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8 April 1941: Mine Explosion Kills 28 Maltese Dockyard Men

08 Apr

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Mooring vessel Moor

Mooring vessel Moor

ONLY ONE SURVIVOR AS DOCKYARD VESSEL MOOR BLOWS UP

A working dockyard vessel was blown up today at the entrance to Grand Harbour. 28 of the 29 man crew were killed.  The Admiralty Mooring Vessel Moor was carrying out maintenance work on the boom-defence nets protecting the harbour entrance. Shortly after 5.00pm, as the vessel started its engine to return to the dockyard, a deafening explosion shook buildings across the harbour area.  People rushed to the Bastions, only to watch as the vessel turned over on her side and rapidly sank.

A ferry boat, several Naval Dockyard and Air Force pinnaces and many dghajsas raced to the scene.

Only one survivor, diver/rigger Anthony Mercieca, was plucked from the water by a Naval vessel and taken to Bighi Royal Naval Hospital.  

Mr Mercieca later described his escape. He was blown into the air inside the ship’s cabin, before plunging about twenty feet under water.  He struggled to force open the jammed cabin door and managed to surface, while debris from the vessel was still flying about.

Royal Navy vessels are conducting a thorough search of the location of Moor, 270 yards from Ricasoli Breakwater Light Vessel. (1) (2) (3)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1941

Weather  Storm conditions; heavy rain in the morning, easing by evening.

No air raids.

1500 hrs  Mooring vessel Moor is blown up by an enemy mine at the rear entrance to Grand Harbour. 28 out of 29 on board are killed.

Military casualties  Gunner S Agius, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Michael Aquilina, Joseph Bartolo, Louis Bezzina, Alfred Bonnici, Joseph Brincat, Joseph Calleja, Peter Calleja, Vincent Camilleri, Raphael Cauci, Emanuel Darmanin, Francis Degabriele, Spiro D’Emmanuele, Dominic Flores, Lawrence Grima, Emanuel Hatchings, Joseph Mazzelli, John Mizzi, Emanual Psaila, Eugenio Spiteri, Lawrence Tabone, Angelo Vella, Gerald Vella, Paul Vella, John Mary Xerri, Vincent Xerri, George Zahra, Carmel Zammit, crew members of the Mooring Vessel Moor.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Mooring vessel Moor mined and sunk inside Grand Harbour by aircraft land mine; only one survivor. 

AIR HQ  Departures 2 Sunderland.  

HAL FAR  New orders issued for clearing of target area on ‘General Alarm’.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland L5806 left for United Kingdom with Mr Anthony Eden. Sunderland L5807 left for Gibraltar with passengers and freight.

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

(2) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

(3) A marble tablet at the Upper Barracca Gardens in Valletta commemorates the twenty-eight Maltese workers who went down with their ship

 

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2 Comments

Posted by on April 8, 2016 in 1941, April 1941

 

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2 responses to “8 April 1941: Mine Explosion Kills 28 Maltese Dockyard Men

  1. Michael montebello

    April 9, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Michael Montebello.
    From down under
    I was playing near the old fish market round about 5pm when I heard a big explosion from my back ,and I just saw the moor blowned up infront of my very eyes,late evening some of the families of the crew came in the harbour trying to get some information of what happen and I approached them and told what I saw I believe that only one person from the whole crew.

    That’s my memory at the age of 11 years old of world war 2

    T

     
  2. Tony

    April 24, 2016 at 11:36 am

    My grandfather was with them emanwel darmanin only one survived so you witnessed the whole thing I remember my father and the family of those who died they made a memory pluge in upper barraka

     

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