5 February 1942: 88 Aircraft Attack This Morning

05 Feb

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  • Enemy exploits fine weather to launch 14 air raids
  • 54 aircraft in a single attack
  • Heavy bombing along north coast
  • Officers and civilians killed
  • Airman’s body found washed ashore


“On Thursday February 5th the Clergy had a one-day retreat at Holy Trinity, Sliema. There were 16 of us. At 10.40 during the first lesson of Mattins a fearful barrage broke out over Sliema. The whole district rocked, the Church trembled, the crashing of buildings and of broken glass. Everybody sat tight, but our hearts were in our mouths, and I felt myself go white. Thomas who was reading the lesson carried on, shouting the guns down and bombs with his tremendous voice. The noise died down and a few moments later there was a whisper at the church door and Farrie fetched his surplice. He had been sent for to see Miss Yabsley [an elderly retired headmistress who had been standing at her front door when a bomb struck the house.  She] had been badly injured and was lying at the Blue Sisters Hospital. He took her the Blessed Sacrament, and she died within an hour.

Her house had had a direct hit. She was not in her shelter, but her maid, who was, was uninjured. Her great friend with whom she lived was out shopping and escaped. The retreat was abandoned as the Military Chaplains were anxious to see about their casualties. There was another bad raid on Manoel Island that afternoon.” (1)


Weather  50% cloud; wind southerly.  Bright periods; warmer.

0750 hrs  Two aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali, followed by two more at 0815 hrs; they join up at Luqa – no interceptions.

0843-0859 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters chase a returning friendly aircraft but recede before coming within range of the guns.

1010 hrs  Two Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali; no interceptions.

1012-1122 hrs  21 plus aircraft approach from the north (six JU 88 bombers and ME 109s), and pass over Ta Qali and Grand Harbour areas.

1040-1100 hrs  Bombs are dropped east of Hamrun, on St George’s, Sliema, Manoel and Lazaretto Creek, Cospicua, St Edward’s College and Marsa Creek.  Manoel Command Post receives a direct hit: two Ack Ack officers are killed and several injured. Bombs on St George’s Bay strike a billet of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers causing five casualties, two of them serious.  Corporal Latchem of ‘B’ Company saves two lives by administering prompt first aid.

Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage the enemy.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two ME 109s flying at 100 feet.  Another low-flying ME 109 is attacked by Light Machine Guns from No 16 Platoon, 1st Bn The Dorset Regiment, who are carrying out training in the Leonardo area.

1110 hrs  Five ME 109s carry out a low-flying machine-gun attack on a Heinkel in Kalafrana Bay, setting it on fire and destroying it.  Enemy aircraft are engaged by Light Machine Gun fire from post GP8 and Fort Ta Silch.

1154-1227 hrs  Three ME 109s approach from the north, patrol the west and east coasts, and recede.

1305-1317 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

1424-1507 hrs  A total of 54 aircraft approach the Island (12 JU 88s with ME 109 escort).  Bombs are dropped in the Grand Harbour area, on the Three Cities, Bighi, on Zonkor Ridge, to the east of Tigne, and on Salina Bay.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88.  Enemy fighters carry out a patrol round the Island.

1914-1930 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs near Msida Church.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2109-2140 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north and drops bombs 300 yards west of Rabat searchlight position before receding north.  Heavy Ack Ack fires two barrages.

2223-2240 hrs  Aircraft do not approach beyond 12 miles east of Kalafrana.

2354-0036 hrs  Three aircraft cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on Floriana, in the sea off Hal Far and in the sea off Benghaisa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.

0237-0312 hrs  One aircraft flies down the coast from the north west to south east and drops bombs near Hal Far.  A second aircraft comes in round the south of Gozo and crosses the coast near Dingli.  Bombs are dropped near Birzebuggia.  Two Ack Ack barrages are fired.

0434-0447 hrs  One aircraft crosses the coast near Zonkor, drops bombs near Latnia and recedes north over Madliena.  Two Ack Ack barrages are fired.

0543-0647 hrs  One aircraft approaches the north of the Island, circles the east coast and drops bombs in Marsaxlokk.  The aircraft machine-guns Kalafrana searchlight position, with no damage.  Two barrages are fired.  A JU 88 approaches from the south and drops bombs near Lancer Heavy Ack Ack position.

0655-0725 hrs  One aircraft approaches over St Paul’s Bay and drops bombs in the Lapsi-Qrendi areas and Safi landing strip.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Alexander Robinson, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron; Captain Joseph Anderson, (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lt (QM) John Sandell, 10th HAA Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Liberata Bugeja, age 75, Adelaide Incorvaja, age 6, Edward Pace Bonello, age 51, Caroline Ethel Yabsley, age 72.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Beaufort, ten Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Six Beaufighters, ten Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland SF6 patrol; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Sirte.  40 Squadron  2330 hrs  Eight Wellingtons sent to attack motor transport park north of Tripoli Race Course; successful.  Returned 0322 hrs.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Night  Intruder raids by 1435 Flight. 0015 F/O Thompson to Catania: saw red flare; had to return owing to engine trouble.  0115 hrs  F/Lt Stores saw nothing; returned 0300 hrs.  0320 hrs  S/Ldr Westmacott had special task would not complete owing to bad visiblity: machine-gunned train at Catania – two vivid white flashes and train lights extinguished – returned 0505 hrs.  0410 hrs  P/O Mills to Comiso but would not get there in time to attack aircaft landing – returned 0640 hrs and overshot on landing, damaging undercarriage only.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Enemy aircraft engaged by Light Machine Gun fire from post GP8 and Fort Ta Silch.  One Ack Ack shell exploded near Post SA1 causing slight damage to cookhouse.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Normal work and training.  Continuous air raids throughout the night; several long alerts during the day.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Battalion exercise:  “Speed in Attack”.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  1600 hrs  Gunner A Beard interred at Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER The body of a RAF man was washed ashore in the northern sector: identified by wrist watch and marks on clothing.  Northern Infantry Brigade informed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2 not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on February 5, 2022 in 1942, February 1942, Uncategorized


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