2 November 1940: Villagers Surround Crashed Italian Plane

02 Nov

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Civil police were the target of criticism today after crowds of civilians flocked unimpeded to the site of a crashed Italian aircraft. The Macchi 200 was engaged in an air raid over Malta today when it was attacked by a Hurricane and crashed between Zeitun and Hompesch.  Villagers from both communities immediately rushed to the scene and surrounded the wreckage, before a protective cordon could be established.  Military chiefs questioned the efficiency of the police who, they said, had not acted quickly enough to secure the area and keep the public away.  

The body of the Italian pilot was found near his aircraft; observers reported that he baled out but his parachute failed to open fully. He was confirmed dead by the military inspecting officer, who commented on the inferior quality of the parachute equipment.  The pilot has since been named as Abramo Giuseppe Lanzarini; his rank is unknown.

Adrian Warburton

P/O Adrian Warburon


A RAF navigator saved the life of himself and his pilot today after their Maryland was attacked by four Italian fighter aircraft. The Maryland of 431 Flight was on a reconnaissance mission to photograph Taranto harbor when the Italian fighters attacked.  A bullet struck the nose of the aircraft and hit Pilot Officer A Warburton, knocking him unconscious. 

As the aircraft plunged into a steep dive, Observer/Navigator Sergeant Frank Bastard acted fast, manoeuvering the unconscious pilot aside and grabbing the controls himself. He managed to stabilise the aircraft and keep it on a steady course until the pilot regained consciousness.  F/O Warburton was sufficiently recovered to fly safely back to Malta. (1)


Weather  Fine.

1228-1336 hrs Air raid alert for five Italian formations totalling 20 SM79 bombers accompanied by some 30 Macchi 200 and CR42 fighters which approach from the north and fly over the Island. Bombs are dropped four miles in front of Fort St Elmo.  Anti-aircraft guns open fire, splitting the first bomber formation.  Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled and attack the raiders in several dogfights at 17000 feet. 

One Macchi 200 is brought down by a Hurricane between Zeitun and Hompesch. The pilot bales out but his parachute fails to open fully and he is killed.  A second Macchi is possibly destroyed by another Hurricane.  Two CR42s are also damaged by fighters.  Ack Ack guns split the formations and shoot down one enemy aircraft.   After a brief lull bombers and fighters cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa hitting a hangar on the aerodrome, and on Zabbar, demolishing four houses.  2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment carries out a search for unexploded bombs on the aerodrome: three are reported.  No military or civilian casualties are reported.

Military casualties Sergente Abramo Giuseppe Lanzarini, 72a Squadriglia, 17o Gruppo, 1o Stormo, pilot of Macchi C200 fighter.                                                   


8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Fatigue parties cleaning Strickland House.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Despatch of Italian machine guns to UK. Bomb Disposal UXB High Explosive 1 Luqa.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Molotoff cocktail trials. 1800 hrs Cycle patrol mounted at Luqa. 

(1) For his actions Sergeant Bastard was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.


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Posted by on November 2, 2020 in 1940, November 1940


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