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6 July 1940: Dockyard Bombed Without Warning Killing Workers

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DOCKYARD BOMBED WITHIN SECONDS OF SIREN

Bombs struck the Dockyard this evening only seconds after the air raid alert sounded, causing casualties among men who were still making for shelter.  Two dockyard workers were killed and nine wounded, including three with life-threatening injuries.  The casualties have not been named.

fort St Angelo

fort St Angelo

Fort St Angelo evacuated

Four enemy bombers took part in the raid, which also targeted Fort St Angelo.  Three high explosive bombs smashed into gardens adjacent to the Officers’ quarters.  The impact and blast effect shattered all the doors and windows and considerably loosened the stone in the main structural walls of the buildings.  The quarters had to be evacuated and officers billeted temporarily in the former slave quarters, the residences of the Vice Admiral and the Captain of the Dockyard.

Another stick of bombs fell in a line from Vittoriosa to French Creek.  High explosives landed on Dockyard Creek: one on Store Wharf caused a crater and casualties, another demolished the upper floor of an office building.  A third bomb struck HMS Olympus lying in No 2 Dock, piercing its hull and puncturing the Dock itself in 17 places.  Damage to Olympus has set the completion of her refit back two months.

HMS Olympus

HMS Olympus

DEVASTATION AT PAOLA

The attack came just hours after a very heavy air raid over the Dockyard and the workers’ community of Paola.  Just after three o’clock this afternoon 20 enemy aircraft swept over the coast and rained dozens of high explosive bombs over the area.  One unexploded bomb was reported outside Ghajn Dwieli Gate.  Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino rushed to the scene and was shocked by what he saw:

“The scene at Paola was indeed terrifying.  I think it must have been the worst up to date.  The first thing I noticed was splinters of glass inches deep all over the town, far from any burst bombs.  I walked along crunching and breaking glass underfoot. 

There were a hundred houses demolished while twice that number needed new doors and windows.  Roofs and windows and wooden balconies hung imply, overlooking the debris-strewn road.  Electricity and telephone cables were down everywhere.  Here and there water was trickling out from broken pipes.

In some places one or more houses had simply disappeared – nothing remained except an empty space.  The bombs must have been big!  Thank God the place had been evacuated…The town must have been mistaken for a military objective – it had been bombed before and today received the full force of the blow…I spoke to a woman who had been in her house alone when the house next door was demolished by a direct hit…(Her calmness amazed me.)  ‘I have stuck it more than the others, but now I think it were better if we started moving.’”  (1)    

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JULY TO DAWN 7 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine, warm and clear. 

0810-0840 hrs   Air raid alert for three formations of enemy aircraft which approach to within nine miles of the Island before turning away.  No raid materialises.

1455-1540 hrs  20 bombers approach the Island and carry out a heavy bombing raid and dropping 100 bombs.  High explosives are dropped on Kirkop, Luqa, Paola, Verdala Barracks and the Dockyard, in the sea off Benghaisa and San Rocco, and between Mosta and Naxxar.  Several evacuated houses at Paola are destroyed with five minor casualties among civilians.  Nineteen bombs land on Luqa, including six on the runway causing damage which is quickly repaired.  One bomb lands on the corner of a hangar, destroying the building.  Another just misses a slit trench occupied by personnel of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt., covering them with dust but causing no casualties.  Some motor transport at Verdala is damaged.  One Ack Ack gunner at San Giacomo is slightly wounded.  One enemy aircraft is believed brought down and a second badly damaged.

2110-2140 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft attack the Island, dropping high explosive bombs near the Dockyard and on Fort St Angelo, damaging gardens, near Tal Bajda and Tal Virtu, and in the sea off Kalafrana.  A low-flying machine-gun attack is made between Madalena Tower and St Andrews Barracks.  The aircraft swoops over the parade ground of Pembroke Barracks, firing its tail gun towards the ground.  Two enemy aircraft are shot down by small arms fire into the sea off Madalena Tower.

2335 hrs  Lights are reported from the west of Verdala, believed possible signaling.  A few minutes later more possible signaling lights are seen coming from Dingli.

Civilian casualties  Michael Falzon, age 70. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 6 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Six recruits medically examined for the RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 HE 250lb Dockyard; 1 HE 130lb Mqabba.

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012

 

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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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5 July 1940: Mystery Aircraft Landing in Malta

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FRENCH AIR CREW ASK TO JOIN RAF

Hal Far and Kalafrana air bases were on red alert this evening after early warning systems spotted a single aircraft heading towards Malta’s south coast.  The plane approached a just before 10pm, showing full lights which suggested it was not on an enemy raider on a stealth mission.  It then began to circle Marsaxlokk Bay, signalling the word ‘FRANCE’ in morse code.  Five minutes later the aircraft landed at Kalafrana, where it was met by officers of the RAF.

French Latecoere with Sunderland at Kalafrana

French Latecoere with Sunderland at Kalafrana

The aircraft has been identified as a French Latecoere seaplane.  It was crewed by two NCOs who have flown to Malta from Bizerta in Tunisia.  The pilot has been named as Adjutant Duvauchelle and his crewman Wireless Operator Mehauas.  On being apprehended, the pair stated that they wish to serve with the Royal Air Force.        

In the lead-up to the French armistice with the Axis, it appears a message was issued inviting French planes to join Allied forces in the Mediterranean, including Malta.  However, in view of more recent attacks on Gibraltar by French aircraft, all French planes are now automatically regarded as hostile, unless and until they prove themselves friendly.

The two officers were placed under guard and taken to Malta’s War Headquarters for interrogation.  Meanwhile, the Island’s Air HQ has notified London of the events, requesting that the information be treated as top secret until further notice.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JULY TO DAWN 6 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine, warm and clear. 

2150-2155 hrs  Air raid alert.  An unidentified aircraft is reported approaching the south coast, showing full lights.  It then signals in Morse Code before coming in to land at Kalafrana. 

2233 hrs  2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers report a light emanating from near Tal Minsia Church which illuminated three times for eight seconds, with five second intervals.  An investigation is ordered.

0010 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft are reported in the vicinity of the Island but none crosses the coast and no bombs are dropped.    

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 5 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report.  1845 hrs  Nine Swordfish 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm left to attack the aerodrome at Catania.  Bombs dropped: 6 x 500lb, 24 x 250lb, 27 incendiary; some on the aerodrome and some on workshops.  Two hangars were hit and four fires started.  Several cruisers and destroyers were observed in Augusta.  All aircraft returned safely. 

KALAFRANA  Nine recruits medically examined for the RAF. 

LUQA  Strength of station:  officers 19; airmen 75; civilians 4.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Camp visited AM by GOC Troops, Major General S J P Scobell and PM by His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief.

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Posted by on July 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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4 July 1940: Italian Radio Broadcasts False Propaganda in Maltese

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MALTA BROADCASTS COUNTER FALSE ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS  

Malta’s Rediffusion service is mounting a concerted campaign against false information coming from Italian radio.  Broadcasts from Rome in the Maltese language are making exaggerated and often false claims about the progress of Italian and German war campaigns.  Information from Italy has included claims that the Regia Aeronautica have destroyed Malta’s railways – which closed down in 1931.  Rediffusion announcements will be broadcast daily, systematically refuting the Italian propaganda.

Cant Z506

Cant Z506

MALTA FIGHTERS RESCUE DESTROYER

Malta fighters today helped fight off a surprise attack on a Royal Navy destroyer by an enemy aircraft.  HMS Jervis was attacked at just after six pm by an Italian Cant triple-engined seaplane.  The enemy aircraft swooped low and dropped bombs on the destroyer from between 500 and 1000 feet.  Malta-based fighter aircraft were scrambled and launched a counter-attack.  The encounter lasted half an hour but no damage was caused to the vessel or Malta fighters.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and very hot; visibility clear.    

0555-0620 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three formations of enemy fighters appear over the Island.  One remains at altitude while the other two carry out a low flying machine gun attack on Hal Far aerodrome and then on Kalafrana.  All ground defence posts, including light machine guns of the RAF and 8th Bn Manchester Regt, return fire from the ground.  No damage or casualties reported.   

2111-2120 hrs  Air raid alert – no raid materialises.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 JULY 1940

Civilian casualties Antonio Azzopardi, Stoker.

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Swordfish damaged on Hal Far aerodrome but repairable.  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Three recruits medically examined for the RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 HE 250lb; 1 HE 130lb Addolorata Cemetery.

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Posted by on July 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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3 July 1940: Maltese Gunner Earns Medal for Bravery

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MALTESE GUNNER’S BRAVERY

Military Medal

Military Medal

A gunner with the King’s Own Malta Regiment is to be recommended for a Military Medal for his actions during an air raid today.  Corporal Arthur Kitney, of 3rd Bn KOMR was manning a twin Lewis gun at Hal Far when the aerodrome was subjected to a low level attack by enemy aircraft.  Cpl Kitney was hit when the raiders dropped bombs over his gun position and strafed the area with machine gun fire.  Despite his injuries he remained in position manning his gun against the enemy until the raid was over.  Recognising his actions, his senior officers decided to recommend him for the Military Medal, which is awarded for bravery in battle on land. 

FRENCH TROOPS MAY BE ENGAGED TO DEFEND MALTA

From:  War Office                       To: Gov C in C Malta; GOC Commanding Hong Kong & Malaya

Efforts are being made to collect a force of French officers and soldiers who volunteer to go on with the war either as British nationals or as French.  This force under General de Gaulle may play an important part in operations outside the Mediterranean.  Do not repeat not therefore on any account discourage owing to considerations local to your own command the rallying of good men to our cause.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JULY TO DAWN 4 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine. 

0945-1025 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy formations fly over the Island but no bombs are dropped. Five aircraft are seen passing over Luqa.  Several Ack Ack positions open fire until Malta fighters arrive.  They attack one enemy SM79, which breaks up in the air and falls into the sea south of Delimara.  Five of the crew are observed parachuting down towards the sea several miles off shore but are not found by rescue craft from Malta.  As one of the Hurricane fighters returns to the aerodrome he is surprised by an enemy fighter which attacks.  The Hurricane crashes on landing and is a write-off.  The pilot is unhurt.

1022 hrs  A destroyer leaves Grand Harbour.

1755-1830 hrs  Air raid alert.  A formation of three enemy aircraft approaches the Island and drop bombs near a destroyer off the west coast.  No damage is done.   

1830 hrs  Signalling is reported in the Rabat area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 3 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane.  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Two recruits medically examined for the RAF.

TA QALI  A mortar demonstration is conducted at Ta Qali, witnessed by the Governor and C in C, the General Officer Commanding and senior staff of the Malta Infantry Brigade.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion and married families’ baggage is loaded onto SS Tweed for shipment to the UK.

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Posted by on July 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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2 July 1940: Businesses Open Air Raid Shelters to Public

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BUSINESSES RESPOND TO GOVERNMENT APPEAL FOR SHELTERS

Owners of businesses and club premises in Malta’s bombing target areas are opening their doors to provide shelter during air raids.  The Island’s newspapers have published details of six public shelters in the Sliema area alone.  The new shelters include the Chocolate Box Bar, Sliema Athletic Club, and St Julians Police Station as well as a motor vehicle garage and several privately-owned cellars.  The opening of the new shelters follows a recent appeal by the Government for garage owners to allow their premises to be adapted for use as public air raid shelters. (1)  

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

JERVIS DAMAGED IN HARBOUR

Destroyer Jervis was damaged today when she arrived at Malta from repairs in home waters.  The vessel bumped against the dock while berthing, sustaining damage to her bow.  The damage sustained was minor and after immediate repairs Jervis was declared fit for service.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1940

Weather  Misty early morning, then fine. 

0925-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft cross the Island apparently on reconnaissance.  Ack Ack batteries at Luqa open fire and split the formation.  Bombs are dropped two miles out to sea to the south but none on land.  Malta fighters are scrambled. 

1830 hrs  Gunfire is heard an estimated ten miles to the south.  Later reports confirmed that a destroyer was bombed by a seaplane.

2320 hrs  Lights are again seen from Tal Minsia but they are not signalling.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 2 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Jervis arrived. 

AIR HQ  Departures  2 Sunderland.  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Two Sunderlands left for patrol and Alexandria.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Nine recruits medically examined for the RAF.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Practice “Close Valletta”.

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND  RSM A Caruana granted emergency commission as Lieutenant.

(1) Source: When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta, 1981

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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1 July 1940: Impossible to Send Fighters to Malta Says War Office

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NO FIGHTERS FOR MALTA

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

Regret impossible at present to send any fighters but consideration is being given.  Aircraft are unable now to fly over French territory and there are therefore only two methods of getting planes to Malta.  First by flying off a carrier sent well into Mediterranean.  Second subsequent to establishment of near east route via Nigeria and Egypt to fly planes from Mersa Matruh.  Neither method feasible at present.

Sunderland flying boat

Sunderland flying boat

MALTA IS A VITAL FLYING BOAT BASE

The Commander in Chief Mediterranean has pointed out to the Admiralty the vital role of Malta as a flying boat base when the fleet is operating in the central Mediterranean.  However, the report goes on to say that present continued air raids and lack of defences at Malta make refuelling of the aircraft a hazardous operation, except during the hours of darkness. 

The C in C has asked the Admiralty to give urgent consideration to the provision of fighters for Malta, and further that more Sunderland flying boats be allocated to the eastern Mediterranean to replace casualties and assist in the valuable work already being done by the existing squadron.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine. 

No air raid alerts.

2135 hrs  Shots are heard from the direction of Mosta Fort or beyond.  On investigation the officer in charge at the fort reports having seen a light signalling followed by a shot near buildings at Ta Qali.  Heavy explosions were later heard out to sea.

The CO of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers is informed that a light has been seen from Tal Minsia, seeming to come from near the Officers’ Mess at St Andrews Barracks.  Investigation confirmed that the light was illuminated in a series of definite dots and dashes.  The source was determined as Tal Minsia Church.  Lights and shots have previously been reported in the same area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 1 JULY 1940

HMS Coral

HMS Coral

ROYAL NAVY  Coral attacked an Italian U boat 3.6 miles off St Elmo light.  Jade claims to have sunk an Italian U boat. 

AIR HQ  Departures  1 Sunderland.  Aircraft casualties  0445 hrs Anti-submarine patrol and reconnaissance by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for patrol and Alexandria.  Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons operating 12 hour naval patrols over wide area covering Greek coast, south Italian coast and Sicily under direct instructions from Middle East and HQ Mediterranean.  Three recruits medically examined for the RAF; one civilian candidate for a temporary commission.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Floriana Defence Company formed.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers 743 Other Ranks.  Troops made considerable progress on Platoon defensive positions which are almost complete.

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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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30 June 1940: Air Raids Since 11 June: 53. Only five raid-free days.

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Fuel shortages result in curfew for private cars

Fuel shortages result in curfew for private cars

CURFEW FOR PRIVATE CARS

To conserve fuel for essential supply and public transport services, Private cars have been banned from use after midnight unless carrying a special permit.  The measure has been brought in to conserve fuel for essential supply and for public transport services.

MALTA PROPOSAL TO JAM GERMAN PROPAGANDA

The British Ambassador at Cairo has made a request to the Admiralty in London that Malta’s wireless telegraph station should be used to jam German propaganda broadcasts to the Near East.  However, the Commander in Chief Mediterranean has raised concerns that this might provoke a counter action against Naval wireless telegraph communications.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1940

Weather   Fine.

Italian SM 79

Italian SM 79

09401015 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations, each of four Italian SM79 aircraft, fly over the Island, dropping a total of 42 bombs.  Two Hurricane aircraft are scrambled but do not intercept.  One formation crosses the Island from Marsascala, dropping bombs on San Pawl tat Targa seriously wounding a farmer, another near a water reservoir at Naxxar, four on roads between Birkirkara and Mosta and six near Ta Qali reservoir, wounding five civilians.  The raiders turn and head for St Paul’s Bay, dropping their remaining bombs in the sea.  The second formation comes in from Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on San Pietru, Kalkara and San Rocco, then head for Hal Far, dropping some 17 bombs, and on to Mqabba and Zurrieq before crossing the coast south of Dingli.  Two civilians are killed and four wounded.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Genovese, age 21.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 JUNE 1940

AIR HQ  1947-2215 hrs  Five Swordfish dive bombed oil refinery and oil tanks at Augusta, causing a fire.  Anti-aircraft only active after first bombs.  Bomb load carried: 12 x 250lb, 4 x 500lb, 20 incendiary.  All aircraft returned safely.  Reconnaissance by Hudson over Messina, Augusta and Syracuse.  Ack ack fire from cruisers at Messina very accurate at 20,000 feet.

KALAFRANA  Further patrols by 3 Sunderlands of 228 and 230 Squadrons.  During June many personnel were posted, attached or loaned to other units.  Newly enlisted Maltese recruits continued to arrive, some for disciplinary course, others for fitting out in preparation for posting to Middle East.  Three airmen from workshops interviewed and complimented by AOC for untiring energy and excellent work in carrying out important urgent repairs to the Radio Station.  AC Mifsud admitted Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

LUQA  LAC G W Simon attached to Luqa from Kalafrana.     

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  The Bishop of Gibraltar conducted Divine Service at Battalion HQ with 50 Other Ranks and ten officers attending.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Unloading party at Marsaxlokk.     

 

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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