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Monthly Archives: January 2017

24 January 1942: 132 Bombing Raids Since Christmas

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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.

465 buildings damaged or destroyed this month

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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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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23 January 1942: 8 Hours of Night Bombing

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  • Italian troop-carrying liner sinks
  • Kings Own Malta Regiment to defend beaches
  • Two Gunners killed in action

Fairey ‘Swordfish’ with torpedo

SWORDFISH SINK ENEMY TROOP SHIP

Late last night nine aircraft from Hal Far were despatched to attack a large Italian convoy en route from Taranto to Tripoli.  Engine trouble and navigational problems forced the raiders to turn back before reaching the target.  One Albacore is reported missing, along with its crew, Pilot S/Lt Laidlaw and Observer S/Lt Roberts.

Aware that four previous convoys have made it through with reinforcements to Axis forces in Tripoli in the past ten days, Royal Navy command scrambled another force of six Swordfish to take up the chase.  Two returned with engine trouble but the rest made contact with the convoy of three merchant ships and a passenger liner, with an escort of twenty vessels.  Despite air cover numbering twelve JU 88 bombers, two of the Swordfish managed to launch torpedoes at the liner before making their escape.  All six aircraft returned safely to Hal Far.

Reports are coming in that a ship identified as the Italian 13000 ton fast passenger liner Victoria, has sunk with the loss of a third of the 1400 Italian and German troops who were on board.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT TO DEFEND BEACHES

The Kings Own Malta Regiment (KOMR) have been allocated increased responsibility for beach defences, to release British units for other duties.  The 2nd Battalion KOMR will now cover St Paul’s Bay and Ghain Tuffieha areas in the north west of the Island.

AIR RAIDS 23 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south.  50% cloud; warmer.  Aerodrome serviceable.

0619-0655 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the east and drops bombs in the sea south east of Delimara.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.  A second aircraft appears from the north, then turns east ten miles north east of Grand Harbour, circles north of the Island and then, when on a south-westerly course, drops bombs in the sea ten miles from Palace Look-out.

0729-0737 hrs  Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.

0819-0837 hrs  Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.

0846-0958 hrs  Two ME 109s approach from the north and patrol round the Island, machine-gunning a submarine, which crash-dived.  Fourteen plus aircraft then come in from the north, dropping bombs in the sea before patrolling to the east of the Island.  No aircraft cross the coast.

1040-1108 hrs  Four ME 109s patrol to the east and south of the Island, where the plot fades.

1140-1156 hrs  Four ME 109s approach from the north and carry out a patrol to the south of the Island.  A report of bombs in the sea south of Hal Far is unconfirmed.  Guns engage.

1211-1310 hrs  Eleven plus aircraft carry out fighter patrols, attacking minesweeper HMS Abingdon with grenades and machine-guns.  They also attack a Maryland which lands safely.  Two Hurricanes are sent up but do not engage.  Heavy Ack Ack engages.

1325-1328 hrs  Air raid warning. Aircraft identified as friendly.

1425 hrs  Twelve aircraft from 242, 126 and 249 Squadrons, Ta Qali, are scrambled and engage five JU 88s and several ME 109s.  Sgt Etchells attacks a JU 88 and gets in a five second burst: claiming ‘damaged’.  F/O Kay attacks a ME 109 and gets in two bursts from astern: claims ‘damaged’.  All Malta aircraft return safely.

1446-1555 hrs  Seven JU 88s, escorted by twenty fighters, approach from the north.  ME 109s machine-gun HMS Abingdon, WD [dredger] Lord Plumer and other small craft off Grand Harbour.  Private F Smith, acting as Ack Ack Light Machine Gunner on the vessel is killed.

Bombs are dropped on Gozo and on the north side of Hal Far dispersal area, damaging eight Hurricanes.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s and one Macchi 200.  They claim one hit on the Macchi, which recedes losing height.  Gunner J Dowling sustains a head injury from bomb splinters and suffers from blast, when a bomb drops near Harrow [gun] position.  He is rushed to hospital at Imtarfa, but dies soon after admission.

Military casualties  Gunner John Dowling, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment; Private Francis Smith, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment.

1637-1649 hrs  One JU 88 comes in from the north at 22000 feet, passes the island and approaches the coast from the south east, is engaged by heavy Ack Ack, turns away and recedes north.

1845-1912 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in Grand Harbour and on land.  Heavy Ack Ack fires three barrages.

2210-2245 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Safi strip, on Tal Papa/Hal Far crossroads and between Tarxien searchlight and Zeitun..  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage and searchlights.  Tarxien searchlight is machine-gunned.

2311-2352 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in St Paul’s Bay area and near Ta Qali.

0011-0054 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west and drop several bombs in the Latnia and Mqabba areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.

0150-0248 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west and drop bombs in Gudja area and in the sea.

0310-0329 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Rabat area, in Siggiewi, and on a searchlight position at Zebbug, with a direct hit on a generator.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.

0349-0411 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Mgarr area.

0427-0438 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in Targa and St Paul’s Bay areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fires two barrages.

0456-0545 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Bingemma area.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 23 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  One Cathay to Lisbon.

HAL FAR  Seven Swordfish 830 Squadron and two Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack convoy of one battleship, four cruisers, fifteen destroyers, one liner and three merchant vessels.  All seven Swordfish returned early, either with engine trouble or because they failed to formate.  One of the Albacores failed to locate the convoy and the second Albacore failed to return to base.  Missing crew S/Lt Laidlaw, pilot, and S/Lt Roberts, observer (1).

Second striking force of six Swordfish despatched to attack above convoy.  Two aircraft attacked returned with engine trouble.  Two aircraft attacked one of the largest merchant vessels (12000 tons), torpedoes ran well in the direction of the ship and possible hits were scored although no results were observed.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Cairo 1 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 2 patrol; one Beaufighter Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto Harbour; one Beaufighter PR Messina, Palermo.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  1000 hrs  Funeral of Sgt Neale at Bighi.  Four airmen returned to Luqa and ceased attachment.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Inspection and check of War Accommodation Stores at Mosta and St Edwards.  Funeral of the late S/Cdr Newman RAOC at St Andrews Cemetery.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  45 officers and Other Ranks attended a lecture at the Marsa Club given on “The Anti-Aircraft Problem”.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Gozo boat again machine-gunned: no damage.  Lecture at Marsa on “The Anti Aircraft Problem”.  Working party of stevedores from this unit ceased [unloading convoy] as from tonight.

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

(1)  The crew were taken prisoner by Italian troops who also captured their Albacore aircraft (www.fleetairarmarchive.net)

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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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22 January 1942: Fierce Air Battle Over Malta

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HURRICANES FIGHT OFF ENEMY BOMBERS AND FIGHTERS – RAF PILOT KILLED BY FRIENDLY FIRE

AIR RAIDS 22 JANUARY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 22 JANUARY 1942

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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21 January 1942: Army CO Tells Officers to Toughen Up

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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

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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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20 January 1942: Bomb on Dockyard Buries Nine

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BOMB INTENDED TO HIT CONVOY SHIP

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)

ARMY COMMANDER’S LUCKY ESCAPE

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)

AIR RAIDS 20 JANUARY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 JANUARY 1942

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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19 January 1942: Over 70 Attackers in 3 Hours as Convoy Arrives

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MOSTA CASUALTIES

72 enemy aircraft attacked Malta today as an incoming convoy approached bringing essential supplies to the Island.  A massive attempted raid on the convoy at 1230 hrs was driven off by Malta’s Hurricane squadrons, airborne to protect the vessels.  Less than an hour later, raiders returned for a heavy bombing raid on the Hurricane base at Ta Qali, causing heavy casualties in the town of Mosta.  All ships arrive safely in Grand Harbour.

CONVOY DOCKS SAFELY DESPITE RAIDS

Clan Ferguson

Ajax, Clan Ferguson and City of Calcutta steamed into Grand Harbour this afternoon, bringing reinforcements and 30000 tons of supplies for Malta. (1)  The convoy left Alexandria on 16 January in two groups, with the aim of dividing the attention of the enemy, before merging yesterday for the final run to Malta.  The Island’s Royal Navy Force K set out to relieve the protection vessels and cover the convoy’s approach, supported by RAF Hurricane aircraft.

AIR RAIDS 19 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west.  80% low clouds.  Bright periods with thundery showers.

Dawn  An enemy submarine is sighted five miles ahead of the incoming convoy, off the Island of Filfla; two Albacores go to attack but are shot down by an ME109 (the crew is rescued).

0831-0856 hrs  One JU88 bomber and three ME109 fighters pass near the incoming convoy of six destroyers and three merchant ships, to the south of the Island.  Hurricanes are up covering the convoy: no engagements.

0911-0939 hrs  One aircraft approaches Gozo from the north and recedes.  Hurricanes are up but do not engage.

1227 hrs  20 JU 88s with fighter escort attempt to attack the incoming convoy, which is protected by Hurricanes.

1300 hrs Hurricane SU 174 crash lands at Luqa, damaged by enemy fire: the pilot is uninjured.

1315 hrs  JU 88s attack Ta Qali, dropping nine bombs on the aerodrome and leaving four craters on the aerodrome surface.  Two direct hits on a rock shelter cause part of the roof to cave in.  A dispersal hut of 249 Squadron is damaged, one Hurricane, one Blenheim damaged.  Another Blenheim is damaged by fire.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

Bombs are also dropped on Hal Far and on Mosta, where at least thirteen civilians and three airmen are killed.  Three more people are seriously wounded; fifteen slightly injured and in shock. One RAF billet at 122 Eucharistic Road is destroyed, another at 9 Tower Street is damaged.  Two motor buses and one lorry are damaged.

1447 hrs  Raiders passed.  The convoy enters Grand Harbour undamaged.

1517-1546 hrs  One JU 88 crosses the Island from south to north over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engages; fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1717-1811 hrs  42 aircraft (JU 88s and escorting ME 109s)  approach from the north.  Five ME 109s dive down to 400 feet and attack Swordfish aircraft on Hal Far airfield, damaging one.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the ME 109s, damaging one.  The JU 88s cross over Kalafrana and drop bombs in a Wied [river valley] near Hal Far, and 200 yards off the coast.  There is no attack on the convoy in Grand Harbour.

2022-2048 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

2114-0144 hrs  Three aircraft approach during this period and carry out patrols around the Island, dropping bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages but operations are modified due to take-off and landing of friendly aircraft.

0206-0303 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and patrol round the Island, crossing the coast before receding.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages.  Bombs are dropped near Mellieha, Ta Silch and Hal Far.  One airman is killed at Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack operations are modified due to take-off and landing of friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  LAC Harold Greenacre, RAF, 249 Squadron; LAC James Sim, RAF; Cpl John Small, RAF, 249 Squadron; Private John Spiteri, 3rd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Gunner Samuel Vickers, 10th HAA Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Luigi Barbara, age 60, Ines Bugeja, age 4, Joe Bugeja, age 7, Karmnu Buguja, age 5, Karmnu Bugeja, age 58, Mariana Bugeja, age 43, John Caruana, age 7, Francesca Riolo, age 71, Sunta Riolo, age 30, John Spiteri, age 23, Orazju Schembri, age 19, Evangelista Vella, age 34, John Vincenti, age 45; Lija John Fenech, age 27.

Enemy casualties  Alfred Beier; Kurt Krause; Waldemar Nikolay; Sebastian Pietschnig.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 19 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Swordfish from 235 Wing.

HAL FAR Two Albacores 828 Squadron carried out anti-submarine patrol.  One Albacore was shot down into the sea by enemy fighters (ME 109s).  The crew, S/Lt Howson and ALA Hedgman were rescued; both were wounded.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland Cairo 5 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 4a patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance North African aerodromes.  21 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked Catania aerodrome.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Squadrons operating from Luqa, attached there for the day.  Four Hurricane bombers 249 Squadron proceeded Comiso and attacked target from 15000 feet.  Fires started: no opposition.  All aircraft returned by 0810 hrs.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  X Squadron, 6th Bn Royal Tank Regiment (OC Major Longworth, RTR) arrived in Malta and was placed forthwith under CIB for admin.  They are accommodated in the area of Verdala Palace.  From today to end of January the CIB will provide working parties of 400 men for extension of dispersal areas at Luqa: allocated 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers 170, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt 130, 2nd Bn Royal West Kents 100.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B & C Companies carried out the firing of the pistol course today.  Training is becoming more difficult daily.  We are now providing 130 men daily for working parties on Luqa aerodrome.  In addition today we have to find 20 men for unloading of a convoy of three ships.  This will probably last ten days.

2ND BN DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 150-200 men engaged in building 2000 yards runway at Hal Far until further orders.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 6 (4 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg, 1 x Thermos) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  “This convoy brought in 20 Bofors 40mm AA guns together with 21 officers and 412 OR of 65th LAA Regiment. 8 A9 and A13 Cruiser tanks were also unloaded, to be manned by 85 officers and men of A Squadron, 6th Royal Tank Regiment. The ships also brought the first 4000-lb aircraft bombs to arrive in Malta for the RAF’s Wellingtons, 18 being unloaded. ”  Robert Dimech

“My great Uncle died on that day – he was a member of the 65th LAA regiment – the family story is that he went down on a ship in Malta but we have no further information and this looks like a good candidate.”  Roger Bradbury

 

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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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18 January 1942: Mystery Air Crashes

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Inquisitor’s Summer Palace

DELIVERY HUDSON AND ENEMY BOMBER CRASH WITHIN YARDS

Early this morning a Lockheed Hudson aircraft on a delivery flight into Malta crashed in mysterious circumstances near the Inquisitor’s Palace, with only one survivor.  Twenty minutes later a JU 88 bomber crashed within 400 yards of the same location, killing the entire crew.  Cause of the crashes is unknown; the bomber was not under fire at the time.

MALTA BOMBERS ATTACK AXIS AIRFIELD

Malta’s reconnaissance squadron reports an increase in the number of bombers in Sicily.  Under cover of darkness, eight Wellington bombers from Luqa launch a heavy attack on Catania.  Pilots report at least seven fires and several explosions.  Blenheim aircraft follow up with a further attack on the airfield.

TWO OF THREE AIRFIELDS STILL WATERLOGGED

Bad weather means Hal Far and Ta Qali are still unserviceable; all aircraft and crews from Ta Qali are transferred to Luqa.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 18 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind west.  50% cloud.  Bright periods with thundery showers.

0620 hrs  A Lockheed Hudson plane crashes near the Inquisitor’s Palace.  There is one survivor.

0623 hrs  Nine bombers approach from the north; only two cross the coast.  The remainder patrol south of the Island.  One JU 88 crosses over St Paul’s Bay, is engaged by a barrage and drops bombs east of Wardia and on the Qrendi strip.

0645 hrs  The second enemy raider crosses the coast at Madliena at 700 feet and crashes into the hillside near the Inquisitors Palace: this aircraft was not barraged.  There were no survivors.

0945-1005 hrs  One JU 88 bomber crosses the coast near Dingli, dropping bombs in the Zebbug area.  Heavy ack ack engages.  Two Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1026-1106 hrs  Six enemy aircraft (two JU 88 and four fighters) approach from the north via the east coast.  One bomber crosses the island from south to north without dropping any bombs.  A second aircraft drops bombs near Bingemma.  Heavy Ack Ack is engaged.  Seven Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.  Throughout the raid there are one or two doubtful ‘plots’ patrolling 25 miles south east of the Island.

1526-1546 hrs  Three aircraft approach the east coast and recede.  Eight Hurricanes are airborne: no engagement.

1735-1745 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1932-2122 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and patrols round the Island for 1½  hours, dropping bombs in the sea near trawlers.  The aircraft then crosses the coast near Kalafrana, dropping incendiary bombs, flares and grenades.  Heavy Ack Ack are on the alert for returning Wellingtons.

2207-2305 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the coast in the Mellieha area, dropping bombs in the Dingli area and two near Imtarfa.  Aircraft carry out a patrol round the Island before receding.

2319-2353 hrs  One aircraft approaches Gozo and recedes without crossing the coast.

0009-0140 hrs  One aircraft crosses over Gozo from the north, dropping bombs on Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack fires two immediate barrages.

Civilian casualties  Zebbug  Filippo Chircop, age 68.

Military casualties  Sgt Alan Story, Pilot, RAF (Volunteer Reserve); Sgt Percy Hankins, WOAG, RAF (Volunteer Reserve); Sgt Noel Wouldes, Observer, Royal New Zealand Air Force; all 59 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Felix Dieter Schleif, 1/NJG2, Pilot; Gefreiter Rolf Wiegand, 1/NJG2, Wireless Operator; Gefreiter Karl-Heinz Buelow, 1/NJG 2, Flight Engineer.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 18 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons, one Hudson to LG224.

HAL FAR  Night 18/19th  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on shipping sweep.  Only one small ship of 800 tons sighted.  No attack.  All aircraft returned with torpedoes.  Five Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched on shipping sweep.  No sightings.  All aircraft returned safely with torpedoes.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Cairo 2 search; one Maryland Cairo 1a search; one Maryland Cairo 5 patrol.  21 Squadron One Blenheim Cairo 4 search; one Blenheim Cairo 1b search; one Blenheim Cairo 4 patrol.  S/D Flight  one Wellington special search.  40 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons attacked Catania aerodrome.

TA QALI  All available aircraft and 150 men transferred for 24 hours to Luqa. Four men removed from crashed Hudson aircraft.  One injured, three killed.  All members of delivery flight.

8TH BN MANCHESTER REGIMENT The bodies of three Italian seamen were washed ashore in the Battalion’s northern sector.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Orders of Battle: HQ Fortress RE Malta IX/18/2 includes 16 Fcoy (to be disbanded), 24FCoy, 127 & 128 Bomb Disposal Sections (formed in Malta).  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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