20 May 1941: Malta Capital Valletta Faces Another Night of Destruction

20 May

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ruinsMalta’s capital was again the scene of devastation this morning after more heavy high explosive bombs and parachute mines fell across the City overnight. In a sharp raid just after four this morning, four enemy bombers apparently targeted Valletta, dropping bombs only on the city centre. 

Two convents, one of the Franciscan Conventuals and the other of the Augustinians, received direct hits and their churches were considerably shaken. One side of La Valette Band Club collapsed, as did a number of offices in Kingsway.  The Rediffusion Offices received a direct hit and it is believed that an unexploded bomb is lying beneath the debris.  Three streets are now blocked by debris. 

It is the third time this month that the capital has been heavily bombed. This time 15 houses were demolished, bringing the total number of destroyed in Valletta to 953. Two civilians were killed in the latest raid and two others are still missing, two more were severely injured.  This morning the Governor visited the bombed areas to show his solidarity with the affected communities.


Weather  Fine.

0805-0831 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber escorted by three ME 109s which carries out reconnaissance off the east coast of the Island at 23000 feet. Anti-aircraft guns engage and Hurricanes are scrambled; no claims.

0954-1010 hrs  Air raid alert triggered by the return of friendly aircraft.

1035-1045 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1155-1230 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of 23 ME 109 and ME 110 fighters which approach from the north and dive down from 17000 to 10000 feet to bomb Luqa aerodrome, setting a Beaufighter alight which burns out. The control tower is damaged by a near-miss; the runways are undamaged.  One civilian employee is killed.  Heavy and light anti-aircraft guns put up an intense barrage; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but do not intercept.

1728-1814 hrs Air raid alert for 12 ME 109 fighters which approach from the north west over Gozo and drop bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome from 12000 feet, damaging one Hurricane on the ground. Anti-aircraft guns put up a barrage; no claims.  Malta fighters are scrambled; one Hurricane is shot down in combat with an enemy fighter – the pilot bales out and escapes with only slight injuries.  A second Hurricane is riddled with bullet holes but lands safely. 

Civilian casualties Valletta  Joseph Gauci, age 16; Alphonse Herrera, age 80; Charles Lewis, age 17; Emanual Pantalleresco, age 70; Josephine Ullo, age 75. Zabbar John Bonnici, age 17.


ROYAL NAVY  Upholder attacked 4000 tanker; probably hit. Urge attacked 7000 ton tanker and 9000 ton troopship; both believed sunk. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Sunderland; 4 Wellington. Departures 2 Sunderland; 1 Bombay.  69 Squadron  2 Marylands searched area north and east of Messina for convoy reported to be leaving Patras.  Maryland patrol Corfu to Zante and return.   

HAL FAR  One Hurricane crashed on landing; pilot F/Lt Hancock was unhurt.

LUQA  One Maryland escorted Hurricanes to Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion again providing unloading parties in earnest: total 2 officers, 72 other ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 5; dealt with 1 (1 x 50kg).


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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in 1941, May 1941


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