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EXTRA WELLINGTONS ALLOW FOR RENEWED OFFENSIVE
The arrival of a delivery flight of nine new Wellington bombers today strengthened the Island’s forces for the campaign against Axis convoys supplying Rommel’s forces in North Africa.
Overnight, three Wellingtons of 104 Squadron assisted by S/D Flight attacked a southbound convoy of one merchant vessel of 5000 tons and one of 1000 tons plus two destroyers 135 miles from Benghazi. Observers report a successful hit on the the large merchant vessel. One of the destroyers was also machine-gunned during the attack.
NO BOMBING RAIDS TODAY
Malta’s skies were free of enemy bombers today, as the Axis count their losses in the recent battle for supremacy in the air. Even the endless fighter sweeps were kept at bay by a constant series of patrols by the Island’s Spitfire squadrons. One JU 88 reconnaissance aircraft and two Italian Macchi fighters were destroyed and a third Macchi damaged in the two air combats today.
Monitors following Radio Roma heard them describe the plight of the Italian bomber pilots sent to attack Malta by night as “a hard lot. We are blinded by searchlights, hammered by the AA guns, pursued and ambushed by night fighters. There is no seeing the enemy till the British guns start spitting death at your bomber.” (1)
Thanks to them, for the first time in many weeks Malta’s inhabitants enjoyed a quiet night, with no air raid sirens.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 MAY TO DAWN 25 MAY 1942
Weather Little wind; no cloud.
0705-0948 hrs One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour and east Sicilian aerodromes.
0716-0757 hrs Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa on interceptions: no combat.
0745-0855 hrs Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.
0906-1118 hrs Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.
0930-1045 hrs Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne; nil report.
1056-1153 hrs Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.
1225-1305 hrs Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.
1313-1414 hrs Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled form Hal Far. P/O Halford destroys one JU 88.
1445-1530 hrs Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.
1545-1625 hrs Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept three enemy aircraft. P/O Dicks-Sherwood destroys one Macchi 202 and damages another. P/O Barlow destroys one Macchi 202.
Night No enemy activity.
Military casualties Sergeant Arnold Merritt, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 104 Squadron; Gunner Thomas Hunter, 223 Battery, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Civilian casualties Nil.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 24 MAY 1942
AIR HQ Arrivals Nine Wellingtons from LG 106; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Albarcores from BU-Amud; three Blenheims, six Beauforts, two Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures One Lodestar to Heliopolis; five Wellingtons to LG 222. Aircraft casualties One Wellington crashed on landing: pilot killed, rest of crew injured.
LUQA 2110-0220 hrs One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate and bomb convoy then [guide] Wellington force onto same. 2133-0430 hrs One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search of Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Marittimo area. 2206-0255 hrs Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron are despatched to attack southbound convoy in co-operation with the S/D Flight Wellington.
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 continue.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; dealt with 28 anti-personnel ‘Thermos’ bombs.
1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT Work completed on Hal Far. Work in Safi strip began. 17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks widening and levelling runway.
2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS Battalion drums and pipes beat the retreat at Mosta.
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.
(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group Ltd 1992
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