10 April 1942: Malta’s Gunners Under Heavy Fire

10 Apr

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Admiralty House, Vittoriosa


Enemy air forces adopted new strategies today aimed at cutting down the loss of bombers in air raids on Malta.  The first wave of each attacking force targeted bombs at gun positions protecting Grand Harbour and approaches to southern airfields.  The attacks were then followed up by bombing raids on the now unprotected areas.

At the same time, ME 109s carried out pinpoint machine-gun and cannon fire attacks on coastal and inland defensive positions, particularly on the northern approaches to the Grand Harbour and Ta Qali.  Despite their combined efforts at least fourteen enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged by Malta’s fighters and anti-aircraft fire during the day.

Observers report that the machine-gun loaded Messerschmitt 109s were painted yellow at the nose.  This is believed to make them identifiable during dog-fights, to avoid destruction by friendly fire.


George Medal Citation: Corporal Hugh Clawson & Leading Aircraftsman Edward Morris Mitchison

“[On 10th] April, 1942, a considerable force of enemy aircraft attacked an aerodrome in Malta with heavy bombs. A [Hurricane] aircraft, which had been damaged by enemy fighters, crashed and burst into flames when attempting to land. Corporal Clawson and Leading Aircraftman Mitchison, despite the danger from enemy aircraft which were diving to attack and dropping sticks of bombs which were falling across their path, drove across the aerodrome to the scene of the crash. Enemy fighters commenced to attack the burning aircraft with cannon fire but Corporal Clawson and Leading Aircraftman Mitchison assisted the pilot [P/O Ormrod] to safety, although their efforts to subdue the fire were not successful. The courage and determination displayed by these airmen undoubtedly saved the pilot’s life. They set an example which has been the admiration of all on the station.”


Weather  Wind southerly; 30% cloud at 15-18000 feet.

0844 hrs  Two enemy aircraft approach Gozo and recede.

1007 hrs  Two ME 109s circle the Island and recede.

1015 hrs  Four ME 109s machine-gun the Gozo boat in the South Comino Channel causing eight civilian casualties (none fatal).

1246 hrs  Approximately 50 JU 88s and 21 JU 87s approach the Island in waves.  ME 109s machine-gun searchlight positions at Ghain Tuffieha, Ta Qali and Baida Ridge.  No fighters are airborne.  One unidentified aircraft is destroyed by Ack Ack.

1300 hrs  The first wave of eight JU 88s turns south to bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.

1305 hrs  The second wave attacks gun positions to the south of Grand Harbour.  Gun positions at St Angelo, the Customs House and St Elmo are damaged.  Bombs hit Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery and fields west of Hompesch Arch, Tarxien.  The guard room at Hompesch gun position is demolished. One JU 88 is engaged by light machine-gunfire from HQ, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.  Two bakeries and several houses in High St, St James Square and Sanctuary Street, Zabbar are demolished, killing two civilians and injuring two.

A third wave attacks Valletta.  Men of a working party of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt at the Command Fair are wounded.  Bombs hit Floriana, demolishing houses in Gunlayer Sq corner with Granaries St.  Parachute mines are dropped near the War Memorial, the Granaries and Capuchins’ Friary.

21 JU 87s attack the Dockyard: bombs land on the Joiners, Fitters and Painters Shops, and the Sawmills.  Several roads are blocked.  The large travelling crane at head of No 4 Dock, MEDs Pattern Ship and Gunmounting shop and a boat house are damaged.  A 1000kg bomb lands outside K magazine, NA Depot, blocking the road.

1307 hrs  Four ME 109s attempt a raid on Hal Far.  Two are engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one gun claims a hit on one ME 109 with burst of light machine gun.  The other two ME 109s attack Hal Far, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1313 hrs  Ghain Znuber Tower is machine-gunned by enemy aircraft.

1315 hrs  Ten JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.  One Wellington is damaged and two Hurricanes are badly damaged.

1401 hrs  One hand grenade is dropped on Gudja Camp by an enemy aircraft.

1740 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight a large formation of 85 enemy bombers plus fighter escort.  F/O Lee claims one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.  P/O Nash claims one JU 87 probable and one ME 109 damaged.  P/O Buchanan destroys one ME 109.

Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercept ten JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  Sgt Horricks destroys one ME 109; P/O Wigley damages one ME 109 and P/O Ormrod damages a JU 87.  P/O Wigley and Sgt Broad have to bale out: neither is injured.  P/O Ormrod crash-lands at Luqa and escapes the aircraft before it bursts into flames.

Ack Ack destroy one JU 88; Light Ack Ack probably destroy one JU 88, damage one JU 88 and probably destroy one JU 88 and one JU 87.

1742 hrs  The enemy raiders split into three formations.  One attacks Grand Harbour, destroying Admiralty House in Vittoriosa.  St Joseph’s Parish Church in Kalkara is heavily bombed and completely destroyed.

1758 hrs  16 JU88s bomb Hal Far, damaging the Sergeants’ Mess and causing craters on the aerodrome.  Light Ack Ack guns engage: no claims.

1800 hrs  Eight JU 88s bomb Ta Qali, causing craters on the aerodrome.  One JU 88 is hit: one man bails out but his parachute fails: he drops on the Bukana Feature.

1810 hrs  Bombs land adjacent to Hompesch 3″ Ack Ack Battery.  Bombs on Bidni Ridge in vicinity of E Company HQ, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

Night  Five raids: bombers are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and fighters.

2102-2133 hrs  One Italian aircraft comes in from the north and drops bombs in the north of the Island.  15kkg anti-personnel bombs drop on Bukana Camp, HQ of E Company 8th Bn Manchester Regt.  Sgt Jones is injured by shrapnel and admitted to hospital.  Searchlights engage and the enemy aircraft recedes.

2040-2135 hrs; 2345-0215 hrs  A Beaufighter from Luqa airborne on patrol, dives and attacks one enemy aircraft: no results are observed.

2311-2340 hrs  One Italian aircraft drops bombs in the sea off Delimara and incendiaries on Delimara Ridge.

0045 hrs  Incendiaries are dropped by Italian aircraft on the Tas Sinia area.

Military casualties  Petty Officer James Pearsall, HMS St.Angelo; Sergeant John Clarke, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Gunner Thomas Threadgall, 190 Bty (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery;  Corporal Edgar Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun   Anthony Bellizzi, age 65.  Mqabba  Pauline Borg, age 31; Lawrence Mangion, age 61.  Zabbar  Zarena Defelice, age 44; Saviour Grech, age 35.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Paul Boeger, fell from a Junkers JU 88 bomber and died.


ROYAL NAVY  Admiralty House, Vittoriosa, is badly damaged by a heavy bomb.  Jade received further damage.

AIR HQ  Hudson crashed on take-off.  One of crew killed, five seriously injured.  Departures  Three Beauforts to Sidi Barrani; two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  AM Four ME 109s machine-gun the aerodrome.  No damage or casualties.

LUQA  1610-1855 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1610-1950 hrs  One spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes.

TA QALI  Aerodrome repairs proceeding.  Erection of tents for airmen  begins at Boschetto Gardens.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  No further work on Pampas.  The ship had several more hits: doubtful if we shall work on her any more.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Private peace is buried in St Andrews Military Cemetery.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb on Floriana Parade Ground.  Bomb on 4 Section, 1 Works Company stores: stores and equipment destroyed, no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 17; dealt with 9 (2 x 1000kg, 3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  ME 109 engaged by Ack Ack LMGs in Bn area.  Hurricane crashed in Bn area: pilot safe.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Dog-fight over Salina and Wardia area.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT D Company changed location from Tal Providenz to Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs This unit hands over Tal Minsia to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  L/Cpl Bowers and Pte Schembri are wounded at Luqa and evacuated to No 39 General Hospital.

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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in 1942, April 1942


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