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Monthly Archives: February 2016

28 February 1941: Mines on Valletta – 200 Homeless

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CIVILIAN THROWN FROM 3RD FLOOR BY BLAST SURVIVES

Communities in Valletta emerged from their shelters this morning to a scene of devastation following last night’s widespread dropping of parachute mines by enemy aircraft. 200 have now been made homeless across the city; most have been given temporary shelter at St Francis Convent in Kingsway. 

Parachute Mine (1)

Parachute Mine (1)

The damage from parachute mines is especially severe due to their operation. Although the bombs themselves are heavy, the parachute slows their descent so that they explode on or near the surface, causing maximum blast effect over a wide area.  One mine near the church of Our Lady of Pilar blew a crater 25 feet across, damaging the church and the adjacent convent.  The Auberge d’Aragon suffered the full force of mine blast which severely damaged its roof.  A nearby school was also structurally undermined.   

Arriving to marshal his men in the rescue operations, Adjutant of the Special Constabulary surveyed the destruction: “Glass was smashed all over the capital and houses wrecked over a wide area. Casualties were four dead and twenty injured – without our good shelters I hate to think of the figure which might have been reached. 

Two men were dug out of a cellar while I was there; one was in a pretty bad mess and did not survive. Another person was blown out of his bath into the street when the front of his house was sucked out by the blast.  He flew from a third storey but was not hurt.

Someone informed me that an unexploded mine had just been seen on a nearby roof, and would I please go to see whether it was dangerous! I sent an [Royal Engineers bomb disposal] chap and followed gingerly behind with my heart all a-throb, but it was only a cover-part of the exploded mine – to which was attached a piece of parachute…200 families are homeless in Valletta.” (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 1 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

Military casualties Lance-Corporal Francis Gilmore, Corps of Military Police; Sergeant Lewis John Frederick Godwin, Royal Air Force; Lance Corporal John Charles Kelly, Army Dental Corps, attached Royal Army Medical Corps; Pilot Officer Hubert Scadeng, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 19; Anthony Zammit, age 19.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY   At first light enemy aircraft laid mines at the entrance to the harbours and some in Grand Harbour. The Harbours are temporarily closed while the positions of mines is fixed. 

AIR HQ  Maryland photoreconnaissance Reci Maddelena, Cagliari, Elmas and Alghero at the special request of SO Forces N.  

KALAFRANA During the month Sunderlands of 228 Squadron carried out 12 patrols over a wide area in search of enemy shipping. Five communication flights were made by aircraft of 228 Squadron with important passengers and freight between Middle East and Gibraltar.  Several Sunderlands 10 Squadron RAAF and 230 Squadron arrived and departed conveying passengers between Middle East and UK.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland photoreconnaissance Maddelena, Cagliari, Elmas and Alghero.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: 24 officers, WOs 6, 132 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: 27 officers, 509 other ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 46; dealt with 23.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strengths: 27 officers, 879 other ranks plus two permanently attached.

(1)  Bomb Fuze Collectors Net http://www.bombfuzecollectorsnet.com/

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

 

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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27 February 1941: 8 Killed by Enemy Mines – Gozo Boat Sunk

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HEAVY MINES ON VALLETTA FOR SECOND TIME IN TWO WEEKS

Civilian and military casualties have been reported after enemy aircraft again laid heavy mines across Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto. An hour before dawn ten bombers dropped mines on the approaches to and within both harbours; four of them came down on land.  The harbours had to be temporarily closed while the Royal Navy located and marked each of the mines. 

Damage in Britannia Street, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

Damage in Britannia Street, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

Two mines landed on densely populated areas of Valletta causing considerable damage: one between Brittania Street and St Mark’s Street, and another on the Bastions in Marsamxett Road. Three civilians are believed dead and several others missing.  The other two landed on buildings in Marsamxett, damaging a police barracks, an army dental centre, the Malta Chronicle printing office and an RAF billet.  Two military police are reported killed and five wounded, one Army dental operative is believed dead and one wounded; four men of the Royal Irish Fusiliers are wounded.  The attack follows a similar mine-laying raid on 14 February when five civilians were killed by mines on homes in Valletta and Senglea.

For a second time in a fortnight Reverend Reginald Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Valletta woke to a terrifying bombardment and had to calm his parishioners:  … our worst experience hitherto. At 5.15 when the siren blew, I dressed as usual. There were rather less than the usual 100 persons taking refuge. I went upstairs for a few moments, and returned below. Five minutes later there was a loud explosion very near indeed. A cry of fear rose from the people and they surged towards our corner. Two minutes later there was a most frightful roar of stupendous power (or perhaps two in quick succession). I scarcely retained consciousness, as it seems now.

My wife was sitting up on her bed, I on the edge with my arms around her, her head buried on my shoulder. Mrs. Gale at the other end, her face in her hands, shivering with fear, screams from many people; myself saying ‘Keep calm’ in an automatic voice. Banging, tearing, splitting, rending, and through it all a great wind rushing through the funk-hole. I truly thought that we were directly hit and the building coming down. Then no more. I waited a few moments, and went out of our curtained corner, to find the door leading to the dining room shot across the floor in three pieces.

Two army officers badly shaken had just come in having been caught in the open as they rushed for safety from some high-up flat to our shelter. When the raiders had passed, I inspected the damage. A large part of the outer side of the dining room and the housekeeper’s rooms are framed glass and the French window. Glass and frames were all over the floor. Upstairs, about a quarter of a ton of stone from the roof was lying upon the bed and the floor. In the drawing room, some of the ceiling stones, of which the roof is made, had fallen; the window frames were torn from their seating and were lying about having broken tables in their fall. There was a twenty-pound stone on the lid of the piano…

The explanation of it all is that some ships were expected in on Friday (we did not know this) and this Blitz was an endeavour to destroy them by dropping parachute mines. The venture was successful to this extent that the ships were diverted elsewhere. About seven mines were dropped in the harbour, and since then our people have been trying to locate them, or to fire them by magnetic sweeps.” (1)

MINES DESTROY GOZO BOAT

Two crew members are missing after Gozo Boat No 34 was destroyed by an exploding mine off St Julian’s earlier today. The mine was one of four which detonated off the north coast during the day: the first two off Sliema and later two more off St Julians.  Of the boat’s crew of eleven, six were rescued – one of them was found to be seriously wounded.  Three more were later picked up unhurt and taken back to Gozo.  Two are still missing, believed killed.  A warning has been issued to Gozo boats to keep at least one mile from the shore while crossing between Malta and Gozo.

LONDON WAR CABINET RECEIVES REPORT OF ATTACK ON LUQA

On 26 February Luqa aerodrome (Malta) was attacked by about 60 German bombers, escorted by 20 to 30 fighters. The losses on the two sides were:

  • Enemy losses – 9 certain, 12 probable, 1 damaged.
  • British losses – 3 destroyed in the air, 7 destroyed on the ground, 3 badly damaged, 3 slightly damaged.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 28 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0834-1000 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north in five formations. Eight Hurricanes and two Fulmars are scrambled. Only one JU 88 bomber crosses the coast while the remainder circle out to sea.  The bomber is engaged by anti-aircraft guns.  There are no claims.

1510-1520 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which approaches the Island and aims 3-4 bombs at HM sloop Fermoy a mile out from St Thomas’ Bay; no hits. Four Hurricanes and Ack Ack guns engage; no claims.

0515-0630 hrs Air raid alert for 10 enemy aircraft which approach the north coast and drop parachute mines in and off Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour.  Four of the mines hit land and explode; two in Valletta cause considerable damage to property, killing at least three civilians and injuring twelve.  The others damage Marsamxett police barracks, army dental centre and the Malta Chronicle Printing Office and an RAF billet, killing three service personnel and injuring ten.  One mine is exploded in the air by gunfire from the ground.  Anti-aircraft guns claim one enemy aircraft hit and probably destroyed. 

Civilian casualties  Gozo  Anthony Cauci, age 29; Francis Vella, age 29. Valletta Carmelo Attard, age 50.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Two mines were detonated off Sliema and later two off St Julians. The latter blew up a Gozo boat. 

(1)  Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History 

 

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Posted by on February 27, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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26 February 1941: 100 Strong Attack on Luqa Equals Illustrious Blitz

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MASSIVE DAYLIGHT RAID ON LUQA DESTROYS AIRCRAFT, BUILDINGS AND HOMES

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Some 100 aircraft launched a massive bombing attack on Luqa airfield today, destroying or grounding the aircraft of Malta’s bomber squadron, damaging military buildings across the airfield and injuring six military personnel. Bombs also smashed into the nearby village of Luqa, destroying homes, injuring 14 civilians:

“The bombs just rained down all over and about the place. The village square hardly has a house standing… The Church of St Andrew escaped a direct hit, but bears the scars of battle all over.  Some people who remained in their homes had miraculous escapes…There were several soldiers in the square who just managed to reach the cover of an ordinary cellar shelter propped up with wood support. The house they were in a moment before crashed on the top of the cellar, but it did not give way to the weight of the masonry.” (1)

The third raid alert of the day sounded at 1245 pm, as over forty bombers and thirty fighters headed towards the Island’s north coast and on to Luqa. “Dive-bombers approach and attack in heavy waves. After what appears to be a preliminary skirmish with our fighters, the Malta barrage opens fire.  The first wave appears to dive the lowest.  They approach at a high altitude, then break up and dive singly.  The barrage concentrates over the enemy’s objective.  To reach it with any chance of getting close hits, the bombers, diving almost vertically, have to dash at high speed right into a veritable fire of bursting shells.  They seem to release four bombs at a time.  Clouds of smoke rise from the bursting bombs and from those enemy aircraft which dive straight to earth.  Just as one wave of attackers appears to have been dealt with, another follows in quick succession, mostly from the same direction as the first wave.” (2) 150 bombs were dropped on the airfield alone during the raid, eleven failed to explode – seven remain on the runway which is currently closed.  

Malta’s fighters launched a determined counter-attack, with eight Hurricanes of 261 Squadron led by Flying Officer F F ‘Eric’ Taylor DFC destroying three Junkers bombers and probably destroying seven. One JU 87 attacked by anti-aircraft fire drops its bombs on Gudja village before crashing nearby, killing a civilian.  However, in the fierce dogfight four Hurricanes were destroyed, including that of F/O Taylor who was one of the first Hurricane pilots to join the defence of Malta.  Two other pilots, P/O P Kearsey and P/O C E Langdon, were also killed.

Anti-aircraft guns launched a heavy barrage over Luqa, destroying five bombers confirmed and four probable, and damaging several more. “I saw one Junkers 87 still burning on Luqa hill. It was the first to dive and never got out of the dive.  The pilots were sitting in the burning plane, a mass of smouldering, charred bones.  A ghastly sight.”

DEVASTATION IN LUQA – 75 PER CENT OF HOMES DAMAGED OR DESTROYED

Damage in LuqaThe village of Luqa has been all but destroyed in the air raid today – which is Ash Wednesday, one of the holiest days in the Malta calendar. A reporter from the Times of Malta who visited the village after the raid writes:

“There is hardly a street without a demolished house or one seriously damaged or shaken. The debris is still piled up on the streets…The villagers told me that tons of bombs have fallen in or about the village.  There were signs of destruction everywhere.  77 houses have been completely demolished, 25 others seriously damaged and uninhabitable, and it is reckoned that only about 25 per cent of the homes there have so far escaped completely unscathed.

So many bombs – some of them the biggest ever dropped – have fallen all around the village…that almost all houses and farms on the outskirts facing the fields bear marks of the shrapnel, which bit holes into the walls. But Luqa’s remarkable record is that although so many of its homes have been levelled, it has had only one casualty…” (1)

Despite the destruction, reports have praised the behaviour of Luqa’s villagers. “They would not hear of leaving the village, and accommodated themselves without fuss in their neighbours’ houses where they were given food and drink. By the evening, notwithstanding the battered state of the village, business went on as usual.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 27 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0730-0755 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by six ME 109 fighters which approach the Island. Four of them attack a Gladiator over Hal Far, causing no damage.  Anti aircraft guns engage and the raiders turn away without launching an attack.

1030-1055 hrs Air raid alert for a large formation of enemy fighters which approach the Island and split up as they cross the coast.   One Messerschmitt attacks a meteorological Gladiator without success.  Eight Hurricane fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims

1245-1345 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 JU 87 and12 JU 88 bombers, escorted by 30 mixed ME 109 and BR 42 fighters which approach the Island and carry out a heavy raid on Luqa aerodrome, dropping some 150 bombs. Six Wellingtons are burned out on the ground and seven others badly damaged, of which four will be out of action for 2-3 months.  Seven others will be unserviceable for up to a month.  One Glenn Martin Maryland is a probable write-off, three others will be unserviceable for at least a week, another is slightly damaged.  One Miles Magister is slightly damaged.

Bombs also damage buildings, including two hangars, an officers’ mess, the airmen’s cookhouse, the NAAFI, three barrack blocks and a ration store room, and the HQ of 12 Field Regiment Luqa. One 200 gallon fuel tank is burned out, one lorry written off and several others damaged.  The aerodrome surface is badly cratered and likely to be unserviceable for 48 hours.  Four men of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment and two of the Royal Artillery are wounded.  Four unexploded bombs lie within the camp and seven others on the aerodrome, mostly on the runways.  Damage to civilian property in Luqa village is considerable.  One JU 87 attacked by anti-aircraft fire drops its bombs on Gudja village before crashing nearby.   

Towards the end of the attack 10 Dornier 215 and 10 Heinkel 111 bombers approach the Island but drop no bombs. Malta fighters are scrambled and engage the enemy, destroying three Junkers bombers and probably destroying seven.  Anti-aircraft guns engage, launching a heavy barrage over Luqa, destroying five Junkers confirmed and four probable, and damaging several more. They also damage one Dornier 215.  Three Malta fighters do not return after the raid.  One civilian is killed and 14 injured. 

1345-1409 hrs  Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers which fly over the Island at high altitude but drop no bombs. Three Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders evade engagement.

1558-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy Red Cross seaplane accompanied by an escort of twenty fighters on a mission to pick up casualties. They search the seas around the northern part of the Island for an hour.  Eight Malta fighters are scrambled and engage the escorting Messerschmitts from time to time, along with anti-aircraft guns.  One ME 109 is severely damaged.  

Two German prisoners whose JU 87 crashed in the sea during this morning’s raid are rescued by the High Speed Launch, brought ashore and interrogated at Kalafrana.

1742-50 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy formations approaching the Island. Five Hurricanes are scrambled and with enemy withdraw without crossing the coast.

0625-0730 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Philip James Kearsey; Pilot Officer Charles Edwaard Langdon; Flying Officer Frederic Frank Taylor, Royal Air Force, 261 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Gudja  Angelo Caruana, age 84.  

Enemy casualties Feldwebel Johannes Braun, 4/StG 1, pilot of Junkers JU 87 Stuka shot down; Unteroffizier Heinz Langreder, 4/StG 1, pilot of JU 87 Stuka shot down and died; Oberleutnant Kurt Reumann, commander of the 6/StG 1, pilot of a JU 87 Stuka, shot down; Gefreiter Erwin Suckow, crewman of JU 87 Stuka, shot down and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 1941

AIR HQ 0830-1136 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance of Tripoli Harbour, Mellaha and the Gulf of Gabez.    

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli harbour and search for Sorman aerodrome; his aircraft was chased out by ME 109s.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1245-1345 hrs  Air raid.  Luqa aerodrome is about two miles from Battalian HQ which, being high up, made an excellent grandstand.  Never has this unit seen such an exhibition.  The Ack Ack barrage was terrific but the Germans dived straight into it to loose their bombs.”  Posts SJ2, 3 and 4 handed over to the Regt by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 17; dealt with 6 (4 x 50kg, 2 x 500kg German).

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

(2) Malta Diary of A War, Michael Galea, Peg 1992

 

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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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25 February 1941: Rock Shelters Essential in Every Place, Says Governor

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CIVILIANS DIG OWN SHELTERS IN BELIEF THAT ONLY ROCK CAN PROTECT THEM

Digging to create underground shelters

Digging to create underground shelters

Maltese civilians are giving up hours of their own time to dig underground shelters, in the belief that only the Island’s rock can protect them from German raiders. Government officials have acknowledged that the determined dive-bombing by German aircraft has been a considerable shock to the population and conceded that the provision in every locality of rock shelters in which the public have confidence must be speeded up.  In a broadcast on 4 February, the Governor said:

“I wish to assure all the people of Malta that the Government is fully alive to the urgent necessity of providing bomb proof shelters with the minimum of delay, and is straining every nerve to do so. You must however realise that shelters hewn out of the rock take a considerable time to complete, and the problem is complicated by a shortage of skilled miners and a shortage of tools.”

In response, communities across Malta decided to take matters into their own hands. For weeks volunteers have been labouring hard provide shelters for their neighbourhoods.  In Rabat alone, 120 volunteers responded to a public appeal, including several women; work on nine shelters in the area is now progressing well.

In Pieta young women have been working on a shelter for a month from five in the morning to six in, aided by their husbands and even children. As one of the voluntary miners wrote today:  “We went to it with a vengeance. The larger part of the workers were Special Constables, Wardens and members of the MVDF, but little girls and boys helped in clearing the unearthed rubbish…When the sirens wailed…work continued without a single thought to the enemy above us.  As the sun sank lower into the horizon, we dropped our picks and shovels and trudged off to our beds with blisters on our fingers, and weariness in our bones, but with the full conviction that what we started to do will prove useful towards the maintenance of the security of our folk at home.”

The shortage of skilled miners arose following the heavy raids on HMS Illustrious, when 400 Gozitan miners left Malta and returned to their home Island.  However, they have now returned and, with the Dockyard producing the much-needed tools as quickly as possible, Government projects to create rock shelters are underway. (1)

ITALIAN COMMANDER UNDER HOUSE ARREST AFTER CLASH WITH MUSSOLINI

Italy’s military chief in North Africa, Field Marshal Graziani, has been placed under house arrest in Rome. According to diplomatic sources in Rome, after the significant Italian defeat at Bardia the Field Marshal returned to the Italian capital to attend the Supreme War Council presided over by Mussolini. 

In a bold statement, Marshal Graziani emphatically denied all responsibility for the Italian defeats in North Africa. He provided evidence the Council of having warned Il Duce of the likely failure of his military plans in Egypt but had been overruled.  The Marshal then tabled his resignation from the Fascist Party.

Marshal Graziani resigned last June but was ordered by Mussolini to withdraw his resignation. He is expected to be replaced in North Africa.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 26 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0705-0721 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which cross the coast and are engaged by guns of Tigne fort

0819-0824 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0930-1019 hrs  Air raid alert for four Dornier 215 bombers, one Heinkel 111 bomber and a large formation of ME 109s which cross the Island. Malta fighters are scrambled and shoot down two Dornier 215s confirmed and one probable.  Anti-aircraft guns also claim one bomber hit.  One Hurricane makes a forced landing in the sea four miles off Delimara due to engine trouble; the pilot is picked up safely.  No bombs are dropped on the Island.

1220-1254 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109s which cross the coast; engaged by guns at Fort Delimara.

1315-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for a small formation of ME 109 fighters which machine gun flying boats in St Paul’s Bay.

1530-1610 hrs  Air raid alert for four ME 109 fighters approaching the Island. Malta fighters are scrambled and engage the raiders.  Ack Ack guns also open fire.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Upright from Malta attacked and sank a warship heading for Libya, believed to be a Condottiere A cruiser.  

AIR HQ Arrivals Glenn Martin Maryland. Departures 1 Whitley.  Glenn Martin Maryland arrive direct from the UK having flown overland by night. 

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland arrived from the UK.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  The Battalion handed over its ‘close and defend Valletta’ role to 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment and will now come under the command of the Northern Infantry Brigade to be mobile reserve.

(1) Adapted from When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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24 February 1941: “We’ll Take Malta in a Fortnight,” Says Germany

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ROMMEL IDENTIFIES MALTA AS A KEY TARGET

Himmler Hitler and SteinerGerman high command appear ready to invade Malta and confident of success, according to their propaganda machine. According to radio monitors, German wireless has claimed in a recent broadcast that their forces could “take Malta in a fortnight”.

Since German forces have begun moving into North Africa, the Mediterranean sea routes from Italy have become critical to their war effort. Major General Rommel who arrived in Libya earlier this month has reportedly informed German High Command in Berlin that: “Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa”

UNEXPLODED BOMB WARNING TO MILITARY

A notice was issued to all military units in Malta today that in no circumstances will any personnel, with the exception of Bomb Disposal Sections, approach unexploded bombs.

AIR COMMANDER’S PROMOTION RECOGNISES ROLE OF RAF IN MALTA

Malta’s Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore Foster Maynard AFC is promoted today to Air Vice Marshal. The enhanced rank reflects the increased role of air operations in Malta, both defensive and offensive.  A New Zealand officer serving in the Royal Air Force, Air Commodore Maynard was appointed as AOC Malta in January 1940.  He previously served in the Royal Navy Air Service and more recently in the Air Ministry before his posting to Malta.   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 25 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0748-0821 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109 fighters which approach and circle the Island. Malta fighters are scrambled; no engagement,

0930 hrs Two Dornier 215s are shot down by fighters. One Malta fighter crashes (cause unknown) but the pilot is saved.

1204-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which cross the coast… no engagement

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1941

AIR HQ Departures 2 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left for Middle East. One Sunderland left for Gibraltar with passengers and mail.

LUQA 148 Squadron  Nine Wellingtons bombing raid on Tripoli. Flying Officer Green’s aircraft failed to return.

 

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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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23 February 1941: Governor Broadcasts Defence of Conscription

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GOVERNOR REACTS TO PUBLIC CONCERN

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

The introduction of compulsory conscription has caused a certain amount of tension among Maltese communities, it has been reported. While many have responded positively to assisting in the defence of Malta, relatives of some facing the call-up have expressed strong emotions at the prospect of their menfolk engaging in battle. 

To calm the situation, the Governor defended his policy in a Rediffusion broadcast to civilians across the Island:

“The coming months may bring situations which will require our biggest possible efforts, and we may need to use all our resources of all kinds to cope with the problem. We must be as strong as possible in order to ensure that all attacks are decisively beaten off, should they be attempted.  The Government must, therefore be in a position to utilise the resources of Malta (including the manpower) to the best advantage, and it is for that reason that conscription of manpower is being brought into being.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 24 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0700-0715 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109 fighters which cross the coast over Grand Harbour and then retreat without launching any attack.

1017-1055 hrs  Air raid alert for four JU 88 bombers escorted by five ME 109 fighters which approach the Island from the east, cross the coast over Delimara and drop bombs 60 yards from a gun position and on the Hal Far road at Benghaisa. They are engaged by Ack Ack: no claims.  Eight Hurricane fighters are scrambled and come within sight of the raiders, who swing away west and then north.  Anti aircraft guns also engage and one gun position reports two aircraft smoking badly as they retreat. 

Enemy casualties  Oberfahrnrich Roman Heil, III/StG 1, pilot, and Gefreiter Heinrich Stamm, III/StG 1, wireless operator of a Junkers JU 87 Stuka shot down, picked up from the sea by RAF Launch and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 23 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Upright from Malta attacked the ‘Fanny Brunner’ class merchant vessel Silvia Tripcovich en route for Libya, which burned out and sank.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from Middle East with passengers.

(1) Malta Diary of A War, Michael Galea, PEG 1992

 

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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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22 February 1941: New Battalion to Defend Harbour and Valletta

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1ST BATTALION CHESHIRE REGIMENT TO HAVE DUAL ROLE

Porte des Bombes

1 Cheshire will man exits from Valletta including Porte des Bombes

1st Bn Cheshire Regiment has been given the task of defending the surroundings of Grand Harbour and approaches to Valletta.  The 655 strong Battalion, which arrived in Malta yesterday, will have a dual role: defend the Harbour Sector from seaborne and airborne attack and also to control the movement of the civil population both into and out of Valletta, in the event of a land attack.  Their HQ will be established at St Francis Ravelin.

One Company will be disposed in the areas of Kalkara, Vittoriosa and Cospicua, where their special tasks will include the co-ordination of the defence of the Sector alongside the Royal Navy, and of the Corradino Heights in co-operation with the Dockyard Defence Battery. In the event of an enemy attack the Company will operate to prevent the entry of enemy airborne troops through the Cottonera Lines from the outlaying countryside as well as preventing the movement of the civilian population through these Lines.

A second Company will operate in Valletta with the role of the coastal defence of the City and control of the civilian population within, should the need arise. A third Company will operate in the area of Msida Bastion and Pieta, to man the exits from Valletta via the Porte des Bombes and to control the movement of the civilian population in or out of the City, with particular reference to civilians attempting to enter during active operations from the area Balzan, Birkirkara, Hamrun and Qormi.

A fourth Company will be allocated in the area Msida-Gzira-Tigne with the object of defending Marsamxetto Harbour from enemy attack and also of preventing movement by the population of Sliema into Valletta when necessary.

Two Platoons of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment at present in the Harbour Sector will now revert to the Southern Infantry Brigade.  4th Bn Buffs will also return to their original locations and duties.  All other military personnel still stationed within the Harbour Sector will be responsible for their own local protection in the event of a general attack, including from parachutists, and will man their defences on receipt of the codewords ‘Defend Harbours’ which will be issued direct from the CO of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 23 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0717-0800 hrs; 1127-1132 hrs  Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.

1400-1425 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109 fighters which cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour at 15000 feet. Hurricanes are scrambled but the Messerschmitts recede without making an attack before the Malta fighters can reach sufficient height to attack them. 

1600 hrs  A mine is spotted floating in the water in Ghain Tuffieha Bay. The beach defence position is evacuated.

0455-0555 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which circle over the Island for an hour without dropping any bombs. The raiders are engaged by Ack Ack.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Ursula from Malta attacked and sank a Sicilia class transport heading for Libya.

 

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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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