15 March 1942: Hell on Sunday – 1800kg Satan Bombs on Valletta

15 Mar

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German 1800kg ‘Satan’ Bomb (NWMA Malta)

Mass bombing returns to Malta today as the enemy responds to the recent success of Spitfires against their raiders.  The city of Valletta became a specific target for the first time this year.  The Luftwaffe chose the heaviest bomb carried by Junkers aircraft for their mission:  the two-ton ‘Satan’.  In five raids on the capital, German bombers dropped over 15000 kg of high explosive bombs on the streets, killing twelve civilians and one serviceman on leave.

Observers report that the number of aircraft in each raid has risen significantly.  Fighter escorts have increased in size, to outnumber the Island’s modest Spitfire force and overcome their recent success rate.


“I was then a 16 years old Dockyard apprentice and Sunday was the only full day off from where I worked… It was a sunny morning and I was outside my home…A detachment of Infantry troops on a route march were coming down the road a short distance away. Suddenly everything erupted all at once. Wailing sirens, dispersing troops and heavy and intense gunfire. Like a second instinct we all dashed to take cover . As usual I was always one of the last to enter the shelter staying at the entrance to see what was going on.

Almost immediately, out of the din, the screaming crescendo of a diving plane filled our ears and, as the noise began to fade, suddenly a loud ”shuuuttle-sshee-shuuuttle ”- the unmistakable and sinister shuttling  noise of a falling bomb. I ducked inside the shelter as far as I was able waiting for the usual shattering explosion and the trembling of the ground under our feet.  But nothing happened.  Another five minutes or so went by and still nothing happened. It was becoming clear that a bomb had come down and had not exploded.

As soon as the noise of gunfire and diving planes had subsided and without waiting for the All Clear sirens, I emerged from the shelter and ran along Zabbar Road to where I thought the bomb had fallen, assuming, with good reason, that the bomb was aimed at the detachment of troops as they marched along the road…I spotted something embedded in the ground right in the middle of the road… a large bomb was clearly visible close to the surface and painted a bluish colour…

Gingerly, and apprehensively with my curiosity overcoming fear I moved nearer for a closer look. It was then that the stark and ominous reality suddenly dawned on me. For a fleeting moment, aghast and transported into a different dimension, I nearly froze rivetted to the spot. What was I doing here so close to this hellish object? Have I taken leave of my senses?  I could be blown to bits in a fraction of a second!

I retreated, hurriedly breaking into a run towards the shelter pointing behind me and shouting at the top of my voice ”Unexploded bomb; unexploded bomb’ and in Maltese,”Emm bomba ma splodiet’ to some of the men now cautiously emerging from the shelter… ”   Joseph V Stephens, 2012


Weather  Wind variable; cloudy at times – deteriorated during the day.

0713-0732 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

0818-0905 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s approach from the north.  Two JU 88s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Ta Minsia and St Julians area.  One JU 88 recedes.

0932-1005 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by five ME 109s drops an 1800kg bomb to the west of Zabbar.

Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron (all armed with machine guns) are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Noble engages a ME 109: strikes observed.  P/O Wigley attacks another ME 109: results not observed.

1020 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by 24 fighters approach the Island.  One JU 88 drops an 1800kg bomb on Valletta.  The other three drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Valletta and Qrendi strip.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.

1045 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled.  Sgt Boyd attacks a JU 88 twice but sees no results.  C Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs in area: three men are slightly hurt.

1100 hrs  A bomb explodes in Francis Street, Valletta: suspect delayed-action.

1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They are attacked by three ME 109s.  F/L Heppell sees cannon strikes on the fuselage of one ME which is then lost in cloud.  All Spitfires return safely to Luqa.

1135 hrs  All clear.  Three Hurricanes 242 Squadron return to Ta Qali.

1205-1255 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fifteen ME 109s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs near Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and damage one engine of a JU 88.

1220 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 500kg bombs from below cloud level between headquarters of 8t Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment (Ta Qandia quarries) and C Company at Ta Hasluk.  Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs near Wied Babu.

1319-1438 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar, Latnia and Rinella.  Four Spitfires engage.

1421 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by ME 109s approaches from the north.  Seven Hurricanes and three Spitfires are airborne but do not engage.  The JU 88 drops a 1800kg bomb on Valletta.

1515 hrs  A bomb explodes in Ursula Street, Valletta; suspect delayed-action.

1517 hrs  Three JU 88s and two ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar and Zonqor areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far take off to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1538 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by 25 ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Hal Far and in the sea.  The Hurricanes attack a JU 88: hits are observed on the tail and fuselage.

1545 hrs  Bombs area Della Grazia – Rinella-Maria Tas Silch.

1555 hrs  All clear.

1619-1657 hrs  Seven unidentified aircraft approach above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage with two barrages.

1715 hrs  W/C Satchell leads four Hurricanes from Ta Qali which join up with four from Hal Far; one returns early.  W/C Satchell attacks a JU 88: strikes are observed on the wing.  The same aircraft is fired on by two other Hurricanes.  W/C Satchell becomes separated from the formation and has a dog fight with a Messerschmitt.  He shoots off the tail of the enemy aircraft: claims destroyed.

1732-1820 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Hal Far. Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; no claims.

1931-2045 hrs  Two aircraft drop bombs on Gozo and in the sea.  Ack Ack engage.

2122-2140 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the sea.  Ack Ack do not engage.

2354-0018 hrs  One aircraft approaches and recedes when still 15 miles north of the Island.

0028-0058 hrs  Three aircraft approach; bombs are dropped to the north of Zabbar and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Private Dominic Mifsud, King’s Own Malta Regiment, died whilst on leave in Valletta. Leading Aircraftsman Stanley Leavesley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Salvu Borg, age 20.  Sliema  Polly Cannataci, age 26.  St Julians  Christopher Butler, age 21 months, (son of Capt Butler, 2nd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment).  Valletta  Giovanna Attard, age 56; Joseph Bellizzi, age 66; Dominica Borg Bellizzi, age 39; Michelina Busuttil, age 60; Vincent Busuttil, age 30; Anthony Formosa, age 37; Girlamo Fsadni, age 77; Marianna Mayman, age 34; Harold Miles, age 38; Mary Mifsud, age 57; Michael Vella, age 74; Melita Vella, age 35.  Zabbar  Emmanuele Bongailas, age 28; Giuseppe Lia, age 12.


LUQA  0745-0920 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out part of SF 5 patrol.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One Man D Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by bombs in area of Qrendi strip.  Two men E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment Paola sustained slight injuries during a bombing raid.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).


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Posted by on March 15, 2022 in 1942, March 1942


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