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MORE NIGHT ATTACKS LIKELY AS ENEMY SEEKS TO AVOID AIRCRAFT LOSSES
After a night in temporary shelter residents of St Rita Street in Sliema faced the wreckage of their homes for the first time this morning: “Piles of debris, twisted and bent girders, smashed furniture and here and there the remains of prams…One or two residents aimlessly searched through debris in the hope of retrieving some of their personal belongings. Further along the lane the more fortunate were busy moving furniture from homes rendered uninhabitable by blast. Dazed young women, many with babies in their arms, were doing their best to supervise the removal of what was left of their homes. Others who had lost all just stood there.” (1)
Kept off school for the day, young Charles Grech discovered that several of his school friends had been killed in the raid. “I remember that I had made a resolution not to remain outside any more during raids. However, I never kept it because of the claustrophobic atmosphere of the shelter. I used to get a choking feeling and was terrified at hearing the least explosion when I was below ground.”(2)
As night attacks become increasingly frequent, which Malta’s high command believes is a change of enemy tactics, following their heavy aircraft losses during daylight raids. Since the two recent mass raids on Luqa (26 February) and Hal Far (5 March) the enemy has not launched heavy attacks during daylight hours. However, night time attacks are becoming more frequent. While most are ‘nuisance raids’ – single plane or small formation flying over Island for long periods to demoralise the population through lack of sleep – experience of the past two nights suggests there may be more damaging raids to come.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 MARCH TO DAWN 13 MARCH 1941
Weather Windy with low cloud.
0620-0632 hrs; 1047-1100 hrs Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.
1220-1245 hrs Air raid alert for a large formation of enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Only one raider crosses the coast and withdraws after being engaged by anti-aircraft fire. No bombs are dropped.
0145-0205 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the Island and drops three bombs in the sea off Benghaisa.
Military casualties Aircraftsman Giuseppe Borg, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve).
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 1941
AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Glenn Martin Maryland, 1 Sunderland.
KALAFRANA One Sunderland returned from Gibraltar with passengers.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (500kg).
(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981
(2) Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech (translated by Joseph Galea Debono) Midsea Books 1998
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