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GRAND HARBOUR, VALLETTA, AIRFIELDS AND VILLAGES HIT
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.
Several 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.
HEAVY ACK ACK BRIGADE FOR MALTA DELAYED
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.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 APRIL TO DAWN 30 APRIL 1941
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.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 29 APRIL 1941
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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