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31 May 1942: RAF Wins in the Skies but Belts Tight on the Ground

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“Rations have during the month been considerably reduced, and it is now a case of tightening belts until the next convoy comes in.”  (1)

Kingsway, May 1942 (NWMA Malta)

MAY 1942: THE ARMY VIEW

At the beginning of this month it became obvious that the enemy were not maintaining as many aircraft on the Sicilian aerodromes.  The attacks on this Island were on a reduced scale.  On 9th the Island received large reinforcements of Spitfires.  On 10th a minelaying cruiser brought supplies of Bofors ammunition to the Island and this ship was heavily bombed by JU 88s and JU 87s during its stay in the Dockyard.

The enemy was surprised to find over 60 Spitfires in the air waiting for him and also the heaviest Ack Ack barrage that has been seen over Malta for some months.  The result was – on that day the enemy lost 63 aircraft destroyed or damaged.

Since that time we have had air superiority over the Island.  Since this heavy defeat the enemy used mainly Italian aircraft and crews in his attacks and, although the raids have been on a much smaller scale, the percentage of enemy aircraft damaged or destroyed has been very high.  Towards the end of the month bombing raids against Italian targets were resumed from this Island.

A feature of the month has been the increase of enemy E Boat activity around the Island.  Undoubtedly some of these boats have been engaged in mine laying but this is probably not the only explanation of their activities.  On 17th some of these E Boats were engaged by our coast defences and one was left abandoned.  Rather than let this boat fall into our hands and reveal its secrets it was bombed and sunk by enemy aircraft.  On 18th an Italian came ashore at post T4 and, from information given by this prisoner, it appeared that the enemy may possibly be testing our coast defences with a view to making a ‘Commando’ raid against the Island.

During the month nearly all the troops… who are not manning key positions have been engaged in construction work on aerodromes, and salvage work clearing up the damage caused by the heavy bombing in the previous month.  The work on aerodromes has consisted of building pens to protect our aircraft and standing by to fill in craters and thus keep the aerodromes serviceable.

AIR COMMAND REPORTS ON STATE OF AIRFIELDS

By the beginning of May 236 pens had been completed in the aerodromes.  This work had to be given priority over slit trenches, because of the delay in the dispersal programmes.  The allowance of petrol to the RAF was 3000 gallons a week and was not to be exceeded.  All airmen living within four miles of the aerodromes had to march to work.  This limitation of petrol was a serious handicap to aerodrome work.

There was a grave shortage of miners owing to the shelter construction programme, and so any possibility of putting workshops underground had to be shelved, and we had to rely more upon dispersal than on underground workshops.  Stores were distributed to 27 houses throughout the Island and 60 per cent of the work at Kalafrana in engine and airframes repairs was moved to Gzira, including instrument, armament, airscrew, coppersmith and petrol tank repairs.

As regards work on the aerodromes there was a very serious shortage of rollers.  Rollers had to be used and manned during the whole of daylight hours with relief crews.  Often during the whole 24 hours when bombing was heavy and aerodromes had to be made usable.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1221-1259 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1340 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of Italian and German fighters.

1345 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the fighters approach the coast.  603 Squadron Spitfires engage the Re 2001s and ME 109s as they attempt a sweep over the Island.  The Spitfires attack but no strikes are seen.  One Spitfire falls into a bomb-hole while taxiing and breaks its back: the pilot is unhurt.

1508-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to search a position east north east of Grand Harbour.  They sight debris: an overturned float and a raft.

1804-1843 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1945 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four of 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft.  They chase the ME 109s but do not engage.

2235 hrs; 2350 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Chandler, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Domenico Vella, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 31 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Trusty Star, Beryl, and ML 126 sent to Marsaxlokk to sweep the approaches to that Harbour.  HM 235 sweeping off Grand Harbour.  17 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Hudsons, two Spitfires, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons, three Hudson to LG 222; one Blenheim, one Hurricane to Sidi Barrani; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

LUQA  2055-0106 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  The raid was very successful: large fires are seen, believed to be commercial oil storage tanks.  Explosions were seen on the jetty and railway lines.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  15 Malta Volunteer Defence Force fired on Pembroke Ranges.  Shooting quite good.  GOC present.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  One unexploded anti-personnel grenade is reported at 526186.  Strengths:  Officers 36; Other Ranks 833; RAOC (attached) 5; RAMC 1.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Strength of battalion: 33 Officers, 654 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Spr Briffa, No 2 Works Company RE, was involved in a motor-car accident and admitted to hospital.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported nil; dealt with 8 (Italian Thermos).  Strengths  HQ Fortress RE 4 Officers, 18 Other Ranks; 24 Fortress Coy RE 5 Officers, 219 Other Ranks; 173 Tunnelling Company RE 6 Officers 204 Other Ranks; No 1 Works Company RE 5 Officers 225 Other Ranks; No 2 Works Company RE 6 Officers 229 Other Ranks; 127 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 20 Other Ranks; 128 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 16 Other Ranks.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.  A Company Jebel Ciantar 4 Officers 131 Other Ranks; B Coy Ta Karceppu 5 Officers 122 Other Ranks; C Coy Inquisitors Palace 5 Officers 133 Other Ranks; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 Other Ranks; HQ Coy Ta Salvator 15 Officers 261 Other Ranks.  Chaplain and Medical Officer attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The unit has supplied several working parties during the month for Ta Qali aerodrome and the work has consisted of constructing aircraft pens, repairing runways, filling in bomb craters and salvage.  Owing to the very heavy raids during the month this has been very arduous work.

(1) War Diary, 8th Bn The Manchester Regiment, May 1942

 

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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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30 May 1942: Most Concentrated Attack in the History of Aerial Warfare

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Tug HMS St Angelo sunk by a mine

AIR COMMAND REFLECTS ON CHANGING FORTUNES IN MALTA SKIES

By her resolute opposition Malta has weakened Rommel’s ability to strike at Egypt and is absorbing considerable shock for the Russians by causing wastage, which the German Air Force can ill afford.

Field Marshal Kesselring lost his fight against us when he commanded the German Air Force in the Battle of Britain.  He also failed in his attack on Moscow.  If he fails against Malta a great blow at the heart of German Air Force prestige will have been struck.  When full-scale operations are resumed on the Russian front Malta will almost certainly have a measure of relief by the withdrawal of some units or at least by units based in Sicily getting a lower degree of priority in the matter of replacement aircraft.

The scale of attack against Malta is the most concentrated and sustained attack in the history of aerial warfare.  The average effort of 200 sorties per 24 hours during the early part of April following the 100 sorties averaged during March shows that the utmost is being extracted from the force available.  To achieve this effort two sorties a day by aircraft must be common and a third sortie, particularly by fighters and dive-bombers, is by no means rare.  This intensive use of units over a confined area in which defences are highly concentrated must be producing a high wastage apart from aircraft destroyed.  There are grounds for thinking that the number of aircraft damaged is higher than Malta’s claims. 

Certainly it can be said that, with the resumption of full-scale operations in all theatres, Malta’s contribution to the limitation of Germany’s air power will be felt by the German Air Force for a long time.  War Diary, Air HQ Malta, May 1942

HMS ST ANGELO MINED

HMS St Angelo was sunk at 1415 hrs this afternoon with the loss of four of her crew.  The 150 ton auxiliary tug was involved in a minesweeping operation about ¾ mile off the entrance to Grand Harbour when she struck a mine.  The three other vessels, Beryl, Trusty Star and Swona, returned to port undamaged.

Before being transferred to minesweeping, the tug was a familiar sight in Grand Harbour, ferrying Royal Navy personnel from Fort St Angelo to several destinations, and more recently carrying out rescues from the Harbour waters.  The casualties have been named as Leading Seaman Joseph Debattista, Able Seaman Vincent Farrugia, Stoker Paul Grima and Stoker Joseph Said.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 MAY TO DAWN 31 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; fairly clear – slightly hazy.

0510-0555 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali conduct a patrol off the coast.  One aircraft sights a patch of oil two miles off the coast.

1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept approaching fighters; nil report.

1104-1303 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1132 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a fighter sweep over the Island.

1215-1305 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to patrol the Island: nothing sighted.

1635-1745 hrs  Eight Spitfies 249 Squadron airborne to intercept incoming enemy fighters; nil report.

1705 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1810 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming Italian bombers with a twenty strong fighter escort, including Re 2001s and Macch 202s.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and five of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.

1812 hrs  Three Cant 1007s drop eighteen 100kg bombs on Luqa, causing craters on the runway and damaging one Spitfire. 

The Spitfire patrols intercept the retreating formation.  The cannons of three Spitfires of 185 Squadron jam but Sgt Ferraby is able to fire, damaging one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  126 Squadron’s F/Sgt Milner, P/O Johnson and P/O Goldsmith damage one Cant 1007; F/Sgt Parks damages another.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one Re 2001.  Sgt Smith destroys one Re 2001, and damages one Cant 1007.

1925-2045 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to escort Hudsons arriving on the Island.

2150 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

2335 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching hostile aircraft.

2355 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol to intercept.  He climbs to 14000 feet and chases a Cant bomber towards the coast of Sicily where he attacks a Cant 1007 bis which is seen to crash into the sea.  He returns safely at 0045 hrs.

0455-0601 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to search for a missing delivery Wellington.  They see a large patch of oil five miles north east of Malta.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Lamb, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Welshman; Private Anthony Gusman, 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties   Mosta  Francis Bezzina, age 12; Albino Bezzina, age 11; Edwin Gatt, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 30 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  20 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG 05; three Hudsons, six Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One CW 20 to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; three Hudsons to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100 hrs  Four Albacores and one Swordfish of the NAS took off on strike.  No sightings and all aircraft returned at 0230 hrs.

LUQA  1215-1500 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina and Palermo Harbour.   2104-0345 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight was despatched to locate, shadow and bomb a southbound convoy.  He sighted one merchant vessel and one destroyer and dropped bombs on the merchant vessel which were seen to explode short by 75 yards.  2330-0317 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  One turned back with engine trouble.  The others dropped bombs on the target area: no results observed.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 4 Section, No 2 Works Company RE completed accommodation for Advanced HQ for GOC Troops, Malta.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 4(1 x 1000kg; 2 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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Posted by on May 30, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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29 May 1942: Wellington Destroyed by Friendly Fire – Crewmen Killed

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ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY RESCUE SURVIVORS

A Wellington bomber of 104 Squadron returning from a successful bombing mission over Catania crashed today near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the other two.  It is believed that the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, possibly due to being wrongly identified as an attacking enemy plane.

The Wellington crashed on L’Imrihel Feature, killing three of the crew on impact.  Personnel of 6th Heavy Ack Ack, Royal Malta Artillery, managed to rescue the injured pilot, Sgt R Hills, and the second pilot, Sgt E Martin who was seriously wounded.  Before they could return for the final crew member, the aircraft’s petrol tanks exploded, killing him instantly.

MS Reichenfels

MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS SPOT CONVOY TARGET

A large convoy has been seen by aerial reconnaissance loading at Naples.  Three of these ships, the 7800 ton German ‘Reichenfels’ and two 6500 ton Lenici class ships were today photographed off Pantelleria, heading towards Tripoli under protective destroyer escort.

ITALIANS PILOT STUKAS

Four enemy aircraft which dropped bombs on Mellieha and Dingli overnight are believed to be JU 87s flown by Italian pilots.  The aircraft caused some confusion among observers who were at first unable to identify them.  They reported that the shape and markings suggested JU 87s but the aircraft were not operating in the usual agressive manner of the Stuka dive-bomber.

The pilot of a Beaufighter on patrol with Malta Night Fighter Unit later confirmed that he had engaged with JU 87s at the time of the raid, damaging one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MAY TO DAWN 30 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh; haze.

0510-0605 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on shipping reconnaissance but sight nothing.

0820 hrs  Air raid alert.

0822-0926 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island: no combat.

1202 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far and four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1235 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds as the formation approaches the Island.  There is no engagement with Malta fighters.

1305 hrs  All clear.

1458-1622 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to patrol for enemy fighters: no interceptions.

1638-1748 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1715-1825 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled, climbing to intercept the hostile aircraft.  They sight two but no interceptions take place.

1750 hrs  The air raid alerts sounds as the fighters near the coast.  They carry out a fighter sweep.

1825 hrs  All clear.

2310 hrs  A Wellington bomber returning from operations crashes near Tal Hlas.

0009-0244 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol.

0025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a small formation of enemy bombers approaching the Island.  One JU 88 and four other unidentified bombers drop bombs near Mellieha and Dingli.  The Beaufighter engages and damages one aircraft, identified as a JU 87.

0212 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialize.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant George Davis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 104 Squadron, RAF; Sergeant Andrew McColl,  Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Elwyn Roberts, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR), 104 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Kenneth Ross, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 104 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star continued minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; one CW 20 from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  2145 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish of the NAS were airborne on strike mission.  The convoy consisting of three merchant vessels and three destroyers was located off the Tunisian coast but was covered by a thick fog patch 300 feet deep, 15 miles long and 10 miles across.  No attack was possible and all the aircraft returned with their torpedoes at 0320 hrs.

LUQA  0930-1215 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa, Trapani and Palermo.  1505-1707 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  2117-0310 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search Gulf of Gabies.  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched from Luqa to bomb Catania aerodrome.  Bombs landed in the target area: many fires are seen.  On returning to base the aircraft crashed near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the pilot and second pilot.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1230 hrs  Working parties for pen-building and crater filling at Luqa finished and returned to billets.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs  Pte Porter is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 5 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  1230 hrs  Working party of 50 men tin-loading at Luqa.

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28 May 1942: Eyes of the World on Malta

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Lord Gort

LORD GORT ADDRESSES MALTA GOVERNMENT

When Lord Gort, Governor of Malta, presided for the first time over the Malta Council of Government, he declared in reply to an address of welcome that the eyes of the whole world were upon the Island.  The three services and the civilian population, he said, stand together, and the fortunes of each are inextricably bound together. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MAY TO DAWN 29 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh.  Fair; 90% cloud above 20000 feet.  Visibility 15 miles.

0950 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne to intercept enemy fighters but are unable to catch them.

1030 hrs  The air raid warning sounds as the hostile fighters approach and carry out a fighter sweep over the Island.

1403-1454 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy fighters.  The air raid alarm sounds at 1415 hrs as they approach.  The Spitfires do not engage and the fighters complete a sweep over the Island.

1505-1645 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft which carry out a fighter sweep with no combat.

1638 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept a formation of 24 aircraft, including fighter bombers and fighters.  F/S Schade claims one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1715 hrs  The air raid sounds as the hostile aircraft come within range of the Island.  They approach Luqa airfield and four fighter bombers drop bombs on Luqa airfield, injuring two airmen.

1750-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept another sweep of fighters: no interceptions.

2030-2115 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron is airborne on night patrol: no comabt.

2207-2220 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrol: no combat.

2232 hrs  Enemy bombers drop 100kg bombs on Luqa.  One lands between the old NAAFI buildings and airmen’s billets.

2258-0139 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

2306 hrs  Enemy raiders drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

0327-0759 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

0415 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy aircraft.

0428 hrs  Bombs are dropped in Grand Harbour.

0440 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish are airborne to attack a southbound convoy in the Pantelleria area.  Three Albacores return early with engine trouble.  The remaining aircraft did not locate the convoy.

LUQA  0803-1030 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Catania.  2121-0427 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for a convoy east of Malta.  One unescorted merchant vessel was sighted: no strike.  2102-0110 hrs  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched to attack a given sector of Catania aerodrome.  Bombs were seen to strike on or near main runway, among buildings and causing two small fires.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0725 hrs  Revert to normal.  E boats believed to have been laying mines.  Working parties continue at Luqa; party for Fuel and Light finished for the time being.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs Pte Meader is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 3 (1 x 1000kg;   2 x 500kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Aerodrome working parties continue.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  0715 hrs  Revert to normal conditions.  0725 hrs  Beach posts informed of minesweeping activity at entrance to Grand Harbour.

(1)  AAP, Valletta – The Argus, Melbourne, 28 May 1942

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27 May 1942: Malta Bombers Attack Two of Rommel’s Convoys

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MALTA NIGHT FIGHTER ATTACKS E BOATS

S Boat

Just after midnight, a Luqa-based Beaufighter aircraft on night patrol sighted eighteen E boats some twenty five miles south of the island.  F/Sgt Miller and F/Sgt Walsh launched a vigorous attack on the vessels with cannon and machine-gun fire.  They reported seeing definite strikes on vessels and claim to have damaged three of them.

Minutes later E boats were again reported, this time at closer range, near the small off Island of Filfla.  Infantry regiments manning Malta’s nearby coastal defences were placed on alert and the Harbour defences were manned in preparation for any possible attempted landing or seaborne attack.  By 4 am the E boats had withdrawn and beach sentries were stood down.  The night’s events fuel concerns that the enemy is planning an invasion.

MALTA BOMBERS STRIKE AT AXIS CONVOYS AND SUPPLY TRAINS

Luqa based bombers successfully attacked two enemy convoys overnight.  One Wellington bomber took off at ten this evening on a search for enemy shipping off the coast of Sardinia.  120 miles from Cape Spartivento, they located a convoy of two merchant vessels of 3000 and 5000 tons, heading south under the protection of two destroyers.  The Wellington crew targeted the larger of the merchant ships, causing explosions some 50 yards to port.  Bomber and crew returned safely to Luqa at 0325 hrs.

A second Wellington took off ten minutes later on a mission to locate and attack a convoy reported to be heading eastwards from southern Italy.  The crew sighted two 5000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers 37 miles east of Ponte Stilo and unleashed their bombs.  One was seen to explode close to a merchant ship, which the pilot then closed on and attacked with machine-gun fire before withdrawing.  The bomber landed at Luqa at 0240 hrs.

Nine Wellingtons were also despatched from Luqa tonight to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  A heavy smoke screen restricted visibility and their bombs appeared to land either side of the target.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate, becoming south-westerly later.  80% cloud above 15000 feet.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0742 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0818 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  W/O Miller returns early with oxygen trouble.

0830 hrs  Air raid alert: fighters approach but no bombing.

0915 hrs  The alert sounds for approaching hostile aircraft. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne; nil report.

1553 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.; nil report.

1555 hrs  Air raid alert: fighters approach but no bombing.

1910 hrs  A formation of twelve enemy aircraft is reported heading southwards in the direction of Malta.  The air raid alerts sounds and four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne.

1924 hrs  Twelve ME 109s cross the coast without being intercepted.  Four fighter-bombers head in to attack Luqa but drop bombs in fields in the area of Wied il Kbir.

2045-2126 hrs  The alert is raised for an approaching enemy formation.  One Beaufighter is scrambled from Luqa to intercept but develops engine trouble and part of the airscrew flies off.  He lands safely at Luqa.

2300-0040 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol sights an estimated eighteen E boats and attacks them with cannon and machine-gun fire.  Strikes are seen.

2320 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  Enemy bombers approach the Island and drop bombs on Ricasoli and Luqa.

0050 hrs  The E boats are now reported to be off Filfla.  11th Bn Lancashire Regiment are placed on special ‘stand to’ for beach posts, 18 pounder positions are manned.

0100 hrs  Air raid warning sounds. Three JU 88s drop high explosive bombs on the Luqa area.

0106 hrs  Double sentries are posted by Beach Companies 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt for an E boat alarm.  Patrols are warned.

0120 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are called out for partial manning of Harbour defences.  18-20 E boats have been spotted off Filfla.

0357 hrs  Beach sentries 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment stand down.

The Island remains on alert throughout the night: the all clear does not sound until 0907 hrs.

Military casualties  Gunner Frederick Fensom, 7th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Francis Lake, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment; Lance Corporal George Porter, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Rosa Bonnici, age 60.  St Julians  Saviour Magri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star carried out a sweep and cut seven mines off the Grand Harbour.  Four Albacores and two Swordfish on an unsuccessful sortie. All returned.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Lodestars from Gambut; two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 222; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; twelve Hurricanes, one Beaufort to Sidi Barrani.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged: crash-landed, pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1400 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes 229 Squadron left for the Middle East.

LUQA  2050-0456 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  2210-0240 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for enemy shipping sighted six vessels and scored a near miss on a large merchant vessel.  2200-0325 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for enemy shipping scored near misses (50-60 yards) on the large merchant vessel in a convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers.

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.  Party at the Porte des Bombes no longer required.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1130 hrs  Pte G Porter sustained gunshot wounds in the head.  He died on the way to No 90 General Hospital.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 8 ( 2 x 1000kg;   6 x 250kg).

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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Posted by on May 27, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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

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MINESWEEPER EDDY IS LOST

HM Drifter Eddy

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

NEW SQUADRON OF JU 87 STUKAS IN SICILY

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 MAY TO DAWN 27 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; haze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 26 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.  An extra party of 1 NCO and 6 men required at the Porte des Bombes: task not yet known.

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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Posted by on May 26, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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25 May 1942: Enemy Hits Back Hard After Convoy Attacks

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Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

REPRISALS FOR ATTACKS ON AXIS BASES AND SHIPPING

Yesterday’s attacks on enemy shipping have prompted immediate reprisals from the enemy today.  All three airfields were targeted in a raid at dusk this evening in one of the heaviest attacks in recent days.  The enemy action seemed designed to knock out Wellington and Albacore aircraft which have restarted successful offensive operations again against Sicilian aerodromes and enemy shipping.

PROSPECT OF INVASION STILL LOOMS

“The Photographic Reconnaisance Unit had detailed the construction of airstrips in Italy for gliders. Field Marshall Kesselring seemed to have convinced Hitler, Mussolini and General Rommel that Operation Herkules [the invasion of Malta] should go ahead in July. General Student, who commanded the bloody aerial assault on Crete, was developing similar plans for Malta.

On the evening of May 25 a large German air raid on Gasr El Arid, in Libya, intending to knock out as many of the RAF planes in North Africa as possible, started Rommel’s “Operation Theseus”, his last great advance that died at El Alamein. He had decided that the best way to win the Mediterranean was to conquer North Africa first, then take on Malta. His strategy was generally flawed, as aircraft from Malta could intercept his supplies. Especially with the new supplies of Spitfires. As it turned out, Rommel was a much better tactician than a strategician. Kesselring was correct, Operation Herkules was necessary to knock out Malta prior to defeating the Allies in North Africa. 

The rest of May would turn out to be the harshest month yet.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 MAY TO DAWN 26 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; slight.

0530-0610 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

0830-0945 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0855-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires airborne from Ta Qali and see two ME 109s but do not intercept.

1420-1550 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a 60 strong enemy formation, including three Italian bombers, forty-two ME 109s and Italian fighters attack Luqa.

1457 hrs  16 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons Luqa are scrambled too late to contact the bomber force; they engage the fighter escort.  F/Sgt Goldsmith damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  P/O Caldwell fails to return.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron also engage the enemy.  F/O West destroys one Italian Re 2001.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  S/Ldr New damages one Cant 1007.  F/O Lee damages one Cant 1007 but is then himself hit in the wing and engine.  Sgt Brennan damages one Re 2001.  Sgt De Nancreds damages one ME 109.

1503 hrs  Three Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM 84 aircraft drop eighteen 100kg bombs on the Luqa area from a high level.

1938 hrs  Waves of enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft: no combat is reported.

1945 hrs  Nine JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers with an escort of 20 plus fighters attack all three aerodromes, plus Kalafrana and Corradino.  Raiders are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Delimara gun position is hit, killing seven members of 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment Royal Artillery.

At Luqa bombs fall near the main stores and damage the aerodrome including a large crater on the main runway.  Delayed action bombs are dropped in the dispersal area and near the runway.  Two Wellingtons are damaged.

2057 hrs  Three JU 88s attack, dropping nine high explosive bombs on the Safi strip and Mqabba areas.

2145 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne from Luqa to intercept six JU 88s: no engagement.  They land at Ta Qali.

Night  Eleven enemy raiders come in and drop bombs at various places on the Island including areas around Valletta.  In the early hours of the morning, high explosive bombs on Hamrun cause damage to civilian properties, killing thirteen and injuring six.  The enemy engaged by barrage gunfire.

2300 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa at 2035 hrs lands at Ta Qali.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali airfield, on top of the caves between the western dispersal hut and Imtarfa.

0106-0213 hrs  Nine raiders drop bombs on Luqa.  An unserviceable Wellington is burned out and a number of craters made in the dispersal area.

0139 hrs  One aircraft drops two bombs on Misrah Blandun and two bombs on the Safi strip.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Caldwell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 601 Squadron; Lance Bombardier Alfred Broadhurst, 4 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner John Fitzsimons, 5 Battery, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner William Kelly, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Walter Longville, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sergeant John McCarthy, 4 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner George O’Brien, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harold Ward, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Borg, age 35; Stella Borg, age 34; Carmel Borg, age 3; William Brimmer, age 38; Carmela Brimma, age 62; Joseph Darmanin, age 68; Concetta Decelis, age 64; Adelaide Fabri, age 32; Antonia Falzon, age 60; Carmela Felice, age 66; Carmela Pace, age 5; Paul Rizzo, age 70; Doris Rizzo, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 25 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Harbour craft swept Grand Harbour entrance and destroyed one mine.  About 20 tons of fuel oil was extracted from Breconshire in drums and landed by small craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, Five Beauforts, two Blenheims to LG 222; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed on take-off: crew uninjured.  One Blenheim damaged while taxiing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.

LUQA  0815-1035 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Augusta Harbour.  2054-2345 hrs  Two Wellingtons 104 Squadron despatched to bomb a train ferry at Messina.  Bombs straddled the target and some fell in the south and south east of the harbour.

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Summer dress is adopted for all purposes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 4 (3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  CSM May was buried in the Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

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

 

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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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