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Monthly Archives: February 2017

28 February 1942: Spitfires Not Coming to Malta

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MALTA’S COMMANDERS REVIEW A HARD MONTH

  • 235 air raid alerts; 222 bombing raids
  • 118 civilians killed; 153 seriously wounded
  • 8 enemy aircraft destroyed by Ack Ack fire; 11 by RAF fighters
  • Rainfall double the average; airfields waterlogged
  • 29 air attacks by Malta forces on enemy bases; 15 on shipping
  • 100+ reconnaissance missions
  • Seven Hurricanes lost in action

“Throughout the month weather conditions were bad.  There was much rain and percentage of cloud which greatly assisted the enemy in his bombing objectives.  The main targets were the aerodromes and the submarine depot.  Particular attention was also paid to the Grand Harbour.  Of the three aerodromes, Ta Qali received more attention than hitherto.  There appeared to be an increase in the bombing of civilian dwellings, and Valletta, Sliema and Mosta suffered heavily.  There was a general increase in the number of casualties both service and civilian. 

Favourable weather conditions for the enemy combined with the effectiveness of the Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) barrage in many cases turned away the hostile bombers from their targets, but at the expense of the civilian thoroughfares – hence the damage and casualties in Sliema and Valletta.  The enemy scored a notable success in the bombing of the Grand Harbour by the sinking of HMS Maori on the night of 11/12th

Our bombers continued their offensive operations against the enemy bases in Sicily, and interception of enemy convoys to and from North Africa by our submarines was not prevented by the determined enemy attacks on Lazaretto and Manoel. 

Nothing new appeared in enemy tactics, although the re-appearance of the Stuka (JU 87) occurred during the afternoon of the 13th.  “G” Mines were also dropped on various occasions.  Despite adverse weather conditions our fighters and HAA continued to exact toll from the enemy, the AA shooting in particular being good.”

 OPERATION SPOTTER SPITFIRE DELIVERY ABORTED

The convoy carrying a shipment of Spitfires which set out from Gibraltar on Thursday has turned back.  The decision to call off the mission is not due to enemy action: the aircraft carrier Eagle with Spitfires on board was well protected, with eleven Royal Navy ships of Force H as well as support aircraft on board the carrier Argus.  However, once launched from the carrier, pilots faced a 700 mile onward flight to Malta.  According to reports, adaptations to the Spitfires’ fuel supply system have malfunctioned.  Long-range flights cannot be attempted until the problems are rectified.  The dangers presented by delivery flights is emphasised by the loss of one of seven Wellingtons en route from Gibraltar today.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 28 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Bad: extremely heavy rain and low clouds; strong wind.

No raids during the day or night owing to bad weather.

1141-1159 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1203-1220 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Captain William Parnis, MC, OBE, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Wellingtons from Gibraltar (one missing).  Departures  Five Wellingtons to LG 224; one Wellesley and four Beaufighters to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2A patrol and photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa.  One Beaufighter Sicilian Task.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable during the day: no scrambles.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strength:  32 Officers; 186 Other Ranks; MAS 4 Other Ranks; LAD 14 (attached).

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Brigade ceremonial parade cancelled owing to rain.  GOC visited HQ Company: was quite pleased with what he saw.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Strength:  34 Officers; 827 Other Ranks; 5 RAOC (attached).

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Observation Post at Tal Minsia handed over to 1/Cheshire Regt.  Intellingence Section returned to Bn HQ.  Strength:  25 Officers; 548 Other Ranks (Malta); 3 Officers; 96 Other Ranks (Middle East.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  B Company take over posts on Victoria Lines perviously held by A Company.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn Observation Posts: HQ, Miziep, Torri l’Ahmar, Selmun.  Strength:   32 Officers plus 1 Chaplain, 1 Officer attached.  3rd Bn Strength:  27 Officers; 778 Other Ranks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Bn:  A Company Tal Karceppu; B Coy & HQ Ta Salvatur; C Coy Ta Hasluk; D Coy Tal Providence.  35 Officers; 779 Other Ranks.  Also Medical Officer and Chaplain attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  During the whole month, the Battalion has provided a daily working party, average strength 140 men, at RAF bomber aerodrome, Luqa, performing the following tasks:  (a) repairing bomb crater damage on main strip; (b) widening taxi strips; (c ) building dispersal areas for aircraft.

 8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During the month the dispositions of the Battalion have altered; the Bn now has three completely mobile Companies which are primarily responsible for the Wardia Ridge but may be called on for a counter-attack role in any part of the Island.  All Officers and NCOs have carried out a reconnaissance of the other two Brigade areas. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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27 February 1942: Twelve 1-Ton Bombs on Malta Submarine Base

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MASSIVE BOMBS ON MANOEL ISLAND IN DAYLIGHT RAIDS                                      

A dozen 1000kg (1 ton) ‘Hermann’ High Explosive bombs were dropped in three air raids targeting Malta’s submarine base this afternoon.  During three raids the bombs fell the tiny island and the peninsula of Tigne, where one barrack block was damaged and nine military personnel injured. 

HMS Upholder

“… poor Manoel Island suffered yet again. Manoel is a little island about a mile and a half in circumference. It lies exactly opposite our home, at a distance of 500 yards. It is the Submarine Base and is called HMS Talbot. There are usually at least four submarines lying there, resting and replenishing between their ‘patrols’ which occupy about a fortnight at sea. The men live ashore in an old building which used to be the Lazaretto or infectious hospital. It is heavily defended with 4 big A-A 3.5 guns as well as smaller stuff. The barracks have been hit several times, the Chapel which has a very attractive facade which faces us has been gutted, but the facade still stands… two Greek officers who are part of the Ship’s Company of a Greek submarine which has been working with us were killed.” (1)

Last night a Malta-based submarine, HMS Upholder, torpedoed and sank an Italian merchant ship SS Tembien 24 miles out of Tripoli – unaware that the vessel was carrying 469 Allied prisoners of war who had been captured at Tobruk.  390 died, plus 68 Italians and 10 Germans.

ESSENTIAL SPITFIRES ARE ON THE WAY

Squadron Leader Stan Turner DFC & Bar (maltagc70: 24 Feb 42) – now leading 249 Squadron in a mission to strengthen fighter operations from Malta – has become increasingly frustrated at the lack of suitable aircraft complete his task.  Every day he collects reports of unsuccessful attempts by the Island’s remaining Hurricanes to fight off superior Luftwaffe aircraft.

According to one of his able pilots, Flt Lt Laddie Lucas:  here, on this battered and isolated Island set in a mainly hostile sea, everything had to be improvised. The do-it-yourself, make-do-and-mend, cobble-the-parts-of-three-damaged-aircraft-together-to-make-one-fly concept ruled everywhere…Out of some sixty or seventy aircraft in varying states of damage and disrepair, there was a daily average of a dozen serviceable Hurricane IIs on the Island against Kesselring’s front-line strength of some 400 aircraft in Sicily.”

After two weeks on the island Turner gave Malta’s Air Officer Commanding an ultimatum:  “Either sir,’ he said to Lloyd, ‘we get the Spitfires here within days, not weeks, or we’re done. That’s it.”

Today Turner prepares to receive his first delivery of fifteen Spitfires, on their way from Gibraltar via carriers Argus and Eagle, under the protection of convoy Force H.  Meanwhile fifty personnel of 249 Squadron are transferring to Luqa aerodrome, from where they will operate the long-awaited Spitfire flight.  (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 28 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south: clear sky at first, high cloud later.

0742-0749 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters approach from the north and attack a submarine off the entrance to Grand Harbour.  They recede northwards without crossing the coast.

1117-1153 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches from the south, crossing Hal Far and the Harbour area at 24000 feet.

1200 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne from Ta Qali: no interceptions.

1200-1254 hrs  Fifteen plus aircraft approach from the north, splitting into two formations ten miles north of Grand Harbour.  Twelve fighters patrol south of the Island while two JU 88 dive on the Harbour.  Bombs fall on Tigne Barracks, damaging one barrack block and causing nine casualties, none fatal.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1435 hrs  Five Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali and intercept JU 88s and fighters, scoring strikes on both: no claims.

1436-1533 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fighters approach from the north and drop bombs on the Lazaretto area.  Hurricanes, Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  D Company of 3rd Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment engage one JU 88 with small arms fire.

1520 hrs  Light Ack Ack damage one JU 88.  Two gun positions of 225 Light Ack Ack Regt engage one JU 88 at 4000 feet.  No hits claimed.

1535 hrs  Nine Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali: no interceptions.  All aircraft return but four land at Hal Far.

1538 hrs  Twelve plus ME 109s patrol the Island first, then three JU 88s come in from the north, are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and drop bombs in the sea to the east.

1640 hrs  One Hurricane is airborne; lands at Hal Far.

1715 hrs  One Hurricane airborne; lands at Hal Far.

1850 hrs  All clear.

2106-2143 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2312-2336 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north over Gozo and drops bombs in the Salina Bay area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0324-0328 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Identified as friendly aircraft.

0438-0510 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north but do not cross the coast.

0535-0618 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north; the first does not cross the coast.  The second approaches Grand Harbour, is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and drops its bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Richard Rickards, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Xmas; Sub-Lieutenant Vyvyan Kelsey, Malta submarine base HMS Talbot; Commander Basil Aslanoglou and Lieutenant John Kostakos, Royal Hellenic Navy, submarine Glaukos.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Ganni Borg, age 51.

Enemy casualties  Konrad Schmidt.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Wellingtons and six Beaufighters from Gibraltar (one Beaufighter missing); five Wellingtons from UK (one missing).  Departures  Eight Wellingtons to LG224; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland photo-reconnaissance (PR) Naples; one Beaufighter PR Messina harbour and east Sicilian aerodromes, then PR Tripoli Harbour; one Maryland PR Pantelleria and south west Sicily.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.  37 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour plus a warehouse and railway station.  Bursts seen in Harbour, Spanish and Taramonli Mole.  One ship set on fire, tonnage not known.  Half an hour later there was a terrific explosion followed by smaller ones.

TA QALI  249 Squadron personnel move to Luqa: 50 of them to operate from there with Spitfires.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT All Companies went for route march and run.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Observation Post at Tal Minsia handed over to 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.  Intelligence Section returned to Bn HQ.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  Handed over Observation Post at Tal Virtu.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls courtesy of website: Malta Family History 

(2)  Quotes courtesy of Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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26 February 1942: 36 Bombs on Luqa

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LUFTWAFFE PINPOINT BOMBING DESTROYS AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Enemy bombers launch yet another series of raids on Malta’s defences, this time concentrating on Luqa.  36 High Explosive bombs are dropped on the airfield, including two massive 1000kg ‘Herman’ bombs.  Yet again the Island’s infantry battalions are hard at work filling in craters to keep the aerodrome serviceable.  One senior infantry officer looks back on a month of repeated bomb attacks on Malta’s airfields:

“During this month the enemy maintained bombing attacks on the Island with a view to neutralizing the aerodromes…The attacking enemy planes were German and the usual formation was 3 JU 88s escorted by about 9 MEs.  The bombing which was done by both the JUs and the MEs from a great height was very accurate.  The targets have been the Harbour areas, and the aerodromes and [their] dispersal areas.  The line of aerodromes and dispersal areas running from Luqa to Hal Far has had particular attention.  The enemy has been successful in destroying our planes on the ground and occasionally in rendering the aerodrome runways unserviceable for a short period…”  Captain R T Gilchrist, Southern Infantry Brigade

SOLDIER DECORATED FOR BRAVERY

Private R J Pierce of D Company, 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, is awarded the British Empire Medal (Military Division). His citation reads: “On 15.6.41 an accident occurred in a land mine field in which a number of civilians were injured.  Learning of the Private Pierce proceeded to the scene and made contact with three badly injured persons lying in the middle of the minefield, to whom he rendered first aid.  He remained in the area, acting as guide to the Air Force Medical Officer and his party, and enabling them to avoid the mines.  He then rendered valuable service in removing the casualties.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 27 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Deteriorating: rain at times.  Cold wind; south west.

1140 hrs  Nine Hurricanes are scrambled from Luqa and land at Ta Qali.

1305 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1306-1312 hrs  One unidentified aircraft approaches from the south to within 15 miles, turns eastwards and recedes south. Hurricanes do not intercept.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1410 hrs  Eight Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1412-1426 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the west above the clouds and drops bombs on Luqa.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Hurricanes do not engage.

1437-1447 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali: no interceptions.  Raid does not materialise.

1817-1824 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Aircraft is identified as a returning Maryland.

1951-2119 hrs  Two single aircraft drop bombs in Kalafrana Bay and near Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2143-0130 hrs  Four aircraft approach the Island singly.  Two are intruders which patrol for returning Wellingtons.  The other two drop bombs on the Safi strip, near Kirkop village, near Rabat, and in the sea.  Civilian property is damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0221-0300 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs between Madliena and Gharghur.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0554-0627 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs between Ta Qali and Rabat, and near Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack did not engage as the aircraft stays within an area where gunfire is prohibited.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Reginald de M Smith, age 53

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 26 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eight Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Blenheims to Marsa Matruh; one Hurricane to Heliopolis; one Fulmar to El Adem; six Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2A patrol; one Maryland SF1A patrol.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.  37 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour. 

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa working parties cut down to 20 men per Company.  0930-1200 hrs  Brigade Wireless Exercise: all Companies took part.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Private R J Pierce, D Company, awarded the British Empire Medal (Mliitary Division). 

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Lecture to Battalion Officers by Squadron Leader, Fighter Command.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on February 26, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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25 February 1942: Governor Telegrams Urgent Need For Help

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  • Six night raids: main target Luqa
  • Wellingtons land while airfield under attack
  • Floating mine sighted close to shore
  • RAF reports soap shortage

LT GEN DOBBIE NEEDS PERMANENT STAFF

From:  Governor & C in C Malta                                                                To:  War Office

Lt Gen Dobbie

Personal for CIGS from General Dobbie.  For nearly two years I have been trying to function as Commander in Chief and fortress commander without any staff beyond my A MS except what I have been able to borrow or improvise from time to time.  This has been most unsatisfactory and has made my work viz a viz the services very difficult.  I have come to the conclusion that a properly appointed permanent staff is necessary while the war lasts or at any rate for so long as Malta is a centre of active operations.  I have approached the Admiralty and Air Ministry and they have very kindly appointed a commander and wing commander respectively to my staff.  I need in addition an army officer.  He must be a properly trained first grade staff officer preferably PSC and fitted to act as my Chief Staff Officer.  I cannot find such a one from the garrison here, nor can I deplete the staff of the GOC by taking one of his staff.  I therefore ask that the appointment of a GSO 1 be approved for this purpose for the duration of the war and that he be sent out to me without delay.  In view of the nature of his duties he must be very carefully selected.  I trust you will give me this help which I feel I need badly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 26 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Fine periods; wind slight, south-west.  Deteriorates to rain.

0925-0938 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1053-1107 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1453 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a mine floating past west Zurrieq towards west Bassasa.

1750 hrs  Four Hurricanes 1435 Squadron scrambled from Ta Qali.

1752-1815 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north, drops bombs north of Ta Qali and retires north-west.  Hurricanes attack a JU 88: no claims.

2032-2115 hrs  One JU 88 approaches the Island from the north and drops bombs in Zebbug and Gudja areas, and in the sea off St Paul’s Bay.  Seven barrages are fired.

2324-2340 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north to within ten miles of Gozo, orbits and recedes north east.

2353-0022 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses Grand Harbour and drops bombs near Tarxien.  The plane then recedes south and does two runs across the coast near Kalafrana, dropping bombs on the Safi strip and in the Zebbug-Qormi area before receding north.  During the raid Wellingtons manage to land at Luqa.  Four barrages are fired.

0225-0258 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north, drops bombs on Baida Ridge, then heads south west for ten miles before turning and dropping more bombs near Ghain Tuffieha.  Three Wellingtons circle Luqa for over an hour during the raid.

0353-0443 hrs  Two unidentified bombers approach the Island from the north.  One patrols 35 miles to the west of Gozo and recedes north.  The second aircraft comes to within 15 miles east of Zonkor before receding north.

0448-0732 hrs  Three unidentified aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea off Torri Qalet Marku.  Two barrages are fired.

Military casualties  Lance-Corporal Leonard Dawkins, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment; WO2 Leonard Beaumont, 4th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery, aged 40 years.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Anthony Borg, age 60.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  Three Beaufighters, one Beaufort, one Blenheim to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2A patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.  37 Squadron  Six Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Men are suffering from the lack of soap and other toilet requisites.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Petrol-less day.  Battalion TEWT again cancelled owing to bad weather.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion Night Scheme from 0200 hrs until 1230 hrs: area of Scirocco.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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24 February 1942: Bombs Target Cathedral – Civilians Buried Under Debris

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BOMBS STRIKE THE HEART OF VALLETTA:  MILITARY HELP WITH RESCUE

This afternoon enemy raiders drop bombs from a height of 5000 feet on the city of Valletta.  They land just yards from St John’s Cathedral, demolishing houses and shops in Zachary Street.  Civilians are reported buried under the debris.  The call goes out to Army units for rescue parties to help in the rescue operation.

S/Ldr Percival Stanley “Stan” Turner, DFC & Bar (courtesy Canadian Air Aces & Heroes)

MALTA’S NEW FLYING ACE TALKS TACTICS

Squadron Leader Percival Stanley (Stan) Turner DFC & Bar – recently posted to Malta to improve fighter operations – takes to the skies to demonstrate the tactics he believes are needed to win the air battle against the Luftwaffe:

One morning – it was 24 February – Turner took me by the arm in the Mess at Mdina and led me out onto the balcony overlooking the airfield… ‘Look here,’ he said, ‘you’ll be one of the flight commanders in the Squadron and I shall look to you to help me with changing the flying pattern here. We can’t have any more of this goddam VIC formations otherwise we’ll all get bumped, that’s for sure. I want you to learn this line-abreast stuff with me. And quickly.’ …’a couple of guys will never get bounced: attacked maybe, yes; but never surprised, no kidding.’

Reflective, yet impatient, he looked down at the airfield. ‘They’ve got several serviceable aeroplanes down there this morning. If Ops have got nothing on the table we’ll grab a couple of aircraft and run the sequences through. If a raid develops while we’re up, we’ll get stuck into it.’

My log book shows that we were airborne for thirty-five minutes in our clapped-out Hurricane IIs. My recollection is that during that time it seemed that Stan had the throttle of his aircraft permanently ‘through the gate’. It was all I could do to keep station. His taut nerves dictated his air speed. All the while, Woodhall, controlling from the ‘hole’ in Valletta, was in touch over the R/T, his deep, unhurried voice dispensing confidence.

‘Stan,’ he said, rejecting the Squadron’s ‘Tiger’ call sign, ‘there are some little jobs at angels 20 going south very fast. They may be working round up-sun behind you. Keep a good look out.’

‘OK, Woody,’ said Stan, ‘I can see them.’ With that, he seemed to find a bit of extra boost and headed up towards the sun. ‘We’ll just have a swing round,’ he said, over the R/T, ‘and see if we can get at the bastards.’ There wasn’t a chance of it.

Nothing doing, we went back to Takali and landed having done few of the manoeuvres Stan had been talking about. We walked back to what had once been 249’s dispersal hut from our aircraft in their sandbagged pens. The CO lit his pipe. ‘That’s it then,’ he said, ‘all there is to it. Just remember to keep the speed up. It’s no good floating about round here.’” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 25 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather Improved: less wind; brighter periods; warmer.  Wind south.

0801-0813 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0930-0943 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1126 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali – four of 1435 Flight, the balance of 242 Squadron.  They attack two JU 88s: no claims.  A number of ME 109s patrol around the Island.

1145 hrs  One JU 88 comes in and drops bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome, damaging buildings, cratering the runways and cutting the RAF line to the dispersal area. P/O MacNamara is killed; F/O Lloyd and A/C Smith are injured and taken to hospital.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.

1210 hrs  The remaining two JU 88s follow and drop bombs between Safi and Hal Far, straddling Xleili Tower.

1227 hrs   All clear.

1510 hrs  Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1530 hrs  Eight JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack in waves of twos and threes.  Bombs are dropped on Valletta, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s fighters engage ME 109s: no claims.  P/O Tedford is reported missing.  S/Ldr Turner crash lands at Luqa.

1700 hrs  Five Hurricanes scrambled to search for P/O Tedford: no results.

1727 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Zachary Street, near St John’s Cathedral, Valletta, demolishing houses and shops, and burying civilians under debris.

1800 hrs  1st Bn The Cheshire Regt and 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are called in to help remove the debris.  They work in shifts through the night in an attempt to rescue survivors.

1817 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi landing strip.

1842 hrs  All clear.

2022-2045 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north; Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

2232-2310 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on Qrendi strip.  One stick of 250kg bombs straddles D Company HQ, of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment: no serious damage or casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0020-0043 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

0342-0356 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns at 25 miles and recedes.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Thady Brian McNamara, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald Tedford, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  John Borg, age 51; Ghaxaq  Ubaldesca Vella, age 32; Sliema  John Brincat, age 32.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from 231 Wing; three Beaufighters, one Beaufort, one Blenheim from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night 24/25th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron on search for pilot of missing Hurricane off coast of Malta.  Nothing sighted.  Three Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to attack two merchant vessels and one destroyer.  Owing to very bad weather nothing was sighted.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1430 hrs All Companies did their cross country run.  1727 hrs  Bombs dropped on Valletta.  Working party of 1 Officer and 30 Other Ranks sent to clear debris.  Worked from 1800-2100 hrs and 0001-0300 hrs.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  L/Bdr H L Glover and Gunner N Burrows are interred at St Andrews Military Ceremony.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  4 ARWs during day – bombs on aerodromes and Valletta.  Bn provided working party to clear Zachary Street.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1)  Memories of Flt Lt Laddie Lucas, 1942, courtesy of Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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23 February 1942: Malta’s medical Supplies Running Out

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MEDICAL STOCKS URGENTLY NEEDED

From:  Governor & C in C Malta                                                   To:  The War Office

1.  Government medical stocks are estimated generally speaking to last four (repeat four) months with the exception of certain item very urgently required which were specified in my COSUP 51631 of 26/1 to Crown Agents and for which I have requested despatch by air.  Other items of which we have less than three months supply are specified in monthly lists and should be accorded priority of shipment.  I have consulted the pharmaceutical profession regarding stocks of medical stores held by chemists and a survey of their stock position is now being undertaken.  Result of survey will form subject of a further telegram…

HMS P38

MALTA BASED SUBMARINE LOST

Having left Malta on 16 February on a mission to attack a large convoy aiming to supply Axis forces in Tripoli, HMS P38 was attempting to attack the convoy to the north of Tripoli when she herself was attacked and forced to surface.  Further gunfire and depth charges sank the submarine, with the loss of all 32 hands.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 24 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Mixed: rather cold; wind stronger.  Low cloud later; wind south west.

0758-0832 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters approach from the north, circle the Island, then recede.

0920-1005 hrs  18 enemy aircraft approach from the north.  One JU 88 bomber crosses over Grand Harbour, apparently on reconnaissance.  Fighter-bombers attack the Hal Far area.  Various small formations of ME 109s patrol the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Bombs are dropped near Tal Papa; one explodes close to a gun position, killing two Other Ranks of the Royal Artillery, and injuring three.  The gun and predictor are put out of action.

1024-1047 hrs  Two ME 109s approach from the north, apparently on patrol.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne; guns do not engage.

1122 hrs  Eight JU 88s, three ME 109 fighter bombers and fifteen escorting fighters approach from the north and attack Ta Qali, Kalafrana, Luqa and Safi.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, claiming two hits and shooting down one JU 88.  The aircraft catches fire and pitches into the sea three miles out, west of Filfla: three bale out and one is rescued by 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1240 hrs  Ten Hurricanes of 185 Squadron are airborne  and attack two JU 88s and six ME 109s: claiming two JU 88s damaged; and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One Hurricane crash lands at Hal Far.

1246 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Safi landing strip, killing one Other Rank of 4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment, and injuring another two.

1339 hrs  All clear.

1409-1442 hrs  Eight ME 109s and two unidentified aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no fighters are airborne.

1500 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled.

1528-1821 hrs  Twelve ME 109s approach the Island in two formations.

1540 hrs  The first formation dives on Ta Qali and drops twelve bombs, damaging the Guard Room, Billet No 15, blackouts and motor transport vehicles.  LAC Calton is injured and later dies in hospital.  The eleven Hurricanes attack four ME 109s: no claims.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

The second formation makes a complete circuit of the Island: four come in over Ghain Tuffieha and drop two bombs.

1700-1800 hrs  ME 109s search for their own aircraft in distress.

1800 hrs  Two JU 88s come in at 10000 feet and drop bombs in French Creek and on the Safi strip.  No barrage is fired due to the proximity of own fighters.

1907-1920 hrs  Two bombers approach the Island, drop bombs in the sea ten miles to the north and recede.

2046-2056 hrs  One aircraft comes to within 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, apparently on a search, then recedes north.

2127-0229 hrs  Eleven enemy bombers come in, crossing and re-crossing the coast at various points.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Grand Harbour, near Ghar Lapsi, near Bubaqra observation point, near Gudja, in Kalafrana area, Ta Qali and Luqa areas, on Ta Karach Heavy Ack Ack position (causing one slight injury), near Hal Far, on the Safi strip, in the sea off Delimara and on Marfa Ridge.  Twelve barrages are fired.

0330-0400 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north, drops eight bombs on the coast near St Georges, crosses the Island and recedes northwards over Gozo.

0421-0508 hrs  One aircraft crosses the coast three times at various points and is barraged twice.  Bombs fall in the sea east of Qawra Tower before the aircraft recedes north.

0536-0601 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north and is barraged, causing him to drop his bombs four miles east of Torri L’Ahmar.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Michael Holdsworth and Sub-Lieutenant Norman Clark, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (shot down overnight: 24/2/1942); LAC Douglas Calton, Royal Air Force; Private Thomas Frampton, 4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Gunner Sidney Atkins, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance-Bombardier Harold Glover, 74th LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, aged 30 years.

Enemy casualties  Werner Wonde.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  One Flamingo to Heliopolis; three Blenheims to Mersa Matruh.

HAL FAR  Night 23/24th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack anchored ships of the coast of Tripoli.  The ships were not sighted; aircraft returned to base with torpedoes.  Weather: visibility one mile; hazy.  Three more Albacores 830 Squadron despatched to attack same ships.  S/Lt Cramp crashed soon after take-off: crew unhurt.  S/Lt Holdsworth was shot down off Tripoli.  Missing crew: S/Lt Holdsworth, pilot, S/Lt Clark – observer.  The third aircraft did not sight the ships and returned to base.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.  37 Squadron  One Wellington despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  No shipping located.  Aircraft bombed main quay.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties on Luqa 140 men.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Mortar platoon took over camps at Dingli and Rabat.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs near C and D Companies and in Siggiewi area during the night.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.   

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

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

 

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22 February 1942: Guns May Be Withdrawn From Malta

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  • Fifteen raids in the last twenty hours
  • Two air raids – lasting all day
  • 116 enemy aircraft over Malta
  • ME 109s dive-bomb aerodromes
  • Almost continuous dog-fights
  • Hurricanes and Ack Ack claim hits

WAR OFFICE WARNS GUNS NOT IN USE SHOULD GO TO MIDDLE EAST

From:  The War Office                                                                To:  Governor & C in C Malta; copy C in C Middle East

Understand you have recently received Mideast ten (repeat ten) German 0.77mm guns with ammunition, but that you have not the personnel to man them.  If this is so suggest you return guns and ammunition to Mideast at first opportunity.

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 23 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Fair; wind south-westerly.  Low cloud later in day.

0922-1312 hrs  Four waves of three JU 88s each, with approximately ten fighters as escort, attack Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Three ME 109s dive on Hal Far and are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regt.  During pauses between bombing ME 109s patrol south of the Island.

A total of 52 bombs are dropped on Hal Far, causing severe damage to buildings.  Cinema and motor transport buildings are demolished by direct hits, which destroy one omnibus, two light cars, two tractors and a petrol bowser.  Other vehicles are badly damaged.  Aircraft damaged: five Albacores (three write-offs) and two Swordfish.  Personnel casualties: one seriously injured, three slightly.

1100 hrs  One gun position of 225 Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regt engages one JU 88: no claim.

1121 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the area of Misrah Blandun.

1130 hrs  One gun position of 225 LAA Regt engages one ME 109 at 3000 feet: no claim.

1135 hrs  Eight aircraft are airborne from Ta Qali and attack three JU 88s and fighters: claims two probable, three damaged.

1200 hrs  A bomb near A Company of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment severely injures L/Cpl R Crawford in the head.  [He is taken to 90 General Hospital but dies later.]

1209 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the area of Misrah Blandun.

1255 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

1312 hrs  All clear.

1325 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1345 hrs  Two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment engage three JU 88s: no claims.

1353 hrs  Seven unidentified bombers and twenty-five escorting fighters approach from the north.  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far, Lija, Nadur, Ta Qali, Luqa (including the Safi strip), Tal Liebru and in the sea.  At Ta Qali one Hurricane is written off and a barrack block severely damaged.  One airman is killed. At Luqa One delivery Wellington under repair is destroyed and another seriously damaged; one Hurricane is damaged.  Three soldiers are injured.

Hurricanes claim one JU 88 destroyed, one ME 109 destroyed.  S/Ldr Chaffe, OC 185 Squadron, is shot down.  He is later spotted in a dinghy 4-5 miles south of Delimara Point but is not picked up.  Heavy Ack Ack fire 13 barrages.

1400 hrs  Light machine guns of 1st Bn Dorset Regiment engage one ME 109 fighter from Fort Ta Silch; no claim made.

1445 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Safi landing strip.

1547 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Safi landing strip and Ta Klantun area.  Two unexploded bombs are reported west of Ta Karach.  Guns of 225 LAA Regt engage three JU 88s at 4-5000 feet, claiming one hit.

1815 hrs  225 LAA Regt: all guns engaged three ME 109s at 3-5000 ft.  One hit is claimed.  Billets are damaged at one gun position and a generator at another is rendered unsafe.

1905 hrs  225 LAA Five gun positions engaged one JU 88.

1910 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Safi landing strip.

2055 hrs  All clear.

2104-2115 hrs  One enemy bomber approaches from the north east, dropping bombs in the sea ten miles east of Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2300 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali aerodrome, causing damage to one Hurricane, a steam roller and fire fighting equipment.

2314-0030 hrs  Two enemy aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs south of Ghain Tuffieha and between Ta Qali and Naxxar.  Heavy Ack Ack engage five times.

0042-0235 hrs  Two enemy aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs east of Rabat searchlight position, and in the sea north of Grand Harbour.  One barrage is fired.

0502-0625 hrs  A single enemy aircraft approaches from the north to within 15 miles of the coast then recedes north east.

Military casualties  Squadron Leader Ronald Chaffe, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron, Hal Far; Sub-Lieutenant (A) J Buscall, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (attached to HMS Grebe the Naval Air Station in Egypt, but operating from Malta); Lance Corporal Robert Crawford, 8th Battalion Kings Own Royal Regiment.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Walter SCHWARZ, Pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, shot down: his body was recovered from the crashed aircraft.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 22 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from Gibraltar (one missing); six Wellingtons from Shallufa; two Albacores from El Adem (one missing).

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search for convoy.  21 Squadron  Two Blenheims despatched to carry out SF2 modified.  One aircraft returned owing to hatch blowing off.  F/Lt Mitchell also returned.  Took off again but was attacked by ME 109s so returned.  S/D Flight  One Wellington search for enemy sea forces.  Returned with oil trouble, then took off again.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bombs in Battalion area 80 feet from HQ billets – no casualties but electric cables down.  AOC held memorial service at Battalion HQ.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  One ME 109 shot down in this area.  Wreckage guarded by D Company.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

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

 

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