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7 March 1942: First 15 Spitfires Arrive – Doubling Malta’s Air Force

07 Mar

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SPITFIRES 700 MILE FLIGHT TO MALTA

Spitfires over Malta (1)

At 0700 hours this morning the aircraft carrier Eagle made rendezvous with Blenheim aircraft out of Sicily to the south of Majorca.  At the agreed signal, Eagle manoeuvred into position, ready for the first of fifteen Spitfires to take off from her flight deck and begin the flight to Malta.  After the disappointment of the aborted first delivery mission in February the Spitfires, accompanied by seven Blenheims from Gibraltar, had a relatively uneventful 700 mile flight to Malta.

The sound of approaching aircraft without the usual air raid warning caused some alarm along the flight path to Ta Qali – until the first planes were identified as familiar Hurricanes and Blenheims – and then among them long-awaited Spitfires.  At their Observation Post, personnel of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers were pleased to report the incoming friendly flight instead of yet another daylight bombing raid.

With only 14 Hurricanes currently serviceable on the Island, the 15 new Spitfires – the first to be based outside the British Isles – will more than double Malta’s defensive air force.   The aircraft credited with winning the Battle of Britain are seen as essential to Malta’s survival against the Luftwaffe.

MAIL ARRIVES VIA SUPPLY SUB

HM Submarine Thunderbolt arrives in Malta today carrying a mail delivery with her cargo.  16000 gallons of kerosene and ten torpedoes are among the supplies to be unloaded before she sails immediately for Gibraltar.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 MARCH TO DAWN 8 MARCH 1942

Weather   Wind southerly.  Clear sky but hazy.

0740-0812 hrs  Eight ME 109s on patrol; do not cross the coast.

1031-1101 hrs  Three Me 109s on patrol; Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1116-1322 hrs  Fifteen aircraft, believed to be ME 109s on patrol, cross the coast twice and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

1353-1415 hrs  Twelve Me 109s on patrol; Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1515 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept a formation of JU 88s with fighter escort.  F/Lt Lloyd fires a burst at one ME 109 without observed results.

1521 hrs  Three JU 88s bomb Luqa causing casualties and damage to Heavy Ack Ack position at Ta Karach.  Eight Gunners are killed, five more seriously wounded and three slightly wounded.

1830 hrs  Four ME 109s drop 250kg bombs on Gudia, demolishing one house.  Four 50kg bombs land astride the wall of Xleili Tower and two bombs drop near Kirkop.

1911-0642 hrs  Enemy aircraft keep up continuous raider policy dropping bombs across a wide area.  One house is destroyed.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged by bombs at Hal Far.  Wellingtons and Beaufighters are damaged at Luqa.  Hurricanes are airborne and Ack Ack engage: no claims.

Military casualties  Lance Sergeant (L/Sgt) John Ingram, L/Sgt Jack Wood, Gunners Edward Ashard, Ernest Clark, Richard James, Thomas O’Bryan and Walter Whitter, all 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Alfred Hall, 5th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Melita Brincat, age 50

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 7 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Thunderbolt arrived from Alexandria with personnel, stores and kerosene, and sailed pm for Gibraltar and thence for refit in the United Kingdom.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Fifteen Spitfires, seven Blenheims from Gibraltar; five Beaufighters from LG 10.  Departures  Four Wellingtons to 108 MU; three Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA 1035-1225 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance off Tripoli.  1230-2006 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron on Just 1 patrol.  2144-0422 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight carried out special search.  2325-0417 hrs  Three Wellingtons 37 Squadron minelaying and diversion raids Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  SHQ removed to and commenced work in the old Armoury Building.  Slit trenches dug.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1015 hrs  Battalion Ceremonial Parade held on Floriana Parade Ground: 21 Officers and 275 Other Ranks.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bn football team vs 8 Manchester: won 3-0.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT GOC’s inspection of Battalion transport and contents of trucks.

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

(1) http://www.constable.ca/caah/kennedy.htm

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Posted by on March 7, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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