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Since Italy entered the War on 11 June 1940 Malta’s fighters and anti-aircraft defences have now topped the 100 mark in enemy victims. The following are the official totals: 112 enemy aircraft confirmed shot down, a further 38 probably failed to reach their bases, while 45 are known to have been damaged.
STRICT REGULATIONS FOR ALERTS REPEALED
Employers (Discontinuation of Service) Emergency Regulations of 1940 were enacted to safeguard the interests of employers when constant air attacks caused them to shut down their business. Under the Regulations, any civilian not following air raid instructions faced prosecution and many have been fined by the courts. As a result, most civilians have stopped work and headed for shelter immediately in response to the air raid alert. However, the result has been a marked decline in productivity, according to the Government:
“Much time valuable to the war effort is at present being lost by everyone putting down their tools or shutting up their establishments immediately on the sounding of the Alert and remaining idle until the All Clear is sounded…The Alert is sounded on a number of occasions and no raid develops, or only one aeroplane on reconnaissance crosses the coast and, with the exception of splinters falling from the shells of our own guns which can with reasonable care be avoided, there is no danger whatever; on other occasions only a portion of the Island is in danger and elsewhere it is completely free of enemy bombs. Yet the whole life of the Island stops at every Alert.”
Now people have shown they can discipline themselves to take cover during raids, the Government has decided to lift the Regulations. From now on it will be left to civilians to take cover only when there is imminent danger.
“…after some months on the front line it is felt that the people must have become accustomed to raids and must themselves know when it is necessary to take cover and when they may carry on their work in safety…With regard to traffic, other than public conveyance, on the road there will be no restrictions on its continuing during an Alert. Persons who have no important public or private duties to perform should stop, but those who have such duties should proceed…on their journey, only interrupting it and taking cover when the necessity to do so appears imminent and danger immediate.”
According to the Government announcement, the individual is now free to develop an air raid sense – and very rapidly many will find that carrying on with their normal occupation is far sounder than the nervous hours of suspense in overcrowded shelters. (1)
CURFEW MEASURES TIGHTENED
Due to fear of night assault by parachutists military authorities want to control any movement in and out of towns and villages during the night. Curfew regulations now stipulate that “except to proceed to shelters, no persons will be allowed to move even within town or village boundaries during curfew hours of 9pm to 6.30am.” Perhaps hardest hit will be farmers who will no longer be able home for their fields while it is still dark, as they normally do.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MARCH TO DAWN 5 MARCH 1941
0912-0935 hrs Air raid alert. Two Wellingtons returning from a mission are followed in towards Malta by two enemy ME 109 fighters. No engagement.
1115-1130 hrs; 1400-1425 hrs Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 MARCH 1941
ROYAL NAVY Utmost returned from a special mission in the Gulf of Hammamet.
AIR HQ 1100-1430 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance Sicily: Palermo one cruiser, three destroyers, one merchant vessel, six small ships; Boccadifuoco one JU 52, 24 fighters, eight HE 111s or JU 88s, four other aircraft; Trapani aerodrome one JU 52, twelve JU 87s, one large and two small unidentified aircraft.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 6 at Luqa aerodrome (3 x 50kg; 3 x 500kg).
(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981
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