8 May 1942: “Work On Through Raids” Orders Airfield Command

08 May

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Wing Commander E J Gracie, Station Commander at Ta Qali, today addressed personnel of infantry units supplying working parties on the airfield.  He announced that some 60 Spitfires are due to arrive on the Island.  His speech stressed the importance of obtaining air supremacy over the Island.  To this end, the orders are for planes to be serviced and bomb craters repaired at all costs.  Every available plane must be put in the air, and working parties must now carry working on during the air raids.

HMS Olympus in Malta


A Malta-based submarine heading home to the United Kingdom is believed lost today, after a handful of men from the vessel were rescued from the sea.  At just after eight this morning, members of C Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, manning a coastal defence post spotted movement about a mile offshore.  They counted some thirteen men, swimming towards the coast.  An hour later the first of the swimmers reached the shore and several soldiers took to the water to help the eleven of them who made it to land.

HM Submarine Olympus sailed for Gibraltar under cover of darkness at 0430 hours this morning with a total of 98 men on board including 55 of her own crew plus 43 survivors from three Royal Navy vessels which had previously been sunk in air raids on Malta. Survivors said she struck a mine at 0500 hours about seven miles offshore, and went down.

All available boats were sent out to search the spot but so far there are only twelve survivors (including those who swam ashore): three of these are wounded. Three further bodies have been recovered. Mine-sweepers have embarked on an immediate operation to clear the Grand Harbour entrance channel.

Sir William Dobbie


The speed and top secret nature of the former Governor’s departure left no opportunity for a farewell broadcast to the people of Malta.  Sir William Dobbie’s words are read for him via Rediffusion:

“I leave Malta with the greatest regret.  I have been here for two eventful years, and I had hoped I would be able to see Malta through her present difficulties at any rate.  But that was not to be.  During my two years we have been through stirring times together, times which I will never forget.

I am glad I have had this experience because it has enabled me to get to know and appreciate the people of Malta.  I have seen them facing experiences which were unfamiliar to them, and facing them with the determination and courage of veteran soldiers…I have marvelled at the way they have accepted hardships and disasters with cheerfulness, and I consider that the people of Malta have rightly earned the admiration of the whole world, an admiration crystalised by the award of the George Cross to the Island…

I am sure that in God’s good providence she will in due course emerge out of her difficulties and into smoother water.  Until then she will endure, and ensure the final victory.”


Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0622 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol to the south of the Island.  One JU88 drops bombs on Zeitun, killing five civilians and injuring many more.

0635-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept approaching enemy aircraft, which they engage 30 miles north of the Island.  P/O Tilley shoots down one ME 109.

0655 hrs  Delayed action bombs explode in Marsaxlokk Bay.

0656 hrs  ME 109 fighters carry out a sweep of the Island, followed by one JU88 on reconnaissance.

0715 hrs  Members of B Coy 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are called to Zejtun to help to recover civilians from the debris.

0813 hrs  Raiders passed.

0835 hrs  Six JU 88s and fifteen JU 87s escorted by numerous ME 109s are observed heading towards the Island.

0900-1005 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to engage the incoming formations.

0910 hrs  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  One JU 88 is claimed as damaged.

0930-0950 hrs  Three JU 88s at 2-3000 feet and six ME 109s at 200-1000 feet are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One ME 109 claimed destroyed.

0945 hrs  Malta’s fighters attack the JU 88s and a number of ME 109s and Macchi fighters five miles south of the Island.  P/O Tilley and P/O Major (126 Squadron) damage one ME 109.  Of the Hurricanes, Sgt Tweedale claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 destroyed and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One ME 109 crashes on Marsa: the pilot, Unteroffizier Heinrich Becker, is captured.  Sgt Dodd claims one Macchi probably destroyed.  Sgt Finlay is forced to land at Luqa; he is unhurt.  Sgt Boyd destroys one JU 88 before he is shot up and makes a belly landing at Ta Qali, unhurt.  Sgts Tweedale and Dodd land at Hal Far at 1000 hrs.

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s dive-bomb Hal Far and Safi.  Twelve JU 87s dive-bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.  Bombs land on the perimeter of Luqa aerodrome but the  runways remain serviceable.  One reservoir receives a direct hit and water flows through the camp.

Three JU 87s break away and make a deliberate attack on Tal Handaq gun position and Giacomo Heavy Ack Ack Battery.  Ack Ack light machine guns of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engage JU 87s, claiming many strikes and causing certain damage to at least one JU 87.

Six ME 109 fighter bombers drop bombs on Marsaxlokk Bay and Dowdall’s Hotel, quarters of E Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  Two NCOs attending a training course are killed and four others injured, along with two Privates. A sentry of Royal Malta Artillery is also killed.

1055 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance of the Island.

1230 hrs  ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island.

1326 hrs   9 JU 88s and 21 JU 87s with a large fighter escort approach the Island.  Three JU 87s break from the formation and attack Naxxar gun position; one JU 87 attacks Salina gun position.

1340 hrs  Six JU 88s dive bomb and machine-gun Luqa aerodrome, causing craters on the north side of the runway and damaging one Hurricane.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.  Twenty high explosive bombs are dropped on the Loreto Church area near Safi strip.  Five ME 109 fighter bombers attack the Luqa dispersal areas and Mqabba.

1345 hrs  15 JU 87s drop 30 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali camp. causing craters near the cottages and on top of the caves.  F/Lt Connell, proceeding off duty, is passing a bomb when it explodes: he is suffering from shock.

1350 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages two JU 88s at 2000 feet: no claims.

1405 hrs  Raiders passed.

1719 hrs  Five Cant 1007s and one JU 88 with an escort of ME 109s approach the Island.  They fly down the coast and drop bombs on Marsa and Floriana, destroying two civilian buses and damaging six more.  Four civilians are killed and twelve wounded.  Bombs around the HQ and billets of 1st Bn Cheshire Regt kill two Other Ranks and cause several more civilian casualties.

1821 hrs  Raiders passed.

1850-1905 hrs  One JU88 with fighter escort attacks the Grand Harbour area.

Night  Overnight working parties on the aerodromes total 1434 men, plus 81 troops on salvage & rescue work for the civil government.  During four air raid alerts, Italian and German aircraft approach the Island singly and in pairs, and drop high explosive bombs on the Luqa area and incendiaries on the north of the Island.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea.

2215-2324 hrs  Two bombers drop bombs on Luqa, and between Delimara and Benghaisa.  Six high explosive bombs are dropped on the Loreto Church area near the Safi strip.

2240-2335 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0137 hrs  Five single bombers drop incendiary and anti-personnel bombs in the Baida Ridge area and in the sea off Benghaisa.

Military casualties  HMS Olympus casualty list CLICK HERE

Corporal Stanley Cook, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Douglas Clarke, Royal Air Force (VR); Flight Sergeant Jack Davis, Royal Air Force; Aircraftsman John Farrugia-Gay, Royal Air Force (VR); Corporal Frank Lockwood, Royal Air Force; Leading Aircraftsman John McCarty, Royal Air Force (VR); Corporal Sidney Parmentier, Royal Air Force (VR).

Bombardier Paul Attard, 2 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Connor, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Private Thomas Edwards, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Private Henry Lodwick, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Charles Redman, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Corporal Edmund Shepherd, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbuga  Randa Zammit, age 30.  Floriana  Francis Agius, age 30; Teresa Carbone, age 36; George Farrugia, age 51; Francis Sammut, age 70.  Gzira  Anthony Pike, age 4.  Msida  Manoel Goura, age 49.  Sliema  Alfred Bonello, age 45.  Zabbar  John Vella, age 41.  Zebbug  Alfred Zammit, age 24.  Zejtun  Rosaria Azzopardi, age 25; Lawrence Azzopardi, age 1; Grace Ciantar, age 40; Nazzareno Ciantar, age 40; Antonia Dimech.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Heinrich Becker, pilot of  ME 109 fighter, shot down and taken prisoner; Feldwebel Walter Obermeilaender, pilot of JU 87 Stuka, died when the aircraft crashed into the sea;  Unteroffizier Albert Westphalen, Air Gunner of same.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, one Beaufort, one Cordelia, one Sunderland from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Blenheims to LG 39; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Sunderland to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane crash landed after combat; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  1050-1400 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Italian aerodromes.  1642-1828 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Catania, Gerbini strip, Pachino, Comiso, Gala and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  Five Armourers are posted to this station ex UK.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 25; dealt with 22 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 500kg, 9 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg, 3 Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Six trucks by day and six by night have been working on Hal Far aerodrome building pens since 3rd May.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working parties continue.  1300 hrs  Aircraft pen-building by 11th Bn Lancashire Regt at Luqa is suspended.  New type working parties at Luqa forthwith.  Task: to keep runways open, filling in craters.  Strength: six Officers and 200 Other Ranks.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Inspection of Lintorn Barracks and cook house at 19 Britannia Square.

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Posted by on May 8, 2022 in 1942, May 1942


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