7 May 1942: Governor Dobbie Leaves Malta Under Fire

07 May

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Sir William Dobbie at his desk May 1942


”[Sir William Dobbie was] a Governor of outstanding character who inspired all ranks and classes, military and civil, with his…determination”  Winston Churchill

Malta is tonight coming to terms with the sudden departure of Sir William Dobbie, GCMG, KCB, DSO from his post as Governor and Commander in Chief, Malta.  This evening a Lockheed Lodestar aircraft named Spirit of Tobruk II landed at Kalafrana during an enemy air raid.  On board was General Lord Gort VC, GCB, CBE, DSO, MVO, MC, ADC.

Immediately on landing, Lord Gort – who commanded the British Expeditionary Force in France during the Dunkirk evacuation – assumed Governorship and Command in Chief, Malta in a brief handover with minimal ceremony.  Explosions nearby during the formalities caused a minor delay, after which the new Governor and C in C had a short briefing from his predecessor.  General Dobbie then boarded the aircraft with his wife and daughter to begin his journey back to England.

Watch newsreel: Sir William Dobbie speaks after landing in England from Malta  CLICK HERE

Lord Gort



His Excellency General John Standish Surtees Prendergast, Viscount Gort, Victoria Cross, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, Member of the Royal Victorian Order, Military Cross, Aide-de-Camp General to His Majesty the King, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the island of Malta and its Dependencies.

WHEREAS a Commission bearing date the fourth day of May, 1942, appointing Me to be Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the island of Malta and its Dependencies has this day been read and published in the presence of His Honour the Chief Justice and of the Executive Council;

AND WHEREAS I have duly taken the oaths prescribed by Section 6 of the Malta Letters Patent, 1939;

NOW THEREFORE, I hereby proclaim that I have assumed the administration of the Governmnent; and all Officers, Civil and Military, and all other His Majesty’s subjects and persons inhabiting the Island of Malta and its Dependencies are required to be obedient, aiding, and assisting unto Me in the execution of the powers and authorities vested in Me by virtue of the said Commission.

Malta, this 8th day of May 1942.  By command, E St J Jackson, Lieutenant Governor.  GOD SAVE THE KING


Major-General Sir William Dobbie, Governor and Commander in Chief of Malta, has tendered his resignation to the King.  He is returning to England for a well-earned rest.  General Lord Gort, VC, the present Governor and Commander in Chief at Gibraltar, will succeed him.

General Dobbie is 62, and has been in Malta since 1940, where his heroic leadership has won the admiration of all the free nations of the world.  There is no question of a difference of opinion between the British Government and General Dobbie, who was fully consulted.  On the contrary, the Governor’s work was regarded as magnificent, but it is recognised that the strain on him has been enormous and unceasing.


Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0620 hrs  Four Hurricanes which arrived from Middle East 6.5.42 left Hal Far for Luqa.

0630-1252 hrs  One reconnaissance aircraft crosses the Island very high and is engaged by Ack Ack guns.  Throughout the morning a series of patrols by ME 109 fighters is interspersed with a series of bombing raids and machine-gun attacks.

A total of five JU 88s and two ME 109s target Kalafrana Bay and Delimara.  Bombs in Kalafrana Bay are targeted on Breconshire Bombs also fall on land near a defence post and petrol tanks at Birzebbuggia.  Messerschmitt fighters machine-gun Delimara Point.  Fighters are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 0750 hrs and 0945 hrs: no claims.

0945-1000 hrs  Two Hurricanes take off from Luqa to search for the missing crew of motor launch ML-130.  Two ME 109s are seen bombing Kalafrana Bay: the Hurricanes are recalled before they begin the search.

Six ME 109 fighter-bombers bomb and machine-gun Qala Mistra in St Pauls Bay.

1215-1240 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron, Ta Qali, are scrambled to search for a vessel: nothing sighted.

1305 hrs; 1407 hrs; 1458 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for ME 109s on patrol round the Island.

1607 hrs  15 fighters are observed patrolling to the south east of the Island.

1806 hrs  Ten ME109s carry out a fighter sweep over Luqa and the Safi strip.

1850 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to cover the arrival of friendly aircraft including a delivery of Beaufighters and Hurricanes from the Middle East.

1856 hrs  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of Italian Cant 1007 bombers with an escort including ME 109s and Macchi 202 fighters.

1905 hrs  Four Hurricanes are airborne from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  Two fire at ME 109s: no results observed.

1915 hrs  Five Cant 1007s drop 100kg bombs on the Safi strip from a height of 21,600 feet.

1925 hrs  The Hurricanes pursue the retreating formation and are attacked by four ME 109s over Comino.  Sgt Tweedale claims one ME 109 probably destroyed.  No Hurricanes are damaged.

1955 hrs  Raiders passed.

2010 hrs  Incoming aircraft having landed safely, six Spitfires 603 Squadron return to Hal Far.

0002 hrs; 0300 hrs  Two air raid alerts sound for 18 enemy raiders which scatter hundreds of anti-personnel bombs across the Island.    Bombs are dropped on Rabat, Mosta and San Pawl Tat Targa, Pembroke and Msida Creek, Ricasoli and Rinella, south west of Gudja, Latnia, Marsaxlokk Bay, Delimara and Lapsi, and in the sea.  One Light Ack Ack position suffers a near miss, damaging a Bofors gun.

One Beaufighter of Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne on intercept patrol and chases several enemy aircraft.  In the second raid he intercepts one enemy aircraft and fires, using up all his ammunition: no results observed.

Military casualties  Week ending 7 May 16 Other Ranks killed; 24 wounded.

Civilian casualties  Mdina  Jane Sapiano, age 58, Anthony Sapiano, age 53.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims, one Beaufighter, six Hurricanes from Gambut; one Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Blenheims to Burg el Arab; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

LUQA  1329-1337 hrs  Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance Italian aerodromes and Messina and Naples Harbours.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties continue.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Notification is received that eight Other Ranks of the Battalion were among the wounded prisoners of war who arrived in the Middle East from Italy.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 18 (1 x 500kg, 10 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg, 5 Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

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

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Posted by on May 7, 2022 in 1942, May 1942


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