28 February 1941: Mines on Valletta – 200 Homeless

28 Feb

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Communities in Valletta emerged from their shelters this morning to a scene of devastation following last night’s widespread dropping of parachute mines by enemy aircraft. 200 have now been made homeless across the city; most have been given temporary shelter at St Francis Convent in Kingsway. 

Parachute Mine (1)

Parachute Mine (1)

The damage from parachute mines is especially severe due to their operation. Although the bombs themselves are heavy, the parachute slows their descent so that they explode on or near the surface, causing maximum blast effect over a wide area.  One mine near the church of Our Lady of Pilar blew a crater 25 feet across, damaging the church and the adjacent convent.  The Auberge d’Aragon suffered the full force of mine blast which severely damaged its roof.  A nearby school was also structurally undermined.   

Arriving to marshal his men in the rescue operations, Adjutant of the Special Constabulary surveyed the destruction: “Glass was smashed all over the capital and houses wrecked over a wide area. Casualties were four dead and twenty injured – without our good shelters I hate to think of the figure which might have been reached. 

Two men were dug out of a cellar while I was there; one was in a pretty bad mess and did not survive. Another person was blown out of his bath into the street when the front of his house was sucked out by the blast.  He flew from a third storey but was not hurt.

Someone informed me that an unexploded mine had just been seen on a nearby roof, and would I please go to see whether it was dangerous! I sent an [Royal Engineers bomb disposal] chap and followed gingerly behind with my heart all a-throb, but it was only a cover-part of the exploded mine – to which was attached a piece of parachute…200 families are homeless in Valletta.” (2)


Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

Military casualties Lance-Corporal Francis Gilmore, Corps of Military Police; Sergeant Lewis John Frederick Godwin, Royal Air Force; Lance Corporal John Charles Kelly, Army Dental Corps, attached Royal Army Medical Corps; Pilot Officer Hubert Scadeng, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 19; Anthony Zammit, age 19.


ROYAL NAVY   At first light enemy aircraft laid mines at the entrance to the harbours and some in Grand Harbour. The Harbours are temporarily closed while the positions of mines is fixed. 

AIR HQ  Maryland photoreconnaissance Reci Maddelena, Cagliari, Elmas and Alghero at the special request of SO Forces N.  

KALAFRANA During the month Sunderlands of 228 Squadron carried out 12 patrols over a wide area in search of enemy shipping. Five communication flights were made by aircraft of 228 Squadron with important passengers and freight between Middle East and Gibraltar.  Several Sunderlands 10 Squadron RAAF and 230 Squadron arrived and departed conveying passengers between Middle East and UK.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland photoreconnaissance Maddelena, Cagliari, Elmas and Alghero.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: 24 officers, WOs 6, 132 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths: 27 officers, 509 other ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 46; dealt with 23.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strengths: 27 officers, 879 other ranks plus two permanently attached.

(1)  Bomb Fuze Collectors Net

(2) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012


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Posted by on February 28, 2021 in 1941, February 1941


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