3 November 1940: Wellingtons Crash on Village Killing Six

03 Nov

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Burned out Wellington bomber in Qormi

Burned out Wellington bomber and houses in Qormi


Two civilians and four RAF servicemen were killed this evening when two Wellington aircraft loaded with bombs crashed just moments after take-off. The aircraft were part of a flight of Wellington bombers taking off from Luqa on a mission to attack the city of Naples. Both were carrying a full load of bombs and fuel.

Observers reported that after take-off both Wellingtons failed to gain height. The first crash-landed at shortly before 11.30pm on open ground near Tal Handaq.  An officer and medical team from 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment at Luqa drove immediately to the crash site. 

Ten minutes later a second Wellington crashed into houses on edge of the village of Qormi. Villagers said they were awakened by the loud drone of a low-flying plane.  It appears the pilot made every effort to clear the village but crashed on two houses on the outskirts in Don Mario Street, killing two civilians.  They have been named as Alfred Agius and his wife Dolores.

RAF and Army teams rushed to the scene to find a great part of the burnt-out aircraft suspended from the steel girders of one of the houses. Parts of the burning wreckage had fallen into a nearby quarry.  As they approached rescue workers heard moaning.  A badly injured airman was found clinging to the side of the quarry.  Two others were sprawled lifeless near the wreckage.  Efforts to haul the survivor up failed as he was too weak to hold a grip to the rope.  Despite the risk of exploding bombs, Police Constable 347 Carmel Camilleri volunteered to be lowered into the blazing quarry.  He succeeded in tying the rope around the injured airman, Sergeant A T Smith, who was then hauled to safety.  It took nearly three hours to complete the rescue operation. (1)

An investigation into the cause of the incident has concluded that the Wellingtons were carrying too heavy a load for operating from Luqa aerodrome. Orders have now been issued to prevent a repeat of such incidents.


Weather  Fine.

0628-0705 hrs Air raid alert for enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. A Wellington bomber returning to Malta is chased in by an Italian CR42 fighter which then dives out of the clouds to machine-gun a beach post of the Dorset Regiment and Delimara before escaping out to sea.

2345 hrs Two Wellington bombers crash on take-off from Luqa.

Military casualties Pilot Officer David Allen; Sergeant Philip Forrester, pilot, Sergeant David Rawlings, pilot; Sergeant Arthur Smith, wireless operator/air gunner; Sergeant Thomas Woor, Observer; all 148 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Qormi  Alfred Agius, age 43; Dolores Agius, age 39.


ROYAL NAVY  French submarine Narval returned from patrol with defects.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  MTB reported off Pembroke.      

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Reconnaissance of San Giacomo for possible counter-attack.

(1) PC Camilleri was awarded the George Medal for his bravery.

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Posted by on November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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