24 April 1941: Infantrymen Killed Manning Heavy Guns

24 Apr

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Four members of 4th Battalion The Buffs were among five servicemen reported killed tonight while they were helping to man an anti-aircraft gun normally handled by the Royal Artillery.  Another member of the Battalion was badly injured. 

HMS Gloucester suffered near-miss

HMS Gloucester suffered near-miss

The Buffs were assigned temporarily to fire the 40mm Bofors gun at Salvatore Gate as an emergency measure, due to the acute shortage of Royal Artillery gunners in Malta. They were assisting with the anti-aircraft barrage during a heavy hour-long raid this evening by 30 enemy aircraft on the Dockyard area, Luqa and Hal Far.  A bomb landed on the Buffs’ gun position; one Royal Artillery gunner also manning the gun was killed and another injured.

The casualties have been named as Corporal J C Miles, Privates J E Duncan, S L Matthews and H F G Woodward, 4th Battalion The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), and Gunner E Holton, 59 LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

HMS Gloucester  which had just arrived in Malta with another cruiser, destroyers and a mine-layer suffered a near-miss in the raid.


Malta’s capital city was again heavily bombed in tonight’s air raid. Buildings were demolished in St Frederic Street, where people were trapped in a shelter.  First on the scene was the Dominican Father Charles Ciantar, the Air Raid Warden of the area, who kept an up-to-date chart showing all the private shelters under his charge and the number of people who usually take refuge in them.  Police and ARP men were soon on the spot.  Even Greek Orthodox priests tried to help. All the trapped people were brought out safely. (1)


Weather  Fine.    

2038-2155 hrs   Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft which approach from the north singly, and in twos and threes. Using flares to illuminate targets, they bomb St Angelo, Grand Harbour, Valletta – causing considerable damage to civilian and government property – Floriana and Msida, as well as Hal Far and Luqa, where a barrack block is destroyed and a hangar set on fire.  One Maryland and one Magister are written off; three Marylands are damaged.  Unexploded bombs are reported across the aerodrome.  Parachute mines are laid in and off Grand Harbour; mines are also reported off Rocco, Dragonara Point and Tigne.  A bomb falls on a Bofors gun position at Salvatore Gate manned by NCOs and men of A Company, 4th Bn The Buffs, killing one Corporal and three privates and injuring another.  One member of the Royal Artillery is also killed and one wounded.  The gun position is destroyed but the gun is undamaged.  Anti-aircraft guns fire predicted barrages and Bofors engage the mine-laying aircraft. 

Military casualties  Private John Ernest Duncan, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Gunner Ernest Holton, 59th LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Sydney Levi Matthews, 4th Battalion, The Buffs; Corporal John Charles Miles, 4th Battalion, The Buffs; Private Harry Frederick George Woodward, 4th Battalion, The Buffs.


ROYAL NAVY  Gloucester arrived to support the destroyers. She suffered a near-miss in a heavy bombing and minelaying attack after dark

AIR HQ 69 Squadron Two Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast, one on northern sector AM, the second on southern sector PM. 148 Squadron 2 Wellington bombers night raid on Tripoli Harbour.   

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Sgt Crook who was in charge of the Bofors gun at Salvatore Gate hit by bombs tonight was congratulated for his performance during the crisis.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  4 officers and NCOs attended a bomb reconnaissance course. 0445 hrs  Another practice general alarm was held; companies were definitely quicker to their posts.  News was received that we may expect the party back from ‘Picnic’ shortly.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1.

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


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Posted by on April 24, 2021 in 1941, April 1941


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