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21 January 1942: Army CO Tells Officers to Toughen Up

21 Jan

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MERCHANT SHIP’S CAPTAIN ‘VERY SHAKEN’

Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta

“…While we were there three Merchant Captains arrived, and we were glad of their company. One arrived late one night having had great difficulty in getting there. As he left his ship a stick of bombs dropped alongside in the harbour. Mrs. G. put him to bed and kept him there for two days. They had come from Alexandria and had been thoroughly bombed on the journey. He was very shaken…

HMS Aurora

While walking one day near Boschetto House I saw a raid. This is only the second that I have been able to see. Three bombers came from the direction of [Cospicua] dropped bombs on either Luqa or Hal Far (I could not be sure which) and then fled – but not as you might expect out to sea and so soon out of range of our batteries – right across the island in a circle to the northward of where we were, approaching closer to us as they flew. They were being chased by the barrage – instead of running into it – and they got away.” (1)

ARMY COMMANDER DEMANDS IMPROVED ENDURANCE

This afternoon the Island’s new Army General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major-General D M W Beak, will give the first of a series of three lectures to all Officers in the Malta Command.  The GOC, who arrived in Malta two weeks ago, will stress the importance of and need for improvement in “leadership, endurance, discipline and the offensive spirit”. He is also to announce that Physical Training and cross-country runs are to be instituted for all ranks.  The presentation will include a lecture on “War Neuroses” by Captain Johnson, RAMC.

AIR RAIDS WEDNESDAY 21 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Weather:  Wind south west.  Cold.  Bright periods.  Wet periods.

0630-0753 hrs Bombs near Salina Salt Pans.

0842-0900 hrs  Air raid alert.  Turns out to be friendly aircraft.

0935-0959 hrs  Twelve plus aircraft approach the Island from the north and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack positions and HMS Aurora to the north of Grand Harbour.  No bombs are dropped: believed to be a reconnaissance mission.

1030-1105 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by [twelve] ME109s drop bombs in the sea off Kalafrana and at Hal Far, near a working party of  2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment working on a 2000 yard extension to the runway.  The stick of bombs falls through the middle of the dispersed working party, killing Private F G Wingett, E Company.  Corporal Jeffery, Privates Lang and Blackman are slightly injured.  One elephant shelter a petrol dump and cycle repair shop of C Company are hit.  Three Hurricane aircraft are also damaged in the Hal Far dispersal area.  Bombs are dropped in the sea near Dingli as well as two on land near Benghaisa.  The enemy are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.

1045 hrs  1st Battalion, Kings Own Malta Regiment find a dead body in the sea; presumed to be an Italian seaman.  Barrels in the sea off Ghajn Znuber Tower are found to be Italian and contain petrol.

1410-1507 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers come in over Delimara, are barraged and jettison their bombs in the sea.  One JU 88 flies in over Grand Harbour, descends to 10000 feet and drops bombs near Safi, and between Misrah Blandun and Bubaqra, before retiring south, and then turning north east.  Three ME109 fighters patrol eight miles off the east coast at a height of fifty feet.  Four bombs are dropped on Hal Far with no damage or casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack is fired at various heights.  Hits are claimed by fighters on four bombers and four fighters but this has not yet been confirmed.

1611-1637 hrs  One JU 88, escorted by five ME 109s, attacks out of the sun, dropping bombs on Hal Far.  Anti-aircraft guns of 225 LAA Battery engage as the aircraft recedes.

1901-2030 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches the Island from the north east, orbits at 5000 feet south of the Island, climbs to 11000 feet and drops bombs in the sea south east of Kalafrana.  Anti-aircraft artillery does not engage.

Night  Bad weather restricts offensive operations from Malta, and only one enemy raider approaches the coast dropping its bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Private Frederick Wingett, 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Maria Bugeja, age 9.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 21 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ Arrivals one Cathay from Cairo.  Departures one Wellington to LG 224.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Hurricane photo-reconnaissance (PR) Tunis and Bizerta; one Maryland SF6 patrol; one Beaufighter PR Palermo, Messina and Taranto; one Maryland SF 16 patrol.  40 Squadron  Two Wellingtons nuisance raid Sicilian aerodromes.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Bad patches on aerodrome.  Our fighters still only able to operate from Luqa.  Funeral of three airmen killed on 19 January.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  X Squadron, 6 Royal Tank Regiment amalgamated with Malta Tank Troop as “Malta Tanks” with effect from this date; the whole remaining under CIB for administration.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  B Company supplies working party for unloading convoy which arrived yesterday.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 1 (50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  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 January 21, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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