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12 February 1941: First Messerschmitts Over Malta Destroy Two

12 Feb

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ME 109 fighters

ME 109 fighters

HURRICANES NO MATCH FOR ME 109

Messerschmitt 109 fighters made their first appearance in the skies over Malta today. Twelve of the fast and agile fighters approached the Island as escort to a bombing raid this afternoon.  They quickly made their mark against the six Hurricane fighters sent up to intercept them, shooting down three of them in a series of dog fights. 

One of the Hurricanes was claimed south of Siggiewi by Oberleutnant Joachim Muncheberg, head of the 109s fighter unit, 7 Staffel, Jadgeschwader 26, which arrived in Sicily only last Tuesday. Flown by veterans of the Battle of Britain, the Messerschmitt 109e fighters have been drafted in to support Fliegerkorps 10 in its bombing campaign against Malta. 

Returning from this afternnon’s operation, Malta pilots reported that their Hurricane fighters are so much slower than the ME 109s that they are now at a real disadvantage.

PILOT’S LUCKY ESCAPE

Hurricane fighter pilot P/O D J Thacker had a lucky escape today when his aircraft was shot down into the sea. P/O Thacker, who arrived in Malta a couple of weeks ago, was flying one of six Hurricanes scrambled to tackle a dozen Messerschmitts and three bombers launching an air raid this afternoon.  In a series of dog fights, Thacker’s Hurricane was hit, wounding him with shrapnel.  He managed to escape as the aircraft ditched in the sea off Fort St Elmo.  He was soon rescued by launch and taken to hospital.

WAR OFFICE ORDERS REINFORCEMENTS TO BE SENT IMMEDIATELY

Following recent exchanges of telegrams with Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, the War Office has written to the Commander in Chief Middle East with orders to send 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment to Malta immediately, to be followed by a rifle battalion as soon as one can be made available.  The date of the Battalion’s movement to Malta is to be notified as soon as possible.

OPERATION COLOSSUS UNSUCCESSFUL – SAPPERS CAPTURED

Photoreconnaissance of the target of Operation Colossus revealed today that the viaduct remains intact, following Monday night’s attack. According to the returning Whitley crews, equipment failures and navigational errors made it difficult for them to deliver all the paratroopers to the exact location.  Despite this, reports confirm that charges were successfully laid and exploded at the viaduct but the structure held.  The Royal Engineers involved were tracked as they left the area and taken prisoner.  One of the Whitleys crash-landed during the attempted raid on Foggia and did not return to Malta. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 13 FEBRUARY 1941

Weather  Fine and clear.

0813-0830 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1530-1610 hrs  Air raid alert for three JU 88 bombers escorted by twelve fighters which approach Malta. Some of the fighters are identified as German Messerschmitt 109s – the first which have been seen over the Island.  Six Hurricanes are scrambled and there are several engagements, including a dog fight over Hal Far and another north of the Island.  Two Hurricanes are missing after the raid; one pilot is rescued from the sea off Fort St Elmo, slightly wounded.  A third Hurricane makes a forced landing at Luqa; the pilot is slightly wounded and the aircraft damaged but repairable.  No bombs are dropped on the Island.

1909-2000 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach the Island and drop bombs near the control tower of Luqa aerodrome. Malta fighters are scrambled; searchlights do not illuminate the aircraft and there are no interceptions.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Gerald Watson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Utmost from Malta attacked an 8000 ton merchant ship heading for Libya and badly damaged its aft section. HMS Unique from Malta attacked a 6000 ton merchant ship heading for Libya, probably sunk. 

AIR HQ  Sunderland patrol western Ionian Sea. 0815-1327  Maryland photoreconnaissance of the results of Operation Colossus: excellent photographs show the bridge intact.  

KALAFRANA  Marine Craft Section pinnace rescued a Hurricane pilot from St Paul’s Bay.

LUQA  One Maryland photoreconnaissance for results of Operation Colossus. 148 Squadron Four Wellingtons bombing raid on Catania and Comiso aerodromes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.

 

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

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Posted by on February 12, 2016 in 1941, February 1941

 

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