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MALTA AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS DAMAGED; CIVILIAN AND MILITARY CASUALTIES
AIR RAIDS 29 DECEMBER 1941
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.
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. (1) 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.
(1) The vessel was the schooner Marie Georgette, skippered by Marcel Theuma, sailing from Malta to Gozo with passengers on board. Theuma managed to beach the vessel but it was attacked again and he was fatally wounded. Two other crewmen were killed.
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