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Italian Cant bombers return to Malta’s skies
Troops to complete bomber pens within 2 weeks
Airmen’s feet suffer from lack of boots and shoes
Dust very trying and getting worse
SAPPER DOWNS BOMBER WITH MACHINE-GUN
The Fortress Royal Engineers Barracks in Floriana have been so badly bombed that troops have to find alternative accommodation. 24 Fortress Company is moved to Bahar ic Cahaq. Sapper Richard Walters spent his first few days building a gun pit from local stone, mounted with twin Browning machine-guns, from which he and his mate Chopper Hallett will help defend the camp.
“at 1050 am we got the siren again. This time we were in the gun pit with ample time to spare…We waited ten minutes before we saw the Navy’s direction shots. They were coming in over Grand Harbour at about 20000 feet. It seemed that there were no friendly planes airborne because the Ack Ack was extra heavy…
during the height of it Chopper said to me, ‘Look at this one coming down the valley’. I think it was only about 100 feet high and flying at a slow speed to what we had normally seen them fly. It was a Junkers 87, a dive bomber, and as it got closer I could see that it was going to make a good target for our gun. I said, ‘Keep your head down Chopper, we are going to have this one.’ I got my shoulder between the shoulder rest and glued my eyes along the sights.
Closer and closer it came. It was about 100 yards away when I opened up. I kept my eyes glued on the plane and I could see the two lines of smoke coming from the barrels sinking into the noise of the plane as it was coming straight at us…As it screamed over our heads at about 50 feet I kept that smoke line right underneath the pilot’s cock-pit.
Chopper was shouting something but I could not hear what he was saying and at that particular time I was not interested as I was right on target and I was giving that Junkers 87 all the guns would sent up and I knew my shots were getting home because I could see little bits of metal flying off the opposite side of the plane. By this time the plane was going away from us and as it was so low I had to stop firing as I was hitting the top of our gunpit with the shots as they left the gun barrels, so I watched the plane carry on for a further 300 yards and suddenly tip over on its right side and plunge into the sea, sending up a terrific white spray.
Chopper shouted, ‘You’ve got it!’ and he jumped with joy…I said, ‘What were you shouting at me for as that plane was going over?’ He replied, ‘The bastard was firing back, I could see the rear gunner having a go at us and his shots were hitting the stone on top of our gunpit, and the barrels of our guns were red hot; I could see the paint peeling off them.’…
I thought to myself, ‘You got one, but you were lucky to get away with it.’ At that moment the telephone rang. It was Captain Holloway, our 2nd i/c who was in Command Post down at HQ. He said, ‘Who was firing at that plane?’ Excitedly, I replied, ‘I was, Sir.’ He replied, ‘Bloody good show, Walters.’…Funny they called me ‘Dead-eye Dick’ after this. (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 APRIL TO DAWN 28 APRIL 1942
Weather Wind southerly. Little cloud.
0621-0730 hrs One flying boat and six ME 109s are observed off the east coast of the Island, evidently on search operations.
0754-0820 hrs Three ME 109s circle to the east of the Island.
1102 hrs A plot totalling 36 JU 88 bombers with fighter escort, followed by a further formation of 19 JU 87 Stukas plus fighters, are observed heading for Malta. The first plot divides into three waves.
1110 hrs The first wave of 11 JU 88s separates to bomb vessels and gun positions around Grand Harbour and Marsa Creek, including Corradino, Paola, and St George’s and Tigne Barracks. Gun positions are also attacked at Madliena, Gharghur, Naxxar and bombs hit the military camp at Attard.
1115 hrs One stick of bombs falls between Zabbar and Della Grazia. Ack Ack guns destroy one JU 88 which crashes near a defence post in the Rinella Sector of 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.
1120 hrs Twelve JU 88s attack Luqa causing further damage to Works and Bricks buildings. One omnibus is destroyed and an unserviceable Wellington is written off. One Beaufort under repair is a probable write-off and a Maryland under repair is damaged. Bombs are also dropped on the Safi strip. Three defence posts of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt claim hits on JU 88s.
1125 hrs One JU 88 crossing Zonqor Ridge from the direction of Luqa is engaged by light machine gun fire by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt. No hits claimed. Two JU 88s flying out over Fort Ta Silch are engaged by light machine gun fire from the fort and from Wolseley Camp: hits claimed. One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from a defence position of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.
1130 hrs 19 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers cross the coast and head for Ta Qali, where they carry out a massed dive-bombing raid on camps and gun positions, damaging buildings and causing extensive craters. Extreme repairs are carried out on the aerodrome and pens and the aerodrome is serviceable.
1157 hrs Raiders passed.
1547 hrs The air raid alarm is raised for an approaching plot of enemy aircraft.
1554 hrs Five BR20s drop forty 100kg bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level, before receding in formation.
53 Luftwaffe bombers accompanied by 33 fighters then take up the attack. 24 JU 88s head for the Grand Harbour area: 14 attack Marsamxetto Harbour, dropping bombs on Manoel Island, Pieta and Msida and Tigne Barracks. Tigne S/L projector and Ack Ack light machine gun damaged.
The remaining ten drop bombs on Valletta and Floriana, including Casemate Barracks and Lintorn Barracks, The Seminary, Phoenicia Hotel, Gunlayer Street, New Street, First Street, Magazine Street, St Francis Barracks and Crucifix Hill. One unexploded bomb is removed from Central Civil Hospital. In Valletta bombs explode in Frederic Street; St Francis Sisters’ Convent, St Domenico Chapel Oratory and some houses are damaged.
21 JU 87s carry out another dive-bombing raid on Ta Qali, leaving craters on the aerodrome and further damaging buildings and dispersal areas. Gun positions are Bombs hit gun positions at Naxxar, and at Salina, further damaging billets of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt. L/Cpl Torpiano of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is injured in the left shoulder and leg by an Ack Ack shell; [he later died].
1625 hrs Eight JU 88s dive bomb Luqa and the Safi strip. One Wellington under repair is burned out.
1735 hrs One enemy reconnaissance aircraft flies over Mellieha Camp.
1745 hrs All clear.
1900-1920 hrs One flying boat and eight ME 109s circle north of the Island, evidently searching for casualties from the previous raid.
2105-2123 hrs One Italian Cz 1007 aircraft approaches the Island from the south east. One of Malta’s fighters is airborne. One Beaufighter from Luqa is airborne to intercept: no engagement. The enemy bomber comes no closer than 20 miles to the east, and retreats without dropping any bombs on land.
Military casualties Corporal Herbert Green, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Sergeant Charles Gwinnutt, 222 Battery, 10th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Civilian casualties Paola Concetta Campbell, age 59. Rabat Andrew Scicluna, age 40.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 APRIL 1942
ROYAL NAVY Urge sailed for Alexandria. One Swordfish and one Albacore made a successful sortie on 3 destroyers and on M/V obtaining one hit on an M/V, 340 degrees, 30 miles from Pantelleria.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Hudson from Gambut.
HAL FAR Night 27/28th One Swordfish and one Albacore despatched on shipping search Cape Bon-Pantelleria area. One merchant vessel of 4000 tons escorted by two or three destroyers were sighted in position 340 degrees Pantelleria 30 miles, course 180 degrees 12 knots. The merchant vessel was attacked by the Albacore. The torpedo ran well: damage unknown. Lots of smoke seen coming from the merchant vessel at the end of the attack.
LUQA 1015-1305 hrs One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes, Pantelleria and Trepani Harbour.
TA QALI No scrambles. Men suffering with feet troubles owing to lack of boots and shoes. Dust very trying and getting worse.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties as usual at Ospizio and Marsa Basin. One Officer and 30 men clearing Merchant Street, Valletta; two Officers and 30 men clearing water mains in Valletta. One NCO and 10 men working for Fuel-Light stores during the afternoon. Salvaging still continues in Battalion quarters.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Work on the aerodromes continues at night.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Few bombs near 24 Fortress Coy at Bahar-ic-Cahaq, no casualties. Bombs Msida Quarters and North Square, Lintorn Barracks, no casualties. Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 9; dealt with 14 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 6 x 50kg).
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 2000 hrs Luqa working parties continued. Bn to complete five bomber pens within a fortnight (cross-section measurements 14′ x 10′ x 4′).
2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT 2115 hrs Cpl H F Green dies at Imtarfa as a result of bomb wounds received on 25 April.
(1) “Story of events leading up to the first German plane I shot down in Malta in 1942”, by Sapper Richard Walters, Royal Engineers Library
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