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11 August 1941: German Stuka Dive-bombers Attack Malta

11 Aug

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JU 87 dive-bomber

JU 87 dive-bombers over Malta

ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IN HEAVIEST RAID FOR MONTHS

German JU 87 dive-bombers were seen in significant numbers tonight over Malta for the first time in many weeks. Nine JU 87 ‘Stukas’ attacked the Island in the heaviest raid on the Island for some time.   A large number of high explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on the Ta Qali area and Grand Harbour.  However, damage was relatively minor, with a few houses in Lija slightly damaged and Dockyard timber warehouses set on fire.  Two of the nine enemy aircraft were shot down by Malta fighters.

Results were very different according to Rome radio, which has broadcast a heavily embellished report of the results of tonight’s raid:

“The naval and air bases of Malta have been made the object of another very heavy attack by the Fascist air force. Formations of bombers and dive-bombers brought themselves over the more important military objectives of the Island.  A veritable shower of bombs was rained down on [Luqa] aerodrome.  Aerodrome buildings and other establishments, stores and aircraft dispersed on the airfield were hit by medium and heavy calibre bombs and hundreds of grenades which caused vast destruction and fires. 

The attack on the naval base of Valletta was extremely effective. Loud explosions were heard and huge fires visible from a great distance were started.  The fires served as beacons for later formations of aircraft and facilitated the location of objectives.  Bombs caused damage to harbour installations and to the dry docks.

Anti-aircraft and fighter opposition supported by the wide use of searchlights did not prevent the crews of our planes from carrying out one of the most heavy attacks that the Island has experienced in the last few months.”

BLENHEIM CREW FACED WITH ON-BOARD UNEXPLODED BOMB

The crew of a Blenheim of 105 Squadron are lucky to be alive today after one of their own bombs became stuck in the aircraft during a raid over southern Italy. Squadron Leader George Goode was the pilot of one of three Blenheims sent to attack a chemical factory at Crotone.  All three released their bombs on target but as S/Ldr Goode pulled away, the crew reported that one bomb was still stuck in the Blenheim. 

The crew tried their best to jettison the bomb and S/Ldr Goode made a sharp turn to try and release it. As they flew back over the port, enemy guns hit the port engine and the Blenheim began to lose power.  A crash landing was inevitable but dead ahead of them were the cliffs at Capo Colonna.  S/Ldr Goode managed to gain just enough height to clear the clifftop and landed safely in a field. 

Immediately the crew began to take measures to destroy their aircraft, conscious meanwhile that the unexploded bomb could go off and kill them all.   However, Italian soldiers reached them before they could achieve their objective.  S/Ldr Goode, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner P/O E W Applebee and Observer Sgt H A Nicolls were all taken prisoner. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and fresh.

0040-0200 hrs Raid no 813  Air raid alert for nine unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east at intervals and cross the coast over Grand Harbour. They carry out an hour-long raid over the Island.  Some 250kg and 500kg high explosives, and hundreds of incendiary bombs are dropped on Grand Harbour, Marsa, Pieta, Salvatore Gate, Gzira, Lija, San Nicola, Ta Silch and Ta Qali.  The incendiaries are of a type not seen in Malta before.  Warehouses in Marsa are ignited, damaging some timber; the fire was soon extinguished.  A few houses in Lija are slightly damaged and a donkey killed.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and searchlights illuminate raiders on two occasions.  Two enemy aircraft are shot down in flames in the sea; three crew are seen baling out.  A rescue launch is sent out but finds no survivors.

Military casualties  Flight-Sergeant Campbell Clark, Wireless.Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron; Pilot Officer Robert G Scott, 202 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 11 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 2 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Marylands on strike force patrols for enemy shipping.  Photoreconnaissance Comiso and Syracuse. 38 Squadron 5 Wellingtons sent to attack north west of Tripoli dropped bombs from 6000 feet on targets causing fires and destroying large buildings.  Machine gun attacks launched on a military convoy near Homs. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims sent to attack chemical works attacked military facilities with success.  3 Blenheims sent in follow up attack scoring further direct hits. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm A Swordfish sunk the 13000 ton Italian hospital ship California at Syracuse. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  One Company takes over Ta Saliba headquarters with one platoon in St Paul’s Bay.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion moved to Gozo for intensive training.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Two Companies take over defence of Ta Qali aerodrome.

(1) Source: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in 1941, August 1941

 

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