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2000th alert today – 17 raid alerts in 24 hours – 273 bombers attack
HEAVIEST BOMBING YET TARGETS CIVILIANS
“Valletta is a stricken city…all the beautiful old palaces are bombed, all the churches have been ruined, blitzed…hundreds of houses are no more…nearly all shops destroyed…the streets are impassable, stones dust everywhere…stones are piled high in the streets, often twenty feet high” (1)
Today Malta experienced the heaviest attack ever yet made from the air – and it was directed at the civilian population. The 280 tons of high explosives dropped on the tiny peninsula of Valletta this afternoon were not stray bombs intended for Grand Harbour.
Luftwaffe operations reports reveal a deliberate intention to bomb Valletta itself, with targets including the Governor’s Palace and several residential quarters in the City. The enemy employed heavy high explosives for maximum destruction: Berlin radio claimed that many one-ton bombs were used in the raid.
Disregarding the danger to civilians, the bombing was an apparent attempt to destroy the heart of Malta’s government. The Governor and Commander in Chief has now decided to evacuate the administration inland.
Many of the Valletta’s ancient palaces have been badly hit: the Auberge de France is in ruins, the Governor’s Palace and the Market severely damaged. The Auberge d’Aragon and the Auberge d’Italie received direct hits. The King George V Hospital in Floriana is destroyed.
It is estimated that 70 per cent of buildings in Valletta and Floriana have now been destroyed or damaged.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 APRIL TO DAWN 8 APRIL 1942
Weather Wind south-westerly; no cloud.
0905-1039 hrs A large formation of 85 JU 87 Stukas and JU 88s approaches the Island and attacks in eight waves. The main targets are Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali aerodromes, and Grand Harbour, which is attacked from a different direction each time. Bombs also land on Cospicua, Marsa, Hamrun, Gzira, Msida, Tal Qroqq and St Julians. 19 JU 87 Stukas attack Kalafrana. Marsa and Nicola gun positions are both attacked. Two JU 88 and one ME 109 are destroyed by Ack Ack; others are damaged.
0930 hrs Eight JU 88s drop ten bombs (including one delayed-action) on Ta Qali. Three soldiers are slightly injured.
0935-1000 hrs Numerous JU 87s and JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) : no claims.
0945 hrs A bomb on Store Wharf near Sheer Bastion causes a large crater and the final collapse of CDs Offices. Boom Defence yard, Marsa, is badly damaged, as is equipment round the Dockyard. The roof of billets in 98 & 99 Cospicua Road collapses, damaging the Bren stores of E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.
1000 hrs Bombs are dropped in the Ta Klantun area.
1005 hrs L/Cpl C Worn, manning the Battalion HQ forward Ack Ack position of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, fires at an attacking JU 88. The aircraft’s rear gunner fires back, wounding L/Cpl Worn in his right shoulder. He is sent to hospital.
1406 hrs 12 JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome, destroying the armoury, main stores and ration stores, the NAAFI and the Airmen’s Mess. Offices and Sick Quarters are damaged; one block containing important equipment and two ablutions buildings are demolished and three others are uninhabitable. One Beaufort and one Hurricane are slightly damaged.
1415 hrs Four ME 109s drop bombs on the Ta Liebru area.
1427 hrs One JU 88 and two ME 109s diving from 5000 to 500 feet are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.
1450-1515 hrs Two ME 109s machine-gun the Safi strip from the south west. 225 LAA engage the aircraft: no claims. ME 109s carry out machine-gun attacks on the Hal Far working party. Ack Ack light machine-guns of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engage and damage at least two JU 88s.
1749 hrs 156 JU 88s and Stukas attack Valletta, dropping hundreds of high explosive bombs and demolishing the Market, the Castille, Royal Opera House, the Lyceum and many other buildings. Several buildings in Old Baker Street, St John’s Street and South Street are destroyed.
Floriana is also badly hit. Part of the Old Railway Tunnel under Floriana collapses, trapping and badly injuring people under the debris. Houses at the corner of Capuchins St and Granaries Square are demolished. Houses in Britannia Square and Lion Street are demolished and the Protection Office at Floriana School receives a direct hit. Bombs explode on the Floriana Parade Ground and the Royal Engineers Married Quarters at Msida Bastion.
1815-1830 hrs Numerous JU 87s and JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 LAA; several hits claimed.
2045 hrs One JU 88 is shot down by a Beaufighter night fighter and crashes on Safi strip: all the crew are killed.
2210 hrs 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt ordered to stand to: E boats are reported in the vicinity.
Night Continuous raids: Heavy Ack Ack and night fighters engage.
2230-0052 hrs; 0520-0626 hrs One Beaufighter is airborne on interception operations: no engagement.
0300 hrs One defence post of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt receives a direct hit, killing two Other Ranks and injuring seven.
Military casualties Signalman Cecil Elems, HMS St.Angelo; Frank Overton, Telegraphist, HMS St.Angelo; Signalman John McClure, HM Tug C.308.
Gunner Wilfred Baines, Gunner George Barnes, Gunner John Barratt, Lance Bombardier Eric Broad, Gunner William Bromley, Gunner William Carruthers, Gunner John Hill, Gunner John Simm, Gunner John Vernon, all 190 Battery, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Gunner Anthony (Emanuel) Cutajar, Gunner Peter Darmanin, Gunner Anthony Grech, Lance Bombardier Spiridione Mizzi, Gunner Victor (Carmel) Tabone, Gunner Carmel Tanti, all 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.
Gunner Bertie Allen; Gunner Herbert Fuller, Gunner Richard Thompson, Gunner Harold Meylor (Meyler), all 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Private Joseph Grima, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Ernest Crosland, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Gunner Peter Taylor, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sapper William Waller, 16 Fortress Coy, Royal Engineers.
Civilian casualties Birzebbugia Manuela Briffa, age 8; Carmela Briffa, age 6; Caterian Briffa, age 4. Gzira Joseph Caruana, age 33. Luqa Lawrence Cassar, age 19. Naxxar Mariano Sammut, age 24. Valletta Luigi Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 60; Helen Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 58; Rev Robert Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 55; Rosina Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 50. Vittoriosa Giovanna Catania, age 60. Zabbar Ludgarda Debonon, age 60. Gozo Joseph Buttigieg, age 60.
OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 APRIL 1942
ROYAL NAVY Further damage was caused in the Dockyard by air raids. P31 returned from patrol in Upper Tyrrhenian sea.
AIR HQ Departures Three Blenheims to 108 MU.
HAL FAR Night One Swordfish RNAS despatched on a special search along the Tunisian coast but had to return due to fuel pressure trouble.
LUQA 1542-1902 hrs One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes and harbours. 2231-0431 hrs One Wellington S/D Flight special search Messina-Cape Spartivento. 0040-0235 hrs One Swordfish NAS special search returned early with fuel pressure trouble.
TA QALI Many scrambles and many air raids during the day. Boschetto Gardens are prospected for tented accommodation. Valuable assistance given by the Durham Light Infantry.
CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE 0930 hrs Main Brigade HQ office, Officers’ Mess and Clerks’ Office demolished: one minor casualty.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0800 hrs Work on Pampas starts again. Heavy air raids during the day. More bombs near HQ Officers’ Mess. Direct hit on B Company HQ: building completely demolished. Many other bombs in and around the Dockyard.
2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT Bn on Southern Infantry Brigade Exercise No 15.
1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Pte Pearce injured by a bomb at Corrodino and afterwards died. 2000 hrs UXB reported at house 513243. 2222 hrs Orders for one Light Machine Gun to be mounted for Ack Ack at each platoon locality.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Four Other Ranks are wounded by enemy action while working on Ta Qali aerodrome.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 39; dealt with 6 (4 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.
1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 1700 hrs B Company relieved by A Company on the Safi strip; B Company moving to Gudja Camp.
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Bombs in Bn area, 150 yards west of Tal Providence to Ghar Lapsi.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS This unit commences repair of Hal Far aerodrome and construction of aircraft blast pens. 0930 hrs Intense raid: bombs very near this HQ – minor damage, one casualty. Direct hit CIB HQ – little damage. 1000 hrs Fusilier Crosland is killed while firing an Ack Ack light machine gun in a heavy raid at Hal Far.
225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY During the day numerous hits are claimed on enemy aircraft.
8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Battalion on manoeuvres as per 6 April.
2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Battalion HQ moves to Advanced HQ position; HQ Company to Poor House; A Company to the Race Course.
(1) Times of Malta, from When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981
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