13 February 1942: All Day Attacks on Malta – Convoy Lost

13 Feb

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  • Air raid warnings begin at 9.30 am and last all day
  • Jericho trumpet announces JU 87B Stuka dive-bombers over Malta
  • 500kg bomb penetrates air raid shelter
  • Convoy cannot get through despite 25 ship protection
  • HMS Tempest torpedoed and sunk
  • Interim fuel supplies arrive by submarine


JU 87 Stuka dive-bomber

Reports have been confirmed that Junkers 87 dive-bombers have joined Luftwaffe operations over Malta.  Also known as the ‘Stuka’, the JU 87’s ‘Jericho Trumpet’, a wailing siren which sounds as the aircraft dives and climbs, can strike terror in the hearts of those under fire.


This afternoon enemy aircraft spotted a convoy heading for Malta and attacked the merchant vessel Clan Campbell, forcing her to turn back.  The ship was one of two merchantmen which left Alexandria yesterday loaded with supplies for the Island, including desperately-needed fuel.  Rowallan Castle sailed two hours later, loaded with ammunition and other supplies including a Bofors gun, and accompanied by four destroyers.

The two Clan Line ships were accompanied by a protective force of one cruiser and four destroyers.  Despite this, a further attack in the early hours of the morning set fire to the second transport, Clan Chattan, causing her crew to abandon ship.  Two of the destroyers accompanied Clan Campbell back towards Tobruk.  Force K sailed from Malta yesterday evening, deploying one cruiser and six destroyers to meet and protect the incoming convoy into harbour. 

Early this morning an additional force of two cruisers and seven destroyers, led by Naiad under Admiral Vian, came upon the burning Clan Chattan and the destroyer Decoy was ordered to sink her.  Meanwhile, Rowallan Castle with her accompanying convoy was under the first of a series of enemy air attacks which would end in the loss of the merchant ship and all her cargo. 


“On Friday 13th we had another blitz on Manoel Island and by the grace of God we were very, very, lucky. Four bombs dropped in Teatro Street within 20 yards of the corner of the Cathedral. A good house was destroyed; but within that house was a large unexploded one; and I am told that there were two other smaller ones unexploded in the next house or on the roof.” (1)

A Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal (BD) Officer was called to the scene and defused an unexploded 500kg bomb inside the shelter.  The BD squad returned next day to remove the bomb, and to deal with a 50kg UXB in the adjacent building.  (2) 


Weather  Wind westerly.  Rain in morning; bright periods later.

0934-0958 hrs  One JU 88 bomber escorted by fighters approaches from the north and crosses the Island from south east to north west on reconnaissance.  Ack Ack engage.

1012-1220 hrs  Seventeen ME 109 fighters approach from the north and drops bombs on Ta Qali and on Mosta, causing damage to houses.  Several bombs fall on the RAF camp and airfield at Ta Qali, damaging two aircraft and barrack blocks.  Three ME 109s bomb a road leading to the motor transport building, destroying several vehicles and bursting a water main.   Five casualties are admitted to hospital, none seriously injured.  Ack Ack engage; no hits claimed.

1245-1355 hrs  Six JU 88 escorted by twelve ME 109s approach from the north, dropping numerous bombs on Valletta and Floriana.  Significant damage to property is reported in Valletta, and to the RASC yard Hornworks and RAOC Depot billet in Floriana.  Ack Ack engage; no hits claimed.

1427-1632 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty plus ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs in the Pieta-Gzira-Lazaretto and Manoel Island areas, causing extensive damage.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no hits claimed.

PM  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne cover the arrival of a delivery flight of eight Beaufighter aircraft.

1641-1835 hrs  Three plus JU 88s and nine JU 87s escorted by fighters approach from the north and drop bombs in the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying one ME 109, one JU 87 and one JU 88, and probably destroying another JU 88.

2000-2046 hrs  Six aircraft approach from the north, seemingly unable to find the Island, and drops bombs in the sea.

Night 13/14th  Enemy aircraft come in singly in three raids;  one passes Wellington bombers from Luqa as they head out on a night mission to attack Sicilian aerodromes.

2200-2230 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and drops bombs west of Anchor Bay and in the north of the Island.  The aircraft is illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

2242-2308 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north but does not cross the coast.

0036-0136 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west, crosses over Comino, recedes to 45 miles, returns and flies over Gozo before finally receding.  No bombs are dropped.

Military casualties  Ordinary Seaman Robert Allan, HMS Talbot submarine base;  PO Harry Ball, Sick Bay, HMS St.Angelo; Derek Joell, HMS Decoy; Sergeant Arthur Moore, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant Bernard Lawrence, 32nd LAA Regt; Gunner Edwin Whitcher, 32nd LAA Regt; Gunner Gaetan Zarb, 3rd Regt, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Michael Debattista, age 30.  Hamrun  Francis Pace, age 22.


ROYAL NAVY  HMS Tempest out of Malta torpedoed and sunk while captive under enemy tow.  HMS Porpoise arrived from Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; eight Beaufighters from LG 10; Catalina Flying Boat arrived Kalafrana from Gibraltar with Major General Symes as passenger.  Departures  Two Cathays to Cairo; two Beaufighters, three Hudsons to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Taranto-Messina; one Maryland Just II patrol.  21 Squadron  One Blenheim Just Iie patrol.  40 Squadron  Six Wellingtons despatched to attack Catania and Gerbini aerodromes.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Three big raids during the day.  Bombs in the vicinity of Battalion HQ; no damage or casualties to us.  Working parties as usual.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Observation Post at Tal Virtu handed over to Intelligence Section, 1 Cheshire Regiment.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  A small bomb fell on Barrack Square.  No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 1 (50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.   1800 hrs  This Company handed over Observation Post Tal Minsia to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a raid Messerschmitts dropped bombs near our working party and caused injuries to Private Atherton and Lance Corporal Ward.

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

(2)  UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010


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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in 1942, February 1942


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