16 May 1942: Spitfires Claim 137 Bandits in First Week

16 May

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From:  Governor & C in C Malta     To:  C in C Middle East    Copy: The War Office 


Enemy attack on HMS Welshman on 10 May received severe trouncing.  Effort thereafter greatly reduced.  Mainly consisted of fighter sweeps in force.  Some night raiding and E boat activity.  Occasional use of fighter bombers with little effect.  Daily scale enemy effort:

  • 10 May 13 JU 88s; 35 JU 87s; 5 Cant; main target HMS Welshman
  • 11 May 4 JU 88s; main targets Hal Far, Luqa
  • 12 May 7 JU 88s; 3 Cants; main targets Hal Far, Ta Qali
  • 13 May 15 JU 87s; main targets Hal Far, Luqa
  • 14 May 10 JU 88s; main targets Luqa, Ta Qali
  • 15 May 5 JU 88s; 3 Savoia 84; main target Ta Qali
  • 16 May 3 JU 88s; 5 Cants; main target Ta Qali

Also as much as 100 fighters per day ME 109s, Macchi 202s, some Falco.  Total of 31 night bombers in addition, bombs widespread.  1 JU 88, 4 Br 20s night raiders destroyed…

40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew Malta 12 May 1942 (IWM)

Aerial photos show steady decrease of German bombers in Sicily.  Possibly accounted for by losses over Malta.  Enemy aircraft casualties:  Ack Ack destroyed 3 JU 88s, 4 JU 87s, 1 ME109; probably destroyed 1 JU 88; damaged 2 JU 88s, 2 ME 109s.  By RAF destroyed 8 JU 88s, 9 JU 87s, 3 Cants, 4 Br 10s, 16 ME 109s, 7 Macchi 202s; probably destroyed 7 JU 88s, 10 JU 87s, 2 Cants, 1 Br 10, 18 ME 109s, 3 Macchi 202s; damaged 9 JU 88s, 10 JU 87s, 1 Cant, 26 ME 109s, 1 Macchi 202, 2 Savoia Marchetti 84.  Total destroyed 55; probables 42; damaged 53.

Own Troops: HMS Welshman arrived 10 May with 82000 rounds bofors ammunition.  Unloaded within 5 hours mainly by Royal Artillery personnel.  Heavily attacked but reinforced fighters, heaviest ever barrage over ship and use of smoke screen surprised enemy.  One stick [of bombs] within ten yards caused slight damage and casualties.  Ack Ack ammunition restriction reimposed 12 May.

Western Infantry Brigade formed and started operating 13 May: located high ground near Rabat; role mobile reserve.  Consists of 4 Buffs, 8 Kings Own, 1 Durham Light Infantry, Commander Lt Col Brittorous.  Infantry working parties on aerodromes continue.  Party for serving and maintaining Spitfires reduced to 250 men on account reduced scale attack but 1500 men now on pen building also.  RE Bomb Disposal Section disposed of 55 UXBs totaling 11 tons.

Military and civil damage slight.  Army casualties: 4 Other Ranks killed; 1 Officer 3 Other Ranks wounded.  Conclusion reinforcement of fighters, improved organization based on experience and large scale assistance of Army to other services have enabled us to obtain local air superiority.  Enemy now concentrating on wearing down fighter strength and bombing attacks almost stopped temporarily.


Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.  Warm.

0610-0710 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0635 hrs  Twelve ME 109s carry out a preliminary sweep to clear the way for one JU 88 to carry out reconnaissance.

0930 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled but land again at 1040 hrs without engagement.

1105 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept approaching ME 109s.  S/Ldr Douglas-Hamilton damages one and P/O Northcott another.  Sgt Johnson is shot up and crash-lands at Ta Qali.

1106 hrs  Six Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Hone and P/O Haggar claim one Cant 1007 bis probably destroyed.  Sgt McConnell claims one Macchi 202 probably destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged; P/O Hagger is unhurt.

1111 hrs  Three ME 109s drop bombs on Ta Qali.  Six Macchi 202s and numerous ME 109s patrol to the west and south of the Island.

1152 hrs  Six Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are scrambled from Luqa to intercept another incoming formation of enemy aircraft.  Fighters are unable to climb to the height of the bombers in time.

1200 hrs  Five Cant 1007s approach from the west and drop bombs on the Ta Qali dispersal area and camp, killing two airmen and one soldier.  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at the same time.

1252 hrs  Raiders passed.

1350-1420 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no interceptions.

1459 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept an enemy formation including one JU 88 with ten Macchi 202s and twenty ME 109s.  F/L Buchanan destroys one Macchi 202; P/O Nash and P/O Plagis jointly destroy one ME 109 and Sgt De Namerede damages another.

1516 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  One Macchi 202 is damaged.  F/Sgt Milner’s aircraft is hit by machine gun bullets and damaged; pilot unhurt.

1608 hrs  One JU 88 with ten Macchi 202s and 20 ME 109s drops bombs on waste ground between Hal Far and Kalafrana.

1617 hrs  Raiders passed.

1646-1732 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far: no interceptions.

1820-1915 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali are ordered to jump ME 109s escorting a flying boat 20 miles north of the Island.  F/O Mitchell damages one ME 109.  Sgt Hurst and F/Lt Sanders each probably destroy one ME 109.

1920-2105 hrs  Seven Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa on interceptions: no engagement.

0245-0500 hrs  P/O Daniel on patrol in a Beaufighter destroys three BR 20s.

0301-0445 hrs  Eight bombers approach singly from the north and drop bombs on Hal Far, Safi, Ta Qali and Gozo.  Eight bombs land in the dispersal area at the Safi end of Hal Far aerodrome, damaging one Spitfire starting a small fire burning oil in some of the pens.

0355 hrs  Six bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and eight are dropped between Gudja and Luqa villages.  One Beaufighter is airborne and destroys three BR 20s.  Private Reeves, B Coy, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is patrolling on Hal Far aerodrome during the air raid and is wounded in the right arm.

Military casualties  Corporal Timothy French, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron; Corporal Donald Sussems, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, two Hudsons, one CW 20 from Gibraltar;  one Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

LUQA  1033-1310 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina, Palermo, Bocca di Faleo, Trapani harbour and aerodrome, Baglio Rizzo, and Castel Vetrano.

TA QALI  NAAFI opened at Boschetto Gardens.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT 0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties (Luqa and Ospizio) as usual.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 3 Section, 173 Coy, RE moved from St Patricks to Lintorn Barracks and took over bakery job.   Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 2 (both 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks and 17 trucks working on Hal Far aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Lord Gort complimented Lt Col Allen on 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers guard on San Anton Palace.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party as usual.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  One driver of B Coy was injured on Ta Qali and admitted to hospital.  GOC Major General D M W Beak VC, DSO, MC expressed himself as being extremely pleased with the hard work carried out by all concerned on Ta Qali aerodrome last week.  He wishes his appreciation of the work done to be made known to all ranks.

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Posted by on May 16, 2022 in 1942, May 1942


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