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19-25 July 1942: Malta Faces Starvation

25 Jul

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19 July 1942: Parthian Supplies Unloaded in Darkness

HUNGER

“There it was. A pitiable animated skeleton with ribs nearly protruding out of its sides of what was once called a dog. It was a small creature with what could have been a light brown coat. Its occasional whimpering, hardly audible, eyes glazed, it was shuffling madly with from one side of one shed and then to another, sniffing here and sniffing there, obviously crazed with hunger, completely oblivious to anything else. It did not even notice me, standing nearby a few yards away, just outside the workshop where I worked as an apprentice, near No 1 Dock in the Malta Dockyard in the Summer of 1942…

NWMA Malta

Malta was in the iron grip of a merciless siege and close to collapse. Fast blockade runners such as the ‘Welshman’ and the ‘Manxman’ and submarines improvised to carry cargo would occasionally break through the iron cordon to supply the beleaguered island. But supplies were hardly ever enough.

The Dockyard itself had become a depressing sight with half-sunken ships, ruined sheds and workshops, rubble every where and bomb craters still being filled. Electric power and telephone service was only intermittent and water supply available only in certain locations.  Into this nightmarish, surreal landscape, this pitiable creature, somehow or other, had found itself…

I felt deeply sorry for it. I would have willingly given it a small piece of my own meagre ration consisting of just a slim sandwich, but I was hesitant and somewhat fearful how it would react in that crazed state…the dog probably was a loving pet with an owner who cared greatly for it but being unable to feed it…let it loose blithely trusting Providence or hoping that somehow or other it would find its own food. It must have been a desperate and agonizing decision.

Even though Malta, at one time, had its own share of pet lovers, with pets, nearly everywhere, I have to say that I could not recall seeing any other dogs or even cats during that summer…”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0740-0758 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter three ME 109s: no combat.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert for a second fighter sweep by Italian RE 2001 aircraft, engaged by Malta fighters.  One Spitfire crashes near Luqa: the pilot is killed.

1820-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no air raid develops.

2145-2230 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach the Island but are engaged by Spitfires: one raider is destroyed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Joseph Otis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 426 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian unloading stores at Marsaxlokk during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire overshot when landing: pilot injured.  One aircraft crashed due to enemy action: pilot killed.

20 July 1942: Victory Kitchens

“By July 1942 life had become more and more unbearable. Kerosene (Paraffin Oil) which most people used for cooking, heating and for oil lamps was in extremely short supply. To save Kerosene in order to have a warm or hot meal my mother often turned off the oil lamps and sent us to bed early often before darkness had set in.

Queuing for kerosene (NWMA Malta)

Since a hot meal was now becoming a luxury and an exception, my mother decided to try the ‘Victory Kitchens.’  These were communal siege kitchens originally set up to provide one hot meal a day to people who had been bombed out of their homes, whose ration cards had been destroyed or lost in the bombing and had nothing to eat. But as the situation deteriorated more and more people, including those who still had roofs over their heads, resorted to using ‘Victory Kitchens’, bartering their regular ration coupons in exchange. At one time, I believe, more than half the island’s population were using these siege kitchens since, in most cases, it was the only way to get something hot to eat, little as it was.

It did not take long for my mother to realize that this pitiable fare was no kind of ‘victory’…I remember it was some kind of broth masquerading as soup with a few floating lumps in it that most people could not identify.  Occasionally, two or three peas or beans were added but the portions were never enough and afterwards you were still left hungry…

Regardless of their faults it should be remembered that these Victory Kitchens played a very important part feeding the people during the siege. It required great skills and much dedication by the Food Distribution Authorities in planning, organizing and putting into operation such an undertaking under living condition that were indescribable and against obstacles that were almost insurmountable.”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

“I also remember visiting a ‘Victory Kitchen’ with my mother; this was after my pet goat had been killed and served to me as stew. I was only told this after I had finished my meal!”  Edward Caruana Galizia, November 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JULY TO DAWN 21 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; haze, no cloud.

0555-0605 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach to within 25 miles of the Island and then recede.

0830-0935 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft.  The air raid alert sounds but the raid does not materialise; there are no interceptions.

1345 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne to act as a protective escort to minesweepers.

1356 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with twenty ME 109s and RE 2001s in escort approach Luqa from the south and attack the airfield, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the area.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron spot the raiders and follow them in, attacking the bombers as they release their bombs over the airfield.  The Spitfires struggle to gain enough height to catch the bombers as they turn away.  Sgt Wynn is shot up by a Messerschmitt fighter and slightly wounded in the leg.

1405-1545 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue search: no sightings.

1442 hrs  All clear.

1535-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: raid does not develop.

1640 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders.  They spot 16 ME 109s in line abreast.  Sgt Irwin probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with fighter drop a large number of high explosive bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level.  One motor car is burned out.

1715 hrs  All clear.

2136-2242 hrs; 2252-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Each time nine JU 88s approach singly and drop bombs in widely scattered areas, including Luqa and the Safi strip, and the western dispersal area of Ta Qali.  At Luqa a Baltimore is damaged.  At Birzebbuga five Army Other Ranks are killed and one Army Officer wounded.  Malta’s fighters airborne for both alerts and both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying three Ju 88s.  Searchlights illuminate every target in the second raid.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hugh Russell, Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunner Franky Agius, 3 Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Francis Baldacchino, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Ellul, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Hearl, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Sillato, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Albert Zammit, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Fidele Zarb, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of a JU 88 bomber, shot down into the sea near Gozo: Leutnant Siegfried Sack, Pilot – body was not recovered; Obergefreiter Arthur Blass, Air Gunner, and Unteroffizier Albert Mulen, Observer, were rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down and died: Feldwebel Karl Bonk, Pilot; Unteroffizier Johann Gerstel, Observer; Unteroffizier Josef Pohl, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Gerhard Priewisch, Wireless Operator.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine P42 arrived and entered Marsamxett.  Speedy swept QBB 197 and Marsaxlokk entrance. 1 Cutter cut. Swona swept Marsaxmett entrance.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire pilot seat slid forward on landing, pushing control column forward and causing aircraft to tip up on nose: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued injured; one pilot missing.

21 July 1942: 28 Spitfires Arrive as Bombers Stay Clear

OPERATION INSECT

Three freighters sailed from the UK on 2 July carrying 32 Spitfires to Gibraltar, where they arrived a week ago.  Yesterday 30 of the aircraft, along with four Swordfish and six Sea Hurricanes were loaded onto HMS Eagle ready to embark for Malta.  The carrier was protected by a convoy including Cairo, Charybdis, Antelope, Ithuriel, Vansittart, Westcott and Wrestler.

Italian submarine Dandolo

Earlier today the Italian submarine Dandolo sighted the convoy and attempted to attack but was driven off, damaged in a counter-attack by the escort’s destroyers.  Eagle was able to reach her rendezvous point without further incident and, with the exception of one defective aircraft, the Spitfires took off for Malta.  Another plane developed problems with its fuel tank and was forced to ditch in the sea.  The remaining 28 Spitfires landed safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JULY TO DAWN 22 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, slight; haze, no cloud.

0835-0855 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1005-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1110-1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  They are bounced by Macchi 202s: no damage.

1410-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1540-1650 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered into the air to act as escort to minesweepers.

1755-1855 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They see four or five ME 109s but are unable to catch them.

0110-0150 hrs; 0205-0220 hrs; 0235-0255 hrs  Three air raid alerts for a total of five enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly.  None crosses the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  During the last alert a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Sergeant Lewis Evans, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Gunner Nazzareno Grima, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A surface plot [reported] south of Filfla may have been Submarine P44 on the surface. She arrived at 2045 and was swept in Marsaxlokk by Speedy.  Parthian completed unload and proceeded to Dockyard to make good minor defects.  A further reinforcement of 28 Spitfires from HMS Eagle arrived without incident.  Torpedo-carrying Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an enemy convoy and claimed hits on one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Q.B.B. 271 swept by Speedy and Hythe. 3 mines cut.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 240 degrees Cape Ghergambo, 8 miles course southerly.  The merchant vessel was hit by at least three torpedoes and white smoke poured form it; this was later confirmed by photos.  One of the destroyers was also hit.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington from Shandur; one Blenheim from Gibraltar; four Beaufighters from ECDU.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

TA QALI  Preparations are made for the arrival of further Spitfires: 16 arrived during the morning.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY, ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party from No 2 Section of one Sergeant and two Other Ranks blew a series of holes at water level in SS Talabot (partly submerged in harbour) to release oil which was interfering with cargo salvage work.  Plastic high explosive was used: very effective.

22 July 1942: ‘Fighting Tenth’ Return to Malta

NWMA Malta

The arrival of P42 yesterday may have triggered a false alarm, with an unconfirmed report of a periscope off Grand Harbour.  However, good news has followed the submarine’s arrival, as it signals the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, after an absence of nearly three months.

Known as the ‘Fighting Tenth’, the submarine force left Lazaretto ten weeks ago when the severity of enemy bombardment risked their complete destruction.  Vice Admiral, Malta has now decided that the reduced scale of mining and air attacks and the successful clearance of all approach channels to the Island by minesweepers makes it safe enough to allow the submarines to return.

The Flotilla Captain and his Staff arrived today and it is expected that by the end of the month at least three submarines of the Flotilla will again be operating from Malta.

AJAX MASTER ILL

HMS Ajax

An urgent telegram was sent to the War Office today asking for a replacement for the master of Ajax, who has been ill from prolonged stomach trouble.  A solution is needed within fourteen days, as the ship is expected to embark soon on operations.  Ajax, her officers and crew have been praised for their valiant service during several Malta convoys.  If no temporary relief can be found, the chief officer may be promoted to hold the fort.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; slight cloud.

0805-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders which carry out a fighter sweep: no engagement.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on shipping cover.

1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop high explosives on Luqa airfield and anti-personnel bombs in the Marsa valley, causing some civilian and RAF casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s.

1120-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a search for missing pilots.  They see three oil patches on the water.  As he approaches to land, P/O Paradis is told to stand off until a threatened raid on Ta Qali has passed.  He is not heard of again.

1144 hrs  All clear.

1225-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for P/O Paradis: nothing found.

1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty fighters attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Safi strip with high explosives and anti-personnel bombs, causing civilian and RAF casualties. Heavy Ack Ack fire without result.

1635-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109s which circle the Island. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.

Night  Two air alerts for a total of eight Italian and German bombers which approach the Island singly, dropping 15kg and 50kg bombs on Luqa, Tal Handaq and Wardia.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta night fighters are airborne for both alerts.  During the first raid, searchlights effect three illuminations and a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88 ten miles north of the Island.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Joseph Paradis, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Jack Wallworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Walter Mifsud, age 14; Edward Mifsud, age 12.  Hamrun  Concetta Borg, age 66.  Rabat  Paul Zammit, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S) 10th Submarine Flotilla and his staff arrived by air from the Middle East.  A doubtful report of a periscope being sighted off Grand Harbour was not confirmed.  Hythe and motor launches commenced sweeping new area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter to EDCU; one Blenheim to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing believed killed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Numerous anti-personnel bombs dropped on billets occupied by No1 Works Company, 1 Sapper is slightly injured.

23 July 1942: Dog Fights Over Malta

ITALIAN CAPTURED

Macchi 202 in flight

Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli was taken prisoner this afternoon after being plucked from the sea by the RAF rescue launch.  The Italian pilot was in a formation of Italian and German fighters escorting a raid on Luqa aerodrome at just after four o’clock when his Macchi 202 was hit by anti-aircraft fire.  With six Spitfires of 249 Squadron hot on his tail, Di Pauli decided to eject from the aircraft and was seen parachuting down into the sea.  The Spitfire pilots alerted headquarters and an air sea rescue patrol was launched within the hour.  Di Pauli was picked up and brought ashore where he was taken in for interrogation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 17% medium cloud.

0720 hrs  The ‘usual’ early morning patrol by three ME 109s.

0800-0910 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for reported enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

1010 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1021 hrs  Air raid alert.  While three ME 109s patrol alone, three JU 88s with seven ME 109s and five RE 2001s as escort attack Luqa, dropping many anti-personnel bombs from a high level on the camp and dispersal areas, and high explosive bombs to the south of Luqa village.  Several unexploded bombs are found near the windmill.  Anti-personnel bombs are also dropped between Hamrun and the RAF station.  One Spitfire and a petrol bowser are destroyed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

The Spitfires of 249 Squadron see the JU 88s and ME 109s, and then encounter five RE 2001s covering the withdrawal of bombers after the raid.  Sgt Beurling destroys one RE 2001 and damages a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell destroys a JU 88 and F/Lt Hetherington damages another.

1046 hrs  All clear.

1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.

1618-1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with fifteen ME 109s and some Macchi 202s as escort attack Luqa, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs from a high level and causing craters on the aerodrome: two make the runway temporarily unserviceable.  One Baltimore is damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta Spitfires attack the raiders and destroy two ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy two ME 109s and damage another three ME 109s and one Macchi. F/Lt Watts and P/O McElroy between them damage one ME 109; P/O Round damages another.

1650-1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue patrol.  They see an Italian pilot: he is picked up and taken prisoner.

Night  No enemy action.

Military casualties  Flying Officer David William Kent, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli, Macchi 202 fighter pilot, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl carried out gun trials at sea.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance of Gerbini shows that the number of JU 88s at Gerbini has almost doubled to 23.  One of the satellites has also come into use at the aerodrome, with 12 fighters present.  Two more satellites are under construction which will bring the total to five.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224; three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane engine cut out; aircraft crashed on landing: pilot killed.  One Spitfire missing from patrol: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied by No 1 Works Company, RE.

24 July 1942: Malta Fighters Pre-emptive Strikes

Spitfire re-fuelled, re-armed and ready (NWMA Malta)

PARK’S NEW STRATEGY FOR MALTA

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park is to introduce new tactics in the RAF battle for the skies over Malta.  After reviewing fighter performance over recent weeks, the new Air Officer Commanding has recognised that the Island’s Spitfires have been forced to fight defensively.  Now the AOC has decided to take the battle to the enemy.

Under the ‘Forward Interception Plan’ due to take effect from tomorrow, RAF Squadrons will be airborne to intercept enemy formations well before they reach the archipelago.  Making use of the increased numbers of Spitfires at his disposal, as well as improved radar and faster take-off times, three Squadrons will now take part in each pre-emptive strike: the first to engage advance fighter formations from out of the sun; the second to engage any close fighter escort and the third to attack bombers head-on.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JULY TO DAWN 25 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0800-0830 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack firing pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they chase the two Messerschmitts until they are lost to view.

1030-1120 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the Air Sea Rescue Launch off Kalafrana Bay.

1039 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s with a fighter escort of twenty ME 109s are intercepted by Malta fighters, which destroy three JU 88s and one ME 109, and damage the remaining JU 88 and two ME 109s; Heavy Ack Ack also engage.  As a result many bombs are jettisoned in widely different areas, including Mosta and Ta Qali, as well as Luqa and the Safi strip.  The two Spitfires of 603 Squadron see two of the JU 88s and pursue them for eight miles, then return to cover duties.

1113 hrs  All clear.

1135-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a search but find nothing.  One returns early.

1352-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three unidentified fighters cross the coast from the south west at 25000 feet.

1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire returns early.

1710 hrs  Air raid alert.  One section of Spitfires dives on five JU 88s and four ME 109s.  The remaining Messerschmitts break off their formation to attack the other section of Spitfires, which counter-attack.  P/O Jones (249) has a dog-fight with three pairs of ME 109s with no claims.  Malta fighters damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1752-1819 hrs  Five JU88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, landing a direct hit on the HQ building of D Coy, 2nd Royal West Kent Regt at Ta Kandia, killing one Other Rank and wounding two Officers, including the Company Commander, and four Other Ranks. At Qrendi one Other Rank of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is wounded by anti-personnel bomb splinters.  One serviceable Beaufort is burned out, two other Beauforts and one Spitfire are damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

2215-2245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach singly but do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Green, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Rodney Kent, 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Fusilier John Millar, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Mallia, age 74.  Rabat  Carmela Borg, age 10.  Zurrieq  Josephine Bondin, 10 mths;  Catherine Bugeja, age 13; Jane Bugeja, age 11; Rev Joseph Cuschieri, age 63; Carmel Ellul, age 70; Anthony Gauci, age 60; Joseph Saydon, age 48; Carmel Schembri, age 16; Joseph Spiteri, 3 mths; Saviour Zammit, age 54; Rev Joseph Zammit Psaila, age 68.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down: Leutnant Sepp Hoermann, Pilot, Obergefreiter Josef Popp, Observer, and Unteroffizier Wolfram Quass, Air Gunner, died; Leutnant Heinz Heuser, Wireless Operator managed to bale out and land safely; he was taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Fleet Sweepers cleared new channel except for 100 yards along inshore edge. 13 mines cut.  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked a convoy off Cape Gheroghambo and hit and set on fire one merchant vessel. Three Beauforts did not return.

AIR HQ  Six Beauforts escorted by nine Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy consisting of two destroyers and three other vessels, including a 7000 ton merchantman laden with deck cargo, in position 273 degrees Cape Geroghambo 10 miles.  One direct hit on a merchant vessel resulted in much smoke and flame.  One of the destroyers was machine-gunned.  Photos taken later showed the merchant vessel to be in tow, stern foremost, down by the bows and blazing.  The fire had reached the engine room.  [Subsequently this same merchant vessel was photographed at Argostoli completely burned out.]

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Catalina, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Catalina to Aboukir; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

TA QALI  A signal was received today from Headquarters, Mediterranean indicating that a General Warning is in effect.  Instructions by telephone state that no action should be taken.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied No 1 Works Company.

25 July 1942: Malta Ready for ‘General Alarm’

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 25 JULY 42

From:  Governor and C in C Malta            To:  C in C Middle East              Rpt:  The War Office

1.  Enemy air activity fighter sweeps first three days, thereafter regular two main raids daily each about 5 JU 88 and 17 (or 15) fighters.  Anti-personnel and high explosive bombs on aerodromes.  Night raiders average 5 nightly except Monday when Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 out of 16.

Jamming of RDF etc continues.  Counter measures being investigated. 

Enemy aircraft casualties Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 at night.  RAF destroyed seven bombers, ten fighters; probably destroyed four fighters; damaged six bombers, six fighters.

Imtarfa Hospital

2.  Some damage to military billets and Imtarfa hospital.  Casualties 2 (or 6) Other Ranks killed 2 officers eleven Other Ranks wounded.

3.  Increased security precautions being taken on Gozo.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If there is no air raid in progress at 12 o’clock noon today, there will be a test of the new signal for the ‘General Alarm’.  The sirens will be sounded as though for an air-raid five times with intervals of half a minute between each sounding.  Half a minute after the last time the ‘All Clear’ will be sounded.  At the same time the church bells will be rung.  The public should not be alarmed; it will be nothing but a TEST.  If there is an air-raid in progress at noon, the test will be held immediately the raid is over. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JULY TO DAWN 26 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0700-0758 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME109s crossed the Island, and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack with pointer rounds.  Fighters do not engage.

0800-0825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1125-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover shipping near Zonqor.

1128-1155 hrs  Air raid alert. Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are sent up to avoid an approaching bombing raid.  Five JU88s drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali in the area west of No 15 Cave; some are suspected to be delayed action bombs.  Telephone communications are slightly disrupted.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1200 hrs  The General Warning Alarm is sounded throughout the Island as a test.

1325-1435 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol: nil report.

1355-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol.

1438-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron see four JU 88s with an escort of fifteen fighters but are unable to intercept before the bombers carry out a raid on Hal Far.  P/O Glazebrook destroys a Macchi 202; other fighters damage JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1615-1630 hrs; 1632-1700 hrs  Air raid alerts for a fighter sweep by three ME 109s.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1920-1945 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep by three ME 109s.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0405-0425 hrs   Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach but do not cross the coast; bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  New Channel (QBB 273) cleared of mines; 2 cut.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance shows that the number of JU 88s at Comiso has risen to 37 from 11 last week.

Arrivals  One Sunderland from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Sunderland to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 97.  Dealt with: High Explosives 18, including 6 delayed-action ( 2 x 500kg; 11 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg); 400 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in 1942, July 1942

 

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