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13 July 1940: Pilot Wins Malta’s First DFC

13 Jul

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SCORE OF SIX EARNS FIGHTER PILOT DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

A pilot of Malta’s tiny Fighter Flight has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, thanks to his six victories against enemy aircraft in a month. Times of Malta this morning announced: “His Majesty the King is graciously pleased to award the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant George Burges for gallantry and devotion to duty in the air defence of Malta.”

Flt/Lt George Burges & Air Vice Marshal F H M Maynard (2)

Flt/Lt George Burges & Air Vice Marshal F H M Maynard (2)

A former flying boat pilot, Flt Lt Burges was serving as ADC to Malta’s Air Officer Commanding when Malta’s tiny Gladiator fighter flight was formed.  His first success came on 22 June when he attacked an Italian SM79 which then crashed into the sea.

When Hurricanes arrived in Malta, Flt/Lt Burges took up the challenge, scoring success in yet another unfamiliar aircraft.  Last Tuesday morning (9 July) was his first successful attack in a Hurricane.  Flt/Lt Burges was one of two Hurricane pilots scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation of one SM79 on reconnaissance, with a protective force of six CR42 fighters.  Flying Officer Jock Barber attacked the fighters while Burges rounded on the SM79.   He scored several hits before himself being attacked by the fighters.

Flt/Lt Burges’ medal citation reads: “Although normally a flying boat pilot, and only transferred to fighter duties since the commencement of war with Italy, Flight Lieutenant Burges has shot down three enemy aircraft and so damaged three more that they probably failed to reach their base.  He has shown great tenacity and determination in seeking combat, usually in the face of superior machines.”  (1)

PRIVATE CARS BANNED FROM MALTA ROADS

Private cars have been banned from use unless the driver carries a special permit.  The measure removes at a stroke some 1600 private cars and 275 hire cars from Malta’s roads.  In introducing the ban, the Government reminded owners that Malta is a small Island and buses still offer an alternative mode of transport.  The ban takes effect from midnight tonight

A DOZEN HURRICANES FOR MALTA

Mediterranean Air chiefs were informed today of a proposal to send twelve Hurricane fighters to Malta.  The aircraft will be shipped to Gibraltar aboard SS Glenochry.  Given the urgency of Malta’s need for the fighters, the Naval Commander in Chief Mediterranean has been asked to comment on the feasibility of routing the ship through the western Mediterranean and direct to Malta.  The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill has expressed concern at the risk of such an operation and is said to favour sending the Hurricanes via the long sea route round the African Cape.  Malta Air’s Officer Commanding has emphasised the urgent need for fighter reinforcements as the present effort against a determined enemy cannot be sustained by so few aircraft.

However, Naval chiefs have also expressed concerns at the plan, given the intense bombing experienced in the area during the past week.  They have put forward an alternative plan for the Hurricanes be transferred to an aircraft carrier at Gibraltar and sailed from there to a position from which they can fly the remaining distance to Malta.  Air crews could be transported in submarines Pandora and Proteus.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JULY TO DAWN 14 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and warm. 

1545-1605 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve enemy fighters which fly over the Island.  They are intercepted by one Hurricane and one Gladiator.  The Hurricane is damaged but repairable. The raiders drop no bombs.    

2120 hrs  Reports are received of signalling from the west of Dingli.

2210-2230 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy bombers which approach separately.  One crosses over Valletta and is engaged by Ack Ack fire.  The second crosses over Wolsely Battery and drops a flare, followed by four bombs.  One incendiary lands near the Officers’ Mess.  Other bombs are dropped on Marsaxlokk, where the target appears to be flying boats laying at anchor, on Zeitun and on the boom across the entrance to Marsamxetto Harbour.      

2330-2345 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers.  They are picked up by searchlights and drop all their bombs in the sea off Benghaisa, Delimara and Grand Harbour.    

Enemy casualties  Tenente Pietro Ferri, 36o Stormo, pilot of S79 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft gunfire and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane.  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by one London: nothing to report.

KALAFRANA  Aircraft K5261 P/O Minchinton 202 Squadron on anti-submarine patrol.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 HE 250lb Cospicua; 1 HE 250lb Zabbar.

(1)  Biplane Fighter Aces – Commonwealth: Group Captain George Burges DFC OBE

(2)  Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications, 2008

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

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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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