5 January 1942: Malta’s Airfields Under Threat

05 Jan

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JU 87 dive-bomber

JU 87 dive-bomber


Intelligence from Cairo indicates that large scale dive-bombing attacks on Malta’s aerodromes are imminent. Large numbers of JU 87 (Stukas) have been moved from Germany and North Africa to Sicily. A shipping search spots one Italian Battleship, three cruisers and nine destroyers 200 miles east of Delimara. Army Infantry Brigades provide hundreds of men to maintain runways and dispersal areas at Luqa and Ta Qali, and keep Malta’s air forces flying. The prospect of an even greater escalation of enemy raids creates an urgent need for more ammunition for Malta’s anti-aircraft gunners.


From:  Governor & Commander in Chief Malta                  To:  The War Office, copy  Commander in Chief Middle East                                                  

Increased activity makes it desirable that all shipments to Malta should include proportion Ack Ack ammunition and spare barrels.  Request sufficient to replace expenditure from 1 Sept to date be dispatched first opportunity from Mideast.…  As a considerable number new AA barrels now dispersed in open at battery positions consider it essential that small reserve be held to replace new barrels damaged by hostile action.  Initial requirements have been included in this cable.


Weather  Cold and overcast; wind and driving rain for most of the day.  Wind E S E.

0326-0335 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea north of Salina Bay, without crossing the coast.

0420-0443 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops most bombs in the sea six miles north of Tigne without crossing the coast.  Some bombs on the Mellieha-Marfa Road, and on Siggiewi and Birkirkara causing casualties.

1110-1144 hrs  Approximately six plus aircraft approach from the north in two formations.  The first raid passes over Gozo, drops bombs and recedes.  The second raid comes in over Kalafrana crosses the Island and flies out over Grand Harbour.  Bombs land in Msida Creek and near Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack fires barrages from Hal Far, Luqa and the Harbour but aircraft are hidden among the clouds.

1200 hrs  All flying from Ta Qali airfield is cancelled.  The ground is waterlogged due to the heavy rain.

1216-1240 hrs  Three plus aircraft approach from the north above the clouds, pass over Grand Harbour and drop to 3000 feet before heading out over Delimara.  Bombs land near Gudja searchlight position and in Zabbar. Heavy Ack Ack fires an immediate barrage at 10000 feet and the Harbour barrage fires at 6000 feet.

1251-1318 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north above the clouds, dropping bombs in the sea near Madliena and then recedes without crossing the coast.  Gunners initially identify the aircraft as a Maryland, and do not engage.

1425 hrs Storm conditions are declared and remain until 1845 hrs.

1452-1512 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage at 10000 feet, and the aircraft immediately drop their bombs in the sea.  No Hurricanes are airborne.

1659-1716 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and circles Gozo, dropping bombs near Mgarr, and then recedes.  No Hurricanes are airborne.

Night 5/6th Dense cloud, squallish winds and bad visibility prevent air raids.  Two attempts by single aircraft fail; raiders are forced by Malta’s Ack Ack guns to jettison their bombs in the sea.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara Helen Cachia, age 48; Anthony Cachia, 8.


AIR HQ  Arrivals One Catalina, one Flamingo from Gibraltar.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF15 patrol; one Maryland special coast search Misrata.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol.

TA QALI  Advance party of 242 Squadron reported to take up operations with this Station.  47 NCOs and Other Ranks reported from Luqa, were accommodated and taken on ration strength.

300 men of the Manchester Regt, Irish Fusiliers and Buffs reported as labour corps to complete dispersal roads, aprons and shelters etc.  Three officers and 28 airmen of Delivery Flight ceased attachment at this station and returned to Luqa.

ARMY HQ  Major-General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC arrives by Catalina from the UK to take up duties of General Officer Commanding, Malta, relieving Major-General Scobell.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  On this and following days the Brigade found daily working parties of 150 men (11th Lancs Fusiliers: 50; 2nd Royal West Kent, 70; 1st Cheshire, 30) for the task of preparing new dispersal areas for the RAF at Luqa.  Working hours 0900-1600 hrs.



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Posted by on January 5, 2022 in 1942, January 1942


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