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10 March 1941: Heavy Air Strikes Day and Night on Multiple Targets

10 Mar

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Standard type 55 fuze head (1)

Standard type 55 fuze head (1)

MYSTERY FUZE DETONATES IN THE HANDS OF BOMB DISPOSAL SQUAD

The fuze from an unexploded bomb has detonated in the hands of bomb disposal hours after it was removed. The 50kg bomb was dealt with an estimated two hours after it fell; the normal procedure was followed and the fuze was removed.  It was marked with the number 55, which normally indicates that it was designed to explode on impact or within a few seconds.

It was next morning, as a member of the bomb disposal squad was handling the fuze, that it suddenly detonated. Fortunately, no high explosive was attached and there were no serious injuries.  The fuze head was re-examined by the Bomb Disposal Officer and it was found that the EIAZ 55 marking was considerably smaller than usual, suggesting this may be a variant on the standard 55 fuze.  The delayed action has raised concerns that this may be a more dangerous type of fuze.  An urgent telegram has been sent to the War Office in London requesting any available information on fuzes of this description. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 MARCH TO DAWN 11 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0950-1030 hrs  Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers and six ME 109 fighters which cross the Island and are engaged by anti-aircraft fire. No claims and no bombs dropped.

1033-1044 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of a friendly fighter.

1056-1115 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1221-1320 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching formations of Heinkel HE 111 bombers and ME 109 fighters. One formation of three Heinkels flies to and fro over the south coast but turns away without releasing any bombs, apparently acting as a decoy.  Meanwhile nine ME 110 fighters in two formations launch diving machine-gun attacks on Sunderland flying boats in St Paul’s Bay.  One Sunderland is burned out and two others damaged.  A petrol lighter is hit below the waterline and beached before sinking.  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled and ground defences engage, shooting down one enemy fighter and damaging two others. 

1600-1615 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2300-0100 hrs  Air raid alert in place while up to 20 enemy bombers, including JU 87s, JU 88s, Dornier 215s and Heinkel 111’s, approach the Island one at a time, cross the coast at different points and fly over the Island in bright moonlight. Searchlights are also illuminated seven times and engage the raiders.  The Junkers bombers execute accurate dive-bombing attacks, dropping bombs along a line between St Edward’s College and Grand Harbour, hitting the Dockyard power generating station three times and putting it out of action.  The tool store and north east corner of the Foundry are wrecked, the Fitting Shop and Joiners Shop are damaged, as is the water supply. 

A high explosive bomb hits a boat house and store, causing a fire and damage to the north end of the Corradino Tunnel. One police constable is missing under the debris. SS Essex is hit three times, causing her to list to port.  One bomb on Hamilton Wharf causes slight damage to Imperial in No 2 Dock.  A raider is caught in the searchlight beam, hit and damaged by anti-aircraft guns over the Harbour. 

The first HE 111s and DO 215s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome from 10000 feet, setting fire to a store and damaging a hangar containing one Maryland aircraft. Using the fire as a marker, the following bombers drop more bombs on Luqa, damaging the sick quarters, and on the surrounding area.  Malta fighters are scrambled, engaging one enemy Dornier 215 bomber south of the Island.  The raider appears to lose control and seems to be descending as it passes out of searchlight range.  Another raider is destroyed by Malta fighters and two more damaged by anti-aircraft fire.

0210-0250 hrs; 0315-0330 hrs Air raid alerts for an approaching enemy aircraft. The first raider does not cross the coast and bombs are dropped in the sea north east of the Island.  The pattern is repeated twice more.  Hurricane night fighters are scrambled on each occasion; no claims.

Military casualties  Petty Officer Joseph M N G Bonnici, Royal Navy, HMS Ploughboy.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Police Constable Francis Camilleri, age 21.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 10 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY HMS Unique sank Italian vessel Fenice.

AIR HQ  Sergeant Frederick Robertson, 261 Squadron, awarded the DFM.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  30 mature conscripts arrived at C Company billets and are to undergo a nine-week course of training. 4th Buffs has proved a popular unit among recruits.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  24 Fortress Company blasted cliffs at Delimara to make them proof against scaling by landing parties. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 2; dealt with 1 (500kg).

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  8 conscript recruits joined the Battalion.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A mine was washed up on to the beach in the Rinella sector.  

(1)  www.bombfuzecollectorsnet.com

 

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1 Comment

Posted by on March 10, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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One response to “10 March 1941: Heavy Air Strikes Day and Night on Multiple Targets

  1. Steve venus

    March 10, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Thank you for the mention I,m Steve Venus owner of bombfuzecollectorsnet.com it’s a mystery why that particular fuze exploded , there was no known modifications , the bomb disposal manual mentions that there were slight variations in markings but these were dismissed.
    What is interesting is that this fuze the (55) was supposed to replace the (25) series fuze but was found to suffer from damp and was not very waterproof , over the years I’ve met bomb disposal personnel who had found these fuze in the second fuze pocket with the dust caps still in place.

     

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