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4 February 1941: ‘Hope’ is Lost – Gladiator a Write-off

04 Feb

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BOMBS ON HAL FAR DESTROY ‘HOPE’

Sea-Gladiator_FaithOne of Malta’s first trio of defensive aircraft, the Gladiator nicknamed ‘Hope’, was written off today. In a heavy air raid on Hal Far, bombs caused damage across the aerodrome, including to three aircraft – one of which was ‘Hope’.  Newly arrived pilot, P/O John Pain, described the aftermath of the raid:

“All the hangars [at Hal Far] had been hit, but there were a few aircraft in them and in one was ‘Hope’ of the famous Malta trio. She was in the throes of becoming a six-gun Gladiator, the only one in the RAF, but she received a bomb smack through the centre section and that was the finish of her.”

Work had just been completed on fitting the additional guns, a measure intented to make the Gladiator more effective against Stuka dive bombers. Only ‘Faith’ remains of the three valiant Gladiators.  ‘Charity’ was shot down in a dogfight last July. (1)

GERMAN RADIO SAYS ‘WE WILL TAKE MALTA IN A FORTNIGHT’

“Luqa aerodrome was the target [today] and got some battering, but no lives were lost. During that raid we had Commander Hale with us; and he was surprised at the great noise of the barrage. He led one of the squadrons at Taranto and was wearing his DSO ribbon, and also his new third stripe. We did not ask him many questions, as we feel that when men come here, they need to have their thoughts distracted rather than brought back to their doings.” (2)

MILITARY PROPERTY DAMAGED BY AIR RAIDS TO DATE

Luqa:  Officers’ Mess and quarters and one airmen’s barrack block destroyed; one Glenn Martin temporarily unserviceable

Hal Far:  one wing of sergeants’ quarters destroyed; sergeants’ mess and cinema badly damaged; one Swordfish and one Gladiator burned out; one Swordfish unserviceable one month, three Swordfish unserviceable one week. One hangar damaged but not destroyed.  One Hurricane hit by shrapnel written off but many parts salvaged.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 5 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Unsettled at first, becoming finer towards evening.

1407-1421 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1750 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of JU 88 bombers heading for the Island from the east. They cross the coast over Delimara and dive bomb Hal Far and Luqa aerodromes. Two bombs damage the runway and barrack rooms at Luqa; five fall on Hal Far.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and Bofors guns on the airfield open fire. 

1801-1838 hrs  A second formation crosses the coast over Rinella and launches a second attack.  Two bombs land between Sans Souci and Marnisi.  Every gun on Luqa aerodrome is firing, putting up a fierce barrage.  Six more Hurricanes and two Fulmars are scrambled and engage raiders to the north of the Island.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 FEBRUARY 1941

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion commanders reconnaissance of Qrendi, Bubaqra, Siggiewi for possible move of troops to that area. A Company to take over the whole of Rinella. 

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

(2) 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 4, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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