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Monthly Archives: April 2017

30 April 1942: Axis Plan Immediate Invasion of Malta

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HITLER AND MUSSOLINI APPROVE ‘OPERATION HERKULES’

Hitler, Mussolini and Kesselring discuss invasion of Malta

The fate of Malta was in the balance today at a summit conference between Hitler and Mussolini with their military Chiefs of Staff in Berchtesgaden, Germany.  Two days of talks sealed plans for Operation Herkules, an invasion of the Island using paratroops, followed by a seaborne landing of infantry forces.

Believing Malta has now been neutralised as a base for offensive operations against the Axis, ‘Il Duce’ and Air Field Marshall Kesselring proposed the time is right to take the Island.  However, Field Marshall Rommel argued that this new freedom for Axis supply convoys to operate through the Mediterranean provides an opportunity to secure Egypt and the Suez Canal.  

With Hitler hesitating, anxious to avoid heavy paratroop losses on a par with Crete in 1942, Rommel won the day.  Plans for the invasion of Malta have been approved but placed on hold, pending the outcome of offensives in North Africa.                                                                 Film of Berchtesgaden Summit: Click Here

APRIL 1942: A MONTH OF MASS BOMBING

At the beginning of this month the enemy continued his mass bombing attacks on the Island.  The average number of bombers over the Island each day was approx 200 of which anything from 30 to 70 would be JU 87 and the remainder JU 88s.  Large daily totals of bombers of the Island are: 14th April 244; 20th April 297; 25th April 259.  Bomber formations always came over with strong fighter escorts.

Targets during the beginning of the month remained similar to last month: in particular the Dockyard area, submarine base and aerodromes and dispersal areas received most of the bombs.  About the middle of the month the Heavy Ack Ack [HAA] gun positions were singled out for attention and as hits were scored on several of these positions it became necessary to split them up wherever possible.  The enemy also selected as targets large buildings such as stores, workshops, etc and has on occasions made deliberate attacks on Valletta, great damage being done to that City.

It is interesting to compare the success of the various arms in the defence of Malta during this peak month of enemy bombing.  The Ack Ack defence was shared between the HAA, mainly 4.5” and 3.7” guns, the Light Ack Ack Bofors guns, and the Ack Ack light machine guns (Bren and Lewis guns) which were manned by the Infantry.

NWMA Malta

Up to 20th April the RAF had never been able to put more than about 10 fighters in the air at one time.  This was usually a mixed force of Spitfires and Hurricanes and was hopelessly outnumbered by the enemy fighters.  On 20th of this month [came] the arrival of 47 more Spitfires.  Despite this large addition only a fraction of this number appeared to take to the air at any one time.  The reason for this was that there was insufficient protection on the ground when they arrived and the enemy bombers were able to knock out a large number in this way.  This deficiency in aircraft pens the Infantry have since been working hard to remedy.  The RAF experienced serious difficulties in maintenance due to the bombing of their workshops.

Although this increase in our fighter strength undoubtedly caused an increase in the number of enemy planes shot down, the results were very disappointing.  On the other hand the Ack Ack defence was increasingly successful despite the fact that ammunition was rationed.  The Ack Ack light machine guns [LMG] of the Infantry were permitted to fire at low flying aircraft [shooting down enemy planes and contributing] to the destruction of many more.

On 25th of the month the enemy switched his attack to military camps, barrack buildings, hospitals and HAA gun positions in the north of the Island.  There was a great increase in military casualties as a result of these attacks…On 27th of the month Italian bombers made their appearance over the Island and the number of German bombers was reduced considerably.  Since then the scale of the attack was only about one third of its previous intensity.  War Diary, Southern Infantry Brigade, Malta, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 APRIL TO DAWN 1 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly: no cloud.  Warm haze.

0855-0925 hrs  Six enemy fighters patrol north of the Island.

1110 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an approaching formation of 30 enemy bombers plus fighter escort.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne from Ta Qali.

1115 hrs  One Spitfire from the interception force has engine trouble and lands at Luqa.

1120 hrs  18 JU 87 Stukas dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome.  Bombs explode on the short runway and in dispersal areas.  Two lorries are burned out and a Beaufort night-fighter damaged.  Luqa personnel with Ack Ack light machine guns engage enemy aircraft: no claims.

Three Spitfires 126 Squadron attack twelve JU 88s.  F/Lt Barton damages one JU 88 and P/O Bailey another.

1120 hrs  Ten JU 88s and three ME 109 fighter bombers raid Hal Far.  F/Sgt Gibbs is killed and other Fleet Air Arm personnel are injured; one civilian is seriously injured.  Bombs are dropped on the barrack block at Hal Far and near defence posts.  The main road is blocked but is immediately cleared by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  The Regt also fire 2800 rounds at enemy aircraft: no claims.

Four Spitfires 603 Squadron attack twelve JU 88s which have just bombed Hal Far.  F/Sgt Hurst probably destroys one JU 88 and F/Lt Buckston damages another.  Many ME 109s attack in a circuit over the aerodrome and one is hit by Spitfire guns.

Four JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by eight guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  Two guns claim hits on two separate JU 88s.

1130 hrs  Three JU 87s are engaged by HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

1132 hrs  four ME 109s machine-gun Delimara Fort and Ack Ack battery.

1135 hrs  Bombs explode near San Pietru.

1200-1210 hrs  Small arms fire from Ta Qali personnel brings down one ME 109 which is trying to intercept Spitfires landing on the airfield’s runway.

1215 hrs  Raiders passed.

1322 hrs; 1346 hrs  Air raid alerts.  ME 109s are observed in the vicinity of the Island but no raids materialise.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1728 hrs  Four Italian Cant Z 1007 bombers cross the north coast and drop 50kg bombs to the south of Mellieha.  They fly on towards Ta Qali and drop further 50kg bombs on Mosta and to the north of the airfield.

1740 hrs  A formation of twelve JU 88s plus five ME 109 fighter bombers and fighter escort approaches the Island.

1745 hrs  Twelve JU 88s and five ME 109s dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome, destroying 69 Squadron wireless section office.  One Spitfire, already written off, is completely destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on the Kirkop area and Loreto Church, as well as Tal Handaq and Siggiewi.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far and is engaged by B Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt. and is later seen to crash in the sea.  The pilot bails out: credit for the plane is given to 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt and 1st Bn Hampshire Regt.

1753 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims a hit on one ME 109 which is observed receding smoking.

1800 hrs  Raiders passed.

1855-1922 hrs  A German DO24 flying boat lands on the water on almost the same spot as the crashed ME 109 and takes off again.

2147-2200 hrs  One enemy raider comes in from the north and drops high explosive bombs on the Luqa and Safi area, and incendiaries nearby which are extinguished by the army.  Eight bombs are dropped from Ta Liebru to Loreto Church.

Night  Five more alerts for thirteen enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Luqa, Hal Far, Ghar Lapsi, Siggiew, Zurrieq, Kirkop and Safi strip.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Harold Gibbs, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Mellieha  Joseph Debono, age 40.  Mosta  Concetta Mifsud, age 80.   Senglea  Mary Zarb, age 10.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol off Pantelleria. Nothing to report.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons, three Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Seven Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Hudson to Gambut; one Wellington to Fayid.

LUQA  0945-1100 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Catania, Pachino and Gala aerodromes.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  0515 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” issued by Southern Infantry Brigade.     0600 hrs  Exercise “Action stations” issued.  0815 hrs  Exercise ends and Signal Exercise begins.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths  32 Officers, 190 Other Ranks.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  D Company still employed at Ospizio Depot.  Remainder of the Battalion carrying out administration and interior economy and salvaging their own kit where necessary.  1610 hrs  At last we have got the lights mended after fumbling in the gloom for two days in the orderly room: we can now see what we are doing.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.  Strengths:  33 Officers; 646 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 7 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Guns of A Company, 2nd Bn shot down one Messerschmitt.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Working party of 450 Other Ranks and 15 Officers still employed on Hal Far.  Strengths:  A Company Ta Karceppu 5 Officers, 120 Other Ranks (OR); B Coy Ta Salvatur 5 Officers 122 OR; C Coy Ta Hasluk 5 Officers 133 OR; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 OR; HQ Coy Ta Salvatur 14 Officers 272 OR. Chaplain & Medical Officer also attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Definite lull in mass air attacks.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  1230 hrs  F Troop return from rest camp and occupy their gun positions which had been manned in their absence by E Troop, 196 Battery Royal Artillery.

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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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29 April 1942: Streets Blocked, Electricity and Water Off, Food Shortages

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NWMA Malta

GOVERNOR REPORTS ON STATE OF THINGS IN MALTA

  • Almost every street blocked with debris
  • Entire areas without electricity and water
  • Serious food shortages
  • Police earn special praise
  • Public morale admirable

FROM: Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie) TO:  Secretary of State for the Colonies  D:  29th April 1942

During month ended 20th April there were 227 alerts, 184 by day and 93 by night. These included 74 day raids and 58 night raids.  333 people were killed (139 men, 117 women and 77 children).  2. Details of damage to property are not available but it has been exceedingly heavy.

3. During the whole of this period the enemy has continued to deliver heavy bombing attacks two, three or four times a day.  Only respite in all during two short periods of rough weather.  Damage has been terrible in Valletta, Floriana, Three Cities and Marsa but Luqa, Pawla, Zabbar, Sliema, Hamrun and Mosta have also suffered heavily and most other places in the Island to a less[er] extent.  In the first four places named, destruction is very widespread and almost every street in Valletta, Floriana and Three Cities is blocked with debris.

4. So far none of the flour mills has been put out of action and all are now in working condition.  Power house has received two direct hits, one of which has wrecked part of the transformer room and damaged switch gear.  We hope to restore the power within a few days.  Meanwhile, emergency services are being worked from underground stand-by plant.

NWMA Malta

5. Clearance of debris represents very heavy problem.  Only part of the demolition squads are available as the rest have to be ready to extricate people from damaged buildings.  Up to 400 shelter construction workers have been employed on clearance but have now been restored to shelter work and replaced by workers transferred from the Dockyard which cannot employ its full staff under present conditions.  We have also received most generous help from the Army, and the Police have assisted on many occasions.

In this way roads in the port area of the Grand Harbour have been cleared, stores are being cleaned of debris and a start has been made with the clearance of Valletta. So long as bombing continues all we can do is to keep essential roads clear, carry out such demolition work as is necessary to maintain essential services and make such preparations in the port area as are necessary for the reception of a convoy.  In this last task, we are already ahead of schedule.

6. Heavy bombing has greatly interfered with the distribution of food and special efforts were grouped to maintain bread supplies.  With the destruction of the bakeries alternative arrangements have to be improvised while distribution, which is carried out by horse and cart, cannot always be relied upon.  Distribution of flour to bakers and rationed commodities to retailers has also been interfered with.  Steps have been taken to deal with all these matters and, so far, we have been able to carry on satisfactorily.  Additional strain imposed on protection officers, district commissioners and their staff is very considerable and has been borne admirably.  Special liaison officers of the Lt Governor’s office have been appointed in the most difficult areas so as to ensure rapid communication especially where telephones are out of order.

NWMA Malta

7. Repair gangs of the water and electricity branches and telephone department have been under continuous strain and have worked wonderfully putting right breakages. Entire areas, however, inevitably remain without telephone and electricity for considerable periods while the people have had to fall back on wells especially in Valletta and the Three Cities, until water supply could be restored.  Emergency telephone services have proved their value in maintaining contact with centre.

8. Police have earned special praise.  Commissioner has provided his men for every sort of task from clearance of debris in the power house to assisting in running the flour mill at night.  They have also done very useful work on aerodromes.  Fire brigades have had much work to do and have always responded to any call.  Assistance of the police in settling the Government in part of their headquarters has also been admirable.

NWMA Malta

9. While it has been possible to make arrangements to meet any difficulties which have so far arisen, the outlook remains very difficult.  Growing shortage of food is serious and the effect of the cut in the bread ration cannot yet be foreseen.  Extreme shortage of fodder is also causing difficulties; I am confident however that we shall see our troubles through.

10. With all we have had to put up with both in bombing, in restriction and scarcity of food, the bearing and morale of the public has remained admirable.  I cannot too highly praise the fortitude and endurance which they have shown under the most severe test to which they have been subjected.  Without that spirit we could not have carried on.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 APRIL TO DAWN 30 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; 100% high cloud.

0748-0811 hrs  Two ME 109s circle to the south of the Island.

1149-1217 hrs  Two ME 109s on patrol to the north of the Island.

1440 hrs  A formation of seven JU 87s with a fighter escort of 18 ME 109s is identified approaching the Island.  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept. P/L Peck probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Sgt Christ probably destroys one JU 88 but is then hit from behind and crash lands with wheels up: he is slightly injured.

Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two of 229 Squadron from Hal Far are also airborne and attack. P/O Noble damages one JU 88.  Sgt Boyd claims one JU 88, probably damaged.  Sgt Vidler damages one JU 88.

1510 hrs  Seven JU 87s with fighter escort attack Hal Far, leaving craters and unexploded bombs on the aerodrome and dispersal area, damaging one petrol bowser.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged and one seriously damaged.  Bombs are also dropped from Ta Karach ridge to Misrah Blandun.

1512-1525 hrs  Five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one ME 109 and two JU 88s flying low over the airfield: one gun claims a hit on one JU 88.

1518 hrs  One ME 109 is engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Wolseley Camp: hits claimed.

1550 hrs  Raiders passed.

1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Italian Cant Z 1007 aircraft drop bombs south east of Mellieha Camp, killing one civilian adult and injuring a boy.

1738 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s dive-bomb Luqa camp destroying the telephone exchange and adjoining ablutions, and cratering the aerodrome.  The Sergeants’ Mess and Transit Flight offices are further damaged.  One photo-reconnaissance Spitfire is damaged and one airman injured.  Bomb also explode in the area of Bir Miftuh Church and the Safi strip.

1840-1920 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept incoming a formation enemy aircraft: no engagement.  Five Italian bombers with fighter escort cross the island.

1852 hrs  Five Italian Cant Z 1007Bs escorted by Macchi 202s cross the Island and drop large numbers of 100 kg bombs on Luqa from a height of 22000 feet.  Bombs also land on St Clements Church and the Ta Salib area.  One unexploded bomb is reported.

1908-2001 hrs  Three enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Searchlights illuminate and Ack Ack guns engage the raiders.  Bombs are dropped in Gudja, Paola, Naxxar and Ta Qali.

2150-2230 hrs  One Beaufighter from Luqa is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

2115 hrs  An enemy aircraft drops bombs and incendiaries on Marsa, damaging a billet and defence post of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment.  Damage to billet RWK defence post.

2230-2250 hrs  Air raid alert.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Paola, Naxxar and Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Gunner Horace Cooper, 222 Battery, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Joseph Buttigieg, age 64.  Rabat  Michael Bonello, age 21.  Zebbug  Philip Grech, age 24.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise and P34 sailed for Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eight Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.

LUQA  1417-1613 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance of Catania, Gerbini, Comiso, Biscara and Pachino L Ground.

TA QALI  Further 48 men attachments from Luqa having been bombed out to be accommodated in Boschetto Gardens.  Extensive preparations for repair of aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company finished working party at Marsa Basin yesterday.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21; dealt with 8 (1 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Private Mawdesley injured on working party at Hal Far.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.

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Posted by on April 29, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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28 April 1942: ‘Blackest Day’ as Enemy Targets Church Killing 13

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“There will not be a St Publius Church for tourists to see after the war…All that remains is a memory and a pile of broken masonry”  German Radio 1942 (1)

St Publius Church bomb damage (NWMA Malta)

HISTORIC CHURCH BOMBED WITH 26 CASUALTIES: EYE WITNESS REPORT

“On the morning of April 28, at about 8am…four separate formations of enemy bombers, some forty in all, appeared on the skyline…Then three enemy bombers detached themselves from the last formation and, diving low over the picturesque Church of St Publius in Floriana, they dropped their loads, leaving behind a heart-breaking wreck. 

One bomb struck the dome, crashed down on the high altar and penetrated into the crypt, where about a dozen persons taking cover were killed instantaneously, among them one of the best loved and respected members of the clergy, Rev Pawl Portelli.  Another bomb dropped between the two belfries, tearing away part of the façade, destroying the statue of Our Lady and blowing off the top section of the inner pillars of the church.  Yet another of the enemy’s bombs exploded inside the church and damaged the beautiful statue of the patron saint.

All of a sudden, as if whipped by a strong hand, the people rushed out shouting, weeping and protesting against the dastardly deed.  A mantle of heavy dust still hung over the battered church when the rescue-party arrived; but work was impossible as chaos and pandemonium reigned supreme.  Finally the bad news that several had been killed was broken, and parents and relatives pressed their way through the crowd to see for themselves.” J Xerri (1)

Enemy’s Fury Concentrated on Church

Today has been described as the blackest day for Floriana.  Apart from other places hit, the enemy’s fury was concentrated on St Publius Parish Church which sustained very heavy damage.  When the Church Crypt collapsed, thirteen persons were killed, five were seriously injured and six were slightly injured.  Nothing in the war to date has shaken Floriana as much.

WORKS PREPARE FOR MORE SPITFIRES

Extensive preparations are underway at Ta Qali for the arrival of further Spitfires.  No date has yet been given for the delivery.  Administrative Staff have pointed out to Air Command that, due to excessive secrecy, a lack of instructions last time until the planes actually landed at Ta Qali left the ground organisation unprepared for their arrival.  This will be remedied.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 APRIL TO DAWN 29 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; 70% cloud (haze) at 15,000 feet.

0750 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming formation of 100 enemy aircraft.

0807 hrs  Eight JU 88s bomb Mellieha Camp and four fly on to bomb Ghain Tuffieha.

0810 hrs  38 bombers with fighters as escort bomb the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, Manoel Island, Msida, Sliema and Tigne.

15 JU 88s attack Valletta and Floriana.  St Publius Church, Floriana, is hit by several bombs. The dome and the crypt are demolished, and a number of houses in St Publius Street partly demolished.  Other buildings are destroyed in St Anne Square, St Thomas Street, Strait Street, Gunlayer Street and Capuchin Street.

0825 hrs  One JU 88 crossing from Hompesch  towards Zonqor is engaged by light machine gun fire by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

0830 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron fly out to sea to intercept incoming aircraft and on their return run into four ME 109s.  P/O Stade damages one ME 109.

21 JU 87s dive-bomb Luqa, destroying the Electrical Section, Officers’ quarters and mess, Sergeants’ quarters and a van.  Many other barracks and buildings and a mobile crane are destroyed.  The Sick Quarters and Fighter Flight officers are half demolished.

Three Spitfires 261 Squadron are airborne from Luqa and intercept the JU 87s after the raid.  F/Lt Johnston damages one JU 87.  P/O McLean lands at Ta Qali.

11 JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far aerodrome and dispersal areas, and on Benghaisa gun position, wounding one Other Rank.

0840 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun Torri l’Abjad, damaging the building.

0845 hrs  Two JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: two hits claimed on one JU 88.

0915 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Misrah Blandun and the Safi strip area.

0917 hrs  Raiders passed.

1020-1033 hrs  Two ME 109s circle to the north of the Island.

1245 pm  A total plot of 90 enemy aircraft approach Malta from the north.  30 ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep across the Island before bombers cross the coast and attack the Grand Harbour area, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields.

Three Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy bombers.  P/O McKay and Sgt Boyd engage: results unknown.  P/L Fletcher fails to return.

20 JU 87s attack the Dockyard and French Creek.  A bomb hits the Carmine Tunnel and the EEM’s Drawing Office is demolished. Bombs on Store Wharf cause road blocks and sink lighters, a fire float and water vessel, as well as a tug alongside.  The Officers’ Mess at Marsa gun position is destroyed.  The entrance of a shelter in Senglea Wharf is hit by a bomb, killing 13 and fatally injuring two others.

10 JU 88s attack Valletta and Floriana.  Two bombs explode on Hastings Gardens, another hits a former barracks, demolishing stores and blocking a road.   9 JU 88s bomb Msida, Tigne and Manoel.

1305 hrs  14 JU 88s carry out mid-level and dive-bombing attacks on Luqa and the Safi strip.  One Wellington is destroyed and the dispersal areas cratered.

13 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, cratering runways and dispersal areas and further damaging buildings on the aerodrome.

1330 hrs  One stick of bombs explodes immediately north of Zejtun village.  JU 88s crossing Fort Ta Silch after an attack on Luqa are engaged by guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1339 hrs  Raiders passed.

1725 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an incoming formation of 52 enemy bombers with fighter escort: one ME 109 is damaged.  Enemy bombers divide into four formations to attack Fort Tigne, Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far airfields.

1733 hrs  20 JU 87s and JU 88s carry out mid-level and dive-bombing attacks on Luqa.  Bombs hit the Sergeants’ Mess shelter and a surface shelter outside the Photographic Section.  A water main is penetrated and quarters of the Kings Own Malta Regiment at Poor House are damaged.  Two RAF personnel and one Maltese airman are slightly injured.

1734 hrs  14 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, further cratering the aerodrome and runways.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far and intercept 10 JU 88s and six JU 87s.  Sgt Dodd engages two JU 88s and one JU 87: no results observed.

1747 hrs  An air raid on Hal Far by six JU 88s causes craters on the aerodrome and damages the officers’ quarters.  One Albacore is slightly damaged.

1810 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claim.

1832 hrs  Raiders passed.

Night  No alerts.

Enemy losses  By Malta fighters  One ME 109 and one JU 87 damaged.  By Ack Ack: one JU 88 destroyed, three JU 88s and one JU 87 damaged.  By Ack Ack fire   2 JU88 destroyed, 3 JU88 damaged, 1 JU87 damaged by Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Fletcher, Royal Canadian Air Force, 186 Squadron; Pilot Officer Thomas Foley, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Pilot Officer John McFarlane, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Gunner John Keegan 196th Bty, 65 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Arthur Suter, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Private Arthur Taylor, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; Lance-Corporal Publius Xuereb, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Annunziato Callus, age 65.  Floriana  Annetta Barbara, age 41; Calcedonio Cardona, age 79; Joseph Enriquez, age 65; Joseph Grima, age 64; Mary Mangion, age 74; Salvatore Morana, age 68; Revd Paul Portelli, age 52; Calcedonio Scerri, age 63; Assunta Tabone, age 48.  Hamrun  Vincent Vella, age 50.  Paola  Saviour Salsero, age 66.  Qormi  Carmelo Calleja, age 58.  Senglea  Carmela Borg, age 27; Carmel Borg, age 3; Lawrence Gatt, age 62; Adelaide Gatt, age 60; Carrie Gellel, age 20; Carrie Green, age 20; William Iles, age 24; Mary Micallef, age 39; Josephine Saguna, age 50; Antonia Sizeland, age 46; Charles Sizeland, age 8.  Valletta  Joseph Dalli, age 62; Joseph Grech, age 62; Charles Rapinett, age 50.  Zabbar  Vincent Pulis, age 37.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to Fayid, one Hudson to Gibralter, one Hudson to Gambut, one Wellington, one Beaufort to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  One Hurricane 229 Squadron crashed during an air test and caught fire.  Pilot P/O Foley is killed.

TA QALI   40 NCOs and airmen from Luqa Salvage Corps accommodated in tents at Boschetto Gardens owing to bombing of San Salvatore Barracks.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company billets receive a direct hit during the first raid: Pte A Tayor is killed.  Bombs fall at the entrance to Battalion HQ.  The RE store is hit.  The Officers’ Mess moved into St Francis Ravelin again: the old mess had to be evacuated due to bad drains.  Slight damage to B Company billet at Church Hall in the Dockyard.  Power station hit.  The Orderly Room is now almost in darkness: only candles or hurricane lamps available.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Further bombs on Casemate Barracks: more damage to RE WO/Sgts Mess. No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 33; dealt with 6 (2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn  L/Cpl P Xuereb dies through enemy action while on leave in Floriana.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.

(1) From When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981

 

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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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27 April 1942: Italians Bombers in Mass Raid on Malta

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Cant Z 1007 bombers

Italian Cant bombers return to Malta’s skies

Troops to complete bomber pens within 2 weeks

Airmen’s feet suffer from lack of boots and shoes

Dust very trying and getting worse

SAPPER DOWNS BOMBER WITH MACHINE-GUN

The Fortress Royal Engineers Barracks in Floriana have been so badly bombed that troops have to find alternative accommodation.  24 Fortress Company is moved to Bahar ic Cahaq.  Sapper Richard Walters spent his first few days building a gun pit from local stone, mounted with twin Browning machine-guns, from which he and his mate Chopper Hallett will help defend the camp.

“at 1050 am we got the siren again.  This time we were in the gun pit with ample time to spare…We waited ten minutes before we saw the Navy’s direction shots.  They were coming in over Grand Harbour at about 20000 feet.  It seemed that there were no friendly planes airborne because the Ack Ack was extra heavy…

during the height of it Chopper said to me, ‘Look at this one coming down the valley’.  I think it was only about 100 feet high and flying at a slow speed to what we had normally seen them fly.  It was a Junkers 87, a dive bomber, and as it got closer I could see that it was going to make a good target for our gun.  I said, ‘Keep your head down Chopper, we are going to have this one.’  I got my shoulder between the shoulder rest and glued my eyes along the sights.

Closer and closer it came.  It was about 100 yards away when I opened up.  I kept my eyes glued on the plane and I could see the two lines of smoke coming from the barrels sinking into the noise of the plane as it was coming straight at us…As it screamed over our heads at about 50 feet I kept that smoke line right underneath the pilot’s cock-pit.

Chopper was shouting something but I could not hear what he was saying and at that particular time I was not interested as I was right on target and I was giving that Junkers 87 all the guns would sent up and I knew my shots were getting home because I could see little bits of metal flying off the opposite side of the plane.  By this time the plane was going away from us and as it was so low I had to stop firing as I was hitting the top of our gunpit with the shots as they left the gun barrels, so I watched the plane carry on for a further 300 yards and suddenly tip over on its right side and plunge into the sea, sending up a terrific white spray.

Chopper shouted, ‘You’ve got it!’ and he jumped with joy…I said, ‘What were you shouting at me for as that plane was going over?’  He replied, ‘The bastard was firing back, I could see the rear gunner having a go at us and his shots were hitting the stone on top of our gunpit, and the barrels of our guns were red hot; I could see the paint peeling off them.’…

I thought to myself, ‘You got one, but you were lucky to get away with it.’  At that moment the telephone rang.  It was Captain Holloway, our 2nd i/c who was in Command Post down at HQ.  He said, ‘Who was firing at that plane?’  Excitedly, I replied, ‘I was, Sir.’  He replied, ‘Bloody good show, Walters.’…Funny they called me ‘Dead-eye Dick’ after this. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 APRIL TO DAWN 28 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.  Little cloud.

0621-0730 hrs  One flying boat and six ME 109s are observed off the east coast of the Island,  evidently on search operations.

0754-0820 hrs  Three ME 109s circle to the east of the Island.

1102 hrs  A plot totalling 36 JU 88 bombers with fighter escort, followed by a further formation of 19 JU 87 Stukas plus fighters, are observed heading for Malta.  The first plot divides into three waves.

1110 hrs The first wave of 11 JU 88s separates to bomb vessels and gun positions around Grand Harbour and Marsa Creek, including Corradino, Paola, and St George’s and Tigne Barracks.  Gun positions are also attacked at Madliena, Gharghur, Naxxar and bombs hit the military camp at Attard.

1115 hrs  One stick of bombs falls between Zabbar and Della Grazia.  Ack Ack guns destroy one JU 88 which crashes near a defence post in the Rinella Sector of 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.

1120 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Luqa causing further damage to Works and Bricks buildings.  One omnibus is destroyed and an unserviceable Wellington is written off.  One Beaufort under repair is a probable write-off and a Maryland under repair is damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on the Safi strip.  Three defence posts of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt claim hits on JU 88s.

1125 hrs  One JU 88 crossing Zonqor Ridge from the direction of Luqa is engaged by light machine gun fire by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  No hits claimed.  Two JU 88s flying out over Fort Ta Silch are engaged by light machine gun fire from the fort and from Wolseley Camp: hits claimed.  One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from a defence position of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1130 hrs  19 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers cross the coast and head for Ta Qali, where they carry out a massed dive-bombing raid on camps and gun positions, damaging buildings and causing extensive craters.  Extreme repairs are carried out on the aerodrome and pens and the aerodrome is serviceable.

1157 hrs  Raiders passed.

1547 hrs  The air raid alarm is raised for an approaching plot of enemy aircraft.

1554 hrs  Five BR20s drop forty 100kg bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level, before receding in formation.

53 Luftwaffe bombers accompanied by 33 fighters then take up the attack.  24 JU 88s head for the Grand Harbour area: 14 attack Marsamxetto Harbour, dropping bombs on Manoel Island, Pieta and Msida and Tigne Barracks.  Tigne S/L projector and Ack Ack light machine gun damaged.

The remaining ten drop bombs on Valletta and Floriana, including Casemate Barracks and Lintorn Barracks, The Seminary, Phoenicia Hotel, Gunlayer Street, New Street, First Street, Magazine Street, St Francis Barracks and Crucifix Hill.  One unexploded bomb is removed from Central Civil Hospital.  In Valletta bombs explode in Frederic Street; St Francis Sisters’ Convent, St Domenico Chapel Oratory and some houses are damaged.

21 JU 87s carry out another dive-bombing raid on Ta Qali, leaving craters on the aerodrome and further damaging buildings and dispersal areas.  Gun positions are Bombs hit gun positions at Naxxar, and at Salina, further damaging billets of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt.  L/Cpl Torpiano of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is injured in the left shoulder and leg by an Ack Ack shell; [he later died].

1625 hrs  Eight JU 88s dive bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.  One Wellington under repair is burned out.

1735 hrs  One enemy reconnaissance aircraft flies over Mellieha Camp.

1745 hrs  All clear.

1900-1920 hrs  One flying boat and eight ME 109s circle north of the Island, evidently searching for casualties from the previous raid.

2105-2123 hrs  One Italian Cz 1007 aircraft approaches the Island from the south east.  One of Malta’s fighters is airborne.  One Beaufighter from Luqa is airborne to intercept: no engagement.  The enemy bomber comes no closer than 20 miles to the east, and retreats without dropping any bombs on land.

Military casualties  Corporal Herbert Green, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Sergeant Charles Gwinnutt, 222 Battery, 10th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Paola  Concetta Campbell, age 59.  Rabat  Andrew Scicluna, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 APRIL 1942

HMS Urge

ROYAL NAVY  Urge sailed for Alexandria. One Swordfish and one Albacore made a successful sortie on 3 destroyers and on M/V obtaining one hit on an M/V, 340 degrees, 30 miles from Pantelleria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 27/28th  One Swordfish and one Albacore despatched on shipping search Cape Bon-Pantelleria area.  One merchant vessel of 4000 tons escorted by two or three destroyers were sighted in position 340 degrees Pantelleria 30 miles, course 180 degrees 12 knots.  The merchant vessel was attacked by the Albacore.  The torpedo ran well: damage unknown.  Lots of smoke seen coming from the merchant vessel at the end of the attack.

LUQA  1015-1305 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes, Pantelleria and Trepani Harbour.

TA QALI  No scrambles.  Men suffering with feet troubles owing to lack of boots and shoes.  Dust very trying and getting worse.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties as usual at Ospizio and Marsa Basin.  One Officer and 30 men clearing Merchant Street, Valletta; two Officers and 30 men clearing water mains in Valletta.  One NCO and 10 men working for Fuel-Light stores during the afternoon.  Salvaging still continues in Battalion quarters.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Few bombs near 24 Fortress Coy at Bahar-ic-Cahaq, no casualties.  Bombs Msida Quarters and North Square, Lintorn Barracks, no casualties. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 9; dealt with 14 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 6 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Bn to complete five bomber pens within a fortnight (cross-section measurements 14′ x 10′ x 4′).

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  2115 hrs  Cpl H F Green dies at Imtarfa as a result of bomb wounds received on 25 April.

(1) “Story of events leading up to the first German plane I shot down in Malta in 1942”, by Sapper Richard Walters, Royal Engineers Library

 

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26 April 1942: Without More Spitfires Malta Will Be Destroyed, Says Churchill

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CHURCHILL AND ROOSEVELT ACT TO SECURE MALTA

USS Wasp

Yesterday Winston Churchill asked President Roosevelt to allow the aircraft carrier USS Wasp to make a second emergency run from Gibraltar to deliver Spitfires for Malta, saying “Without this aid I fear Malta will be pounded to bits.  Meanwhile [Malta’s] defence is wearing out the enemy’s Air Force and effectively aiding Russia.”

Receiving the US President’s sanction for the move, the Prime Minister thanked Roosevelt for allowing Wasp to “have another good sting.”  Churchill then immediately instructed his Chief of Air Staff to: “let me know the programme for feeding Malta with Spitfires, week by week, during the next eight weeks.” 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 APRIL TO DAWN 27 APRIL 1942

Weather  Cold northerly wind.  60% cloud at 20,000 feet.

0936 hrs  Air raid alert; nothing transpires.  A second alert follows with no air raid.

1245 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map ref 512248.

1341 hrs  Air raid alert; nothing transpires.

1420 hrs  A total of 54 JU 88 bombers and 17 JU 87 Stukas plus a heavy fighter escort approach the Island.

1428 hrs  Incoming raiders divide into six formations to raid Ta Qali, Luqa, Kalafrana and the Grand Harbour area.  17 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers head for Ta Qali.  15 JU 88s bomb Marsa Creek and 11 JU 88s attack Kalafrana.  12 JU 88s target Sliema and Msida.  Spinola Heavy Ack Ack position is bombed, killing one Other Rank, and Tigne searchlight is damaged.

Bombs are also dropped on St Paul’s Bay and Salina, Qormi, Fleur de Lys, the Buffs Camp at Attard and Delimara.  A bomb explodes near the Heavy Ack Ack position at Salina, damaging buildings.  Searchlights are damaged at St Paul’s Bay and Attard.  Many unexploded bombs are reported.

1440 hrs  Three Spitfires from Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.

1445 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are ordered into the air with Spitfires from Luqa: no engagement.

1445 hrs  12 JU 88s target the barracks in Floriana, damaging buildings within Lintorn Barracks and the Ordnance Depot at Ospizio.  The Parade Ground, Great Siege Road, Harper Lane and the Traffic Office near Kingsway also sustain damage.  Porta Reale steps in Valletta and nearby buildings are also hit.

1445 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa, Safi and Kirkop.

1500 hrs  Sgt Hesselyn 249 Squadron damages one ME 109 and destroys one JU 87.  One Spitifre is attacked by enemy fighters: P/O James, 249 Squadron, is injured and admitted to hospital.

1515 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One light machine gun claims hits on one ME 109.

1520 hrs  One JU 88 recedes from an attack on Grand Harbour with its engine smoking, passing out over Della Grazia Fort. 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt open fire, claiming several hits.

1530 hrs  A second Spitfire from the Luqa flight is attacked. The fighter crashes at L’Imriehal.  Troops reach the baled out pilot, who is seriously injured.  They take him to a medical facility at Hamrun: he is expected to live.

1540 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land at Luqa.

1544 hrs  Raiders passed.

1745 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for the approach of 65 bombers with a protective force of fighters.  As they approach the coast, the raiders divide into four groups, each with fighter escort: one formation of 16 JU 88s heads towards Ta Qali, also attacking Naxxar gun position and the military camp at Attard.  A second group of 14 JU 88s heads for Luqa and Hal Far airfields and a third formation of 10 JU 88s flies on to turn over Delimara and Kalafrana.  The final formation of 25 JU 88s heads for Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Floriana and Marsa Creek.

Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 87s heading across the coast with a fighter escort of ME 109s.  P/O Horricks DFM claims one ME 109 damaged.  P/O Eastman engages the bombers: no results.  Sgt Lees claims one JU 87damaged.  S/L Dafforn, 229 Squadron, is injured.

1755 hrs  10 JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far aerodrome leaving craters on the aerodrome and badly damaging stores, the NAAFI, the Sergeants Mess and other buildings.  One van is a write-off.  Accommodation of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is hit, badly shaking the building which has to be evacuated.  Bombs are dropped on an 18 pounder gun position, killing and injuring Gunners who are sheltering in an underground cook house.

1800 hrs 16 JU 88s attack Floriana.  Bombs explode on the Granaries and opposite St Publius Church, on Filippo Sceberras Square and Crucifix Hill.  One boy is admitted to Central Civil Hospital for treatment.  Bombs are also dropped on Savoy Hill and Msida; Spinola Heavy Ack Ack position is hit, destroying one gun.

One JU 88 is seen to crash in flames in the north of the Island.

1834 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.

1845-1900 hrs  Numerous JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1854 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Kalafrana and Delimara.  JU 88s attacking Delimara Ack Ack Battery are engaged by light machine gun fire from Wolseley Camp and Fort Ta Silch: no hits claimed.

1923 hrs  All clear.

2219 hrs  A plot of enemy sea craft is suspected off Zonqor Point.  All beach posts and patrols are warned to be on the look-out.

2320 hrs  Sea plot alerts are called off.

0350-0358 hrs  An alert sounds for one aircraft which comes in from the north and recedes again to the north.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Cripps, Royal Canadian Air Force, 601 Squadron; Leading Aircraftsman William Flower, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Murray McEwen, Royal Air Force (VR).

Gunner Stephen Allsop, 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Leslie Furber, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner James Keating, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harry Nicholson, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Salvatore Gauci, Malta Auxilliary Corps; Albert Montgomery, 1st Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy; Gunner Consiglio Ellul, 3rd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sapper Emmanuel Vella, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Anthony Coleiro, age 22  Sliema  Salvatore Gauci.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 31 sailed for Alexandria. One Swordfish and one Albacore attacked three destroyers and 3 M.V.s south of Linosa and obtained one hit on a M/V.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons to Kabrit; one Blenheim to 108 MU.

LUQA  2107-0407 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on enemy shipping strike.  Two convoys are picked up: two merchant vessels with one destroyer, and one merchant vessel with two destroyers.  The second convoy was attacked and a near-miss obtained on one merchant vessel.

TA QALI  Extensive dive-bombing on camps and gun positions all over the Island.  More accommodation is required: further tents are obtained and erected in Boschetto Gardens.  2205 hrs  S/L Westmacott in a Hurricane flew to Comiso waiting around the aerodrome at Catania; intense barrage put up.  He attacked a train which took shelter in a tunnel.  There being no activity he returned.  Sgt Wood took up the machine and did not return.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Only two working parties today: 40 personnel from D Company at Ospizio Depot, 40 personnel B Company at Marsa Basin.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT   Accommodation Hut C Company rendered unserviceable by bombs.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs Lintorn Bks Cookhouse, C Block Msida Qrs, Lintorn Cookhouse, Ration Store, Shoemaker’s Shop and Boiler House demolished.  Field Cooking improvised. No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 6 (1 x 1000kg; 1 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Air attacks on Infantry camps continued.  One JU 88 crashed in the Battalion sector.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1545 hrs  Fusilier Robinson, B Coy, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died in hospital from injuries sustained in enemy action at Pembroke Battery yesterday.  Three heavy raids today: JU 88s flying extremely low (500-1000 feet) possibly brought down by us.  Many strikes claimed by all Companies light machine gun anti-aircraft fire.  2000 hrs  Both working parties now on Luqa building bomber pens.

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25 April 1942: Hospitals Target of Shock Attacks – Bombers Aim at Red Cross

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  • 246 enemy raiders in 19 attacks
  • 1000 bombs total 317,486 kg (312 tons)
  • 42 military killed and 23 wounded

    No 45 General Hospital, St Patrick’s (NWMA Malta)

BOMBING OF HOSPITALS ‘DELIBERATE’ SAYS ARMY OFFICER

At 7.30 this morning Bomb Disposal Officer Lt George Carroll was in his ward at No 45 General Hospital, St Patrick’s, where he was recovering from recent emergency surgery:

“…the dressings were all removed and I was told I could get up.  I dressed in the morning and, with my new freedom, I went out onto the balcony in the sunshine, looking out over the sea.  As I looked out I saw the silhouette of a Stuka dive-bomber, headed directly towards our hospital.  I saw two black objects, released by the plane and obviously bombs.  This was clearly an attack on the hospital.

I ran into the ward and picked up one of two helmets and gave it to the naval officer in the bed opposite mine whose leg was in traction, and I dived under the bed in the corner.  The next moment, all the windows came shattering across the room.  He was hurt but I was unharmed.  The matron came round to check if there were any casualties.  She put her head round the door into the ward and asked, ‘Anybody hurt?’  I said, ‘I’m all right but my friend here has been cut by glass, I think.’ 

It was particularly surprising that the hospital was bombed, although the enemy might claim it could be a store in disguise.  But right outside our ward there was a huge circle of white stones with a red cross – about 30 feet across.  He was diving down towards the hospital with the red cross right in front of him.  One can only conclude that it was deliberate; some Germans (and British) acted in disregard of who or what was damaged.” (1)

GOVERNOR WANTS ATROCITY PUBLICISED

From:- Governor & C in C Malta          To:- C in C Middle East          Rptd. The War Office          25/4/42

Air attacks today 0730 hrs, 1300 hrs, 1815 hrs included deliberate heavy attacks on 39 and 45 General Hospitals.  In first raid two wards 39 General Hospital demolished red cross on roof building.  Dining hall hit; 6 killed, two wounded.

Lt Rosenvelt German prisoner in hospital expressed horror and amazement at his comrades as he knew red cross visible.  Rosenvelt behaved well assisting injured after raid.  Improvised red cross manufactured from sheets which Rosenvelt agreed was large enough.  After raid Rosenvelt warned nurse to take shelter when next alarm as, quote: ‘now they have started they will not leave a building standing’ unquote.

In second raid three more wards demolished and improvised red cross also hit: 3 killed also one child.  Unexploded bomb on red cross at 45 General Hospital which also hit by one bomb.  POW Camp which in hospital area for safety also hit; one Italian prisoner killed, one injured.  In third raid further bombs area 39 General Hospital and cookhouse hit.  Details of this raid awaited.

Suggest this be given wide publication.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 APRIL TO DAWN 26 APRIL 1942

Weather  Cold northerly wind.  50% medium cloud.

0625 hrs The air raid alert sounds for massed formations of enemy aircraft, including 100 bombers with fighter escort, approaching the Island from the North.

0637 hrs  13 JU 88s drop high explosive bombs of various calibres on Mellieha Camp and west of Miziep Valley, and a large quantity of incendiaries across a wide area around Mellieha.  Two men from Kings Own Malta Regiment are killed, one is seriously wounded and later dies from his injuries.  Main buildings of Mellieha Camp are damaged and stores destroyed.

0715 hrs  Ghain Tuffieha Camp is bombed with high explosives and incendiaries.  Pte Loco, 8th Bn Manchester Regt is engaging enemy aircraft from a Lewis gun pit when he is killed by enemy fire.  Two Other Ranks are injured and admitted to hospital.  ME 109s machine-gun troops moving to dispersal areas. Casualties are small owing to the rapid and orderly manner in which troops moved to dispersal areas carrying arms and ammunition.

0730 hrs  26 JU 88 bombers carry out heavy bombing raids on the Pembroke area, including No 45 General Hospital at St Patrick’s and No 39 General Hospital at St Andrew’s.  Pilots are seen to target bombs directly at the large red crosses which identify the location of the hospitals from the air.  Sgt Moore, RAOC, attached 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is reported missing believed killed in St Andrews.

Ten JU 88 bombers attack St George’s Barracks.  Bombs hit the Married Quarters, causing extensive damage.

12 JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Luqa airfield.  17 JU 88s attack the Poor House, demolishing RAF officers’ quarters and injuring five Officers, one seriously.  Army quarters are also demolished, killing five Army personnel.  Tal Handaq gun positions are also hit.

Malta’s fighters are airborne and destroy two ME 109s and one JU88; probably destroy one JU 87 and damage five JU 88s, one JU 87 and two ME 109s.  One ME109 is destroyed and one JU 88 damaged by Ack Ack.  One Spitfire crashes on a hill, killing the pilot; one is damaged in combat – the pilot is safe.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept formations of JU 88s and 10 JU 87s with an escort of ME 109s.  P/O Wigley claims one JU 88 damaged.  Sgt Tweedale destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Finlay damages one JU 88 and Sgt Dodd damages one JU 88 and probably destroys one JU 87.

1225 hrs  A second large plot of 100 enemy bombers with fighter escort approaches the Island.  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept the enemy aircraft; they are joined by three more Spitfires 249 and 603 Squadrons from Ta Qali.

12 JU 88s carry out a bombing raid on Mellieha Barracks and Ghain Tuffieha.  21 JU 88s drop bombs across the Pembroke area, again targeting Nos 39 and 45 General Hospitals.  10 JU 88s bomb St George’s Barracks, causing further damage to administrative buildings and accommodation.  St Julian’s and Sliema are also hit.

14 JU 88s attack Heavy Ack Ack gun positions along the north east coast, including Gharghur fort, Campbell Battery and Spinola.

1315 hrs  15 JU 87s attack the Poor House, and leave two delayed-action bombs near the Sergeants’ Mess.  Royal Engineers quarters are damaged.  One JU 87 drops a stick of bombs across the road from Zabbar to Marsascala 500 yards from Zabbar.  Tal Handaq gun positions are also hit.

Three Spitfires 601 Squadron engage the JU 87s dive-bombing Poor House: no claims.  P/O Pawson fails to return.  Three Spitfires 249 and 603 Squadrons (Ta Qali) join the attack on the JU 87s.

1340 hrs  Sgt Brennan, 249 Squadron, destroys one ME 109 and one JU 88; P/O McNair (249) damages two ME 109s, one JU 87 and one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Raiders passed.

1405 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a single aircraft patrolling to the north of the Island, apparently on a search.

1515 hrs  The alert sounds a second time for enemy aircraft patrolling to the north.

1720 hrs  Another large formation of some 90 bombers with fighter escort is plotted approaching the Island from the north.  Three Spitfires 261 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Peck fires at a JU 88: no claims.  Sgt Goldsmith lands early as the hood of his aircraft blows off.  Two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far intercept eight JU 88s.  P/O Carter attacks one of the bombers: no results observed.  Hurricane pilot W/O Corfe fails to return.

1730 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to engage enemy raiders: no results seen.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron and one Hurricane 185 Squadron are airborne from Luqa, joining with another Spitfire from Luqa to attack JU 88s.  F/Lt Douglas (603) destroys one JU 88; P/O Fletcher (185) destroys one JU 88 and Sgt Webster (603) damages one.

1741 hrs  15 JU 88s bomb Ghain Tuffieha Camp with high explosives and incendiaries.  A third attack on Mellieha Camp by 12 JU 88s causes further damage and renders the camp uninhabitable.  Immediately after the attack, Kings Own Malta Regiment troops are evacuated from the Camp.

29 JU 88s and 10 JU 87s attack the Pembroke and St George’s areas, causing damage to barracks, buildings, RAOC stores and workshops.  No 39 General Hospital is again deliberately attacked and further damaged.  Spinola Heavy Ack Ack gun position receives a direct hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding two and destroying one gun.  One Light Ack Ack position suffers a near miss, wounding three Other Ranks.

1815 hrs  Pembroke Battery sustains three direct hits, destroying a billet and causing two casualties, Other Ranks.  The battery remains intact.

1835 hrs  Twelve JU 87s carry out a dive bombing attack on the Poor House.   A section of the airmen’s quarters is destroyed and the parachute section damaged.  The Poor House has to be evacuated.  Two ME 109s are engaged by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1907 hrs  All clear.

Night  No night alerts.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Walter Dargue, HMS St.Angelo; Leading Stoker Leslie Waldron, HMS Xmas.

Flight Sergeant Lucien Brooks, Royal Canadian Air Force, 279 Squadron; Warrant Officer Douglas Corfe, Royal Air Force, 229 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Pawson, 601 Squadron.

Private Dennis Blanksby, Lance-Corporal Walter Clingo, Private William Logue, 39 General Hospital; Corporal Owen Powell, Private Stephen Sage, Private John Searle, Corporal Jack Wait: all Royal Army Medical Corps.

Private Alfred Dilley, Private Arthur Heywood, Private Cyril Maguire, Private Philip Rust, Private Cecil Tappin, all Royal Army Pay Corps.

Gunner Walter Seamarks and Sergeant George Walker, 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Robert Andrews, 7 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Thomas Casey 55 Bty, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Gunner William Allen, Gunner James Budden, Gunner Harold Lloyd, Gunner Harry Turner, Gunner Ernest Walker, Gunner Cyril Wiles, Lance Bombardier Cyril Yeomans: all 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Private Frederick Edwards, Private Patrick O’Sullivan, Private Leslie Urquhart, Private Edward Walker: all 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Private Anthony Baldacchino, Private Nazzarine Grech, Private John Sammut: all 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Corporal Albert Johnson, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Private Arthur Loco, 8th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment; Signalman Richard Mifsud, Corps of Signals, Malta Territorial Force; Sergeant Vernon Moore, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Fusilier Samuel Purvis, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Fusilier Harold Robinson, 11th Battalion,Lancashire Fusiliers; Lance-Corporal John Walker, Corps of Military Police; Claude Sampson, Asst.HC Depot, HM Dockyard; Vincent Prime, son of Corporal Prime, Royal Army Service Corps.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Onorato Amaira, age 45.  Gharghur  Ganna Camilleri, age 65; Mary Camilleri, age 60.  Marsa  Unidentified male.  Sliema  Perina Montefort, age 88; Alfred Montefort, age 75.  St Julian’s  Albert Montgomery, age 41.  St Paul’s Bay  Joseph Grech, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived from Alexandria with passengers, fuel, and stores.  P35  returned from patrol off Kerkenah, sank one 5000 ton ship and obtained one hit on a smaller one.   Naval rest camp and St. George’s Barracks bombed by large formations of JU 88s.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Gambut.

LUQA  1040-1400 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs at Poorhouse, Company Office & Rations destroyed. 1 man admitted to hospital, 1 slightly injured. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 33; dealt with 5 (4 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Poynter and Fus Purvis are killed by enemy bombs.  Bombs in Bn area: St Andrews attacked – families homeless.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1900 hrs  Walking wounded and convalescent officers and Other Ranks temporarily returned to unit from bombed hospitals.  0400 hrs  Priority tasks of Luqa and Hal Far working parties complete.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Pte E F Walker, Pte F Edwards and L/Cpl P T O’Sullivan killed by bombs on Poor House.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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24 April 1942: Dogfights Over Grand Harbour

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  • 3 enemy aircraft destroyed, 8 damaged
  • 23 civilians killed in 13 localities
  • 40 unexploded bombs reported today
  • 24 tons of unexploded bombs disposed of in 6 days

    Wellington bombers

SECOND BOMBER MISSING AFTER SICILY RAID

Another Wellington bomber was reported missing this morning following the loss of one aircraft in yesterday’s raid on the Axis airfield at Comiso.  Flight Lieutenant Hayter and his five man crew took off from Luqa yesterday evening at 20:45 hours.  Theirs was one of the first wave of four Wellingtons attacked by anti-aircraft fire.  Two were hit, one was badly damaged; the other, piloted by F/Lt Harper, was reported missing.  F/Lt Hayter returned safely to Luqa at 2225 hrs.

Two hours later he took to the air again, as part of a second-wave attack on the same target.  During the early hours of the morning, his aircraft was shot down over the island above Acate. All of the crew except F/Lt Hayter were killed: he was taken prisoner.

The crew are named as Second Pilot Sergeant Douglas King, Observer Sergeant Maurice Buckley, Wireless Operators/Air Gunners Sergeant Edward March, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and Sergeant George Tull, and Air Gunner Sergeant James Kehoe; all Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 APRIL TO DAWN 25 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south easterly; no cloud – visibility approximately 70 miles.  Warm.

0530-0620 hrs  Air raid warning.  One JU 88 bomber approaches from the west and drops bombs on Floriana.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0640-0658 hrs  Three ME 109s machine gun Ta Qali aerodrome.

0709 hrs  Formations of enemy bombers with fighter escort are observed approaching the Island.  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s and ME 109 fighters.  Sgt Boyd damages two ME 109s and F/Lt Lawrence one.  P/O Fletcher damages one JU 88.

Four Spitfires 126 Squadron (Ta Qali) are also airborne and engage enemy aircraft.  F/Lt Johnstone probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Miller and Sgt Christ damage one JU 88; Sgt Milner damages two.

0725 hrs  Seven JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Luqa.  Bombs land on the perimeter of the aerodrome.  One serviceable and one unserviceable Hurricane are burned out.  A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire is damaged.

0730 hrs  22 JU 88 bombers attack the Dockyard, targeting French Creek and Marsa.

0810 hrs  Bombs land on the north east outskirts of Zejtun and near Tal Handaq.

0820 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

0839 hrs  Raiders passed.

1005 hrs  A large plot of enemy bombers and fighters is observed heading towards the Island.

1010 hrs   Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They attack JU 88s while they are engaged in bombing raids over Grand Harbour: Sgt Christ destroys one JU 87.

South Street, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

1015 hrs  45 enemy bombers and fighters attack the Grand Harbour area and drop a considerable number of bombs on houses and buildings in Valletta and Floriana.

In Valletta, heavy bombs explode in St Johns Ditch, Hastings Gardens and South Street, killing one and injuring ten.  ARP officers are reported to have collected six bags of human flesh from the ruins. 

Several members of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are in an air raid shelter in Old Bakery Street when it is hit by a high explosive bomb.  Privates E Jones and F Jepson are reported missing, believed killed.  Witnesses suggest that the bomb landed at their feet, killing both instantly.  Corporal A Johnson is badly injured [he later died of his wounds].  Sergeant Myers and Private Doyle are injured and taken to hospital; Sgt Bollard, L/Cpl Clarke and Pte Leak are slightly injured.

In Floriana bombs explode in St Anne’s Street, St Thomas Street, Sarria Street, Gunlayer Square and Magazine Street, killing two people and injuring thirty, eight seriously.

1030 hrs  Ta Qali is attacked by enemy bombers using heavy calibre bombs – believed to be captured British bombs.

1110 hrs  Raiders passed.

1230 hrs  Three waves of JU 88 bombers with fighter escort (approximately 15 aircraft in each wave) approach the Island.  Two Hurricanes 229 Squadron and one from 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept the incoming formation.  P/O Nixon, 229 Squadron, damages one ME 109.

1235 hrs  The enemy plots separate:  22 JU 88s head for Grand Harbour, bombing Valletta, Corradino, Marsa Creek and Pieta, causing further damage to buildings and Dockyard facilities.

1236 hrs  Six JU 88s raid Luqa, causing craters on the aerodrome and dispersal areas.  Bombs fall on already uninhabitable billets.

1240 hrs  One Spitfire is airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1250 hrs  JU 88s are engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1355 hrs  The lone Spitfire is returning to Luqa when he is shot at by four ME 109s during landing.

1400 hrs  Raiders passed.

1800 hrs  A large number of enemy aircraft is plotted to the north on course for the Island.  They turn towards Grand Harbour: the first formation flying on towards Ta Qali, the second attacking Grand Harbour and Valletta, and the third targeting Msida.  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept.  They engage several JU 87s and ME 109s over Grand Harbour.  One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.

1807 hrs 15 JU 88s and 19 JU 87 Stukas with a large escort of fighters attack Grand Harbour.  Considerable damage is caused to buildings in Floriana and Valletta, including Casemate Barracks, the Torpedo Depot, the General Post Office and GOR Officers’ Mess.

Floriana is a main target: bombs hit the ARP centre, destroying medical equipment one ambulance and a reconnaissance motor cycle.  Bombs also hit houses in Filippo Sceberras Square, St Anne’s Street and Sarria Street, causing 23 casualties (some later died in hospital).  Pte Urquhart, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment, is killed while on leave in Valletta.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept 15 of the JU 87s involved in the raid on Msida.  P/O Wigley and Sgt Finlay each damage a JU 87.  Sgt Dodd attacks four JU 87s: no results observed.

Three Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali to defend the aerodrome from the incoming raiders.  F/Lt Lucas has to crash land near Siggiewi due to Glycol trouble.  The other two Spitfires return with R/T trouble.

1820 hrs  Nine JU 88s with fighters in support attack Ta Qali.  Bombs are also dropped near Targa Heavy Ack Ack position.

1840 hrs  An enemy reconnaissance flight is observed over the north of the Island.

1845 hrs  One ME 109 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment.

1905 hrs  Raiders passed.

Dusk  Three ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.

2042-2340 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs; 0345-0435 hrs Three air raid alerts are sounded for individual approaching aircraft.  German and Italian bombs, including incendiaries are dropped in the Luqa area, Tal Virtu, Gudjia and Safi.  A few houses are destroyed but there are no casualties.  One Beaufighter is airborne in response to each alert to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Alexander Balinson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 148 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Charron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Corporal William Rogerson, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Gunner Carmel Dingli, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance-Sergeant Joseph Sammut, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Delia, age 20.  Floriana  Dolores Abela, age 60. Ghaxaq  John Mary Camilleri, age 67; Anthony Galea, age 51. Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15.   Hamrun  Charles Demajo, age 13; Aida Kelly, age 26; Michael Pace, age 15; Joseph Spiteri, age 12.  Marsa  Michael Cilia, age 18.  Mosta  Luigi Calleja, age 75. Paola  Leone Bartolo, age 20; Teresa Bondin, age 2; Josephine Bondin, age 6 mths; Gaetan Pisani, age 31.  Pieta  Saviour Caruana, age 21; Petra Christine Dungstaad, age 30. Siggiewi  Carmel Cachia, age 53.  Sliema  James Naudi, age 45.  Tarxien  Michael d’Alfonso, age 18.  Valletta  Jane Muliett, age 3; Caroline Salnitro, age 14.  Comino  Rose Zammit, age 15.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Torpedo Depot further damaged in air raid.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Bombay from Gibraltar, one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  One Catalina, one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Bombay to 108 MU.

LUQA  1150-1343 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of East Sicilian aerodromes.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion ceased working on aerodromes at Ta Qali and Luqa during the day and began working from 1930 hrs until 0300 hrs daily for seven days a week.  One Other Rank is wounded by a delayed-action bomb and dies of his wounds shortly afterwards.  A detachment from the Battalion took over observation post duties at Tal Minsia for one week.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb in Casemate Bks destroyed FRE Oil Store. Weight of bombs disposed of still rising: 24 tons in 6 days.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 43; dealt with 10 (3 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit hands over observation post at Tal Virtu at 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.  2100 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.  Work progressing much quicker than by daylight.  No dispersal of troops on air alert at night.  Luftwaffe using firework-incendiary bombs at night, not successfully, against grounded aircraft.

(1) Compiled with reference to Dover War Memorial Project.  Flight Lieutenant Hayter, Mentioned in Dispatches, was one of the escapees from Stalag Luft III, as recalled in the film ‘The Great Escape’. Hayter one of the fifty recaptured and shot on the direct orders of Hitler.

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

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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