12 May 1942: Luftwaffe Fight Back – 9 Spitfires Lost

12 May

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  • Enemy losses 5 destroyed, 3 probably destroyed, 7 damaged 
  • RAF losses 7 Spitfires downed by enemy; 2 damaged on ground

    Savoia-Marchetti SM 84


“I congratulate all the fighting services on their magnificent team work over the week-end and I particularly congratulate the Royal Air Force and the Anti-Aircraft defences on their notable success.  The Lufwaffe has seen that wounded Malta can hit back gamely.”  Signed Gort, General.


‘Words do not exist to convey the picture of what has happened in Malta as the result of air raids, so I have tried figures instead,’ writes a correspondent of the British United Press who has just completed a tour of the Island.

Valletta 1942 (NWMA Malta)

‘The following buildings have been destroyed or damaged:  15500 houses (this counts blocks of flats as one house), 70 churches, 18 convents and nunneries, 10 theatres, 22 schools, 8 hospitals, eight of the principal clubs, five of the principal banks, 48 other buildings of which many were world-famous.  75 per cent of the houses of Valletta have been destroyed or damaged and more than 55 per cent of the buildings in most populated areas have been so smashed that complete rebuilding will be necessary.  There is hardly a hamlet on the Island that has not been hit.

The miracle is that the casualties are so low: 1104 killed, 1308 seriously injured, and 1299 slightly injured.  This is due chiefly to underground shelters.’  British United Press, Sunday 10 May 1942


Weather  No cloud; haze.

0605 hrs  One JU 88 with an escort of ME 109s carries out reconnaissance.

0615-0720 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reconnaissance formation: no interceptions.

0946 hrs  Two ME109s are in the vicinity of the Island attempting to intercept a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  Two Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the ME 109s: no engagements; they land at 1030 hrs.

1052 hrs  Three JU 88s with a fighter escort of over 35 ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and bomb Hal Far aerodrome.

1055-1207 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 and 126 Squadrons are airborne from Luqa and engage in combat with enemy aircraft off Kalafrana with ME 109s: no claims.  One Spitfire is shot down; pilot unhurt.  One Spitfire crash-lands; pilot unhurt.  One bailer out is seen bearing 45 degrees off Grand Harbour.

1110 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack JU 88s with fighter escort.  F/O West probably destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O Linton damages one JU 88.  Sgt Hesselyn damages one ME 109 and destroys another.  P/O Mitchell is shot down in the sea and is missing.  Sgt Brennan is slightly wounded.  The remainder land at 1205 hrs.

1113 hrs  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Yarra destroys one ME 109.  Owing to a bad crosswind at Hal Far, six of the Spitfires land at Luqa at 1216 hrs, without damage or casualties.

1139 hrs  Two JU 88s bomb Hal Far, causing no damage or casualties.

1140 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claims.

Three ME 109s carry out a patrol.

1344 hrs  Raiders passed.

1555 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialize.

1700 hrs  A formation of three Italian Savoia Marchetti SM 84 bombers with fighter escort approaches the Island.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron, are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept the incoming aircraft.

1705 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 126, 601 and 185 Squadrons are airborne from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell claims one Macchi 202 probable; Sgt Graves claims one JU 88 probable; Sgt Lusty claims one ME 109 damaged.  Two Spitfires are lost in combat: P/O Graves is unhurt but Sgt Graysmark is killed.  Sgt Bush receives gunshot wounds and his aircraft is damaged.  P/O Baily’s aircraft is damaged but he is unhurt.

1715 hrs  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack three SM 84 bombers high over Ta Qali as they attempt to bomb the airfield.  F/O Mitchell and F/L Sanders claim one SM 84 and P/O Sherwood another.

1735 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali from a high level.  Four parachutes are seen falling from the sky.

1745 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are airborne on patrol as three JU 88s with fighter escort approach to bomb the aerodrome.  F/O Lee damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Williams damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1749 hrs  Six Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept enemy aircraft.  All fire guns but make no claims.  Sgt Vidler lands at Luqa.  The other aircraft land at Hal Far at 1850 hrs.

1815 hrs  One section of 603 Squadron is waiting to take off from Ta Qali when the red flag goes up calling the operation to a halt.  The aerodrome is bombed, damaging two Spitfires on the ground.

1830 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 602 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.  One Spitfire 601 Squadron engages one ME 109: no claims.

1942 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four alerts are sounded for ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs, including incendiaries, are dropped on Rinella, Salina Bay, St Pauls and Mellieha, and in the sea.

2159-2315 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: claims one JU 88 destroyed.

0100-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Sergeant Charles Graysmark, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 601 Squadron; Pilot Officer Herbert Mitchell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 603 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Schembri, age 11.

Enemy casualties  Aviere Scelto Francesco Carabellese, pilot; Primo Aviere Luigi Conte, Air Gunner; Averie Scelto Sergio Orsingher, crewman; Primo Aviere Gustavo Petrai, crewman; Sergente Eugenio Rivolta, crewman, Tenente Vinicio Vego Scocco, pilot; all shot down while crew of Savoia Marchetti S 84 aircraft of 14a Squadriglia, 4o Gruppo Autonomo, Regia Aeronautica.


ROYAL NAVY  The Greek submarine Triton sailed for Alexandria at 0030 with passengers.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in the sea off Malta; pilot safe.  One Spitfire missing from operations; pilot missing.  One Spitfire force-landed; pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot safe.  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires collide on the runway during scramble; pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy aircraft; crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  ONe Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot killed.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.

TA QALI  1350-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron and two Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali patrol along the Sicilian coast at 31000 feet.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  2355 hrs 4th Bn The Buffs became embodied in Western Infantry Brigade.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties four Officers and 100 Other Ranks for Luqa.  A Coy party 1 Officer and 33 Other Ranks still working at the Ospizio.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 14 (2 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 2 x 35kg, 1 Italian AP container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 16 Officers and 297 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Chief task of unit during this period is maintaining Luqa aerodrome.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Unit supplied a working party of 150 men on Ta Qali aerodrome.

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Posted by on May 12, 2022 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized


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