20 January 1941: 9000 Refugees on the Move in Malta

20 Jan

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)


Floriana refugeesThe mass evacuation of the Three Cities since Saturday is once more putting pressure on Malta’s outlying communities. In an operation co-ordinated by the military it is anticipated that some 9000 people are again on the move away from the Dockyard communities, which now once again resemble a ghost town. 

Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino is co-ordinating refugee operations at Rabat: “Endless streams of refugee and evacuees carrying bags and bundles, on carts, asses, cars cabs and buses. Big job to find accommodation for them.  Most of them scared, and without clothing, bedding or furniture.  A distressing sight on all roads, especially when a big family with young and aged are seen walking, and seen madly seeking shelter when the alarm sounds…

I was at Rabat receiving busload after busload of refugees from the Three Cities. They were being sent out with all possible haste.  As they came they reported to me…and I posted them to schools, churches, garages – anywhere under a roof.  Few had brought clothing or even bedding, most of them had lost everything!…The plight of refugees at Rabat made me think of other villages and I therefore made a tour of the chief evacuee centres, where I found conditions pitiable…” (1)

Mattresses and bedding have been distributed by the Malta Relief Fund and communal feeding centres have been set up in refugee reception areas. The Help the Homeless Committee has appealed for contributions to help the stricken refugees: “demands have been increasing rapidly in this cold weather. There are many, including tiny children, who are shivering with cold through lack of clothing and blankets.”  Collection and distribution depots have been opened in Valletta, Mdina, Rabat, Birkirkara, Dingli and Siggiewi, where sewing parties are also active making and mending clothes of all sorts. (2)


Weather  Fine.

0836-0845 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft reported 10 miles south east of Delimara; raid does not materialise.

1206-1220 hrs  Air raid alert. One JU 88 aircraft carries out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.

1755 hrs  A single unidentified aircraft is observed nearing Grand Harbour, then retreating northwards without crossing the coast.

2015 hrs  Modified ‘Asia’ commenced.

0145-0430 hrs Air raid alert for a series of solo attacks by up to ten enemy aircraft. The raiders cross over the coast at intervals, dropping bombs indiscriminately in seven different areas.  The target appears to be Luqa but is not accurately located.  Four houses are demolished and 34 damaged; one civilian is seriously injured.  Searchlights are illuminated but unable to locate the raiders, who remain at very high altitude.  One Hurricane is scrambled but does not engage.

0515 hrs  Asia: troops ordered to ‘stand to’. ‘Stand down’ ordered at 0645 hrs.

Civilian casualties Zabbar  Joseph Attard, age 33.


AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 0530-1540 hrs Sunderland reconnaissance Ionian Sea.  A Sunderland returning from the Middle East was shadowed by a JU 88 for 10 minutes on its approach to Malta; no attack. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland returned from Middle East.

LUQA 148 Squadron: 8 Wellingtons bombing attack on Catania.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  A working party is sent to unload Essex following damage in an air raid.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Rescue work was handed over to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment as people still entombed under bombed buildings are all now believed dead. Altogether about 30 corpses were brought out of the ruins and six people were rescued alive after being entombed 48 hours. No 1 Company completed Bofors position at Marina and commenced work on accommodation at Wolsley Battery, and a hut at Leonardo.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 6 (2 x 200kg, 3 x 250kg, 1 x Ack Ack shell).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working parties assisting with unloading of munitions from HMS Essex.  Partial ‘Asia’ in place: anti-parachutist posts are manned on morning and evening Stand To.  Ta Saliba and Ghain Tuffieha anti-tank bridges are raised 2100 hrs to morning stand down. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Orders in place for new anti-aircraft defences. Tank Hunting Platoon moved from Marsa to Zabbar.

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

(2) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981


All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 20, 2016 in 1941, January 1941


Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: