26 April 1942: Without More Spitfires Malta Will Be Destroyed, Says Churchill

26 Apr

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USS Wasp

Yesterday Winston Churchill asked President Roosevelt to allow the aircraft carrier USS Wasp to make a second emergency run from Gibraltar to deliver Spitfires for Malta, saying “Without this aid I fear Malta will be pounded to bits.  Meanwhile [Malta’s] defence is wearing out the enemy’s Air Force and effectively aiding Russia.”

Receiving the US President’s sanction for the move, the Prime Minister thanked Roosevelt for allowing Wasp to “have another good sting.”  Churchill then immediately instructed his Chief of Air Staff to: “let me know the programme for feeding Malta with Spitfires, week by week, during the next eight weeks.” 


Weather  Cold northerly wind.  60% cloud at 20,000 feet.

0936 hrs  Air raid alert; nothing transpires.  A second alert follows with no air raid.

1245 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map ref 512248.

1341 hrs  Air raid alert; nothing transpires.

1420 hrs  A total of 54 JU 88 bombers and 17 JU 87 Stukas plus a heavy fighter escort approach the Island.

1428 hrs  Incoming raiders divide into six formations to raid Ta Qali, Luqa, Kalafrana and the Grand Harbour area.  17 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers head for Ta Qali.  15 JU 88s bomb Marsa Creek and 11 JU 88s attack Kalafrana.  12 JU 88s target Sliema and Msida.  Spinola Heavy Ack Ack position is bombed, killing one Other Rank, and Tigne searchlight is damaged.

Bombs are also dropped on St Paul’s Bay and Salina, Qormi, Fleur de Lys, the Buffs Camp at Attard and Delimara.  A bomb explodes near the Heavy Ack Ack position at Salina, damaging buildings.  Searchlights are damaged at St Paul’s Bay and Attard.  Many unexploded bombs are reported.

1440 hrs  Three Spitfires from Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.

1445 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are ordered into the air with Spitfires from Luqa: no engagement.

1445 hrs  12 JU 88s target the barracks in Floriana, damaging buildings within Lintorn Barracks and the Ordnance Depot at Ospizio.  The Parade Ground, Great Siege Road, Harper Lane and the Traffic Office near Kingsway also sustain damage.  Porta Reale steps in Valletta and nearby buildings are also hit.

1445 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa, Safi and Kirkop.

1500 hrs  Sgt Hesselyn 249 Squadron damages one ME 109 and destroys one JU 87.  One Spitifre is attacked by enemy fighters: P/O James, 249 Squadron, is injured and admitted to hospital.

1515 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One light machine gun claims hits on one ME 109.

1520 hrs  One JU 88 recedes from an attack on Grand Harbour with its engine smoking, passing out over Della Grazia Fort. 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt open fire, claiming several hits.

1530 hrs  A second Spitfire from the Luqa flight is attacked. The fighter crashes at L’Imriehal.  Troops reach the baled out pilot, who is seriously injured.  They take him to a medical facility at Hamrun: he is expected to live.

1540 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land at Luqa.

1544 hrs  Raiders passed.

1745 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for the approach of 65 bombers with a protective force of fighters.  As they approach the coast, the raiders divide into four groups, each with fighter escort: one formation of 16 JU 88s heads towards Ta Qali, also attacking Naxxar gun position and the military camp at Attard.  A second group of 14 JU 88s heads for Luqa and Hal Far airfields and a third formation of 10 JU 88s flies on to turn over Delimara and Kalafrana.  The final formation of 25 JU 88s heads for Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Floriana and Marsa Creek.

Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 87s heading across the coast with a fighter escort of ME 109s.  P/O Horricks DFM claims one ME 109 damaged.  P/O Eastman engages the bombers: no results.  Sgt Lees claims one JU 87damaged.  S/L Dafforn, 229 Squadron, is injured.

1755 hrs  10 JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far aerodrome leaving craters on the aerodrome and badly damaging stores, the NAAFI, the Sergeants Mess and other buildings.  One van is a write-off.  Accommodation of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is hit, badly shaking the building which has to be evacuated.  Bombs are dropped on an 18 pounder gun position, killing and injuring Gunners who are sheltering in an underground cook house.

1800 hrs 16 JU 88s attack Floriana.  Bombs explode on the Granaries and opposite St Publius Church, on Filippo Sceberras Square and Crucifix Hill.  One boy is admitted to Central Civil Hospital for treatment.  Bombs are also dropped on Savoy Hill and Msida; Spinola Heavy Ack Ack position is hit, destroying one gun.

One JU 88 is seen to crash in flames in the north of the Island.

1834 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.

1845-1900 hrs  Numerous JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1854 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Kalafrana and Delimara.  JU 88s attacking Delimara Ack Ack Battery are engaged by light machine gun fire from Wolseley Camp and Fort Ta Silch: no hits claimed.

1923 hrs  All clear.

2219 hrs  A plot of enemy sea craft is suspected off Zonqor Point.  All beach posts and patrols are warned to be on the look-out.

2320 hrs  Sea plot alerts are called off.

0350-0358 hrs  An alert sounds for one aircraft which comes in from the north and recedes again to the north.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Cripps, Royal Canadian Air Force, 601 Squadron; Leading Aircraftsman William Flower, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Murray McEwen, Royal Air Force (VR).

Gunner Stephen Allsop, 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Leslie Furber, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner James Keating, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harry Nicholson, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Salvatore Gauci, Malta Auxilliary Corps; Albert Montgomery, 1st Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy; Gunner Consiglio Ellul, 3rd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sapper Emmanuel Vella, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Anthony Coleiro, age 22  Sliema  Salvatore Gauci.


ROYAL NAVY  P 31 sailed for Alexandria. One Swordfish and one Albacore attacked three destroyers and 3 M.V.s south of Linosa and obtained one hit on a M/V.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons to Kabrit; one Blenheim to 108 MU.

LUQA  2107-0407 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on enemy shipping strike.  Two convoys are picked up: two merchant vessels with one destroyer, and one merchant vessel with two destroyers.  The second convoy was attacked and a near-miss obtained on one merchant vessel.

TA QALI  Extensive dive-bombing on camps and gun positions all over the Island.  More accommodation is required: further tents are obtained and erected in Boschetto Gardens.  2205 hrs  S/L Westmacott in a Hurricane flew to Comiso waiting around the aerodrome at Catania; intense barrage put up.  He attacked a train which took shelter in a tunnel.  There being no activity he returned.  Sgt Wood took up the machine and did not return.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Only two working parties today: 40 personnel from D Company at Ospizio Depot, 40 personnel B Company at Marsa Basin.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT   Accommodation Hut C Company rendered unserviceable by bombs.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs Lintorn Bks Cookhouse, C Block Msida Qrs, Lintorn Cookhouse, Ration Store, Shoemaker’s Shop and Boiler House demolished.  Field Cooking improvised. No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 6 (1 x 1000kg; 1 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Air attacks on Infantry camps continued.  One JU 88 crashed in the Battalion sector.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1545 hrs  Fusilier Robinson, B Coy, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died in hospital from injuries sustained in enemy action at Pembroke Battery yesterday.  Three heavy raids today: JU 88s flying extremely low (500-1000 feet) possibly brought down by us.  Many strikes claimed by all Companies light machine gun anti-aircraft fire.  2000 hrs  Both working parties now on Luqa building bomber pens.

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Posted by on April 26, 2022 in 1942, April 1942


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