22 January 1942: Fierce Air Battle Over Malta

22 Jan

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Weather  Wind south south-west.  80% low clouds.

0855-0904 hrs  Air raid warning; nothing transpires.

1120 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

1128-1207 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by five Macchi fighters approach the Island.  The bombers cross the coast over Delimara and drop twelve bombs on Hal Far, badly cratering the aerodrome and damaging buildings as well as two Hurricane aircraft.

As two Hurricanes from 242 Squadron dive through the barrage to attack the enemy, they are hit by friendly Anti Aircraft fire.  Sgt Harvey manages to land with a damaged tail but Sgt Neale spins in on landing and is killed.  Sgt Gardiner attacks a JU 88 from 50 yards, apparently damaging both engines; the bomber turns westwards, losing height rapidly.

F/Lt Kemp and Sgt Hale attack three of the Macchis.  F/Lt Kemp chases one out to sea and gets in several bursts of machine-gun fire.  The Italian is last seen spinning slowly into cloud, with brown smoke streaming from the engine: probably destroyed.

Other Malta Squadrons on the offensive force enemy raiders to drop their bombs in the sea.  P/O Man attacks a JU 88 and uses up all his ammunition: but claims one JU 88 damaged.  P/O Crichton attacks a JU 88 and gets in a long burst of machine-gun fire up to 50 yards.  Small pieces of the bomber’s engine appear to break off.  F/Lt Davis and P/O Tedford then attack the same JU 88, which is last seen at a height of twenty feet, thirty miles north of Gozo.

242 Squadron’s total claims: one Macchi or ME 109 probably destroyed by F/Lt Kemp; one JU 88 probably destroyed by Sgt Gardiner; one Ju 88 damaged P/O Mann; one JU 88 damaged by F/Lt Davis, and P/Os Crichton and Tedford.

1400 hrs  Thirteen aircraft are scrambled from 126, 249 and 242 Squadrons.

1408-1455 hrs  While one raid of three aircraft patrols off the south of the Island, another raid of twelve plus crosses the south coast and drops bombs on Hal Far and Safi, Ta Liebru and Misrah Blandun.  Two bombs fall on the aerodrome but no damage is reported.

The Hurricanes engage the enemy: Sgt Boyd attacks a JU 88, causing its engine to stream black and white smoke.  He claims one JU 88 probably destroyed.  P/O Kee, leading a top cover of fighters, attacks two enemy fighters getting in a four-second machine-gun burst, damaging the fuselage of one: he claims one ME 109 damaged.  As enemy raiders recede northwards, all Hurricanes land safely.

HMS Abingdon

1545-1653 hrs  24 aircraft approach from various directions, some of them attacking the minesweeper HMS Abingdon off Zonkor Point.  One aircraft then crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour, dropping bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no Hurricanes airborne.

2152-2257 hrs  One bomber approaches Kalafrana via the east of the Island and drops bombs in the Delimara area.  Throughout the raid single enemy aircraft patrol 40 miles east of the Island.

2316 hrs  Four bombers approach from the north; each is barraged as it comes in.  Several bombs are dropped in the sea, one on land near Qawra Tower area, and another on land south of Wardia.

0109-0135 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and are barraged.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Leonardo and on land near Ghallis Tower.  No damage is reported.

0151-0410 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the coast three times, at Marsaxlokk, Kalafrana and north west of Dingli.  The aircraft is illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrages.  Bombs are dropped on land between Bubaqra and Hal Far: no damage is reported.

Military casualties  Sergeant Donald Neale, Pilot, RAF, 242 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY  A large enemy convoy was sighted by RAF reconnaissance during the day.  Two submarines are sent out at short notice and Force K is standing by.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Champion from Cairo.  Departures  One Champion to Lisbon.

HAL FAR  Night 22/23rd  Three Albacores were despatched on shipping search Tripoli-Kerkennah area.  No sighting was made.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland SF 9c patrol; one Maryland SF 9d patrol; one Beaufighter Photo-reconnaissance African aerodromes.  21 Squadron One Blenheim special search, toe of Italy and Sicily.  40 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome surface drying but bad patches.  94 airmen commenced training with the Army on [airfield] Defence Scheme.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa continues, also unloading convoy. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 3 (2 kg incendiaries).


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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in 1942, January 1942


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