5 May 1942: Malta in Grave Peril Says Churchill as Rations Slashed

05 May

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Bread queue in Valletta


In a telegram today Winston Churchill acknowledged that Malta is still in grave peril owing to the shortage of supplies.  He told military commanders that the most certain method of helping the Island would be a successful offensive in Libya.

The Government today announced a major cut in the bread ration to just 10½ ounces per person per day.  The amount of the reduction in what is a main staple of the Maltese diet is seen as an indication of the severity of shortages facing the Island.  The traditional daily loaf has already suffered from the addition of potato, maize and barley to bulk out its content.

The bread cut follows measures in April to ration other daily food items such as pasta, rice, tomato paste, coffee, sugar and tinned milk.  However, public reactions to today’s news so far do not suggest the severe blow to morale feared in some government quarters.


Three Italian airmen are lucky to be alive tonight having been rescued from the sea by a Malta-based launch.  They were spotted by members of 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry, near the coast at Gebel Ciantar.  The airmen are believed to be the crew of one of two Italian BR 20 bombers attacked during an air raid just after mid-day.  They were arrested as prisoners of war and handed over to the military authorities.  The second bomber crashed near headquarters of the Battalion’s C Company, killing all three crew.

At nine this evening soldiers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt manning a coastal defence post spotted something floating in the water among the rocks.  Closer examination revealed a body which they brought ashore and identified from his uniform as a German airman.  He has yet to be named.


Weather  Wind northerly; 100% cloud.  Cold.

0730- 0757 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.  Suspected enemy fighter patrol.

0915 hrs  An unexploded bomb is reported by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Bidni.

1202 hrs   Air raid alert for an incoming formation of Italian BR 20 bombers with fighter escort.

1215 hrs   Italian 12kg and 15kg anti-personnel bombs are dropped on Attard, killing one and injuring three members of B Company, 4th Bn The Buffs.  The infantrymen try to engage enemy aircraft with light machine gun fire but visibility is very poor due to the heavy cloud.  Some damage is caused to tentage and camp equipment and B Company has to move out to alternative accommodation.

One Italian bomber crashes in the area of C Coy, 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.  Two burned bodies are found in the wreckage; another is thrown clear and found a few yards away.  The Battalion later reports three Italians rescued from the sea by a launch off Jebel Ciantar.

1230 hrs  One ME 109 flying at 500 feet is engaged by one gun position of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claim.

1520 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1640-1657 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island.

1712 hrs  The air raid alert is sounding for a formation of over forty enemy aircraft approaching from the direction of Sicily.

1745-1800 hrs  Enemy aircraft are reported carrying out reconnaissance patrols over Luqa airfield where Army working parties are operating.

1750 hrs  Ten JU 88 bombers attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs on Sliema, killing one civilian, and on the Dockyard, including the Victualling Yard and on Corradino Heights. Ack Ack guns engage the raiders, damaging one JU 88.

1810 hrs  Five ME 109 fighter bombers plus a number of JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Hal Far.  Bombs fall on either side of the runway and on the dispersal area, destroying one Hurricane and a starter trolley.  The aerodrome is rendered unserviceable for night flying due to a large number of unexploded bombs.   Three Hurricanes are damaged.  A few of the bombs dropped are oil bombs.

1830-1850 hrs  Two JU 88s are engaged by two guns of 225 LAA Battery: no claims.

2105 hrs  The body of a German airman is reported by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt washed ashore at defence post SA4.

Night  Three JU 88s approach the Island singly and drop bombs on the Hal Far area and in the sea.

2239 hrs  A single JU 88 carries out a bombing raid on the Valletta-Floriana area, dropping bombs on land and in the sea and damaging civilian property and killing one civilian.

0416 hrs  Air raid alert: ME 109s patrol round the Island.

Military casualties  Nil

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Louis Sammut Bardon, age 45.  Valletta  Giuseppe Portelli, age 44.


ROYAL NAVY  C308 and HL235 returned from Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Departures  Three Blenheims, two Wellingtons, one Beaufort to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire and one Wellington crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  One Wellington taxied into a bomb crater; crew uninjured.

LUQA  1100-1235 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Naples and west Italian and Sicilian aerodromes.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  [Following air raid damage to camp] Company is ordered to move to its present location at L’Imtahleb (move completed during the night 5/6th May).

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Companies spend the day cleaning and checking kit.  C Company provides working party of 1 Officer and 30 Other Ranks for work at Ospizio Depot RAOC Stores.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 13; dealt with 15 (4 x 500kg, 10 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0730 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.

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Posted by on May 5, 2022 in 1942, May 1942


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