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Monthly Archives: December 2016

31 December 1941: Revenge Attack on HMS Abingdon

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RAID SUMMARY DECEMBER 1941

  • Number of raid alerts 169
  • Total time under alert  191 hours 7 minutes
  • Average time length of alert 68 minutes
HMS Abingdon

HMS Abingdon

MESSERSCHMITT FIGHTERS STRAFE MINESWEEPING VESSEL

Enemy fighters attacked HMS Abingdon in broad daylight today as she was engaged in minesweeping duties close to Malta’s coastline.  The vessel was machine-gunned by two ME 109 fighters as part of a raid by 34 aircraft at lunchtime.  Seven of the ship’s crew were wounded, three of them seriously.

Abingdon turned and headed immediately for harbour but she was attacked again, this time by three ME 109s.  Anti-aircraft gunners on board managed to shoot down one of the Messerchmitts.  The attack follows a similar strike yesterday by JU 88s in which Abingdon’s Ack Ack gunners managed to damage one aircraft.  Abingdon will now be restricted to minesweeping under cover of darkness.

AIR RAIDS 31 DECEMBER 1941

0330-0558 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft patrol round the Island for over an hour.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two immediate barrages.

0845-0908 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconnaissance by one JU 88 escorted by four fighters.

1005-1044 hrs  Six plots of Messerschmitts 109s patrol round the island.

1245-1410 hrs  Air raid alarm: 34 enemy aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Ta Qali and Birkirkara.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two ME109s attack HMS Abingdon which shoots down one of them.  Seven men are wounded, three seriously.

1925-0100 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Nine enemy aircraft approach singly from the north and east.  Several descend below 2,000 feet and carry out patrols round the Island – suspected to be mine-laying.  Low flying aircraft machine-gun St Thomas’ searchlight position and Zonkor Point.

2305 hrs Several enemy aircraft cross the south east coast and drop High Explosive and incendiary bombs on Kalafrana, Benghaisa, and Hal Far areas.

2345 hours onwards  A series of bombing attacks concentrated on Ta Qali and Luqa, causing only slight damage.  Searchlights are illuminated; Heavy Ack Ack fires four immediate barrages; Bofors and light machine guns engage low flying aircraft; no claims.

Military casualties  Corporal Arthur Blyth, LAC William McNicol, Royal Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 31 DECEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudson, two Whitley, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Blenheims for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 30/31st  Air raid on Hal Far by at least three JU88s.  One Swordfish badly damaged, two Swordfish and one Fulmar slightly damaged.  No damage to buildings except stone pen surrounding Swordfish.  No casualties.

LUQA  69 Squadron Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland PR Misurata aerodrome and town; one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol.  104 Squadron  Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Tripoli.  107 Squadron  SF 14 patrol.

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Posted by on December 31, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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30 December 1941: 90 Enemy Aircraft in Single Daylight Raid

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Grand Harbour

Grand Harbour

HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS STRIKE DOCKYARD, AIRFIELDS AND COASTAL DEFENCES

Over 90 enemy aircraft attack Malta just before noon today, unleashing High Explosive bombs on key strategic targets across the Island.  Anti-aircraft gunners fire off barrages and Hurricanes are scrambled to drive off the attackers, damaging five bombers.  The Dockyard, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields, and coastal defences at Delimara and St Paul’s Bay are all bombed. Reports indicate that Italian Macchi fighters were among the formations of Luftwaffe aircraft.

“Out to the strip today to see if we had any planes left. Shrapnel and rocks everywhere and a crater 24 feet deep and 100 feet across near the bomb dump. Lucky it rained last night and cooled off the bombs. “Q” has about four holes in her and needs a new tail plane which is the third out here. “H’ is burned out and “P” riddled badly. The rest holed but will be OK in a few days. Five escaped. 40 Sqn had a bad time though. Seven of their planes completely wiped out and just piles of junk. Three are serviceable for tonight’s ops. Most of their squadron is wiped out tho.

As we were returning for lunch there, Ju88 jumped out of the clouds and bombed us again wiping out another 40 Sqn plane. They were only at about 3000′ and were jumped by six Hurricanes. Later heard two shot down. Plenty of dog fighting most of the afternoon high up tho as the machine gun and cannons fire was very faint. About two pm we saw two sticks of bombs over Rabat way go off. The rest of the island must have got a bashing too. Kalafrana machine-gunned by ME 109s. About 5 pm the Grand Harbour was bombed again while we were at tea. These Jerrys must have plenty of fighter escorts. They are based at Catavia but we can’t very well bomb it as they report underground hangars.” (1)

AIR RAIDS 30 DECEMBER 1941

0032-0114 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast and drops bombs near Hamrun.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no claims.

0358-0430 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and passes over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages causing the enemy aircraft to change course on each occasion.  Bombs are dropped on Corrodino area, with a direct hit on a latrine, injuring dockyard workmen who had taken shelter there instead of their designated refuge.  Bombs near San Pietru Heavy Ack Ack Bofors gun position damage a billet.  Three are killed, four injured.

0947-1053 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconaissance raid by four JU 88s escorted by 12 ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

Macchi C200

1148-1254 hrs  Air raid alarm.  90 enemy aircraft consisting of JU 88s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s approach from the north.  Bombs are dropped on the Dockyard, Luqa and [San] Rocco area, Delimara Heavy Ack Ack gun position (causing two casualties) St Paul’s Bay and Ta Qali, which is also machine gunned.

Heavy Ack Ack, Bofors and light machine guns engage low flying aircraft, probably destroying one JU 88.  Naval Ack Ack guns from HMS Abingdon also open fire, damaging one JU 88.  Hurricanes engage the enemy, destroying two JU 88s, plus one JU 88 ‘probably destroyed’ and a fourth damaged.

1332-1343 hrs  Air raid alarm: caused by return of friendly aircraft.

1453-1516 hrs  Air raid alarm for a reconnaissance raid by one JU 88 and four fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no claims.

1640-1740 hrs  Air raid alarm: three JU 88s escorted by 21 fighters approach from the north.  Two JU 88s carry out a shallow dive attack over Luqa, dropping bombs to the east of the airfield.  The third JU 88 bombs Grand Harbour.  A stick of bombs in Dockyard Creek damages buildings near Sheer Bastion and sinks the Vittoriosa ferry pontoon. Heavy and Light Ack Ack Bofors engage the enemy, damaging one JU 88 bomber.

1748-1752 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Caused by friendly aircraft.

1821-1840 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three JU 88s cross the coast and dropped bombs across Marsaxlokk Bay, Kalafrana and Hal Far.  Searchlights illuminate all three enemy aircraft: Heavy Ack Ack fires one barrage.  Bofors and searchlight light machine guns engage low flying aircraft in Kalafrana area.

2045-0415 hrs  Air raid alarm.  20 enemy aircraft carry out intruder tactics and patrolling south of Island.  A continual stream of attacks hit the Hal Far area, with bombs on the aerodrome and Birzebbuga.  Searchlights make one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack fires five immediate barrages.

Military casualties  Sergeant Hugh Campbell, Gunners Rowland Boyington and Herbert Gaskin, 32nd LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; AC 1 Joseph Pirotta, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Marsascala  Lawrence Cachia, age 24.  Sannat, Gozo  Joseph Muscat, age 35.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant George Lust, pilot of JU 88 bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 DECEMBER 1941

HAL FAR  Night 29/30th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on a minelaying operation outside Zuara harbour.  Opposition four light Ack Ack guns fairly accurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  one Maryland PR Palermo; one Maryland PR Tripoli, Psida, Zuara.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol – P/O Wyatt failed to return; one Blenheim attacked Tripoli-Zuara road; two Blenheims attacked Homs-Tripoli road.  104 Squadron  Four Wellingtons attacked buildings Misrata.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; two Blenheims attacked motor transport Zuara-Psida; one Blenheim attacked Tripoli-Zuara road.  40 Squadron  Three Wellingtons attacked buildings in Misrata.

TA QALI  0950-1750 hrs  Six alerts; two scrambles.  Two JU88s destroyed, one probable and one damaged.  Three damaged by anti-aircraft.  No night fighters airborne.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 1640-1740 hrs  About 25 to 30 small craters 200 yards from Marnisi (E Company) caused by High Explosives.  No damage or casualties.  One heavy bomb was dropped near slipway at Marsaxlokk.  1821-1840 hrs  Bombs dropped near Tank Bridge on road to Post R29 (C Company).  More bombs dropped near L37 and RAF emergency hospital, and on R Post Road.  2045-0415 hrs  Bombs near R33 and HF7 (D Company), Windsock Area (C Company) and off pier at Kalafrana near CI (B Company).  No casualties.  Some bombs also fell near Birzebuggia Church (B Company).

(1) From “A Flyer’s Diary”, Joe White, WWII (Air Shared Magazine)

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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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29 December 1941: Attacks On Airfields and Ships; Passengers Killed

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MALTA AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS DAMAGED; CIVILIAN AND MILITARY CASUALTIES 

AIR RAIDS 29 DECEMBER 1941

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

0947 hrs  Six JU 88 bombers and thirty fighters approach Malta in two waves.  One formation peels off to bomb destroyers lying off the east coast; no damage is reported. The second formation of seven ME 109s and two JU 88s crosses the coast and attacks Luqa airfield, damaging two Blenheim aircraft on the ground. Seven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron and four of 242 Squadron engage the enemy.  Four Hurricanes are damaged, the pilots unhurt.  One ME 109 is destroyed and one damaged.  Two Hurricanes of 242 Squadron collide and crash into the sea.  Pilot P/O Blanchard is reported missing.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far aerodrome.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors are engaged and no damage is reported; no claims.

1103 hrs  All clear.

1209-1226 hrs; 1321-1335 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy aircraft on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fires immediate barrage.

1443 hrs  24 fighters and bombers approach from the north and attempt to bomb submarines off Delimara.  ME 109s launch a heavy machine-gun attack on submarines Urge and Upholder, and anti-submarine trawler Beryl.  Commanding Officer of Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, DSO, RN) is wounded and Beryl is rendered unfit for sea with minor damage and six wounded.

HMS Beryl

Bombs are also dropped in the Marsascala area despite a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  Major G H W Wright is reported killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Wright, RA and two Other Ranks of the Dorset Regiment injured.  Eight Hurricanes of 185 Squadron engage with the enemy aircraft.  One ME109 is shot down and three others damaged.  One Hurricane crashes on landing; the pilot, Sgt Forth, is killed.

1550 hrs  All clear.

1612 hrs  Five ME 109s attack friendly [non-military] ships with machine-gun fire.  A Gozo passenger boat is hit in St George’s Bay and set on fire.  A rescue launch sent to help the sinking boat is badly strafed.  Hurricanes engage the attackers, destroying two ME 109s. 

Twelve further enemy aircraft (including four ME 109 F’s) cross the coast.  JU88 bombers drop into a shallow dive to bomb Luqa.  Fifteen aircraft on the ground are written off.  Bombs are dropped in a quarry occupied by 2nd Battalion The Royal West Kent Regiment, damaging signals installations.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors gunners damage one JU 88.

1712 hrs  All clear.

2032 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast over St Julian’s.  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage at 13,000 feet and jettisons bombs near Ta Qali.

2140-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2236 hrs  Air raid alarm. No engagement.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Merton Blanchard, Royal Canadian Air Force, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Alfred Forth, Royal Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Sidney Brandt, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Roy Lawson, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve), 249 Squadron; Major G H W Wright, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghajnsielem, Gozo  Paul Azzopardi, age 52; Marcel Teuma, age 51; Felic Bigeni, age 32.  Luqa  Saviour Demicoli, age 15.  Siggiewi  Nicholas Schembri, age 50.  Hamrun Gaetan Scicluna, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Luftwaffe Pilot Leutnant Joachim Louis destroyed one Hurricane earlier today, before being wounded in a counter-attack by another.  Still able to fly, his aircraft was hit again, and severely damaged, crashing into the sea.  In the search operation to recover missing Hurricane pilots, Leutnant Louis was picked up and taken prisoner. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines outside Zuara.

RAF LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR): one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland PR North African aerodromes, Tripoli & Zara; one Maryland PR Misrata, Sirte, Tamet, Zanzar and Tange. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; two Blenheims attacked transport Tripoli-Zuara.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim special search for two destroyers (Br); four Blenheims despatched to attack transport on road Homs-Misurata – two attacked.

RAF TA QALI  0808-1730 hrs  Six alerts; five scrambles – three interceptions.  One ME 109 shot down in sea and two probably shot down. 

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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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28 December 1941: Airfield Ack Ack Gunners Fight Back

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Searchlights scan night skies for raiders

Searchlights scan night skies for raiders

GERMAN BOMBER SHOT DOWN OVER HAL FAR

Anti-aircraft gunners shot down an attacking Luftwaffe bomber over Hal Far aerodrome in an air raid tonight. The single JU 88 bomber flying without fighter escort was spotted approaching Malta from the north early this evening.  Sources report that the pilot flew a complete circuit of the Island,  which allowed plenty of time for searchlights to pick up and track his progress.

The aircraft was seen to turn over the south coast, and dropped bombs the new landing strip at Qrendi.  The Island’s defensive Gunners were primed and ready to fire at the first sighting.  The JU88 flew into a barrage of Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors fire and fell into a steep dive, crashing in front of hangars at the edge of Hal Far aerodrome.  Members of 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment were manning defence posts within yards of the crash site but no injuries are reported.  There were no survivors among the JU88 pilot and crew. 

AIR RAIDS 28 DECEMBER 1941

0942-1020 hrs  Air raid alarm: 19 enemy aircraft approached the Island, only one crossing the coast.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1102-1116 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise. 

1235-1315 hrs  Air raid alarm: two enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs on the St Angelo area.

1507-1540 hrs  Air raid alarm: one JU 88 on reconnaissance escorted by 12 fighters, crossed over Grand Harbour.  Harbour guns fired a heavy Ack Ack barrage.  One Hurricane was lost.

1806-1840 hrs  Air raid alarm: six enemy aircraft crossed the coast near St Paul’s Bay and dropped bombs at Marsa and in the Mellieha area.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged; no claims. 

1940-2057 hrs  Air raid alarm: one JU 88 approached and carried out a complete circuit of  the Island before crossing the south coast and dropping bombs on Qrendi landing strip.  The raider was illuminated by searchlights for periods of two, one ,and half a minute.  Heavy Ack Ack shrapnel and Bofors engaged; the aircraft was hit and crashed west of Hal Far.

2324 hrs  Air raid alarm: two enemy aircraft approached from the north and probably laid mines south of the Island.  One aircraft machine-gunned Lapsi searchlight position – no damage or casualties.  Bofors and light machine gun engaged.  The second aircraft dropped bombs near Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Enemy casualties   Leutnant Wilfred Babinek, pilot; Gefreiter Heinrich Schwarz, wireless operator; Gefreiter Wilhelm Gutt, air gunner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 DECEMBER 1941

HAL FAR  Night 27/28th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition intense but inaccurate light Ack Ack.  Rain over target area.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland North African aerodromes, harbours of Zuara and Tripoli; one Maryland PR North African dromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked Mellaha aerodrome.  104 Squadron  Four Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked Homs Road.

TA QALI  Night 27/28th  Bombs dropped on various parts of the Island.  Night fighters airborne.  P/O Winton destroyed one enemy raider.  0942-1622 hrs  Four alerts.  Three scrambles: no interceptions, one Hurricane missing.  Sgt Owen rescued from sea, multiple gunshot wounds left arm.

HQ FIXED DEFENCES   ASV [search] set installed at Harbour Fire Command post Elmo for detecting the approach of E-boats.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Stick of bombs on Mehrla strip and north of Mehrla Church.   One unexploded bomb at 403186.

 

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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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27 December 1941: Malta Under Alert for 16 hours out of 24

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GHAXAQ FAMILY WIPED OUT BY ENEMY BOMBS

Hurricanes scrambled 10 times

Malta was under air raid alert for 16 hours out of 24 today as the Luftwaffe continue their post-Christmas campaign against Malta.  RAF Hurricane aircraft from Ta Qali were scrambled ten times to fight off enemy raiders.

An entire young family was wiped out early this evening when bombs hit the southern village of Ghaxaq.  The deceased have been named as John Abela, his wife Vincenza, 26, and their two children: one year old Teresa and baby Carmel, three months.  A fifth person, Michelina Busuttil, 47, was also claimed in this major blow to a small agricultural community.

ENEMY MINE-LAYERS DETECTED

Urgent orders were issued early this morning confirming the presence of enemy mine-laying vessels within reach of Grand Harbour.  The overnight watch of the Harbour Fire Command reported the sound of engines indicating the presence of surface craft just off the harbour entrance.

Despite regular searchlight sweeps, the engine noise continued.  On receiving the report, the Royal Navy suspected enemy E-boats are again engaged in laying mines while aircraft create diversions overhead.  The Harbour Fire Command was placed on high alert and continued searchlight sweeps at regular intervals throughout the night, but nothing further was spotted.

This morning’s operation instruction outlined measures to destroy the craft, which are laying mines within the range of the Harbour guns and searchlights.  The Harbour Fire Commander at Fort St Elmo is to be issued with a RDF (radio direction-finding) set by 1200 hours tomorrow, to give early warning of the presence of MTBs (motor torpedo boats).

The RDF equipment will switched on at intervals or when enemy ship movements are suspected.  Once a craft is detected, searchlights will be trained towards them but not switched on until the RDF shows the target to be within beam and gun range – to retain an element of surprise.

Meanwhile the Royal Navy is maintaining a patrol six miles off shore to intercept surface craft and prevent them from reaching Malta’s shores.  Any hostile vessels seen are to be immediately engaged, regardless of the presence of the naval patrol.  All harbour guns available will be used in such attacks, taking great care not to engage the naval patrol vessel.

AIR RAIDS 27 DECEMBER 1941

0822-0933 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine ME 109’s in two formations patrolled over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors engaged; no claims.

0931-1100 hrs  Air raid alarm: 14 fighter aircraft crossed the coast – no engagement.

1109-1245 hrs  Air raid alarm.  A formation of JU 88’s with large fighter escort approached the Island.  Hurricanes intercepted causing the enemy to jettison their bombs.  One JU 88 was confirmed destroyed, one ME 109 probably destroyed, one JU 88 damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

1450-1531 hrs  Air raid alarm: 33 enemy aircraft approached the Island, nine only crossing the coast; no bombs were dropped.

1617-1644 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1757-1926 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs at Ghaxaq, in the sea and near Corrodino.

1940-0520 hrs  Air raid alarm: seven alerts were sounded for a total of ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped in sea and on land near Hal Far, on Wardia Ridge and Luqa, where they caused slight damage to officers’ quarters.  At 2010 hrs an enemy raider was illuminated and shot down in flames into the sea.  A second illumination was effected during last alert when Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant William MacCosham, Royal Canadian Air Force, 179 Squadron; Gunner Thomas North, 4th Searchlight Regt, Royal Artillery/Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq John Abela, age 33; Vincenza Abela, age 26; Teresa Abela, age 1; Carmel Abela, age 3 months; Michelina Busuttil, age 47.  Sliema  Carmel Muscat, 17.

Enemy casualties German Hauptmann Eberhard Stahle, Stab II/KG 77, Pilot of a Ju.88 bomber, shot down into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines off Tripoli.

Whitley

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Two Wellingtons, one Beaufort, one Whitley from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 26/27th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Zuara Harbour.  Opposition spasmodic and inaccurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland special search (friendly) north half of C/V; one Maryland special search (friendly) south half of C/V; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance One Maryland Catania, Celibria.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked rail shipping Zuara-Tripoli; one Blenheim attacked rail transport at Zuara.  107 Squadron  Two Blenheims SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim attacked road transport at Zuara.

TA QALI  Hurricanes scrambled at 0822-0909, 0932-1038, 1109, 1237, 1450, 1531, 1617, 1637, 1757, 1918.  One JU88 destroyed.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Air alarms lasting throughout the day: High explosive bombs dropped in scattered parts.

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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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26 December 1941: 60 Aircraft In Daylight Raid On Luqa

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AUDACIOUS DAYLIGHT RAID DESTROYS SIX AIRCRAFT

“A red letter day for the Jerries. They bombed the drome nearly all afternoon and destroyed two Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Hurricane, and two Marylands, which wasn’t a bad bag. “X” was loaded with a 4000 [pound] bomb when hit. It blew up and now no one knows where X is altho we did find two little pieces of the engine. The rest will probably fall at the end of the week.

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Plenty of bombs screeching down and yours truly hit the ditch twice once in a great pile of nettles over beside the AOC Med[iterranean]. Three of our kites went u/s. when the 4000 [pounder] went off but ops went on just the same.

Took off for Tripoli at 8.30pm in “Q” with only skeleton crew, myself, Dick, Michie and Ray. Flew there 10/10 cloud on way out and got pretty well iced up. Weather good at target and the ship in harbour stood up well.  We carried 8/500 SAP and dropped them in two sticks from 8000′. We got one hit on a large merchantman.

Weather back at Malta very bad. Ceiling zero with rain and clouds and a very bad cross wind. WT message made us circle Gozo for 1½  hrs. Finally went in and landed with visibility about 50 ft. and bad cross wind. Time 4 hrs 25 mins. Jerry dropped a few bombs during night. Two [JU]88’s and two [ME]109 Fs shot down in day.” (1)

A NEAR MISS

“We are having our third noisy raid today, so I will add a little to this [diary]. The Germans are being beaten – at least temporarily – on every front except Sevastopol, and are taking it out of us here. We have had all-night raids…during a short but very fierce raid when we heard much machine-gunning…there was a loud crack which turned out to be a small bomb, (probably an aeroplane cannon shell I am told), in our yard. We found nothing but the nose, but there was a hole in the window 3 feet from Mrs. Clements who was making pastry.” (2)

AIR RAIDS 26 DECEMBER 1941

Weather  Cold but fair, sunny.

0832-0950 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconnaissance by six enemy aircraft.

1042 hrs  Air raid alarm for 20 ME 109’s escorting a few JU 88’s which approached and crossed the coast.  Hurricanes were scrambled and drove off the attack; no bombs were dropped.  One Hurricane was damaged and the pilot slightly injured.

1316-1429 hrs  Air raid alarm:  60 fighters and JU 88’s approached the Island; 30 crossed coast and attacked Luqa aerodrome, destroying six aircraft on the ground and damaging another five.  Ack ack fired, claiming one JU 88 possibly destroyed.

1601-1717 hrs  Air raid alarm: 45 fighters escorting reconnaissance aircraft crossed the coast.  One Hurricane was shot down; the pilot is safe.

1815-1934 hrs  Air raid alarm: 11 enemy aircraft approached from the south east.  One JU 88 dived over Grand Harbour and dropped bombs in French Creek area – this aircraft was illuminated for one minute, Bofors engaged it and claimed hits.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged with four immediate barrages.  Bombs were also dropped on Filfla and near Island Bay searchlight position – no damage.

2014-2125 hrs  Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed coast dropping bombs on Qrendi and incendiaries in the sea.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

2205-2308 hrs  Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs Birkirkara, Safi, Salvatur, Hamrun and in the sea.

2358-0056 hrs  Air raid alar: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs west of Ta Qali and in the sea.

Military casualties   Sergeant James Billett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant William Marshall, (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant Oswald Summers, RAFVR, 18 Squadron; Private John Attard, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Frederick Clarke, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualty  Zurrieq Francis Camilleri, age 11; three civilians wounded. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY:  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Convoy ME8, consisting of empty merchant vessels Ajax, Sydney Star, City of Calcutta and Clan Ferguson, sailed to Alexandria escorted by all available forces from Malta: Rear-Admiral Commanding, Seventh Cruiser Squadron, in Ajax, Dido, Lance, Lively, Ghurka, Arrow, Foxhound and Nestor sailed for Alexandria at 1830.  Four Albacores laid mines off Zuara.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Blenheims, one Wellington and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 25/26th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  One of the aircraft provided bombing diversion.  One minelaying aircraft encountered no opposition.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland special photo-reconnaissance Middle East.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol – Sgt Summers failed to return.  Two Blenheims attacked shipping at Zuara.  104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; one Blenheim SF14 patrol.  40 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli.

TA QALI  0949-1700 hrs  Four alerts.  No 126 Squadron Sgt W E Copp slightly injured.  S/Ldr E B Mortimer Rose injured – bullet wound in left heel.  1815-0039 hrs  Four alerts.  Bombs dropped on land and incendiaries in sea.  Single Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions.  Anti-aircraft engaged. 

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Mid-day attack by JU88s which dropped bombs on Luqa: two slight casualties among “A” Company 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment.  Also damage to transport vehicles and a/g stores of this Company.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT   1815 hrs  One JU88 engaged by small arms fire from Battalion HQ; no hits claimed.  Bombs dropped in Battalion sector.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Stick of bombs near RAF billet on Qrendi strip.  Another stick of 6 bombs at Ghar Lapsi.  One bomb near “Mary House” MR 401179 Wied Maghtab.  Bomb near D Coy HQ on Qrendi strip.

(1) A Flyer’s Diary by Jim White (Air Shared Magazine, see http://pawsey.net/whiteproject/joewhitediary-part2.htm

(2) Diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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25 December 1941: Christmas Under Siege

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SIREN SOUNDS AS MALTESE PRAY FOR PEACE 

German bombs marked "Iron Greetings for Malta" (NWMA Malta)

German bombs marked “Iron Greetings for Malta” (NWMA Malta)

After a night disturbed by enemy bombing and reconnaissance raids, people in Malta awoke today to the prospect of Christmas under fire.  Extra prayers for peace were added to the traditional nativity services. 

The alarm sounded again mid-morning, and the Maltese readied themselves to spend Christmas Day in underground shelters.  The choir of St Pauls Anglican Cathedral, normally full for the annual carol service, sang to a nearly empty church as people listened via Rediffusion in the safety of their homes. Thankfully no bombs fell and the enemy stayed away for the rest of the day, despite several clear spells between the chilly showers.

The question facing every household in recent days has been how to mark this important religious and family festival under increasingly strict rationing.  Mothers have faced a challenge to produce anything like the usual festive food, with shortages of key ingredients such as flour, eggs and potatoes.  Determined not to disappoint, they have improvised with powdered egg and any fruit, dried or otherwise, they could find to provide something special.

Military traditions were also upheld, as officers turned waiter and served Christmas dinner to the Other Ranks.  Servicemen were delighted to receive special parcels containing a few home comforts, made up by schoolchildren back in the UK.

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, accompanied by Chiefs of Staff, made a tour of the airfields and military bases.  Former Governor Sir Charles Bonham Carter, now Commandant of the Kings Own Malta Regiment, sent a seasonal greeting: “Wishing all ranks a quiet Christmas and after victory return in peace to their homes in 1942.”

Otherwise for Malta’s armed forces, it has been a day like any other.  The Island’s defenders stood ready round the clock to deter raiders and the unlucky members of the Island’s air forces embarked on the usual round of attacks on enemy convoys and land targets.  Those who were spared took the opportunity to celebrate:

“Christmas day was spoiled for us as most of us were to operate. Crews were chosen by lot but we weren’t picked. We had planned a big dinner and drink but of course that went west. However they were all scrubbed before take off so we all went to the mess and had a do. I met Charlie Pouriville from Sherbrook and took him along. He is on his way to Cairo. It was a very drunk up in the mess. Red Murray and I bought two bottles of Scotch. The W/C and some of the officers were up there. Broke up pretty late. Red rode a bicycle down the slope and didn’t get killed. We built a bonfire on the floor and went to bed. No air raids today.” (1)

CHRISTMAS DINNER UNDERGROUND

The Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta reflects on Christmas under siege:

“The first alert was just as I was communicating the last five people at the Sung Eucharist; so we came down to the Crypt and finished the service there – a thing we have not had to do for several months.

After a light lunch, I lit our first fire and watched it start for some time, luxuriating in the play of its flames. We shall try to do without one except on the most special occasions. The evening broadcast of carols went very well; the dimmed lights of the Chapel, the rich crimson colour of the altar curtains blazing red from the glow of eight candles which stand upon it, and two standards at the sides make a glorious picture, and the voices of the choir echoing round the pillars of the church must be very moving. Not many come to the cathedral, but one hopes that many listen to the reproduction.

…We had invited five men to dinner, one of whom did not turn up, Captain Hussey of HMS Lively; we suppose he was suddenly sent to sea. The others were Flight-Lieutenant Waterfield, a very intelligent man who knows Italy well and was in charge of the British Institute at Palermo, Smith a W/T officer in the Breconshire; Caesar a 2nd Lieutenant in the Hampshires who was in Libya; and Lieutenant Rimmer our choirmaster…

We had taken the precaution to have a spare table ready in the Crypt; and it was well that we did so, for an alert was sounded at 19.30 just as we were wondering where Hussey was, and whether to start. So we came downstairs and the guests quickly transferred plates and glasses to the whitewashed funk-hole. There was not much gunfire and we were able to eat in quiet…It was the first time in my life that we did not have a pudding made from my mother’s recipe – but materials were unobtainable…

It was a very happy evening as happiness goes in these bitter days…” (2)

RATIONS TIGHTENED

Governor’s Report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for December 1941

The following measures of food control have been undertaken:-

  • (a)  All bread sellers have been registered, and regulations have been made under which every household has to register with a single bread seller.  This registration is now practically complete and will enable closer check to be kept on issues of flour.
  • (b)  Regulations are being issued to enable closer control to be kept on supplies of meat to institutions, restaurants, hospitals, etc.
  • (c)  Arrangements have been made to control all supplies of eggs coming from Gozo, which constitutes a very large part of the total egg production.  Requirements of civil and military hospitals and other institutions are being met from this supply and the rest is distributed through the usual channels.
  • (d)  Tomato paste has been added to the list of rationed commodities.

In order to tighten control over bus services, and make it easier to effect further economies on petrol consumption if necessary, regulations have been issued under which as from 1st January, route managers and dispatchers of buses will be Government employees and not employees of the bus owners.  Scheme is being financed by levy on bus owners and increase in licence fees.

Over 500 tons of seed potatoes from Cyprus have been received and arrangements are being made for free distribution by the Department of Agriculture.

Merry Christmas from Malta.

AIR RAIDS 25 DECEMBER 1941

0114-0440 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft approached singly from  the north and carried out intruder tactics round the Island.  Bombs were dropped near Rabat searchlight station, on Ta Qali flare path, near Qawra Tower searchlight and Ghar Lapsi.  Heavy Ack Ack fired two barrages; no claims.

1123-1132 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three enemy aircraft on reconnaissance approached from the north and receded when still 20 miles from Island.  Seven Hurricanes from Ta Qali were scrambled; no interceptions.

Night  Four alerts were sounded during the night for a small number of enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped on land at Gzira and in the sea off Delimara.  Ack Ack engaged during three alerts, destroying one enemy bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores and four Swordfish laid mines off Tripoli.

HAL FAR  Night 24/25th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  All aircraft returned safely.  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition intense but wild.  Weather 1/10 – 3/10.  Cloud at 8000 feet.  Visibility good.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance Unit 2 Gerbini, Catania.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked schooner and minesweeper.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 (1 x 70kg; 1 x Thermos). 

(1) Extract from A Flyer’s Diary by Jim White (Air Shared Magazine, see http://pawsey.net/whiteproject/joewhitediary-part2.htm

(2) Extract from diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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