24 November 1940: Civilians Risk Their Lives Watching Raids

24 Nov

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Civilians slow to head for shelters

Civilians slow to head for shelters


The Times of Malta today highlighted the fearlessness of the civilian population who it seems like nothing more than watching as the Island’s fighters and anti-aircraft guns fight off enemy raiders:  “Our gunners and our fighters may be well-assured of a good audience watching their feats…from improvised grand stands all over Malta…City life was little disturbed. It was cinema and shopping hour.  Cinemas stopped only while the barrage was actually on.”

However, those concerned for public safety are deeply concerned at civilians’ enthusiasm for remaining out of shelter during raids. In an official letter the ARP Centre in Floriana reported that in yesterday morning’s air raid some 70 per cent of the local population was out of doors, running from one street to another despite ongoing anti-aircraft fire.  The letter is one of a number sent to the Inspector of Police expressing concern and asking that the police should be more insistent that civilians take shelter so that such incidents can be avoided.

However, another letter from the ARP Centre at Mosta attributed some of the blame to the Times itself: “When the maroons are fired, instead of running to a safe place people by the hundreds go outdoors and on terraces to watch the aeroplanes. The shelters…are only being utilised as public conveniences.  The public…is much influenced by what is written in the local papers: the Times of Malta, to quote an instance, encourages the public to disobey the air raid orders – are they laws? – by the thrilling description of air-fights, falling of planes in flames, and parachutists who bale out…” (1)


Weather  Fine.

1707-1743 hrs  Air raid alert for six Italian CR42 fighters which carry out a low-flying machine-gun attack at dusk on Luqa aerodrome. One Wellington on the ground is hit by incendiary bullets and burned out; another two are damaged.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack guns of the aerodrome’s ground defences engage the raiders, damaging one aircraft.  The rest escape into cloud.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Joseph Faiella.


1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  All available personnel attended church parade at St Dominic’s, Rabat.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Message sent out re futility of engaging high flying aircraft with light machine gun fire.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Ltd Malta, 1981


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Posted by on November 24, 2020 in 1940, November 1940


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