8 April 1941: Mine Explosion Kills 28 Maltese Dockyard Men

08 Apr

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE  

Get daily updates direct to your computer – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) 

Mooring vessel Moor

Mooring vessel Moor


A working dockyard vessel was blown up today at the entrance to Grand Harbour. 28 of the 29 man crew were killed.  The Admiralty Mooring Vessel Moor was carrying out maintenance work on the boom-defence nets protecting the harbour entrance. Shortly after 5.00pm, as the vessel started its engine to return to the dockyard, a deafening explosion shook buildings across the harbour area.  People rushed to the Bastions, only to watch as the vessel turned over on her side and rapidly sank.

A ferry boat, several Naval Dockyard and Air Force pinnaces and many dghajsas raced to the scene.

Only one survivor, diver/rigger Anthony Mercieca, was plucked from the water by a Naval vessel and taken to Bighi Royal Naval Hospital.  

Mr Mercieca later described his escape. He was blown into the air inside the ship’s cabin, before plunging about twenty feet under water.  He struggled to force open the jammed cabin door and managed to surface, while debris from the vessel was still flying about.

Royal Navy vessels are conducting a thorough search of the location of Moor, 270 yards from Ricasoli Breakwater Light Vessel. (1) (2) (3)


Weather  Storm conditions; heavy rain in the morning, easing by evening.

No air raids.

1500 hrs  Mooring vessel Moor is blown up by an enemy mine at the rear entrance to Grand Harbour. 28 out of 29 on board are killed.

Military casualties  Gunner S Agius, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Michael Aquilina, Joseph Bartolo, Louis Bezzina, Alfred Bonnici, Joseph Brincat, Joseph Calleja, Peter Calleja, Vincent Camilleri, Raphael Cauci, Emanuel Darmanin, Francis Degabriele, Spiro D’Emmanuele, Dominic Flores, Lawrence Grima, Emanuel Hatchings, Joseph Mazzelli, John Mizzi, Emanual Psaila, Eugenio Spiteri, Lawrence Tabone, Angelo Vella, Gerald Vella, Paul Vella, John Mary Xerri, Vincent Xerri, George Zahra, Carmel Zammit, crew members of the Mooring Vessel Moor.


ROYAL NAVY  Mooring vessel Moor mined and sunk inside Grand Harbour by aircraft land mine; only one survivor. 

AIR HQ  Departures 2 Sunderland.  

HAL FAR  New orders issued for clearing of target area on ‘General Alarm’.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland L5806 left for United Kingdom with Mr Anthony Eden. Sunderland L5807 left for Gibraltar with passengers and freight.

(1) Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

(2) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

(3) A marble tablet at the Upper Barracca Gardens in Valletta commemorates the twenty-eight Maltese workers who went down with their ship


All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 8, 2021 in 1941, April 1941


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: