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FIGHTERS TARGET CIVILIANS
“I was living in Rabat. We had moved there from Msida when the bombing started, for safety. We had a little hole underground for a shelter. One day when the raid had finished I came up into the sunshine. I saw a plane and waved to the pilot, thinking he was one of ours. He was German. I could see his face; he was wearing glasses. He threw a grenade at me. It landed on the other side of the wall.” Maria Parsons Spiteri, George Cross Island Association, October 2011
“Four Messerschmitts flew very low over the Citadel, so low that I could quite clearly see the pilots. The leading pilot, after circling three or four times, pushed back the cover of his cockpit and waves his hand, as if giving signal to the others; the pilot of the second machine did likewise. Then each plane came down in twin and machine-gunned the town, at the same time throwing out hand grenades and dropping anti-personnel bombs.” Gozo eye-witness, May 1942 (1)
BOMBERS TARGET HAL FAR
Malta commanders report that enemy bombers are now targeting their bombing raids on the southern airfield of Hal Far. With the number of aircraft destroyed now totalling 112 for the past 72 hours, it seems Axis forces in Sicily are seeking to limit their losses by avoiding attacks requiring extensive flying over land.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 MAY TO DAWN 14 MAY 1942
Weather Wind southerly; no cloud.
0746hrs The air raid alert is sounded for one JU 88 which carries out reconnaissance accompanied by ME 109s.
1218 hrs The air raid alert sounds for a formation of some twenty ME 109s heading for the Island to carry out a fighter sweep.
1230 hrs Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and five Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and engage in numerous dog fights over the Island with the ME 109 fighters. F/Sgt Hesselyn chases one ME 109 twenty miles out to sea and destroys it. On his return he attacks another ME 109 which he also destroys. One Spitfire is slightly damaged.
1245 hrs A formation of 16 JU 87s accompanied by more ME 109 and Macchi 202 fighters approaches the south east of the Island. The Spitfires from 249 and 603 Squadrons are already engaged by the fighter sweep and unable to intercept the incoming bombers.
1253 hrs 16 JU 87s attack Hal Far and the Safi strip. Bombs on the windsock dispersal area of Hal Far damage three Hurricanes.
1258-1310 hrs Numerous JU 87s and ME 109s are engaged by six guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claims.
1344 hrs Raiders passed.
1600-1720 hrs Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept a reported incoming enemy patrol: no engagement.
1715-1800 hrs Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept a further reported patrol: no engagement.
1805-1914 hrs Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa too late to intercept a JU 88 reconnaissance flight accompanied by approximately eight ME 109s. They are sighted 6000 feet above the Spitfires: no combat ensues.
1910-1955 hrs Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft on patrol. P/O Peck claims one Macchi 202 damaged.
Night Two air raid alerts sound for several approaching enemy aircraft. Two Italian Br 20s cross the coast. Bombs are dropped near Birkirkara and on Safi Strip, south of Luqa village and near the HQ of Central Infantry Brigade.
0055-0233 hrs One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol for enemy aircraft: no interceptions.
Military casualties Nil
Civilian casualties Nil
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 13 MAY 1942
ROYAL NAVY Some confidential papers were washed ashore, probably from C 308.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Wellington, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis. Departures One Wellington to 108 MU; two Hudsons to Gibraltar. Aircraft casualties Nil.
LUQA No bombs on the aerodrome.
4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT Working party for RAF Ta Qali continues.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Luqa working party cut to 50 men.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Battalion came under command of Western Infantry Brigade. Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continued.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 5; dealt with 14 (1 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg,2 x 35kg, 2 Italian AP bomb containers).
1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 17 trucks, 6 Officers and 230 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Unit transferred from Southern Infantry Brigade to newly formed Western Infantry Brigade under command of Brigadier F G Brittorous, DSO, MC. Unit Ack Ack light machine guns engaged low-flying aircraft: no claims.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS Luqa working party resumed pen building with transport RV Addolorata Cemetery.
(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group Ltd 1992
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