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421 MALTA CIVILIANS KILLED SINCE JUNE 1940
FROM: Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie) TO: Secretary of State for the Colonies
Most important event of the month was the arrival of convoy of three ships totalling 21000 tons on 19th January. This was most welcome after nearly four months without convoys and has greatly encouraged us all. I will report further when unloading is completed, but the convoy brought valuable replenishments of wheat, coal, kerosene, and other commodities.
Raids have greatly increased in frequency during the past month. There were 150 alerts during the day and 103 at night. These included 68 raids by day and 64 by night during which bombs were dropped. 91 persons were killed (41 men, 18 women, and 32 children) and 99 seriously injured (47 men, 22 women and 30 children). 430 houses and 35 other premises were demolished or badly damaged. Worst incidents were at Gzira on the night of 1-2nd January when 27 people were killed and 9 seriously injured, and at Mosta during daytime on 19th January when 16 people were killed and 11 seriously injured. In neither case were people in the shelters.
The total number of casualties since the beginning of the war with Italy is now 421 killed, 396 seriously injured. 5106 houses, etc., have been demolished or badly damaged…(to be continued)
ARMY CHIEF ISSUES ORDERS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING
The GOC has issued instructions that more fitness training will be carried out. Already started with physical training for all ranks daily before breakfast, a full fitness training will begin from next week.
The program includes one four mile cross country run weekly; one cross-country run weekly (starting with 1/4 mile and working up to 1 mile); one route march every fortnight during which 15 minutes will be marched and the next five minutes run, alternately throughout. Lastly bicycle reconnaissance tours will be carried out so that units may learn all areas of the Island. These will work up to 30 mile cycle marches.
AIR RAIDS SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 1942
Weather Wind south west. 30% clouds; fine.
0904-1052 hrs Two JU 88s escorted by nine ME109s approach from the north and drop ten bombs on Hal Far badly cratering the aerodrome, damaging one Swordfish and one Hurricane, a Bofors gun, and one billet and predictor of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.
0950 hrs 225 LAA Battery engages the JU 88s, claiming one hit. Malta fighters are up and engage one JU 88. Heavy Ack Ack engages until our fighters give “Tally Ho”. Enemy fighters are too low to effect Ack Ack engagement. One JU 88 follows the raid on reconnaissance at 25000 feet.
1010 hrs Seven aircraft of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali. S/Ldr Beazley and P/O Tedford attack six JU 88s and twelve ME 109s; they are forced on the defensive by ME 109s and see no results of their attack on JU 88s. P/O Tedford attacks a ME 109, with no result.
1102-1144 hrs Eighteen plus aircraft approach from the north. Enemy fighters patrol south of the Island, while nine JU 88s escorted by fighters cross the coast to the north west. They drop bombs on Luqa, damaging several aircraft, including specially-equipped Wellington bombers, and starting a fire. Heavy Ack Ack engage. L/Cpl G Spiteri of D Company 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment, on duty at Luqa aerodrome, is killed by shrapnel wounds to the abdomen.
1314-1320 hrs Two aircraft approach the island and are identified as friendly.
1325 hrs Fifteen aircraft of 126, 242, and 249 Squadrons are scrambled at Ta Qali. P/O Moon of 249 Squadron joins with 185 Squadron from Hal Far to attack a JU 88, causing damage to the engine. The enemy raid ultimately fades. P/O Moon is hit in the glycol tank and manages to land with his engine off, at Luqa airfield.
1333-1412 hrs Twelve plus unidentified aircraft approach from the north but recede without crossing the coast. Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.
1419-1441 hrs Two JU 88 escorted by three ME 109s approach from the south and drop bombs in the sea, south of the Island. Hurricanes are up and engage a JU 88, claiming probable damage.
2226-2248 hrs One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea to the south east of the Island, before receding north.
2325-2347 hrs One aircraft approaches from the north, skirts the Island to the north and north-west and crosses the coast in the Qrendi area, dropping bombs near Hal Far.
0013-0136 hrs One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea off St Thomas’ Bay, before receding north. Heavy Ack Ack do not engage because a friendly aircraft is taking off.
0150-0212 hrs One aircraft approaches from the north. Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage and bombs are dropped in the sea before the aircraft recede north.
Civilian casualty Mqabba John Mary Briffa, age 54.
OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 1942
AIR HQ Arrivals One Albacore from Berka; one Catalina from Aboukir. Departures One Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one Hudson to LG 224.
HAL FAR Eight hurricanes 185 Squadron engaged a formation of two JU 88s and four ME 109s. Both JU 88s and one ME 109 were damaged. One Hurricane slightly damaged but pilot unhurt. Night 24/25th Three Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel, seen earlier by an Albacore. The Swordfish failed to locate the ship. All aircraft returned safely.
TA QALI Aerodrome serviceable. One airman attached to Kalafrana for Police Course. 1920-0150 hrs Intruder raids over Sicily commenced by 1435 Night Fighter Unit, with raids over Catania, Cerbini and Comiso. S/Ldr Westmacott patrolled Catania for 1hr 20 mins – no activity on aerodrome but heavy Ack Ack. F/Lt Palmer patrolled Comiso for half an hour, finding all lights on. He saw JU 88 taking off at 2030 hrs and fired a three-second burst at 600 feet. A bomber disintegrated in mid-air. He fired at another on the ground and gave a two-second burst at 4-500 yards but saw no results owing to intense Ack Ack. No searchlights [active]. F/Lt Stones, F/O MIlls and F/Sgt Fowler found nothing on patrol: weather deteriorating.
1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT 1600 hrs Funeral of Private F Smith at St Andrews Cemetery.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.
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