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LADY DOBBIE HEARS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO EXPERIENCE A RAID OVERHEAD
Rev Nicholls describes his time in the shelter during Sunday’s raids – on Malta’s National Day of Prayer:
“At noon and in the afternoon, the attacks came. They were very severe indeed. There were four people with us in our funk-hole. One dockyard man held his fingers in his ears, with his head between his knees; another a temporary NO who has a most dangerous job of detonating unexploded mines was white as a sheet. I stood among them reciting psalms, and as the barrage and the bombing increased in intensity I had to raise my voice louder and louder, until I was actually shouting the words. In the afternoon it was, if anything, rather worse – a continuous roar like the loudest thunder, and the expectation of hearing one drop very close or actually on top of us…
On Monday [24 March], my wife tried to explain to Lady Dobbie what it is like during a big show in Valletta. She admitted that she had never had a bomb near her, nor had sat under a big barrage. On that evening there was a smallish, but thorough, booming raid by about seven machines with – almost certainly – a big pack of fighters lying near. This we watched from the roof of the Palace.
It was a remarkable sight to one who has never seen the like before. There were 20 of our fighters flying over our heads, but they took no part, probably because the presence of a trap was known. The bombers were surrounded by bursting shells, which looked like twinkling diamonds as they burst. The raiders were in a great cloud of smoke and another hung over Valletta. I saw them persist till over their target, but then they broke formation, and one dropped suddenly some distance with smoke from its tail. This one was, later, recorded as brought down. I am glad to have seen one attack from a distance, even if it was not a very spectacular example.” (1)
MALTA ANXIOUSLY AWAITS ROYAL ARTILLERY REINFORCEMENTS
From: Governor & Commander in Chief To: War Office
Please confirmed the Royal Artillery reinforcements detailed on 8 February have arrived in Egypt and will be sent on at the first opportunity. They are very urgently required. We would appreciate if small parties could be sent by air if the opportunity occurs.
COASTAL DEFENCES RENAMED
Malta’s regiments for coastal defence are to be renamed HQ Fixed Defences, Malta. The new title brings the Island’s formation into line with those in other theatres of war. The organisation includes 1 Coast Regiment Royal Malta Artillery, 4 Coast Regiment Royal Artillery and 17 Defence Regiment Royal Artillery.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 MARCH TO DAWN 27 MARCH 1941
Weather Pleasantly warm.
0800-0818 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance over the Island at 24000 feet. Four Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.
0915-0929 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches to 20 miles from the coast before returning. Two Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 26 MARCH 1941
AIR HQ 69 Squadron 1040-1405 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: hospital ship, 6 destroyers, 2 torpedo boats, 1 fleet auxiliary, 10 merchant vessels, 30 barges, 8 seaplanes.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 5 (1 flare; 3 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg).
(1) 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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