20 June 1940: Malta’s First Night Raids

20 Jun

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Sentries report mystery signal lights during enemy raids

Fort St Elmo

Fort St Elmo

At just before midnight tonight Malta’s population was awoken by the wailing sound of the air raid alert.  The alarm heralded the first night time air raid on the Island since the start of hostilities earlier this month.  The raider dropped bombs in the sea off St Elmo.  It was later reported that the 40,000 ton floating dock berthed beneath Corrodino Heights had been sunk. Malta’s searchlights were in action, as well as Anti-Aircraft batteries.

Two hours later the alert sounded again for a formation of ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped bombs on Marfa and Gozo, as well as in the sea off St Paul’s Bay.

Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral wrote in his diary: “It was full moon and we had been anticipating night trouble for days. It was highly unpleasant. I heard the drone of a plane about 11.55 pm, which I think must have woken me. It got louder and louder till it seemed to be overhead; and there was no gunfire. One of ours, I thought. Suddenly there was a frightful crump, and a blast of gunfire…Had I any hair on the top of my bald pate, I should say that I felt it standing on end.” (1)


The Governor today sent a message to the War Office asking for a notice to be placed in the UK press stating that all casualties are notified immediately to next of kin.  The message is in response to concerns expressed by Malta forces that their relatives may become unduly worried by recent publicity of Italian bombing raids over the Island.


Weather  Fine. 

1232-1243 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft passed over St Thomas’ Bay and St Julians at approximately 13,000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  No bombs were dropped.

2215 hrs  Capt Taylor of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers reports that lights seen near a defence post this evening were signaling.  The origin appears to be a nearby quarry but further investigation reveals nothing.

2217 hrs  Capt Taylor again reports signalling, this time coming from the right of Salina Palace Hotel, which is the location of the England for Ever Hotel.  Capt Taylor searched all houses in the vicinity but found nothing.  While the search was being conducted an enemy aircraft was heard passing overhead.  A special watch is to be kept on the quarry and the hotel area. 

2334-0005 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft flies over Malta and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara.

0010 hrs  A red Verey light is reported, operating from the direction of Hal Far.  A patrol sets out to investigate.

0045-0057 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft are spotted by searchlights: Ack Ack open fire and they are driven off.  One enemy aircraft flies over the Island and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara.

0130-1037 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea near St Elmo and near the floating dock, causing no damage.

0205-0245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten enemy aircraft in two formations approach Malta from the north, dropping four bombs on Gozo followed by others in the sea off St Paul’s Bay. 

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Felice Farrugia, age 47.


KALAFRANA  AC S Mangion and AC Bonnici to Military Hospital, Imtarfa.  1 recruit examined for fitness for RAF.  AC Abela transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa, from Fra San Diego Institute, Hamrun.

(1)  Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on June 20, 2020 in 1940, June 1940


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