13 May 1941: Disabled Refugees and Children Saved by ‘Miracle’ Bell

13 May

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A home for elderly and disabled people at Qormi escaped destruction this afternoon in an event which its Spiritual Director has described as ‘miraculous’. The home was evacuated from the Three Cities to Qormi last year. 

The home’s alarm bell sounded at around 2pm, as enemy bombers were crossing the east coast heading for Luqa aerodrome. As residents of the home and pupils of the village school headed for an underground shelter, the home’s caretaker rushed towards the Spiritual Director saying he had not rung the bell as he had not received the customary call from the Police.  At that moment, a terrific explosion rocked the building, shrouding it in a thick cloud of dust.  It was only then that the air raid alert sounded over the village.

The question of how the bell was rung remains a mystery, which the Spiritual Director has described as a “truly miraculous deliverance, which could have resulted in one of the worst tragedies to befall Malta through the war”. He added that five days ago, on “the feast of Our Lady of Pompeii, I conducted a Service in the chapel; as if having a premonition of an impending disaster, I urged everyone to pray devoutly”.   Today he believes those prayers were answered. (1)


Troops have been warned today that, owing to the presence of mines all round the coast and at many places inside the harbours, bathing is dangerous. Bathing may be allowed at the bather’s own risk everywhere it is possible, except in the special danger area near the entrances to the Grand and Marsamxetto Harbours, ie from Ras il Gebel to Sliema Point.


Weather  Fine.

0735-0753 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 bomber which carries out reconnaissance escorted by three ME 109 fighters.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1342-1421 hrs  Air raid alert for a small formation of bombers escorted by 25 ME 109s approaching the Island from the east.  Bombs are dropped on the Luqa aerodrome damaging one Wellington bomber, and on Tal Handaq, Marsa Creek and Ta Qali, Qormi and Hamrun, where 10 houses are destroyed, one civilian is killed and 12 injured, five seriously.  Qormi New Chapel and Government School are destroyed.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled; ME 109s swoop down from 20000 to 10000 feet to attack them.  Two Hurricanes are shot down; pilot P/O P J A Thompson is killed, the other pilot bales out and is slightly injured.

0001-0402 hrs Air raid alert for 18 enemy aircraft approaching from the north east.  They head directly for Luqa, dropping 12 high explosive bombs on the airfield.  Three Maryland aircraft are damaged – two will be unserviceable for at least 12 days; one is lorry destroyed, two barrack blocks and the NAAFI are damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on Imtarfa Hospital, destroying the Royal Engineers office and one lorry.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled, one of which engages and damages one Heinkel HE 111 bomber which is illuminated by searchlights.  Anti-aircraft guns fire several barrages.  Two Beaufighters are scrambled and pursue the raiders back to their base in Sicily where they attempt to attack them during landing; no claims.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Peter John Alfred Thompson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 261 Squadron; Rev Albert Edward Farrugia Bugeja, Royal Army Chaplains’ Department att. Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Adorata Scicluna, age 60.


AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli reported two convoys.  Maryland eastern Tunisian coast. 

HAL FAR  F/Lt Westmacott injured in aerial combat.

LUQA  Two Beaufighters 252 Squadron patrolled Sicilian coast to intercept enemy raiders returning from Malta; no interceptions.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion is responsible for the defence of the area of Grand and Marsxamxett Harbours. D Company had an early morning exercise “General Alarm” with Southern Infantry Brigade.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 22; dealt with 0.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Two companies are responsible for the defence of the Qrendi and Safi landing strips; the remainder are in reserve.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  28 pdr cable Camerata to St Elmo and 28 pdr St James to St Elmo cut by enemy action now repaired.

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


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Posted by on May 13, 2021 in 1941, May 1941


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