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Albacores over Malta
ISLAND UNDER ALERT THROUGH THE NIGHT – HEAVIEST BOMBING FOR WEEKS
Malta suffered its heaviest night of bombing for many weeks tonight. Seven air raids sounded throughout the night in a bombing campaign which seemed to intend an air raid on the Island every hour. Italian Cant and BR 20 bombers approached from different directions and dropped a large number of large and small high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the Island.
In the first attack, a large bomb destroyed a house in Bur Marrad, St Paul’s Bay. Five civilians were killed and three people wounded, including two servicemen. According to military authorities, the traumatised villagers refused to accept help from the Army, saying they preferred to wait for the arrival of the demolition squad.
An hour after the all-clear the alert sounded for a single bomber approached the south-east coast but dropped bombs in the sea off Zonqor Point. Almost exactly an hour later, two more bombers approached and separated, one turning to approach from the north-west and dropping high explosive bombs near Mgarr, severing telephone lines. The second approached from the north-east then turned in towards St Thomas’ Bay, dropping high explosive bombs in the sea.
Shortly after 1am another bomber approached from the north west and dropped 2kg anti-personnel bombs near searchlight positions on Bajda Ridge. The alert sounded again an hour later, followed by a sixth but in both cases the raiders turned back before reaching the Island. The final alert came just before 5am when a single bomber approached Dingli from the west but dropped all bombs in the sea. The final all-clear sounded just 15 minutes later.
828 SQUADRON ARRIVES IN MALTA
A new Squadron arrived today to joined the Fleet Air Arm force at Hal Far. 828 Squadron, with 11 Albacores and one Swordfish will strengthen the torpedo bomber force in Malta, which has carried out many successful operations against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean.
The reinforcements left the UK under ‘Operation Call Boy’ on 1 October for Gibraltar, where they were transferred to the carrier HMS Ark Royal for shipment towards Malta. The Carrier sailed under escort two days ago through the western Mediterranean and reached a point early this morning from where the aircraft could take off for Malta. A second Swordfish destined for Hal Far which took off from Ark Royal did not arrive and is presumed lost. The pilot Sub Lt D Muller RNVR, and observer Sub Lt A Denby RNVR are missing.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1941
1125-1137 hrs Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which cross the Island on reconnaissance. Six Hurricanes are scrambled but unable to intercept due to height of raiders. No engagement by Ack Ack guns.
1522-1553 hrs Air raid alert for two Macchi 200s which cross the coast to the west of Delimara at great altitude, on reconnaissance. They fly northwards over Ta Qali, turn about over Gozo and fly down the east coast of Malta, then turn over Luqa to Delimara, eventually receding northwards. Anti-aircraft guns fire pointer rounds. Nine Hurricanes are airborne but unable to intercept.
Night Seven air raid alerts sound through the night. Two Hurricanes at a time are airborne but there are no searchlight illuminations and no interceptions.
2046-2120 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy bombers which approach the Island separately from the west and north. Large high explosive bombs are dropped in the sea near Filfla and in the St Paul’s Bay area. A house is demolished at Bur Marrad. Five civilians are killed and one seriously wounded. One soldier of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is seriously injured in the ankle and another slightly. According to military authorities, villagers refused help from the Army, saying they preferred to wait for the arrival of the demolition squad.
2219-2244 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which drops high explosive bombs in the sea east of Zonqor Point.
2321-2351 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching separately from the north west and north east. The first drops 12kg bombs on land near Mgarr, severing telephone lines, and in the sea off Ghain Tuffieha. The second drops bombs in the sea six miles east of St Thomas’ Bay.
0117-0137 hrs Air raid alert for an enemy aircraft which approaches from the north west and drops 25 x 2kg bombs near Bajda Ridge searchlight positions; no damage or casualties.
0215-0225 hrs; 0338-0348 hrs Air raid alert; raids do not materialise.
0455-0510 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches from the west to within eight miles of Dingli and drops high explosive bombs in the sea before receding westward.
Civilian casualties St Paul’s Bay (Bur Marrad) Francis Bonnici, age 50; Carmela Bonnici, age 44; Joseph Bonnici, age 16; Frances Bonnici, age 6; Emanuel Bonnici, age 4.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 1941
ROYAL NAVY Truant proceeded on patrol in Adriatic. Rorqual left for minelaying, and thence to Gibraltar. 828 Squadron of eleven Albacores arrived, ex operation Call Boy.
AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. Departures 1 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a factory north of Crotone. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols south eastern Tunisian coast and special patrol. Photoreconnaissances Palermo, Trapani, Taranto and Naples. 221 Squadron 1 Wellington on convoy search. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 6 Swordfish were sent to attack a convoy of 4 merchant ships and 4 destroyers. At least one merchant ship was hit, with fires visible for 10 miles.
HAL FAR Eleven Albacore aircraft No 828 Squadron arrived at Hal Far under the command of Lt/Cdr Langmore.
TA QALI New airmen’s barrack block taken over.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (500kg).
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