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4 March 1942: Dog Fights in 20 Hour Bombing Spree

04 Mar

Malta – World War 2.  CLICK HERE if this is your first visit to maltagc70.com

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  • Bombing almost continuous for 20 hours from 10 am
  • 28000 kg of bombs dropped on Malta
  • Italian bomber joins Luftwaffe formation
  • Five planes damaged on airfields
  • Hits scored on 16 enemy aircraft

AUCHINLECK GIVEN COMMAND OF MALTA: DOBBIE WILL REPORT TO MIDDLE EAST

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

Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck

Situation in your command has been very much in minds of the COS lately and we have discussed it in Committee several times in last few days.  We have been carefully considering every possible means to assist you in your difficulties, and have impressed on Auchinleck that defence of Malta is part and parcel of operations in his theatre and particularly in Cyrenaica.

2.  Under present system there is inevitable tendency to regard Malta and Cyrenaica as separate problems to be co-ordinated in London.  We have therefore decided that military garrison of Malta should be put under Auchinleck as Naval and RAF garrisons are under command of C in C Mediterranean and AOC-in-C Middle East respectively.  The three Commanders in Chief and Middle East Defence Committee will thus have joint responsibility for Malta as integral part of whole Middle East theatre, and you as Governor will have your hands strengthened by gaining direct access to Minister of State in Cairo as well as to HMG at home.

3.  We want to make it clear to you beyond all doubt that nothing could be further from our minds than lack of confidence in you.  We are all deeply conscious of magnificent fight you have put up and of inspiration which your leadership has given to Malta garrison and colony.  The more reason to strengthen your hands by every possible means now that you have entered such difficult and testing period.

4.  Apart form this change in organisation which is being communicated to Cs-in-C Middle East you will shortly hear in a COS telegram of various schemes for relieving your deficiencies in supplies and personnel.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MARCH TO DAWN 5 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind north west; slight.  30% medium cumulus/cirro cloud.

0745 hrs  Two ME 109s on patrol near the south and south east coast.

1010-1040 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  One JU 88 with an escort of two ME 109s carries out reconnaissance from 22000 feet: engaged by barrage.

1059-1208 hrs  ME 109s continue to patrol.  Four ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 12000 feet, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1224-1330 hrs  Five JU 88s accompanied by ME 109s drop bombs on Safi Strip, setting three Wellingtons on fire: two are destroyed and four more Wellingtons are damaged.  The Officers’ Mess of 37 Squadron is also damaged.  One ME 109 crashes near F range at Pembroke.  The pilot, Unteroffizier Benedikt Wegmann, has already baled out into the sea.  He swims ashore, where he is captured by B Company of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery claim three hits on one JU 88.

1346-1404 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island and patrol.  Six Hurricanes are airborne: no interceptions.

1415 hrs  Five ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 11000 feet.  Five JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa.

1420 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 242 Squadron at Ta Qali under S/L Wells join eight Hurricanes of 605 Squadron scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft as they return from the raid.

F/Sgt Fletcher (605) scores a hit on the rear gun turret of one JU 88, and P/O Noble hits another JU 88 twice, on the tail plane fuselage and the port engine, setting it on fire, before both pilots’ Hurricanes suffer damage (pilots unhurt).  Sgt Gardiner (242) hits the same JU 88.

Fiat BR20 “Cigogna” (stork)

Sgt Wilson hits one ME 109 on the fuselage and wing.  P/O Omerod hits the underside of another ME 109, another on the wing roots and engine cowling, and then hits an Italian aircraft – later identified as a BR 20 bomber – on the tail.   F/Lt Kee and P/O Kidson (242) score cannon strikes on another JU 88 before P/O Kidson dives on a ME 109, damaging its tail and claiming a ‘probably destroyed’.  One JU 88 ditches in the sea to the north of the Island and an ME 109 is shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire.

1515 hrs  All Clear.

1612-1803 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by seven ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.  Two Marylands are damaged.  Two billets are demolished and the sergeants’ sleeping quarters damaged.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagement.

1902-0239 hrs  21 aircraft approach singly, dropping bombs on Gozo, Ta Silch, Hal Far, Luqa, Lapsi, Qrendi, Hagiar Qim, Zeitun, between Nigret and Bubaqra, Wardia, Ta Qali, Salvator and in the sea.  Cpl Refalo of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is killed and L/Cpl Aquilina injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights expose eight targets.  Ta Qali Hurricane pilot Sgt Wood engages a JU 88 over the centre of the Island, as it fires at a searchlight.  Sgt Wood closes in and lets loose a 20 second burst of cannon-fire.  The JU 88 bursts into flames and crashes on land to the south west of Dingli.

0247-0632 hrs  Four aircraft drop bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0649 hrs  One aircraft comes to within 30 miles of Malta and then recedes.

Military casualties  Corporal Joseph Refalo, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Joseph Dingli, age 15; Tessie Dingli, age 4; Valentine Dingli, age 1.  Birkirkara  Michael Gauci, age 40.  Gozo (Zebbug)  Louis Vella, age 22.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber of 2/KG 66 shot down night of 4/5t March 1942:  Unteroffizier Albert Degenhardt, 2/KG 66 (pilot); Unteroffizier Friedrich Engelmann/Engelbert, 2/KG 66 (observer); Unteroffizier Herman Gessele (wireless operator); Unteroffizier Werner Rehschutz (air gunner).

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Kuriat, having hit a northbound tanker, believed sunk.  Unique sailed for Gibraltar and United Kingdom.  An Albacore sent on shipping search south and west of Malta sighted nothing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Catalina to Gibraltar and Lisbon; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

HAL FAR  One Albacore on search for enemy shipping Lampedusa-Zuara areas: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0930-1145 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1010-1353 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron PR Lampedusa Harbour and SF 2 patrol.  2107-0503 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron carried out a shipping search with torpedoes; no attack made.  2128-0508 hrs  Three Wellingtons 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Commanding Officer commenced investigations of landing Wellington against orders.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  ‘A’ Company moved to Safi strip in relief of C Company which moved to Gudja Camp.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Five bombs drop in D Company’s area during the night.

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

 

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Posted by on March 4, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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