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31 March 1942: Enemy Objective – Neutralise Malta

31 Mar

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  • 20 alerts in the last 24 hours

    De Havilland Mosquito

  • Heavy raids at dusk: 150 high explosive bombs on Grand Harbour and Hal Far
  • Mosquito attacked on take-off
  • Army to help day and night unloading Pampas
  • Restricted bus service introduced

ENEMY OBJECTIVE: NEUTRALISE MALTA

“Since the arrival of the convoy dive bombing attacks on Grand Harbour and all the aerodromes have increased in intensity.  There has been an almost continuous battle between enemy dive bombers and Malta’s Ack Ack defence guns.  From time to time our fighters have taken part in this defence at heavy odds.  This month for the first time Spitfires have been operating from this Island.  Losses to the enemy have averaged about four aircraft shot down and six badly damaged daily.

The enemy has continued nuisance raids (ie sending single aircraft over at night) throughout the month although the number of aircraft over each night has been much greater.  Generally it can be said that the enemy this month has been making an enormous bombing effort against Malta with the object of neutralising the Island as a base for aircraft of all kinds and as a harbour.

On occasions it has appeared as if some of these attacks have been directed agains Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.  The enemy has suffered considerable losses and although great damage has been done to property and installations on the ground it would appear that he has not succeeded in his neutralisation; bombers and fighters still operate from Malta and the artillery defence has sustained little damage.”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MARCH TO DAWN 1 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 100% cloud.

0831-1516 hrs  17 bombers approach singly and drop bombs from above the low cloud.  Only three aircraft drop bombs on land, on Gudja, Hamrun, Zabbar and Zonkor areas, and Valletta near Buttanici Corner.  Heavy Ack Ack fire barrages.  Messerschmitts continually patrol around the Island until 1516 hrs.

1015 hrs  A Mosquito of 69 Squadron is despatched from Luqa on photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli.   Immediately on take-off the pilot is instructed to pancake quickly.  As the Mosquito is slowing in the Luqa circuit, observer Sgt Pike spots two ME 109s.  At least one attacks, hitting the Mosquito in the port and starboard wings and in the rear of the fuselage.  The port wing catches fire and the pilot breaks cloud over Hal Far aerodrome.  Pilot P/O Kelly manages to make a belly-landing: he and Pike scramble out unhurt before the Mosquito burns out completely.

Two Hurricanes airborne from Hal Far are jumped by four ME 109s.  Sgt Broad gives the last of the MEs a short head-on burst and then goes into an evasive spin.  Sgt Steele fails to return.

1025 hrs  Four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two ME 109s: no claims.

1030 hrs  Two guns of 225 LAA engage two ME 109s: no claims.

1200 hrs  A Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report an unexploded bomb 300 yards south of Nigret.

1543 hrs  Six bombers drop bombs in the sea near Grand Harbour and on Luqa, Siggiewi and Zonkor areas.

1705 hrs  Three bombs are dropped on Ta Karach ridge.

1715 hrs  One bomb is dropped on Bubaqra area.

1720 hrs  A single raider drops a stick of bombs between D Company, 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment and Ta Mehrla church.  First bomb of the stick fell very close to the Camp but did only superficial damage to stone billets.

1824 hrs  Three aircraft carry out a patrol to the north of the Island.

1925 hrs  38 aircraft approach from the north.  Malta’s fighters engage.  Searchlights are illuminated 35 times and Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is destroyed by Light Ack Ack.  13 JU 88s drop 52 high explosive bombs of 250kg and 500kg on Grand Harbour, Msida, Gzira and Hamrun.  Bombs on the Dockyard cause severe damage to electric and telephone cables, gas and water mains, and the roadway east of No 3 Dock. Bombs on Hamilton Wharf, destroy the crane track, and 2/3 Dock Pumping Station discharge.  The majority of telephone lines in Dockyard are put out of action.

1940 hrs  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept six plus JU 88s.  P/O Ormrod probably destroys one JU 88 and Sgt Eastman scores hits on another.  P/O Wigley attacks a third: no strikes observed.  Three Hurricanes land at Ta Qali, one at Luqa.

1945 hrs  One stick of bombs lands on the Bubaqra area and others around Misrah Blandun area.  Five bombs land near Hagiar Qim battery of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt.

1950 hrs  All guns of 225 LAA Battery engage numerous JU 88s attacking Hal Far.  Hits are claimed and observed on several enemy aircraft but exact estimate of damage prevented by failing light.

1953 hrs  A stick of bombs lands near Ta Mehrla Church.

1956 hrs  Twenty plus JU 88s dive-bomb Hal Far, each dropping two 250kg and two 500kg HE bombs.  One Albacore and one Swordfish are burned out; one hangar is damaged by fire.

2005 hrs  Gun position L22 of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt expends five magazines at an enemy aircraft dropping bombs nearby.

2035 hrs  All clear.

2204 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Qrendi area.

2215 hrs  A stick of bombs falls between Guarena and HQ Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

2320 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs on rocks near Benghaisa Point.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Archibald Steele, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Elizabeth Casha, age 18; Annie Casha, age 17; M’Anna Micallef, age 45; Emanuela Micallef, age 3.  Zabbar  Antonia Muscat, age 33.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 31 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Pandora arrived from Gibraltar to join First Submarine Flotilla and discharged kerosene at Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudsons, one Beaufort, one Wellington from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Gambut. Departures  Three Beauforts, two Beaufighters, one Blenheim, one Hudson, one Wellington to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Lodestar to Gambut.

LUQA  2217-0042 hrs  One Wellington Transit Flight ASF attacked Catania aerodrome.

TA QALI  Spitfires operating from Luqa: no combats.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0930 hrs  Battalion training exercise started late due to rain.  Held in Birzebbugia.  1430 hrs  All Companies on weekly cross country run.  2030 hrs  Special orders: the Battalion is to unload SS Pampas; 90 men at a time to work day and night from 0900 hrs 1st April.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths:  37 Officers; 827 Other Ranks; 5 RAOC (attached).

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Strength: 34 Officers; 652 Other Ranks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Battalion: A Company (Coy) Ta Karceppu; B Coy & HQ Coy Ta Salvatur; C Coy Ta Hasluk; D Coy Tal Providence.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0600 hrs  GOC visit Battalion HQ during Battalion Scheme.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  During the month a number of unexploded bombs fell in the Bn area; the majority turned out to be delayed action bombs.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 4 (3 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

(1) War Diary, Southern Infantry Brigade, Malta – March 1942

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of  use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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