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A RAID IN MALTA AFFECTS EVERYONE ON THE ISLAND, SAYS BRIGADIER GENERAL CHARTERIS
Manchester Guardian, 10 June 1941
“Malta is in good heart. That is the news given to us by a senior General Staff officer who has just returned from the island. And Malta may well be proud of her deeds. She has suffered no fewer than five or six hundred raids, and a raid in Malta affects everyone in the island, for the bombs may fall anywhere in its hundred square miles of rocky land.
Malta has been favoured by the stone formation which extends through the whole of the island. The bombs do not penetrate and leave no craters. The buildings are almost all stone built, with stone roofs, and bombing does singularly little damage to them. There has probably not been one single case of fire resulting from incendiary bombs. Throughout the island there are numerous stone galleries; some of them, used in bygone days to house slaves, have formed admirable shelters for the inhabitants. So safe are these that the children’s nerves have hardly been affected by the continuous air attacks.
When the Germans took over the attack from the Italians they commenced a series of systematic and most determined dive-bombing assaults. The defence was too much for them; they suffered some 20 per cent of casualties and then gave up.
Now the air attacks take the form of night bombing from very high altitudes; flares are dropped that illuminate the whole island, and the bombs fall indiscriminately and ill-aimed from heights out of searchlight range. Sometimes they vary this procedure by sending in “nuisance bombers”. These are single machines which fly over the island for a time and then fly off, signalling to the next one on the rota to do its piece.
What of the future? Malta looks forward with confidence. The configuration of the island, with its high cliffs and broken, rocky shores, is not favourable to landings. There are, indeed, five bays which break the contours of the land, but these have no doubt been looked after. The aerodromes have suffered little from bombing. They are on solid rock with only a foot or so of earth to make the level runways. The earth displaced by bombs is readily replaced.
The health of the garrison, we are assured, is excellent. Last summer was a cool one, and it is hoped that this one will be similar. A non-commissioned officer, who accompanied the Staff officer, said that the supply of beer was not up to the demand, but where is it? He assured us that the quality was excellent.
Much of the defence is in the hands of Maltese troops, and their valour and efficiency have been well proved. It is comforting to hear that the beautiful church so well known to travellers has suffered little damage and that the King George V hospital is still intact. The State lotteries still flourish.”
AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 JUNE TO DAWN 11 JUNE 1941
Weather Fine and warm.
1506-1534 hrs Air raid alert for four ME 110 fighters which approach to within five miles of Grand Harbour. 17 Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept due to faulty radio transmission.
2013-2015 hrs Air raid alert caused by the return of friendly Maryland aircraft.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 10 JUNE 1941
ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron 7 Swordfish in operation to intercept a northbound convoy between Pantelleria and Marittimo Island unsuccessful.
AIR HQ Departures 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal Section will provide a standing patrol during hours of darkness with report centre at slit trenches outside “C” block Msida Bastion. Role: (1) to look out for and engage broken ground between Lintorn and Marsamxett Creek; (2) to liaise with and support posts at Haywharf and Rocco Post. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 7 (3 x 15kg; 4 x 50kg).
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