Monthly Archives: April 2016

30 April 1941: Two Nights’ Raids ‘A Nightmare to All Who Lived Through Them’

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Greek Orthodox Church destroyed

Greek Orthodox Church destroyed

Communities across Malta, both civilian and military, are left reeling after a second night of intense and heavy bombing raids. Substantial damage was done to the Dockyard (see below) but Valletta fared the worst: hardly a window is left intact across the ancient city.  St John’s Co-Cathedral has been seriously damaged; almost destroyed.  The Oratory and Vestry are heavily damaged, while the main door has been blasted and destroyed.  The Museum and precious paintings have suffered badly. The two belfry towers have been damaged.  The church of the Greek Orthodox community has also been destroyed.

The City’s Law Courts, the Exchange, St James Hotel and several banks have been demolished, three cinemas were hit and several cafes, restaurants and business premises in Kingsway were either destroyed or damaged. A total of 47 shops and 27 houses have been destroyed.  Kingsway Main Gate is now blocked by debris.

In the Dockyard, storehouses and wharfs as well as several vessels were badly damaged. The main Malta strike force had left harbour when the first raid began.

In Sliema 86 houses were demolished, another 80 and a convent seriously damaged. 20 more houses and a police station were damaged by bomb blast.  In Mosta mines destroyed several houses.

Clearing debris in Valletta

Clearing debris in Valletta

Further afield, air raid shelters in Luqa and Zebbug were hit by mines. In Luqa 45 civilians taking cover in two adjacent shelters were saved after a dangerous rescue operation by three policemen. In Zebbug both the entrance and the exit of the shelter were blocked by debris from the collapsed house above.  17 were trapped inside: 11 were rescued by the Hamrun Demolition Squad, the other six were found to be dead. (1)

First reports suggest that in total four children were killed in the raids and four other civilians buried under bomb rubble are feared dead; five civilians have been seriously injured.

It has been reported that damage to communications caused in last night’s bombing raid hampered the control of 14 Hurricanes scrambled to counter-attack the raiders and no engagements take place.


Weather  Fine.

0755-0810 hrs Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers escorted by three ME 109s approaching the Island. They are assumed to be on reconnaissance but fly over Grand Harbour and drop bombs on St Angelo and nearby boats.  An explosion 200 yards offshore causes a dghajsa carrying twelve Royal Malta Artillery (RMA) personnel towards Ricasoli Barracks to capsize.  Witnessing the incident from the barracks, Lieutenant Joseph E Agius dives into the sea and with the help of two RMA recruits rescues eleven men encumbered by greatcoats. (2)

0817-0835 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 which crosses the Island on reconnaissance.

1047-1120 hrs; 1146-1226 hrs  Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.

1200 hrs  Communications with Fortress HQ put out of action by last night’s raid are restored.

1757-1836 hrs  Air raid alert for six HE 111 bombers escorted by six ME 109s which approach the Island and drop bombs and mines on the Grand Harbour area including Valletta, where a bomb explodes on the corner of St Nicholas Street and Kingsway. The motor vehicle entrance to St Nicholas St is completely blocked by debris. One bomb lands on Maddalena Sacristy and another on the Orphanage.

In the Dockyard a stick of bombs falls along Garden Reach. A submarine store is demolished and a small fire starts.  The CO2 plant receives a direct hit.  Stores at the entrance to St Theresa Tunnel are damaged and debris blocks the road.  The road outside the East Gate is blocked by a large crater and debris from a destroyed house.  A stick of bombs lands close to the HQ of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Anti-aircraft guns engage and destroy one enemy aircraft. 

2034-2254 hrs  Air raid alert for a first wave of 35 enemy bombers including JU 87 Stukas, JU 88s and HE 111s which approach the Island in relays. The first relay of 20 comes in two waves, the first high to attract the defences.  The second wave then glides in low to lay mines in the Harbour and its approaches. Two parachute mines explode in the city, destroying the Law Courts, a church, houses and shops in Kingsway.  Another 15 bombers then approach, dropping parachute flares across Grand Harbour and Valletta followed by 150 high explosive bombs, causing extensive damage.

In the Dockyard a bomb on inflammable stores starts a large fire which is hard to bring under control. The road outside is blocked by a large crater, making it difficult for fire appliances to gain access.  A machine shop is hit, blocking the road into St Theresa Tunnel.  A large bomb on No 2 dock demolishes buildings and causes further damage to HMS Encounter.  No 3 dock caisson receives a direct hit, flooding the dock and with it the vessel Coral. Trusty Star – the only LL minesweeper currently in action – is sunk at Machinery Wharf. Fermoy in No 5 dock is further damaged and sinks. The Baulk Timber Store receives a direct hit, causing much damage to the roof.  A bomb close to Corradino Tunnel blocks a ventilation shaft. The Boat House is hit by four or five small bombs, not all of which explode. 

Some of the bombers (identified as Heinkels) are illuminated by searchlights over Grand Harbour and anti-aircraft guns put up a barrage; no claims. One Hurricane is scrambled but does not engage the raiders. 

11 more Heinkel bombers cross the coast over St Thomas’s Bay and head for Luqa aerodrome, dropping 53 high explosive bombs across the area. Two mines are dropped on the Ta Karach Ridge, one blows out the door of a gun position. A further formation of 11 HE 111s crosses the coast and attacks Ta Qali, dropping mines and 80 high explosive bombs.  A large mine falls in the garden of the Attorney General Sir Philip Pullicino family just below the bastions in Mdina and fails to explode; the family is evacuated.

Military casualties  Gunner Alfred Allison, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Edgar Bartolo, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Calleja, Royal Malta Artillery; Master at Arms Leslie George Hunt, HMS St.Angelo; Bombardier Joseph Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Marine Edward Joseph Mullard, Royal Marines; Bombardier Carmelo Pulis, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Vella, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Senglea  Irish Ashmore, age 11; Agnes Ashmore, age 9; Tommy Ashmore, age 4; Charles Zarbe, age 13; Edward Zarb, age 12; Mary Zarb, age 10. Valletta Carmela Caruana, age 71; Vincenza MacGill, age 33; Edwidge Zarb Cousin, age 5.


ROYAL NAVY HMS Abingdon is damaged by suspected acoustic mines while sweeping. Royal Navy Bomb & Mine Disposal  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with during the month: 37.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Three Wellingtons arrived from Gibraltar and left later with a Wellington of 148 Squadron that had been under repair.   

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C and D Companies spent the day on the practise firing ranges.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1155 hrs One man was injured at Corradino by a bomb explosion. Strengths 36 officers, 884 other ranks, 2 RAOC (attached).  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Blitz on Valletta, severe damage to Strada Reale; RE assisted with clearance. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 29; dealt with 2 (2 x 50kg).  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 190; dealt with 50.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strength officers 36, NCOs 24, other ranks 640.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Enlisted during April 6 volunteers, 21 conscripts. Strengths officers 28, WO/Sgts 30, other ranks 669.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS    MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Four storemen returned from Ordnance Dump, Gozo. Strengths officers 25, WO 8, other ranks 122; Armourers other ranks 7; Artisans other ranks 4. 

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1700 hrs L/Cpl A Watton buried at St Andrews Cemetery.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981

(2) Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985


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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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29 April 1941: Heaviest Bombing Yet in 6½ Hour Raid

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Malta experienced its heaviest bombing raid of the war so far tonight when nearly 90 enemy aircraft came over and dropped mines and bombs. The raid followed an earlier attack in which another 84 bombs were dropped on Grand Harbour. 

From just before 9 this evening the Island was under alert for 6½ hours as raiders launched their attacks in two waves, dropping over 800 high explosive bombs from 50kg to 1000kg on the Grand Harbour, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields and several inland villages. Parachute mines were laid in the harbours and approaches.

Bombing Aub Auvergne now law courtsSeveral 1000kg were among the bombs which landed on Valletta, badly damaging many buildings including St John’s Cathedral, a church, theatre and cinema, and causing a large fire. A bomb demolished the corner of Merchants Street and St Christopher Street, as well as several shops in Kingsway.  Another fire started in Floriana.  The Dockyard fire engine was sent to assist civil fire engines in tackling the blazes. Fort St Elmo was damaged, one officer and three men killed. Electricity and water supplies and telephone communications have been badly affected. 

In the Dockyard bombs hit two dock areas, forming numerous craters. Workshops and stores were completely demolished and three damaged, a nearby wharf is now blocked by debris. HMS Encounter in dry dock was damaged by bomb splinters, then a bomb penetrated the forecastle and exploded inside the ship, blowing a hole in her bottom. A bomb hit the bridge of Fermoy in No 5 dock and passed through the hull, causing her to settle by the bow.

Bighi Hospital and Fort St Angelo were hit by bombs; two marines and two dockyard personnel were wounded and one master at arms is missing. One of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers was killed and one injured; one of Royal Malta Artillery was killed and two injured.  The guard room of HQ 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment was hit by a bomb and destroyed, along with the recreation room; rifles are written off. 

In Zabbar five houses were demolished and three damaged by four bombs; two women are injured. In Cospicua 16 bombs were dropped demolishing eight houses and badly damaging five houses and seven shops. 10 houses were demolished at Marsa, one civilian killed and one injured.

86 bombs were dropped on the Ta Qali area alone, where some 22 flares were seen floating down to illuminate the target. Several mines exploded on land, including one near Luqa where a serious fire broke out. Several sticks of bombs were dropped on the south and south west perimeters of Luqa aerodrome, severing telephone communications.  One stick of bombs landed near the entrance to a dugout of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment; there are no reported casualties.

In Zurrieq, six bombs damaged 17 houses and injured one woman; bombs also fell near the HQ of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment.  18 bombs were dropped on the village of Zebbug and many more on the outskirts. 4 houses and a store were demolished and 106 houses damaged, many seriously; six civilians were killed.  The mine dropped near Tad-Dawl Chapel and failed to explode.

Buildings including a hangar and messes were damaged at Ta Qali; 13 unexploded bombs were reported across the aerodrome. Three Hurricanes were damaged and will be out of action for a week. 

During the raid troops across the Island were placed on full alert for a possible enemy parachute landing. The Island went into shut-down as road blocks were put in place.  The alarm was triggered by a report of parachutists who had baled out of an enemy aircraft shot down during the raid earlier this evening.  Once it was confirmed there were no more parachutists at large the precautions were relaxed but barriers remained closed as a precaution. 

A total of eight civilians were killed and 15 seriously wounded. 34 unexploded bombs were reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal.  Only two JU 88 bombers were shot down in the raids, one by Bofors fire.  The second was hit by Ack Ack fire before being destroyed by Hurricane fighters.


The War Office has written to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief today warning that there will be a delay in the arrival of the much needed additional anti-aircraft units. Shipping will not be available to transport 68 Heavy AA Regiment to join the next planned convoy WS 7 for onward travel to Malta.  However, the telegram confirms that 199 Heavy AA Battery is expected to arrive in the Middle East on WS 7 and will be transported to Malta as soon as possible.  The date of embarkation will be notified later.


Weather   Fine.    

0744-0815 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1051-1115 hrs Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which approaches the Island and carries out reconnaissance. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1835-1920 hrs  Air raid alert for six JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s which approach the Island and carry out a high level bombing attack on Grand Harbour, dropping 24 high explosive bombs of 250kg and 60 of 50kg. One private of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment is wounded.  One JU 88 is hit by anti-aircraft fire using height control and then attacked by Hurricanes; it crashes just above the Naval Ranges at Ghain Tuffieha.  The crew of four bale out: one lands on Pembroke Ranges and is captured by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, the other three in the sea nearby and are rescued and taken prisoner.  One ME 109 is also believed shot down by a Hurricane.  One Hurricane is damaged on landing.

2050 hrs  Air raid alert for 70 JU 88 and HE 111 bombers which cross the coast in two waves and launch a heavy raid for four hours, dropping some 700 high explosive bombs and mines on the Grand Harbour area as well as the Luqa and Ta Qali areas and several villages. Parachute mines are dropped on Grand Harbour, off the harbour entrance and in Sliema Creek. 

Searchlights are effective, illuminating raiders 13 times for 2 minutes each. Heavy Ack Ack fire 34 predicted barrages, some of which succeed in turning the enemy off course; one JU 88 is shot down by Bofors fire.  Some mines are exploded by Bofors guns. 

2232 hrs  Infantry Brigades issue an alert to all troops: “Take parachutist precautions.”

2332 hrs  All defensive barriers are closed and road blocks manned.

2340 hrs Parachutists are confirmed as eight in number and identified as having baled out from aircraft engaged in an earlier air raid. Anti-parachutist precautions are relaxed but the barriers remain closed.  

0030 hrs  All clear.

0112-0130 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but does not cross the coast.

0144-0314 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 Heinkel HE 111 bombers which approach from the north and drop mines and bombs on Grand Harbour and Valletta, as well as Ta Qali, Zebbug, Qrendi, Mosta and Balzan. 144 high explosive bombs are dropped and mines laid.  Heavy Ack Ack fire nine predicted barrages; no claims.

0313 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Herbert Cecil Hermon, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Ralph Norman Tapper, Royal Air Force; Lance-Corporal Alexander Booker Watton, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Gunner Joseph Zarb, 3 Battery, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Senglea  Carmel Degiorgio, age 34. Valletta  Brother Bonaventura Attard, age 21; Brother Hilarion Borg, age 22; Nazzareno Cachia, age 38; Connie Grech, age 45; Philip Grech, age 23; Brother Marcellino Pisani, age 22.  Zebbug  Rochani Tikamadas, age 48. 

Enemy casualties  Weldwebel Rudolf Lenzner, pilot; Unteroffizier Paul Kietzmann, air gunner, Weldwebel Wilhelm Heller, Observer; Helmut Hartlich, Wireless operator; crew of JU 88 bomber 5th Staffel, 2nd Gruppo, shot down and taken prisoner.


AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.    

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Training exercise held in spite of a very disturbed night due to heavy air raids and a false alarm of parachutists.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland (RAAF) arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and freight.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A and D Companies on the range firing MMG. During night air raids Bn HQ guard room was hit by a bomb and destroyed, along with the recreation room.  Much kit and stores destroyed.  The Bn fire engine turned out and gave useful assistance.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 34; dealt with 0.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Classification of Signallers 4th Bn The Buffs (passed 4, failed 0).

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Workshops personnel returned to Gzira from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1700 hrs Fusilier H E Hawkins was buried at St Andrew’s Cemetery.


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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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28 April 1941: Six Destroyers Join Malta Strike Fleet

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HMS Kelly

HMS Kelly

Six destroyers arrived in Malta today to operate as a striking force against Axis supply lines to North Africa. The First Sea Lord reported to the War Cabinet in London today that Operation Salient has now been successfully carried out.  The destroyers Kelly, Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling, Jersey, and Jackal left Gibraltar yesterday as Force S, making a decoy turn towards the Atlantic before doubling back eastwards and through the Mediterranean for Malta.  The light cruiser HMS Gloucester is also remaining at Malta with the strike force.

Breconshire sailed from Malta today after a rapid unloading of her cargo of supplies. The fast transport ship is escorted on her return to Alexandria by the cruiser Dido, minelayer Abdiel and destroyers Imperial, Jaguar, Jervis and Juno. Imperial has just completed repairs after being damaged by a mine last October.  Destroyer Janus is remaining at Malta for repairs.


The Dockyard Defence Battery is to be disbanded after 1 year and 283 days of service. Members have been given the option of joining as regular soldiers the Royal Malta Artillery which has now assumed responsibility for the guns.  Three members of the Battery were recommended awards in January for their bravery under fire during the attacks on HMS Illustrious.  Lt F W Angle was awarded the Military Cross, Sgt L Apap and Bombardier G Balzan were each awarded the Military Medal.


Weather  Fine.  

0906 hrs  Six destroyers and two cruisers enter Grand Harbour.

0920-0935 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 which crosses the coast at Marsaxlokk at 20000 feet on reconnaissance before turning away over Spinola Bay. Three escorting ME 109 fighters are engaged by Hurricanes; one is probably destroyed.

1105-1205 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 with an escort of three ME 109s which carries out reconnaissance at 20000 feet over the Island.

2050-2200 Air raid alert for approximately 30 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, and in twos and threes. They drop mines and bombs on the Dockyard, Grand Harbour and Valletta areas causing damage to Dockyard buildings and civilian property.  Bombs fall near a defence post manned by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, killing one Fusilier and seriously wounding a NCO.  Mines are also laid off Grand Harbour and Tigne.  Bombs are also dropped on the Naxxar area and Ta Qali.  Searchlights illuminate five times and anti-aircraft guns fire predicted barrages between 6000 and 12000 feet; one enemy aircraft is probably destroyed.

0107-0235 hrs  Air raid alert for eight JU 88 bombers escorted by 17 ME 109s which approach the Island from the north and drop mines off Grand Harbour and bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta, Floriana and Senglea, as well as St Julians.  Government property in Valletta is badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns fire 14 barrages.  One JU 88 is shot down by anti-aircraft guns; the crew are seen baling out.  One ME 109 is severely damaged.  13 unexploded bombs are reported in the Rinella area.

Military casualties  Fusilier Harry Edward Hawkins, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties Marsa  Joseph Dimech, age 11.


ROYAL NAVY Operation Salient was successfully carried out. Dido and Abdiel arrived and sailed after unloading certain important stores.  Destroyers of 14th Destroyer Flotilla with Imperial (which had completed repairs after being mined in October 1940) sailed with Breconshire for Alexandria.  Captain (D), 5th Destroyer Flotilla, arrived and remained with six destroyers of his flotilla and Gloucester, as the Malta Force. Janus remained for docking and repairs. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrol eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli was chased out to sea by a fighter; no damage. 148 Squadron Transferred to Middle East; departed for Kabrit. 82 Squadron Arrived Malta.  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar arrived AM and departed later for Middle East. 

HAL FAR  New draft of 25 RAF personnel arrived.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company spent the day on the range on shooting MMG practices.   With the limited amount of ammunition available, ranging and traversing practices were fired.  1700 hrs  Personnel from ‘Picnic’, all from B Company, returned from Gozo and went to new billets in the docks.  At 0115 hrs bombs fell on the billets; all personnel were in shelter and there were no casualties but kit and equipment were damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Acting Lieutenant Colonel G R McMeekan, RE (CO of Fortress Royal Engineers) to be temporary Lieutenant Colonel.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  2 platoons of B Company and one section of 4 Platoon returned from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bombs fall near defence post R15 killing Fusilier H E Hawkins and seriously wounding L/Cpl A Watton, both of HQ Company.


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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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27 April 1941: Hurricanes Arrive for New Fighter Squadron

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The largest delivery of fighters for Malta to date arrived on the Island today under the Royal Navy co-ordinated Operation Dunlop. This second delivery of Hurricanes in a month brought greater numbers than the first.  It provides an important boost to the Island’s fighter force, which has been struggling to cope since the introduction of Messerschmitt 109 fighters to Sicily in February.  Six of the new Malta machines are the faster Mark II Hurricanes; 17 are Mk I.

The delivery operation began at 2200 hrs on Friday when ‘Force S’ (Operation Salient) including six destroyers with light cruiser Dido and the minelayer Abdiel sailed from Gibraltar and turned west as if to head for the Atlantic.  An hour later the Force H convoy left Gibraltar to head eastwards, with the Hurricanes aboard Ark Royal escorted by the flagship Renown, with HMS Sheffield and five destroyers.  Force S then turned east to head for Malta where the six destroyers are to join the strike fleet.

Meanwhile ‘Force H’ with Ark Royal progressed safely through the Mediterranean yesterday, reaching the designated point from where the Hurricanes were to fly off for Malta.  However, bad weather prevented take-off, resulting in a tense night waiting in potentially hostile waters.

Finally the first formation of eight Hurricanes was cleared to take off at 0515 hrs this morning.  Two further formations followed; all three were guided towards Malta by a Fulmar of the Fleet Air Arm.  They were met by one Sunderland and two Marylands to bring them within sight of Malta.

As the formations approached, a German JU 88 bomber flew over the Island on reconnaissance with an escort of five Messerschmitt fighters. 20 minutes later 12 more Messerschmitts appeared, circling off the coast as the delivery Hurricanes were heading towards the Island.  P/O L G M Rees managed to land his Sunderland at Kalafrana but before it could be secured two of the ME 109s dived down and strafed it with machine-gunfire, setting the flying boat on fire and causing it to sink.  The High Speed Launch from Kalafrana was also attacked but escaped undamaged.   

Despite the attacks all of the Hurricanes landed safely; by 1045 hrs the last of them was on the ground.


The new Hurricanes will make it possible to form a second fighter squadron in Malta. The new unit, designated 185 will work alongside 261 Squadron which has been hard pressed to deal with the level of enemy activity over Malta since January.  185 Squadron will operate from Hal Far. 


Weather  Fine.    

0917-0940 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft fire a barrage at 19000 feet; others engage at height control.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage three ME 109s; one is probably shot down.

0945 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 which crosses the Island from south to north on reconnaissance with an escort of five ME 109s. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber; no claims.  The MEs evade attack by heading south of Delimara.  12 more ME 109s then approach the Island in two formations.  

1007 hrs The 12 Messerschmitts circle off the east coast for an hour, then Gudja and Bubaqra raise the alarm as they head back in towards the coast. Two dive down over Kalafrana and machine-gun a Sunderland which had landed only 20 minutes before in Marsaxlokk Bay, destroying the flying boat.  Orders are later issued that every available Heavy and Light anti-aircraft gun and light machine-gun to be standing to whenever a Sunderland is moored in Marsaxlokk Bay.  Reports that mail was lost aboard the Sunderland prove unfounded.  

1120 hrs  All clear.

1245-1314 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 on reconnaissance. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage at heights between 15000 and 30000 feet; no claims.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Antonia Caruana, age 35.


ROYAL NAVY  Operation Dunlop bringing additional aircraft from Force H to Malta was successfully carried out. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 23 Hurricanes, 3 Fulmar, 2 Maryland, 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Maryland reconnaissance western Ionian sea.  

HAL FAR  15 Hurricanes and 2 Fulmars arrived; all landed safely.

KALAFRANA One Sunderland left for Middle East with a number of 228 Squadron personnel. One Sunderland attacked at moorings by ME109s set on fire and sunk.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Two storemen returned from Ordnance Dump, Gozo.  


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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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26 April 1941: Bombers Sent to Malta to Protect Convoys

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Bristol Blenheim

Bristol Blenheim


RAF Blenheim bombers are to be deployed to Malta to support Royal Navy operations in the Mediterranean, including the protection of convoys transporting essential supplies and personnel to the Island. The Blenheims will be supported by detachments of six Beaufighters at a time, fitted with special equipment to communicate with ships. 

Air chiefs of staff in London wanted to send the heavier Beauforts to the Island but conditions currently make it impossible to base them in Malta. A detachment of six Blenheims is expected, with a further six possibly to come. 


The attention of service personnel has been drawn to the persistent disregard of the regulations governing the speed of motor transport. This violation of regulations not only renders offenders liable to disciplinary action but is an extravagant use of petrol, as the authorised speeds are the most economical.  The speed limits for all military mechanised transport in Valletta and in all towns and villages are 25 mph for motor cars and 15 mph for all other vehicles. Vehicles found exceeding this speed will be stopped and reported to Command Headquarters.  In the event of it being proved that the vehicle exceeded the approved speed, the driver (if a soldier) will forfeit his leave for two months.


Weather  Fine.    

0929-0940 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 escorted by eight ME 109 fighters. The JU 88 carries out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 25000 feet while the fighters stay at higher altitude.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; two are engaged by four ME 109s at 29000 feet but sustain no damage.

1530-1604 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance, escorted by six ME 109s. The bomber crosses the coast and is engaged by heavy anti-aircraft guns; no claims.

Military casualties Sergeant Jack Foster, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lt Commander John Guy Douglas Wetherfield, HMS Fermoy.

Civilian casualties  Msida  Anthony Sammut, age 33.


ROYAL NAVY  Regent returned from the visit to Kotor which she found in Italian hands. After being in harbour nine hours the submarine was dive-bombed, suffering severe damage to her battery.  She sailed hurriedly, leaving one officer behind and bringing an Italian Army officer as hostage.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron Maryland patrol northern part of eastern Tunisian coast. Patrol of southern part not possible; Maryland unserviceable. 

HAL FAR  A second ambulance arrived from Kalafrana for duties at Safi.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Morning ‘stand to’ is at 0500 hrs from today.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 4 ( 4 x 50kg).


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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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25 April 1941: Honour for Maltese Officer

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A Special Supplement to Fortress Order 1/25 today announces the following award to an officer of 1st Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment:

The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned honours and awards recommended by His Excellency, the Acting Governor and Commander in Chief:  MBE Lieutenant now Captain (Quartermaster) Joseph Buttigieg, Kings Own Malta Regiment.


A notice has been issued to all troops in Malta today reminding them that valuable crops such as peas and beans as well as fruit are now coming into season and that any damage caused to them results in expensive claims for compensation from farmers. Troops are also warned not to interfere with crops and fruits either within or outside barbed wire areas, unless they know that such places are actually hired by the War Department. 

The plucking of fruit from farmers’ trees without permission is a criminal offence and heavily punishable. The notice points out that farmers are usually very willing to sell fruit for a few pence.  Disciplinary action will be taken against any individual found stealing or causing damage.


Concerns have been raised that stone and building material from demolished houses has been removed without permission. A notice has been issued today to all troops warning that in no circumstances are such material to be taken from buildings without express orders from their Headquarters.


Weather  Rough.

0757-0820 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island at 20000 feet on reconnaissance from Tigne to Zurrieq and Luqa, turning away over Grand Harbour. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0924-0940 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber on reconnaissance escorted by four ME 109 fighters. Anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber while Malta fighters engage the ME 109s; no claims.


AIR HQ  Hurricane photo-reconnaissance Comiso, Gela, Syracuse. Photos of Comiso reveal a new runway built on south east part of aerodrome; 48 aircraft of which 17 twin-engined and 12 fighters. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance northern sector Tunisian coast.    

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  A surprise exercise to test anti-tank defences: at 0445 hrs tanks were reported to have landed at Msida and operated in the Pembroke and Ta Qali areas; full precautions for local protection were taken at Brigade HQ.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 7 (7 x 50kg).


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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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24 April 1941: Infantrymen Killed Manning Heavy Guns

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Four members of 4th Battalion The Buffs were among five servicemen reported killed tonight while they were helping to man an anti-aircraft gun normally handled by the Royal Artillery.  Another member of the Battalion was badly injured. 

HMS Gloucester suffered near-miss

HMS Gloucester suffered near-miss

The Buffs were assigned temporarily to fire the 40mm Bofors gun at Salvatore Gate as an emergency measure, due to the acute shortage of Royal Artillery gunners in Malta. They were assisting with the anti-aircraft barrage during a heavy hour-long raid this evening by 30 enemy aircraft on the Dockyard area, Luqa and Hal Far.  A bomb landed on the Buffs’ gun position; one Royal Artillery gunner also manning the gun was killed and another injured.

The casualties have been named as Corporal J C Miles, Privates J E Duncan, S L Matthews and H F G Woodward, 4th Battalion The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), and Gunner E Holton, 59 LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

HMS Gloucester  which had just arrived in Malta with another cruiser, destroyers and a mine-layer suffered a near-miss in the raid.


Malta’s capital city was again heavily bombed in tonight’s air raid. Buildings were demolished in St Frederic Street, where people were trapped in a shelter.  First on the scene was the Dominican Father Charles Ciantar, the Air Raid Warden of the area, who kept an up-to-date chart showing all the private shelters under his charge and the number of people who usually take refuge in them.  Police and ARP men were soon on the spot.  Even Greek Orthodox priests tried to help. All the trapped people were brought out safely. (1)


Weather  Fine.    

2038-2155 hrs   Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft which approach from the north singly, and in twos and threes. Using flares to illuminate targets, they bomb St Angelo, Grand Harbour, Valletta – causing considerable damage to civilian and government property – Floriana and Msida, as well as Hal Far and Luqa, where a barrack block is destroyed and a hangar set on fire.  One Maryland and one Magister are written off; three Marylands are damaged.  Unexploded bombs are reported across the aerodrome.  Parachute mines are laid in and off Grand Harbour; mines are also reported off Rocco, Dragonara Point and Tigne.  A bomb falls on a Bofors gun position at Salvatore Gate manned by NCOs and men of A Company, 4th Bn The Buffs, killing one Corporal and three privates and injuring another.  One member of the Royal Artillery is also killed and one wounded.  The gun position is destroyed but the gun is undamaged.  Anti-aircraft guns fire predicted barrages and Bofors engage the mine-laying aircraft. 

Military casualties  Private John Ernest Duncan, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Gunner Ernest Holton, 59th LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Sydney Levi Matthews, 4th Battalion, The Buffs; Corporal John Charles Miles, 4th Battalion, The Buffs; Private Harry Frederick George Woodward, 4th Battalion, The Buffs.


ROYAL NAVY  Gloucester arrived to support the destroyers. She suffered a near-miss in a heavy bombing and minelaying attack after dark

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Two Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast, one on northern sector AM, the second on southern sector PM. 148 Squadron 2 Wellington bombers night raid on Tripoli Harbour.   

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Sgt Crook who was in charge of the Bofors gun at Salvatore Gate hit by bombs tonight was congratulated for his performance during the crisis.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  4 officers and NCOs attended a bomb reconnaissance course. 0445 hrs  Another practice general alarm was held; companies were definitely quicker to their posts.  News was received that we may expect the party back from ‘Picnic’ shortly.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981


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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in 1941, April 1941


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