24 December 1941: 16 Killed in Christmas Eve Raids

24 Dec

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An audacious air raid on Malta’s Grand Harbour was launched this morning by four German JU88 bombers accompanied by a protective force of 36 fighter aircraft.  They carried out a dive-bombing attack on the Harbour area, demolishing a number of houses.  Three civilians and two military personnel were killed, with another four people injured.


Anti-aircraft Guns Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

The Ack Ack guns of the Harbour defences opened fire on the incoming planes, damaging two JU88s.  Seventeen Hurricanes took off from Ta Qali to engage the enemy.  They succeeded in destroying the same two JU88s, which dropped into the sea, as well as ‘probably destroying’ a third.

The Luftwaffe returned in similar formation just after 1pm for another attack on Grand Harbour in which two civilians were injured.  Ack Ack gunners destroyed another JU88.  One Hurricane was also shot down by enemy fighters; the pilot was declared missing after the raid.  He has been named as 25 year old Flight Sergeant Francis Emery of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.


From:  Gov & C in C Malta                  To: The War Office

Have discussed this question with Myrtel, passing through and he concurs a squadron of American or Valentine Tanks should be suitable here.  If provided request present equipment Malta Tank Troop of four “I” Tanks and two light tanks be turned over to Infantry for use on aerodromes.  Do not consider obsolete light tanks offered to Bedford would be of sufficient value to justify shipping space involved.


0946-1031 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four JU 88s escorted by 36 fighters crossed the coast and dive-bombed Grand Harbour.

1301-1358 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Four JU 88s escorted by 30 fighters attacked Grand Harbour.

1553-1625 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One JU 88 escorted by five ME 109s crossed the Island on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged by height control.

2001 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approached from the north and circled the Island; bombs were dropped in the sea. 

2304-0011 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise. 

Civilian casualties  Gzira Anthony Abdilla, age 28; Rabat Carmel Borg, age 39; Qormi Vincent Cachia, age 65, Hamrun Samuel Cauchi, age 55, Valletta Antonia Frendo, age 19; Victoria, Gozo Carmela Borg, age 23.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Isaac Paul, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Kenneth Hewson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 107 Squadron; Gunner John Vaughan, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Samuel Ginies, Royal Army Medical Corps; Signalman Albert Ward, Royal Corps of Signals.

Enemy casualties  Obergefreiter Walter Kersken; Obergefreiter Hermann Kunz; Unteroffizier Werner Lessner, JU 88 bomber pilot; Leutnant Siegfried Tack, JU 88 bomber pilot; Feldwebel Nikolaus Wand. 


ROYAL NAVY  Group II arrived from Gibraltar.  Minefield off Grand Harbour being swept by all sweepers available.  Headquarters Lascaris near-missed by two heavy bombs.

AIR HQ  Departures  Four Wellingtons and one Beaufighter for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 23/24th  Four Swordfish 830 Squadron and five Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to locate and attack shipping off Tripolitana.  Nothing was sighted.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland special search; one Maryland special search for convoy.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR) One Maryland special PR Tripolitania; one PR Unit 2 North African aerodromes.  18 Squadron One Blenheim special search Gulf of Sirte; one Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol.  107 Squadron Three Blenheims attacked schooners in Zuara Harbour.  Aircraft E Sgt Crossley crashed.  P/O Paul of aircraft C was killed by a cannon shell.  40 Squadron Nine Wellingtons attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.  One Wellington nuisance raid Tripoli.

TA QALI  0946-1624 hrs  Three alerts.  Seventeen Hurricanes airborne.  Two enemy aircraft destroyed and one probable.  Hurricanes airborne.  One failed to return.  F/Sgt F R Emery missing.  2001-0435 hrs  Four alerts.  Three raiders crossed the coast.  Bombs dropped around the aerodrome.  Hurricanes airborne.  No interceptions.  Anti-aircaft fired during last alert.

HQ FIXED DEFENCES  0945 hrs  Enemy aircraft dropped bombs very close to HQ.  No casualties; slight damage.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 1 (500kg).


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Posted by on December 24, 2021 in 1941, December 1941


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