26 May 1942: More Stukas in Sicily – Eddy Sunk With Loss of 8 Hands

26 May


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HM Drifter Eddy

Malta’s best equipped minesweeper has been lost.  The converted HM Drifter Eddy was working alongside HMS Beryl and tug St Angelo this afternoon, carrying out a sweep of the main entrance to Grand Harbour, along with Trusty Star and Swona.  The vessels were attempting to clear a lane through the minefields threatening access to incoming vessels but the sweep had to be abandoned due to unsatisfactory conditions.  Only one mine had been swept.  Eddy was on her way in at 1630 hours when her metal hull struck a mine and she sank with the loss of eight hands. The Commanding Officer and ten ratings were saved.


A new squadron of 15 JU 87 Stukas has been identified at Comiso aerodrome by a Malta photo-reconnaissance pilot.  The number of JU 88 bombers on the airfield has decreased from 49 at the end of April to just 10 today.  The Luftwaffe fighter strength at Comiso is still strong.  Numbers dropped from 58 in April to 34 after the air battles of 10 May, but today photo-reconnaissance reported 62 fighters.

The new delivery of Stukas follows the decimation of JU 87 numbers at Biscari in recent weeks, following successful interceptions over Malta.  According to reconnaissance reports, two days ago only three unserviceable aircraft were left on the airfield.  But the German fighter force at Biscari was replaced that day – by 28 Italian Re 2001 – the first time a squadron of these aircraft had been seen in Sicily.  Yesterday photo-reconnaissance also observed that the airfield at Bo Rizzo has also been brought into service, with the arrival of nine Cant Z1007s.


Weather  Wind westerly; haze.

0600-0720 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol and sight two ME 109s but do not intercept.

0736-0836 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They chase ME 109s, whose leader develops engine trouble and the formation recedes.

0953-1107 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They fire at several ME 109s from extreme range without result.

1415-1445 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol; nil report.

1517 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali and four of 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept a formation of Italian fighters approaching the Island.  They do not intercept.

1540 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to join the attack.  P/O Barlow destroys one Re 2001, F/O Mitchell destroys one Re 2001 and F/Lt Sanders damages one Re 2001.

1804-1840 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1919 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of enemy aircraft but are too late to prevent them from reaching target.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers drop 100kg high explosive bombs on the Safi and Kirkop areas.  An airman is slightly wounded at Safi.

Night  One air raid alert four approaching Italian bombers: four 100kg bombs are dropped between Gudja and the Safi Strip.

2030-2300 hrs; 2320-0100 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne at a time on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

Military casualties  Petty Officer Salvatore Borg; Able Seaman Carmello Busuttil; Able Seaman Emmanuel Cremona; Act/Stoker Petty Officer Gerald Pizzuto; Act/Leading Seaman William Poulter; Able Seaman Lawrence Sarsero; Act/Petty Officer Stanley Smith; Able Seaman Joseph Spiteri; Stoker Alfred Tabone; Private William Meader, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Annibale Sterzi, 358a Squadriglia, 2o Gruppo Autonomo, Pilot of a Reggiane Re2001.


ROYAL NAVY HM Drifter Eddy was mined and sunk off Valletta harbour at 1630 hrs. There were eight casualties.  Owing to a [south-easterly] swell, no operations of defuelling Breconshire were possible.  Seven Wellingtons bombed Messina. One battleship was reported anchored one mile south of the harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 106; two Swordfish from Bu-Amud.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to LG 222.

LUQA  1040-1320 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes and special mission.  Photos taken of Catania, Gerbini Strip, Special Task, Gela, Biscari, Comiso and Pachino.  1748-1826 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are sent as escort to a Wellington undergoing an air test.  2100-0100 hrs  Seven Wellingtons despatched to bomb the train ferry terminus at Messina.  All bombs fall in the target area, some just south of the Harbour: a few fires are seen.  0124-0434 hrs  A second wave of two Wellingtons is sent to bomb the same target: their bombs straddle the target.

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 at Luqa and Ospizio continue.  An extra party of 1 NCO and 6 men required at the Porte des Bombes: task not yet known.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private W Meader died at No 90 General Hospital, Imtarfa.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue, consisting of pen-building 0530-1230 hrs (1 Officer 100 Other Ranks); crater-filling 2030-0500 hrs (2 Officers 50 Other Ranks); bombing up 1030-2230 hrs (25 Other Ranks); refuelling 0800-2000 hrs (12 Other Ranks); general duties 0800-1900 hrs (50 Other Ranks).  One Officer is in charge of bombing-up, refuelling and general duties.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS No 3 Section, 173 Company, RE re-started work at Gharghur.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 9; dealt with 6 (1 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg; 1 Italian anti-personnel container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Large Battalion working parties engaged on aerodromes.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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Posted by on May 26, 2022 in 1942, May 1942


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