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STORMS REPLACE THE HAIL OF BOMBS
Gales and heavy continuous rain keep the enemy away but make life in Malta very uncomfortable in stone buildings designed for hot, dry weather. Rainfall is currently twice the average for February in what is becoming the worst winter on record. Ta Qali and Hal Far are little better than lakes, preventing the Malta’s air forces from taking to the air to protect convoys or take on the enemy. Road conditions and the lack of available fuel mean that most journeys on the Island have to be on foot – often for miles.
WEATHER BRINGS RESPITE TO MOURN THE DEAD
Funerals take place today at St Andrews Cemetery for five servicemen killed by the bomb which destroyed the Regent Cinema on Sunday. Meanwhile it has been announced that another serviceman has died as a result of injuries sustained in the raid.
FOUR WELLINGTONS LOST
Four Wellington aircraft from a delivery flight for Malta were lost overnight. The four were among a group of thirteen which left Gibraltar overnight heading for Luqa. Italian news has reported one Wellington shot down in flames by fighters from Castel Vetrano airfield, with a crew of six taken prisoner. A second Wellington is also reported forced down at Modica by German fighters. The aircraft was undamaged but its crew of seven were captured. A third was shot down into the sea by JU 88 aircraft just 45 kilometres from Malta. F/O J Willis-Richards was rescued by an Italian destroyer; the remainder of the crew did not survive. The fourth Wellington crashed on landing at Luqa airfield: the aircraft is a write-off but the crew escaped uninjured.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 18 FEBRUARY 1942
Weather 80% cloud. Wind southerly. Rain continuously during the day; cold.
0906-0943 hrs One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s flies over the Island from south to north at 24000 feet without dropping bombs. Aircraft believed to be on reconnaissance mission. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
No further alerts Rain and storm conditions continuous. Little friendly aircraft activity during the night owing to bad weather.
Military casualties Wing Commander Norman Mulholland DFC, Royal Air Force (RAF); Sergeant Arthur Wills Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Leonard Brain; Sergeant Edward Anstee RAF Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant James Andrews, RAF; Private Alexander Wilson, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment died from injuries received in the bombing of the Regent Cinema.
Civilian casualties Qormi Carmel Briffa (age 60).
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY 1942
AIR HQ Arrivals Two Albacores from El Adem; one Sunderland from Gibraltar; thirteen Wellingtons from Gibraltar (four missing). Departures One Sunderland to Gibraltar, one Wellington to Shallufa, one Wellington to LG224, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.
LUQA 69 Squadron One Maryland Just I patrol photo-reconnaissance (PR) Corfu harbour; one Maryland PR Agostoli, Navarin, Patras, Just 2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Beaufighter PR Sicilian aerodromes. S/D Flight One Wellington special search.
TA QALI Aerodrome unserviceable except for take-off. Squadrons left to operate at Luqa. 40 personnel attached Luqa; rations arranged.
NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE Re-grouping of NIB to create as large a mobile reserve as possible.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Meanee Day (1). Battalion parade on Floriana Parade Ground: spoiled by rain. Funeral of Private Wilson and Private Byers at St Andrews. Rest of the day a holiday. No air raids: weather too bad.
2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS The regimental funeral took place of the late Adjutant Captain P Low, Captain H Gough and Fusilier Haunce at St Andrews’ Cemetery. The Brigadier and representatives of all military units attended.
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Private A Wilson died at 90th General Hospital as a result of injuries received on Sunday 15th February. Corporal Langdon’s injuries are not so serious as at first thought.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS Heavy rain all day. Aircraft activites hampered. Luqa working party continued.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.
(1) Named after a battle in India on 17th February 1843, in which the Cheshire Regiment played an important role
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