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9 April 1942: Villages Attacked – Churches Hit – Bombs on Mosta Rotunda

09 Apr

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Sant Andrija, Luqa

22 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET LUQA VILLAGE’

Two public shelters are damaged: 2 people are killed and one seriously injured in St Joseph Street, and 23 in Pope Innocent Street.  The parish church is extensively damaged and two bakeries demolished: the village is now almost completely destroyed.  The Governor, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie, rushes to the scene.

Nine year old Agnes was about to have lunch with her family in Luqa when the siren announced that bombers were on their way: 

“My mother proceeded to share out the food and all of us then went down into the shelter clutching our plates.  We had barely tasted the food when explosion after explosion made the shelter shudder as if it would cave in.  There was no doubt that the bombs could not have landed more than a few metres away.  Silence returned abruptly and seconds later we heard a man’s voice screaming “everyone was dead”…

Two images come to mind when recalling that episode: one that of stretchers piled high with parts of human bodies recovered from the debris, the second that of the distraught father who had just lost eight of his nine children…” (1)

11 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET GUDJA AIRPORT’

Many houses are demolished, others and the Police Station damaged.  Eight civilians are killed, including five members of one family crushed in a private shelter in St Mary Street.

13 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET KIRKOP BARRACKS’

Bombs demolish 7 houses and damage 70 more, as well as the village church.

14 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MQABBA AIRPORT’

The parish church in Mqabba is partly demolished, 50 houses are destroyed,  100 more damaged, killing three civilians and seriously injuring six.

Damage to Mosta dome (NWMA Malta)

10 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MOSTA BARRACKS’

At 1600 hours Mosta’s parishioners were assembled beneath the beautiful Rotunda of St Marija Assunta for the daily hour of prayer.  At the sound of the air raid alarm, many headed for shelter; some preferring to remain in one of the side chapels to pray.

At approximately 1640 hours a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome, smashed into masonry and clattered to the stone floor.  It did not explode. The shocked parishioners were ushered out of the Church to safety and no-one was hurt.  The civil defence authorities were informed, and a call was put through to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal squad.

UXB report number 2175 was given the highest priority: it must be dealt with immediately, and personally by one of the two RE Bomb Disposal Officers, Lt T W T Blackwell or Lt G D Carroll.  Their weekly report confirms a 500kg bomb ‘defuzed and removed’ as well as a 50kg, similarly dealt with, outside the church. (2) For them, apart from the exceptional surroundings it was just one routine UXB among many.  Not so for the people of Mosta:

AN APPRECIATION. MOSTA. “May I through the medium of your paper voice a word of sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Bomb Disposal Squad who so promptly and so gallantly removed the unexploded bombs from the Mosta Church – a church so dear to the heart of the people of this Island.  In so doing, I am sure I am expressing the feelings of every Maltese and, more so, of the people of Mosta who are justly proud of their magnificent dome.” Joseph M Cassar Torreggiani (3)

MOSTA: MYTHS AND FACTS – to read more CLICK HERE

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 APRIL TO DAWN 10 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0725 hrs; 0752 hrs  Air alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

0920-0950 hrs  One JU 88 and two Me 109s carry out reconnaissance over the Island.

1015 hrs  An unidentified submarine is sighted 2000 yards off Anchor Bay by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1035 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs in the Hal Far-Luqa area while two ME 109s patrol to the east of the Island.  Two bombs causing craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

1100 hrs  Six Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercepted a formation of seven enemy bombers.  F/Sgt Fletcher, F/L Lawrence and Sgt Boyd each damaged one JU 88.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.  20 ME 209s machine-gun Campbell Battery.  36 enemy aircraft approach the Island and split into two formations to attack Luqa village and Grand Harbour.

Two unexploded 1000kg bombs are reported at Marsa Heavy Ack Ack position.  One heavy bomb falls outside a shelter in Kalkara with 400 people inside, blocking three of its four entrances; no-one is hurt.  Corradino Hill Road and the road on the east side of No 4 Dock are blocked.  The Royal Navy Canteen is hit.  The Gunmounting shop, the MED Tool Room, and storehouses at NA Depot are wrecked.  Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88, one JU 87 and one ME 109, and damage one ME 109.

1300 hrs  20 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa village and airfield.  Bombs destroy many houses and severely damaged the parish church. An air-raid shelter in Pope Innocent Street is hit, killing 25 of the 32 civilians sheltering inside.  On the aerodrome one Wellington is damaged and one unserviceable Wellington written off.

1303 hrs  14 JU 88 bombers attack Mqabba and Qrendi.  Several sticks of bombs fall on Mqabba village, Bubaqra, and between Qrendi and Zurrieq: one north east of Qrendi demolishes two houses, killing two civilians and injuring two.

1315 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one hit claimed.

1320 hrs  11 JU 88s attack the Safi strip; several bombs also fall on Gudja village.  Battalion HQ 4th Bn Hampshire Regt is hit injuring three Other Ranks.

1630 hrs  Large numbers of enemy aircraft approach the Island in three waves.

1640 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Mosta.  300 people attending a service in the Rotunda are shepherded into shelter.  Several bombs fall around the church; one 500kg bomb penetrates the dome and crashes to the floor, without exploding.

1655-1800 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s off Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Barton damages one.

1705 hrs  Eight JU 88s attack Ta Qali but most of the bombs fall in Mosta.  Messerschmitts machine-gun Ta Qali and Hal Far.  27 JU 88s attack Luqa, Valletta and ships in Grand Harbour.  The Governor’s Palace is further damaged; other bombs hit the bastion opposite the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in Floriana, causing considerable blast damage.

Malta’s fighters engage, destroying one JU 88 and damaging four.  Ack Ack also engage, destroying two JU 88s and one ME 109, and damaging one ME 109.  One Hurricane is shot down in the sea: the pilot escapes uninjured.  ME 109s molest fighters as they land.

1707 hrs  One ME 109 crashes in flames on the Safi strip.  One Hurricane crashes in the Ghar Lapsi area: two bale out, one lands at Lapsi.

1718 hrs  A Hurricane from Hal Far suffers engine failure and is forced to land on the Safi strip with its undercarriage down.  The aircraft hits a wall and is badly damaged.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1959-2204 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island but drop all bombs in the sea.

2007-2235 hrs  A Beaufighter operational to intercept enemy aircraft attacks a JU 88 over Safi strip.  The JU 88 lands and bursts into flames.

2238-2300 hrs  One aircraft drops incendiaries on the St Paul’s Bay area.

0115 hrs  A Hudson taking off from Luqa for transit to the Middle East crashes on take-off.  Sgt Hundy is killed; Sgts Saul, Vivien, Yates and Passmore, and Cpl Sadd are seriously injured.

0405 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island; only one crosses the coast, dropping bombs in the Qrendi and Hamria areas.

0530 hrs  Two aircraft approach: one is identified as friendly, the other drops a mine in the sea.  Four ME 109s machine-gun Hal Far.  Light Ack Ack and Anti-Aircraft light machine-guns engage.

Military casualties  Sergeant Keith Hardy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant John Hannon, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Corporal George Nicklin, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Private John Rathbone, 8th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment; Gunner Joseph Attard*, Royal Malta Artillery (died in shelter in Luqa)*; Sergeant Charles Byers, Royal Naval Dockyard Police.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Charles Byers.  Ghaxaq  Josephine Bugeja, age 68; David Busuttil, age 7; Francis Enriquez, age 60; Mary Fenech, age 31; Nazzereno Fenech, age 8; Carmela Fenech, age 6; Esther Fenech, 10 mths; Joseph Schembri, age 13; Paul Zammit, age 7.  Gudja  Teresa Calleja, age 65; Carmelo Calleja, age 54; Grace Calleja, age 51; Joseph Calleja, age 51; Carmela Calleja, age 33; Peter Calleja, age 30; Peter Zammit, age 62; unidentified child.

Luqa  Joseph Abdilla, age 9; Innocenza Attard, age 42; Gunner Joseph Attard*, RMA, age 21; Salvina Attard, age 17; Andrew Attard, age 13; Michael Attard, age 11; Nicola Attard, age 6; Anthony Attard, age 8; Paskalina Attard, Age 3; Carmelo Azzopardi, age 52; Frances Barbara, age 31; John Barbara, age 10; Andrew Barbara, age 5; Carmela Barbara, 5 mths; John M Ellul, age 51; Felicissima Farrugia, age 38; Andrew Farrugia, age 11; Saviour Farrugia, age 8; Rosario Farrugia, age 6; Joseph Farrugia, age 5; Andrew Farrugia, age 16 mths; Carmel Farrugia, age 4 mths; Grezzju Schembri, age 53; Francis Schembri, age 11;  Censa Vella, age 70. 

Mosta  John M Cauchi, age 56; unidentified male.  Mqabba  Jane Busuttil, age 41; Mary Busuttil, age 15; Salvina Busuttil, age 15.  Qormi  Emmanuel Agius, age 16.  Qrendi  Rose Ellul, age 65; Jane Mifsud, age 60; Joseph Psaila, age 70; Caterina Sciberras, age 86.  Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 43.  Zabbar  Martha Cordina, age 45; Anthony Portelli, age 14.  Zejtun  Emmanuel Rizzo, age 4.  Zurrieq  Joseph Barbara, age 16.

Enemy casualties  Karl Heiser.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Umbra P35 returned from patrol off Lampion.  Two unsuccessful attacks.  Unbeaten proceeded for rendezvous with Upholder then to Gibraltar for repairs.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Beauforts, one Hudson to 108 MU; one Blenheim, one Beaufort, one Hudson to Bing El Arab.

LUQA  1000-1145 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1020-1218 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable on  runway.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  During afternoon raid Sgt Hannon of B Company is killed when a bomb landed on a light Ack Ack position.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0945 hrs  One UXB is reported 15 yards from Bn HQ Guard Room.  1750 hrs  Cpl E Evans is injured at Floriana by an enemy bomb. [He died at 0220 hrs.]

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 25; dealt with 11 (5  x 1000kg;  1 x 500kg, 5  x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Battalion Tactical Exercise:  Object (1) to practice the move of a bicycle battalion to an assembly position; (2) to practice companies in the attack against parachutists who have fallen close to the Bn.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party of 280 men from all Companies continued.  1100 hrs Funeral of Fusiliers Crosland, Milne and Worster, killed by enemy action.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT 1730 hrs  E Company post TK 11 receives a direct hit, killing Pte J P Rathbone.  Venezia Bluff was also bombed.

(1) Agnes Azzopoardi from The People’s War, Malta: 1940/43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press, 1998

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

(3) Times of Malta 16 April 1942

 

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

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Posted by on April 9, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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