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Category Archives: July 1942

26 July-1 August 1942: Six Air Raid Warnings a Day

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26 July 1942: 188 Air Raid Alerts in July

Heading for shelter, South St Valletta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAID STATISTICS – JULY 1942

  • Total number of air raid alerts  188
  • Raid-free days  Nil
  • Night raids  57
  • Raid-free nights  15
  • Alerts for own planes  17
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  3 days, 18 hrs, 3 mins
  • Average length of alert  27.7 mins

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JULY TO DAWN 27 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0920-0943 hrs  Air raid alert: three ME 109s cross the Island.

1030 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1038-1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU88s attack Ta Qali, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on the airfield.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the western dispersal area: one Spitfire is damaged by fire, three others by shrapnel.  Delayed-action bombs are dropped opposite Cave No 4, and between the main Rabat-Valletta road and the site of Chateau Bertrand.  Several anti-personnel bombs fall on Mosta.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Spitfires attack the bombers and twelve fighters after their raid: one Macchi 202 is damaged.

1405 hrs  Eight Spitfires are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft but do not see them.

1411-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU88s with an escort of twenty fighters attack Hal Far from 18000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1600 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft; seven return early with engine trouble.  The remaining Spitfire makes no interceptions.

1651-1740 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU 88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, destroying one Spitfire and three Beauforts and damaging one Wellington.  Twelve bombs are dropped on the Safi strip runway and on the dispersal area from a high level.  Several delayed-action bombs are also dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta fighters destroy one JU 88 and damage one ME 109.

1830 hrs; 2130 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode at Ta Qali.

2215-2300 hrs; 0020-0035 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach the Island: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights illuminate both raiders.

Military casualties  Identity unknown.                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned early with mechanical trouble; another did not locate the target and returned with bombs.  The third, owing to heavy petrol consumption, could not reach the target but released two 250lb bombs in the vicinity of Scilli.  The fourth attacked Gela.  Bombs were dropped from 3000 feet and buildings and motor transport machine-gunned, but no results were seen in either case.

Arrivals  One Wellington, two Hudsons, one Sunderland, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta.  One Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter skidded on landing: crew uninjured.

27 July 1942: Thousands Homeless – Governor Warns PM

GORT PRAISES MALTESE BUT WARNS OF HARDSHIPS TO COME

Maltese living in shelters (NWMA Malta)

Lord Gort has today written to the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill warning that thousands of Maltese could be homeless next winter due to the devastation wrought by enemy bombing.  More than ten thousand homes have been destroyed so far and the Island lacks the manpower or resources to rebuilt them during the continuing conflict.

Gort praised the stoicism of the Maltese, whose morale has been lifted by the recent deliveries of Spitfires to the Island.  However, with the loss of Malta fighters averaging three a day, he reminded the PM that more will be needed to protect any future convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JULY TO DAWN 28 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0740 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode near Ta Qali camp.

0831-0840 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft orbit north of the Island and then recede.

0855 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109.  Malta fighters destroy another three ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy one JU 88 and damage two JU 88s and one ME 109.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0915-0933 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine JU88s with fighter escort attack Ta Qali, killing one Army Officer.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and runway.  Some delayed-action bombs are suspected.  The aerodrome is temporarily unserviceable.  249 Squadron moves to operate from Luqa and 603 Squadron from Hal Far.

1157-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU 88s attempting a bombing raid are intercepted by Malta fighters and forced to jettison their bombs in sea.  They recede north without crossing the coast.  One Heavy Ack Ack pointers engage.  Malta fighters destroy three JU 88s and four ME 109s, and damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1305-1325 hrs; 1355-1420 hrs; 1545-1605 hrs  Three air raid alerts sound for aircraft carrying out searches to the north east of the Island and one fighter sweep by two ME 109s.  Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage another.

1935 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft see two JU 88s with a large escort of ME 109s.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1952-2026 hrs   Air raid alrt.  Three JU 88s bomb the Safi strip. Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage one RE 2001.

2040-2050 hrs  Air raid alert.  A further search is carried out by four enemy aircraft 25 miles north of Grand Harbour.

2245-2330 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for six aircraft, of which only one crosses the coast and drops bombs south of Hal Far.  Another drops bombs in the sea off Benghaisa.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Furio Doglio Niclot, 151a Squadriglia, shot down and died.  Sergente Maggiore Faliero Gelli, 378a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo, 51o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi C202, shot down and injured in the crash: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweepers carried out a sweep of QBB 273. 1 mine cut inside channel and one outside.

AIR HQ  Three Hurricanes were despatched to attack Comiso aerodrome.  One could not release bombs; the other two dropped bombs in the south-west dispersal area.  No results were seen.

Arrivals  One Catalina, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta; three Liberators from LG 224; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Sunderland, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Aboukir; one DC3 from Bilbeis; three Wellingtons from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt T Whitworth arrived from Mid-East and posted to No. 128 Bomb Disposal Section.  Lt F W Ashall posted to HQ Fortress RE.  Establishment 127 Bomb Disposal Section: 1 Officer, 19 Other Ranks; 128 BD Section: 1 Officer, 16 Other Ranks.

28 July 1942: Malta Fighters Double Hat-Trick

Malta Spitfires destroyed or damaged every single bomber attempting an air raid over the Island today.  In two separate raids, three JU 88 bombers were attacked by fighters on intercept missions.  In the first raid one bomber was destroyed and the other two damaged; in the second, all three JU 88s were destroyed.  Five enemy fighters were also damaged or destroyed in the dog-fights.

Liberators Land in Malta

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JULY TO DAWN 29 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; clear.

0836-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  A strong fighter sweep by 27 ME109s.  Malta fighters engage: no claims.

1113 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They spot three JU 88s, eight ME 109s and two RE 2001a.  F/Sgt Rae and Sgt Gass probably destroy one JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Rae and P/O Yates each damage one JU 88.  F/Sgt Parkes probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Wynn damages one ME 109.  P/O McElroy damages one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1145-1215 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1420-1520 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1715-1747 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by twelve ME109s drop bombs on Hal Far and Bubaqra, and near Luqa.   Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters destroy all three bombers and one ME 109.  One JU 88 crashes onto Wolseley Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt, damaging vehicles and equipment.

1720-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to escort the High Speed Launch.  They see a JU 88 crash on a tip of land.  The Launch picks up two German parachutes.

1920-2020 hrs  Two Spitfies 249 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

2245-2340 hrs  Air raid alert for six bombers which approach singly and drop bombs on Hal Far and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights effect two illuminations.

Military casualties  Sergeant Donald Hubbard, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq  Joseph Abela, age 13.  Mosta  John Fenech, age 11.  Zurrieq  Carmel Buhagiar, age 10; Joseph Buhagiar; Salvina D’Amato, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Crews of JU 88 bombers: Gefreiter Peter Bolten, Observer, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Albert Fuehrer, Pilot, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Karl Bauer, Wireless Operator, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner; Unteroffizier Gustav Frick, Air Gunner, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Swona and Motor Launches swept approaches to Marsaxlokk.  Beauforts, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked convoy and damaged one merchant vessel, which was later seen in Navarin by PRU Spitfire. Two Beauforts failed to return.  Three bombs fell close to War Signal Station at Torri L’Ahmar, causing minor damage, but no casualties.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy comprising two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 185 degrees Sapienza 10 miles.  The merchant vessel was hit once, pouring white smoke; this was confirmed by photos.  Bombs carried on three aircraft were dropped on the destroyers scoring near-misses.  All vessels were machine-gunned.  Photos show the merchant vessel in Navarino in the evening and was still there on 1 August 1942.

Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned owing to oil trouble; the other three dropped bombs on the Operations Headquarters and Stores Depot, without visible results.

Arrivals  One Catalina, one Wellington, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Liberators, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued.

29 July 1942: RAF Heroes Skyjack Drama

Last night nine Beauforts of 217 Squadron, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked an enemy convoy of two destroyers and one merchant vessel, steaming southwards from Sapienza.  Among them was Beaufort L9820, piloted by South African Lt E T (Ted) Strever, with P/O W M Dunsmore, Sgt J A Wilkinson and Sgt A R Brown as crew.  As they flew over the merchantman to release their torpedo, the aircraft was hit in both engines.  Forced to ditch in the sea, Strever almost drowned in the cockpit before managing to struggle free and join his crew in their dinghy.

Within hours they were picked up by an Italian Cant Z506B floatplane, which took them to the Island of Corfu.  They were treated very well, given a good meal and a bed for the night.  Next morning they boarded a floatplane to be flown to Taranto, faced with the prospect of becoming prisoners of war.  But as the aircraft approached Sicily, the captive airmen set upon the Cant’s five-man crew, disabling the radio operator and disarming the others before ordering the pilot to change course for Malta.

RAF ‘hijackers’ and Italian crew surrender

As the apparently hostile aircraft neared the Island, it triggered the air raid alert and six Spitfires of 603 Squadron Ta Qali were scrambled to intercept.  Three of them attacked the floatplane as it approached St Paul’s Bay.  Lt Strever ordered the Italian pilot to land immediately on the water.  One of his crew then pulled of his shirt and his vest, to wave as a white flag as they scrambled onto the wings.

Puzzled, the Spitfire pilots ceased firing and radioed for the air sea rescue launch, circling overhead until it arrived.  The crew of HSL 107 were bemused to find four RAF airmen waiting for them on the floatplane’s wings, along with its crew of five Italians.

Highjacked Cant float-plane at Kalafrana

Air Sea Rescue commander J S Houghton recalled:  “The Cant…was towed by HSL 107 to St Paul’s Island.  It was then passed over to our Seaplane Tender and taken to a buoy off St Paul’s Pier, where the five Italians and four Commonwealth airmen were taken ashore.  A very strong Army guard was provided to prevent the locals from attacking the Italians.  The South African captain, who had led the hijack, brandished his revolver, leaving no doubt as to what he would have done if the Italians had been harmed.” (2)  Lt Strever returned his previous captors’ hospitality before seeing them in turn taken prisoners of war.  For their actions Lt Strever and P/O Dunsmore were awarded the DFC and Sgts Brown and Wilkinson the DFM.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JULY TO DAWN 30 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0820-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nil reports.

0915-1040 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching formation of sixteen ME 109s and four Macchi 202s.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire: the bullets shoot the entire hood off his cockpit.  Sgt Budd shoots off the fin and rudder of a ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire.

0955-1023 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol when six JU88s with fighter escort approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and Malta fighters engage, forcing the bombers to jettison their bombs north of the Island and destroying two ME 109s and one Macchi 202 without loss.

1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron see an enemy float plane coming towards St Paul’s Bay.  When attacked, the enemy aircraft is seen to pancake on the water.  Five men come out onto the wings, waving a white flag.  The Spitfires orbit until the enemy aircraft is towed into St Paul’s Bay by the High Speed Launch.

1558-1610 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched to intercept.  Two return early with radio and engine trouble.  Three enemy aircraft carry out a small fighter sweep but do not cross the coast.

1640-1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off on patrol: no engagement.

1705-1730 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over the Italian floatplane.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

2200-2210 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single aircraft drops bombs in the sea north west of Gozo, then recedes.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of Cant-Z506B floatplane hijacked en route from Corfu to Taranto taken prisoner:  Maresciallo Alessandro Cifari, co-pilot; Sergenti T Losi, engineer; Tenente Gaetano Mastrodicasa, pilot; Aviere Scelto Marcello Schisano, wireless operator and Sergente Carabiniere Giulio Scarciella.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived and was swept into Marsaxlokk.  The inshore edge of QBB 273 was then swept and nine mines cut.  Italian flying boat landed in St Julian’s Bay and surrendered. This aircraft was captured by the crew of one of the Beauforts, which crashed during the attack on the convoy the previous night, who while on passage from Navarin to Italy, overpowered the crew and forced them to fly them to Malta.  Clyde discharged practically all her cargo on the night of 29th/30th.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Liberators, three Beauforts, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  Two Beauforts shot down while attacking convoy: one crew took to dinghy; one crew returned to base.  One Spitfire flap failed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.

30  July 1942: War Artist for Malta

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  The War Office                 Personal from Lord Gort for CIGS

I shall be glad to have war artists.  Please consult Ministry of Information whose cable Empax 45 suggests the name.  Is this the artist you have in mind?  It should be made clear that artist would work under information officer.  This would be in accordance with local arrangements whereby official War Office photographer works under general supervision information officer who is in position greatly to assist in choice of subjects and distribution of products.

Malta: Fighters take off from Luca’s bombed runway, by Leslie Cole 1943                                                  © IWM (art.IWM ART LD 3554)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JULY TO DAWN 31 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; fast-moving cloud.

0745-0800 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

0820-0845 hrs  Air raid alert for a 35-strong fighter sweep of 35.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack four ME 109s but then the Spitfires are jumped by six Macchi 202s.  F/Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.

1055 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching a reported plot of 27 hostile aircraft, including bombers.  One Spitfire returns early and runs into enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged; the pilot is unhurt.  Five minutes later, eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off; two return early and are attacked by Messerschmitts.

1125-1200 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise: it is believed that the bombers turned back.

1605-1625 hrs; 1840-1850 hrs  Two air raid alerts for small groups of fighters: one group crosses the Island at 26000 feet on reconnaissance.

2130-2225 hrs  Air raid alert for four single bombers, only two of which cross the coast and drop bombs on St Julians, Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq areas, killing twelve civilians and wounding twenty-four.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and one JU 88 is destroyed by a Beaufighter before reaching the Island.

Military casualties  Sergeant Colin Wood, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  See 31 July.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P42 sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Liberators, one Hudson from Gibraltar;  one Wellington from LG 224; one Beaufighter from Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot uninjured.

31 July 1942: Park’s Tactics Keep Bombers Away

ME 109 fighters

The new tactics introduced by Air Officer Commanding Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park were evidently taking effect today as enemy bombers stayed clear of the Island throughout daylight hours.  The AOC’s ‘Forward Interception Plan’, issued on 25 July, has resulted in increased aircraft losses for the enemy and forced many bombers to jettison their payload before reaching target.

Axis command is now sending only fighter sweeps in daylight, flying at high altitude in an attempt to gain the advantage over Malta’s Spitfires.  In response, Park has ordered his fighters to remain below 20000 feet to force the enemy to drop to their preferred altitude if he wants to engage in combat.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; little cloud.

Day  Three fighter sweeps of 6, 15 and 30 aircraft respectively; very few fighters cross the coast. Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s and one RE 2001, and damage one Macchi 202.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the last raid with pointer rounds.

0735-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1047-1105 hrs  Air raid alert.

1440-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They encounter six unidentified fighters.  One Spitfire’s engine cuts out, and the aircraft returns.  Another Spitfire engine cuts out: Sgt Ballantyne attempts to land at Luqa and overshoots the runway, damaging his aircraft.  Sgt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.

1610-1640 hrs  Air raid alert.

2205-2256 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which do not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Agius, age 29; Carmel Borg, age 27; John Busuttil, age 16; Pauline Busuttil, age 5; Joseph Calleja, age 75; Georgina Dimech, age 28; Michael Fenech, age 47; Orazia Grech, age 4; Maria Melita Medati, age 50; Mary Scerri, age 9; Carmela Sammut, age 23; Amabile Sammut, age 21.  Mgarr  Joseph Deguara, age 45.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 31 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian sailed for Gibraltar.  P34 arrived and swept into harbour by Rye. Swona carried out sweep of entrance channel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire engine cut on landing: pilot uninjured.

1 August 1942: Pilot’s 16 Hour Paddle to Safety

A pilot reported missing turned up safe and well this morning, nearly 24 hours after he left base.  Pilot Officer Tony Bruce took off yesterday from Hal Far to intercept enemy raiders.  He was attacked off-shore by an enemy fighter and his Spitfire was seen to ditch in the sea.  When no trace of him was found, the pilot was thought to have perished, until he staggered ashore this morning.

P/O Bruce had managed to scramble into his dinghy, which he then paddled single-handed the 15 miles back to shore.  He took 16 hours to complete the journey, to the surprise of comrades who thought he had perished.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 1 AUGUST 1942

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

1.  First two days bomber attacks by total 33 JU88 continued against aerodromes.  Successful interceptions by fighters and destruction of complete bomber formations has made enemy change tactics.  Thereafter strong fighter sweeps only.  Bombers have sometimes approached but invariably turned back or jettisoned bombs.

One Italian float plane Cant 506 B captured and flown intact with Italian crew to Malta by crew of Beaufort previously shot down and rescued in Ionian Sea.  Nine Beauforts and six Beaufighters attacked convoy bound for Libya immobilising one merchant vessel 5000 tons.  Eleven sorties by bomb-carrying Hurricanes against Sicilian aerodromes.

2.  Enemy aircraft casualties.  Eight bombers 17 fighters destroyed, five probably 16 damaged by RAF.  Ack Ack no claims.

Army builds 30 more pens in a week

3.  At urgent request of RAF for 30 new aircraft pens to be built in one week and others to be repaired Army working parties of 2000 men and 150 vehicles provided working two shifts daily.

4.  Military damage slight.  Casualties one Officer killed; one Officer, two Other Ranks wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  Four fighter sweeps, two of them in strength totalling 52 aircraft.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert.  A formation of enemy fighters is reported heading towards the Island.  Six Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They are joined by eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, of which two return early.  There is no engagement.

0945-1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol: nothing to report.

1235-1255 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and try to intercept four ME 109s but are unable to catch them before they cross the Island.

1422-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: no engagement.

1645-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: nothing sighted.

2250-2325 hrs  One air raid alert for three aircraft.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Il Blata.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Galea, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY 1 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar being swept out by Hythe, who subsequently swept P31 into Harbour.  P44 also sailed, carrying out night full calibre firing at Filfla before proceeding on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Liberator, two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to St Jean Fayid or LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  Wing Commander Douglas-Hamilton assumed the duties of Wing Commander in charge of flying.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 75.  Dealt with: High Explosives 23, including 7delayed-action (4 x 500kg; 16 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg; 1 x 35kg); 341 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  The SAAF at War 1940-1984, Bouwer, J S & Louw, M N, Chris van Rensburg, 1989

(2)  Malta: Blitzed but not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press, 1985

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

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19-25 July 1942: Malta Faces Starvation

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19 July 1942: Parthian Supplies Unloaded in Darkness

HUNGER

“There it was. A pitiable animated skeleton with ribs nearly protruding out of its sides of what was once called a dog. It was a small creature with what could have been a light brown coat. Its occasional whimpering, hardly audible, eyes glazed, it was shuffling madly with from one side of one shed and then to another, sniffing here and sniffing there, obviously crazed with hunger, completely oblivious to anything else. It did not even notice me, standing nearby a few yards away, just outside the workshop where I worked as an apprentice, near No 1 Dock in the Malta Dockyard in the Summer of 1942…

NWMA Malta

Malta was in the iron grip of a merciless siege and close to collapse. Fast blockade runners such as the ‘Welshman’ and the ‘Manxman’ and submarines improvised to carry cargo would occasionally break through the iron cordon to supply the beleaguered island. But supplies were hardly ever enough.

The Dockyard itself had become a depressing sight with half-sunken ships, ruined sheds and workshops, rubble every where and bomb craters still being filled. Electric power and telephone service was only intermittent and water supply available only in certain locations.  Into this nightmarish, surreal landscape, this pitiable creature, somehow or other, had found itself…

I felt deeply sorry for it. I would have willingly given it a small piece of my own meagre ration consisting of just a slim sandwich, but I was hesitant and somewhat fearful how it would react in that crazed state…the dog probably was a loving pet with an owner who cared greatly for it but being unable to feed it…let it loose blithely trusting Providence or hoping that somehow or other it would find its own food. It must have been a desperate and agonizing decision.

Even though Malta, at one time, had its own share of pet lovers, with pets, nearly everywhere, I have to say that I could not recall seeing any other dogs or even cats during that summer…”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0740-0758 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter three ME 109s: no combat.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert for a second fighter sweep by Italian RE 2001 aircraft, engaged by Malta fighters.  One Spitfire crashes near Luqa: the pilot is killed.

1820-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no air raid develops.

2145-2230 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach the Island but are engaged by Spitfires: one raider is destroyed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Joseph Otis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 426 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian unloading stores at Marsaxlokk during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire overshot when landing: pilot injured.  One aircraft crashed due to enemy action: pilot killed.

20 July 1942: Victory Kitchens

“By July 1942 life had become more and more unbearable. Kerosene (Paraffin Oil) which most people used for cooking, heating and for oil lamps was in extremely short supply. To save Kerosene in order to have a warm or hot meal my mother often turned off the oil lamps and sent us to bed early often before darkness had set in.

Queuing for kerosene (NWMA Malta)

Since a hot meal was now becoming a luxury and an exception, my mother decided to try the ‘Victory Kitchens.’  These were communal siege kitchens originally set up to provide one hot meal a day to people who had been bombed out of their homes, whose ration cards had been destroyed or lost in the bombing and had nothing to eat. But as the situation deteriorated more and more people, including those who still had roofs over their heads, resorted to using ‘Victory Kitchens’, bartering their regular ration coupons in exchange. At one time, I believe, more than half the island’s population were using these siege kitchens since, in most cases, it was the only way to get something hot to eat, little as it was.

It did not take long for my mother to realize that this pitiable fare was no kind of ‘victory’…I remember it was some kind of broth masquerading as soup with a few floating lumps in it that most people could not identify.  Occasionally, two or three peas or beans were added but the portions were never enough and afterwards you were still left hungry…

Regardless of their faults it should be remembered that these Victory Kitchens played a very important part feeding the people during the siege. It required great skills and much dedication by the Food Distribution Authorities in planning, organizing and putting into operation such an undertaking under living condition that were indescribable and against obstacles that were almost insurmountable.”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

“I also remember visiting a ‘Victory Kitchen’ with my mother; this was after my pet goat had been killed and served to me as stew. I was only told this after I had finished my meal!”  Edward Caruana Galizia, November 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JULY TO DAWN 21 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; haze, no cloud.

0555-0605 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach to within 25 miles of the Island and then recede.

0830-0935 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft.  The air raid alert sounds but the raid does not materialise; there are no interceptions.

1345 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne to act as a protective escort to minesweepers.

1356 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with twenty ME 109s and RE 2001s in escort approach Luqa from the south and attack the airfield, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the area.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron spot the raiders and follow them in, attacking the bombers as they release their bombs over the airfield.  The Spitfires struggle to gain enough height to catch the bombers as they turn away.  Sgt Wynn is shot up by a Messerschmitt fighter and slightly wounded in the leg.

1405-1545 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue search: no sightings.

1442 hrs  All clear.

1535-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: raid does not develop.

1640 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders.  They spot 16 ME 109s in line abreast.  Sgt Irwin probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with fighter drop a large number of high explosive bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level.  One motor car is burned out.

1715 hrs  All clear.

2136-2242 hrs; 2252-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Each time nine JU 88s approach singly and drop bombs in widely scattered areas, including Luqa and the Safi strip, and the western dispersal area of Ta Qali.  At Luqa a Baltimore is damaged.  At Birzebbuga five Army Other Ranks are killed and one Army Officer wounded.  Malta’s fighters airborne for both alerts and both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying three Ju 88s.  Searchlights illuminate every target in the second raid.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hugh Russell, Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunner Franky Agius, 3 Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Francis Baldacchino, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Ellul, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Hearl, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Sillato, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Albert Zammit, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Fidele Zarb, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of a JU 88 bomber, shot down into the sea near Gozo: Leutnant Siegfried Sack, Pilot – body was not recovered; Obergefreiter Arthur Blass, Air Gunner, and Unteroffizier Albert Mulen, Observer, were rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down and died: Feldwebel Karl Bonk, Pilot; Unteroffizier Johann Gerstel, Observer; Unteroffizier Josef Pohl, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Gerhard Priewisch, Wireless Operator.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine P42 arrived and entered Marsamxett.  Speedy swept QBB 197 and Marsaxlokk entrance. 1 Cutter cut. Swona swept Marsaxmett entrance.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire pilot seat slid forward on landing, pushing control column forward and causing aircraft to tip up on nose: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued injured; one pilot missing.

21 July 1942: 28 Spitfires Arrive as Bombers Stay Clear

OPERATION INSECT

Three freighters sailed from the UK on 2 July carrying 32 Spitfires to Gibraltar, where they arrived a week ago.  Yesterday 30 of the aircraft, along with four Swordfish and six Sea Hurricanes were loaded onto HMS Eagle ready to embark for Malta.  The carrier was protected by a convoy including Cairo, Charybdis, Antelope, Ithuriel, Vansittart, Westcott and Wrestler.

Italian submarine Dandolo

Earlier today the Italian submarine Dandolo sighted the convoy and attempted to attack but was driven off, damaged in a counter-attack by the escort’s destroyers.  Eagle was able to reach her rendezvous point without further incident and, with the exception of one defective aircraft, the Spitfires took off for Malta.  Another plane developed problems with its fuel tank and was forced to ditch in the sea.  The remaining 28 Spitfires landed safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JULY TO DAWN 22 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, slight; haze, no cloud.

0835-0855 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1005-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1110-1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  They are bounced by Macchi 202s: no damage.

1410-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1540-1650 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered into the air to act as escort to minesweepers.

1755-1855 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They see four or five ME 109s but are unable to catch them.

0110-0150 hrs; 0205-0220 hrs; 0235-0255 hrs  Three air raid alerts for a total of five enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly.  None crosses the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  During the last alert a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Sergeant Lewis Evans, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Gunner Nazzareno Grima, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A surface plot [reported] south of Filfla may have been Submarine P44 on the surface. She arrived at 2045 and was swept in Marsaxlokk by Speedy.  Parthian completed unload and proceeded to Dockyard to make good minor defects.  A further reinforcement of 28 Spitfires from HMS Eagle arrived without incident.  Torpedo-carrying Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an enemy convoy and claimed hits on one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Q.B.B. 271 swept by Speedy and Hythe. 3 mines cut.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 240 degrees Cape Ghergambo, 8 miles course southerly.  The merchant vessel was hit by at least three torpedoes and white smoke poured form it; this was later confirmed by photos.  One of the destroyers was also hit.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington from Shandur; one Blenheim from Gibraltar; four Beaufighters from ECDU.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

TA QALI  Preparations are made for the arrival of further Spitfires: 16 arrived during the morning.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY, ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party from No 2 Section of one Sergeant and two Other Ranks blew a series of holes at water level in SS Talabot (partly submerged in harbour) to release oil which was interfering with cargo salvage work.  Plastic high explosive was used: very effective.

22 July 1942: ‘Fighting Tenth’ Return to Malta

NWMA Malta

The arrival of P42 yesterday may have triggered a false alarm, with an unconfirmed report of a periscope off Grand Harbour.  However, good news has followed the submarine’s arrival, as it signals the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, after an absence of nearly three months.

Known as the ‘Fighting Tenth’, the submarine force left Lazaretto ten weeks ago when the severity of enemy bombardment risked their complete destruction.  Vice Admiral, Malta has now decided that the reduced scale of mining and air attacks and the successful clearance of all approach channels to the Island by minesweepers makes it safe enough to allow the submarines to return.

The Flotilla Captain and his Staff arrived today and it is expected that by the end of the month at least three submarines of the Flotilla will again be operating from Malta.

AJAX MASTER ILL

HMS Ajax

An urgent telegram was sent to the War Office today asking for a replacement for the master of Ajax, who has been ill from prolonged stomach trouble.  A solution is needed within fourteen days, as the ship is expected to embark soon on operations.  Ajax, her officers and crew have been praised for their valiant service during several Malta convoys.  If no temporary relief can be found, the chief officer may be promoted to hold the fort.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; slight cloud.

0805-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders which carry out a fighter sweep: no engagement.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on shipping cover.

1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop high explosives on Luqa airfield and anti-personnel bombs in the Marsa valley, causing some civilian and RAF casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s.

1120-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a search for missing pilots.  They see three oil patches on the water.  As he approaches to land, P/O Paradis is told to stand off until a threatened raid on Ta Qali has passed.  He is not heard of again.

1144 hrs  All clear.

1225-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for P/O Paradis: nothing found.

1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty fighters attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Safi strip with high explosives and anti-personnel bombs, causing civilian and RAF casualties. Heavy Ack Ack fire without result.

1635-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109s which circle the Island. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.

Night  Two air alerts for a total of eight Italian and German bombers which approach the Island singly, dropping 15kg and 50kg bombs on Luqa, Tal Handaq and Wardia.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta night fighters are airborne for both alerts.  During the first raid, searchlights effect three illuminations and a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88 ten miles north of the Island.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Joseph Paradis, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Jack Wallworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Walter Mifsud, age 14; Edward Mifsud, age 12.  Hamrun  Concetta Borg, age 66.  Rabat  Paul Zammit, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S) 10th Submarine Flotilla and his staff arrived by air from the Middle East.  A doubtful report of a periscope being sighted off Grand Harbour was not confirmed.  Hythe and motor launches commenced sweeping new area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter to EDCU; one Blenheim to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing believed killed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Numerous anti-personnel bombs dropped on billets occupied by No1 Works Company, 1 Sapper is slightly injured.

23 July 1942: Dog Fights Over Malta

ITALIAN CAPTURED

Macchi 202 in flight

Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli was taken prisoner this afternoon after being plucked from the sea by the RAF rescue launch.  The Italian pilot was in a formation of Italian and German fighters escorting a raid on Luqa aerodrome at just after four o’clock when his Macchi 202 was hit by anti-aircraft fire.  With six Spitfires of 249 Squadron hot on his tail, Di Pauli decided to eject from the aircraft and was seen parachuting down into the sea.  The Spitfire pilots alerted headquarters and an air sea rescue patrol was launched within the hour.  Di Pauli was picked up and brought ashore where he was taken in for interrogation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 17% medium cloud.

0720 hrs  The ‘usual’ early morning patrol by three ME 109s.

0800-0910 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for reported enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

1010 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1021 hrs  Air raid alert.  While three ME 109s patrol alone, three JU 88s with seven ME 109s and five RE 2001s as escort attack Luqa, dropping many anti-personnel bombs from a high level on the camp and dispersal areas, and high explosive bombs to the south of Luqa village.  Several unexploded bombs are found near the windmill.  Anti-personnel bombs are also dropped between Hamrun and the RAF station.  One Spitfire and a petrol bowser are destroyed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

The Spitfires of 249 Squadron see the JU 88s and ME 109s, and then encounter five RE 2001s covering the withdrawal of bombers after the raid.  Sgt Beurling destroys one RE 2001 and damages a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell destroys a JU 88 and F/Lt Hetherington damages another.

1046 hrs  All clear.

1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.

1618-1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with fifteen ME 109s and some Macchi 202s as escort attack Luqa, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs from a high level and causing craters on the aerodrome: two make the runway temporarily unserviceable.  One Baltimore is damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta Spitfires attack the raiders and destroy two ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy two ME 109s and damage another three ME 109s and one Macchi. F/Lt Watts and P/O McElroy between them damage one ME 109; P/O Round damages another.

1650-1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue patrol.  They see an Italian pilot: he is picked up and taken prisoner.

Night  No enemy action.

Military casualties  Flying Officer David William Kent, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli, Macchi 202 fighter pilot, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl carried out gun trials at sea.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance of Gerbini shows that the number of JU 88s at Gerbini has almost doubled to 23.  One of the satellites has also come into use at the aerodrome, with 12 fighters present.  Two more satellites are under construction which will bring the total to five.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224; three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane engine cut out; aircraft crashed on landing: pilot killed.  One Spitfire missing from patrol: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied by No 1 Works Company, RE.

24 July 1942: Malta Fighters Pre-emptive Strikes

Spitfire re-fuelled, re-armed and ready (NWMA Malta)

PARK’S NEW STRATEGY FOR MALTA

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park is to introduce new tactics in the RAF battle for the skies over Malta.  After reviewing fighter performance over recent weeks, the new Air Officer Commanding has recognised that the Island’s Spitfires have been forced to fight defensively.  Now the AOC has decided to take the battle to the enemy.

Under the ‘Forward Interception Plan’ due to take effect from tomorrow, RAF Squadrons will be airborne to intercept enemy formations well before they reach the archipelago.  Making use of the increased numbers of Spitfires at his disposal, as well as improved radar and faster take-off times, three Squadrons will now take part in each pre-emptive strike: the first to engage advance fighter formations from out of the sun; the second to engage any close fighter escort and the third to attack bombers head-on.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JULY TO DAWN 25 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0800-0830 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack firing pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they chase the two Messerschmitts until they are lost to view.

1030-1120 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the Air Sea Rescue Launch off Kalafrana Bay.

1039 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s with a fighter escort of twenty ME 109s are intercepted by Malta fighters, which destroy three JU 88s and one ME 109, and damage the remaining JU 88 and two ME 109s; Heavy Ack Ack also engage.  As a result many bombs are jettisoned in widely different areas, including Mosta and Ta Qali, as well as Luqa and the Safi strip.  The two Spitfires of 603 Squadron see two of the JU 88s and pursue them for eight miles, then return to cover duties.

1113 hrs  All clear.

1135-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a search but find nothing.  One returns early.

1352-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three unidentified fighters cross the coast from the south west at 25000 feet.

1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire returns early.

1710 hrs  Air raid alert.  One section of Spitfires dives on five JU 88s and four ME 109s.  The remaining Messerschmitts break off their formation to attack the other section of Spitfires, which counter-attack.  P/O Jones (249) has a dog-fight with three pairs of ME 109s with no claims.  Malta fighters damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1752-1819 hrs  Five JU88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, landing a direct hit on the HQ building of D Coy, 2nd Royal West Kent Regt at Ta Kandia, killing one Other Rank and wounding two Officers, including the Company Commander, and four Other Ranks. At Qrendi one Other Rank of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is wounded by anti-personnel bomb splinters.  One serviceable Beaufort is burned out, two other Beauforts and one Spitfire are damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

2215-2245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach singly but do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Green, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Rodney Kent, 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Fusilier John Millar, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Mallia, age 74.  Rabat  Carmela Borg, age 10.  Zurrieq  Josephine Bondin, 10 mths;  Catherine Bugeja, age 13; Jane Bugeja, age 11; Rev Joseph Cuschieri, age 63; Carmel Ellul, age 70; Anthony Gauci, age 60; Joseph Saydon, age 48; Carmel Schembri, age 16; Joseph Spiteri, 3 mths; Saviour Zammit, age 54; Rev Joseph Zammit Psaila, age 68.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down: Leutnant Sepp Hoermann, Pilot, Obergefreiter Josef Popp, Observer, and Unteroffizier Wolfram Quass, Air Gunner, died; Leutnant Heinz Heuser, Wireless Operator managed to bale out and land safely; he was taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Fleet Sweepers cleared new channel except for 100 yards along inshore edge. 13 mines cut.  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked a convoy off Cape Gheroghambo and hit and set on fire one merchant vessel. Three Beauforts did not return.

AIR HQ  Six Beauforts escorted by nine Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy consisting of two destroyers and three other vessels, including a 7000 ton merchantman laden with deck cargo, in position 273 degrees Cape Geroghambo 10 miles.  One direct hit on a merchant vessel resulted in much smoke and flame.  One of the destroyers was machine-gunned.  Photos taken later showed the merchant vessel to be in tow, stern foremost, down by the bows and blazing.  The fire had reached the engine room.  [Subsequently this same merchant vessel was photographed at Argostoli completely burned out.]

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Catalina, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Catalina to Aboukir; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

TA QALI  A signal was received today from Headquarters, Mediterranean indicating that a General Warning is in effect.  Instructions by telephone state that no action should be taken.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied No 1 Works Company.

25 July 1942: Malta Ready for ‘General Alarm’

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 25 JULY 42

From:  Governor and C in C Malta            To:  C in C Middle East              Rpt:  The War Office

1.  Enemy air activity fighter sweeps first three days, thereafter regular two main raids daily each about 5 JU 88 and 17 (or 15) fighters.  Anti-personnel and high explosive bombs on aerodromes.  Night raiders average 5 nightly except Monday when Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 out of 16.

Jamming of RDF etc continues.  Counter measures being investigated. 

Enemy aircraft casualties Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 at night.  RAF destroyed seven bombers, ten fighters; probably destroyed four fighters; damaged six bombers, six fighters.

Imtarfa Hospital

2.  Some damage to military billets and Imtarfa hospital.  Casualties 2 (or 6) Other Ranks killed 2 officers eleven Other Ranks wounded.

3.  Increased security precautions being taken on Gozo.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If there is no air raid in progress at 12 o’clock noon today, there will be a test of the new signal for the ‘General Alarm’.  The sirens will be sounded as though for an air-raid five times with intervals of half a minute between each sounding.  Half a minute after the last time the ‘All Clear’ will be sounded.  At the same time the church bells will be rung.  The public should not be alarmed; it will be nothing but a TEST.  If there is an air-raid in progress at noon, the test will be held immediately the raid is over. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JULY TO DAWN 26 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0700-0758 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME109s crossed the Island, and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack with pointer rounds.  Fighters do not engage.

0800-0825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1125-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover shipping near Zonqor.

1128-1155 hrs  Air raid alert. Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are sent up to avoid an approaching bombing raid.  Five JU88s drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali in the area west of No 15 Cave; some are suspected to be delayed action bombs.  Telephone communications are slightly disrupted.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1200 hrs  The General Warning Alarm is sounded throughout the Island as a test.

1325-1435 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol: nil report.

1355-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol.

1438-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron see four JU 88s with an escort of fifteen fighters but are unable to intercept before the bombers carry out a raid on Hal Far.  P/O Glazebrook destroys a Macchi 202; other fighters damage JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1615-1630 hrs; 1632-1700 hrs  Air raid alerts for a fighter sweep by three ME 109s.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1920-1945 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep by three ME 109s.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0405-0425 hrs   Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach but do not cross the coast; bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  New Channel (QBB 273) cleared of mines; 2 cut.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance shows that the number of JU 88s at Comiso has risen to 37 from 11 last week.

Arrivals  One Sunderland from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Sunderland to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 97.  Dealt with: High Explosives 18, including 6 delayed-action ( 2 x 500kg; 11 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg); 400 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

 

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12-18 July 1942: Two Ships Bring Vital Supplies as Siege Tightens

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12 July 1942: Malta’s Resistance Celebrated Worldwide

Australian publication ‘The Age’ this week carries an appreciation of the sacrifices of an Island fortress which holds the key to the Mediterranean:

“Only a dot on the map reveals the presence of Malta, island outpost that has been, and is destined to remain one of the key points, not only of the war in the Mediterranean, but of the struggle by the Allies for undisputed mastery of the seas.

The outside world hears little of the great drama that unfolds, day by day, on those 150 square miles of rocky territory. Malta takes it quietly, and the Maltese themselves would be the last to wish that their qualities of resistance should be represented as anything else than that which was expected of them. Since the day in the early summer of 1940, when Mussolini appeared on the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia and informed the frenzied Fascists crowded in the square below him that Italy had decided to make war, Malta has borne the full brunt of a prolonged aerial attack.

An Eventful Life

Valletta 1942

…True, there are gaping wounds and scars where indiscriminate bombing has wrecked the homes and churches of the sturdy and devoutly Catholic Maltese in La Valetta and the villages and hamlets of the island, but morale has never been shaken, and the chief concern of the islanders is to hit back harder than they have been hit.

As the morning sun comes up from the sea the sirens churn out their first warning of the day. There is no panic. Mothers gather their children together and make quietly for the safety of the deep rock shelters. The men continue with their work until the gun splinters become too numerous or the bombs fall too close. At dusk, whole families find their way to the shelters for a sound sleep away from the noise and danger of bombing…

Hitting Back

…The three services co-operate in their task. Typical, perhaps, was a conversation overheard between an officer of a night fighter unit and an army officer commanding a searchlight battery. ‘You illuminate,’ said the RAF officer, ‘we eliminate’…

There are brave men in the front line at Malta…it was here that the wing commander of a shot-up reconnaissance aircraft so manoeuvred his machine that his observer was able to bale out with the photographs before he himself crashed to his death.

From time to time there is talk about a possible invasion of Malta. The Italians once tried to raid the defences of La Valetta with two-man submarines and other small craft, but it is almost certain that none of the vessels reached its base to tell the story of this dismal failure. The Germans have been raiding in strength from the air for many weeks and the have paid dearly for the very relative degree of success obtained. Malta carries on.” (1)

CLOCKS BROUGHT FORWARD

At 0200 hours this morning clocks in Malta were changed from three hours to two hours in advance of GMT.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 JULY TO DAWN 13 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

George Beurling notes another strike (2)

0945 hrs  A plot of eleven JU 88s with fighter escort is reported approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.  Twenty-five miles north of Gozo the Spitfires of 249 Squadron engage the escort of Macchis and RE 2001s.  Sgt Beurling sets one Macchi on fire.  P/O Berkeley Hilldoes not return.

1005 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the bombers approach the Island and go on to drop bombs on Ta Qali.

1025 hrs  All clear.

1035-1110 hrs  The air raid alert sounds again as another seven JU 88 bombers approach and drop anti-personnel bombs on Ta Qali.

1140-1230 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for P/O Berkeley Hill’s dinghy.  Sgt Beurling encounters two Macchi fighters and destroys them both.

1405 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol; nil report.

1510 hrs  Air raid alert.

1520 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Ta Qali, dropping bombs on the aerodrome and near the caves, cratering the runway extension and eastern dispersal, and causing a grass fire.  The western dispersal crew room is hit and several aircraft are damaged by shrapnel.

1530-1625 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to cover minesweepers.

1620 hrs  All clear.

2335-2340 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Owen Berkeley-Hill, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Lance-Corporal John Bell, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Carlo Seganti, shot down north of Malta.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 12 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  QBB 197 channel completed by [17th Minesweeping Flotilla: Ryde, Hyde, Hebe and Speedy] and Motor Launches. No mines cut.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, two Beaufighters, two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  One Halifax en route from Gibraltar to Kasfareet landed at Malta.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing, believed killed.

13 July 1942: Heavy Bombing Returns – 20 Bombers in Single Raid

Poor House damaged in morning raid

Heavy bombing returned to Malta today as up to twenty bombers carried out air raids across the Island.  Large numbers of high explosive and anti-personnel bombs were used in the raids.  Main targets were Luqa and Ta Qali airfields and dispersal areas.  But a determined fight back by Spitfires forced several raiders to jettison their bombs.  As a result the communities of Gudja, Ghaxaq, Mqabba, Zeitun, Imtarfa and Rabat were also badly affected.  Supported by Heavy Ack Ack Malta’s fighters attacked destroyed or damaged 18 enemy aircraft.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JULY TO DAWN 14 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0615-0630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0730 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy bombers with an escort of fighters, including ME 109s, RE 2001s and Macchi 202s.   Five miles east of Zonqor they spot twenty enemy bombers flying in two formations, one of eleven and one of nine.  The Spifires meet the first formation as it reaches the coast, and attack.  P/O Northcott destroys one JU 88; S/Ldr Hamilton damages two and F/Lt Douglas damages one.  The bombers are forced to jettison their bombs.

0800 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled too late to get up to the bombers but attack the fighters.  P/O McElroy destroys one ME 109; F/Sgt Rae destroys one RE 2001 and damages two others.

0805 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten JU 88s and eight fighters attack Luqa and Gudja, damaging one Beaufighter.

0830 hrs  All clear.

1120 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching formation of nine JU 88s with an escort of eight fighters.

1125 hrs  The raiders attack Luqa, destroying one Hurricane and one Beaufighter, and damaging three Beaufighters, two Beauforts and one Wellington.  Bomb blast damages the Poor House buildings.  One airman is killed and two wounded.  The Spitfires dive onto the bombers as they are attacking the airfield.  F/Sgt Irwin destroys one JU 88; he is hit by return fire but is unhurt.  P/O Northcott damages one JU 88.

1140-1155 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled; nil report.

1400-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no engagement.

1655 hrs  Ten Spitfires 603 Squadron and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a formation of 19 JU 88s with fighter escort.

1710 hrs  Air raid alert.  603 Squadron engage the bombers out over Sliema.  F/Sgt Parkinson probably destroys one ME 109; F/Sgt Brown damages one.  F/Lt Mitchell damages two JU 88s; P/O Sherwood and F/Sgt Ballantyne each damage one.  P/O McLeod damages one Macchi 202.  He is shot up in the oil system but successfully lands his aircraft.  P/O Jones 249 Squadron is shot up by an unseen aircraft: his elevator controls are shot away but he makes a perfect landing.

1729 hrs  The remaining bombers attack Ta Qali; bombs fall on the aerodrome, causing six craters, and also near the caves.

1745 hrs  All clear.

2115-2130 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman John Drainer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Kenneth Barnes, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment; Private Leonard Dicks, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment;Gunner Carmel Schembri, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Imtarfa  Florence Mary Hamilton, wife of Lt Col Hamilton, Officer in Charge Medical Division, 90 General Hospital Imtarfa, who was injured in the raid..  Qormi  Saviour Mifsud, age 34.  Rabat  Emanuel Darmanin, age 11; Joseph Gauci, age 60; George Zammit, age 65.  Zejtun  Saviour Desira, age 50.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 13 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  One aircraft attacked three F boats in position 195 degrees Lampedusa course southerly, scoring near misses on one of them.  Arrivals  One Wellington, five Beauforts, three Beaufighters, three Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Kasfareet landed at Malta.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot injured.  One Spitfire force-landed after combat: pilot uninjured.  Three Beauforts failed to return from strike: crew missing.

14 July 1942: Battle of Britain Leader is New Air Commander Malta

Sir Keith Park

Air Vice Marshal Sir Keith Rodney Park arrived today to take up the appointment of Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Royal Air Force Malta.  He replaces Air Vice Marshall Hugh Pughe Lloyd, who is expected to depart for the Middle East immediately after the hand-over to his successor.

Air Vice Marshal Park was posted to Malta from Egypt, where he has been Air Officer Commanding since January 1942.  His arrival is welcomed by RAF: Park has faced Luftwaffe commander Kesselring before, when he commanded RAF operations during the Battle of Britain.

As the new AOC’s aircraft approached, a radio message came through from Air HQ Malta warning that the Island was under attack and ordering the plane to divert.  Park over-ruled the message, ordering the pilot to land. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JULY TO DAWN 15 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; moderate to fresh.  30% medium cloud.

0945-1050 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron Ta Qali is sent to search for a dinghy: nothing sighted.

0945 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters which are approaching in formation with bombers.  Heavy Ack Ack fire barrages.  249 Squadron attack: F/Sgt Williams damages one ME 109, Sgt Beurling is hit in the heels with shrapnel and P/O Hetherington crash lands at Hal Far with engine trouble.  F/Sgt Parkinson 603 Squadron destroys one ME 109; two of his colleagues’ Spitfires are slightly damaged in combat.

1010 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU88 escorted by 15 fighters drop High Explosive and anti-personnel bombs from 18k feet on Luqa airfield.  A petrol bowser is burned out and an ambulance destroyed.

1044 hrs  All clear.

1237 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six ME109s patrol over the Island at 20000 feet.

2238-2310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft drop bombs in the sea north west of Gozo and off Ricasoli and anti-personnel bombs around Senglea.

2315-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties   Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY TUESDAY 14 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Naval Air Squadrons carried out search for shipping, but returned without sighting.

AIR HQ  One aircraft attacked Messina as an alternative to shipping as none was found.  The bombs fell south of the town in the vicinity of the railway, but results were unobserved.  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Beaufort and one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged in combat: pilot wounded.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued injured.

15 July 1942: Operation Pinpoint Delivers Spitfires

SS Empire Shackleton arrived at Gibraltar in convoy OG 85 on 25 June carrying 32 cased Spitfires.  It was originally intended that the operation to deliver the aircraft to Malta should start on 2 July, but it was postponed for 12 days.

HMS Eagle brings 32 more Spitfires

Ahead of the mission, at 2200 hrs on 13 July St Day, escorted by Haarlem set out in advance of the convoy, to patrol in the area of Cape de Gata on the look-out for enemy vessels. At 0500 hrs next morning Eagle embarked with its precious cargo of 32 Spitfires, with six Sea Hurricanes for fighter protection of the force, and sailed with Charybdis, Cairo, Westcott, Wrestler, Ithuriel, Antelope and Vansittart.

The force was spotted by enemy aircraft at 0830 hrs and reported back to their base.  Despite two such reports, at 0613 hrs on 15 July the first flight of eight Spitfires took off from Eagle, to be followed by three more flights.  One Spitfire crashed on taking off; the pilot was saved but the plane was lost. The remaining 31 Spitfires in all landed safely at Malta and the ships arrived back at Gibraltar on the morning of 16 July.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JULY TO DAWN 16 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; moderate.  50% medium cloud.

0940-1030 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as fighter cover for approaching friendly aircraft: no engagement.

0955 hrs  Fifteen Spitfires arrive in Malta from the aircraft carrier Eagle.

1510 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no engagement.

1520 hrs  Air raid alert for a strong fighter sweep of 20 ME 109s, RE 2001s and Macchi 202s.  Malta’s fighters damage one ME 109.

2210-2225 hrs; 2257-2315 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of four Italian aircraft, two BR 20s and two Cz 1007s, approach the Island singly.  They drop bombs in the sea north of the Island, on land east of Wardia.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One Beaufighter is airborne but does not engage.

Military casualties  Lance-Corporal George Bonello 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties   Hamrun  Joseph Grech, age 8.  Naxxar  Carmel Grech, age 15.  Rabat  Felice Gauci, age 30.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY WEDNESDAY 15 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  31 Spitfires, flown off from HMS Eagle arrived without incident.  Minesweepers operating over QBB 197 channel and approaches to Marsaxlokk. No mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Blenheim from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington caught fire on landing: crew safe.

TA QALI  Wing Commander Le May OBE arrived to take over command of RAF Station Ta Qali; vice-commander is Wing Commander Gracie DFC.  No 1435 Night Fighter Force moved to Luqa.

16 July 1942: Welshman Delivers the Goods

Just after 6 o’clock this morning HMS Welshman entered Grand Harbour bringing essential supplies and personnel.  The merchantman left Gibraltar on 14 July under the protection of Force H, the convoy covering Operation Pinpoint for yesterday’s delivery of Spitfires.

Welshman left the convoy yesterday and survived air, surface and submarine attacks, including one heavy raid by German and Italian aircraft as she struggled through.  The delivery Spitfires on their way to Malta were detailed to provide protection to Welshman en route.

Soldiers stand by to unload (c) IWM GM 1151

Berthed in number five dock, Welshman was carefully manoeuvred into a listing position, to simulate damage.  The Dockyard smoke screen was made ready, to be put up when enemy bombers were approaching, so that unloading could begin immediately.  As well as 120 service personnel, the precious cargo included powdered milk, edible oils, soap and vitamin concentrates much needed for the civilian population, as well as naval and military stores.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JULY TO DAWN 17 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south westerly; fresh.  30% cloud – cold.

0625-0645 hrs; 0750-0800 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighter sweeps.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to patrol: no interception.

1343-1425 hrs  Air raid alert for a fighter sweep.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for minesweepers.

1835 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are sent up to patrol: nil report.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne to act as escort for minesweepers.

2222-2319 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four unidentified enemy bombers drop bombs on Luqa and Ta Qali. Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Beaufighters are airborne: no engagement.

2345-0020 hrs  Air raid alert for several enemy aircraft approaching singly.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Beaufighters are airborne.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 16 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Marsaxlokk and approaches swept by Oropesa, SA and LL [acoustic and magnetic equipment].

AIR HQ  One Hudson, one Catalina, one Beaufort, one Beaufighter, two Hudsons, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar; 31 Spitfires from naval operation.

TA QALI  Warrant Officer Bowden and 31 airmen reported ex UK [via] HMS Welshman.

17 July 1942: RAF Rescue German Pilot

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

A German pilot shot down over Malta this afternoon and rescued by the RAF has died from his injuries.  Feldwebel [Sergeant] Heinz Sauer was piloting his Messerschmitt 109 as part of a fighter sweep over Grand Harbour when he was attacked by 603 Squadron Spitfire pilot Wally McLeod.  His aircraft destroyed, Sauer ejected and parachuted into the sea, hitting the water some eight miles off Kalafrana.

The RAF rescue launch headed to the spot and pulled the badly injured Heinz Sauer from the water.  He died from his wounds before the launch reached shore.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JULY TO DAWN 18 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0934 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

1420 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching formation of four JU 88s with fighter escort.  The Spitfires engage the fighters; P/O McLeod destroys one ME 109.  F/Sgt Parkinson crash lands; he is unhurt.

1430 hrs  Five JU 88s escorted by twenty fighters attack Luqa and Safi.  The bombers execute a shallow dive from 21000 to 16000 feet, dropping anti-personnel bombs and high explosives, including several delayed-action bombs.  Two Beauforts are damaged.  One airman is seriously injured and two others slightly injured while trying to defuze a bomb.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s fighters destroy a total of four ME 109s and damage three more, without loss of any Spitfires.

1500 hrs  All clear.

1610 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: no interceptions.  The air raid alert sounds but there is no bombing raid.

1753-1808 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft carries out a search ten miles north east of Grand Harbour.

1830-1833 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

2200-2245 hrs  Air raid alert for three JU 88 bombers which approach singly.  Heavy Ack and searchlights engage; Malta’s fighters are airborne and destroy one JU 88.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

2340-0005 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching Italian bombers.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; the raiders drop all their bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Feldwebel Heinz Sauer, pilot of a Messerschmitt 109.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY FRIDAY 17 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Smoke screen was put up for one formation of bombers, during the day, and once after dark.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance reports show that the number of enemy aircraft at Comiso has fallen from 43 to 11.  Arrivals  One Beaufort, two Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire force-landed with engine failure: pilot uninjured.

18 July 1942: Magic Carpet Brings More Supplies

HMS Parthian

Submarine HMS Parthian arrived in Malta today with a small cargo of supplies, including cartridges and shells.  The arrival is the latest of the ‘Magic Carpet’ runs designed to break the enemy siege of the Island, in which submarines act as underwater freighters and deliver essential supplies which cannot be brought by surface vessels.  The submarines stow cargo in every available space to maximize the amount carried.  With deliveries every 12 to 14 days, the Magic Carpet runs are helping to arm and fuel Malta’s defenders as well as bringing medical and other crucial stores for the Island’s inhabitants.

Parthian’s mission was the second successful delivery of supplies in two days.  Welshman sailed today for Gibraltar having unloaded her cargo without any significant enemy interference.

MALTA’S FIGHTER STRENGTH UP WHILE AXIS NUMBERS FALL

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

Military Situation Report for Week Ending 18 July 1942

1.  Daylight air attacks against aerodromes considerable on 12 and 13 July totalling 66 JU 88s; thereafter mainly fighter sweeps.  Night activity slight.  Photo reconnaissance shows decrease of 43 JU 88s on Sicilian aerodromes.  31 Spitfires reinforcement arrived.  RAF destroyed 5 bombers 12 fighters; damaged or probably destroyed 30.  Ack Ack no claims.

Soldiers unload oil drums from Welshman (c) IWM GM 1110

2.  HMS Welshman arrived with small cargo powdered milk, edible oil, after rough passage.  Not attacked in harbour.  Army assisted in rapid unloading.

3.  Slight damage to military billets and stores.  5 Other Ranks killed; 4 Officers, 17 Other Ranks wounded.  25 UXBs plus 773 anti-personnel bombs disposed of by bomb disposal section.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JULY TO DAWN 19 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; slight.  No cloud.

0815-0850 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming fighter sweep: no combats.

1105-1210 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali and ten of 249 Squadron are airborne in response to a reported fighter sweep: nothing sighted.  249 Squadron pilots F/Sgt Brown is taken ill in the air and returns to base early; P/O Lowery taxis into a hole, damaging his aircraft; Sgt Hogarth has trouble with his undercarriage and returns early.

1405-1500 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft, including two JU 88 bombers and fifteen Messerschmitts.  They see the enemy fighters first, and then chase one of the JU 88s, flying at sea level.  P/O McLean is shot up and bales out.  P/O Latimer is shot up and crash lands; he is slightly wounded.  The JU 88 is probably destroyed and one ME 109 damaged.

1413 hrs  Air raid alert.  The remaining JU 88 with ME 109 escort attacks Luqa, dropping anti-personnel bombs and high explosives, including several delayed action bombs.

1415-1430 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol to cover the air sea rescue launch but return early due to radio trouble.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to take over and escort the rescue launch which picks up P/O McLean.

1830-1945 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are on patrol: raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Welshman sailed at 1945 hrs, having sustained no damage from air attack. The only deliberate attacks on her were made at night when a few bombs were dropped in the Dockyard area.  Submarine Parthian arrived at Marsaxlokk with stores from Gibraltar.  QBB 197 swept by Speedy and Grand Harbour entrance by Swona.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Wellington from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued injured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 129.  Dealt with: High Explosives 29, including 9 delayed-action (6 x 500kg; 14 x 250kg; 4 x 50kg; 2 x 35kg; 3 x AP containers); anti-personnel bombs: 777.

(1) The Age, Australia, July 1942

(2) Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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5-11 July 1942: Daylight Raids Return – Malta Braced for Invasion

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5 July 1942: Enemy Adopt High Level Bombing Tactics to Avoid Guns

AXIS CONVOY DELAYED TWO WEEKS

Port of Benghazi

The enemy convoy which has been under constant observation and attack since 20 June finally arrived in Benghazi today.  Efforts by Malta forces have forced delays in the delivery of supplies.  As a result the convoy has taken sixteen days to reach its destination.

ENEMY AMASSING TANK LANDING CRAFT IN PALERMO

Allied reconnaissance have reported a unusual activity in Palermo this week. The enemy appears to be building significant numbers of F Boats – tank landing craft – being built near the port.  Two or three of the vessels have appeared moored at the quays and have been observed loading armed fighting vehicles including tanks and gun carriages.

As many as 15 F Boats were seen afloat in Palermo harbour at a time.  They left in groups of three or four, taking the western route to Libya via Pantelleria and Lampedusa.  F Boats of a different type have also been seen under construction in Genoa and Naples and have made their way down the west coast of Italy to Messina.  The concentration of such landing craft in southern Italy has revived suspicions of a planned invasion of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JULY TO DAWN 6 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0705 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: no results.

0717 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by 17 ME 109s drop high explosive and incendiary bombs from 8000 feet on the eastern dispersal area of Ta Qali.  One Spitfire is damaged on the western dispersal area.  Spitfires airborne.

1030-1115 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to provide fighter cover for minesweepers: nil reports.

1605-1705 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  They engage enemy fighters: F/O McLeod damages one ME 109.

1620 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by 15-20 fighters drop bombs from 7000 feet on the eastern dispersal area of Ta Qali, setting one aircraft on fire.

1740-1855 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 603 Squadron are dispatched to provide cover for minesweepers and to intercept enemy aircraft: nil report.

1940 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They engage three ME 109s: P/O Sherwood damages one.

1950 hrs Three JU 88s escorted by 25 fighters drop small bombs from 10000 feet on the centre of Ta Qali aerodrome.  Spitfires airborne.

0001-0010 hrs  Air raid alert.

0337-0440 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 aircraft, including JU 87s and Italian bombers drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali and anti-personnel bombs across scattered areas including Hal Far.  Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no engagement.

0500 hrs  Air raid alert.  Italian bombers drop anti-personnel bombs on Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman John Ciarlo, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Staff-Sergeant Walter Cousens, Royal Army Medical Corps; Lance-Corporal Harry Gardner, 1s Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Fusilier John Turnbull, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for Fleet Sweepers. Motor Launches carried out sweep of approaches to Grand Harbour. Heavy interference on GL and RDF sets during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.

6 July 1942: RAF best day since 10 May

  • 23 enemy bomber sorties
  • Heavy fighter escorts
  • Bombs on Salina, Ta Qali, Hal Far, Luqa, Safi and Gudja 
  • Spitfires score 35 strikes
  • RAF launch rescues German air crew

    B flight 249 Squadron July 42 (1)

A PILOT’S VIEW                                            “…at 4.20pm we were sent up rather late, and had not got very high when the 88s came in and bombed Hal Far.  We dived down on them, but just as we were drawing near them a number of 109s dived down on us.  A terrific dog-fight ensued, in which the 109s for once stayed and fought.  They were good those yellow-nosed 109s.  We twisted and turned around each other, blazing away every now and then; but most of us could not get away to chase the 88s.  Two of us, Pilot Officers Glen and Carlet, however, had eluded the 109s and chased the 88s right out to sea quite low down.  They got one each…By the end of the day the Squadron had destroyed five 88s and two fighters, and damaged another seven enemy aircraft.  We never had more than eight aircraft airborne, sometimes less, and suffered no casualties, although six of our aircraft had been shot up and damaged.  It was the Squadron’s best day in Malta and the island’s best since 10 May, for sixteen enemy planes had been destroyed and nineteen damaged.” (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JULY TO DAWN 7 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0815-0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They damage on ME 109.  Spitfires of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne: F/Lt Lee claims one Macchi 202 destroyed, Sgt Beurling two Macchi 202s destroyed and one Cant 1007 damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali aerodrome, dropping 275 small bombs and causing craters in the dispersal areas, killing one civilian.  30-40 unexploded bombs are reported.

0912 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching plot of enemy fighters and bombers.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are ordered up from Ta Qali to evade the bombing.  Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the enemy.  P/O Yates lands at Ta Qali with a dead propeller; he is unhurt.  Four Cant 1007s accompanied by twelve fighters drop bombs on the Safi area.

0937 hrs  All clear.

1155 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eleven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled for interception: nil report.

1300-1420 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 249 Squadron are on patrol: nil report.

1555-1745 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron provide fighter cover for the High Speed Launch.

1615-1656 hrs  Air raid alert for five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s which attack Hal Far and the Safi area.  Ten Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne and intercept three JU 88s.  P/O Carlet destroys one JU 88; Sgt Irwin damages one ME 109.  F/Lt Douglas is shot up and belly-lands, unhurt.  P/O Slade is shot up but unhurt.  P/O Glen suffers return fire but is unhurt.

1725-1825 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol see two dinghies 25 miles north of Grand Harbour.  Sgt Budd’s Spitfire is damaged while taxiing in.

1835-1925 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron scrambled to intercept see four Italian Cant 1007 bombers with an escort of twenty fighters.  P/O Glen damages one Cant, Lt Swales another.  S/Ldr Douglas Hamilton damages one Macchi 202; P/O Carlet destroys one and damages another.

2030-2055 hrs; 2115-2150 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Three JU 88s escorted by fifteen fighters drop bombs near Luqa.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and ten of 249 Squadron intercept.  Lt Swales and P/O Glen each destroy one JU 88; P/O Carlet and Sgt Irwin destroy one JU 88; P/O Glen and Sgt Beurling each destroy one ME 109.

2320 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twenty enemy raiders approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on scattered localities, including Luqa.  Beaufighters are airborne: no engagement.

0055-0115 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  One comes within ten miles north of Grand Harbour before turning back.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Edwin Moye, Royal Canadian Air Force; Bombardier Albert Besant, 7 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Killed  Italian S D Antonoise, Wireless Operator, Cant-Z.1007 floatplane. His body was picked up from the sea by the RAF Launch; German Valentin Daus; Karl Kubitski; Walter Prueger; Oberfeldwebel Peter Wilbertz, crewman of JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea off Grand Harbour and died.  Prisoners of war  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea off Grand Harbour and rescued by RAF Launch:  Hans Albrecht, KGr 806; Feldwebel Sebastian Krumbachner; Gefreiter Heinz Stiller, KGr 806.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY MONDAY 6 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Eight mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot drowned.

7 July 1942: Enemy Attacks Suggest Imminent Invasion – Island on Alert

Cant floatplane

  • German and Italian combined formations attack airfields
  • 55 enemy fighters to 13 bombers
  • Spitfires shoot down 24 enemy aircraft
  • 26 more unlikely to reach base 
  • 5 Spitfires lost; all pilots safe.

HOME GUARD READY FOR GROUND ATTACK

“I still remember clearly when as the officer in charge of the Home Guard platoon at the city of Vittoriosa I was called and given instructions to await a possible attack.  We were mobilised, given ammunition and food so as to be self-contained, and during the evening I went round myself calling all my men from their homes, and after a pep talk by the area company commander saw my men to their various posts where they were to spend the night so as to be in position for any eventual attack at first dawn, when paratroops attacks generally take place.  When I was asked to stand down my men, I was told that a force of troop carriers had indeed left Sicily, but flew past Malta, obviously to North Africa.  By that day, which was only the tenth one of July the Spitfires had shot down 78 enemy aircraft.” (3)

SOLO MALTA BOMBER STRIKES MESSINA

A Malta bomber dispatched to attack enemy shipping found no sign of his target; instead he decided to attack Messina, where Axis F boats have been gathering in recent days.  The bombs fell in the south west of the harbour and caused a large fire in the vicinity of the goods station.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JULY TO DAWN 8 JULY 1942

Weather  Slight southerly wind; no cloud.

0741-0817 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with a 20 strong fighter escort including ME 109s and Macchi 202s drop bombs on Luqa, destroying one Beaufort and damaging two.  One airman is slightly injured.  Eleven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Brennan and P/O Linton each destroy one ME 109; P/O McElroy destroys one Macchi 202; F/Sgt Parkinson damages one JU 88.  F/Sgt Middlemiss is shot up over the sea.  The tail of F/Sgt Parkes’ aircraft is shot off by anti-aircraft fire; he bales out and is slightly injured.  F/Lt Daddo-Langlois is shot up by a Messerschmitt but is unhurt.

0830-0955 hrs; 0955-1130 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time search for F/Sgt Middlemiss.  They find his dinghy and see him picked up by the High Speed Launch.  He is taken to hospital.

1147-1234 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with a fighter escort of eighteen ME 109s drop bombs near Luqa.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron intercept them over Luqa.  P/O Hetherington damages one JU 88; he is hit by return fire and lands at Luqa.  F/Sgt Rae makes a head-on attack on a ME 109: the enemy pilot bales out.  F/Sgt De Nancrede hits a JU 88 from below, striking the belly and wing roots.  He is hit by return fire: his controls are shot away and he bales out into the sea.  He is rescued and taken to hospital with slight injuries.

1240-1515 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for a boat.

1705-1735 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Cants in formation are hit by anti-aircraft fire over Ta Qali aerodrome.  One Cant goes down: four parachutes come out but two fail to open.

2218 hrs-2315 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but do not cross the coast; they drop bombs in the sea.  Beaufighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Haydn Haggas, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Peter Terry, Royal Air Force VR; Lance Bombardier Francis Vella-Haber, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Rose Mary Grech, age 3.  Siggiewi  Joseph Vella, age 14.  Valletta  Francis Ciarlo, age 14; Anthony Vella, age 74.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Francesco Antonelli, pilot of Cant-Z1007 floatplane, shot down and killed with crew Aviere Scelto Giuseppe Buratti crewman; Sottotenente Giovanni Casadio, second pilot; Sergente Calogero Dragotta, crewman; Primo Aviere Gaetano Pisarra, crewman; all of 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo, 9o Stormo, Regia Aeronautica.  Tenente Fabrizio Cherubini 353a Squadriglia, Regia Aeronautica; pilot of a Macchi 202 fighter, shot down.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe and Rye [mine]sweeping – 9 mines cut.  Unconfirmed plots of shipping during the night.  Naval Air Squadrons attack on shipping in Messina unsuccessful owing to bad visibility. One Albacore failed to return and one Swordfish crashed on landing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in flames: pilot baled out uninjured.  Five Spitfires shot down in combat: two pilots uninjured, one wounded, two killed.  One Spitfire damaged in combat, crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued.

8 July 1942: “RAF Action Inspires Us All” Says Governor

Lord Gort

The following signal to RAF Malta was received today from His Excellency the Governor:  “Please accept my contratulations on the grand work carried out by the RAF during the past 48 hours in defence of Malta.  It inspires us all.”

FISHING BOAT TO THE RESCUE

F/Lt Lester Sanders had a lucky escape today.  He was one of eight Spitfire pilots scrambled early this morning to intercept seven JU 88 bombers heading for Malta.  Sanders spotted a lone JU 88 bomber over Gozo, and gave chase, scoring several hits on its fuselage.  But the bomber’s rear gunner scored a return hit on Sanders’ windshield and he was forced to turn away.

As he headed back for Ta Qali, he was attacked by two ME 109 fighters and was hit in the wings and engine over the airfield.  Too low to bale out, Sanders turned his aircraft towards the sea in a desperate bid for a softer landing.  He managed a successful landing and clambered out to stand on the aircraft, which began to sink.  His crash had been witnessed by two fishermen, Frank and Anton Debono, who rescued Sanders and took him ashore.  He was unhurt.

Three other Spitfire pilots were less fortunate and lost their lives today in combat with the enemy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 JULY TO DAWN 9 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud – slight haze.

0630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron, Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept seven JU 88s with fighter escort, approaching the Island.

0732 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires engage the enemy over Gozo:  603 Squadron P/O Glazebrook damages two JU 88s and P/O Newman damages one.  F/Lt Sanders and F/O King probably destroy one ME 109, and P/O Mitchell and Sgt Ballantyne each damage one.

P/O King breaks off from the attack to chase a raider but he makes too steep a turn: his wing hits the water and his aircraft crashes, breaking up as it falls into the sea.  F/Lt Sanders is attacked by a ME 109 and shot up.  He lands his aircraft in the sea but is able to get out before it sinks.  P/O Johnson is taken to hospital with slight injuries.

249 Squadron P/O Hesselyn and F/Sgt Beurling each destroy one ME 109; F/Sgt Williams damages another.  Sgt Baxter crash-lands at Ta Qali due to shortage of petrol; he is unhurt.

The JU 88s with seven remaining ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa, damaging one Beaufort.

0800 hrs  All clear.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron search for a dinghy until 0920 hrs.

1210 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1230 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires attack seven JU 88s with fighter escort as they are diving to attack Luqa aerodrome.  F/Sgt Williams destroys one JU 88; P/O Hesselyn damages another.  F/Sgt Beurling probably destroys one ME 109 and damages a JU 88.  P/O McLean damages one ME 109.  F/O Smith and Sgt Gilbert do not return.

1320 hrs  All clear.

1430-1442 hrs  Air raid alert. Raid does not materialise.

1940-2017 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU 88s with an escort of fifteen ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept: no reports.  They land at Ta Qali, where Sgt Dodd overshoots the runway.

2155 hrs  A bus on its way to Ta Qali aerodrome from Rabat turns over on its side on a steep hill, due to mechanical trouble.

0451-0536 hrs  Six enemy aircraft cross the coast singly and drop bombs near Luqa and Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Gilbert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Flying Officer Neville King Royal Air Force VR, 603 Squadron; Flying Officer John Smith, Royal Air Force VR.

Civilian casualties  Paola  Frances Mifsud Speranza, age 17.  Siggiewi  Rita Cachia, age 13.

Enemy casualties  Queisser, crewman of JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Beaufighters from EDCU.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore failed to return from operations: crew missing.  Two Spitfires crashed on landing: one pilot uninjured, one injured.  Four Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued, three missing.

9 July 1942: Malta Has Survived 2700 Air Raid Alerts Since June 1940

LOSS OF A VOLUNTEER

Malta’s Spitfire forces lost a remarkable volunteer today when Flying Officer Guy Carlet was killed during an operation to intercept enemy raiders over Malta.  Guy was one of eight Spitfire pilots of 603 Squadron attacking a formation of German JU 88 bombers at around 1 o’clock this afternoon.  Messerschmitt fighters launched a counter attack, dividing the Spitfire force and F/O Carlet was shot down.

Guy Levy-Despas Monument, Amherst College (4)

The son of the wealthy owner of a French chain of department stores Guy – real name Guy Andre Levy-Despas – was sent to the United States by his parents when war broke out.  He was studying at Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA, when France fell in 1940.  Guy immediately volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force, saying “A life without the idea of sacrifice is not worth living.”  He has been awarded the Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre (France). (see pic)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.  Visibility poor with layers of haze up to 20000 feet.

0700-0710 hrs; 0755-0835 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

0850 hrs  Air raid alert.  Sixteen Spitfires are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept.

0910 hrs  Six JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali aerodrome, dropping 142 small bombs which crater the dispersal areas and approaches to the caves.  One bowser is destroyed and one airman admitted to hospital.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.  Two unexploded bombs are reported.

Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali dive to attack the bombers.  F/Sgt Webster damages one.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are instructed to attack the high cover of ME 109s but do not gain enough height to make contact.

0920 hrs  All clear.

1220 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept seven approaching JU 88s with a close escort of twenty German and Italian fighters.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys one Macchi 202 and with P/O McElroy destroys one JU 88.  P/O Paradis damages one JU 88 before being hit by fire from an enemy fighter; he is unhurt.

1252 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip, destroying one Wellington and a Beaufort, and damaging two Beauforts.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack the bombers but are split by ME 109 fighters.  P/O Northcott probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Carlett does not return.

1324 hrs  All clear.

1720-1805 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to attack a reported enemy plot but are radioed to hold off: no sightings or combats result.

1950 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and break up the close formation of ME 109 fighters escorting seven JU 88s.  P/O Jones damages one ME 109.  The bombers go on to bomb Ta Qali.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack the bombers as they return from their bombing mission: P/O Mitchell destroys one JU 88; P/O McLeod probably destroys one and F/Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.

2040 hrs  All clear.

2055-2110 hrs  Air raid alert: 12 enemy aircraft are believed to be carrying out a search to the north east of the Island.

2320-0055 hrs; 0215-0230 hrs; 0330-0400 hrs; 0500-0515 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of eleven enemy aircraft.  Most bombs are dropped in the sea; some fall on the Ta Qali area.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Guy Carlet, Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre (France), Royal Canadian Air Force, 603 Squadron; Pilot Officer John Hicks, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Charles Azzopardi, 10th Battalion, The King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties Unteroffizier Herbert Schlitt, pilot of JU 88 bomber, shot down and killed, with crew Unteroffizier Josef-Erwin Forster, Observer, Gefreiter Andreas Pollack, Wireless Operator; Unteroffizier Franz Schmidl; Air Gunner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Motor Launches clearing south-west leg of channel of shallow draught mines.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Four Halifax from Gibraltar to Kasfareet landed at Malta.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued, one missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from interception patrol: pilot missing.

10 July 1942: Axis Date for Invasion of Malta

St Paul’s Bay

According to military intelligence, 10 July is the date scheduled by Axis high command for ‘Operation Herkules’, the invasion of Malta and Gozo with airborne forces from Sicily.  The Island’s photo-reconnaissance squadron has been monitoring closely the build-up of tanks, motor transport and landing craft in the southern ports over the past two weeks.  Military and civil defence chiefs in Malta are prepared.  Reports of surface craft off St Paul’s Bay today are as yet unconfirmed. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 JULY TO DAWN 11 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0705 hrs  Air raid alert.

0730 hrs  13 JU 88s with an escort of 25 fighters attack Ta Qali, dropping bombs on the aerodrome.  Fire breaks out in a Hurricane aircraft.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack and fighters engage.

0745 hrs  All clear.

1050 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation of bombers with fighter escort.  The formation flies past the Island to the south east.

1135 hrs  Turning back over the coast, six JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far, the Safi strip and Luqa, destroying a previously damaged Beaufort.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  As the formation turns away from the airfield the Spitfires attack the twenty fighters.  F/O Mitchell and F/Sgt Beurling each destroy one Macchi 202.  F/Sgt Williams destroys one ME 109 and F/Sgt Butler damages one.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne: no reports.

1240 hrs  All clear.

1725 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron and six of 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders.

1754 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve enemy aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.

1810 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Aitken, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant John Harvey, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Bernard Reynolds, Royal Canadian Air Force; Lance-Corporal Gerald Mamo, No 2 Works Company, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Rosario Borg, age 21; Laurence Galea, age 39; Doris Galea, age 30; Francis Galea, age 3 months; Stella Mamo, age 32; Mary Mamo, age 4; Victoria Pisani, age 45; Carmel Pisani, age 10; Mary Pisani, age 8; Paul Pisani, age 3.  Paola  Frances Mifsud Speranza, age 17.  Siggiewi  Rita Cachia, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 10 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Motor launches clearance sweep. Low visibility scirroco. Swona detonated one mine off entrance to Grand Harbour.  Heavy interference on RDF and GL sets 10th/11th – note on Type 271 or GCI Vague reports of surface craft in St Paul’s Bay area. Nothing confirmed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Catalina from Gibraltar; one Sunderland from Aboukir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from patrol: pilot missing.

11 July 1942: 68 Enemy Planes Destroyed

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd:  The War Office              Weekly Report to 11 July 1942

1.  Increased enemy air activity against aerodromes in attempt to neutralise striking force.  Total of 108 JU 88 and 12 Italian bomber sorties with fighter escorts during daylight.  18 per cent of JU 88 destroyed and these have now adopted high level bombing tactics.  Total of 60 raiders by night.  Little damage except craters to aerodromes.  Occasional jamming of RDF continues.  Good week for our fighters.

JU 88 crashed at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

2.  Ack Ack destroyed 2 JU 88, one Cant, one ME 109; damaged one JU 88.  RAF destroyed 20 bombers, 45 fighters; probably destroyed 4 bombers, 11 fighters; damaged 23 bombers, 30 fighters.

3.  Military casualties nine killed, six wounded.  10 tons UXBs disposed of plus 500 or more anti-personnel bombs.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JULY TO DAWN 12 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud – slight haze.

Day  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali and Rabat, Luqa and Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack and fighters engage.

0700-0710 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0900 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to attack an incoming formation of fighters escorting six JU 88s.  S/Ldr Lucas damages one JU 88 and F/Lt Daddo-Langlois destroys one ME 109.

0925 hrs  Air raid alert.

1000 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali aerodrome, setting a petrol bowser on fire.

1340-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and search for surface craft.  No engagement.

1440-1513 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no engagement.

1810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1900 hrs  Air raid alert.

1910 hrs  Twelve JU 88s drop bombs, including several delayed-action, on Ta Qali near the caves and on the aerodrome, damaging water pipes.  A/C Catchpole is injured while working on the danger flag.  The Spitfires dive down to attack the JU 88s as they turn away from the airfield but are intercepted by fifteen ME 109s.  P/O Jones destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  F/Sgt Parkes and P/O Paradis each damage one ME 109.  F/Sgt De Lara overshoots on landing, damaging his aircraft.  W/O Ramsay does not return.

1925 hrs  All clear.

2030-2110 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for W/O Ramsay but sight nothing.

2335-2350 hrs; 0045-0055 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Five aircraft approach the Island but only one comes within 30 miles of the coast and drops its bombs in sea before receding.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Corbett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Charles Ramsay, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Anthony Wathern, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Stephen Woolley, RAF VR; Gunner John Murphy, 26th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Giorgina Borg, age 52.  Birkirkara  John Galea, age 18.  Rabat  Carmel Bugeja, age 47; Pauline Deguera, age 9; Rita Sammut, age 18; Joseph Scerri, age 70.  Zebbug  Carmel Bonnici, age 12.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 11 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot injured.  One Baltimore failed to return from reconnaissance: crew missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 130.  Dealt with High Explosives 33, including 11 delayed-action (500kg x 13; 250kg x 13; 50kg x 3; 15kg x 1; AP containers x 2)  Anti-personnel bombs 502 plus large number of dud German 1kg incendiaries.

(1)  Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

(2)  The Air Battle for Malta, James Douglas-Hamilton, Pen & Sword 2006

(3)  The Battle of Malta, Joseph Attard, Hamlyn Paperbacks 1982

(4) In his memory Guy’s parents funded a scholarship in French for Amherst College in 1943 and a memorial on campus

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 
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28 June-4 July 1942: Enemy Launches Night Attacks – 37 Killed

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28 June 1942: Soldiers Train as Dockers

Unloading convoy ship Welshman (NWMA Malta)

Malta command has reviewed the unloading of the recently arrived convoy ships and concluded that the involvement of troops was essential to its success.  Military manpower doubled the labour force and ensured the fastest completion of the operation, before enemy attacks could destroy ships and supplies.

Following the review it has been decided to train service personnel as dockyard winchmen and charge-hands, in advance of the next convoy to Malta.  There is no indication of how soon this will be.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JUNE TO DAWN 29 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0513-0555 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for four enemy bombers with a 10 strong fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi, destroying one Beaufort and damaging a Baltimore.  Hal Far is also attacked: many delayed-action and anti-personnel bombs land on the dispersal areas and on the aerodrome, which is put out of use until 1900 hrs.  One Swordfish is destroyed and four Spitfires are damaged and one soldier is slightly injured.

0515-0614 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

0635 hrs; 0700 hrs  Air raid alerts sound for enemy fighter sweeps.

0830-0915 hrs; 1135-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires from Luqa, then two from 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1515 hrs  A formation of six Messerschmitts is reported approaching the Island.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing; they land at 1600 hrs.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert. A formation of six ME 109s carry out a surprise attack on minesweepers off Grand Harbour.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2345-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: F/O Mitchell destroys a JU 87.

0034 hrs; 0505 hrs  Two air raid alerts sound.  A total of 21 aircraft approach the Island in two raids; only nine cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped across Mellieha, Safi and Hal Far, killing two Other Ranks 1st Bn Hampshire Regt and injuring two.

0445 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 10 JU 88s approaching the Island.

0450-0605 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.  The Spitfires observe F/O Fumerton engage one JU 88, which he destroys: it is seen later burning in the sea.  He later attacks and destroys another JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Nineteen mines swept. Sweepers were machine gunned by ME 109s from 5000 feet without causing damage or casualties.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons and two Blenheims from Gibraltar; five Wellingtons from Shallufa.  Departures  Six Wellingtons to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

HAL FAR  1900 hrs  185 Squadron and RNAS stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto Harbour.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Gela, Biscari, Comiso, Noto.  2220-0142 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched on shipping strike but were recalled without making the attack.

TA QALI   53 airmen of 601 Squadron arrived from Hal Far. 0125-0220 hrs; 0225-0310 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol towards Sicily but see nothing.  0330-0415 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol to Cape Passero and attempt to shoot up a beacon without success.

29 June 1942: Malta Fighters Chase Enemy Back to Sicily

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; moderate to strong.  Little high cloud.

Lockheed Lodestar

0715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires Luqa area scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0855 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters and sight eight ME 109s.

0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled and sight two of the ME 109s, but lose them when gaining height.

0910 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the ME 109s near the Island.  P/O Barbour, 603 Squadron, is jumped by two of the fighters: he bales out and is observed safely in his dinghy.

0915-1045 hrs  Two pairs of Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to cover and protect minesweepers operating off the coast.  They guide the rescue launch to P/O Barbour.

1425 hrs  The air raid alert sounds with the approach of four enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali search and locate them forty miles south east of the Island.  They chase the fighters off towards Sicily.

1515-1540 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of 603 Squadron: no combat.

1655-1725 hrs  Four Spitfires Luqa carry out a patrol: no combat.

1935-2040 hrs  Fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne and ready to intercept: no combat.

2130-2340 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.

2245 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept eight approaching enemy bombers.  The Beaufighter pilot F/L Edwards attacks and destroys one JU 88.

2250 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the bombers approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on St Paul’s Bay and on Luqa, damaging a defence post and motor transport.

2335 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Private Edward Green, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment; Bombardier David Lee, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private William Morgan, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, three Wellingtons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from LG 104; One Beaufighter from Middle East.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; two Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 224; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to Shallufa.    Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in sea after combat; pilot safe.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto reports 100% cloud over Sicily and Foggia.  One Spitfire PR Taranto reports naval situation unchanged.

TA QALI  0625-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on a search mission sight a dinghy in the water ten miles south of Cape Passero.

30 June 1942: Clamp Down on Black Marketeers

The Government of Malta is to introduce very severe penalties for Black Market trading.  The new measures include a maximum term of five years’ imprisonment for those convicted.  The new measures take effect from tomorrow.  (1)

AIR RAID STATISTICS JUNE 1942

  • Total number of raids 173
  • Raid-free days nil
  • Night raids 60
  • Raid free nights 4
  • Alerts for own planes 11
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 3 days, 15 hrs, 43mins.
  • Average length of alert 30.4 mins.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  They encounter seven ME 109s over St Paul’s Bay but there is no combat.

1020-1125 hrs  Three Spitfires from Ta Qali patrol over Gozo.  The air raid alert sounds at 1045 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  They patrol 20 miles towards Sicily but see nothing.

1510-1535 hrs; 1900-1910 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne each time to intercept enemy aircraft but raid does not materialise.

1930-2030 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron patrol over Gozo.  Two more Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to provide cover for launches in Grand Harbour.  The air raid alert sounds at 1955 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

2145-2335 hrs; 2250-2359 hrs  Two Beaufighters on intercept patrol: no combat.

2234-0515 hrs   Air raid alert.  Six JU 88 bombers drop high explosive bombs in the area of Luqa, Qrendi, Birzebbuga and Delimara, and on Fleur de Lys.

0410-0515 hrs  Thirteen enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on Safi and Luqa, where a starter battery is destroyed.

Military casualties  Petty Officer Steward Joseph Attard, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Veneranda Scicluna, age 45.  Safi  Concetta Cashia, age 34; Carmela Cachia, age 2; John Farrugia, age 5.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for sweeping.  SS King of England escorted by ML 462 proceeded to Marsaxlokk, arriving 2150 hrs. King of England pumped 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire during the night.  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with by Royal Navy in June: 3.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley, one Blenheim, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; Departures  One Whitley to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224.

LUQA  2151-0605 hrs  Three Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched on shipping search.  Two Malta-based Wellingtons attacked a southbound enemy convoy of three 6000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers, 23 miles from Cape Maria de Leuca.  Near-misses were observed on one of the merchant vessels. Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes, scoring two hits on one merchant vessel.  The pilots observed a lot of smoke and the ship came to a stop.  After the attack, part of the convoy was seen to turn back towards Taranto.

1 July 1942: Malta Bombers Delay Rommel’s Convoy

A Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit yesterday brought back photographs of Taranto showing much enemy activity in the harbour.  Signs indicate that the convoy subjected to recent attacks has now been re-assembled.  The deck cargo from the damaged merchant ship has been removed and transferred to another ship.  Several more merchant vessels were observed berthed in the outer harbour, ready to embark with supplies for North Africa.

Wellington bombers

Overnight, a search was carried out by two Wellingtons in the Gulf of Taranto, to locate and bomb the enemy ships, and guide in torpedo-carrying Wellingtons ready to attack the convoy as it emerged from harbour.  Another Wellington carried out a search to the south of the Gulf to cover a wider area in case the convoy made more rapid progress.  The five torpedo-bearing Wellingtons left Malta at nightfall and circled near Cape Santa Maria di Leuca, ready to strike as soon as the convoy emerged from the Gulf.

At 0135 hrs this morning, three merchant ships and four destroyers were spotted crawling along the coast near Gallipoli, in the heel of Italy.  The Wellingtons bombed and launched their torpedoes, scoring hits on one ship and near misses with bombs on others.  The Italian crews appeared to panic, and immediately turned tail to head back to Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0810-0817 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter patrol.

0910-0930 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy patrol: no combat.

0950-1100 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  At 1002 hrs the air raid alert sounds.  The patrolling aircraft see four enemy fighters but are unable to engage.

1450-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s escorted by 20 fighters drops one large high explosive bomb on the shore near Qawra Tower. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1815-1925 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two approaching formations totalling some forty aircraft, two Cant 1007s with BR 20s, ME 109s, RE 2001s and Macchi 202s.

1840 hrs  Air raid alert.  The first formation of two Italian SM 84s with a close escort of Italian fighters heads for Ta Qali.  The bombers drop twelve 100kg bombs on the Imtarfa area.  A separate formation of German and Italian fighters is spotted to the north east of Gozo.  P/O Hurst, 603 Squadron, attacks one bomber from 300 yards to point-blank range and sees strikes on the aircraft.  Hurst is hit by return fire and loses all his glycol.  Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Parkinson is then jumped by another fighter and has to bale out.  He is slightly injured and is rescued later.

1930 hrs  All clear.

2000-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.

2015-2130 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on dusk patrol: nil report.

2215-2245 hrs; 2330-2335 hrs; 2359-0045 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 25 aircraft cross the Island, including Italian and German bombers with fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Qrendi, Marsaxlokk, Hal Far, Luqa, Kalafrana, Boschetto, Ta Qali, Marfa and Rabat.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0150-0245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Unidentified enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Luqa area, destroying one Wellington and one Beaufort.

Military casualties  Private James Hoare, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Colour Sergeant Thornton Springett, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Carmela Spiteri, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  SS King of England returned from Marsaxlokk escorted by ML 462, having recovered 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Whitley, two Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Whitley from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, one Blenheim from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot safe.

2 July 1942: Fire bombing of Boschetto Camp Kills 7; Injures 11

Boschetto

Seven RAF servicemen were killed when enemy bombers targeted the RAF camp in Boschetto Gardens in the early hours of this morning.  Three high explosive bombs hit the tented camp at 0100 hrs.  One landed directly on a tent and the others exploded nearby, causing considerable damage to tents, marquees and equipment.  Seven servicemen were killed and two were rushed to hospital with extensive wounds.  Eleven more were taken to hospital later, either suffering from injuries or severe shock.

Dozens of incendiary bombs were also dropped in the raid, setting fire to the trees which burst into flames.  Despite the ongoing air raid, all available men grabbed fire extinguishers and sand buckets to put out the flames.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; little cloud.

0830-0920 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron intercept six ME 109s.  F/O Mitchell damages one ME 109.  P/O Hurst is reported missing.

0920 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They engage eight ME 109s and five Cant 1007 bombers.  S/Ldr Lucas and F/Sgt Parkes each destroy one ME 109.  W/O Ramsay damages a starboard engine of one aircraft and sees pieces fly off the port wing.  F/Sgt De Nancrede scores hits on the leading bomber and damages the port bomber.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne and see a Cant 1007 with 20 strong fighter escort.  P/O King and P/O Glazebrook together probably destroy a Macchi.  Both pilots are then attacked head-on and they crash land at Ta Qali.

0955-1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  The five Cant 1007s drop thirty 100kg and five 50kg bombs on Safi and Kalafrana.  Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack.  P/O Smith damages one Cant and destroys one ME 109.  F/O Mitchell and P/O Newman both attack a bomber, leaving his engine smoking.  Sgt Parkinson and P/O Johnson each damage one RE 2001.

1055-1205 hrs; 1205-1245 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron, then two of 603 Squadron search for P/O Hurst.

1245-1400 hrs  Four Spitfires attack a fishing smack south of Kalafrana.

1400 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy bombers.

1420 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88 bombers escorted by four fighters drop bombs on Luqa from 23000 feet,  killing two civilians and wounding two civilians and two servicemen.  One Beaufighter is slightly damaged.  The Spitfires attack the JU 88s.   P/O Spradley damages the centre one; P/O Linton damages another.  P/O Daddo-Langlois attacks the port bomber and the crew bales out 40 miles north of the Island.  F/Sgt Middlemiss spots a ME 109 on the tail of P/O Kelly.  He opens fire and sees the ME 109 dive down and splash into the sea.  P/O Kelly does not return.

1455 hrs  All clear.

1505-1615 hrs  Spitfires of 249 Squadron search for P/O Kelly but find nothing.

1825-1842 hrs  Air raid alert.

1855-2000 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol to cover minesweepers.

1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight eight Cant 1007s with a 15 strong fighter escort.  S/Ldr Lucas damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Parkes also damages one ME 109 which is last seen diving down.  F/Sgt De Nancrede is hit in the engine in a head-on attack and crash-lands at Ta Qali.

1946-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Cants drop 100kg bombs on Luqa, safi and Hal Far from 20000ft.

2300-2307 hrs; 0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Italian and German bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on scattered areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

0055-0154 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft drop bombs on Luqa.  One Beaufighter is airborne.  P/O Fumerton fires a one-second burst at a JU 88 which causes an explosion.  A further burst sets the bomber on fire and it falls into the sea.  Four pilots of 249 Squadron search for a pilot in the sea 10-12 miles north of Grand Harbour.  They locate him and observe the launch completing the rescue.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Norman Clark, Royal Air Force; Aircraftsman 1 Cecil Clarke Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Corporal Gilbert Cruickshank, RAF; Pilot Officer John Hurst DFC, RAF VR, Leading Aircraftsman John Johnson, RAF VR; Aircraftsman Harry Lapish, Mentioned in Despatches, RAF VR; Aircraftsman George Meyrick, RAF VR; Corporal Bertie Nichols, RAF VR; Leading Aircraftsman J Portelli, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweeping in progress. 22 mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Hudsons, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire badly shot up in combat: pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot missing, believed killed.  One Spitfire shot down in combat into the sea: pilot missing, believed killed.  Two Spitfires crashed on landing after combat: both pilots safe.  One Spitfire force-landed after combat: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  Three Malta-based Wellingtons attacked an enemy convoy of three merchant ships and one destroyer, 8 miles from Madonna Isle and heading south-easterly.  The largest of the merchant vessels was targeted and a direct hit claimed, as well as several near-misses.  Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes and a small faire was observed on one of the merchantmen.

3 July 1942: On the Trail of a Convoy

Santa Maria de Leuca

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JULY TO DAWN 4 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud.

0855-0940 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a formation of three Cant 1007s escorted by about 12 fighters.  The bombers drop twenty-one 100kg bombs on Lija and Attard from 21000 feet.

1145-1235 hrs; 1350-1410 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighters on patrol.

1820 hrs   Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched to act as cover for arriving Beauforts.  Eight more are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.

1830-1845 hrs; 1935-1945 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighter sweeps.

2235-2240 hrs; 2330-2333 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

0015-0124 hrs  Air raid alert for 14 raiders; 10 cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa, Qawra and Dingli.  Several delayed-action bombs are dropped near the runway extension and the cuttings at Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Lance Sergeant Randolph Dutton, 10 Battery, 7 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Grace Borg, age 30; Mary Gauci, age 53.  Floriana  Laurence Cauchi, age 26.  Hamrun  Eleonora Apap, age 66.  Rabat  Consiglio Portellil, age 53.  Siggiewi  Laurence Cutajar, age 62; Josephine Muscat, age 52; Emanuel Muscat, age 22; Rosina Muscat, age 20; Mary Concetta Muscat, age 16; Saviour Muscat, age 7; Joseph Schembri, age 50. Sliema  Peter Cordina, age 57.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 3 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Four mines swept. Channel considered clear as far as Zonkor Point.

AIR HQ  Arrivals    Three Hudsons, two Beauforts, one Wellington, six Whitleys from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire suffered engine failure and crashed into the sea: pilot safe.  Two Beauforts failed to return from shipping strike: crew missing.

TA QALI  Corporal Thomas and Leading Aircraftsman Portelli died of their injuries at Imtarfa Hospital.

LUQA  Three aircraft attacked a convoy of three 9000 ton merchant vessels and seven destroyers, thirty miles from Sapienza.  The pilots reported near-misses on two of the merchantmen.  Another Wellington of 38 Squadron attacked with one torpedo but could not see results due to a smoke screen.  Four Beauforts escorted by five Beaufighters carried out a dusk attack on a convoy of eight destroyers and three 7000 ton merchant vessels steaming south east…miles from Sapienza.  One of the merchant ships was hit, causing much smoke and a red glow.  Another was possibly hit.

4 July 1942: Morale Remains High Says Governor

From: Governor & C in C Malta                To:  C in C Middle East                              Rptd: War Office   Military situation report week ending 4 July 42

St George’s Barracks

2.  Enemy aircraft destroyed: by Ack Ack at night 2 bombers.  By Beaufighters at night 8 bombers.  By Spitfires 2 JU 88s, 3 Cants, 9 fighters.  Probably destroyed or damaged by RAF P 7 bombers, 18 fighters.  For loss of 6 Spitfires and 8 damaged.

3.  Offensive air action limited to 11 sorties by Wellingtons against enemy convoys.

4.  Military casualties.  5 Other Ranks killed, 9 Other Ranks wounded.  Training of soldiers as winchmen, chargehands, etc for unloading future convoy proceeding.  Morale remains high.

BEAUFORTS MISSING AFTER CONVOY RAID

This afternoon a Baltimore sent to find the main convoy from Taranto sighted the three merchant vessels with an escort of eight destroyers 15 miles south of the island of Zante, heading south westerly.  Eight Beauforts were despatched to launch a dusk attack.  They found the convoy ten miles south of Sapienza and attacked, claiming at least one hit.  However, the Beauforts failed to return.  Three Wellingtons launched a second attack with torpedoes and bombs, claiming near misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Beaufort crew: no sighting.

0810 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Italian SM 84s with an escort of ME 109s, Macchi 202s and Re 2001s drop bombs between Attard and Luqa, where they destroy the Signals Maintenance section and damaging another building.  The Spitfires spot the Italian bombers and fighters and attack.  S/Ldr Lucas destroys one bomber; F/Lt Daddo-Langlois and F/Sgt Middlemiss together destroy a second and F/Sgt Rae the third.

0855-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron patrol above the rescue launch and then intercept six Macchi 202s.  P/O King is shot up but unhurt.

0905-1050 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron continue a patrol for the rescue launch as it searches for Italian air crew in the sea.

1550-1555 hrs; 1615-1645 hrs  Air raid alert: raids do not materialise.

1730-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1935 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1948 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Cant 1007s with 15 fighters drop bombs on Ta Qali and Musta.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron attack the raiders.  F/Sgt De Lara damages one Italian fighter.  P/O McElroy probably destroys one RE 2001 and sees two others spinning downwards.  Fighters jump S/Ldr Lucas, damaging his aircraft.

2000 hrs  All clear.

2130-2205 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

2215-2305 hrs; 2315-2359 hrs; 0250-0425 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 26 aircraft approach the Island; 18 cross the coast.   Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Mosta, Imtarfa, Wardia, Naxxar, Floriana and Valetta.  Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Edward Walker, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Andrew Coleiro, age 53.  Siggiewi  Concetta Frendo, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed into the sea in transit from Malta to Kasfareet: crew missing.  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 60.  Dealt with: high explosives 31 (3 x 500kg, 11 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg, 7 AP containers); German 2kg anti-personnel (AP) 275; Italian 2kg AP 46; large no of dud German 1kg incendiaries collected.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group, 1994

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