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GOVERNOR REPORTS FEWER LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS IN SICILY
From: Governor and C in C Malta To: C in C Middle East Rptd: War Office
Following enemy aircraft claimed during week. By Ack Ack: damaged 2 JU 88, 1 Macchi 202. By RAF: destroyed 1 JU 88, 2 Br 20, 2 Cant, 13 ME 109, 1 Macchi 202, 5 Re 2001; probably destroyed 1 Br 20, 1 Cant, 5 ME 109, 2 Re 2001; damaged 2 Do 24, 2 Cant, 4 ME 109, 2 Macchi, 4 Re 2001.
Slight E boat activity continues. Italian Petty Officer Urisoker taken 19/5. On special mission recce coast defences Zonqor point to two miles north. Specialist in Davis apparatus, dressed in diving suit for submerging when fired upon. Full report through naval channels. On 20/5 spy with [wireless-transmission] set, rations etc caught. Pro-Italian Maltese landed by motor boat from Sicily. Unable to scale cliffs and captured. Full report through defence security channels.
Own troops. Large working parties for RAF continue. 500 pen-building; 300 servicing Spitfires; 150 servicing bombing up Wellingtons. Military damage negligible during week. Army Bomb Disposal Section disposed 31 UXB totaling six and a half tons. Casualties one Other Rank killed; three Other Ranks wounded. Further 17 Spitfires arrived also Wellingtons.
Conclusion. Enemy air activity slackening further. Movement of German Air Force elsewhere continues. Indication that raids by E boats or human torpedoes or landing raids being considered by enemy.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MAY TO DAWN 24 MAY 1942
Weather Wind southerly.
0716 hrs The air raid alert sounds for an incoming plot of five Cant 1007s in ‘vic’ (1) formation with a large escort of RE 2001s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s, approaching the Island from the north. 12 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa. Sgt McConnell, Sgt James and P/O Tilly destroy two Re 2001s and one ME 109. P/O Jones probably destroys one Cant and F/Sgt Schade one ME 109. Sgt Jones damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001; F/Sgt Schade damages one ME 109. One Spitfire is damaged in combat: the pilot is unhurt.
0720 hrs Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.
0739-0745 hrs Cant bombers drop ten 100kg bombs each on Ta Qali, making craters at dispersal points. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
0835 hrs The alert sounds for a small number of enemy fighters on patrol. Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept. They land at 0919 hrs without engagement.
0926 hrs; 0949 hrs Alerts sound for small numbers of enemy fighters patrolling near the Island.
1400-1430 hrs Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.
1611 hrs Four ME 109s approach the Island and make a reconnaissance flight over all three aerodromes. Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far. They land at 1654 hrs with no interceptions.
1855-1923 hrs Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a fighter sweep: nil report.
1905-2015 hrs Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are scrambled for incoming fighters: nil report.
2020 hrs Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the Island. The two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede. The four Spitfires land at 2110 hrs without engagement.
2145-2217 hrs, 2145-0010 hrs; 2235-2250 hrs One Beaufighter each time is scrambled from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.
2212-2257 hrs ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and drop bombs on Hal Far. JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi, and on Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome unserviceable for the night.
A delivery Wellington crashes on landing: Sgt Merrit is seriously wounded; other members of the crew have minor injuries.
Military casualties WO II Carmelo Zahra, (BSM), 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; WO II Cyril May, (CSM), 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
Civilian casualties Kirkop Spiro Bartolo, age 73. Luqa Andrew Farrugia, age 8. Sliema Antonia Pace, age 77. Zejtun Vincent Axisa, age 68. Zurrieq Carmel Axiaq, age 40.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 23 MAY 1942
ROYAL NAVY The Commander in Chief ordered Porpoise to be sailed from Alexandria to Malta with stores.
AIR HQ Arrivals Five Wellingtons from Gibraltar. Departures One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.
HAL FAR 2130 hrs Three Albacores of the NAS went out after a convoy: no sightings.
LUQA 0705-0914 hrs One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.
TA QALI All stood down until 1300 hrs except for skeleton staffs. Inspector General Air Marshal Ludlow Hewitt visits Station.
4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT 0900-1700 hrs Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continued.
2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT Pte Merson was slightly injured by bomb splinter at Hal Far.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 11; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 1 Italian Thermos bomb).
1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.
8TH BN THE KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS Luqa working party continued.
8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by. CSM May died in Imtarfa Hospital.
(1) A tight V formation of one lead aircraft and one wingman close behind on each side – more commonly used by the Royal Air Force
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