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GOVERNOR REPORTS ON STATE OF THINGS IN MALTA
- Almost every street blocked with debris
- Entire areas without electricity and water
- Serious food shortages
- Police earn special praise
- Public morale admirable
FROM: Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie) TO: Secretary of State for the Colonies D: 29th April 1942
During month ended 20th April there were 227 alerts, 184 by day and 93 by night. These included 74 day raids and 58 night raids. 333 people were killed (139 men, 117 women and 77 children). 2. Details of damage to property are not available but it has been exceedingly heavy.
3. During the whole of this period the enemy has continued to deliver heavy bombing attacks two, three or four times a day. Only respite in all during two short periods of rough weather. Damage has been terrible in Valletta, Floriana, Three Cities and Marsa but Luqa, Pawla, Zabbar, Sliema, Hamrun and Mosta have also suffered heavily and most other places in the Island to a less[er] extent. In the first four places named, destruction is very widespread and almost every street in Valletta, Floriana and Three Cities is blocked with debris.
4. So far none of the flour mills has been put out of action and all are now in working condition. Power house has received two direct hits, one of which has wrecked part of the transformer room and damaged switch gear. We hope to restore the power within a few days. Meanwhile, emergency services are being worked from underground stand-by plant.
5. Clearance of debris represents very heavy problem. Only part of the demolition squads are available as the rest have to be ready to extricate people from damaged buildings. Up to 400 shelter construction workers have been employed on clearance but have now been restored to shelter work and replaced by workers transferred from the Dockyard which cannot employ its full staff under present conditions. We have also received most generous help from the Army, and the Police have assisted on many occasions.
In this way roads in the port area of the Grand Harbour have been cleared, stores are being cleaned of debris and a start has been made with the clearance of Valletta. So long as bombing continues all we can do is to keep essential roads clear, carry out such demolition work as is necessary to maintain essential services and make such preparations in the port area as are necessary for the reception of a convoy. In this last task, we are already ahead of schedule.
6. Heavy bombing has greatly interfered with the distribution of food and special efforts were grouped to maintain bread supplies. With the destruction of the bakeries alternative arrangements have to be improvised while distribution, which is carried out by horse and cart, cannot always be relied upon. Distribution of flour to bakers and rationed commodities to retailers has also been interfered with. Steps have been taken to deal with all these matters and, so far, we have been able to carry on satisfactorily. Additional strain imposed on protection officers, district commissioners and their staff is very considerable and has been borne admirably. Special liaison officers of the Lt Governor’s office have been appointed in the most difficult areas so as to ensure rapid communication especially where telephones are out of order.
7. Repair gangs of the water and electricity branches and telephone department have been under continuous strain and have worked wonderfully putting right breakages. Entire areas, however, inevitably remain without telephone and electricity for considerable periods while the people have had to fall back on wells especially in Valletta and the Three Cities, until water supply could be restored. Emergency telephone services have proved their value in maintaining contact with centre.
8. Police have earned special praise. Commissioner has provided his men for every sort of task from clearance of debris in the power house to assisting in running the flour mill at night. They have also done very useful work on aerodromes. Fire brigades have had much work to do and have always responded to any call. Assistance of the police in settling the Government in part of their headquarters has also been admirable.
9. While it has been possible to make arrangements to meet any difficulties which have so far arisen, the outlook remains very difficult. Growing shortage of food is serious and the effect of the cut in the bread ration cannot yet be foreseen. Extreme shortage of fodder is also causing difficulties; I am confident however that we shall see our troubles through.
10. With all we have had to put up with both in bombing, in restriction and scarcity of food, the bearing and morale of the public has remained admirable. I cannot too highly praise the fortitude and endurance which they have shown under the most severe test to which they have been subjected. Without that spirit we could not have carried on.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 APRIL TO DAWN 30 APRIL 1942
Weather Wind south-westerly; 100% high cloud.
0748-0811 hrs Two ME 109s circle to the south of the Island.
1149-1217 hrs Two ME 109s on patrol to the north of the Island.
1440 hrs A formation of seven JU 87s with a fighter escort of 18 ME 109s is identified approaching the Island. Five Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept. P/L Peck probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another. Sgt Christ probably destroys one JU 88 but is then hit from behind and crash lands with wheels up: he is slightly injured.
Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two of 229 Squadron from Hal Far are also airborne and attack. P/O Noble damages one JU 88. Sgt Boyd claims one JU 88, probably damaged. Sgt Vidler damages one JU 88.
1510 hrs Seven JU 87s with fighter escort attack Hal Far, leaving craters and unexploded bombs on the aerodrome and dispersal area, damaging one petrol bowser. One Hurricane is slightly damaged and one seriously damaged. Bombs are also dropped from Ta Karach ridge to Misrah Blandun.
1512-1525 hrs Five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one ME 109 and two JU 88s flying low over the airfield: one gun claims a hit on one JU 88.
1518 hrs One ME 109 is engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Wolseley Camp: hits claimed.
1550 hrs Raiders passed.
1630 hrs Air raid alert. Five Italian Cant Z 1007 aircraft drop bombs south east of Mellieha Camp, killing one civilian adult and injuring a boy.
1738 hrs Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s dive-bomb Luqa camp destroying the telephone exchange and adjoining ablutions, and cratering the aerodrome. The Sergeants’ Mess and Transit Flight offices are further damaged. One photo-reconnaissance Spitfire is damaged and one airman injured. Bomb also explode in the area of Bir Miftuh Church and the Safi strip.
1840-1920 hrs Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept incoming a formation enemy aircraft: no engagement. Five Italian bombers with fighter escort cross the island.
1852 hrs Five Italian Cant Z 1007Bs escorted by Macchi 202s cross the Island and drop large numbers of 100 kg bombs on Luqa from a height of 22000 feet. Bombs also land on St Clements Church and the Ta Salib area. One unexploded bomb is reported.
1908-2001 hrs Three enemy aircraft approach the Island. Searchlights illuminate and Ack Ack guns engage the raiders. Bombs are dropped in Gudja, Paola, Naxxar and Ta Qali.
2150-2230 hrs One Beaufighter from Luqa is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.
2115 hrs An enemy aircraft drops bombs and incendiaries on Marsa, damaging a billet and defence post of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment. Damage to billet RWK defence post.
2230-2250 hrs Air raid alert. Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Paola, Naxxar and Ta Qali.
Military casualties Gunner Horace Cooper, 222 Battery, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Civilian casualties Floriana Joseph Buttigieg, age 64. Rabat Michael Bonello, age 21. Zebbug Philip Grech, age 24.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 1942
ROYAL NAVY Porpoise and P34 sailed for Alexandria.
AIR HQ Arrivals Eight Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.
LUQA 1417-1613 hrs One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance of Catania, Gerbini, Comiso, Biscara and Pachino L Ground.
TA QALI Further 48 men attachments from Luqa having been bombed out to be accommodated in Boschetto Gardens. Extensive preparations for repair of aerodrome.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT B Company finished working party at Marsa Basin yesterday.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Work on the aerodromes continues at night.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 21; dealt with 8 (1 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Private Mawdesley injured on working party at Hal Far.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 2000 hrs Luqa working parties continued.
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