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EXERCISE MASKS REAL INVASION FEARS
Orders for a “Stand To” issued to all units yesterday as a military exercise are now believed to be early preparations for an enemy invasion. Reports have filtered down to Battalion Commanders that the Germans are building up forces in Italy. The recent Luftwaffe blanket bombing activity against Malta followed by the present lull adds to impressions that the enemy is preparing to invade. The Island’s garrison is therefore in a state of readiness, while reconnaissance missions continue to monitor the situation in Sicily and on the Italian mainland.
TIME BOMBS CREATE ROUND THE CLOCK DANGER
Several delayed action bombs were dropped on the communities of Zejtun and Tarxien today by Luftwaffe Junkers 88 bombers. Time bombs landed to the south of the road from Zejtun to Tarxien road but did not detonate until after the All Clear. Several houses were destroyed, 21 civilians killed and 30 wounded by the blasts.
Reports have come in of several other explosions today while no air raids were in progress. The blasts are an indication of the widespread use of delayed action bombs during last night’s air raids. The enemy appears to have adopted a new tactic of using single aircraft to drop time bombs across a wide range of targets, bringing many areas to a standstill until the unexploded bomb can be dealt with. An unreported bomb exploding seemingly at random causes widespread alarm, let alone the risk of injury and death to passers by. The number of unexploded bombs reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal has risen from 3 yesterday to 32 today. Who knows how many more time bombs lie as yet undetected, ready to explode at any moment?
AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 MAY TO DAWN 3 MAY 1942
Weather Wind wouth-westerly; 100% cloud.
0905-0910 hrs Messerschmitt 109 fighters carry out a patrol south of the Island.
0925 hrs A delayed-action bomb explodes behind a coal dump at Hal Far, injuring a soldier of Kings Own Malta Regiment.
1028 hrs Two JU 88s escorted by ME 109s approach the Island. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
1045 hrs The JU 88s drop eight bombs near Zejtun Church and on houses south of Zejtun-Tarxien road. Many of the bombs do not explode on impact. They detonate later, destroying several houses, killing 21 civilians and wounding 30.
1200 hrs Corporal Ingram, B Coy, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt is injured by an exploding delayed action bomb.
1717-1835 hrs Six JU 88s, ten ME 109s and some Macchi 202s carry out a medium level dive bombing raid on Luqa and the Safi strip. One Maryland is damaged and one Wellington burned out. Hagiar Qim gun position is also attacked, killing one Other Rank and wounding four, and damaging equipment. Spitfires are airborne and engage enemy aircraft, damaging one ME109. 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt also engage a low-flying JU 88: hits claimed.
2121 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which drops bombs inland from Valletta.
2209 hrs One aircraft descends to 2000 feet over Grand Harbour, showing navigation lights, but drops bombs in the sea.
2315 hrs One Beaufort aircraft arriving from Gibraltar crashes on landing at Luqa aerodrome. The aircraft is written off; the crew are unhurt.
0020 hrs One Hudson aircraft from Gambut crashes on landing at Luqa. The aircraft is written off; the crew are unhurt.
Military casualties John Psaila, Steward, HMS St.Angelo; Gunner Henry Barrett, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Civilian casualties Hamrun Giovanna Borg, age 76. Kirkop Leonardo Cassar, age 76. Mdina Sister Rosaria Abela, age 82. Zejtun Carmela Abela, age 14; Saviour Baldacchino, age 55; Saviour Bellotti, age 52; Tarcisio Bonnici, age 12; Rosario Bugeja, age 65; Mary Camilleri, age 68; Gracie Felice, age 14; Mary Rose Felice, age 5; Spira Fenech, age 46; Giuseppa Fenech, age 11; Victoria Fenech, age 10; Francis Frendo, age 30; Saviour Galea, age 17; Joseph Harris, age 11; Emanuel Hyzler, MD, age 56; Giuseppe Mamo, age 68; Calcedonio Palmier, age 40; Giuseppe Piscopo, age 75; Gaetana Portelli, age 60; Francesca Schembri, age 30; Emanuel Zammit, age 24.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 2 MAY 1942
ROYAL NAVY A doubtful sighting report of a submarine was received from a beach post, but not confirmed.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Beaufort, one Catalina from Gibraltar. Departures One Wellingtonto 108 MU; one Sunderland to Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties One Beaufort Mk I crashed on landing: crew uninjured.
HAL FAR 0030 hrs Albacore X sighted a convoy of two merchant vessels with two destroyers 140 degrees 14 miles Lampion. Albacore C scored a hit on one merchant vessel. Both aircraft landed back at 0430 hrs.
LUQA 1205-1305 hrs One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes. 2032-0500 hrs One Wellington SD Flight sent in co-opereation with Albacores fro m Hal Far to locate and bomb northbound convoy. Direct hit on destroyer of convoy consisting of one merchant vessel and one destroyer. Albacores not seen.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Exercise continues: likely to last 72 hours. Not exactly an exercise as there is a possibility of invasion as the Germans are building up forces in Italy. Battalion remained manning posts and rebuilding and improving where possible.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 27; dealt with 4 (1 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Private Williams HQ Coy received injury (bomb splinter wound in back) when engaged with night working party on Hal Far aerodrome.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 1845 hrs Luqa working parties at night cancelled. To continue during the day. 1945 hrs Exercise “Stand To” dusk.
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