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185 SQUADRON BEGINS OPS AT HAL FAR
A new fighter squadron begins operations in Malta today. 185 Fighter Squadron has been formed at Hal Far, giving the Island a second fighter force. The Squadron will be led by Flight Lieutenant P W O Mould, DFC and Bar, who is promoted to Squadron Leader on taking command. The additional fighter unit has been made possible by the arrival of from the Hurricanes which arrived on the Island in April. 261 Squadron will continue to operate from Ta Qali; one Flight of the unit has been transferred to the new squadron.
NAZI PRISONERS OF WAR CONFIDENT OF EARLY RESCUE FROM MALTA
Four German prisoners of war captured when their JU 88 bomber was brought down on 29 April have been interrogated at Corradino Prison. The prisoners are all members of Squadron 5th Staffel, 2nd Gruppo, based at Catania. They have been named as pilot Weldwebel Rudolf Lenzner, air gunner Unterofficizier Paul Kietzmann, observer Weldwebel Wilhelm Heller and wireless operator Helmut Hartlich.
According to the prisoners, nine aircraft of the same squadron left base on 29 April with orders to attack two cruisers and eleven destroyers in Grand Harbour. This was to be carried out in three formations, each being allotted certain targets shown from two previous reconnaissances that morning. They were met and escorted by two squadrons of ME 109s which came from another un-named aerodrome.
Sgt Major Heller stated that the JU 88s bomb release gear was damaged by Ack Ack fire and his bombs did not leave the plane (this cannot be confirmed). The prisoners are unanimous that Ack Ack shrapnel hit them squarely and set the aircraft on fire upon which they decided to bale out. Two of the crew had already done so before the Malta fighters came in. In spite of this, they all say that Malta’s Ack Ack is very poor, it has no effect on the pilot or crew; however the interrogator was with them during an air-raid when they saw an [enemy aircraft] hit by shrapnel and limp away – and he said there were no comments about our Ack Ack then.
The airmen’s morale is reported as excellent and they are well trained in security, resisting any attempt to give information which would assist the enemy. They are clean and disciplined, polite and smart. Air Gunner Kietzmann was wearing the Iron Cross (1st Class); he refused to give the details which earned him the decoration.
All four are 100 per cent Nazi and are confident of an early rescue and final victory of the Axis powers. On being asked how they would conquer the British Empire, they admitted they did not know but said that Adolf Hitler would accomplish this act as he had others. Lenzner maintained that “as sure as the sun rises, so will the Jewish problem develop to a crisis in Great Britain.” They would not be drawn into commenting on their Axis partner Italy but appeared to agree with remarks disparaging Italian fighting powers.
Three of them joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 and have flown together since before the war. All admitted to having made many trips over England and at least four over Malta. At the beginning of 1941 the Squadron was drafted to the Mediterranean where they have operated against Malta from Sicily several times. Heller’s crew took part in the attack on Illustrious, when he admitted the Luftwaffe suffered many losses, including a German air ace named Captain Wilhelm Duerbeck, holder of the German ‘Knights Cross’.
Asked why they had resorted to night attacks on Malta, they maintained that it was more profitable and referred to the Allied night raids over Germany. When challenged about indiscriminate bombing, they compared what is happening in Malta to what is happening in Germany – and said that the British started it first. Parachute mines were discussed with all the prisoners, who pleaded ignorance of their existence. They all stated that Junkers 88s invariably carry bombs. However, it seems very unlikely that they would be unaware of the mines.
Two complaints made by all the prisoners were registered as legitimate. It was recommended that the first should certainly be put right immediately and never repeated: articles of clothing and decorations (such as an Iron Cross, badges and stripes), personal papers and photographs and other items in their pockets were removed by someone on their way to internment and have not been passed on with other effects to the proper authority. This is considered doubly regrettable, as not only could this provoke negative propaganda in Germany, vital information has been lost. One prisoner is very desirous to have the photograph of his mother and girlfriend returned to him.
A telegram has been sent to the Commander in Chief Middle East giving identification details of the prisoners and confirming their wellbeing.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 MAY TO DAWN 13 MAY 1941
1003-1025 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance at 22000 feet escorted by six ME 109 fighters. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interceptions.
1027-1047 hrs Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance at over 22000 feet. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interceptions. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.
1305-1400 hrs The Radio Direction Finder indicates 30 enemy aircraft approaching in three formations. 17 Hurricanes are scrambled but the enemy remains at a distance of 10 miles.
1801-1835 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 escorted by four ME 109s which approach the Island and patrol five miles off the coast at 24000 feet. Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims. Hurricane fighters are scrambled; no interceptions.
2152-2320 hrs Air raid alert for 12-15 enemy aircraft which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on Luqa and Kalafrana, Rinella and Zabbar, Dragonara and St Georges Bay. In the Dockyard a heavy bomb collapses the roadway at Garden Reach and undermines a nearby store and wharf. A large bomb explodes at the Bighi Royal Naval Hospital, badly damaging two houses and the mortuary. The Laboratory and Administrative Blocks are also affected by blast. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.
0054-0115 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.
0205-0310 hrs Air raid alert for eight to ten enemy aircraft which cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on Luqa, between Luqa and Gudja (including Gudja camp with no casualties) and Kalafrana anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.
Civilian casualties Valletta Gerald Camilleri, age 33.
OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 12 MAY 1941
ROYAL NAVY Kelly, Kipling, Jaguar, Kashmir and Kelvin returned from Operation MD 4, having carried out a successful bombardment of Benghazi. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 2100 hrs Swordfish departed on offensive operations on a convoy sighted by a Maryland at 1638 hrs. 1 Flare Dropped and 4 strikes with torpedoes; one destroyer and one merchant vessel probably sunk.
AIR HQ 69 Squadron Maryland patrol off eastern Sicilian coast. Maryland patrol eastern Tunisian coast.
HAL FAR C Flight 261 Squadron ceased to exist. 185 Squadron was formed under the command of Squadron Leader Mould.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT A lecture was given to many officers on the Island by CSO1 Colonel Bedford on “The Defence of Malta”.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 4 (1 x 50kg; 2 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg).
1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 2150 hrs A stick of bombs is dropped on Battalion HQ; one bomb fell inside the camp compound destroying the PRI tent, the motor transport office and store tent. Three men were buried but were extricated unhurt. Three motorcycles were badly damaged.
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