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3 February 1942: Air Raid Shelters Overcrowded

03 Feb

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BUSY SHELTERS CANNOT MEET DEMAND

“When an air raid alarm is given, huge crowds of people can be seen heading for [the shelter at 111 Kingsway, Valletta]…large enough to hold at least 150 people, whilst in a raid this place is sheltering approximately 300 people with more than 50 persons outside the passage hoping to get in.” (1)

Shelter in South St, Valletta (NWMA)

With raids now often continuous throughout the night, air raid shelters are becoming congested with chairs and bedding brought in for comfort and rest.  Anticipating a night of raids, people begin to rush to shelters straight after supper and spaces are often over-subscribed.  Lt Gen Dobbie reports that the Government has decided to appoint wardens to manage the situation:

“Shelters have come into their own again as the main topic of public interest, and this has led to motion in the Council for investigation of methods of improving shelter accommodation by Select Committee consisting of certain elected members.  This Committee is now sitting.

Main problem is the earliest extension of accommodation so as to provide room for sleeping, drainage and lighting for shelters.  All these matters are being dealt with by the Government as you will see from despatch now on its way.  Public are being kept fully informed of the measures taken.

Need for shelter wardens is also urgent, but so far it has proved impossible to obtain more than a small number of volunteers.  Am very doubtful whether payment of low wages, which is all that would be justified, would attract the right people, and as I am sure the most satisfactory solution would be to induce persons who could exercise some authority in the shelters to come forward voluntarily, I am arranging further strong appeal to be made.  If this fails we shall probably have to resort to pay and I will address you further.”

Read more about air raid shelters – see Malta at War (r)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 4 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Gale force wind and rain all morning; bright periods afternoon, weather moderating.   Aerodromes at Hal Far and Ta Qali flooded.

0837-0852 hrs  Two aircraft fly from north to south passing 25 miles east of the Island, then recede south east.

0941-1212 hrs  Six aircraft approach singly from the north and south east, and patrol an area fifteen miles south east of the Island.  One JU 88 bomber crosses the coast at about 3000 feet and drops bombs near Kalafrana, between defence posts of 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment.  Light Ack Ack guns engage.  Another aircraft approaches Marsascala, is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and jettisons bombs in the sea.

1409 hrs Kings Own Malta Regiment reports a mine spotted about 400 yards out of Zurrieq towards W Bassasa.

1627-1824 hrs  Ten JU 88 bombers and four ME 109 fighters come in singly, dropping bombs on Gozo, then on Hal Far.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; Light Ack Ack damages one JU 88 which recedes with smoke pouring from a port engine.

1650 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi landing strip and Tal Liebru area.

1745 hrs  Four Hurricanes are airborne from Ta Qali, intercepting JU 88s over Hal Far.  P/O McNamara attacks one JU 88 at 250-300 yards, scoring strikes, then attacks another JU 88 in stern, scoring strikes and using up all his ammunition.  Three other Hurricanes attack the same machines from 200-400 yards: all score strikes and damage the JU 88s.

1820 hrs  All clear: all Malta aircraft return safely.

Night  Weather deteriorates.

0610-0749 hrs  Four bombers approach the Island singly and drop bombs on Grand Harbour and Kalafrana areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 3 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Beaufighters, one Clare from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Clare to Cairo.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF15 patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance (PR) Messina; one Beaufighter PR Taranto.  21 Squadron  Six Blenheims despatched to attack shipping Palermo.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI   249 Squadron stood down.  126 Squadron on readiness with 242 Squadron.  Night weather deteriorating – no intruder raids from Ta Qali.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT A’ Coy were to hold a training exercise but it was cancelled owing to rain.

2ND BN ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Mine exploded on rocks 30 yards from C Company post SB1.  No damage to post or personnel.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1st Bn attended Northern Infantry Brigade lecture on Ack Ack problem in Malta.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party 120 strong.  Several plots during the day.  Bombs fell at Ta Xbiex, damaging C Company windows.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint 1981

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

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3 Comments

Posted by on February 3, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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3 responses to “3 February 1942: Air Raid Shelters Overcrowded

  1. Bruce McNair

    February 13, 2017 at 3:10 am

    Hi Joseph-Interesting conundrum here. The second man from the right, dressed in a white sports coat and wearing sunglasses looking over his left shoulder, is my Dad Buck McNair RCAF. The conflict is that he was posted to Malta (249 Squadron) between 21 February 1942 and 27 June 1942! Your caption seems to fix the date of the photo as 3 February “42, before he arrived. Possibly the photo and the date were just randomly associated to flesh out the journal entry by the original author?

     
    • maltagc70

      February 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Thanks for the ID; most interesting. The image is used here as an illustration of a shelter. ED

       
      • Bruce McNair

        February 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm

        I know the shot has been used for the shelter aspect- that’s what makes it such a hoot for me. I’ve had the photo for decades and always wondered why Dad wasn’t up in the air, wreaking havoc with the Hun. He was probably out on a date and was feeling badly about not being able to respond to the sirens. His time with 249 Squadron in Malta was significant, both for him and the enemy. Great site! I look forward to reading these daily reports. Thanks for the effort and time spent.

         

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