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ROUND THE CLOCK REPAIRS GET AIRFIELD UP AND RUNNING AFTER CARPET-BOMBING
Reviewing the devastation caused by carpet-bombing of Ta Qali over the past 72 hours, Air Officer Commanding, Air Marshall Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd, concludes that the airfield is likely to be out of action for a week. Responding to a call from Malta’s High Command, the Army joins forces with the RAF in an all out effort to repair the damage and get the runway operational. Despite enemy bombing, and a heavy machine-gun attack by a formation of Messerschmitts, working parties labour tirelessly round the clock, and by dusk today the airfield was declared serviceable again.
FOUR HOUR BATTLE TO DEFEND MALTA CONVOY
Malta’s survival is under threat unless the Island gets essential supplies to keep going and withstand the enemy onslaught. A small, fast-moving convoy of four freighters left Alexandria 48 hours ago with a large cruiser and destroyer escort, in an attempt to run essential items across the Mediterranean. By 0930 hrs this morning the Italian Navy had closed on the convoy and attacked the escort ships. Destroyers Havock and Kingston were hit during a day of engagement, before the attackers were beaten off at 1900 hrs. The convoy is reported as still heading for Malta with its escort, including the damaged destroyers.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1942
Weather Wind southerly; 100% low cloud.
0655-0801 hrs Six ME 109s carry out a patrol south east of the Island.
0815-0840 hrs One JU 88 escorted by seven ME 109s approach the Island. The ME 109s drop four 250kg and twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali while the JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.
0852-0907 hrs Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.
0917-0937 hrs Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.
0951 hrs ME 109s patrol the Island while JU 88s carry out three bomb attacks. Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi strip, and Ta Qali. Malta’s fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage. HAA damage one JU 88.
1020 hrs Three JU 88s drop bombs in a line from Luqa to Siggiewi. One Maryland and one Wellington are burned out, two Blenheims damaged. Two RAF and two Army personnel are injured.
1026 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s diving from 5000 to 2000 feet: two guns claim one hit each. Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three JU 88s. Sighting their quarry over Filfla, pilots P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley and Sgt Robb attack, scoring hits on fuselage and wings. P/O Allardice fails to return.
1145 hrs B Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment reports one fighter crashing into the sea off west Bassasa.
1235 hrs Raiders passed.
1250-1305 hrs Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.
1318-1323 hrs Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.
1408 hrs Ten ME 109s carry out a patrol, then swoop down over Ta Qali, machine-gunning the airfield. Light Ack Ack engage and ground defences return heavy fire, damaging one ME 109.
1410 hrs Two defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt spot one JU 88 flying low towards the coast and open fire: no claims made.
1440-1725 hrs Enemy fighters patrol the Island. ME 109s drop 16 HE bombs on Ta Qali. Malta’s fighters are up: no engagements. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
1730 hrs 11th Bn Lancashire Regt reports aerial torpedo mines dropped around their coastline.
1733 hrs Three Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to escort five Albacores. 20 miles from Malta the formation is attacked by two ME 109s. F/L McQueen attacks one, closing to 50 yards, and sees the ME dive into the sea.
1738 hrs Four enemy aircraft patrol east of the Island. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
1827 hrs One aircraft approaches to the north of Grand Harbour, then recedes. HAA do not engage.
1919 hrs Three aircraft approach to the north of Grand Harbour, then recede. HAA do not engage.
1938 hrs One aircraft approaches from the south east, then recedes. HAA do not engage.
1940 hrs All clear.
2158-2210 hrs Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.
Night No air raids: weather deteriorating.
Military casualties Signalman Claude Brown, HMS Havock; Ordinary Seaman Arthur Crane, HMS Havock. Leading Stoker Henry Neuschaffer, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Daniel Ferris, HMS Kingston; Pilot Officer Philip Allardice, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Gunner Alfred Segon, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Civilian casualties Mosta Joseph Bartolo, age 40; Saverin Galea, age 45; Grezzju Schembri, age 9. Valletta John Cachia, age 48.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 MARCH 1942
ROYAL NAVY Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores. Five Albacores carried out a shipping sweep without result. An escort of three Spitfires accompanying the Albacores shot down an ME109. One Albacore landed in the sea off Zonkor Point: two of the crew missing. PM Naval engagement: convoy very heavily bombed; no casualties. Dark CS 15 returned to Alexandria. Convoy split and proceeded independently to Malta.
AIR HQ Departures Six Beauforts, two Blenheims to 108 MU.
HAL FAR PM Five Albacores are despatched to attack an enemy convoy but are recalled. One Albacore is attacked by an ME 109; no damage.
TA QALI Large Army working parties and salvage parties arranged and work proceeded. By nightfall runway made serviceable.
NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE 1930 hrs Storm conditions NORAH and KATE.
2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS Cpl Brown, L/Cpl Thomas and Fusilier Surgent injured by shrapnel.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 30.
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