19 January 1942: Over 70 Attackers in 3 Hours as Convoy Arrives

19 Jan

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72 enemy aircraft attacked Malta today as an incoming convoy approached bringing essential supplies to the Island.  A massive attempted raid on the convoy at 1230 hrs was driven off by Malta’s Hurricane squadrons, airborne to protect the vessels.  Less than an hour later, raiders returned for a heavy bombing raid on the Hurricane base at Ta Qali, causing heavy casualties in the town of Mosta.  All ships arrive safely in Grand Harbour.


Clan Ferguson

Ajax, Clan Ferguson and City of Calcutta steamed into Grand Harbour this afternoon, bringing reinforcements and 30000 tons of supplies for Malta. (1)  The convoy left Alexandria on 16 January in two groups, with the aim of dividing the attention of the enemy, before merging yesterday for the final run to Malta.  The Island’s Royal Navy Force K set out to relieve the protection vessels and cover the convoy’s approach, supported by RAF Hurricane aircraft.


Weather  Wind south west.  80% low clouds.  Bright periods with thundery showers.

Dawn  An enemy submarine is sighted five miles ahead of the incoming convoy, off the Island of Filfla; two Albacores go to attack but are shot down by an ME109 (the crew is rescued).

0831-0856 hrs  One JU88 bomber and three ME109 fighters pass near the incoming convoy of six destroyers and three merchant ships, to the south of the Island.  Hurricanes are up covering the convoy: no engagements.

0911-0939 hrs  One aircraft approaches Gozo from the north and recedes.  Hurricanes are up but do not engage.

1227 hrs  20 JU 88s with fighter escort attempt to attack the incoming convoy, which is protected by Hurricanes.

1300 hrs Hurricane SU 174 crash lands at Luqa, damaged by enemy fire: the pilot is uninjured.

1315 hrs  JU 88s attack Ta Qali, dropping nine bombs on the aerodrome and leaving four craters on the aerodrome surface.  Two direct hits on a rock shelter cause part of the roof to cave in.  A dispersal hut of 249 Squadron is damaged, one Hurricane, one Blenheim damaged.  Another Blenheim is damaged by fire.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

Bombs are also dropped on Hal Far and on Mosta, where at least thirteen civilians and three airmen are killed.  Three more people are seriously wounded; fifteen slightly injured and in shock. One RAF billet at 122 Eucharistic Road is destroyed, another at 9 Tower Street is damaged.  Two motor buses and one lorry are damaged.

1447 hrs  Raiders passed.  The convoy enters Grand Harbour undamaged.

1517-1546 hrs  One JU 88 crosses the Island from south to north over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engages; fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1717-1811 hrs  42 aircraft (JU 88s and escorting ME 109s)  approach from the north.  Five ME 109s dive down to 400 feet and attack Swordfish aircraft on Hal Far airfield, damaging one.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the ME 109s, damaging one.  The JU 88s cross over Kalafrana and drop bombs in a Wied [river valley] near Hal Far, and 200 yards off the coast.  There is no attack on the convoy in Grand Harbour.

2022-2048 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

2114-0144 hrs  Three aircraft approach during this period and carry out patrols around the Island, dropping bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages but operations are modified due to take-off and landing of friendly aircraft.

0206-0303 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and patrol round the Island, crossing the coast before receding.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages.  Bombs are dropped near Mellieha, Ta Silch and Hal Far.  One airman is killed at Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack operations are modified due to take-off and landing of friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  LAC Harold Greenacre, RAF, 249 Squadron; LAC James Sim, RAF; Cpl John Small, RAF, 249 Squadron; Private John Spiteri, 3rd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Gunner Samuel Vickers, 10th HAA Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Luigi Barbara, age 60, Ines Bugeja, age 4, Joe Bugeja, age 7, Karmnu Buguja, age 5, Karmnu Bugeja, age 58, Mariana Bugeja, age 43, John Caruana, age 7, Francesca Riolo, age 71, Sunta Riolo, age 30, John Spiteri, age 23, Orazju Schembri, age 19, Evangelista Vella, age 34, John Vincenti, age 45; Lija John Fenech, age 27.

Enemy casualties  Alfred Beier; Kurt Krause; Waldemar Nikolay; Sebastian Pietschnig.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Swordfish from 235 Wing.

HAL FAR Two Albacores 828 Squadron carried out anti-submarine patrol.  One Albacore was shot down into the sea by enemy fighters (ME 109s).  The crew, S/Lt Howson and ALA Hedgman were rescued; both were wounded.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland Cairo 5 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 4a patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance North African aerodromes.  21 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked Catania aerodrome.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Squadrons operating from Luqa, attached there for the day.  Four Hurricane bombers 249 Squadron proceeded Comiso and attacked target from 15000 feet.  Fires started: no opposition.  All aircraft returned by 0810 hrs.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  X Squadron, 6th Bn Royal Tank Regiment (OC Major Longworth, RTR) arrived in Malta and was placed forthwith under CIB for admin.  They are accommodated in the area of Verdala Palace.  From today to end of January the CIB will provide working parties of 400 men for extension of dispersal areas at Luqa: allocated 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers 170, 1st Bn Cheshire Regt 130, 2nd Bn Royal West Kents 100.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B & C Companies carried out the firing of the pistol course today.  Training is becoming more difficult daily.  We are now providing 130 men daily for working parties on Luqa aerodrome.  In addition today we have to find 20 men for unloading of a convoy of three ships.  This will probably last ten days.

2ND BN DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 150-200 men engaged in building 2000 yards runway at Hal Far until further orders.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 6 (4 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg, 1 x Thermos) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  “This convoy brought in 20 Bofors 40mm AA guns together with 21 officers and 412 OR of 65th LAA Regiment. 8 A9 and A13 Cruiser tanks were also unloaded, to be manned by 85 officers and men of A Squadron, 6th Royal Tank Regiment. The ships also brought the first 4000-lb aircraft bombs to arrive in Malta for the RAF’s Wellingtons, 18 being unloaded. ”  Robert Dimech

“My great Uncle died on that day – he was a member of the 65th LAA regiment – the family story is that he went down on a ship in Malta but we have no further information and this looks like a good candidate.”  Roger Bradbury


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Posted by on January 19, 2022 in 1942, January 1942


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