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21 April 1942: Malta’s Troops Praised World Over Says CO

21 Apr

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Maj Gen D M W Beak

SPECIAL MESSAGE TO ALL RANKS OF THE ARMY 21 APRIL 1942                      

FROM MAJOR-GENERAL D M W BEAK VC DSO MC, GENERAL OFFICER COMMANDING TROOPS, MALTA

“I wish you all to know how much I appraise and appreciate the steadfast and excellent work you have been giving and still are to our cause which is the cause of all free people.

You have been experiencing a tense period fraught with intense difficulties.  Nevertheless you have responded gallantly and never once failed or faltered.  You are sticking to the job with a cheerfulness and fortitude which is beyond praise.  Much has been asked of you but more have you given.The spirit of your effort is representative of the best which the British breed has ever produced in its long history of brilliant achievement and that is saying much.

I know you are straining at the leash to be able to get at the enemy.  Nothing can be more trying than having to ‘sit and take it’.  The day will come when we shall ‘rise and give it’ and then I know you will not be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

There must be many questions passing through your minds which cannot, at the moment, be answered.  Remember that there are no points in the present situation which are forgotten and no efforts lacking to see it through to a successful conclusion.

Your spirited work is known and praised the world over but nowhere is it better known, more understood and appreciated, than in this Island by those of us who are fully in the picture.  Your effort is magnificent.  You may be justly proud.”                                       

ME 109

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT: FEARLESS RETALIATION

Troops of D Company, 3rd Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment were attacked by two Messerchmitt fighters while out on a route march at noon today.  As the ME 109s swooped low over the march, the infantrymen primed their rifles and returned fire.

Later this afternoon a number of ME 109s flew low over the sector of 1st Battalion, whose Ack Ack Platoon immediately responded with a volley of machine gun fire.  An hour later, A Company of 3rd Battalion opened fire on another enemy aircraft, which then crashed into the sea about four miles off the coast.

AMERICAN PILOT LOST

American pilot Hiram Putnam was killed this afternoon when his Spitfire hit a steel wireless mast and crashed.  Texas born Putnam, serving as a Pilot Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, had been attacked with cannon fire by an enemy fighter.  It is believed he was mortally injured by the attack: his aircraft which spun out of control and crashed into the pylon near quarters of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment who immediately mounted a guard at the site.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 APRIL TO DAWN 22 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; 50% cloud at 15000 feet.

0722 hrs  Large formations of enemy aircraft, including over 70 bombers plus fighter escort,  approach the Island.

0830 hrs  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron based at Hal Far are airborne and intercept twelve JU 88s.  P/O Horricks claims one JU 88 probable and one ME 109 damaged.  Sgt Finlay damages one ME 109.  Sgt Fullalove 229 Squadron is missing.

Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are also airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are destroyed; one JU 88 damaged.  One Spitfire from Luqa is shot up by ME 109s and crash-lands at Hal Far; the Pilot F/Lt Barnham is uninjured.  P/O Brooker does not return.

13 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, aiming for what they believe to be underground hangars beneath the airfield.

Six JU 88s carry out a medium level bombing raid on Luqa causing slight damage to a Maryland.

0845 hrs  As the JU 88s turn away from their attack on Luqa, they are intercepted by six Spitfires from Ta Qali.  S/L Grant and P/O Plagis between them destroy one JU 88.  P/O Plagis destroys one ME 109 and Sgt Hesselyn damages one.  F/O Buchanan damages one JU 88.

35 JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali in two waves, dropping some 150 high explosive bombs on the airfield, causing craters in dispersal roads and damaging buildings.  Four Spitfires are written off and five slightly damaged.

0910 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack the Dockyard, Corradino and Marsa Creek.  SS Pampas is hit.

0910-0930 hrs  Six guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s.  One gun claims a hit on the nose of a ME 109: smoke appears and gunners claim the aircraft as ditched in the sea.

1032 hrs  All clear.

1210 hrs  Several plots of enemy aircraft are identified approaching the Island from the north.  Bombers peel off to attack Salina Bay, damaging billets of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment and wounding one Other Rank at Salina gun position.

1220-1335 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft, claiming one JU 88 probably destroyed; two JU 88s and one ME 109 damaged.  S/L Bircher is shot down: pilot safe.

1230 hrs  16 enemy bombers and fighter bombers head for Ta Qali but are attacked by eight Spitfires before they reach the airfield.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one JU 87 and one ME 109, damaging another.  P/O Watts destroys one ME 109.  F/O Buchanan destroys one JU 87.  P/O Watts damages one ME 109.

1235-1305 hrs  Twelve JU 88s with fighter escort head drop bombs Hal Far airfield.  Bombs are also dropped on the Safi strip.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109s and twelve JU 87s dive-bomb Ta Qali, dropping 25 bombs on the aerodrome and causing craters but the runway remains serviceable.

1335 hrs  Raiders passed.

1450-1530 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa carry out a search for a missing Spitfire pilot: nothing sighted.

1612 hrs  Several formations of enemy aircraft approach the Island in waves, dividing to attack Grand Harbour, Ta Qali, Luca and Safi.  ME 109s flying low over the sector manned by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment are engaged by their Ack Ack Platoon: no claims.

13 bombers attack the Grand Harbour area: San Pietru gun position is bombed.

20 JU 88 bombers carry out another heavy bombing raid on Ta Qali airfield.

1640-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: one JU 88 possibly damaged.

1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali dive to attack ME 109s but two are themselves jumped by the enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1720 hrs  Nine Spitfires from Ta Qali attack enemy aircraft.  F/Lt McQueen destroys one ME 109 F; Sgt Brennan probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Lt McQueen damages one JU 88.  Total enemy aircraft destroyed ten; damaged seven.

1740 hrs  Two ME 109s and six JU 88s bomb Hal Far, severely damaging one Hurricane.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the enemy aircraft: hits claimed.

1744 hrs  Eight JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa and Safi.  One latrine and a wash house are demolished and the main runway is cratered.  Two Wellingtons are burned out and written off and one damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on Tal Handaq gun positions.

1910-1945 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron carries out another search for the missing Spitfire pilot: nothing sighted.

2121-2210 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north but does not cross the coast.

Night  The air raid alert sounds for eight aircraft approaching the Island singly.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

0340 hrs  One German airman comes ashore at St Thomas’ Bay and gives himself up to 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment at Munshar searchlight detachment.  He is held at Fort Ta Silch.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hiram Putnam, 126 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Stanley Brooker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 601 Squadron; Corporal Peter Clarke, Royal Air Force; Sergeant John Fullalove, Pilot, Royal Air Force (VR), 229 Squadron; Lieutenant George Treadwell, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Joseph Salkeld, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Vincent Zammit, age 39.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Uproar P31 returned from patrol off Spartivento with leaking rivets.  Jade sunk by bomb.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eight Wellingtons from Kabrit; one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  four Wellingtons, one Beaufighter, one Beaufort to 108 MU.

LUQA  1130-1330 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes.   2259-0505 hrs  Five Wellingtons 148 Squadron to attack Comiso aerodrome.  Bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and surrounding area, and on Augusta.  Bursts are seen but no results confirmed.

TA QALI  Aerodrome runway serviceable.   More tents and land taken in Boschetto Gardens.  Kitchens re-erected.   Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding. Cut in rations – difficult to feed men adequately already.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties as for yesterday.  Likely to take some time yet.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1400 hrs  Lt Treadwell is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.  1500 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson are buried at Pieta Cemetery.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15; dealt with 17 (3 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 9 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Bynter is wounded by an aircraft machine-gun bullet.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bn moved to new headquarters at 415202 from 423199.  Pte J Salkeld, A Company, died of wounds received as a result of enemy action on 18/4/42.

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

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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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