age 72; Francis Muscat, age 14.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Kurt Lauinger, III/JG 53, Pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109, shot down, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Two Swordfish and two Albacores on shipping search without result.  One Swordfish crashed on landing; crew unhurt.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  AM  Two Swordfish and four Albacores of 828 and 830 Squadron on shipping search.  Two merchant vessels and two destroyers sighted 180 degrees Lampedusa 45 miles, course north, 15 knots.  One hit scored.

LUQA  0825-1256 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for shipping: relocation of convoy and traffic moving east from Tripoli.  1434 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron despatched on reconnaissance of Marittimo-Kerkennah.  Sgt Parker fails to return.  One Maryland on reconnaissance Marittimo-Kerkennah failed to return: believed shot down by enemy fighters off Filfla.  Crew: Sgts Parker, Delehaunt, Grimley and Anderson airborne 1434 hrs.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One man A Company Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by [1000kg bomb] in Bubaqra village; one Other Rank slightly injured by bomb blast.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party two Officers and 100 Other Ranks at Luqa.  1400 hrs  30 Other Ranks final parachute practice on Marsa Range. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

(1) Profile of Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNair from Canadian Aces (Miles Constable)

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17 March 1942: 30 Civilians Killed by Heavy Bombs Across Malta

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  • Air raids back to full force

    Heinkel He 111

  • 79000 kg high explosive bombs dropped across Island
  • Indiscriminate night bombing hits civilian areas
  • 30 civilian casualties including two policemen
  • Heavier enemy fighter escorts – 40 protect a single raid
  • Heinkel III appears over Malta
  • Malta’s Ack Ack and fighters score hits on enemy aircraft
  • One Spitfire crashes
  • Aircraft destroyed on the ground

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  70% cloud at 500 feet.

0700 hrs  Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  F/L Stone and P/O Noble make a head on attack on one JU 88: results not observed.  P/O Beckett engages a ME 109: no visible results.

0715 hrs  Six Spitfires of 249 Squadron are airborne and locate an incoming formation of JU 88s and Messerschmitts.  The Spitfires split into pairs.  Sgt Brenman scores cannon strikes on one Messerchmitt which goes down.  He then fires at a second ME but sees no results.  F/Lt Heppell has a short squirt at one ME 109 and sees a puff of black smoke as it climbs away.

0737 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Grand Harbour area.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage.

0800 hrs  Six JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  One bowser and two Wellingtons are burned out.  Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged; one is written off. One Spitfire and one Mosquito of the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit are damaged.  One previously unserviceable Beaufighter is badly damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from Hal Far join the fight, spotting five JU 88s and ten Messerchmitts.  S/Lt Wells scores strikes on one Junkers and P/O McHan fires machine gun bullets into the same aircraft.  Sgt Hale attacks another JU and sees smoke pouring from the starboard engine, believed to be glycol.  F/Lt Kemp attacks a ME 109 and sees bits fall from the starboard wing: the ME goes down into cloud.  Sgt Mulloy attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes under the starboard wing root.  He also claims strikes on a 2nd Junkers, along the tail end of the fuselage.

1000 hrs  JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, and on the submarine base.

1025 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 4-6000 feet: no claims.

1030 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne.  Sighting a large formation of Messerschmitt fighters, the Spitfires dive away.  F/Sgt Cormack does not pull out of his dive and his machine heads straight towards Filfla: cause unknown.

1045 hrs  Five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.

1050 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land safely.

1115 hrs  All clear.

1200-1355 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and Luqa, and in the sea off Delimara.

1310 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs in the Zurrieq area and on Safi strip. One JU 88 is engaged by two gun positions of 225 LAA at 5-6000 feet: no claims.

1407 hrs  Four JU 88s and one Heinkel 111 escorted by fighters approach the Island  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Broad engage one JU 88: no visible results.  The raiders drop bombs to the west of Luqa and Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1415 hrs  Three Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and three Spitfires of 249 Squadron from Luqa.  They chase and damage the Heinkel.  A second wave of six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop twelve bombs on Ta Qali, damaging one Hurricane. Two civilians are killed, two are admitted to hospital and two have minor injuries.  Ack Ack engage and damage one JU 88.

1425 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the Mqabba area and near Loreto Church.

1445 hrs  The Spitfires and Hurricanes land safely.

1500 hrs  One Hurricane at Ta Qali is damaged by a delayed action bomb dropped at 1415 hrs.  One civilian is injured and taken to hospital.

1600 hrs  Five Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of JU 88s.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Sutherland attack one JU, hitting the fuselage and engines.  Sgt Sutherland engages a ME 109, scoring hits between the engine and cockpit.

1619 hrs  A six-wave attack of bombers protected by a large fighter force.  The first wave of six JU 88 drops bombs on Sliema, Tigne and Marsaxmett Harbour.

One JU 88 drops bombs on Kirkop and Qrendi.

Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and to the north of Luqa.

One aircraft recedes from south to north at 18000 feet.

Six JU 88s drops bomb on the Qrendi strip and in the sea.

Six JU 88s drops bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.   Malta’s fighters are up and damage one HE 111, one JU 88 and two ME 109s.  Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage another.

1725 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip. Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged and written off.  Guns of 225 LAA Battery engage two JU 88s and one ME 109 at 4-5000 feet: no claims.

1830 hrs  Two Hurricanes 126 Squadron take off from Hal Far with five other Hurricanes of 185 Squadron to intercept an incoming formation.  The two Hurricanes of 126 chase a JU 88 which is last seen diving steeply into the sea.

1836 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and Misrah Blandun.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa and patrol behind the Hurricanes.  Two ME 109s are spotted.  S/L Grant damages one with cannon shells and P/O Plagis attacks the other, observing pieces fall from the aircraft.

1842 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s at 3-4000 feet: three gun positions claim five hits in total.

1846 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 3-4000 feet.  All guns claim hits; two confirmed on the fuselage and starboard wing of one aircraft.  Gunners collect fallen fragments of fuselage and a rubber dinghy.  The plane recedes south apparently badly damaged.

1920 hrs  All clear.

2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is barraged over Grand Harbour and drops its bomb load in the sea.

2044 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the east of Mellieha.

2200 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Pembroke Ranges, on Naxxar and in the sea.

2235 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Rabat area.

2332-0100 hrs  Seven aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the Rabat and Rocco areas, and in the sea.

0156 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on St Georges and in the sea.

0340 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs in the sea west of Gozo and another drops bombs to the south of Latnia.

0517 hrs   Seven aircraft approach the Island: one drops bombs near San Rocco fort, the remainder in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ian Cormack Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.  Gunner Carmel Darmanin, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Alfred Calleja, age 35.  Hamrun  George Debono, age 43.  Lija  Charles Lanzon, age 36.  Paola  Giuseppe Delia, age 60; Joseph Delia, age 4; George Gauci, age 80.  Qormi  Carmelo Aquilina, age 77.  Rabat  Francis Mallia, Ena Mallia Pulvirenti, age 12; Salvu Portelli, age 37; Andrew Spiteri, age 11; Samuel Vassallo, age 25.  Siggiewi  Carmelo Baldacchino, age 44.  Sliema  Eddie Bartolo, age 38; Joseph Bartolo, age 38; Alfred Calapai, age 54; Antonio Fava, age 20; Paul Formosa, age 50; Giuseppa Micallef, age 54; Joseph Micallef, age 11; Joseph Mifsud, age 66; Albert Mifsud, age 14; Anthony Pisani, age 38; Carmela Sghendo, age 15; Francis Spiteri, age 14; Alfred Vella, age 45.  Valletta  Muriel Brocklebank, age 47.  Zebbug  Giuseppe Petroni, age 29.  Zejtun  Joseph Mercieca, age 45.  Zurrieq  Ursola Schembri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  MLs 126 and 130 arrived from Gibraltar.  Five Albacores left to attack convoy sighted earlier but failed to find.  Three Swordfish attacked one merchant vessel of 2000 tons east of Tripoli.  One torpedo was dropped and left ship ablaze from stem to stern.  Two Swordfish and four Albacores sighted and attacked two merchant vessels and two destroyers in Lampedusa area.  Two torpedoes dropped and one hit on a 7000 ton merchant vessel is claimed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Spitfires to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Five Albacores 828 Squadron dispatched to attack convoy – nothing sighted.  Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on shipping search.  They attacked one merchant vessel (position east Tripoli 25 miles, 10 miles from shore).  A hit was scored: merchant vessel left ablaze from stem to stern.  One Swordfish – S/L Shute, Mid. Hillery – missing.

LUQA  0712-1300 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search south and east of Malta for enemy shipping.  1534-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for enemy shipping.

TA QALI  Signal 0831 HQ:  Identity of 242 and 605 Squadrons cease to exist as such on Malta with effect from 15 March 1942.  Pilots being absorbed with existing fighter squadrons at Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Night operations: no interceptions.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company on exercise Corrodino area; normal work for other Companies.  1400 hrs A Company cross-country run.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  St Patrick’s Day parade of Battalion at San Pawl Tat Targe.  Shamrock presented by GOC.  March to Naxxar for church parade and sermon by Rev Navin.  Dinner in evening attended by Brigadier L/Col Iggleden, L/Col Brittorous.  Men entertained by concert party.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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