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Category Archives: February 1942

18 February 1942: Convoy Loss Causes Fuel Crisis

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  • Continuous thunderstorms flood airfields and damage buildings
  • Ta Qali barracks leaking: conditions ‘deplorable’
  • Storm conditions prevent enemy raids and air ops

    Lt Gen Dobbie

GOVERNOR WARNS FUEL STOCKS WILL RUN OUT IN JUNE

From: Governor & C in C Malta                                                    To:  The War Office

Following for Chiefs of Staff.  Most Secret.

The non arrival of the recent incoming convoy has accentuated a supply situation which is already unsatisfactory.

2.  Present position is that supplies generally will last until end of June with following important exceptions.

(a)  Kerosene will last only till mid June and coal early June.

(b)  Motor transport petrol will last until end of April or early May.  This does not include Fortress reserve of 750 tons DTD 230 and 224 which it is essential to keep in case we are attacked.

(c)  Submarine diesel is down to two months and furnace oil (for HM ships and civil generating station) to 5900 tons.  Bombs are at three months on present consumption.  Stocks of cement, timber and small arms ammunition are inadequate.

3.  All service and civil expenditure of petrol has been cut to the bone.  Training of army units is almost at a standstill and important works have been stopped or curtailed.  Further cuts would prejudice our offensive activities and defence of Island.  Consumption of all other items has been reduced to a minimum, especially drastic cuts having been made on coal, fodder and kerosene.

4.  The minimum amount required for month to prevent stocks of all items service and civil falling below present level is 15000 tons, on basis of present consumption reduced as it is to siege conditions.  It would be most undesirable to have to remain indefinitely on this basis.

5.  Until situation in Cyrenaica radically changes difficulties of getting convoys from east will not diminish.  Consider it essential to explore seriously and very urgently possibility using all other available means of getting supplies not only from east but from west also.  This is all the more important if situation French North Africa is likely to deteriorate.  I am sure these things are being closely considered by you but I feel it important to point out very clearly that the problem is an urgent one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 19 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather   Wind north west.  Continuous rain; very cold.

1016-1022 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Cyril Jennings, Royal Navy, St Angelo (died of wounds); Private Alexander Hawksley, 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  No operations owing to very bad weather.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just 2 patrol; one Maryland Just 1 patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Part of Old Station HQ building blown off.  Aerodrome unserviceable due to rain and weather conditions.  Steps taken to find alternative accommodation due to damaged, leaking barrack blocks.  Two houses taken at Mosta and men moved in.  Conditions on camp deplorable.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Petrol-less day.  Heavy rain all day.  No air raids.  Private Hawksley died in Central Civil Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that all A Company and details were safe in the Middle East.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Weather very squally.  Marqee used as Orderly Room ripped by wind and had to be struck.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued but cancelled at 1200 hours – extremely heavy rain: heaviest this winter.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  The Battalion supplied working parties for Ta Qali aerodrome, approximately 100 men.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 1 (250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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17 February 1942: Malta’s Worst Ever Winter

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STORMS REPLACE THE HAIL OF BOMBS

Wellington bombers

Gales and heavy continuous rain keep the enemy away but make life in Malta very uncomfortable in stone buildings designed for hot, dry weather.  Rainfall is currently twice the average for February in what is becoming the worst winter on record.  Ta Qali and Hal Far are little better than lakes, preventing the Malta’s air forces from taking to the air to protect convoys or take on the enemy.  Road conditions and the lack of available fuel mean that most journeys on the Island have to be on foot – often for miles.

WEATHER BRINGS RESPITE TO MOURN THE DEAD

Funerals take place today at St Andrews Cemetery for five servicemen killed by the bomb which destroyed the Regent Cinema on Sunday.  Meanwhile it has been announced that another serviceman has died as a result of injuries sustained in the raid.

FOUR WELLINGTONS LOST

Four Wellington aircraft from a delivery flight for Malta were lost overnight.  The four were among a group of thirteen which left Gibraltar overnight heading for Luqa.  Italian news has reported one Wellington shot down in flames by fighters from Castel Vetrano airfield, with a crew of six taken prisoner.  A second Wellington is also reported forced down at Modica by German fighters.  The aircraft was undamaged but its crew of seven were captured.  A third was shot down into the sea by JU 88 aircraft just 45 kilometres from Malta.  F/O J Willis-Richards was rescued by an Italian destroyer; the remainder of the crew did not survive.  The fourth Wellington crashed on landing at Luqa airfield: the aircraft is a write-off but the crew escaped uninjured.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 18 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  80% cloud.  Wind southerly.  Rain continuously during the day; cold.

0906-0943 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s flies over the Island from south to north at 24000 feet without dropping bombs.  Aircraft believed to be on reconnaissance mission.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

No further alerts  Rain and storm conditions continuous.  Little friendly aircraft activity during the night owing to bad weather.

Military casualties  Wing Commander Norman Mulholland DFC, Royal Air Force (RAF); Sergeant Arthur Wills Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Leonard Brain; Sergeant Edward Anstee RAF Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant James Andrews, RAF; Private Alexander Wilson, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment died from injuries received in the bombing of the Regent Cinema.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Carmel Briffa (age 60).

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; one Sunderland from Gibraltar; thirteen Wellingtons from Gibraltar (four missing).  Departures  One Sunderland to Gibraltar, one Wellington to Shallufa, one Wellington to LG224, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just I patrol photo-reconnaissance (PR) Corfu harbour; one Maryland PR Agostoli, Navarin, Patras, Just 2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Beaufighter PR Sicilian aerodromes.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable except for take-off.  Squadrons left to operate at Luqa.  40 personnel attached Luqa; rations arranged.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Re-grouping of NIB to create as large a mobile reserve as possible.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Meanee Day (1).  Battalion parade on Floriana Parade Ground: spoiled by rain. Funeral of Private Wilson and Private Byers at St Andrews.  Rest of the day a holiday.  No air raids: weather too bad.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  The regimental funeral took place of the late Adjutant Captain P Low, Captain H Gough and Fusilier Haunce at St Andrews’ Cemetery.  The Brigadier and representatives of all military units attended.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Private A Wilson died at 90th General Hospital as a result of injuries received on Sunday 15th February.  Corporal Langdon’s injuries are not so serious as at first thought.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Heavy rain all day.  Aircraft activites hampered.  Luqa working party continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Named after a battle in India on 17th February 1843, in which the Cheshire Regiment played an important role

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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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16 February 1942: Malta Must Have More Guns

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  • Regent Cinema rescue effort continues
  • Malta’s defenders learn lessons from Tobruk

COASTAL DEFENCES NEED URGENT REINFORCEMENTS                                                                           

From: Governor & Commander in Chief Malta                                                         To:  The War Office

Anti-aircraft Guns Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

First.  Additional equipment not allowed for in present 1st Coast Regiment War Establishment should read as follows.  QF 12 pounders Bugibba two.  QF 12 pounders Delimara two.  QF 18 pounders Grand Harbour two.  BL 4.7 inch Isola two.  BL 4 inch Ta’ Xbiex two.  BL 4 inch St Angelo two.  QF4 inch Manoel done.  MMG .5 inch Marsamxett two.  Moving lights Leonardo two.

Second.  Above equipment manned at present by 1st Coast Regiment by reducing other detachments throughout.

Third.  Additional Inner Harbour Defences specified in ‘First’ will be manned permanently.  Detailed proposals for Establishment new Inner Harbour Defence Battery will follow.

Fourth.  (A) Great difficulty in obtaining Royal Malta Artillery [RMA] personnel within reasonable time.  Formation of new Inner Harbour Defence Battery involved splitting 1st Coast Regiment and formation new 5th Coast Regiment requiring additional HQ establishment.  (B) Split indicated in (A) above will entail proposed reorganisation as follows.  1st Coast Regiment as at present less Delimara and Campbell Batteries with Inner Harbour Defence Battery in addition.  Proposed 5th Coast Regiment to include Delimara and Campbell Batteries with 13th Defence Battery RMA from 26th Defence Regiment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 17 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; rough at times.  70% low cloud; rain at times.

0942-0959 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by six ME 109s flies up the north coast from east to west.  No bombs are dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1045-1114 hrs  Three ME 109s patrol to the south.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne; no interceptions.

1136-1158 hrs  One JU 88 crosses the coast over Grand Harbour and drops eight bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns at Hal Far engage one JU 88 at 5000 feet.  Eight Hurricanes are airborne; no engagement.

1224-1248 hrs  Three plus ME 109s patrol around the Island without crossing the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1329 hrs  Two JU 88s and six ME 109s approach from the north.  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Qali area and in the sea off Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Fighters are up; no interceptions.

1410 hrs  One JU 88 flying at 12000 feet drops four bombs on St Paul’s Bay; demolishing a house –  civilian casualties.

1415 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali camp causing numerous small bomb craters on the aerodrome and damaging Headquarters at 126 Squadron dispersal.  Three Hurricanes are damaged; Cpl McAlpine is slightly injured.  The aerodrome is currently still serviceable.

1510 hrs  All clear.

1532-1555 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approach from the north, fly across Mellieha Ridge from south to north and recede without dropping bombs.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.  Fighters up; no engagement.

1720-1727 hrs  Four ME 109s approach from the north but do not cross the coast.  No scrambles from Ta Qali; the weather is deteriorating.

2032-2113 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, comes no closer than five miles and drops bombs in the sea.

2146-2210 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, drops bombs five miles north east of Gozo and recedes.

Military casualties  Bn Quarter Master William Woodley, 65th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Kirkop  Michael Farrugia (age 31);  St Paul’s Bay  Emanuel Borg (age 60); Valletta  Joseph Cremona (age 21).

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 16 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Wellingtons to Shallufa; three Beaufighters to LG 10.

HAL FAR   Night 16/17th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron laid one mine outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition nil: weather good.

LUQA  69 Squadron  Special search for enemy striking force.  40 Squadron  One Wellington SW Tripoli diversion raid.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  1700 hrs  Lt Col E A Arderne DSO OBE, 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry lectured to officers of brigade on “Tobruk”.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Commanding Officer gave a lecture to Central Infantry Brigade on the “Defences of Tobruk”.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn: C Company return to Bn Sector from Ghain Tuffieha and occupy Marfa east.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.  Casualties still being extricated from Regent Cinema.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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15 February 1942: 20 hours of Air Raids – 41 Killed by Single Bomb

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  • Malta under alert for 19 hours 58 minutes
  • Daytime air raid lasts 10 hours 51 minutes
  • 141 enemy bombers and fighters
  • 175 High Explosive bombs dropped on Luqa and Valletta area
  • Bomb brings down cinema onto audience
  • Mine disposal hero killed
  • Eight enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged

CINEMA HIT DURING SUNDAY AFTERNOON FEATURE

Regent Cinema rescue operations (NWMA Malta)

At 1754 hrs today a single JU 88 bomber turned inland towards Fort St Elmo and aimed a stick of four 250 kg bombs along the peninsula of Valletta.  One hit the Casino Maltese, killing at least eight people, the next struck the Palace and the third smashed into the Regent Cinema.  The auditorium was almost full for the afternoon showing of ‘The North-West Mounted Police’ starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  The building collapsed onto the audience, most of whom were servicemen enjoying their Sunday leave.  Early estimates are 15 civilians and 26 servicemen killed and at least 29 wounded.

Servicemen and civilians who had been sheltering nearby rushed to the scene to help, followed by the Police, ARP squads and medical teams.  According to ARP Sergeant Major John Mifsud:  “…we saw a harrowing scene, with limp and moving limbs entangled between the debris.  We searched for the injured to whom we administered first-aid before rushing them to hospital; our timely intervention saved a few lives.”  (1)

George Boswell was one of the men rescued from the debris.  He had stepped outside to visit the WC when the bomb struck.  A brick wall fell on him, injuring his leg and leaving him in a coma for several days.  

Mr Anton Caruana Galizia was killed in the raid – a man described as “a popular and prominent Maltese” by the Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral:   “I remember the day my father’s brother, Anton Caruana Galizia, was buried.  He had been hit by a splinter from a bomb dropped on Valletta in February 1942.  My father was preparing to leave for the funeral and I remarked on the black tie he was wearing.  He answered, ‘It is not half as black as my heart’.  It was a remark I shall never forget. I was seven years old.”  Anne Parnis, Glenelg, S Australia, 2011

ROYAL NAVY MINE DISPOSAL OFFICER KILLED

Lt Cmdr W Hiscock, DSC, GC

The deaths have been confirmed of Lieutenant Commander William Ewart Hiscock, DSC, and Mrs Alice Beatrice Hiscock.  The bomb and mine disposal officer and his wife were killed by an enemy bomb which landed directly on their home in St George’s Barracks.  Lt Cdr Hiscock, Royal Navy (Retired) was appointed to ‘miscellaneous duties, sea mine disposal’ at HMS St Angelo, where he has served since 1939.  He will receive the posthumous award of the George Cross for disarming a hitherto unknown type of Italian torpedo machine in 15 feet of water of St George’s Bay in September 1941.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 16 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  30% cloud; bright periods.  Wind westerly.

0745-1836 hrs  One continuous air raid.

0745 hrs  Twelve ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0840 hrs  Five Beaufighters from 252 Squadron detachment at Luqa take off to return to Egypt but are warned to return to base due to an incoming enemy raid.  Some fail to hear the message and one is shot down by ME 109s a few miles east of Malta.

Seven JU 88s approach from the east and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage by Height Control destroying one JU 88 which crashes in flames on land near Bubaqra and damaging a second which left the Island smoking badly.  Ten guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery fire 176 rounds, most guns claiming hits on the enemy.  One gun destroys a JU 88 making its escape.

0940-1040 hrs  Wing Commanders Satchell and Rabagliati lead 242 Squadron and 1435 Flight in an attack on three JU 88s without result.  They then attack five ME 109s.  W/Cmdr Satchell shoots off the tail of one and watches the aircraft hit the water: claims one destroyed.  W/Cmdr Rabagliati attacks one ME 109 which turns over and drops into the sea.

0955 hrs  Bombs on are dropped on Safi landing strip and Ta Karach.  One Other Rank is killed and two injured in the raids.

1000 hrs  While enemy fighters patrol off Kalafrana, three JU 88 approach over Kalafrana to bomb Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  All guns of 225 Light Ack Ack battery at Hal Far engage and shoot down one JU 88 which crashes into the sea south of Dingli.

1045 hrs  Twelve aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali and attacked three JU 88s and one ME 109.  No claims.

The ME 109s continue to patrol south of the Island at varying heights up to 18000 feet in formations of up to six aircraft.

1055 hrs  Hal Far aerodrome is attacked again by enemy aircraft.  Three JU 88s at 4-600 feet are engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns.  Four positions each claim one hit.

1100 hrs  Three JU 88 approach over Comino and drop bombs on the Safi strip from a height of 9000 feet.  Barrages are fired and the bombers split up, one receding north over Sliema and the other two south.

ME 109s continue to patrol off the Island.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 dives to 7000 feet over Kalafrana Bay, is engaged by Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire and drops bombs in the sea.

1415 hrs  One JU 88 approaches over St Paul’s Bay at 12400 feet, dives towards Grand Harbour at 6000 feet and drops bombs on Sliema sea front.  Both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1430 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and dives towards Grand Harbour at 4-5000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; bombs are dropped on St Angelo.

1500 hrs  Enemy fighters continue their patrols off the Island.

1636 hrs  A returning Maryland is attacked by two ME 109s.  One ME 109 is shot down but the Maryland itself is so damaged that it has to make a forced landing in Kalafrana Bay.  All the crew are safe.

1715 hrs  Twelve aircraft under S/Ldr Beazley of 249 and 605 Squadrons are scrambled to escort another Maryland.  They are jumped by ME 109s.  They take evasive action but are not successful.  Pilot Officer Lowe of 605 Squadron is shot down into the sea and reported missing.

1800 hrs  One JU 88s dives over Valetta and scores a direct hit on the Casino Maltese, the Palace and the Regent Cinema.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1951-2337 hrs  Fourteen aircraft approach from the north but only two cross the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0052-0150 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0310-0358 hrs; 0427-0535 hrs  One aircraft at a time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.

0620-0708 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.  No bombs reported.

Military casualties  Leading Stoker William Dempster, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman J W Mills, HMS Cleopatra; Ordinary Seaman W Walker, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman Alexander Barr, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class Ronald Williams, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class John W. Wilsdon, HMS Maori; Stoker 1st Class George Cole, HMS St.Angelo.

Aircraftsman Robert Kemp, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Corporal Gordon Singer, RAF; Sergeant John Webb, RAF; Flight Sergeant Clive Mulholland, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Aircraftsman 2nd Class Arthur Sydney Day, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Granville Jackson, Royal Canadian Air force; Aircraftman 1st Class Henry Gorman RAF VR; Sergeant Alan Largent, RAF VR; Sergeant Daniel Keane RAF VR.

Private Francis Byers, 1st Battalion (Bn) The Cheshire Regiment; Private Frank Wilson, 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment; Private William Dudman, 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Private Vincent Vella, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Thomas Wallwork, 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers; Sergeant Robert Cass, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Fusilier Albert Haunce, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers; Capt Henry Gough, 2nd Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers; Captain Peter Low, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara   Pio Carabott, age 34.  Floriana  Gerald Ciantar, age 19; Giulio Mifsud, age 19.  Hamrun  Joseph Cassar, age 30; Mary Cassar, age 19; Renzo Flores, age 65; Albert Zammit, age 26.  Paola  John Attard, age 20; Toni Farrugia, age 14; Michael Wickan, age 19.  Pieta  Frances Patsy Cutter, age 19.  Sliema  Melita Abela, age 26, Joseph Amodeo, age 24.  Valletta  Dr R Bonello MD, age 52; Dr A Caruana Galizia LL.D, age 46; Joseph Cassar, age 17; Francis Cremona, age 16; Joseph Falzon, age 17; Frank Farrugia, age 13; Raffaele Mallia, age 54; Frangiska (Kitty) Mamo, age 17; Fr Gerald Pace OC, age 40; Manasser Reginiano, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Gretz, 7/LG 1, pilot JU 88 bomber pilot shot down.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire:  Pilot Leutnant Waldemar Stadermann, Observer Oberfeldwebel Walter Hesse, Air Gunner Unteroffizier Martin Knobloch, Wireless Operator Oberfeldwebel Albert Stahl; all of 6/KG 77.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HM ships Penelope, Legion, Lance arrived.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Clare from Cairo; one Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Clare, one Whitley to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to 108 MU; five Beaufighters to LG 10 (two reported missing).

HAL FAR  Night 15/16th  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack an enemy force of four cruisers and eight destroyers.  Hits were observed on two cruisers and one destroyer.  Ack Ack and moderate smoke screen effective.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland special search.  S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special search.

TA QALI  Continuous air raids during the day; many scrambles.  No night operations.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Reinforcements arrived from Middle East:  1st Bn Durham Light Infantry 2 Officers; 4 Other Ranks; Malta Tanks 4 Other Ranks.  1st Durham Light Infantry Fourth Rifle Company which had been expected failed to arrive.  1800 hrs  Bomb scored direct hit on Regent Cinema, Valletta during performance.  Numerous service personnel and civilians buried under debris.  1 Cheshire casualties:  three Other Ranks killed; four Other Ranks injured.  Working parties of 1 Cheshire co-operated with civilian ARP in extricating casualties.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Up to this date 1 Hamps had one killed and two injured as a result of enemy action.  8 King’s Own had one killed and three injured when bomb fell on Regent Cinema.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT During the afternoon the Regent Cinema in Kingsway, Valletta received a direct hit.  There were a large number of service personnel in the building at the time.  Casualties were fairly heavy; exact numbers not yet known.  We lost Private F Wilson and Private F Byers, A Company, killed; Privates Hawksley, Blinkham, Richards and Harrod injured.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that A Company and details of Battalion had arrived from Middle East and were at the dockside.  However, it turned out that only two Officers and four Other Ranks had arrived and the ships carrying the remainder of the details and A Company had been forced to return to the Middle East through enemy action.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  The Regent Cinema in Valletta received a direct hit.  The cinema was full at the time, causing many casualties.  Two men of 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers were injured and admitted to hospital.  Rescue parties from 24 Fortress Coy and 173 Tunnelling Coy RE were sent out and did admirable rescue work for 18 hours.  Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  This was a very sad day for the Battalion.  1750 hrs a bomb fell on Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Among the casualties was the Adjutant, Captain P Low and OC A Company Captain H Gough: they were both killed.  Fusilier Haunce of C Company was also killed.  The bodies were recovered and brought to Battalion Headquarters.  This loss of the Adjutant  Capt Low and Capt Gough, both very popular and efficient officers, is most keenly felt by all the officers and men of the Battalion.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Four men of this unit were injured when a bomb fell on the Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Private A Wilson and Corporal T Langdon were the most seriously injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party.  Bombs at Sliema and St George’s Barracks.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a heavy raid on Valletta a cinema was hit causing a number of Army personnel casualties.  The Battalion was fortunate in sustaining only one slight casualty: Private W Butler.

(1) Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten’, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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14 February 1942: Bomb Disposal Officer’s Lucky Escape

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UNEXPLODED BOMB AT THE OPERA HOUSE

This morning Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer Lt George Carroll received a call from the Police in Valletta: an unexploded bomb is located close opposite their station:

Opera House with balustrade to R (NWMA Malta)

“When you look at the front of the Opera House, to the right a building ran across the present Square, with a balustrade on the top of it, which was part of a walkway.  I was told that there was a bomb on the balustrade.

When I arrived, I saw that the bomb was hanging suspended over the street.  The balustrade had a ledge extending towards the square.  I edged along this parapet on my knees – knowing I could fall onto the pavement below.  When I reached the bomb I found it was one which I hadn’t seen before:  it was small, made of metal, and on the top it had a rocking cap.  The bomb was attached to a wire, which I had to carefully snip, so that I could deal with the fuze and then take the bomb away for examination.

I traced the wire back and found that stretched across streets and houses.  Then I realised that, while I was on the ledge delicately holding the bomb, someone anywhere in Valletta could have found the wire and pulled it out of curiosity, banging the bomb against the balustrade and exploding it in my hands.

I found out that the bomb had been sent up by the Navy.  To deal with Stukas, they invented a system whereby they sent into the air a pot of explosive with a rocking cap on top – the fuze mechanism – attached to a thousand feet of wire, with a parachute at the end.  It would probably be fired up by a mortar, to launch it vertically into the sky.  As it was fired into the air, the parachute would separate and as a Stuka hit the wire, the parachute would pull across the wing;   The pot would hit the wing and the rocking cap would set it off, destroying the wing and bringing the plane down…I could have been blown to smithereens!”

Realising that other such bombs could easily fall into less expert hands with fatal consequences, Lt Carroll promptly arranges for an Information Office to issue a warning to the public, which appears on the front page of the Times of Malta.  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 15 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; light.  Clear sky.

0941-1040 hrs  A raid by one ME 109 fighter which drops two bombs on Ta Qali and machine-guns the rear of Chateau Bertrand.  Light Ack Ack engage.  A reconnaissance mission by one JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack at height control.  Hurricanes are airborne; no engagement.

1051-1135 hrs  Two raids, each of three plus ME109s aircraft orbit an area north of Grand Harbour without approaching the coast.

1151-1354 hrs  Three ME 109s approach at 15000 feet and dive to 5000 feet to drop bombs on Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Bombs damage the Guard-room, Photo section and and equipment store: one administration building collapses and three lorries are destroyed.  AC1 Wilson sustains slight injuries.  Ten enemy aircraft patrol at 17000 feet, waiting for two Marylands returning from a convoy patrol.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne and the two Marylands land safely.

1612-1753 hrs  Eight enemy fighters approach from the north.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.  No enemy aircraft cross the coast.

1950-2045 hrs  One enemy bomber approaches the Island from the north.  One anti-aircraft barrage is fired and bombs fall in the sea north east of Ricasoli.

0200-0737 hrs  Two air raid warnings last most of the night.  A series of eleven aircraft approach the Island in ten incursions.  17 barrages are fired.  Bombs are dropped in the sea and on land in the areas of Mosta, Corradino, French Creek, Zebbug, Mqabba and Madliena.

Military casualties  Leading Seaman Augustus Rendell, HM Whaler Swona, Royal Naval Patrol Service; Lance Sergeant Leonard Johnson, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mrs Alice Hiscock, St.Georges Barracks.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Beaufort, two Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Catalina to Cairo; one Beaufort to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night 14/15th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched on shipping search.  Area covered: Malta-Lampedusa-Rerenna-Tripoli.  Nothing sighted.  Two Hurricanes of 605 Squadron based at Hal Far are scrambled from Ta Qali.  P/O Lowe is shot down in the sea and reported missing.  P/O Wigley fired at an ME 109 with no observed result.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just I patrol; one Maryland Just II patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour; one Maryland special search for friendly convoy.  252 Squadron  Four Beaufighters protection of friendly convoy.  21 Squadron  One Blenheim reconnaissance for enemy forces.  40 Squadron  Two Wellingtons attacked Gerbini aerodrome; six Wellingtons attacked Catania; three despatched to attack Comiso aerodrome; two aircraft also attacked Syracuse; one aircraft also attacked Augusta and one aircraft attacked Augusta only.  One aircraft jettisoned his bombs and returned early.  S/D Flight  One Wellington search around friendly convoy.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Regimental Dance Band plays at Manoel Theatre, Valletta.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1 – not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in 1942, February 1942, Uncategorized

 

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13 February 1942: All Day Attacks on Malta – Convoy Lost

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  • Air raid warnings begin at 9.30 am and last all day
  • Jericho trumpet announces JU 87B Stuka dive-bombers over Malta
  • 500kg bomb penetrates air raid shelter
  • Convoy cannot get through despite 25 ship protection
  • HMS Tempest torpedoed and sunk
  • Interim fuel supplies arrive by submarine

JU 87 ‘JERICHO TRUMPETS’ SOUND OVER MALTA

JU 87 Stuka dive-bomber

Reports have been confirmed that Junkers 87 dive-bombers have joined Luftwaffe operations over Malta.  Also known as the ‘Stuka’, the JU 87’s ‘Jericho Trumpet’, a wailing siren which sounds as the aircraft dives and climbs, can strike terror in the hearts of those under fire.

CONVOY FOR MALTA CANNOT GET THROUGH

This afternoon enemy aircraft spotted a convoy heading for Malta and attacked the merchant vessel Clan Campbell, forcing her to turn back.  The ship was one of two merchantmen which left Alexandria yesterday loaded with supplies for the Island, including desperately-needed fuel.  Rowallan Castle sailed two hours later, loaded with ammunition and other supplies including a Bofors gun, and accompanied by four destroyers.

The two Clan Line ships were accompanied by a protective force of one cruiser and four destroyers.  Despite this, a further attack in the early hours of the morning set fire to the second transport, Clan Chattan, causing her crew to abandon ship.  Two of the destroyers accompanied Clan Campbell back towards Tobruk.  Force K sailed from Malta yesterday evening, deploying one cruiser and six destroyers to meet and protect the incoming convoy into harbour. 

Early this morning an additional force of two cruisers and seven destroyers, led by Naiad under Admiral Vian, came upon the burning Clan Chattan and the destroyer Decoy was ordered to sink her.  Meanwhile, Rowallan Castle with her accompanying convoy was under the first of a series of enemy air attacks which would end in the loss of the merchant ship and all her cargo. 

UNEXPLODED 500KG BOMB IN AIR RAID SHELTER

“On Friday 13th we had another blitz on Manoel Island and by the grace of God we were very, very, lucky. Four bombs dropped in Teatro Street within 20 yards of the corner of the Cathedral. A good house was destroyed; but within that house was a large unexploded one; and I am told that there were two other smaller ones unexploded in the next house or on the roof.” (1)

A Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal (BD) Officer was called to the scene and defused an unexploded 500kg bomb inside the shelter.  The BD squad returned next day to remove the bomb, and to deal with a 50kg UXB in the adjacent building.  (2) 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 14 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  Rain in morning; bright periods later.

0934-0958 hrs  One JU 88 bomber escorted by fighters approaches from the north and crosses the Island from south east to north west on reconnaissance.  Ack Ack engage.

1012-1220 hrs  Seventeen ME 109 fighters approach from the north and drops bombs on Ta Qali and on Mosta, causing damage to houses.  Several bombs fall on the RAF camp and airfield at Ta Qali, damaging two aircraft and barrack blocks.  Three ME 109s bomb a road leading to the motor transport building, destroying several vehicles and bursting a water main.   Five casualties are admitted to hospital, none seriously injured.  Ack Ack engage; no hits claimed.

1245-1355 hrs  Six JU 88 escorted by twelve ME 109s approach from the north, dropping numerous bombs on Valletta and Floriana.  Significant damage to property is reported in Valletta, and to the RASC yard Hornworks and RAOC Depot billet in Floriana.  Ack Ack engage; no hits claimed.

1427-1632 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty plus ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs in the Pieta-Gzira-Lazaretto and Manoel Island areas, causing extensive damage.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no hits claimed.

PM  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne cover the arrival of a delivery flight of eight Beaufighter aircraft.

1641-1835 hrs  Three plus JU 88s and nine JU 87s escorted by fighters approach from the north and drop bombs in the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying one ME 109, one JU 87 and one JU 88, and probably destroying another JU 88.

2000-2046 hrs  Six aircraft approach from the north, seemingly unable to find the Island, and drops bombs in the sea.

Night 13/14th  Enemy aircraft come in singly in three raids;  one passes Wellington bombers from Luqa as they head out on a night mission to attack Sicilian aerodromes.

2200-2230 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and drops bombs west of Anchor Bay and in the north of the Island.  The aircraft is illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

2242-2308 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north but does not cross the coast.

0036-0136 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west, crosses over Comino, recedes to 45 miles, returns and flies over Gozo before finally receding.  No bombs are dropped.

Military casualties  Ordinary Seaman Robert Allan, HMS Talbot submarine base;  PO Harry Ball, Sick Bay, HMS St.Angelo; Derek Joell, HMS Decoy; Sergeant Arthur Moore, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant Bernard Lawrence, 32nd LAA Regt; Gunner Edwin Whitcher, 32nd LAA Regt; Gunner Gaetan Zarb, 3rd Regt, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Michael Debattista, age 30.  Hamrun  Francis Pace, age 22.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 13 FEBRUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Tempest out of Malta torpedoed and sunk while captive under enemy tow.  HMS Porpoise arrived from Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; eight Beaufighters from LG 10; Catalina Flying Boat arrived Kalafrana from Gibraltar with Major General Symes as passenger.  Departures  Two Cathays to Cairo; two Beaufighters, three Hudsons to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Taranto-Messina; one Maryland Just II patrol.  21 Squadron  One Blenheim Just Iie patrol.  40 Squadron  Six Wellingtons despatched to attack Catania and Gerbini aerodromes.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Three big raids during the day.  Bombs in the vicinity of Battalion HQ; no damage or casualties to us.  Working parties as usual.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Observation Post at Tal Virtu handed over to Intelligence Section, 1 Cheshire Regiment.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  A small bomb fell on Barrack Square.  No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 1 (50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.   1800 hrs  This Company handed over Observation Post Tal Minsia to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a raid Messerschmitts dropped bombs near our working party and caused injuries to Private Atherton and Lance Corporal Ward.

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

(2)  UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010

 

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12 February 1942: 58 Aircraft in One Raid – 42 Civilians Killed

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ATTACK ON GRAND HARBOUR ECLIPSES ILLUSTRIOUS BLITZ

42 civilians were killed this afternoon in a single massive air raid on Grand Harbour.  18 JU 88 bombers with a 40-strong Messerchmitt fighter escort swooped down the north coast just before two o’clock this afternoon.  They dropped bombs on Valletta, Ricasoli, Zabbar, Corradino, Marsa, Hamrun and Paola, as well as outlying districts.  Densely populated areas of Paola were particularly badly hit: 34 are reported dead in this area alone.

The sheer numbers of aircraft made it impossible for Malta’s Ack Ack gunners to prevent them reaching their targets.  It is estimated that over 150 bombs of up to 500kg were dropped in the raid, which lasted well over an hour.  Airfields were also heavily bombed: many bombs fell on Luqa and the Safi strip, and at least 14 High Explosive bombs are reported on Hal Far.

… “Paola was badly blitzed; whole streets are down, if we are to believe a godly soldier who is stationed there…A corner of Valletta Palace was knocked off; a bomb dropped in Palace Square; it was one of those which goes off on the slightest impact and does not bury itself in the earth. It made only a very small saucer-like hole, but walls within 100 yards have large chunks chipped out. But it killed at least two people.

A man who was there and heard it coming flung himself down and got away with it. But a lady continued her walk and was hit in the face; and a well known man Mr Reggie Smith who was going to the library had his leg blown off. He died a fortnight later. At his funeral which I took in the Chapel at Ta Braxia itself, a large number of Maltese actually came into the building, encouraged by Mr. Charles Edwards.”

Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 13 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather   100% low cloud; rain.  Wind westerly.

0818-0951 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers, two ME 109 fighters and two unidentified aircraft approach from the north and carry out patrols at varying heights off the south east of the Island.  Malta’s fighters are up but do not intercept.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; all aircraft recede north.

1013-1023 hrs  One unidentified aircraft approaches from the north at 8000 feet and appears to be searching about 15 miles north of St Paul’s Bay, before finally receding north.  Fighters are up but do not intercept.  The plane does not come within range of Heavy Ack Ack guns.

1035-1050 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north and again appear to be searching 15 miles north of St Paul’s Bay.  Malta’s fighters are not up; enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

Dornier 24 Flying Boat

1120 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes are scrambled to intercept one JU 88, one Dornier 24 and a number of ME 109s.  P/O Ormerod attacks the JU 88 which catches fire and goes straight down into the sea.  The Dornier 24 and two ME 109s are also attacked and hit.  Two Hurricanes are also damaged: one crashes on landing, the other is missing: F/Lt Allan is reported missing.

1158-1241 hrs  Two JU 88s and two ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on the Safi strip.  Malta’s fighters are still up and engage the enemy.   Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1345 hrs  Three aircraft of 249 Squadron mount a search for F/Lt Allan, with no result.  It is thought he was picked up by the Dornier 24 as he bailed out.

1351-1523 hrs  18 JU 88 and 40 ME 109s launch an attack on Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Valletta, Ricasoli, Zabbar, Corradino, Marsa, Hamrun and Paola. There is significant damage to civilian areas with many casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1413 hrs  Six JU 88s attack Hal Far, dropping fourteen bombs and causing blast damage to buildings.  One Swordfish and one Hurricane are damaged.  One soldier of 2nd Bn The Devonshire Regiment is seriously hurt.

1415 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi Strip and Giacomo Ridge area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage, firing a total of 178 rounds.  Hits are claimed by four gun positions.  Gunner W Goulden is removed to No 45 General Hospital with fractured ribs.  There is damage to tent and accommodation at XLS 26 and billets at XLN 77.

1429 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

1520 hrs  Bombs are dropped across the area of 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment: no military damage or casualties are reported.

1607-1835 hrs  One bomber and 25 ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa village.  The fighters carry out an offensive patrol.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2135-2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns three miles east of Gozo and recedes without dropping bombs.

2213-2236 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast over Mellieha and drops bombs in the sea before receding over Gozo.  Ack Ack do not engage.

0043-0057 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west, drops bombs in the sea west of Gozo and recedes without crossing the coast.

0339-0440 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and is barraged as it approaches St Paul’s Bay, causing it to jettison bombs in the sea and recede north.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Alexander McDonald, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, pilot, HMS Grebe; SPO Joseph Fenech, Royal Navy, Lazzaretto; Sergeant Arthur Moore, WOAG, Royal Air Force; Private Reginald Panton, 2nd Bn The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; WOII Emanual Farrugia, 3rd Regt, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Jack Hart, 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment; Gunner William Jones, 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Gharghur  Carmelo Micallef, age 8.  Marsa  Carmelo Calleja, age 54. 

Paola  Maria Agius, age 31; Victor Agius, age 29; Carmel Bugeja, age 76; Emanuel Busuttil, age 26; Antonia Busuttil, age 4; Carmela Cachia, age 52; Carmel Camilleri, age 30; John Desira, age 70; Joseph Fenech, age 35; Maria Fleri, age 29; Lilian Fleri, age 1; Jane Gatt, age 55; Anna Gera, age 75; Carmela Grech, age 53; Mary Grech, age 21; Aurelia Grech, age 19; Jane Grima, age 19; Rosina Mallia, age 56; Louis Mallia, age 9, John Mazzello, age 75; Carmela Morris, age 68; Regina Pace, age 64; Joseph Pisani, age 64; Jane Pisani, age 50; Carmela Pisani, age 34; Mary Salsero, age 17; Lawrence Scerri, age 55; Charles Theobold, age 77; John Vassallo, age 75; Stanley Warne, age 13; Andrea Zammit, age 76; Stephen Zammit, age 62; Carmelo Zammit, age 33; Marianna Zarb, age 50.

Qormi  Joseph Farrugia, age 36.  Tarxien  Alfonzon Camilleri, age 46; Gio Batta Cutajar, age 14; Michelina Grech, age 72.  Zejtun  Salvina Bonnici, age 15; Giusa Buttigieg, age 14.

Enemy casualties  Oberfeldwebel Heinz Bosch, pilot of a JU.88 bomber – shot down; Oberleutnant Herbert Doerz pilot of a JU 88 bomber – shot down and crashed into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 12 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  one Cathay, three Hudsons, three Beaufighters from Gibraltar (one Beaufighter reported missing).  Departures  Four Hudsons to 108 MU; one Champion to Cairo.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF3 patrol.  40 Squadron  One Wellington Catania Aerodrome; six Wellingtons Tripoli shipping.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company handed over Della Grazia are to 1 Dorsets by 1200 hrs; retained Rinella in Battalion area.  A Company took over Valetta from 11 Lancs and moved into Camerata Barracks.  & Platoon B Company took over Corradino from 6 Platoon A Company; C Company took over Notre Dame from A Company.  Companies carried out fortnightly route march.  Working party on Luqa was bombed: four men wounded and admitted to hospital:   Private Dunn broken ankle and contusion of face; Private Bromley a broken femur; Private McNeice contusion of face.  Private Lea slightly wounded.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Brigade boundaries altered to include 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry on south west coast.  1st Cheshire take over Whitehall-Sliema Creek area from this unit.  D Company hand over Valletta posts to 1st Cheshires and become mobile reserve.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Panton killed during afternoon. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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11 February 1942: Three Ships Bombed – Destroyer Sunk in Harbour

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  • Phoenicia Hotel: staff find unexploded bomb
  • Three Royal Navy ships bombed at Malta: one destroyer sunk; 26 killed
  • Blenheims caught in surprise attack
  • Military forced to have days without motor transport to save fuel

    HMS Cleopatra

CLEOPATRA AND FORTUNE BOMBED AS THEY ENTER MALTA

Cruiser HMS Cleopatra and destroyer Fortune were attacked by JU 88 bombers as they headed towards Grand Harbour this morning.  Cleopatra was hit by a 500kg bomb which passed through the forward structure and exploded, killing or mortally injuring twenty of the crew.  The two ships had made a brave dash through the western Mediterranean via Gibraltar, bringing essential spares to Malta.  Despite the bombing, both vessels made it in to harbour where Cleopatra is undergoing repairs.

DESTROYER SUNK IN GRAND HARBOUR

Overnight a single enemy bomber manages to hit the destroyer HMS Maori while she is lying at anchor in Grand Harbour.  The bomb enters the engine and gear room and explodes, sinking the ship. Most of the crew are sleeping in on-shore accommodation but six are killed in the explosion.

BLENHEIMS ATTACKED ON RETURN TO LUQA

Blenheims of 21 Squadron at Luqa were ambushed today as they returned to base from a shipping sweep over the Gulf of Gabes.  As the lead aircraft approached Malta, the radio operator was alerted that an air raid was in progress.  The formation moved into a holding pattern to the south of Malta.  After fifteen minutes, the leader radioed for further instructions.  Almost immediately the Blenheims were swooped on by enemy fighters.  One aircraft piloted by Sergeant John Stubbs was shot down into the sea.  A search vessel found no survivors.

Bomb crater in front of Phoenicia Hotel (NWMA Archive)

PHOENICIA HOTEL UNEXPLODED BOMB

A suspected unexploded bomb was discovered in wreckage at the Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana this morning and reported to Royal Engineers HQ.  The Bomb Disposal Officer inspected the scene, confirming traces of a probable point of entry of a bomb.  It is believed to be part of a bomb load which struck Floriana yesterday in the area of the Hotel, which is currently in use by the military.  A bomb disposal squad started digging immediately and by this afternoon had uncovered a 50kg bomb ten feet below the surface, which was defuzed and removed for disposal. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 12 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Weather 100% low cloud.  Rain at times.  Wind westerly; cold.

0656-0712 hrs  Air raid alarm: caused by arrival of friendly aircraft.

0950-1141 hrs  Twelve JU 88 bombers escorted by twenty plus ME 109 fighters approach from the north and attack HM ships south of the Island.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage the enem; Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0959 hrs  Twelve JU 88s and 20 ME 109s attack HM ship south of the Island.  Malta’s fighters airborne.  Both they and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1015 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes from 249, 126, 242 and 605 Squadrons take to the air under Wing Commander Rabagliati.  They make Contact with six JU 88s and four Messerschmitts four miles north of Gozo.  Four of the Hurricanes attack two JU 88s: strikes are observed on engines.  Another JU 88 is attacked and damaged.  The engagement ends when all ammunition is used up.  No Messerschmitts are attacked but Hurricanes claim three bombers damaged.  One Hurricane is damaged by return fire.

1122 hrs  One JU 88 bombs Hal Far causing two craters on the aerodrome.  No damage to buildings or aircraft, and no casualties.  Five Light Ack Ack gun positions engage the bomber at 4000 feet but low cloud makes accurate targeting difficult.

1236-1258 hrs  Two JU 88s approach from the north.  One drops bombs in the sea; the other flies over Grand Harbour without dropping bombs.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Ta Qali squadrons are stood down.

1409-1626 hrs  Approximately 40 aircraft – JU 88s and ME 109s – approach the Island from the north and drop bombs in the sea off Tigne and St Julians, on land north east of Gudja, and near Della Grazia.  Malta’s fighters are not up.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  There is an unconfirmed report from Central Infantry Brigade that five JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers are involved in the raid.

1703-1723 hrs  Three unidentified aircraft appear to be carrying out a search ten miles north of Gozo, then recede north.

2032-2048 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north at 10-11000 feet.  Flares are observed over Gozo but no bombs are reported.  The aircraft recedes north east; guns do not engage.

0035 hrs  Flight Lieutenant Palmer is scrambled from Ta Qali for an incoming raid.  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on Grand Harbour, hitting HMS Maori which explodes and sinks.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages and the aircraft recedes north.

0214 hrs  All clear.  Flight Lieutenant Palmer proceeds to Sicily but returns owing to bad weather: operations are cancelled.

0308-1331 hrs  One bomber approaches from the north at 11000 feet, drops flares over Salina and bombs in the sea off St George’s, finally retiring northwards.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.

0345-0412 hrs  One bomber approaches from the north at 10-12000 feet, dropping flares near Luqa and bombs near Qormi, finally receding north.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three barrages.

Military casualties  HMS Cleopatra  Able Seaman (AS) Arthur Batten; AS Charles Carter; AS Ivor Connell (died of wounds) AS William Copland, Ordinary Seaman (OS) Thomas Curtis; Leading Stoker William Dempster; OS Dennis Gill; Master at Arms Eric Jex; Petty Officer George Johnson; AS Charles Kemp; OS Herbert Lawrence; Temporary Sub Lieutenant (Sub Lt) Alexander McDonald (died of wounds next day); AS John Mills; Temporary Acting Leading Seaman Denis Mitchell; Stoker 1st Class William Mitchell; OS Leonard Phillips; OS William Robinson; OS William Walker; Acting Paymaster Sub Lt Roy Walmsley;OS Leonard Warren.

HMS Maori  OS Alexander Barr; AS Sidney Chew; Sick Berth Petty Officer John Rawson (missing presumed killed); Gunner Sydney White (missing presumed killed); OS Ronald Williams; Boy John W Wilsdon.

Air Force  Flight Lieutenant Victor Nicolls (Mentioned in Despatches), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant John Stubbs, 21 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Peter Tyas,  21 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant Justyn Grabham, 21 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Gamri Chetcuti, age 12; Emilia Defelice, age 65.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 11 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Champion, two Wellingtons, four Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures   Two Wellingtons to LG 224; two Beauforts to 108 MU; eight Beaufighters to 108 MU (two reported missing).

LUQA  69 Squadron  Two Marylands SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Corfu, Argostoli, Patras, Navarino; one Maryland protection of friendly convoy.  21 Squadron  Four Blenheims shipping sweep Gulf of Gabes: Sgt Stubbs failed to return.  Wellingtons attack Catania aerodrome and Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Officers and men attached for the day from Hal Far.  2030 hrs  S/Ldr Westmacoll on intruder raid Comiso: on his approach the beacon switched off and Hurricane returned as engine vibrating.  By signal OPS 576 dated 11/2/42 night intruder operations cancelled as Hurricanes required for daylight operations.  Instructions as to removal of tanks and two cannons.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company held a TEWT on Corradino.  A petrol-less day.  Post L45 was bombed during the  afternoon.  32 bombs in vicinity of the post.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  Day without motor transport.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 11 (10 x 50kg; 1 x 2kg).

 

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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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10 February 1942: Bomb Attack on Refugee Village Kills 16

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  • Nine raids under cover of darkness
  • Enemy now using flares to illuminate targets
  • Civilian casualties in Birkirkara, Qormi and Xaghra, Gozo

    Flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

16 KILLED IN RAID ON QORMI

Ten minutes after sunset today a German bomber unleashed its entire load of eight bombs on the community of Qormi.  Thirty houses were destroyed.  Sixteen civilians were killed and another twenty-six injured.  Servicemen from 8th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers based nearby helped rescue  survivors.

The “bakers’ village” – bread-making centre for Malta – had grown in population with evacuees fleeing from Cottonera in the Three Cities at the height of bomb attacks on the Dockyard a year ago.  Qormi was thought to be far enough from enemy targets while still accessible for dockyard employees to reach their place of work.

As well as mourning the dead, many survivors will now be forced back on the road to seek safe shelter further afield.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 11 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  100% cloud.  Wind southerly; cooler.

1103-1210 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers escorted by three ME 109s approach the Island form the north.  One JU 88 jettisons his bombs and recedes north in cloud.  The other comes in over Gozo and down the west coast of the Island, then moves away.  He is later picked up west of Gozo going north, turns back and drops bombs on Gozo before receding north north-east.  Hurricanes are airborne; no interceptions.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1514-1645 hrs  One JU 88 and 25 plus ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Ta Qali and in the sea: off Tigne and off Ras il Fenek.  One barrack block is damaged at Ta Qali but the aerodrome is serviceable  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1748-1826 hrs  Three JU 88s and six plus ME 109s approach from the north and drop a stick of eight bombs on Qormi, demolishing 30 houses, killing 16 civilians and injuring another 26.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2006-2032 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Tal Qroqq, Birkirkara, Floriana and Grand Harbour areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2140-2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs and flares on Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2212-2230 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast but drops no bombs.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2332-0020 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and near Qrendi strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0045-0132 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0203-0229 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs and flares in the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0316-0343 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Ta Qali airea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0355-0427 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea ten miles north of Grand Harbour.  Guns do not engage.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Paul Pace, age 48.  Qormi  Liza Aquilina, age 50; Giorgia Borg, age 43; John Briffa, age 33; Salvino Cassar, age 7; Anthony Ciappara, age 12; Saviour Gatt, age 47; George Grech, age 34; Emanuel Giordimaina, age 11; Joseph Giordimaina, age 8; Mary Giordimaina, age 5; Anna Muscat, age 15; John Portelli, age 34; Carmelo Saliba, age 55; Emanuel Sammut, age 7; Maria Sammut, age 6, Spiro Vella, age 20.  Gozo (Xaghra)  Carmelo Attard, age 72; Marianna Attard, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; eight Beaufighters and two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hurricane to Sidi Barani; one Wellington to Kabrit.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland search Maritimo-Cagliari; two Marylands search Cagliari-Maritimo; one Hurricane photo-reconnaissance Pantelleria.  21 Squadron  Four Blenheims shipping sweep Kerkennah-Djerba.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search Kerkennah area.

TA QALI  Funeral of P/O Stewart.  No night flying: weather deteriorated.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Brigade [training exercise] attended by Senior Officers of four Infantry Battalions and Royal Artillery representatives.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Six observation posts established in Brigade area giving observation over the whole area.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B, C and D Companies fired Bren guns on Pembroke range.  Three carriers handed over to 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion established new Observation Posts in sector.  Bomb in A Company area; no casualties – a house destroyed.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs between C Company and Qrendi strip during the night.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Funeral of Fusilier Hopwood.  1746 hrs  Stick of eight bombs fell on this unit’s area at Qormi.  D Company assisted in the rescue work.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 9; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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9 February 1942: Convoy Delays Force Cut in Domestic Fuel

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  • Seven night raids
  • Fuel depot set on fire
  • Eight unexploded bombs jettisoned near Kalafrana

FUEL RATIONS CUT TO SUMMER LEVELS TODAY

Mosta (NWMA Malta)

Despite continuing exceptionally cold weather conditions in Malta, the Government has to make drastic cuts to rations of kerosene.  The fuel is used for heating and cooking in Malta – and is especially needed by civilians bombed out of their own homes.  Difficulties in running supply convoys from North Africa have made the cuts necessary.  As Lt Gen Dobbie reports to the Secretary of State for the Colonies:  “We are reverting to summer kerosene ration on 9th February instead of the beginning of April.  This is a measure which long term supply makes necessary.  It will cause temporary inconvenience.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 10 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Early morning mist.  Wind south west.  Warmer later in day; clear sky.

1035 hrs  P/O Stuart of 249 Squadron, Ta Qali, crashes while making an air test and is killed.

1346-1401 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters approach from the north at 10000 feet, losing height until they reach Kalafrana at 50 feet, when they recede.  Guns do not engage.

1500-1534 hrs  One JU 88 bomber approaches from the north, skirts the Island to the east then crosses the coast near Kalafrana before receding north via Grand Harbour.  No bombs are dropped.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no interceptions.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1600-1625 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Ta Qali, Mosta and Qrendi.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Four civilians are killed in Mosta.  Bombs on Ta Qali camp cause considerable damage to a Photo Section and Sick Quarters, blackouts and a barrack block.  Three airmen and one member of Army medical staff are killed.  Three officers are badly injured.

1740-1808 hrs  Two plus ME 109s approach from the north, patrol at low altitude north of the Island, then recede.

1859-1918 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north east and drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay.  Searchlights illuminate the target; Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

2012-2046 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea off St Thomas Bay.

2134-2327 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Grand Harbour, on land west of Kalafrana and in the Gharghur and Delimara areas.  RE Bomb Disposal receive a report of eight unexploded bombs near Kalafrana.

0037-0104 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Bombs are dropped in the Bingemma and Baida areas.

0112-0132 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north; no bombs are dropped and guns do not engage.

0344-0351 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns to the north of Gozo and recedes.

0408-0445 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Rabat and Ghar Lapsi areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0520-0610 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  The aircraft drops bombs in the Kalafrana and Birzebbuga areas.  A flare falls on the Shell Depot, Birzebugga, and ignites waste oil from fuel tanks, starting a fire.  A fire engine is called; by 0600 hrs the blaze is well under control; it is extinguished by 0645 hrs.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Stuart, 249 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Corporal Alfred Tapping, Royal Air Force (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Valentine Turner, Royal Air Force (VR); Private William Spinks, Medical Section, 8th Battalion The Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Vincenzo Borg, age 55; Annetto Mifsud Ellul, A & CE, age 43; Marietta Pizzuto, age 50; Salvina Scerri, age 28; Qormi  Carmelo Bonnici, age 45; Francis Felice, age 56.  Siggiewi  Wistin Baldacchino, age 58.  Valletta  Spiro Cefai, age 43.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 9 FEBRUARY 1942

LUQA  69 Squadron  Two Marylands SF6 patrol; one Maryland shipping search Beurat-Tripoli.

TA QALI  Three aircraft from Hal Far 185 and 605 Squadrons arrived for operations at Ta Qali.  Six airmen attached Kalafrana on police course.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT HQ and A Company fired Bren Guns on Pembroke Ranges.  Working party again sent to Marina Pinto; Luqa working party as usual.  CO held a conference in the afternoon to discuss the move of C and A Coys; to be completed by 1200 hrs 13 February.  B, C and D Companies held their weekly cross-country run.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  After a moderately heavy raid on Ta Qali area Private W Spinks of the Medical Section was killed by enemy action.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 1 (50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in 1942, February 1942, Uncategorized

 

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