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32 ONE-TON HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS LAND ON CIVILIAN AREAS
20 people were killed and 49 injured when 1000kg ‘Hermann’ bombs struck the densely populated area of Gunlayer Square in Floriana on this Sunday afternoon. Many of the casualties were caught out having stayed at home during the raid; others were standing at the entrance to an air raid shelter. Emmanuel Tonna might have been among them: “Had it not been for the insistence of my friend, Mr Carmelo Gauci, I would have stayed there talking to people. Better counsel did, however, prevail and I left the place together with Mr Gauci. We had barely reached the shelter in St Publius Street, Floriana, when we were violently shaken by the thud of bombs.” (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 MARCH TO DAWN 2 MARCH 1942
Weather Rain during the morning. Wind south west. Bright periods with low cloud at times.
0737 hrs Two MEs circle the Island and recede north. Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.
0912-1000 hrs 16 fighters patrol the Island, dropping four high explosive bombs on Gozo. Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.
1210-1234 hrs One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
1245 hrs Pilots of 242 and 605 Squadrons take to the air in nine Hurricanes and attack three JU 88s and their escort of twelve ME 109s. F/Lt Stone machine-guns a JU 88; reports damaged. P/O Lester attacks a Messerschmitt and observes the engine emitting grey smoke before he breaks off engagement; claims one ME 109F destroyed. F/Sgt Howe claims a JU 88 as probable before he is shot down, baling out and sustaining a leg wound. P/O Wigley attacks a JU 88 without visible results. P/O Tew and Sgt Harvey are shot down in the sea. Sgt Harvey is seen to bale out but a rescue vessel later finds his body in the water.
1310 hrs Two ME 109s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regt at 5-800 feet; no claims.
1327 hrs All clear.
1422-1515 hrs 13 JU 88s plus fighter escort drop thirteen 1000kg bombs in St Julian’s, Sliema, Hamrun, Marsa, Gzira, Marsamxetto, Floriana and the Grand Harbour area. Heavy Ack Ack engage. AC1 Wright is killed in an air-raid shelter in Floriana along with several civilians.
1716-1839 hrs Two waves of enemy aircraft approach Malta: first six JU 88s with fighter escort, then eleven JU 88s with fighter escort. 1000kg bombs are dropped in St Julian’s, Sliema and Valletta areas. Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage. One Other Rank 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment suffers concussion in the raid and is admitted to No 45 General Hospital. Stella Maris Church in Sliema is gutted by a bomb.
2153-0658 hrs One continuous air raid. Ten aircraft approach the Island, one after another. Bombs are dropped near the Royal Engineers works in Floriana and on rocks off Sliema sea front, then on the Dockyard, Jesuits Hill and near St Edward’s College, on Zabbar, Hal Far, Qrendi and Kalafrana. Heavy Ack Ack engage, with 28 barrages and searchlights illuminating the target for ¾ minute.
Military casualties Surgeon Captain Algernon Cheeseman*, Royal Navy, HMS Talbot age 55; James Tew, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ray Harvey, pilot, RAF 242 Squadron; AC1 George Wright, RAF, 249 Squadron; Staff Sergeant Jarvis Whittaker, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Private Saviour Debono, 2nd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment.
Civilian casualties Floriana Robert Attard, age 60; Joseph Borg, age 8; Una Patricia Cameron, age 18; Giovanna Caruana, age 43; Joseph Darmanin, age 60; Stella Debattista,age 19; Annunziata Demanuele,age 13; Benjamin Maggi, age 15; Grezzju Magro, age 16; Emmanuel Pace, age 20; Jane Pace, age 15; Carmelina Portelli,age 4; Sarah Portelli,age 39; Antonio Pulo,age 27; Doris Zammit,age 24. Msida Carrie Portelli,age 23. Sliema Dolores Borg, age 60; Joseph Muscat, age 35. St Julians Doris Cheeseman*, age 45.
OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 1 MARCH 1942
AIR HQ Arrivals Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar. One Maryland was force-landed during the night.
LUQA 0730-1120 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Lampedusa and SF 24 patrol. 1440-1632 hrs One Beaufighter 69 Squadron PR Palermo. 1415-1925 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron SF1A patrol. 1952-0322 hrs One Wellington S/D Flight on special search. 2225-0235 hrs Six Wellingtons of 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.
TA QALI Six pilot officers left for roof-spotting at the Palace, pending posting to the Middle East.
ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS One Staff Sergeant died as a result of enemy action.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Bombs on Floriana near HQ Officers’ Mess: several windows broken.
1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT One Other Rank injured in an air raid.
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Disposition of Battalion: A Company (Coy) Ta Karceppu (5 Officers, 123 Ors); B Coy Ta Salvatur (6 Officers, 124 Ors); C Coy Tal Hasluk (5 Off 132 OR); D Coy Tal Providence (5 Off, 131 OR); HQ Coy Ta Salvatur (14 Off, 269 OR). Chaplain and Medical Officer also attached.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS Luqa working party continues: 100 men.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).
(1) loriana in Wartime, Emmanual S Tonna, Malta 1969
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