25 October 1941: Heavy Daylight Raid on Grand Harbour

25 Oct

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Cant Z 1007 bomber

Cant Z 1007 bomber


Italian aircraft launched a heavy air raid in broad daylight this morning on Grand Harbour, now the base of Force K of the Mediterranean Fleet, in an attack reminiscent of the Illustrious blitz in January. The alert sounded just before mid-day, when four Cant 1007 bombers were reported approaching the Island with an escort of 16 fighters. 

The fighters remained off the coast while the bombers, flying in ‘Vic’ formation, headed directly for Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes attacked the bomber formation as it approached, damaging one of the Cants.  The now experienced Harbour gunners put up a massive barrage.  However, they could not prevent bombers from crossing the Harbour and dropping sixteen 250kg high explosives across the area. 

Four of the bombs hit a fuel depot at Vittoriosa, starting a massive fire from which thick smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air. All available fire engines of the Dockyard Police, Army and Civil Police were called to the scene and were still fighting the blaze tonight.  A large quantity of precious kerosene has already been destroyed.

Seven houses were damaged and three civilians injured in the raid. Hurricanes shot down at least one Macchi fighter and damaged one bomber.  One Hurricane failed to return and a sea search has been mounted for the missing pilot.


38 Squadron left Malta today after completing its tour of duty on the Island. The Squadron has been here since 6 August, when seven aircraft were detached to the Island from Shallufa, Egypt for operations over the Mediterranean and Italy. The Wellington bombers have carried out many successful raids on Axis convoys, as well as targets in southern Italy and Libya.


Weather  Fine.

0941-0957 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters approaching the Island at 27000 feet and cross the Island, probably on reconnaissance. Four Hurricanes are airborne but there is no engagement.

1152-1245 hrs  Raid 909  Air raid alert for four enemy Cant 1007 bombers escorted by 16 fighters approaching the Island from the north. Only the bombers cross the coast and drop sixteen 250kg bombs on Grand Harbour, including in Kalkara Creek and French Creek.  Seven houses are damaged and three civilians injured.  A stick of four bombs hits the fuel depot at Fort San Salvatore, causing an intense fire.

A terrific barrage is put up over Grand Harbour. Seven Hurricanes are scrambled and reach 17000 feet to the north east of Grand Harbour where they spot the bombing formation slightly ahead and below.  The bombers turn to port and the Hurricanes attack the bomber on the right flank from the stern, damaging it badly and stopping its port engine.  One Hurricane engages a Macchi 200 fighter, leaving it with smoke pouring out.  The wreckage of one Macchi is later found in the sea.  The Hurricane of Sgt E Knight fails to return; a search is in progress.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ernest G Knight, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Enemy casualties  Pilot Tenente Colonello Eugenio Leotta, Commander of 4o Stormo


ROYAL NAVY  Thunderbolt arrived from patrol for docking. Clan Ferguson was recalled owing to her being attacked by enemy aircraft sixty miles west of Malta.  She re-entered harbour at 0900 hrs but no serious damage was sustained. Force K sailed to intercept three enemy destroyers.  

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Blenheim. Departures 1 Clare, 1 Sunderland, 10 Wellington. S/D Flight 1 Wellington special search. 18 Squadron 5 Blenheims attacked barracks at Misurata.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands special patrols.  1 Blenheim patrol east Sicilian coast.  Photoreconnaissance south western Sicily. 104 Squadron 3 Wellingtons on nuisance raid of Arab quarters in Tripoli. 107 Squadron 6 Blenheims attacked targets on the Zuara-Benghazi road. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1.


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Posted by on October 25, 2021 in 1941, October 1941


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