8 February 1942: German Fighter-bombers A New Threat

08 Feb

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Messerschmitt Bf 109

Observers at Ta Qali this afternoon reported that bombs on the airfield were not dropped by the usual JU 88 bombers, but by ME Bf 109 fighter aircraft.  Communications from defence positions at Marsa and Naxxar appeared to confirm reports.  The speed and manoeuverability of Messerschmitt “Jabo” fighter-bombers enables them to strike and escape quickly, and to evade engagement with Malta’s Hurricane aircraft.  Military intelligence indicates that they can be equipped to carry one 250kg or two 50kg bombs as well as the usual fighter cannon equipment.


Governor and Commander in Chief Lt Gen Dobbie sends a cable to inform London that Maltese personnel have come forward to enlist in the field ambulance service (see 27 January 1942).   In response, the War Office confirms that 90 more can be recruited for signals duties:

SECRET CIPHER TELEGRAM                                      

From:  War Office                                                          To: Governor & C in C Malta

  • First.  Enlistment of up to ninety (repeat ninety) Maltese other ranks for employment Malta signals approved.
  • Second.  Confirm rate of pay those Maltese already enlisted.  Is this as for Royal Malta Artillery.
  • Third.  Confirm Maltese enlisted liability for service in Malta only.
  • Fourth.  Remainder proposed War Establishment under consideration.


Weather  Fine; sky overcast with high clouds.  Wind southerly.

1030 hrs  Three Hurricanes scrambled from Ta Qali for search; returned 1100 hrs.

1058-1255 hrs  Six ME 109 fighters patrol round the Island at very low altitude.  A Maryland is airborne at the time.  Two aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali; the Maryland lands safely.

1334 hrs  Six ME 109s patrol south of Grand Harbour then proceed north.

1400 hrs  An attack on Ta Qali damages RAF property, wounding several RAF personnel.  Bombs are also dropped on Qrendi, Qormi, Marsa and Gozo.

1434-1515 hrs  Six ME 109s patrol north of Grand Harbour, finally receding north.  Four aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali; no interceptions.

1605 hrs  Three JU 88 bombers escorted by twelve plus ME 109s approach from the north.  The JU 88s drop bombs on Gozo.  Then the ME 109s approach Malta and drop bombs from 11500 feet on Marsa, Naxxar Bridge and Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1700 hrs  One ME 109 drops bombs on the Safi Strip a single bomb and is engaged by Light Ack Ack fire at a height of 7000 feet.  1721 hrs  All clear.

1750 hrs  Five aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali; no interceptions.  S/Ldr Norris crash-lands at Luqa with his engine on fire: he escapes injury.

Night 8/9th  Very bad weather – no operations by own or enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Fusilier Herbert Hopwood, 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers.


AIR HQ  Departures  One Whitley to Gibraltar.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol.  21 Squadron  Two Blenheims despatched to attack a merchant vessel; no attack made.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  0900 Church parade: [Air Officer Commanding] attended.  Officers move from Torri Cumbo to Point de Vue Hotel, Rabat.  Sergeants move from Mess on camp to Torri Cumbo.  Airmen of 126 Squadron take over Sergeants Mess on camp to relieve congestion and as plan of dispersal.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Sunday and a holiday.  No working parties on Luqa as weekly task was finished yesterday.  Working party at Marina Pinto.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1200hrs Fusilier H Hopwood died of wounds received by bomb on 5 February:  the first fatal casualty by enemy action in Malta for this unit.  Bomb-carrying Messerschmitts over this afternoon.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3 not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.


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Posted by on February 8, 2022 in 1942, February 1942


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