14 February 1941: Mines Crush Homes in Valletta & Senglea – 5 Dead

14 Feb

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Heavy mines struck homes in Valletta and Senglea tonight, causing serious damage and killing civilians. The 314th air raid on Malta was the first of a series of three waves of attacks.  Over a period of three hours, ten JU 88 bombers dropped bombs, parachute mines and flares on all sides of Grand Harbour, as well as along the coast at Tigne and on St Thomas’ Bay.  Five civilians were killed and twenty injured when land mines landed in Valletta.  One landed on lower Merchants Street, damaging a primary school, a military billet and five tenement houses.  Rev Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, felt the blast:

“The worst thing was a parachute mine which descended upon a building about 300 yards from us. It went off with a most frightful shudder. This appears to be the latest devilry that we are to contend with. It brought down the building on which it fell, and partially destroyed some houses around.” (1)

Several mines landed across Senglea detonating on impact and destroying 25 houses and badly damaging 30, causing a shower of masonry so great that windows were broken in 150 more buildings, including some as far away as the Dockyard.

During the raids, bombs were dropped on Tigne Barracks causing slight damage and injuring one man. A number of anti-personnel mines were also laid round the beaches of Mellieha and in the sea off Fort St Elmo. 


From: Governor & C in C                       To:  War Office

Regret I cannot retract from my requirements stated in my telegram of 25 November 1940. A further ten officers and at least 150 other ranks are considered vitally necessary for the collection of casualties from heavy troop concentrations in widespread vulnerable areas and also for general maintenance.  Frontages are problematical and as an attack may develop from sea, air and landings, close contact with troops must be maintained by medical personnel adequate for heavy casualties.  Failing these reinforcements, the medical position in Malta is still considered insecure.

From: War Office                      To:  Governor & C in C

The use of field ambulances for the evacuation of casualties in Malta, taking into consideration the distances involved, is not considered justified. It is thought that main dressing stations are superfluous and that the chain of evacuation should be via regimental aid posts, supported by advanced dressing stations or reception stations, and thence direct to general hospitals.  If the personnel of 161 Field Ambulance together with the former Malta medical establishment is not considered enough for the collection of casualties, would it be possible to form a bearer company from locally enlisted personnel, if this were authorised?  If so, cable your proposals.


Weather  Dull at first, clear later.

1426-1513 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert for the first of three air raid alerts in which a total of ten enemy aircraft, believed to be JU 88 bombers, head towards the Island in close succession under clear night skies. They approach the coast at 10000 feet and then glide along it at heights varying between 300 and 2000 feet, dropping bombs, parachute mines and flares.  

Bombs are dropped near Camerata, destroying the Elementary School, then two mines are dropped in the Dockyard area. One mine is dropped in Grand Harbour near Ricasoli and another a quarter of a mile off the coast.  Bombs are dropped on Grand Harbour, St Elmo, Fort Leonardo, the Dockyard and Tigne areas, as well as in St Thomas’ Bay.  Five civilians are killed and 20 injured; one serviceman is slightly injured at Tigne Barracks.  

2150 hrs  One mine lands on lower Merchants Street in Valletta damaging the Model School and five houses and badly damaging the billet of B Company, 4th Bn The Buffs.  One man is cut by broken glass, the others are slightly shaken.  Two mines land in Senglea, destroying 25 houses badly damaging 30; 150 more have windows and doors blown in but are still habitable. Malta fighters are airborne through the raids; no interceptions.  An inspection later confirms that mines have been laid in the sea off Fort St Elmo.

One Fulmar is despatched to patrol the southern coast of Sicily with the aim of attacking aircraft returning from the raids: no results.

2340 hrs  All clear.

0014-0036 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses over Luqa aerodrome. Searchlights locate the plane, anti aircraft guns engage and the raider turns away without dropping any bombs.

0530-0600 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Joseph Aquilina, age 64; Speranza Borg, age 80; Philip Camilleri, age 63; Susanna Mercieca, age 85; Rosario Spagnol, age 14.


AIR HQ  Maryland photoreconnaissance of Catania. Photographs (not of whole area) show 12 JU 35s, 11 Heinkel 111s and eight CR 42s in the northern half.  A visual report cites a total of 12 JU 52 transport aircraft, 30 bombers and 12 fighters.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland photoreconnaissance Catania.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Field firing at Mayesa.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  19 Platoon, E Coy, acted as the enemy in a practice attack on Bingemma Fort.

(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 February 14, 2021 in 1941, February 1941


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