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Luftwaffe attempt to wipe out Luqa aerodrome
11 hours 46 minutes of continuous bombing from 7am
Attacks all night from dusk till dawn
‘Jericho Trumpet’ (click) screams through the early hours
Time bombs lie waiting
NIGHT BOMBING BRINGS DOUBLE TRAGEDY
During the confusion of night air raids a Wellington bomber of No 37 Squadron taxiing down the runway at Luqa RAF Station collided with a Wellington of the same Squadron which was taking off from the same runway in the opposite direction. Both aircraft burst into flames and the bombs and mines fitted to both aircraft for their night operations began to explode. Ground staff rushed to the scene and managed to help seven injured men to safety.
The pilot of DV 483, Flight Sergeant Stanley Kozlowski was killed along with his Air Observer, Sgt Emrys Goodfellow. Flying Officer C I L Boyd, Pilot of Z9038 and his Air Observer Sergeant Norman Knight were taken to No. 45 General Hospital, at St. Patrick’s Barracks, Pembroke. Sgt Knight later died from his injuries. The air gunner, Flying Officer J S Kirkman, survived.
Luqa Station Medical Officer Squadron Leader Robert Hill, Flight Lieutenant Ernest Williams and Leading Aircraftsmen Cyril Boarman and Hyman Sumray, RAF were later awarded the George Medal for their actions. The citation in the London Gazette reads:
“One night in March, 1942, two aircraft, carrying bombs, collided on an aerodrome in Malta and burst into flames. Squadron Leader Hill (the station medical officer), Flight Lieutenant Williams and Leading Aircraftmen Boarman and Sumray immediately proceeded to the scene. Shortly afterwards the bombs began to explode and enemy aircraft began to bomb the area. Despite the great danger, Squadron Leader Hill, assisted by Flight Lieutenant Williams and the two airmen, successfully extricated four members of the crews from the wreckage. The prompt and gallant action of these officers and airmen undoubtedly saved the four lives. Squadron Leader Hill has invariably performed exemplary work in dealing with casualties during heavy bombing raids and both he and Flight Lieutenant Williams have set a magnificent example which has done much to maintain a high standard of morale on the station. The bravery shown by Leading Aircraftmen Boarman and Sumray has been an inspiration to others.” (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 MARCH TO DAWN 9 MARCH 1942
Weather Wind westerly; 50% cloud.
0720-1902 hrs One continuous air raid targets Luqa and the Safi strip. A total of 104 ME 109s and JU 88s come in, dropping 223 High Explosive bombs – total 35,500 kg. A number of delayed-action bombs are used, as well as eleven 1000kg, leaving large craters on the aerodrome runways and approaches. Many RAF administrative buildings are damaged; three Wellingtons are damaged and another burned out. One Beaufighter of the photo-reconnaissance unit is damaged. One bomb hits a bus travelling to Luqa. Nine airmen are wounded, four houses destroyed and a water main broken. Hurricanes are up; no engagement. Heavy Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 88 destroyed. During the raid two Spitfires are airborne for identification purposes.
0822 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip and Gudja village: 2 houses demolished.
0927 hrs Messerschmitts drop bombs on the Safi strip.
1015 hrs One JU 88 drops bombs on Bir Miftuh Church.
1113 hrs Enemy aircraft come in from the south and drop bombs between Post L34 and Ta Karach battery position.
1117 hrs Three JU 88s dropped bombs on Safi strip.
PM Hal Far is attacked by four ME 109s. They drop one 250kg and twelve 50kg bombs, causing three craters on the aerodrome.
1455 hrs One gun of 225 Light Ack Ack regiment engages a JU 88 at 6000 feet: no claim.
1505 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip.
1604 hrs Two JU 88s drop bombs on Safi strip.
1718 hrs Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi strip.
1810 hrs Three Ju 88s drop bombs on Safi strip.
1940 hrs A Beaufighter takes off from Luqa. After three hours’ calibration tests he engages an enemy aircraft and gets in one three-second burst: no definite results seen. The Beaufighter lands at 2300 hrs.
1940-0645 hrs Continuous raid by 25 enemy aircraft. Luqa and the Safi strip are again the main target. Eight JU 87 Stukas drop thirty-five 250kg and four 50kg High Explosive (HE) bombs; eleven JU 88s drop forty 250kg and a hundred 50kg bombs. Several of the 250kg bombs are fitted with delayed action fuzes. Two Wellingtons crash at Luqa: one is taking off, the other coming onto the aerodrome from the dispersal area.
Two Italian BR 20 aircraft drop small High Explosives and incendiaries in the sea off Delimara and Kalafrana Bay, on Mqabba, Ta Qali, Hal Far, Safi and St Paul’s Bastion. Large fires are started on Luqa airfield. Four civilians are killed and three wounded.
0010 hrs One Beaufighter takes off from Luqa – Sgt Miller and Sgt Tearle (2) – and makes contact with an incoming bandit. The Beaufighter fires a two second burst and the starboard engine of the enemy aircraft catches fire – they observe it drop into the water. Another bandit – possibly a Heinkel 111 – is later attacked by machine gun but the cannons stopped firing after one second for some reason and the Beaufighter lands at Ta Qali at 0230 hrs.
Hurricane (Pilot S/L Westmacott) follows a bandit and gives a one second burst: he sees a large yellow flame came up from the water, similar to petrol burning, though no wreckage can be seen. A ‘definite’ claim is suspended subject to evidence from other sources.
0045 hrs B Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment (KOMR) reports a fire on right of Filfla.
0205 hrs D Company 3rd Bn KOMR reports unexploded bomb at 400187.
0200 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip and Ta Karach.
0404 hrs Bombs are dropped in the Kirkop area.
0416 hrs One bomb is dropped near San Lucia Church.
0440 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip.
0450 hrs D Company 3rd Bn KOMR reports one bomb on Qrendi strip.
0500 hrs One bomb is dropped near Headquarters of 4th Bn Hampshire Regt.
0505 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip.
0517 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip.
0530 hrs Bombs are dropped on Safi strip.
0555 hrs Bombs are dropped on Ta Karach ridge.
0612 hrs Explosion of a delayed action bomb on Safi strip.
0645 hrs Explosion of a delayed action bomb on Ta Karach ridge.
Military casualties Flight Sergeant Stanley Kozlowski, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Emrys Goodfellow, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Norman Knight, Royal Australian Air Force; Leading Aircraftsman James Asquith, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Henry Walker, Royal Air Force.
Civilian casualties Luqa Peter Farrugia, age 58; Peter Paul Saydon, age 45.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 8 MARCH 1942
ROYAL NAVY Three Swordfish and four Albacores carried out shipping search – only sighting was one hospital ship 90 degrees Homs 47′.
AIR HQ Arrivals Three Blenheims, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one Sunderland from Aboukir. Departures Six Blenheims to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Marsa Matruh.
HAL FAR Night 8/9th Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on armed search for enemy shipping W and SW of Malta. Nothing sighted. Four Albacores 828 Squadron on armed search for enemy shipping off coast of Tripoli: nothing sighted.
LUQA 1035-1635 hrs One Maryland 69 Squadron carries out Just 11 patrol.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).
(1) London Gazette 8 June 1942
(2) See website Sergeant F J Tearle
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