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Monthly Archives: May 2016

21 May 1941: 50 Fighters & Bombers Arrive in Malta

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Blenheim Mk IV

Blenheim Mk IV

HURRICANES, FULMARS AND BLENHEIMS LAND THROUGHOUT THE DAY

The skies over Malta were busy all day today with the arrival of dozens of aircraft from the UK. 46 Hurricanes landed on the Island, along with 22 fighter pilots of 249 Squadron, RAF and Fulmars of the Fleet Air Arm. Operation ‘Splice’ began in Liverpool on 12 May with the loading of 64 Mk II Hurricanes onto the aircraft carrier HMS Furious at Liverpool. The carrier was escorted to Gibraltar, where she transferred 20 of the Hurricanes to HMS Ark Royal; 16 more will remain at Gibraltar.

The two aircraft carriers were then escorted through the western Mediterranean by the battle cruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield and six destroyers of the Mederranean fleet. A total of 48 fighters and four Fulmars took off from Ark Royal and Furious early today to be guided in to Malta by three Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft. En route, one Hurricane crashed off Cape Bon and a second is reported missing. After refuelling, 17 of the Hurricanes departed immediately for the Middle East.

In a separate operation, a detachment of 82 Squadron, Royal Air Force, also arrived in Malta. The Blenheim Mk IV aircraft took off from RAF Portreath in Cornwall to fly direct to the Island.  One Blenheim is reported to have crashed into the Mediterranean approximately off the north coast of Algeria; the pilot Flt/Sgt L Howard and crew Flt/Sgt C G Evans and P/O K G A Marsh are missing.  The rest of 82 Squadron is expected to follow during the next month; its role in Malta is to continue the attacks on enemy convoys and ports in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MAY TO DAWN 22 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0916-0946 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island from south east to north on reconnaissance at 20000 feet while its fighter escort patrols down the east coast. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber; no claims.

1117-1156 hrs  While numerous delivery Blenheims and Hurricanes continue to come in to land at Luqa, the air raid alert sounds for 15 ME 109 fighters which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on the aerodrome. Two Wellingtons are burned out, one Blenheim, one Hurricane and one Beaufighter damaged.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.

1650-1820 hrs  Air raid alert for four ME 109 fighters which approach the Island and patrol off the coast at 21000 feet for 1½ hours, possibly as a screen for the convoy reported by a reconnaissance Maryland. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interception.

1724-1750 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the Island and is engaged by anti-aircraft fire; no claims. No bombs are dropped.

0339-0420 hrs Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach the Island from the north east and drop bombs in the sea to the north east, east and south east of Grand Harbour. Anti-aircraft guns engage and manage to turn the leading raider off course.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY A large number of Hurricanes and Fulmars arrived safely from Force H aircraft carriers (Operation Splice).  Foresight left for Gibraltar at 2000 and Fifth Destroyer Flotilla sailed for operations at Crete. Urge sank one destroyer (part of covering force).

AIR HQ Arrivals 249 Squadron from UK.  4 Fulmar; 46 Hurricane. Departures 2 Sunderland; 4 Beaufighter, 17 Hurricane. 252 Squadron four Beaufighters to UK. 139 Squadron Following receipt of information of a small convoy 5 Blenheims were despatched to attack but failed to locate.  69 Squadron  Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast reports two convoys. 

HAL FAR  Four Fulmars and 14 Hurricanes arrived at Hal Far from Gibraltar; all machines landed safely.

LUQA One Maryland escorted Hurricanes to Malta from HMS Ark Royal.  Four Beaufighters 252 Squadron left for Gibraltar; two escorted Hurricanes to Malta.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Four other ranks embarked for repatriation to the UK.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg; 1 incendiary).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Northern Infantry Brigade exercise No 13: practice of formation of a composite battalion including E Company and Battalion HQ. The Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson KC gave lectures on Malta and some particular problems of civil government to officers and some other ranks at Ta Saliba. 

 

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Posted by on May 21, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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

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RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES HIT AS CITY ROCKED BY MORE HEAVY BOMBS AND MINES

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MAY TO DAWN 21 MAY 1941

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 MAY 1941

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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19 May 1941: Dobbie Confirmed as Malta Governor & Commander in Chief

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Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie

DUAL ROLE CONFIRMED ONE YEAR AFTER TEMPORARY APPOINTMENT

Lieutenant-General Sir William George Sheddon Dobbie, KCB, CMG, DSO, who has been acting as Governor and Commander in Chief (Officer Administering the Government) since 24 May 1940, has now been formally appointed to the post. In the words of British Prime Minister Churchill, General Dobbie is “a Cromwellian figure at the key point”. 

SH: the Maltese population will no doubt welcome this confirmed appointment. General Dobbie’s obvious concern for people, hit by the tragedy of war, endears him to the whole community.

KEROSENE RATIONS NOW ISSUED WEEKLY

New arrangements for kerosene rations (maltagc70 2 April 1941) are introduced from today.  Every family will hold a set of coupons indicating their entitlement.  For a family of three or less this will be ½ a gallon weekly, for four or five ¾ of a gallon, and from six to nine family members, one gallon.  The rationing scheme, which will operate on a weekly basis, will be operated by the Food Distribution Office, which oversees general rationing.  Coupons will be handed to the operators of the horse-drawn kerosene carts (operated by the Shell and Standard Companies) which make house to house deliveries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MAY TO DAWN 20 MAY 1941

Weather  Dull with slight rain and wind.

1702-1711 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0405-0429 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft which approach singly from the north west, diving in to drop bombs on Valletta, demolishing a church and 15 houses, blocking three streets and damaging a water main. Two civilians are killed and two others missing, two more are severely injured.  Bombs are also dropped on St Julian’s Bay.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage with three barrages; no claims.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 19 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel; probably scored a hit.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron 2 Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian and Sicilian coast. Maryland reconnaissance Malta to Corfu to Zante.  Operations hampered by poor visibility due to mist haze.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Recreation week until 24 May: men of the Battalion visited the RAF, other units and the submarine base.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 6; dealt with 4 (2 x 50kg; 2 x 250kg).

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion Parade at Ghain Tuffieha.

 

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Posted by on May 19, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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18 May 1941: Malta C in C Fights for More Ack Ack Gunners

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Ack Ack gunners MaltaWAR OFFICE CITES GENERAL MANPOWER SHORTAGES IN TURNING DOWN REQUEST FOR MORE ARTILLERY

The War Office looks likely to turn down a recent urgent request from Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief for additional personnel to man the Island’s anti-aircraft guns. In a telegram to Lt Gen Dobbie today, London’s war chief said:

“We understand that you consider that the new anti-aircraft establishments for Malta do not provide a sufficient scale of reliefs for personnel on the Island. The current manpower situation makes it imperative that he numbers of Royal Artillery personnel be kept as low as possible.  It is suggested therefore that one relief heavy and one relief light anti-aircraft battery be raised in Malta and formed as Royal Malta Artillery batteries to enable you to give batteries periodical rests.  Do you agree?”

With recruitment in Malta already unable to provide the numbers needed to defend the Island, General Dobbie was unwilling to accept the War Office argument and wrote an immediate firm response:

“Malta needs more Heavy Anti-Aircraft personnel – 20 more per battery – to provide proper reliefs for gunners. This increase would also contribute to some extent to reinforcement in the event of casualties, bearing in mind the difficulty of sending reinforcements to the Island during an emergency.  I consider it most desirable to raise the personnel numbers of these batteries to completely meet the need for resting and retraining.  I do not believe it will be possible to raise and train the necessary troops from local recruitment in less than nine months.  The officers must be Royal Artillery.”

AMMUNITION USAGE FOR WEEK ENDING 18 MAY

  • 4.5” HE 189 rounds
  • 3.7” HE 1152 rounds
  • 3” HE 98 rounds
  • 40mm 129 rounds

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1941

Weather  Cloudy; very poor visibility.

0713-0736 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber with a small escort of ME 109 fighters which carries out reconnaissance across the Island at 26000 feet. Malta Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0825-0845 hrs and 1654-1708 hrs  Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 MAY 1941

AIR HQ  139 Squadron 5 Blenheims patrolled 90 miles south east of Malta for possible ships detected by RDF; nothing seen. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands patrol eastern Tunisian coast.  Maryland patrol eastern Sicilian coast AM reports hospital ship 70miles from Malta. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 250kg).

 

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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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17 May 1941: Malta Fighters Now on Constant Patrol

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hurricanes in flightSTANDING PATROLS MOUNTED DAILY TO DETER ENEMY

Malta fighters are now mounting standing patrols every morning in anticipation of visits by enemy aircraft. Daily morning reconnaissance and patrols by Luftwaffe bombers and fighters have become a regular occurrence.  The new defensive patrols are intended to deter raids and if possible launch a pre-emptive attack on approaching raiders.

HELP FOR SERVICEMEN WITH RELATIVES IN UK

Measures have been announced today to assist service personnel stationed in Malta in managing the aftermath of enemy raids on their home areas. The Welfare Department of the War Office has arranged for the Soldiers’ Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association to deal with enquiries from British soldiers serving overseas relating to air raid, family and personal problems. 

The new scheme is devised specially to help with problems resulting from enemy raids, such as tracing of relatives, completion of compensation claims for loss. The SSAFA will not only deal with the actual enquiry but will try to give much-needed help or advice for each particular case. 

Enquiries from servicemen will to be sent through their Adjutant who will forward them direct to the SSAFA in England. Very urgent matters will be sent by cable. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MAY TO DAWN 18 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0716-0740 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by three ME 109 fighters which carries out reconnaissance across the Island. Malta fighters on standing patrol are in position above the approaching enemy raiders.  Wireless trouble prevents interception.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 17 MAY 1941

AIR HQ 252 Squadron Offensive operations. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian and Sicilian coast.  Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and Corfu reports convoy.  Dawn operation by Beaufighters 252 Squadron against aerodromes in Greece.  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 12; dealt with 3 (2 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg).

 

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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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16 May 1941: Over 11600 Homeless; 2000 Homes Destroyed

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DESTRUCTION IN CIVILIAN AREAS TO DATE

Figures have been released today of the destruction in civilian communities across Malta. According to statistics, over 2000 houses have been destroyed but the figure masks a much greater impact, as ‘house’ includes apartment buildings occupied by many families.  Even in so-called ‘safe’ areas where refugees have sought shelter have been badly affected.  21 ‘houses’ have been destroyed in Balzan and Lija, 7 in Birkirkara and 5 in Mgarr.

  • Senglea streetHouses destroyed or severely damaged 2087
  • Rendered homeless 11679, including:
  • Cospicua 2986
  • Vittoriosa 1205
  • Senglea 1142
  • Valletta 938
  • Paola 850
  • Sliema 841
  • Zabbar 750

WAR OFFICE SAYS NO TO MORE FORCES FOR GOZO

The War Office has turned down a request from Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief for additional manpower for the defence of Gozo. The Island was recently named by intelligence sources as the prime landing point for a planned invasion of Malta.  While the importance of this is acknowledged in London, the competing demands for the defence of the Home Front, the Middle East and Malaya precludes the possibility of providing additional forces for Gozo.  Lt Gen Dobbie will have to find resources from his existing military establishment for the defence of Malta’s sister Island.

In reply Lt Gen Dobbie concedes that the naval situation in the Central Mediterranean is turning in the Island’s favour and that the need of other places may be greater than that of Malta. He considers it necessary for Gozo to be defended but can only secure a small force and even that may depend on the situation in Malta.  Any force even part-time would create uncertainty for the enemy, he believes.  Some additional manpower would be required for this.

Malta’s Commander in Chief still believes that Gozo needs anti-tank guns of any available kind, as well as carriers for 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment which has none.  In return, the War Office repeats that General Wavell in the Middle East must take priority for supplies of anti-tank weapons from the UK.  However, he suggests that Lt Gen Dobbie approaches Wavell for up to 24 Italian field guns captured in North Africa or Abyssinia, with ammunition.  According to the War Office, the Italian weapons are believed superior to Allied anti-tank guns.  The carriers for 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment will be despatched immediately. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 MAY TO DAWN 17 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0725-0750 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0952-1056 hrs  Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers which cross the Island singly, apparently on reconnaissance.  Five Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1124-1155 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 ME 109 fighters which circle to the east of the Island, then cross the coast near Kalafrana before splitting into several formations.  Ten 250kg high explosive bombs are dropped on Hal Far from 15000 feet, damaging three Swordfish and killing two contractors’ labourers.  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.  17 anti-aircraft gun positions engage the raiders with two heavy barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Gunner Saviour Zammit, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties Zeitun  Carmel Attard, age 15. Zurrieq John Abdilla, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 16 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm Offensive operations.

AIR HQ Arrivals 5 Blenheims 139 Squadron arrived from Gibraltar to replace 21 Squadron. 69 Squadron Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  Maryland patrols eastern Sicilian coast AM and PM.  Maryland patrols eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  

LUQA Two Beaufighters 252 Squadron left for an operation from Crete attacking enemy aircraft on Hassani, Argos and Moladi.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 6 (5 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg).

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  B20 cable Manoel cut by enemy action 15 May now repaired.

 

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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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15 May 1941: Bomb Disposal Squad Faces 330 UXBs While Short of Men

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HMS Encounter badly damaged by bomb

HMS Encounter badly damaged by bomb

BOMB DISPOSAL FACES MANPOWER SHORTAGE

Malta is short of manpower for bomb disposal, it emerged today. An experienced Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal officer and sergeant disembarked from Breconshire last month but trained Other Ranks who were also expected have failed to arrive.  The extra manpower was intended to replace personnel of 24 Fortress Company, Royal Engineers, members of which have been being seconded to bomb disposal work since June 1940. 

The RE Bomb Disposal Officer and Section deals with all unexploded bombs across Malta and Gozo, outside of Royal Navy and RAF premises. Their workload has been especially heavy in the past month of heavy enemy bombing: 330 unexploded bombs have been reported.  An average of 15% of bombs dropped fail to explode.

The secondment to Bomb Disposal of some 20 Other Ranks from 24 Company has had an impact on important Field Works which are also the duty of the Royal Engineers. The Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office today to query the non-arrival of the expected Sappers.  He is in favour of the NCOs of 24 Company currently serving in bomb disposal to continue in their duties but is anxious for the expected additional 44 Sappers allocated for bomb disposal to be sent to Malta at an early date. (1)

SERVICEMEN IGNORING BLACKOUT ORDERS

Military personnel have been issued with a strong reminder about the importance of maintaining proper blackout across Malta. In an order issued to 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment today, troops have been told that infringement in military buildings of blackout orders and restrictions on the use of electric lights is much too frequent. 

According to the order, some soldiers seem to be under the impression that civil regulations in this respect do not apply to them. This is much resented by the civil population, who think that their lives and property may be endangered by such carelessness.  Company commanders have been ordered to impress on all ranks that blackout infringements will be treated seriously and that soldiers are as much bound to comply with civil regulations as any other citizens; they should, in fact, have a higher standard of discipline.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MAY TO DAWN 16 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0743-0810 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 bomber which approaches and carries out reconnaissance over the Island while escorting enemy fighters patrol out to sea.  Anti-aircraft guns engage the bomber without result.

1211-1240 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 ME 109 fighters which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on the Luqa area.  One Wellington is burned out and three Beaufighters damaged.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage the raiders; one Hurricane** is destroyed in combat.  A ceiling barrage by anti-aircraft guns is unsuccessful.

1523-1615 hrs  Air raid alert for 15-20 ME 109s which carry out a bombing raid on Luqa and Hal Far aerodromes, where a Fleet Air Arm store is badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Enemy fighters then scout the island in small formations, one of which attacks  Hurricanes on patrol.  One Hurricane is shot down and the pilot killed. 

0312-0500 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft in three formations which approach from the north, cross the coast at various points and drop bombs and mines on Grand Harbour, Valletta and the Luqa area. In the Dockyard, a bomb on Hamilton Wharf damages a generator station. HMS Encounter is hit by a small bomb in the boiler room, causing considerable damage. MV Amerika suffers superficial damage from a near-miss.  More mines are laid at the entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour.  A new type of mine is dropped in the raid, identified as G mines, rather than the parachute mines used recently.  Two Hurricane night fighters are scrambled.  There is only one illumination low down: Bofors and light anti-aircraft guns engage the raiders; no claims.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ernest Victor Wynne, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Anthony Cremona, age 54; Paul Vella, age75. Zabbar  Anna Psaila, age 82.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 15 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY Cachalot arrived from UK with 16 tons of special stores on board.  5 Swordfish took off on a search for convoy: nil report.  ‘G’ mines dropped by aircraft in entrance to Grand Harbour: Harbour closed. Unbeaten gunned and damaged 800 ton schooner.

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland patrol east Sicilian coast. Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Hurricane photo-reconnaissance Gela aerodrome; photos reveal 18 unidentified aircraft, believed fighters. 

HAL FAR  Sgt Wynne killed in aerial combat with ME 109s.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 11; dealt with 0.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press, 2010/2012

 

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Posted by on May 15, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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14 May 1941: Messerschmitt Fighters Drop Bombs on Malta

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ME 109 carrying 50kg bombs

ME 109 carrying 50kg bombs

FIGHTER-BOMBERS REPORTED IN RAID OVER LUQA

Messerschmitt fighters have begun carrying bombs on missions over Malta. The fighter-bombers were among 12 MEs which took part in a bombing raid this morning on Luqa aerodrome, along with two JU 88s.  Several eye-witnesses reported seeing the Messerschmitts dropping bombs during the raid.  They described the fighters making short power dives from 23000 to 10000 feet to drop their bombs, and then take sharp avoiding action.  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment war diary noted:  “these aircraft seem very successful.   Their attacks are quick and sharp, and they seem to be a match for our Hurricanes.”

VALLETTA BACK IN BUSINESS

Businesses in Valletta have been re-opening their doors, just days after heavy raids caused massive damage across the City. Popular flower shops, cafes and other enterprises are now carrying on their businesses from improvised stands.  The Coloseum and Manoel Theatres which were damaged in the raids are due to re-open next week.  However, the treasures of St John’s Co Cathedral which was badly hit have been moved to a place of safety.

All Government Departments currently remain in Valletta despite the continuing threat of bombardment. Following damage to the Law Courts, His Majesty’s Superior Courts of Justice has been relocated to the Episcopal Seminary in Floriana.  Courts of Magistrates of Judicial Police will operate from the lower part of the Auberge de France in Valletta (entered from Old Bakery Street.)  The salvage of Court Records and documents from the destroyed Law Courts has also been proceeding briskly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 MAY TO DAWN 15 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0724-0755 hrs  Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers and 12 ME 109 fighters which cross the coast at Marsaxlokk and drop small bombs on Luqa aerodrome; reports indicate that some are dropped by ME 109s.  One bomb falls 50 feet from the camp of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment and cuts a high-tension cable.  Company Quartermaster Flatman is electrocuted and killed while trying to put out a fire caused by the broken cable.  Hurricanes are scrambled and Bofors guns engage; no claims.

1253-1320 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 which carries out reconnaissance escorted by three Me 109s.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1625-1710 hrs  Air raid alert for 18 ME 109s which approach the Island from the east and drop bombs on the Ta Qali area.  Four Hurricanes are destroyed on the ground.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage; two are destroyed by raiders.  Pilot P/O C E Hamilton, 185 Squadron, is killed, the other bales out and is injured.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims. 

2356-0020 hrs  Air raid alert for six-eight enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, crossing the coast from the south west and passing over Grand Harbour.  Hurricanes are scrambled and engage one raider without result.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0033-0115 hrs  Air raid alert; for 16 unidentified enemy aircraft which cross the coast singly and carry out a bombing raid on the Dockyard, Valletta, Luqa, Salina Bay, St Thomas’s Bay and Zabbar, where 31 houses are destroyed.  The old civil barracks at St Elmo are damaged, Valletta police depot and several houses in the City destroyed.  Two civilians are killed, seven seriously injured.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire one barrage; no claims.

0145-0210 hrs  Air raid alert for a single unidentified enemy aircraft which approaches from the east and drops bombs on the Grand Harbour area and on Safi, where Malta Tank troop billets are destroyed by a mine (not a parachute type, probably a G mine).  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire one barrage; no claims.

0354-0418 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0434-0515 hrs  Air raid alert for two unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north, passing over Gozo, and drop bombs on Anchor Bay.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Claud Eric Hamilton, Royal Air Force, 185 Squadron; Company Quartermaster Sergeant Robert Henry Flatman, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten attacked 1000 ton schooner; probably sunk.

AIR HQ  Departures 6 Hurricanes, 1 Wellington to Mersa Matruh. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Naples reports convoy vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Two Marylands afternoon patrol off eastern Sicilian and eastern Tunisian coasts. 

HAL FAR  P/O Hamilton killed as a result of aerial engagement with enemy.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 8; dealt with 3 (2 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg).

 

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Posted by on May 14, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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13 May 1941: Disabled Refugees and Children Saved by ‘Miracle’ Bell

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Bell oldUNEXPLAINED TOLLING SENDS EVACUEES TO SHELTER

A home for elderly and disabled people at Qormi escaped destruction this afternoon in an event which its Spiritual Director has described as ‘miraculous’. The home was evacuated from the Three Cities to Qormi last year. 

The home’s alarm bell sounded at around 2pm, as enemy bombers were crossing the east coast heading for Luqa aerodrome. As residents of the home and pupils of the village school headed for an underground shelter, the home’s caretaker rushed towards the Spiritual Director saying he had not rung the bell as he had not received the customary call from the Police.  At that moment, a terrific explosion rocked the building, shrouding it in a thick cloud of dust.  It was only then that the air raid alert sounded over the village.

The question of how the bell was rung remains a mystery, which the Spiritual Director has described as a “truly miraculous deliverance, which could have resulted in one of the worst tragedies to befall Malta through the war”. He added that five days ago, on “the feast of Our Lady of Pompeii, I conducted a Service in the chapel; as if having a premonition of an impending disaster, I urged everyone to pray devoutly”.   Today he believes those prayers were answered. (1)

TROOPS WARNED OF DANGERS OF SEA BATHING

Troops have been warned today that, owing to the presence of mines all round the coast and at many places inside the harbours, bathing is dangerous. Bathing may be allowed at the bather’s own risk everywhere it is possible, except in the special danger area near the entrances to the Grand and Marsamxetto Harbours, ie from Ras il Gebel to Sliema Point.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 MAY TO DAWN 14 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0735-0753 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance escorted by three ME 109 fighters.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1342-1421 hrs  Air raid alert for a small formation of bombers escorted by 25 ME 109s approaching the Island from the east.  Bombs are dropped on the Luqa aerodrome damaging one Wellington bomber, and on Tal Handaq, Marsa Creek and Ta Qali, Qormi and Hamrun, where 10 houses are destroyed, one civilian is killed and 12 injured, five seriously.  Qormi New Chapel and Government School are destroyed.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; ME 109s swoop down from 20000 to 10000 feet to attack them.  Two Hurricanes are shot down; pilot P/O P J A Thompson is killed, the other pilot bales out and is slightly injured.

0001-0402 hrs Air raid alert for 18 enemy aircraft approaching from the north east.  They head directly for Luqa, dropping 12 high explosive bombs on the airfield.  Three Maryland aircraft are damaged – two will be unserviceable for at least 12 days; one is lorry destroyed, two barrack blocks and the NAAFI are damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on Imtarfa Hospital, destroying the Royal Engineers office and one lorry.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled, one of which engages and damages one Heinkel HE 111 bomber which is illuminated by searchlights.  Anti-aircraft guns fire several barrages.  Two Beaufighters are scrambled and pursue the raiders back to their base in Sicily where they attempt to attack them during landing; no claims.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Peter John Alfred Thompson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 261 Squadron; Rev Albert Edward Farrugia Bugeja, Royal Army Chaplains’ Department att. Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Adorata Scicluna, age 60.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 13 MAY 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli reported two convoys.  Maryland eastern Tunisian coast. 

HAL FAR  F/Lt Westmacott injured in aerial combat.

LUQA  Two Beaufighters 252 Squadron patrolled Sicilian coast to intercept enemy raiders returning from Malta; no interceptions.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion is responsible for the defence of the area of Grand and Marsxamxett Harbours. D Company had an early morning exercise “General Alarm” with Southern Infantry Brigade.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 22; dealt with 0.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Two companies are responsible for the defence of the Qrendi and Safi landing strips; the remainder are in reserve.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  28 pdr cable Camerata to St Elmo and 28 pdr St James to St Elmo cut by enemy action now repaired.

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

 

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Posted by on May 13, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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12 May 1941: Malta Has New Fighter Squadron

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185 Squadron Hurricane fighter HQ at Hal Far

185 Squadron Hurricane fighter HQ at Hal Far

185 SQUADRON BEGINS OPS AT HAL FAR

A new fighter squadron begins operations in Malta today. 185 Fighter Squadron has been formed at Hal Far, giving the Island a second fighter force. The Squadron will be led by Flight Lieutenant P W O Mould, DFC and Bar, who is promoted to Squadron Leader on taking command.  The additional fighter unit has been made possible by the arrival of from the Hurricanes which arrived on the Island in April.  261 Squadron will continue to operate from Ta Qali; one Flight of the unit has been transferred to the new squadron.

NAZI PRISONERS OF WAR CONFIDENT OF EARLY RESCUE FROM MALTA

Four German prisoners of war captured when their JU 88 bomber was brought down on 29 April have been interrogated at Corradino Prison. The prisoners are all members of Squadron 5th Staffel, 2nd Gruppo, based at Catania.  They have been named as pilot Weldwebel Rudolf Lenzner, air gunner Unterofficizier Paul Kietzmann, observer Weldwebel Wilhelm Heller and wireless operator Helmut Hartlich.

According to the prisoners, nine aircraft of the same squadron left base on 29 April with orders to attack two cruisers and eleven destroyers in Grand Harbour. This was to be carried out in three formations, each being allotted certain targets shown from two previous reconnaissances that morning.  They were met and escorted by two squadrons of ME 109s which came from another un-named aerodrome. 

Sgt Major Heller stated that the JU 88s bomb release gear was damaged by Ack Ack fire and his bombs did not leave the plane (this cannot be confirmed). The prisoners are unanimous that Ack Ack shrapnel hit them squarely and set the aircraft on fire upon which they decided to bale out.  Two of the crew had already done so before the Malta fighters came in.  In spite of this, they all say that Malta’s Ack Ack is very poor, it has no effect on the pilot or crew; however the interrogator was with them during an air-raid when they saw an [enemy aircraft] hit by shrapnel and limp away – and he said there were no comments about our Ack Ack then.

The airmen’s morale is reported as excellent and they are well trained in security, resisting any attempt to give information which would assist the enemy. They are clean and disciplined, polite and smart.  Air Gunner Kietzmann was wearing the Iron Cross (1st Class); he refused to give the details which earned him the decoration. 

All four are 100 per cent Nazi and are confident of an early rescue and final victory of the Axis powers. On being asked how they would conquer the British Empire, they admitted they did not know but said that Adolf Hitler would accomplish this act as he had others.  Lenzner maintained that “as sure as the sun rises, so will the Jewish problem develop to a crisis in Great Britain.” They would not be drawn into commenting on their Axis partner Italy but appeared to agree with remarks disparaging Italian fighting powers.

Three of them joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 and have flown together since before the war. All admitted to having made many trips over England and at least four over Malta.  At the beginning of 1941 the Squadron was drafted to the Mediterranean where they have operated against Malta from Sicily several times.  Heller’s crew took part in the attack on Illustrious, when he admitted the Luftwaffe suffered many losses, including a German air ace named Captain Wilhelm Duerbeck, holder of the German ‘Knights Cross’. 

Asked why they had resorted to night attacks on Malta, they maintained that it was more profitable and referred to the Allied night raids over Germany. When challenged about indiscriminate bombing, they compared what is happening in Malta to what is happening in Germany – and said that the British started it first.  Parachute mines were discussed with all the prisoners, who pleaded ignorance of their existence.  They all stated that Junkers 88s invariably carry bombs.  However, it seems very unlikely that they would be unaware of the mines.

Two complaints made by all the prisoners were registered as legitimate. It was recommended that the first should certainly be put right immediately and never repeated: articles of clothing and decorations (such as an Iron Cross, badges and stripes), personal papers and photographs and other items in their pockets were removed by someone on their way to internment and have not been passed on with other effects to the proper authority.  This is considered doubly regrettable, as not only could this provoke negative propaganda in Germany, vital information has been lost.  One prisoner is very desirous to have the photograph of his mother and girlfriend returned to him.

A telegram has been sent to the Commander in Chief Middle East giving identification details of the prisoners and confirming their wellbeing.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 MAY TO DAWN 13 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

1003-1025 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance at 22000 feet escorted by six ME 109 fighters.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interceptions.

1027-1047 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance at over 22000 feet.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1305-1400 hrs The Radio Direction Finder indicates 30 enemy aircraft approaching in three formations.  17 Hurricanes are scrambled but the enemy remains at a distance of 10 miles.

1801-1835 hrs  Air raid alert for one JU 88 escorted by four ME 109s which approach the Island and patrol five miles off the coast at 24000 feet.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interceptions.

2152-2320 hrs  Air raid alert for 12-15 enemy aircraft which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on Luqa and Kalafrana, Rinella and Zabbar, Dragonara and St Georges Bay. In the Dockyard a heavy bomb collapses the roadway at Garden Reach and undermines a nearby store and wharf.  A large bomb explodes at the Bighi Royal Naval Hospital, badly damaging two houses and the mortuary. The Laboratory and Administrative Blocks are also affected by blast.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

0054-0115 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0205-0310 hrs  Air raid alert for eight to ten enemy aircraft which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on Luqa, between Luqa and Gudja (including Gudja camp with no casualties) and Kalafrana anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Gerald Camilleri, age 33.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 12 MAY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Kelly, Kipling, Jaguar, Kashmir and Kelvin returned from Operation MD 4, having carried out a successful bombardment of Benghazi.  830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 2100 hrs  Swordfish departed on offensive operations on a convoy sighted by a Maryland at 1638 hrs. 1 Flare Dropped and 4 strikes with torpedoes; one destroyer and one merchant vessel probably sunk.

AIR HQ  69 Squadron Maryland patrol off eastern Sicilian coast. Maryland patrol eastern Tunisian coast.  

HAL FAR  C Flight 261 Squadron ceased to exist. 185 Squadron was formed under the command of Squadron Leader Mould.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A lecture was given to many officers on the Island by CSO1 Colonel Bedford on “The Defence of Malta”.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 4 (1 x 50kg; 2 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  2150 hrs A stick of bombs is dropped on Battalion HQ; one bomb fell inside the camp compound destroying the PRI tent, the motor transport office and store tent. Three men were buried but were extricated unhurt.  Three motorcycles were badly damaged.

 

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Posted by on May 12, 2016 in 1941, May 1941

 

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