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- 3 enemy aircraft destroyed, 8 damaged
- 23 civilians killed in 13 localities
- 40 unexploded bombs reported today
- 24 tons of unexploded bombs disposed of in 6 days
SECOND BOMBER MISSING AFTER SICILY RAID
Another Wellington bomber was reported missing this morning following the loss of one aircraft in yesterday’s raid on the Axis airfield at Comiso. Flight Lieutenant Hayter and his five man crew took off from Luqa yesterday evening at 20:45 hours. Theirs was one of the first wave of four Wellingtons attacked by anti-aircraft fire. Two were hit, one was badly damaged; the other, piloted by F/Lt Harper, was reported missing. F/Lt Hayter returned safely to Luqa at 2225 hrs.
Two hours later he took to the air again, as part of a second-wave attack on the same target. During the early hours of the morning, his aircraft was shot down over the island above Acate. All of the crew except F/Lt Hayter were killed: he was taken prisoner.
The crew are named as Second Pilot Sergeant Douglas King, Observer Sergeant Maurice Buckley, Wireless Operators/Air Gunners Sergeant Edward March, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and Sergeant George Tull, and Air Gunner Sergeant James Kehoe; all Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. (1)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 APRIL TO DAWN 25 APRIL 1942
Weather Wind south easterly; no cloud – visibility approximately 70 miles. Warm.
0530-0620 hrs Air raid warning. One JU 88 bomber approaches from the west and drops bombs on Floriana. Heavy Ack Ack engage.
0640-0658 hrs Three ME 109s machine gun Ta Qali aerodrome.
0709 hrs Formations of enemy bombers with fighter escort are observed approaching the Island. Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s and ME 109 fighters. Sgt Boyd damages two ME 109s and F/Lt Lawrence one. P/O Fletcher damages one JU 88.
Four Spitfires 126 Squadron (Ta Qali) are also airborne and engage enemy aircraft. F/Lt Johnstone probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Miller and Sgt Christ damage one JU 88; Sgt Milner damages two.
0725 hrs Seven JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Luqa. Bombs land on the perimeter of the aerodrome. One serviceable and one unserviceable Hurricane are burned out. A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire is damaged.
0730 hrs 22 JU 88 bombers attack the Dockyard, targeting French Creek and Marsa.
0810 hrs Bombs land on the north east outskirts of Zejtun and near Tal Handaq.
0820 hrs One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.
0839 hrs Raiders passed.
1005 hrs A large plot of enemy bombers and fighters is observed heading towards the Island.
1010 hrs Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept. They attack JU 88s while they are engaged in bombing raids over Grand Harbour: Sgt Christ destroys one JU 87.
1015 hrs 45 enemy bombers and fighters attack the Grand Harbour area and drop a considerable number of bombs on houses and buildings in Valletta and Floriana.
In Valletta, heavy bombs explode in St Johns Ditch, Hastings Gardens and South Street, killing one and injuring ten. ARP officers are reported to have collected six bags of human flesh from the ruins.
Several members of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are in an air raid shelter in Old Bakery Street when it is hit by a high explosive bomb. Privates E Jones and F Jepson are reported missing, believed killed. Witnesses suggest that the bomb landed at their feet, killing both instantly. Corporal A Johnson is badly injured [he later died of his wounds]. Sergeant Myers and Private Doyle are injured and taken to hospital; Sgt Bollard, L/Cpl Clarke and Pte Leak are slightly injured.
In Floriana bombs explode in St Anne’s Street, St Thomas Street, Sarria Street, Gunlayer Square and Magazine Street, killing two people and injuring thirty, eight seriously.
1030 hrs Ta Qali is attacked by enemy bombers using heavy calibre bombs – believed to be captured British bombs.
1110 hrs Raiders passed.
1230 hrs Three waves of JU 88 bombers with fighter escort (approximately 15 aircraft in each wave) approach the Island. Two Hurricanes 229 Squadron and one from 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept the incoming formation. P/O Nixon, 229 Squadron, damages one ME 109.
1235 hrs The enemy plots separate: 22 JU 88s head for Grand Harbour, bombing Valletta, Corradino, Marsa Creek and Pieta, causing further damage to buildings and Dockyard facilities.
1236 hrs Six JU 88s raid Luqa, causing craters on the aerodrome and dispersal areas. Bombs fall on already uninhabitable billets.
1240 hrs One Spitfire is airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.
1250 hrs JU 88s are engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.
1355 hrs The lone Spitfire is returning to Luqa when he is shot at by four ME 109s during landing.
1400 hrs Raiders passed.
1800 hrs A large number of enemy aircraft is plotted to the north on course for the Island. They turn towards Grand Harbour: the first formation flying on towards Ta Qali, the second attacking Grand Harbour and Valletta, and the third targeting Msida. Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept. They engage several JU 87s and ME 109s over Grand Harbour. One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.
1807 hrs 15 JU 88s and 19 JU 87 Stukas with a large escort of fighters attack Grand Harbour. Considerable damage is caused to buildings in Floriana and Valletta, including Casemate Barracks, the Torpedo Depot, the General Post Office and GOR Officers’ Mess.
Floriana is a main target: bombs hit the ARP centre, destroying medical equipment one ambulance and a reconnaissance motor cycle. Bombs also hit houses in Filippo Sceberras Square, St Anne’s Street and Sarria Street, causing 23 casualties (some later died in hospital). Pte Urquhart, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment, is killed while on leave in Valletta.
Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept 15 of the JU 87s involved in the raid on Msida. P/O Wigley and Sgt Finlay each damage a JU 87. Sgt Dodd attacks four JU 87s: no results observed.
Three Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali to defend the aerodrome from the incoming raiders. F/Lt Lucas has to crash land near Siggiewi due to Glycol trouble. The other two Spitfires return with R/T trouble.
1820 hrs Nine JU 88s with fighters in support attack Ta Qali. Bombs are also dropped near Targa Heavy Ack Ack position.
1840 hrs An enemy reconnaissance flight is observed over the north of the Island.
1845 hrs One ME 109 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment.
1905 hrs Raiders passed.
Dusk Three ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.
2042-2340 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs; 0345-0435 hrs Three air raid alerts are sounded for individual approaching aircraft. German and Italian bombs, including incendiaries are dropped in the Luqa area, Tal Virtu, Gudjia and Safi. A few houses are destroyed but there are no casualties. One Beaufighter is airborne in response to each alert to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.
Military casualties Flight Sergeant Alexander Balinson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 148 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Charron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Corporal William Rogerson, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Gunner Carmel Dingli, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance-Sergeant Joseph Sammut, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.
Civilian casualties Birkirkara Joseph Delia, age 20. Floriana Dolores Abela, age 60. Ghaxaq John Mary Camilleri, age 67; Anthony Galea, age 51. Gzira Joseph Borg, age 15. Hamrun Charles Demajo, age 13; Aida Kelly, age 26; Michael Pace, age 15; Joseph Spiteri, age 12. Marsa Michael Cilia, age 18. Mosta Luigi Calleja, age 75. Paola Leone Bartolo, age 20; Teresa Bondin, age 2; Josephine Bondin, age 6 mths; Gaetan Pisani, age 31. Pieta Saviour Caruana, age 21; Petra Christine Dungstaad, age 30. Siggiewi Carmel Cachia, age 53. Sliema James Naudi, age 45. Tarxien Michael d’Alfonso, age 18. Valletta Jane Muliett, age 3; Caroline Salnitro, age 14. Comino Rose Zammit, age 15.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 APRIL 1942
ROYAL NAVY Torpedo Depot further damaged in air raid.
AIR HQ Arrivals One Bombay from Gibraltar, one Hudson from Gambut. Departures One Catalina, one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Bombay to 108 MU.
LUQA 1150-1343 hrs One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of East Sicilian aerodromes.
1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Battalion ceased working on aerodromes at Ta Qali and Luqa during the day and began working from 1930 hrs until 0300 hrs daily for seven days a week. One Other Rank is wounded by a delayed-action bomb and dies of his wounds shortly afterwards. A detachment from the Battalion took over observation post duties at Tal Minsia for one week.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb in Casemate Bks destroyed FRE Oil Store. Weight of bombs disposed of still rising: 24 tons in 6 days. Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 43; dealt with 10 (3 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).
11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 1800 hrs This unit hands over observation post at Tal Virtu at 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt. 2100 hrs Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued. Work progressing much quicker than by daylight. No dispersal of troops on air alert at night. Luftwaffe using firework-incendiary bombs at night, not successfully, against grounded aircraft.
(1) Compiled with reference to Dover War Memorial Project. Flight Lieutenant Hayter, Mentioned in Dispatches, was one of the escapees from Stalag Luft III, as recalled in the film ‘The Great Escape’. Hayter one of the fifty recaptured and shot on the direct orders of Hitler on 6 April 1944.
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