25 April 1942: Hospitals Target of Shock Attacks – Bombers Aim at Red Cross

25 Apr

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  • 246 enemy raiders in 19 attacks
  • 1000 bombs total 317,486 kg (312 tons)
  • 42 military killed and 23 wounded

    No 45 General Hospital, St Patrick’s (NWMA Malta)


At 7.30 this morning Bomb Disposal Officer Lt George Carroll was in his ward at No 45 General Hospital, St Patrick’s, where he was recovering from recent emergency surgery:

“…the dressings were all removed and I was told I could get up.  I dressed in the morning and, with my new freedom, I went out onto the balcony in the sunshine, looking out over the sea.  As I looked out I saw the silhouette of a Stuka dive-bomber, headed directly towards our hospital.  I saw two black objects, released by the plane and obviously bombs.  This was clearly an attack on the hospital.

I ran into the ward and picked up one of two helmets and gave it to the naval officer in the bed opposite mine whose leg was in traction, and I dived under the bed in the corner.  The next moment, all the windows came shattering across the room.  He was hurt but I was unharmed.  The matron came round to check if there were any casualties.  She put her head round the door into the ward and asked, ‘Anybody hurt?’  I said, ‘I’m all right but my friend here has been cut by glass, I think.’ 

It was particularly surprising that the hospital was bombed, although the enemy might claim it could be a store in disguise.  But right outside our ward there was a huge circle of white stones with a red cross – about 30 feet across.  He was diving down towards the hospital with the red cross right in front of him.  One can only conclude that it was deliberate; some Germans (and British) acted in disregard of who or what was damaged.” (1)


From:- Governor & C in C Malta          To:- C in C Middle East          Rptd. The War Office          25/4/42

Air attacks today 0730 hrs, 1300 hrs, 1815 hrs included deliberate heavy attacks on 39 and 45 General Hospitals.  In first raid two wards 39 General Hospital demolished red cross on roof building.  Dining hall hit; 6 killed, two wounded.

Lt Rosenvelt German prisoner in hospital expressed horror and amazement at his comrades as he knew red cross visible.  Rosenvelt behaved well assisting injured after raid.  Improvised red cross manufactured from sheets which Rosenvelt agreed was large enough.  After raid Rosenvelt warned nurse to take shelter when next alarm as, quote: ‘now they have started they will not leave a building standing’ unquote.

In second raid three more wards demolished and improvised red cross also hit: 3 killed also one child.  Unexploded bomb on red cross at 45 General Hospital which also hit by one bomb.  POW Camp which in hospital area for safety also hit; one Italian prisoner killed, one injured.  In third raid further bombs area 39 General Hospital and cookhouse hit.  Details of this raid awaited.

Suggest this be given wide publication.


Weather  Cold northerly wind.  50% medium cloud.

0625 hrs The air raid alert sounds for massed formations of enemy aircraft, including 100 bombers with fighter escort, approaching the Island from the North.

0637 hrs  13 JU 88s drop high explosive bombs of various calibres on Mellieha Camp and west of Miziep Valley, and a large quantity of incendiaries across a wide area around Mellieha.  Two men from Kings Own Malta Regiment are killed, one is seriously wounded and later dies from his injuries.  Main buildings of Mellieha Camp are damaged and stores destroyed.

0715 hrs  Ghain Tuffieha Camp is bombed with high explosives and incendiaries.  Pte Loco, 8th Bn Manchester Regt is engaging enemy aircraft from a Lewis gun pit when he is killed by enemy fire.  Two Other Ranks are injured and admitted to hospital.  ME 109s machine-gun troops moving to dispersal areas. Casualties are small owing to the rapid and orderly manner in which troops moved to dispersal areas carrying arms and ammunition.

0730 hrs  26 JU 88 bombers carry out heavy bombing raids on the Pembroke area, including No 45 General Hospital at St Patrick’s and No 39 General Hospital at St Andrew’s.  Pilots are seen to target bombs directly at the large red crosses which identify the location of the hospitals from the air.  Sgt Moore, RAOC, attached 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is reported missing believed killed in St Andrews.

Ten JU 88 bombers attack St George’s Barracks.  Bombs hit the Married Quarters, causing extensive damage.

12 JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Luqa airfield.  17 JU 88s attack the Poor House, demolishing RAF officers’ quarters and injuring five Officers, one seriously.  Army quarters are also demolished, killing five Army personnel.  Tal Handaq gun positions are also hit.

Malta’s fighters are airborne and destroy two ME 109s and one JU88; probably destroy one JU 87 and damage five JU 88s, one JU 87 and two ME 109s.  One ME109 is destroyed and one JU 88 damaged by Ack Ack.  One Spitfire crashes on a hill, killing the pilot; one is damaged in combat – the pilot is safe.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept formations of JU 88s and 10 JU 87s with an escort of ME 109s.  P/O Wigley claims one JU 88 damaged.  Sgt Tweedale destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Finlay damages one JU 88 and Sgt Dodd damages one JU 88 and probably destroys one JU 87.

1225 hrs  A second large plot of 100 enemy bombers with fighter escort approaches the Island.  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept the enemy aircraft; they are joined by three more Spitfires 249 and 603 Squadrons from Ta Qali.

12 JU 88s carry out a bombing raid on Mellieha Barracks and Ghain Tuffieha.  21 JU 88s drop bombs across the Pembroke area, again targeting Nos 39 and 45 General Hospitals.  10 JU 88s bomb St George’s Barracks, causing further damage to administrative buildings and accommodation.  St Julian’s and Sliema are also hit.

14 JU 88s attack Heavy Ack Ack gun positions along the north east coast, including Gharghur fort, Campbell Battery and Spinola.

1315 hrs  15 JU 87s attack the Poor House, and leave two delayed-action bombs near the Sergeants’ Mess.  Royal Engineers quarters are damaged.  One JU 87 drops a stick of bombs across the road from Zabbar to Marsascala 500 yards from Zabbar.  Tal Handaq gun positions are also hit.

Three Spitfires 601 Squadron engage the JU 87s dive-bombing Poor House: no claims.  P/O Pawson fails to return.  Three Spitfires 249 and 603 Squadrons (Ta Qali) join the attack on the JU 87s.

1340 hrs  Sgt Brennan, 249 Squadron, destroys one ME 109 and one JU 88; P/O McNair (249) damages two ME 109s, one JU 87 and one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Raiders passed.

1405 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a single aircraft patrolling to the north of the Island, apparently on a search.

1515 hrs  The alert sounds a second time for enemy aircraft patrolling to the north.

1720 hrs  Another large formation of some 90 bombers with fighter escort is plotted approaching the Island from the north.  Three Spitfires 261 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Peck fires at a JU 88: no claims.  Sgt Goldsmith lands early as the hood of his aircraft blows off.  Two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far intercept eight JU 88s.  P/O Carter attacks one of the bombers: no results observed.  Hurricane pilot W/O Corfe fails to return.

1730 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to engage enemy raiders: no results seen.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron and one Hurricane 185 Squadron are airborne from Luqa, joining with another Spitfire from Luqa to attack JU 88s.  F/Lt Douglas (603) destroys one JU 88; P/O Fletcher (185) destroys one JU 88 and Sgt Webster (603) damages one.

1741 hrs  15 JU 88s bomb Ghain Tuffieha Camp with high explosives and incendiaries.  A third attack on Mellieha Camp by 12 JU 88s causes further damage and renders the camp uninhabitable.  Immediately after the attack, Kings Own Malta Regiment troops are evacuated from the Camp.

29 JU 88s and 10 JU 87s attack the Pembroke and St George’s areas, causing damage to barracks, buildings, RAOC stores and workshops.  No 39 General Hospital is again deliberately attacked and further damaged.  Spinola Heavy Ack Ack gun position receives a direct hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding two and destroying one gun.  One Light Ack Ack position suffers a near miss, wounding three Other Ranks.

1815 hrs  Pembroke Battery sustains three direct hits, destroying a billet and causing two casualties, Other Ranks.  The battery remains intact.

1835 hrs  Twelve JU 87s carry out a dive bombing attack on the Poor House.   A section of the airmen’s quarters is destroyed and the parachute section damaged.  The Poor House has to be evacuated.  Two ME 109s are engaged by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1907 hrs  All clear.

Night  No night alerts.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Walter Dargue, HMS St.Angelo; Leading Stoker Leslie Waldron, HMS Xmas.

Flight Sergeant Lucien Brooks, Royal Canadian Air Force, 279 Squadron; Warrant Officer Douglas Corfe, Royal Air Force, 229 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Pawson, 601 Squadron.

Private Dennis Blanksby, Lance-Corporal Walter Clingo, Private William Logue, 39 General Hospital; Corporal Owen Powell, Private Stephen Sage, Private John Searle, Corporal Jack Wait: all Royal Army Medical Corps.

Private Alfred Dilley, Private Arthur Heywood, Private Cyril Maguire, Private Philip Rust, Private Cecil Tappin, all Royal Army Pay Corps.

Gunner Walter Seamarks and Sergeant George Walker, 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Robert Andrews, 7 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Thomas Casey 55 Bty, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Gunner William Allen, Gunner James Budden, Gunner Harold Lloyd, Gunner Harry Turner, Gunner Ernest Walker, Gunner Cyril Wiles, Lance Bombardier Cyril Yeomans: all 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Private Frederick Edwards, Private Patrick O’Sullivan, Private Leslie Urquhart, Private Edward Walker: all 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Private Anthony Baldacchino, Private Nazzarine Grech, Private John Sammut: all 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Corporal Albert Johnson, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Private Arthur Loco, 8th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment; Signalman Richard Mifsud, Corps of Signals, Malta Territorial Force; Sergeant Vernon Moore, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Fusilier Samuel Purvis, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Fusilier Harold Robinson, 11th Battalion,Lancashire Fusiliers; Lance-Corporal John Walker, Corps of Military Police; Claude Sampson, Asst.HC Depot, HM Dockyard; Vincent Prime, son of Corporal Prime, Royal Army Service Corps.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Onorato Amaira, age 45.  Gharghur  Ganna Camilleri, age 65; Mary Camilleri, age 60.  Marsa  Unidentified male.  Sliema  Perina Montefort, age 88; Alfred Montefort, age 75.  St Julian’s  Albert Montgomery, age 41.  St Paul’s Bay  Joseph Grech, age 52.


ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived from Alexandria with passengers, fuel, and stores.  P35  returned from patrol off Kerkenah, sank one 5000 ton ship and obtained one hit on a smaller one.   Naval rest camp and St. George’s Barracks bombed by large formations of JU 88s.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Gambut.

LUQA  1040-1400 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs at Poorhouse, Company Office & Rations destroyed. 1 man admitted to hospital, 1 slightly injured. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 33; dealt with 5 (4 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Poynter and Fus Purvis are killed by enemy bombs.  Bombs in Bn area: St Andrews attacked – families homeless.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1900 hrs  Walking wounded and convalescent officers and Other Ranks temporarily returned to unit from bombed hospitals.  0400 hrs  Priority tasks of Luqa and Hal Far working parties complete.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Pte E F Walker, Pte F Edwards and L/Cpl P T O’Sullivan killed by bombs on Poor House.

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

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of  use contact

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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in 1942, April 1942


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