20 January 1942: Bomb on Dockyard Buries Nine

20 Jan

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62 bombers and fighters carry out in five raids; their targets Hal Far, the Dockyard and the convoy ships in Grand Harbour.  At 1430 hrs a heavy bomb aimed at the ship Rowallan Castle demolishes the clothing store at Marina Pinto, burying nine people under debris.  Royal Engineers (RE) rescue parties dig through the night in an attempt to recover survivors.  Only one civilian is found alive.

Bomb damage GOC’s residence Pieta (NWMA Malta)


An unexploded bomb falling on the residence in Pieta of the Army General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major-General D M W Beak split the house in two, leaving the GOC stranded on the top floor with no means of escape.  No-one was hurt.

The RE Bomb Disposal Officer attended immediately, and neutralised the 500kg bomb’s fuze.  However, air raids and the building’s precarious state prevented the immediate removal of the bomb which was placed under guard.  (1)


Weather   Wind west.  100% low cloud.  Thundery showers.

0628-0753 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north.  One bomber patrols south east of the Island.  The other two drop bombs in Mellieha and Qawra Tower areas.  Guns do not engage.

0850-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0928-1004 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers with fighter escort approach from the north.  One JU 88 crosses over Grand Harbour on reconnaissance, followed by a second JU 88 which dives down to drop bombs over the Dockyard.  Four bombs land in the Dockyard School and Verdala Barracks area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire height control; no Hurricanes are airborne.

0955 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engages one JU 88 at 5000 feet, claiming one hit.

1134-1253 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s approach from north.  One JU 88 crosses over Delimara and drops bombs in Marsaxlokk Bay and near Zejtun.  The ME 109s remain off the east coast at 5000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

1405 hrs  Eight aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1410-1503 hrs Three JU 88s escorted by twenty ME109s come in from the north and drop bombs on Marino Pinto, Ospizio, Guardamangia, Gzira and Tal Qroqq, on the Dockyard, and Floriana, Tal Qroqq and Birkirkara.  Heavy Ack Ack engages and Hurricanes chase one JU 88, without results.

1534-1730 hrs  Enemy aircraft come in from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.  Three aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1947-2137 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island from the north, two turning back thirty miles out.  The rest do not cross the coast but orbit to the east apparently unable to find the Island.  One aircraft is barraged as it approaches from the east.

2045-0230 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs on the Safi strip and the Grand Harbour area.

2153-0230 hrs  Six aircraft approach the Island, three only crossing the coast.  Two are turned away by barrages.  Bombs are dropped near a military defence post, severing an overhead electric cable, as well as west of Hal Far and west of Gzira.  No military damage is reported.

Military casualties  L/Cpl Reginald Carter, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Thomas Hall, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Gunner Philip Sammut, Royal Malta Artillery; WO1 Alfred Newman, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

Civilian casualties  Floriana Carmelo Grima, age 37; Hamrun Carmelo Brincat, age 54, Wigi Micallef, age 55; Lija Luigi Fenech, age 47; Mosta Edwige Vincenti, age 37; Sliema Attilio Mamo, age 45.


AIR HQ  Arrivals One Clare from Cairo; two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures One Clare to Lisbon; two Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol. 21 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked barracks west of Homs. 40 Squadron  Three Wellingtons nuisance raid on Tripoli. S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aircraft returned [to base] from operating at Luqa.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT A & D Companies fired their pistol course during the morning.  The Battalion is providing a guard and a working party on the GOC’s house which was hit by a bomb.  Luckily the bomb failed to explode but the house received extensive damage.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1(500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries. 

(1) UXB Malta, SAM Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized


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