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Last night 21/22 October the British Air Force raided Naples and the territory of Catania. At Naples where the raid was carried out in five successive waves lasting five hours. Hundreds of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped [causing] very great fires to residential quarters. The fires were soon brought under control. 14 people were killed and 27 injured among the civilian population which showed wonderful calm and discipline. In [a nearby] neighbourhood the dropping of enemy bombs damaged some houses and killed one person while four others were injured. The anti-aircraft defence of Catania shot down an enemy bomber which crashed in flames near the coast.
A separate bulletin from Rome today claimed that Italian fighters this afternoon effectively machine-gunned aircraft on the ground at [Luqa] aerodrome and shot down six Hurricanes and set fire to another in an air battle. ‘One of our planes failed to return,’ the communique adds.
RECONNAISSANCE REPORT ON AIRCRAFT IN SICILY
- Catania: 62 aircraft including 23 fighters, 32 bombers and 7 JU 52 transport planes.
- Augusta: 22 aircraft including 8 Cant 506s and 4 Cant 501s afloat, 6 Cant 506 and 2 Cant 501 on the slipway.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1941
0714-0735 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach at great height, skirt the east and south coasts, turn eastwards and fly over the Island one mile north of Delimara. Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire a single barrage at 23000 feet. Eight Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.
0859-0925 hrs Air raid alert for three Macchi 200 fighters which approach from the north at 27000 feet and carry out reconnaissance, passing over Grand Harbour, Luqa and Kalafrana before receding northwards. Nine Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept. Ack Ack guns do not engage.
1242-1304 hrs Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft including Macchi 200s and Breda 65s which approach the Island at 23000 feet. Four Macchis dive down over Imtarfa to 1000 feet to machine-gun Ta Qali aerodrome, wounding two civilians and two RAF ground crew. There is no damage to aircraft. Heavy anti-aircraft guns at Targa and Ta Qali fire barrages and Bofors engage; no hits claimed. Six Hurricanes are scrambled; no interceptions.
1656-1718 hrs Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters with in-line engines approaching from the north. Five Hurricanes are scrambled to intercept. Two of the raiders remain at 17000 feet while the rest dive down to attack the Hurricanes individually at 11000 feet over St Paul’s Island. A ‘thrilling dogfight’ ensues watched by troops on the ground. F/O Matthews is attacked and hit by three different enemy fighters. His Hurricane is hit in the starboard and port wings and also near the glycol tank but manages to land safely. Sgt Owen’s aircraft is shot down in flames; he manages to bale out and is rescued from the sea, while S/Ldr Barton and Sgt Branch circle round the dinghy to protect him. Three other Hurricanes fire short bursts at the enemy but make no claims.
2236-2330 hrs Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island. Only one crosses the coast and drops a large number of 2kg anti-personnel bombs on the Qormi area. The other drops bombs in the sea 30 miles north of the Island before returning to base.
Military casualties Sergeant Ernest M G Davies, Wireless Operator, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 104 Squadron; Sergeant James D Woodburn, Royal Canadian Air Force, 18 Squadron, RAF.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER 1941
ROYAL NAVY Empire Guillemot, Dunedin Star and City of Lincoln sailed for Gibraltar at 1000 hrs.
AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Flamingo, 1 Sunderland, 2 Wellington. 18 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked a military barracks at Homs. Sgt Woodburn failed to return. 69 Squadron 3 Marylands special patrols; 1 Maryland patrol Kerkennah-Tripoli. 104 Squadron 1 Wellington attacked Naples. 4 Wellingtons attacked shipping at Tripoli.
1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT A Company is training 8 NCOs of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment in the Vickers machine-gun, as all units will operate many weapons not normally in their establishment.
2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT Main body of Battalion returned to Malta from Gozo.
1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Remainder of Battalion proceeded to Gozo to carry out company and battalion training and to relieve 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment who took over the Battalion sector at Malta.
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