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4 April 1942: Stukas Dive-bomb Dockyard – 66 Casualties

04 Apr

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  • Bomb blast kills men sheltering in Dockyard tunnel
  • Enemy formations split: approach from north and south
  • Simultaneous attacks on Dockyard and Hal Far
  • Stukas dive singly on Harbour objectives

 

RHS Glaukos (2)

GREEK SUBMARINE SUNK IN GRAND HARBOUR

“The one submarine I worked on more than any other was the Greek submarine Glaukos. She was of French design and had been sold to the Royal Greek Navy some time in the 1930s…I got to know many members of the crew. Among them I recall was my friend Papaconstantinu. He seemed to know everything about the ship and we had to frequently consult him to find a particular hard-to-find piece of equipment and its controls usually buried and hidden from view…

Communication was not exactly easy but we managed using a weird mixture of English, Greek and German substituting words as needed, often with humorous results…we had heard that [Glaukos] captain and three of her officers had been killed in February 1942 in a heavy air attack on the submarine base near Manoel Island. But this was only a foreshadow of worse things to come…on April 4 with another heavy air attack on the base during which Glaukos received two direct hits and sank. I was unable to find out whether my friend Papaconstantinu was among the casualties…”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 APRIL TO DAWN 5 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; no cloud but considerable haze.

0655 hrs  Four ME109s machine-gun the camp of the Kings Own Malta Regiment at Mellieha and Marfa east ridge.

0926 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at 26000 feet.

1108 hrs  35 JU 87 Stukas and JU 88 bombers attack Grand Harbour.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 88 and three JU 87s destroyed, one JU 88 and one JU 87 badly damaged.  Parts of one aircraft fall on St Margerita Square in Cospicua.

Admiralty houses, offices and a WO’s Mess, and part of Admiralty House, Vittoriosa are all demolished.  The Clock Tower and the dome of St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa are destroyed.  Offices and buildings on top of Sheer Bastion are wrecked; one wharf extensively damaged.  No 4 Dock Caisson is hit, flooding the dock and the pump is out of action due to electric power damage.  A bomb on north end of Corradino Tunnel causes many casualties from blast: 16 are killed and 50 injured.  Among them was the Commander, two Officers and five crew of HMS Kingston.  Bombs sink Greek submarine Glaukos and damage the destroyer Lance and the cruiser Penelope.

St Augustine’s Valletta (NWMA, Malta)

Several bombs also land in Valletta and Floriana.  St Augustine’s Church is badly damaged.  The Royal Artillery Mess and the Central Registry are hit and the entrance to War HQ in Lascaris is blocked by debris.

1140 hrs  Six ME 109s head for Hal Far aerodrome.  Two drop bombs on the airfield, causing craters.  One ME 109 engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claim.

1522-1640 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s come over on reconnaissance followed by twelve JU 88s which attack Grand Harbour area.  Bombs cause considerable structural damage to the Victualling Yard at St Angelo and demolish the bridge.

1800 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of  JU 88s with a large escort of ME 109s, heading for Grand Harbour.  F/L McQueen destroys one JU 88; P/O Sergeant and P/O Daddo Langlois damage one JU 88 each.  Four Hurricanes from Luqa damage two JU 88s.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1818-1917 hrs  46 JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Dockyard area.  St Theresa Tunnel in Dockyard Creek is completely demolished.  The Ack Ack barrage is very effective and numerous planes are seen receding northwards, smoking badly.  Bombs hit streets of Hamrun, demolishing twelve houses, killing nine civilians and injuring three others. 

1820 hrs  B Company platoon of 1 Bn Cheshire Regt working on unloading Pampas receive a direct hit.  There are no casualties but all their kit is lost and communication lines are cut.  Work on Pampas is ordered to cease until 1200 hrs tomorrow.

1832 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers raid Hal Far leaving more craters on the aerodrome – now totalling eight.

1930-1945 hrs  Air alert.  Raid does not materialise.

Night 4/5th  Single enemy a/c raid Hal Far and Kalafrana with incendiaries.

2233-2316 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north east and drops incendiaries, some of which fall on the roof of B Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, as well as houses nearby. Troops of B Company quickly extinguish the fires.

2355 hrs  A Wellington aircraft comes in to land at Luqa without instructions and collides with another on the flare path.  One is pulled clear but the other cannot be moved.

0112 hrs  A Wellington aircraft crashes on take-off into the damaged Wellington left at the side of the runway from the previous collision.  The second aircraft catches fire but only the 2nd pilot is injured.  All three aircraft are written off.

0025 hrs; 0120 hrs; 0355 hrs; 0415 hrs  A single aircraft each time crosses the coast and drops incendiaries on Kalafrana and Hal Far.

Military casualties  Commander Philip Somerville, DSO and Bar, DSC and Bar, Officer of the Order of the Phoenix of Greece, HMS Kingston;  Able Seaman Percy Bristow, HMS Kingston; Lieutenant Peter Hague, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Metcalfe, HMS Kingston; John Murphy, Yeoman of Signals, HMS Kingston; Frank Naylor, Telegraphist, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Walter Stanley, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Taylor, HMS Kingston;  Commander V Arsanoglou, Sub-Lieutenant I Kostakos, RHS Glavkos.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Paul Bartolo, age 24.  Hamrun  George Degiorgio, age 22; Carmel Felice, age 17; Thomas Harmsworth, age 54; Vincent Miggiani, age 38; Micheline Psaila, age 16; Publius Sultana, age 31; Teresa Sultana, age 26; Joseph Sultana, age 2; unidentified female.  Marsa  Joseph Bugeja, age 19; Carmel Saliba, age 20.  Paola  Joseph Caruana, age 43; Francis Frendo, age 15; Carmel Livori.  Qormi  Joseph Ciantar, age 49.  Rabat  William O’Neil, age 22.  Senglea  Joseph Galea, age 77.  St Julian’s  Carmel Sciberras, age 29.  Valletta  Ali Abdul Ben, age 61.  Vittoriosa  Joseph Gatt, age 31.  Zebbug  Teodora Coleiro, age 68.  Zejtun  Carmel Cioffi, age 55.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Glaukos received three direct hits with bombs and sank; Lance two direct hits and Penelope hits and damage from splinters and fire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Beauforts landed Malta from Ops 201; nine Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Gambut; eight Wellingtons, two Beaufighters to 108 MU.

LUQA  2035-0550 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping strike with Beaufort aircraft.  Located a convoy and dropped flares but Beaufort did not arrive: no bombs dropped.  2225-0201 hrs  One Beaufighter on interception: no combat.

TA QALI  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Work on Pampas hampered by water in holds.  No 2 hold almost empty.  Very heavy raids on Grand H during the day: B Company  platoon received direct hit: no casualties but all kit lost.  Bombs in Valletta and Floriana.  MVDF HQ Valletta hit: stores saved.  HMS Penelope chief target.  Communication with B And D Companies cut.  1820 hrs  Work on Pampas ordered to cease until 1200 hrs tomorrow.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome during the day.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 28; dealt with 5 (1 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion pipes and drums  at San Anton Palace for the changing of the guard.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1400 hrs  A Company move from Msida to L’Imsierah.  9 Platoon remain in Msida temporarily.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner Eadie is removed to hospital following a shoulder wound and shock received in yesterday’s engagements.

(1) Former Dockyard apprentice Joseph V Stephens, 2012

(2)  Tal Handaq Nostalgia

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

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Posted by on April 4, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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