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4 October 1942: 69 Squadron Rob Rommel
Quick thinking by a pilot of 227 Squadron today saved the life of an RAF observer whose aircraft had ditched in the sea near the Island of Filfla. Pilot Officer Briffet was observer on one of nine Beaufighters recalled early from a mission to attack an enemy convoy. The Beaufighter suddenly lost power and ditched into the sea killing the pilot, WO 2 George Fargher, Royal Canadian Air Force.
Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron were sent to locate the ditched aircraft and search for survivors. RCAF Flight Lieutenant Dallas Schmidt spotted P/O Briffet struggling in the sea and threw down his own dinghy, tied to his ‘Mae West’ life jacket. Briffet, who was unhurt, managed to swim to the dinghy and scrambled aboard to await rescue.
Meanwhile one of the four Beaufighters developed engine trouble and was forced to land on the sea near the dinghy. The crew were picked up unhurt by the High Speed Launch, along with P/O Briffet.
MESSAGE FROM AOC MEDITERRANEAN TO 69 SQUADRON
“Grand work 69 Squadron. Your attack by Fishingtons last night on a 6000 ton merchant vessel was clearly an unqualified success and probably robbed Rommel of yet another important ship.”
AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 OCTOBER TO DAWN 5 OCTOBER 1942
Weather Mainly fine; lightning late evening.
0830-0905 hrs 20 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height but few cross the coast. Heavy Ack Ack engage. Spitfires engage the enemy; one is reported missing in combat. Flight Sergeant George Hogarth’s aircraft is observed leaking Glycol as he crash lands at Qrendi. The aircraft hits an obstruction on landing, seriously injuring F/Sgt Hogarth. He is taken to hospital but later dies from his injuries.
0940-1025 hrs Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.
1600-1945 hrs Three Beaufighters 227 Squadron carry out searches for the dinghy of a missing Beaufighter: nothing sighted.
2003-0414 hrs One Wellington 69 Squadron carries out searches for the Beaufighter dinghy: flares and flame floats were dropped but nothing was sighted.
Military casualties Flight Sergeant George Hogarth, Royal Canadian Air Force, 249 Squadron, RAF; Warrant Officer II George Fargher, Royal Canadian Air Force, 227 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Irving Gass, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 4 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Clocks retarded 1 hour to Zone – 1. Rorqual and P 43 sailed. Una and P 42 arrived.
AIR HQ Nine Beaufighters despatched to attack convoy. All aircraft recalled early. Arrivals One Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures Two Hudsons, one Mosquito to Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties One Beaufighter 227 Squadron missing. One Beaufighter 227 Squadron crash-landed.
LUQA One Spitfire 69 Squadron on reconnaissance from Taranto to Cape Maria de Leuca at 1305 sighted one 5000 ton merchant vessel, three destroyers and one large float plane. 1925-0315 hrs Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron, two carrying flares and two torpedoes, were despatched to locate and attack enemy convoy which was not located.
1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Number of personnel in hospital as a result of food poisoning has now risen to 60.
5 October 1942: Malta Sees Signs of Renewed Attacks
Fighter pilots have been returning from intruder and reconnaissance missions over Sicily in recent days with reports of a build-up of Axis air forces on the Island. This evidence, added to the increased numbers of fighters in offensive sweeps over Malta, has increased concerns that the enemy may be planning a major attack. Today a Spitfire of 69 Squadron was despatched to make a detailed photographic reconnaissance of Trapani, Palermo, Messina, Catania, Augusta and Licata which will be carefully examined by Air Command.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 OCTOBER TO DAWN 6 OCTOBER 1942
Weather Mostly fine to fair; slight showers in the morning. Lightning early morning and late evening.
0805-0900 hrs Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on interception and to act as cover for 249 Squadron: no enemy aircraft seen.
0925-1110 hrs Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept a raid of four ME 109s but see no enemy aircraft.
1325-1600 hrs Ta Qali provides a standing patrol of two Spitfires over the High Speed Launch retruning to Grand Harbour: no enemy seen.
1413-1444 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy fighters which approach to within six miles of the Island and then recede. One crosses the coast east of Delimara. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Malta fighters are airborne but there are no engagements.
2056-2123 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the north east of Gozo and drop bombs in the sea before receding. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Detachment Luqa are scrambled to intercept but see no enemy aircraft.
Military casualties Nil. Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 5 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY P 37 and Parthian swept out by Speedy.
AIR HQ Night One Beaufighter on intruder patrol Sicily. Arrivals One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures One Hudson to Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties One Beaufighter 227 Squadron force landed in the sea: crew rescued unhurt.
HAL FAR 185 Squadron released all day.
LUQA Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron were airborne on interception and made a reconnaissance patrol of the Cape Passero-Comiso area but saw no enemy aircraft. One Spitfire 69 Squadron make a photographic reconnaissance of Trapin, Palermo, Messina, Catania, Augusta and Licata.
TA QALI 0720-0835 hrs Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings. 1120-1220 hrs Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: nothing sighted.
1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY B Company are carrying out coast patrol and Tal Virtu Observation Post duties for this week.
6 October 1942: Malta Infantry Prepare for Large Scale Ops
A major military exercise took place this morning at Mellieha involving Malta’s infantry troops. The exercise, organised by 2 Brigade, started at 9 this morning and included a demonstration of Artillery operations on a large scale. Troops taking part were members of 2 Brigade Artillery Group, 23rd Field Battery Royal Artillery, 49/91 Field Battery Royal Artillery, 1 Troop 48/71 Defence Battery Royal Artillery and 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Military leaders explained the object of demonstration which was to give Infantry troops experience in carrying out an attack under their own Artillery fire and to show the flexibility of Artillery fire. The exercise was followed immediately by a demonstration of Allied and enemy weapons at Ghain Tuffieha.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 OCTOBER TO DAWN 7 OCTOBER 1942
0950-1019 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy bombers: one drops bombs 40 miles north of Malta, the remainder drop bombs in the sea four miles north of Gozo. Their escort of 24 enemy fighters approaches the Island at 23000 feet; only six cross the coast. Malta fighters dive to attack a formation of eight ME 109s which take violent evasive action and manage to escape. Two other ME 109s are engaged; 1435 Squadron P/O Lattimer damages one; Sgt Phillips’ aircraft is slightly damaged.
1820 hrs C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment report a white verey light eight miles out to sea due north of Della Grazia.
2158-2220 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft, none of which cross the coast: bombs are dropped in the sea. Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept. They pursue one raider but are unable to overtake it.
Military casualties Lance Bombardier Ronald Harris, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Emmanuel Pirotta, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery, died of wounds inflicted by enemy aircraft; Private John Vella, 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 6 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Clyde arrived from Gibraltar with petrol and stores and P 44 from patrol, both being swept in by Rye. Clyde berths in Grand Harbour. P 44 reported having torpedoed a ship which had been beached after attack by Royal Air Force.
AIR HQ Four Spitfire sorties on offensive recce Sicily. Night One Beaufighter on intruder patrol Sicily. Arrivals One Douglas from LG 224. Departures One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Douglas to LG 224. Aircraft casualties One Spitfire damaged: pilot unhurt.
HAL FAR 1515-1650 hrs Five Spitfires carried out a reconnaissance sweep over south east Sicily. One enemy aircraft is seen at deck level south of Biscari.
LUQA 2205-2217 hrs One Beaufighter 89 Squadron patrols over Sicily: no enemy aircraft seen.
TA QALI 0725-0825 hrs Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.
7 October 1942: Victory Kitchens Threatened With Closure
A Government Select Committee has recommended today that Victory Kitchens should be closed. The recommendation is the conclusion of an investigation into the emergency food provision commissioned in September. The study was launched following severe criticism in the press, both in editorial and letters sections, of the quality of food service in Victory Kitchens.
The Committee reported a lack of uniformity in taste or quantity and slated the cooks, citing examples of food being over or undercooked, even sometimes burnt or left raw. Supervisors were also heavily criticised, with suggestions that few were up to the job. The Committee’s recommendation for closure included the suggestion that instead all produce be distributed to the population via their rations.
The Government has issued a statement in response, questioning the basis for some of the Committee’s findings. They rejected the proposal to issue food direct to the public on the basis that this would disadvantage those less able to pay a premium for produce. However, it is accepted that the expansion of Victory Kitchen users from 20000 in August to some 100,000 today has created problems. Urgent measures will be taken to address allegations in the report of poor cooking, wastage and pilfering. (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 OCTOBER TO DAWN 8 OCTOBER 1942
0745-0845 hrs Air raid alert for 18 ME 109s which approach the Island at a great height: few cross the coast. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and locate the enemy but the raiders have the advantage of height so there is no combat. Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa attempt to intercept three enemy fighters but the raiders turn back before they can be engaged.
1011-1047 hrs Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled along with aircraft from another Squadron to intercept 23 plus enemy fighters approaching the Island. The Spitfires are unable to catch the enemy.
1458-1525 hrs Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters in a sweep, of which only three cross the coast. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled but see nothing.
Military casualties Private Joseph Pisani, 1st Malta Pioneer Group, Malta Territorial Force.
Civilian casualties Naxxar Teodoro Azzopardi, age 23.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 7 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Porpoise swept in from sea by Speedy, P 35 swept out by Beryl.
LUQA Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over Sicily: nothing sighted. 1512 hrs One Spitfire 69 Squadron on reconnaissance sights a convoy of two merchant vessels off Palermo. Spitfires of 69 Squadron also make photographic reconnaissance.
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT During the period 1-7 October the Battalion has found two lorries, one motor-cycle and five other ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome. Two twin Lewis guns have been manned during the hours of daylight on Safi Strip for anti-aircraft defence.
8 October 1942: 9000 Houses Destroyed, 17000 Damaged
VALUE OF SHELTERS DEMONSTRATED IN MALTA London, Thursday 8 October 1942
To the end of July more than 1300 Maltese had been killed in air-raids and 1600 seriously injured. About 9,000 houses had been destroyed and 17,000 damaged. The Lieut.-Governor Sir Edward Jackson, who is now in London, in giving these figures added that the comparatively small number of casualties was because every man, woman and child had a safe shelter. The providing of this had necessitated 12 miles of tunnels and 18 months had been occupied in digging out shelters.
Lady Jackson said that the people of Malta were devoutly religious. The scene in a larger shelter during a raid was not likely to be forgotten. It was packed and in almost complete darkness, with a tiny candle in front of the Shrine. The sound of bombs was deadened by the prayers. They were not praying for themselves, but for the sailors, the pilots in the skies and the men behind the anti-aircraft guns…
AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 OCTOBER TO DAWN 9 OCTOBER 1942
0807-0912 hrs Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which approaches to within 20 miles of the Island and then recedes. Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.
1012-1047 hrs Fifteen enemy fighters approach at between 22000 and 27000 feet, with another patrol of six ME 109s which cross the Island on reconnaissance. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.
1313-1328 hrs Air raid alert for three ME 109s which cross the coast at 24000 feet before receding north. Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.
1604-1636 hrs Eight ME 109s cross the coast at 28000 feet and recede south of Filfla. Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.
1830 hrs D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light 4-5 miles out to sea.
Military casualties Nil. Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 8 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Hythe swept Clyde to sea, destined for Beirut with passengers and cargo.
9 October 1942: Maltese Warned Against Black Market
INFORMATION OFFICE ADVERTISEMENT
What do I do…about the Black Market?
- I refuse to buy from profiteers.
- I report to the Police anyone who tries to charge me more than the lawful price for a controlled article.
- I combine with my friends to boycott known profiteers.
- I go without a thing, rather than encourage profiteering by buying at an excessive price.
- I do all I can amongst the people I meet to form a body of opinion which condemns profiteering. (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 OCTOBER TO DAWN 10 OCTOBER 1942
1022-1048 hrs 11 ME 109s cross the coast at 28000 feet over St Paul’s Bay and recede north east of Zonqor. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.
2058-2100 hrs Air raid alert: aircraft proved to be friendly.
Military casualties Lance-Bombardier John (Carmelo) Bondin, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Aircraftsman Arthur Robbins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY P 212 arrived to join 10th Submarine Flotilla.
AIR HQ Arrivals Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.
LUQA One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photographic reconnaissance of Patras.
1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Battalion bugles marched the George Cross into Rabat where it was placed on view to the public.
2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT 1730 hrs Battalion Beat the Retreat in Castille Square.
10 October 1942: Bombers Return – 15 Killed, 30 Injured in Gozo
EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE TRAGEDY – click here
Bombers were reported in the skies over the Maltese Archipelago in broad daylight this morning – for the first time in seven weeks.
Reconnaissance reports over recent days have provided clear evidence that the Axis are building up a large striking force in Sicily. Photographs show some 600 aircraft across the Island’s airfields. Indications are that a third of the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean, and half their bomber strength, is now concentrated in Sicily. The inevitable conclusion is that Axis high command has demanded reprisals for the successful raids on their supply convoys to North Africa. As the air and submarine base for those attacks, Malta is now braced for further mass air attacks.
Inez Portelli received a message that her daughter, who was staying at Inez’s sister’s house in Rabat, had been taken ill. She set off on foot to take sugar and milk to her daughter; her son insisted on going with her. Inez arrived to find, to her surprise, that her sister had taken her sick daughter to church:
“This appeared very strange to me because I was expecting to find my daughter in bed. In the meantime there was an air raid alert and I hurried with my son and my brother-in-law to get cover in the nearest shelter.
Before I had gone down two or three steps, a terrific explosion sent us all reeling. Suddenly all was confusion. Panic-stricken people were screaming and running aimlessly around and as I looked out I saw people lying on the ground, motionless, while others were crawling away or writhing in agony and moaning. My arm had been nearly torn away but I did not feel any pain. My brother-in-law took one look at me and fainted. I was laid on a stretcher and taken to [hospital]…I was taken into the operating theatre and when I came to in the morning I realised that my arm had gone.
Later on in the morning the hospital chaplain administered the Last Sacraments to me and I knew that there was little hope for me; I was so shocked that I begged them to let me die but the chaplain gently asked me whether I had any children. ‘Yes, four,’ I said. Then he said, ‘You will still be able to look after your children somehow with one arm but if you are not there anything could happen to them.’ Those words struck home and I was determined to go back to the family.” (2)
MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 10 OCTOBER 1942
1. Considerable increase in enemy air activity at the weekend. 4-9 October total 123 fighter sorties in sweeps of 15 aircraft. 10 October total approximately 120 planes including eight JU 88s. Two JU 88s dropped bombs on Gozo: 10 civilians killed, 30 wounded. Two ME 109 destroyed, two probably destroyed, six damaged by fighters. Ack Ack no claims. Photo reconnaissance shows further increases – now a total of 531 aircraft including 122 JU 88s in Sicily.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 OCTOBER TO DAWN 11 OCTOBER 1942
Weather Fine to fair; cloudless early morning.
0730-0901 hrs 40 ME 109s flying in various formations cross the coast at great height. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Malta fighters are airborne and engage, damaging one ME 109. One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands; the pilot is unhurt.
0932-0935 hrs Air raid alert for fifteen ME 109s which fly at 29000 feet over Gozo and then over the south of Malta, eventually receding north. Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and two of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and locate the raiders which avoid combat.
1041-1119 hrs Air raid alert: two JU 88s accompanied by 45 fighters approach Gozo from the north. Malta Spitfires are scrambled to intercept and engage the bombers which jettison their bomb loads on Sannat, Gozo, demolishing 15 houses, killing 15 civilians and injuring 30 more. Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds. Malta Spitfires destroy one ME 109, probably destroy two and damage three. One Spitfire is slightly damaged in combat.
1348-1414 hrs Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept 46 enemy fighters which turn away before the Spitfires can catch them.
1544-1623 hrs Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and two of 126 Squadron are scrambled with aircraft of other Squadrons to intercept 30 plus enemy aircraft including six JU 88s which approach the Island. The raiders evade the Spitfires and escape towards Sicily.
Night Three alerts for a total of 10 aircraft of which only six cross the coast. Flares are used over the Island. Bombs are dropped in the areas of Gozo, Luqa and Dingli.
Military casualties Aircraftsman John Pitt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.
Civilian casualties Gozo (Sannat) Michael Azzopardi, age 6 mths; Joseph Cini, age 50; Saviour Curmi, age 80; Pauline Farrugia, age 70; Josephine Galea, age 30; Michael Galea, age 8; Margaret Galea, age 6; Joseph Galea, age 4; Grazia Muscat, age 50; Mary Muscat, age 30; Frances Pace, age 45; Catherine Saliba, age 35; Mary Tabone, age 17; Carmela Theuma, age 64; Lydia Zammit, age 2.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 10 OCTOBER 1942
ROYAL NAVY Porpoise sailed being swept out by Hythe.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224. Departures Two Hudsons to Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties One Beaufort missing in transit from Gibraltar to Malta.
HAL FAR 185 Squadron released.
10thACK ACK BRIGADE, ROYAL ARTILLERY Order issued detailing move of GL set to Gozo.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 9. Dealt with: High Explosives 4 (1 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg); anti-personnel bombs 20.
(1) Adapted from When Malta Stood Alone (1940-1943), Joseph Micallef, Interprint Ltd, Malta 1981
(2) The People’s War, Malta 1940/43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press, Malta 1998
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