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“…we were being bombed mercilessly. By that time my parents had hired a private shelter and organized it [to] live in. That meant that we did not have to jump out of bed at night and run, at panic speed, to the shelter whenever the sirens blared the air raid warning. If we were awoken at night by the noise of the guns and falling bombs, it was just a matter of turning over and go back to sleep…it was definitely safer in those instances when incoming enemy planes were not detected until they were on top of us dropping their bombs.
The shelter was in a stone quarry out in the fields. There were three other shelters besides ours. Two were next to ours on the same quarry face but the other one was on an opposite corner, hewn, as it later turned out, in a rather queer manner. Although situated nearer to Kalafrana than our proper home, it was still considered to be at a safe distance.
However, the shelters in the quarry must have attracted the attention of the Luftwaffe commanders who regularly scanned the terrain on photographs taken during reconnaissance flights…on one occasion, when my sister and I were just outside the entrance to our shelter, it just occurred to me to lift my head up and I saw the front of a Junkers 87 on a vertical dive right over us. I suddenly pushed my sister into the shelter entrance and I followed. When we were about five or six feet inside the shelter, we felt a terrific blast pushing us in. It was a bomb, dropped by the enemy plane I had just seen. True, there was an air raid on at that time but the planes were attacking Luqa airfield quite a distance away. We thought we were safe but that 87 I saw must have been detailed to attack our spot.
The shelter on the corner away from us was hit and it gave in. It would not have collapsed had it been properly planned and constructed. There were people inside that shelter and as it turned out, a seven year old boy and his nine year old sister were killed. Their mother was maimed when a large piece of rock landed on her leg… Joseph Zahra, 2011
AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 APRIL TO DAWN 19 APRIL 1942
Weather Wind southerly. Clear; no cloud.
0612-0704 hrs Two ME109s patrol the Island.
0717-0743 hrs One aircraft is spotted to the west of Malta but does not cross the coast.
0855 hrs 15 JU 88s bomb Hal Far.
0920-0936 hrs One bomber accompanied by two fighters carries out reconnaissance. On crossing the coast they are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.
0947 hrs 26 JU 88 bombers attack Kalafrana and Ta Silch. One Other Rank 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed and three slightly injured at Dowdalls Motel. The buildings and hangars at Kalafrana suffer severe damage and a small fire breaks out in the Gzira petrol station. One defence post is hit, knocking off its corner. Bombs are also dropped on the Wied Znuber area.
0950 hrs Six JU 88s carry out high-level bombing and dive-bombing over Luqa, leaving craters on the runway. One unserviceable Wellington is burned out.
1020 hrs JU 88 bombers attack Delimara Fort and Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.
1030 hrs Six JU 88s attack Hal Far, damaging one Fordson and some buildings. One Hurricane is slightly damaged. 1030 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.
1140 hrs Three bombs explode near the Headquarters of A Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment at Bubaqra.
1200 hrs A stick of bombs explodes close to B Company 1st Bn Dorset Regt at Zejtun, injuring Lt G H Treadwell and Capt N H Golding.
1220 hrs Four waves of JU 88s approach the Island and split into formations to bomb the Grand Harbour area, Luqa, Safi and Hal Far.
16 JU 88s bomb the three runways; 27 JU 88s target Grand Harbour and surrounding areas, including Floriana, Corrodino, Msida Creek, Manoel Island and Tigne. The Royal Malta Yacht Club at Hay Wharf receives a direct hit. 1st Btn Dorsetshire Regt reports an attack on Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery by JU 88s: bombs also fall between Bluebell Troop and Hompesch. Enemy aircraft are engaged by light machine gun fire from Bn HQ.
1227 hrs Ten JU 88s attack Hal Far, leaving five craters on the aerodrome and damaging the Airmen’s cookhouse. One Hurricane is slightly damaged.
1228 hrs Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Bubaqra area.
1230 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.
1255 hrs All clear.
1405-1452 hrs 24 JU 87s and 36 JU 88s attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Birzebbuga, where the petrol tank is set on fire. An underwater mine cable is broken. Three JU 87s target Delimara Fort and Ack Ack Battery.
1439 hrs 15 JU 88s targeting Hal Far cause ten craters on aerodrome and dispersal area. One Hurricane is burned out. Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.
1650 hrs 45 JU 88s bomb Grand Harbour, Marsa Creek, Dockyard Creek and the Abattoir, and Zabbar. Tal Handaq, Tal Qroqq and Manoel gun positions are also bombed. Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.
1655 hrs Eight JU 88s carry out a high-level bomb attack on Luqa, Safi and Siggiewi. Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.
1806 hrs Raiders passed.
1811 hrs 24 JU 87s and 27 JU 88s and three ME 109s approach the Island and split into separate formations to bomb Delimara, Kalafrana, Birzebbuga, Benghaisa and Hal Far. Bombs hit RAF main workshops, Delimara and Benghaisa Forts. Delimara searchlight projector is damaged. There are 16 casualties.
1817 hrs 15 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa, cratering the runway. One unserviceable Hudson and one Wellington under repair are burned out; one Maryland is slightly damaged and two Hurricanes under repair are written off. A motor roller is badly damaged.
1830 hrs 20 JU 87s bomb Hal Far, damaging barrack blocks and cratering the aerodrome.
1928 hrs All clear.
Night Four alerts for seven Italian BR 20 bombers. Bombs are dropped on Latnia, Mosta and in the sea.
2030-2105 hrs One Beaufighter is airborne on interceptions: no engagements.
2105 hrs Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.
2220 hrs Air raid alarm. Bombs are dropped in the Latnia area.
0012-0042 hrs One Beaufighter is airborne on interceptions: no engagements.
0355 hrs Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.
0455 hrs Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.
Military casualties Shipwright 1st Class John Burns, HMS St Angelo; Flight Lieutenant Archibald Beer, Mentioned in Despatches (Three times), Royal Air Force; Corporal Kenneth Hayter, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Jack Smith, Royal Air Force; Sergeant F M Smith, serving at Kalafrana RAF Base; Bombardier Anthony Bonello, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Sergeant Gaetan Cristina, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner George Ford, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Galea, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Henry Marshall, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Michael Mizzi, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.
Civilian casualties Birzebbugia Carmel Cutajar, age 31. Cospicua (PC 49) Carmel Borg; (PS 850) V. Walton, age 40. Marsa Joseph Formosa, age 78. Zejtun Joseph Bonavia, age 9.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 APRIL 1942
AIR HQ Arrivals Seven Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures Four Blenheims, one Wellington, one Hudson, three Beauforts to 108 MU.
TA QALI Extensive preparations pushed on with pens during day and night by Police, Army and ground crews, under Pilots. Maintenance pushed up for arrival of Spitfires. Many air raids during day – no bombs on camp. Runway serviceable. No scrambles.
ROYAL ARTILLERY HQ Fort Delimara one NCO, three Other Ranks wounded. Fort Tigne and Tigne LAA positionn 1 Other Rank killed, 6 wounded.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT All activity resumed. Working parties in Valletta continue: 80 men from C Coy, 40 men from A Coy.
2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT U/L/Cpl Leonard Percy Galton A Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed at Dowdalls Motel (W/T Cadre) and L/Cpl Barnes (Carrier Platoon), L/Cpl May (A Coy) and Cpl Sear (E Coy) are slightly injured. Sector post R33 received a direct hit.
1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Lt Treadwell and Capt Golding were injured by a bomb at Zejtun.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Work on aerodromes continued.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 27; dealt with 8 (2 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg).
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Pte Salkeld A Company received serious injuries from a bomb splinter when member of aerodrome working party.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 0800 hrs Hal Far and Luqa working parties continue. 2230 hrs Luqa working party now operating during hours of darkness to accelerate completion of tasks. Hal Far working party to work at night also.
8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.
2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT 130 Other Ranks working on Luqa overnight.
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