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13 August 1942: RAF Fly 179 Sorties to Protect Pedestal

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY DIARY                         

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“CHEERIO, GOOD LUCK, BALING OUT – PORT ENGINE ON FIRE

These were the last words of Beaufighter pilot David Jay to his crewman Sergeant McFarlane this morning, before their aircraft plunged into the Mediterranean.  Pilot Officer Jay, a New Yorker who volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force, was flying one of five RAF Beaufighters of 248 Squadron which took off frm Malta this morning to provide vital air cover for the approaching convoy.

Beaufighter takes off from Luqa

They ran into a fierce battle as the Stuka bombers and fighters attacked, countered by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the convoy ships.  Several ME 109s turned from the convoy to chase the Beaufighters.  Moments later, Pilot Officer Jay was overheard by another aircraft saying his farewell to Sgt McFarlane, who was heard to answer him before their radio fell silent.  Both were reported missing.

Wellington bombers were also engaged in bombing missions today over enemy aerodromes used as bases for attacks on the convoy.   One Wellington making its second attack on Comiso was damaged by flak.  The aircraft made it back to Malta but crashed near Luqa, killing the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sergeant Harry Fox.  Pilot P/O Shepherd and three other crew members (Sgt Langley, Sgt Maslin, and Sgt Thompson) were injured in the crash but survived.

Beaufighters and Spitfires flew 179 sorties and 46 patrols today, providing constant cover for the convoy.  14 enemy aircraft were destroyed, with three probables and nine damaged, for the loss of one Beaufighter and four Spitfires from Malta.  Two of the Spitfire pilots are confirmed safe.

Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron reported that, especially given they had no direction aid from Force X, he considered the fighters performed “a magnificent job of work throughout the day”.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 AUGUST TO DAWN 14 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

SS Waimarama explodes

Dawn  The convoy is some 50 miles behind schedule but is now close enough to come under the protection of Malta’s Beaufighters and long-range Spitfires.  HMS Ashanti, flagship of Rear-Admiral Burrough, Commander, 10th Cruiser Squadron is leading the protective force of HM Ships Kenya, Charybdis, Intrepid, Icarus, Fury, Eskimo and Somali, covering the merchant ships Melbourne Star, Clan Ferguson and Rochester Castle.  HMS Ledbury is five miles astern escorting the damaged SS OhioSS Dorset is afloat and underway but is detached from the convoy and unescorted.  SS Port Chalmers, escorted by HMS Pathfinder and HMS Bramham is ten miles off with HMS Penn beyond standing by SS Waimarama, which is on fire. SS Brisbane Star has spent the night close to the Tunisian coast.  The ship is boarded by the French authorities who are persuaded to treat the crew fairly.

0505-0910 hrs  One Beaufighter 248 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol to cover the convoy sights one JU 88 and several ME 109s; no combat.

0527-0835 hrs  Four Beaufighters 248 Squadron are dispatched on convoy patrol; one does not get airborne and is damaged.  W/Cdr Pike attempts to intercept a JU 88 but is counter-attacked by several ME 109s.  One bullet hits his Beaufighter in the stern; the crew is uninjured.  W/Cdr Pike does not return fire.

0639-0726 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol over Malta: no sightings.

0712 hrs  Rear-Admiral Burrough orders HM Ships Eskimo and Somali to return and stand by HMS Manchester.  On their way to do so they picked up survivors of SS Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

0730 hrs  Five Beaufighters 248 Squadron are dispatched on protective patrol over the convoy.

0810-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol over Malta: no sightings.

Ohio deck after collision with JU 87 c IWM GM1469

0810 hrs  JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on the convoy, concentrating on SS Clan Ferguson, which receives a direct hit and blows up.  HMS Charybdis reports seeing two aircraft dive on the merchantman and only one coming, the other is presumed destroyed in the explosion.  Ledbury rescues 45 of her crew.

0925 hrs  Ju 87 dive-bombers attack, while Italian aircraft lay parachute mines ahead around the convoy.  The Stukas target Ohio which has rejoined the convoy.  The tanker suffers several near-misses: her steering gear is disabled but her guns shoot down one JU 87 which collides with the ship.  Port Chalmers is set on fire but continues underway.

The Beaufighters of 248 Squadron approach the convoy as enemy bombers and fighters attack, countered by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ships.  Several ME 109s over the convoy chase the Beaufighters.  Pilot P/O Jay his crew Sgt McFarlane are reported missing.

Dorset under air attack c IWM GMA11173

 

0941 hrs  HMS Kenya is attacked by dive-bombers and suffers near-misses.

1017 hrs; 1050 hrs  Two more dive-bombing and minelaying attacks bring more near-misses for Ohio and for SS Dorset.  HM Ships Penn, Ledbury and Bramham stand by as protection for the two ships.

1020-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are dispatched to patrol over the convoy.  They sight two Junkers bombers: the first has not dropped its bombs and is chased away by a Spitfire.  The second has dropped its bombs when F/Lt Northcott attacks, firing from 400 yards down to point-blank range: he observes masses of strikes.  F/Lt McRuder fires at the same aircraft and also observes many strikes: the aircraft is ‘probably destroyed’.  P/O Barbour fires but does not see the results due to oil on his windscreen.  The Spitfire pilots note that the JU 88 had unusual bottle-green camouflage and no crosses could be seen.

1120 hrs  Italian torpedo bombers attack the convoy, dropping torpedoes too wide of the ships to cause damage.  Ships’ companies observe Malta Beaufighters and Spitfires engaging the enemy and shooting down at least four enemy aircraft.  The convoy has now reached the range of Malta’s main Spitfire forces and the enemy stays clear.

1130-1230 hrs; 1145-1245 hrs; 1200-1315 hrs; 1230-1340 hrs; 1245-1304 hrs; 1335-1450 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons Ta Qali patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.  Through the afternoon Spitfires of 185 Squadron are also scrambled in sections of four on fifteen occasions to provide cover for the incoming convoy.  No enemy aircraft are encountered.  One Spitfire crashes on take-off, writing off the aircraft and badly injuring the pilot, Sgt Chewley.

1350-1515 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol over the convoy.  F/Lt Watts gets in a three-second burst on an enemy bomber and sees strikes on the port wing (claims damaged).

1400-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on convoy duties.  F/Sgt Parkes’ engine blows up; he bales out and is picked up, unhurt, by the naval launch.

1420-1520 hrs; 1440-1610 hrs; 1500-1605 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1500 hrs  17th Minesweeping Flotilla and 3rd Motor Launch Flotilla sail from Malta and carry out a sweep of searched channel, with orders to rendezvous with the convoy Force X and take over the escort of merchant vessels.

1550-1710 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1600 hrs  Dingli monitors sight three merchant ships escorted by two minesweepers.

1600 hrs  Force X makes rendezvous with the Malta minesweeping forces.  SS Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle are turned over to the local escort, under the Senior Officer, Minesweepers, aboard HMS Speedy.  HM Ships Penn, Bramham and Ledbury remain with the damaged SS Ohio and Dorset while the remainder of Force X withdraws to the west.

Rochester Castle enters Grand Harbour c IWM GM1430

1630-1750 hrs; 1810-1920 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1740-1910 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol sight one JU 88.  P/O Jones fires and is sure his aim is accurate but cannot see strikes due to dazzle from the enemy cockpit.  Sgt Wynn fires twice, seeing strikes both times.  Sgt Beurling fires; the starboard engine catches fire and pieces fly off.  The bomber dives into the sea (destroyed).

1810-1935 hrs; 1815-1935 hrs  Four and then eight Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol see no enemy aircraft.

1815 hrs  Rochester Castle enters Grand Harbour, followed by Melbourne Star and Port Chalmers.  Two Motor Launches land the wounded at Sliema and then proceeded with 17th Minesweeping Flotilla to assist Dorset and Ohio.

1945-1950 hrs; 2225-2235 hrs; 2345-2355 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 6 enemy aircraft of which only 3 cross the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.

2014 hrs  Ohio and Dorset are attacked again.  Dorset is set on fire and she sinks.

2030 hrs  Force X departs for Gibraltar leaving orders for Bramham, Ledbury and Penn to rendezvous later.

Crowds cheer the arrival of SS Port Chalmers c IWM GM1426

2100 hrs  Rye reports that she is assisting Penn to tow Ohio with 2 Motor Launches as A/S screen.  A vessel south of Lampedusa is considered to be the Brisbane Star.  Hythe, Hebe, and 2 Motor Launches are despatched to rendezvous with her at 0800 hrs on 14th.

0130 hrs  Force X is attacked by E-Boats off Cape Bon.  The ships engage and one is blown up.

0450 hrs  A U-boat attacks Force X off Fratelli Rock, just missing HMS Ashanti.  HMS Kenya attempts to ram the submarine without success.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Robert Buntine, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Harry Fox, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer David Jay, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant John Tanner, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 13 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  See above.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Hudson, one Spitfire, four Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis, two Baltimores from LG 98.  Departures  Two Liberators to Fayid; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; two Spitfires to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot the aerodrome and crashed: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner killed; rest of crew injured.  One Beaufighter failed to return from patrol: crew missing.  One Spitfire crashed on the aerodrome: pilot injured.  One Spitfire crashed in the sea through enemy action: pilot injured.  Two Spitfires believed shot down by enemy action: pilots missing.

LUQA  Intensive activity surrounding inbound convoy.  Station strength has gone up to 2783.  All entertainment is stopped; the cinema is used for accommodation which is very cramped – not enough beds, airmen sleeping with only two blankets.

TA QALI  Extensive operations: 32 Spitfires and 16 Beaufighters attacked enemy aerodromes and provided cover to the convoy.  1200 gallons of petrol were used in one day.  All ranks worked from dawn to dusk and through the night, servicing aircraft to enable the operation to proceed.

W/Cdr Wyatt was observing a Beaufighter taking off from his car when the aircraft failed to lift and turned to make another attempt.  In the dark, the pilot did not see W/Cdr Wyatt’s car and the aircraft swung into the side of the vehicle, the Beaufighter’s propeller ripping open the side of the car.  W/Cdr Wyatt escaped with slight injuries but was admitted to hospital.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6.  Dealt with: 5 High Explosives, including 1 delayed-action (3 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg).

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

 
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9 August 1942: Is a Convoy on the Way to Malta?

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL/SANTA MARIJA EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY – STARTS TODAY                                                                                                                      

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Communications between Italian commanders in Rome and Cagliari suggest that a large fleet of Allied warships and merchant transports is approaching the straits of Gibraltar.  According to Enigma decoders in England, Axis wires are alive with warnings to all Mediterranean headquarters that a convoy is gathering to supply Malta.

GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF: SITUATION REPORT MALTA TO 31ST JULY 1942

Morale in Malta ‘high’ despite hardships

Casualties (civilians only)

  • Killed 1308 (men 619, women 382, children 307)
  • Seriously injured 1399 (men 688, women 449, children 262)
  • These figures to not include 28 civilians, men killed in SS Moor in Grand Harbour.

Figures of casualties since 20th April clearly indicate lessening in severity of raids.  This followed on the departure of considerable part of German Air Force from Sicily shortly before the end of that month. Nevertheless substantial German Air Force remains in Sicily, and casualties and damage…are considerably higher than for the corresponding period of last year.  Morale remains high despite restricted food and shocks of the Libyan campaign which local opinion watches eagerly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 AUGUST TO DAWN 10 AUGUST 1942

1010-1102 hrs  Air raid alert.

0950-1105 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight three ME 109s.  Red section makes for the attack but two of the enemy aircraft swing round and make off.  P/O Sherwood makes for the leading Messerschmitt, putting the Spitfire’s nose down to almost vertical and making a beam attack from 250 yards.  He fires a two-second burst and sees strikes slightly forward of the cockpit: pieces fall off.  The Messerschmitt is last seen streaming glycol and losing height.  Several other pilots confirm.  Pilots report excessive radio interference by whistling.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept but are recalled.

1210-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nothing to report.

1425-1455 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol to protect minesweepers off Kalafrana Bay.

1430-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  One Spitfire is knocked sideways on landing, causing one undercarriage leg to collapse: the pilot Sgt Budd is unhurt.

2300-2315 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs near Ghain Tuffieha and in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 9 AUGUST 1942

HMS Hythe

 

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P44 and Una to end of swept harbour whence they proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Beaufighters from EDCU; one Baltimore from Burg Arab; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea; pilot injured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron stood down for the day.

LUQA  A concert is held at the camp cinema.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6. 

 

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2-8 August 1942: Without a Convoy Malta Will Fall

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY.  STARTS 9 AUGUST                                                                                                                

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SUPPLY SITUATION NOW CRITICAL

“I was a waitress at Xara Villa, where the pilots of Ta Qali lived.  I was 15.  We used to lick the plates we collected after the meal, before we sent them down to wash.  When they realised, the pilots even left us a little on the plate.”  Maria Parsons (nee Spiteri), GeorgeCross Island Association

Malta command is facing a crisis.  Unless another convoy reaches the Island by Friday of this week, supplies of food and fuel will run out within days.  The minimal stores delivered over recent weeks by submarine and by fast minelayers Manxman and Welshman have been barely enough to meet a few days’ needs.  Without immediate help, Malta could fall into enemy hands.

2 August 1942: Cluster Bomb Kills 13 Year Old

Butterfly bomb

A 13 year old boy was killed yesterday in Birkirkara by a German anti-personnel bomb. The village is now the most densely populated in Malta thanks to the many refugees from Grand Harbour who have taken shelter there.  In an air raid centred on Ta Qali late on Sunday evening, Birkirkara was showered with butterfly bombs – cluster bombs which are released from canisters holding up to 100 each.

The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Sections were drafted in to clear the dozens of unexploded small bombs reported across the area.  At least one remained undetected.  Yesterday afternoon a group of boys were playing hide and seek behind rubble walls surrounding the fields outside the village.  13 year old Joe Galea jumped over a wall and landed on one of the bombs which exploded, killing him instantly.  Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Aerodrome working parties and transport:  500 men each at Ta Qali and Hal Far, 1000 at Luqa.

0915-0954 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s with an escort of 20 plus fighters including ME 109s drop 2800 kg of bombs on the area of Safi strip.

1310 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft; two return early.  The remainder intercept the enemy: red section is attacked by two MEs with no outcome.  Blue section sight six Messerschmitts, dive past but lose them on tearning.  F/Lt Watts fires on one ME but sees no strike.

1350 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also scrambled to intercept enemy fighters. Sgt Weaver probably destroys one ME 109. P/O Guthrie crashes in a field on the outskirts of Zebbieh and is killed.  Sgt McLeod is reported missing: Spitfires search for him until dusk without success.

1445 hrs  All clear.

1657-1715 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy fighter sweep which does not cross the coast.

2250-2325 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which does not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Guthrie Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant McLeod, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P43 and Una arrived and were swept into Marsamxett Harbour by Rye.

AIR HQ Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Liberator, two Beauforts from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two DC3 to Bilbeis; one Hudson to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot killed.  One Spitfire in formation jumped by enemy aircraft: pilot presumed shot down; missing.

3 August 1942: Radio Interference Hampers RAF Fighter Ops 

RADIO CONTACT CUT DURING DOG FIGHT

RAF Spitfire pilots are reporting interference with their radio signals over Malta.  Signals were interrupted at a crucial moment during an air battle with Messerschmitt fighters this morning.  Early reports suggest the problem only occurs over land: interference clears once aircraft fly out to sea.  The radio signal interruptions could threaten the effectiveness of defensive fighter operations over the Island.

TROOPS GO HUNGRY

…there was less and less food. Our ration went down to 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. We had one tin of bully beef for eight men, and one slice of bread each (when I went to Malta I weighed 10.9 stone, when I came back it was 8.6 stone) . Our uniforms and boots were wearing out. We put bits of cardboard in the boots to protect our feet. All supplies had to come in by sea, and there were enemy submarines that could be seen in the clear water. From the Garrison Fort we heard that it was feared we could no longer hold the island.  Jimmie Ferguson, Royal Irish Fusiliers (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 AUGUST TO DAWN 4 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine.

0615-0700 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

0810-0900 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nothing to report.

0933-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled: nothing sighted.

1105-1200 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to minesweepers: nothing to report.

1115-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires Hal Far and eight of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two of 229 return early.  The remainder sight six Messerschmitts overhead and try to gain height but are bounced by the MEs and have to break away without firing a shot.  All pilots report marked VHF radio interference.

1233-1305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two return early.  The others sight nothing.

1455-1515 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

1610-1625 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept sight four ME 109s which turn and make for home very fast: no contact.

1755-1820 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island.  Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1855-1945 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a patrol but sight nothing.  The weather is hazy, visibility two miles.

2200-2235 hrs; 2230-2345 hrs; 2359-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts, each for single enemy aircraft, none cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 3 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy, Rye, Hythe, and Swona carried out sweep of five cable strip inshore of QBB 273. 4 moored mines were swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224 or Fayid.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into sea: pilot rescued, injured.  One Wellington overshot on landing: pilot and crew uninjured.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

LUQA  The Secretary of State visits Luqa aerodrome.

TA QALI  Wing Commander Douglas Hamilton ceased to be attached from Headquarters, RAF Mediterranean.  Wing Comannder Pike, DFC, arrived on move of 249 Squadron to Ta Qali.  All pilots of 603 Squadron posted to 229 Squadron on formation at Ta Qali.

4 August 1942: Spitfire Pilot Wins Close Dog-fight

Spitfires over Malta (2)

Malta Spitfire pilot Lt Swales was flying one of four Spitfires of 229 Squadron this morning when they encountered two Italian Macchi fighters.  Lt Swales attacked, firing a short burst, followed by S/Ldr Douglas who fired all his ammunition but could not get closer than 400 yards.  No strikes were seen but Lt Swales had not finished.  He turned on the other Macchi and fired a 5 second burst at 200 yards into the starboard wing and fuselage of the enemy aircraft, which started to smoke.  The Italian swooped into a steep dive and Lt Swales followed him down, firing until all his ammunition was spent.  The Macchi was last seen at water level, smoking badly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 AUGUST TO DAWN 5 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Luqa working parties are reduced by the withdrawal of 450 men of 1 Brigade.  Total still employed on all aerodromes approximately 1500 all ranks.

0725-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Wellington.  They see a large oil patch and circle at deck level but find no wreckage.  Enemy fighters are reported but not seen.

0830-0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight two Macchi 202 fighters which are attacked by S/Ldr Douglas and Lt Swales.  One Macchi is probably destroyed by Lt Swales.  A Dornier flying boat escorted by fighters later picks up the pilot.

0915-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: nothing to report.

1445-1530 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft and climb to attack three ME 109s but are unable to catch them.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three enemy aircraft but are ordered on another course and see no others.  All Spitfires report marked radio interference over the Island which is not as bad at sea.

1625-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but sight nothing.

1735-1750 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft carrying out a fighter sweep.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but are unable to make contact.  Spitfires from Hal Far are also airborne: one Re 2001 is probably destroyed.

2220-2340 hrs  Air raid alerts for two enemy aircraft which approach separately and drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  WD Vessel Snipe carried out night run with Coast Artillery Searchlights.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, two Wellingtons, three Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot baled out, uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron is stood down.

1ST BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT Night firing exercises on Pembroke ranges.

5 August 1942:  Malta’s Children ‘Ghostly Pale’

Food shortages had become desperate. It had reached the point where bread, an important staple for most people, had become rationed with hardly enough for the average family and its quality greatly reduced by the addition of potatoes and other ingredients. I still remember my mother, with three growing hungry youngsters, bartering a gold ring on the Black Market in exchange for a badly needed loaf of bread – just to put something into our empty stomachs.  My mother, like most mothers, often kept herself short just to give us a little extra to eat.…

As the siege tightened we begin to notice the lean and haggard faces of the men, women and children around us, the young and the old.  You begin to notice the start of sunken cheeks and dark shadows under the eyes. You begin to see the thinness of the arms and legs of chidren. You feel general body weakness where the minimum effort saps one’s strength. You see the faces of people of fair complexion beginning to turn a ghostly pale or ashen gray and those of darker complexion into a ghastly greenish hue.

The pangs of hunger had become so acute that chewing the end tip of my leather belt became a common practice, as with most others.  The taste sometimes still lingers. For a while water consumption, when not cut off, helped fill the voids in our stomachs, but you can’t fool the body all the time.  Waistlines now had shrunk to the point where, with continued belt tightening the tip of one’s belt was now reaching the small of one’s back…

It was during a heavy air attack at Marsa Creek, an inlet a short distance from my home, where a freighter was hit sending some of its cargo of flour in great clouds high into the air. Just  as soon as the dust had settled, crowds of kids, including my nine years old brother Francis, descended on the scene widely scooping up from the ground, in empty tins and cans, grit, dust and all, as much flour as possible to take home.  At this unexpected bounty, little as it was, my mother, completely surprised and overjoyed, quickly added water kneading it into a kind of dough and cooked it. We could not wait until it was ready and when it was, we literally wolfed it down, crunching the dust and grit between our teeth and offering deep thanks to God for his loving beneficence…

The ravages of the siege with its acute food shortages, continuous bombing and sleepless nights left its mark in the form of early deaths, weakened constitutions, miscarriages and stillborn babies. With weakened immune systems they fell prey to infections and diseases which in normal times would have been easily overcome but became fatal for people so weakened. There were outbreaks of typhoid and of polio, a disease then practically unknown in Malta. Their death certificates may show statements such as ”death from natural causes ” or “death from this disease or that” but really they were war casualties.  Joseph V Stephens, May 17, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 AUGUST TO DAWN 6 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Pen-building on aerodromes continues on the same scale as yesterday.  Extensive beach and aerodrome patrols are carried out by 1 Brigade.  Major General R MacK Scobie CBE MC arrived by air from ME to take over as GOC Troops, Malta.

0850-0935 hrs  Air raid alert.

0930-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for an enemy pilot in the sea but find nothing.

1030-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep; two return early.  The other two see eight ME 109s and attack one apiece, each firing a three-second burst but seeing no strike.  The Spitfires swing round to make a second attack but the Messerschmitts get away.

1045-1155 hrs  Air raid alert.

1207-1239 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1745-1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and sight 15 enemy fighters.  One Re 2001 attacks Sgt Irwin but overshoots.  Sgt Irwin closes in and counter-attacks with a three-second burst at 250 yards, hitting the root of the port wing and forward of the fuselage.  The Italian fighter streams glycol and dives away: probably destroyed.  Sgt Irwin is then attacked by another Re 2001 and hit by an explosive shell.  His Spitfire goes into a downward spin but Sgt Irwin is unhurt.  Four of the Spitfires report marked radio interference.

2330-2350 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo, causing civilian casualties.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gaetana Abela, age 20; Samuel Zammit, age 63.  Gozo (Gharb)  Kalang Mizzi, age 60.  Gozo (San Lawrenz)  Nazzerna Attard, age 28; Josephine Farrugia, age 66; Carmela Farrugia, age 35; Mary Farrugia, age 35.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P44 returned from patrol off Kuriat, having scored 2 hits with 3 inch guns on a 2000 ton [merchant vessel] off Linosa and was swept in by Hythe.  M/S Flotilla swept 19 mines in Northern rectangle of QBB 273.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Spitfire, one Beaufighter, two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Three Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

6 August 1942: Shoes Made From Old Tyres

The shortage was not just in food. It was in everything. Clothes and shoes, for example, were completely unobtainable. Shoes, which wore out quicker than clothes, were substituted by scrapped vehicle and aircraft tyres for soles and with pieces of string to hold them [on] the foot.”  Joseph Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 AUGUST TO DAWN 7 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0645-0750 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol; two return early.  No enemy aircraft are sighted.

0900-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol; one returns early: no sightings.

1010-1030 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing to report.

1150-1220 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1420-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight enemy fighters and climb to three thousand feet.  The enemy aircraft change course and are lost in the haze.

1700-1730 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but find nothing.

1940-2030 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for enemy shipping but sight no craft.

2226-2243 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single enemy aircraft drops bombs three miles north east of Grand Harbour.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy carried out Oropesa, SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk approaches and anchored there for the night. One moored mine was swept in inshore strip and this strip is now considered clear.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

LUQA  A further decrease in the working party strength brings the figure for the aerodrome down to just over 800 all ranks.

7 August 1942: No Deliveries to Relieve Malta

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 AUGUST TO DAWN 8 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Slight increase in strength of working parties provided by 4 Brigade brings the total for all aerodromes up to approx 1400 all ranks.

0830-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing to report.

1315 hrs  Two Beaufighters Mark VI of 248 Squadron arrive at Ta Qali.

1405-1435 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109s which cross the Island at very high altitude.

1630-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nothing to report.

1830-1945 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne: nothing sighted.

1945-2025 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for enemy shipping: no craft sighted.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Only two of the five enemy aircraft which approach the Island cross the coast, dropping bombs near Torri L’Ahmar, Il Maqhtab and in the sea off St Andrews

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 7 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept Otus into Marsaxlokk and then swept centre line of QBB 273 while returning to Marsamxett.  Otus remained bottomed off Delimara Light until dark, when she surfaced and proceeded alongside Shell Pier to unload cargo.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, four Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar; three Beauforts from LG 224; three Beauforts from LG 226; two Baltimores from Burg Arab.

LUQA  The camp cinema is now running.

8 August 1942: Enemy Tactics Aim to Use Up Malta’s Fighter Fuel

Sir Ronald Mackenzie Scobie in Athens

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 8 AUGUST 1942

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

  1. Quietest week in many months for bombing.  Enemy air effort limited to attempts to wear down fighter strength and waste our aviation petrol by fighter sweeps and tip and run tactics.  Average 30 fighter sorties daily against Island.  Total 10 bombers by day, 17 by night.  Bombs widespread.  Enemy fighter casualties four destroyed, two probable, one damaged by RAF.
  2. 2.  RAF and Infantry working parties totalling 2000 men and 150 vehicles completed building of 30 pens for RAF in record time.
  3. 3.  Military damage and casualties nil.
  4. 4.  Major General R Mack Scobie arrived 6 August to take over GOC.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 AUGUST TO DAWN 9 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0930-1015 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 30 approaching enemy fighters including ME 109s and Re 2001s.  Two Spitfires return early.  The remainder sight eight Macchi fighters.  Then two ME 109s are seen diving on three Spitfires as another six pass overhead.  Eight more Messerschmitts join the fight and the Spitfires spiral down towards the MEs.  P/O Jones fires a burst at 50 yards at a ME 109 which is chasing a Spitfire: the Messerschmitt turns into the sun and is seen spinning downwards, streaming glycol.  Sgt Beurling fires at a ME 109 which streams glycol and dives into the sea from 20000 feet.  Sgt Beurling is shot up and crash lands at Luqa; he is unhurt.  Sgt Budd attacks a ME 109, opening fire at 100 yards and hitting the starboard wing.  Sgt Budd is himself shot up and slightly wounded in the shoulder.  Three ME 109s are destroyed and another damaged.

1030-1115 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol off Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1215-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.

1626-1706 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far carry out a search.

1936-2027 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far patrol off the coast of Sicily in search of E boats: nothing sighted.

2145-2205 hrs  Air raid alert for a single aircraft which drops bombs in the sea north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Sergeant Clarence Kelly, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Otus proceeded to bottoming berth at 0600, having discharged all cargo except five torpedoes. Minesweepers cut two mines while clearing special area. After dark, Otus completed unloading.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, two Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from BilbeisDepartures  Four Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return to base:pilot missing.

TA QALI  One ME 109 destroyed by P/O Jones, one by Sgt Beurling.  One ME 109 damaged by Sgt Budd.  Two Spitfires damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 47.  Dealt with: 16 High Explosives, including 2 delayed-action (1 x 1800kg; 2 x 500kg; 6 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg; 3 x 35kg; 1 x 12kg); 127 anti-personnel bombs plus a few oil incendiaries.

(1)  An Irish Fusilier in Malta, BBC WW2 People’s War, contributed by IpswichMuseum.  WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

(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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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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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in 1942, July 1942, Uncategorized

 

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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

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

 
 

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21-27 June 1942: An Ounce of Cheese a Day (28g) as Rations Cut

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21 June 1942: Rations Too Low for Physical Labour

Military rations are now too low for physical exertion, according to medical chiefs.  With the failure of the recent convoys, food stocks are now critical and supplies are not expected in the immediate future.  As a result there will be no increase in the daily allowance – and further cuts in rations cannot be ruled out.   

A typical daily military ration now includes just 12oz (340g) of bread, 1oz (28g) of margarine and ½oz (14g) jam or marmalade, with 1oz (28g) each of tea, tinned milk and sugar.  Meals are small.  On a Monday, for example, the lunch allowance consists of ¾oz (21g) of tinned bacon and 1 oz (28g) of tinned cheese, dinner provides 6oz (170g) of preserved meat, 1oz (28g) of onions, 8 oz (227g) of potatoes and of fresh vegetables plus 2oz (57g) of tinned fruit and 3½oz (99g) of flour. 

In a report released today, the chief of Malta’s military Medical Services writes:  “It is agreed that the present ration is insufficient for men carrying out hard manual labour and training, as is the case with an appreciable number of troops.  A supplemental ration scale is considered advisable and has been recommended.  Arduous training and P.T. although not officially countermanded on paper, is not being carried out in practice.” (1)

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TOBRUK FALLS

At dawn yesterday morning an Axis air attack was launched on Tobruk, followed by a heavy ground offensive.  Last night reports were received in Malta that Tobruk had fallen to Rommel’s forces.

MALTA FORCES ON THE ATTACK

Overnight one aircraft attacked a southbound enemy convoy of two 10000 ton merchant vessels and three destroyers 32 miles from Cape Bon.  The leading merchant vessel was hit and a minute after leaving the target a dull red glow was seen.

Nine Beauforts with Beaufighter escort also attacked a convoy of two merchant ships with one escort vessel, to the south of Cape Bon.  Against heavy opposition, five of the Beauforts attacked, scoring two hits on each merchant vessel.  Another aircraft which managed to hit the vessels failed to return.  An escort vessel was also hit.  One of the enemy ships was believed to be the Reichenfels and which was later identified a considerable distance away, enveloped in smoke.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JUNE TO DAWN 22 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0652-0727 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on intercept patrol: no engagement.

0705-0815 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are ordered up to cover the departure of Blenheim aircraft from Malta.

0750-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three ME 109s carry out reconnaissance of the Island at 23000 feet.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept but do not engage; they land at 0845 hrs.

1400-1435 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol Gozo: nothing sighted.

1710-1745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no interceptions.

1910 hrs  Air raid alert.

1945 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  F/SGt Yarra destroys two ME 109s and damages one JU 88; F/Sgt Sim destroys one ME 109.  F/Sgt Conway is shot up and crash-lands at Ta Qali; he is seriously injured.  F/Sgt Terry is also shot up and crash-lands on the Attard Field dispersal area; he is unhurt.

2002 hrs  Alert for one JU 88 and 12 ME 109s.  Spitfires destroy three ME 109s and damage the JU 88.  Two Spitfires crash-land.

2025-2125 hrs  Enemy raiders are reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled too late to intercept and see nothing.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2233-2341 hrs; 0245-0356 hrs  Two air raid alerts for a total of 28 JU 88 bombers.   Luqa is the main target but bombs also fall in the areas of Hal Far, Hamrun, Ta Qali, Verdala, Naxxar and Dingli.  Flares are used to illuminate targets.  A field of wheat is set on fire at Safi.

0445 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Squadron Leader Robert Lynn, Royal Air Force, 217 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 21 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Catalina, one Spitfire, one Blenheim from Gibraltar; two Lodestars from Heliopolis via 121.  Departures  One Wellington, two Hudsons, eight Blenheims to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down; pilot injured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing from combat; pilot safe.  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft during a strike; pilot injured, remainder of crew safe.  Three Beauforts missing from operations; crews missing.  One Blenheim missing in Transit from Gibraltar to Malta; crew missing.  One Blenheim missing in transit from Malta to LG 224.

HAL FAR  2330 hrs  Two Albacores and two Swordfish are despatched on a strike mission; nothing sighted.

LUQA  0600-0918 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted three merchant vessels without escort in the Cape Bon area.  1145-1404 hrs  Six Beaufighters 235 Squadron on escort duties attacked two JU 88s and two SM79s.  F/O Wood and S/L Cook destroyed one SM 79; F/O Underwood destroyed two JU 88s; F/O Eyre damaged one SM 79.  1120-1425 hrs  Eight Beauforts 217 Squadron on shipping strike located and attacked the convoy, scoring two hits on each merchant vessel and one possible hit by one of three Beauforts which failed to return.  1240-1600 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted two destroyers and one merchant vessel.  1713-2100 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted two merchant vessels of 5-6000 tons, two liners and two destroyers.   2245-0518 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search located a convoy of two merchant vessels and three destroyers.

22 June 1942: Raids Increase – Crops at Risk

Flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

Some 40 JU 88 bombers have attacked Malta since yesterday.  An estimated 50,000 kg of bombs were dropped in just 24 hours, in the heaviest round of bombing raids for many days.    All of the attacks have been in the hours of darkness: the enemy has adopted a new tactic of using flares to illuminate the targets.  Incendiary bombs have been widely used, causing damage to crops.  The Government is planning to warn  farmers and householders to remove all flammable materials into shelter.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0530 hrs  Air raid alert.

0555-0630 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover the arrival of delivery aircraft; nothing sighted.

0835 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept three enemy fighters which approach and carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.  The Spitfires do not engage and land at 0920 hrs.

0935-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an incoming plot which proves friendly.

1158-1245 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1252 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled but the aircraft is friendly.

1323-1446 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled for a reported raid which did not come in.

1745 hrs  Air raid alert for six approaching ME 109 fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  The Messerschmitts withdraw.

1918 hrs  Six more ME 109s are reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  F/Sgt Reid destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Ferraby also fires but without result.

2239 hrs  Air raid alert.  27 enemy aircraft approach, including a dozen JU 88s which drop incendiary bombs in the Luqa area, damaging one barrack block, and in the Safi dispersal area, damaging one Spitfire.

0250 hrs; 0322 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for single enemy bombers which drop bombs mainly on Luqa, Safi and Hal Far but also Baida Ridge.  A Bofors gun position in Qrendi is hit, killing one Other Rank and wounding two others. One Other Rank is wounded by an anti-personnel bomb at Boschetto.

Military casualties  Bombardier Richard Clee, 182 Battery, 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Cornelius Falvey, 186 Battery, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Sergeant Francis Hancocks, 186 Battery, 74 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 22 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Eleven mines swept in entrance channels. Two parachute mines reported dropped off Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, five Beauforts from LG 05; five Beaufighters from LG 224.  Departures  One Wellington to Shallufa; one Wellington, three Blenheims, one Beaufort to LG 224; two Lodestars, one Spitfire to Heliopolis; one Cataline, two Hudsons to Gibraltar; four Beaufighters to Edcu.  Aircraft casualties  One Sea Gladiator damaged on the ground by enemy aircraft.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of Catania, Gerbini, Biscara, Gela and Pachino LG.  One Spitfire PR Lecca aerodromes.  One Spitfire PR of two large merchant vessels, then three small and one large merchant ship in Palermo.  One Spitfire PR Palermo shipping. 

0700-1135 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings, only an oil patch and debris.  1435-1509 hrs  Four Spitfires 129 Squadron act as escort for delivery aircraft: no combat.  2248-0415 hrs  Two Wellingtons (38 Squadron and S/D Flight) on strike mission but made no attack.  2159-0432 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol located a convoy of two large merchant vessels and three destroyers: possible hit on one merchant vessel.  2209-0500 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol on patrol located two large merchant ships and two destroyers with two smaller vessels: a near miss is scored on one destroyer.  2203-0524 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol: no attack.

TA QALI  Flying personnel 89 Squadron arrived and were posted to 1435 Flight.

23 June 1942: Malta Pilots Halt Enemy Convoy

Beaufort 39 Squadron Luqa waits for take-off

An attack was launched from Malta today by twelve Beauforts with Beaufighter escort.  They targeted a convoy of four destroyers and two large merchant vessels steaming eastwards, 31 miles from Cape Spartivento.  One merchant vessel was hit four times and was seen to go down at the stern.  The other merchant vessel was probably hit twice and a destroyer was also hit, causing an explosion.  All ships were left stationary.  A photo-reconnaissance pilot today confirmed that the larger of the two ships is still sitting low at the stern.

A single aircraft launched a solo attack on another convoy of one merchant vessel 5-6000 tons with another small vessel, 30 miles off Cape Bon.  Heavy clouds prevented any report of results.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JUNE TO DAWN 24 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0820-0915 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept nine approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight six ME 109s and get into a dogfight.  P/O Slade damages one ME 109 and another is later seen in the sea.  P/O Glenn damages one ME 109.

1100-1150 hrs; 1125-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires at a time from Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1445-1545 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of Baltimores and Beauforts from their shipping strike.

1700 hrs  A large plot of enemy aircraft is reported approaching the Island, including eight Cant 1007s and seven BR 20s flying in several formations with fighter escort.  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Vineyard damages one ME 109.

1740 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 603 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three Cants flying in tight formation, with an escort of Italian fighters.  P/O Slade damages one ME 109; P/O Glenn damages another.  F/O MacLeod destroys a Macchi 202 and damages another.  Three pilots shared in the destruction of another Macchi.  One Spitfire is destroyed (pilot uninjured) and one slightly damaged.

1815 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  Three BR 20s escorted by fighters get through to drop 10kg anti-personnel bombs and 50kg high explosives on Ta Qali and Mosta, causing civilian damage and casualties. One Other Rank of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment is killed and another seriously wounded by an anti-personnel bomb.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to assist but do not intercept.  F/Sgt McNamara crash-lands; he is unhurt.

2100 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2235 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of JU 88 bombers.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit (MNFU) from Luqa on intercept patrol probably destroys one JU 88.  The remaining aircraft drop bombs including incendiaries on Luqa.  One Spitfire is burned out.

2335 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for another approaching formation, this time of twenty enemy aircraft.  Ten cross the coast and drop bombs, including incendiaries mainly on Luqa but also Qurmi, Ta Karach, Marsa, Hamrun, Zurriek, Nigret and Rabat.  Flares are used to illuminate targets.

2340-0110 hrs  One Beaufighter MNFU is on intercept patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Walter Hillman, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Aircraftsman 1st Class Anthony Vella, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Kalafrana.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Paul Bonnano, age 45; Matthew Bonanno, age 4; James Mangion, age 67; Catherine Micallef, age 57.  Mqabba  Catherine Saliba, age 72.  Zejtun  Laurence Spiteri, age 62; Joseph Spiteri, age 55.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Wellingtons, one Spitfire, five Blenheims, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; four Wellingtons from 231 Wing.  Departures  One Beaufort, one Beaufighter, nine Spitfires, seven Wellingtons to LG 224; two Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Lodestar to Heliopolis. 

Aircraft casualties  One Wellington in taxiing accident; crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot safe.  One Spitfire crashed on take-off; pilot safe.  One Beaufort shot down while attacking a convoy; crew missing.  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft while attacking a convoy; pilot injured, crew safe.  One Beaufort missing after shipping strike; crew missing.  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot safe.

HAL FAR  Naval Air Service is stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located two large merchant ships and four destroyers. One Spitfire PR Messina, Palermo and Trapani Harbour located one merchant ship off Trapani, three more in Trapani.  One Baltimore PR sighted oil patches; one destroyer appeared to be damaged and in tow.  One Spitfire PR located two motor torpedo boats, plus three destroyers and one merchant vessel in Palermo, and three merchant ships at Pantelleria. 

1138-1535 hrs  Eight Beaufighters 238 Squadron on escort located an enemy convoy of two merchant vessels and four destroyers, plus one Cant 501, two CR 42s and one ME 109: no combat.  1110-1519 hrs  Twelve Beauforts 217 and 39 Squadron locate and attack four destroyers and two large merchant vessels, scoring three hits and one probable hit on one merchant ship and two hits on the other.  All ships were reported stationary after the attack.  Two aircraft of 39 Squadron failed to return; one of 217 Squadron crashed on landing.  Three aircraft were slightly damaged by anti-aircraft fire.  2200-0507 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping search: no sightings.  2208-0525 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight located one merchant ship and a small vessel: no hits scored.

24 June 1942: Solo Attacker Targets Enemy Convoy

Wellington bomber

The damaged merchant vessel observed yesterday in the Straits of Messina is now reported under tow by a destroyer.  Tonight a single Wellington aircraft attacked a convoy of two large merchant vessels and one destroyer 50 miles from Taranto, heading north.  On sighting the positioning flares, the convoy closed in and put up an intense smoke-screen.  The attacker dropped bombs in middle of the smoke-screen but was unable to observe the results.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JUNE TO DAWN 25 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0805-0840 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: no combat.

0935 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy fighters carrying out a patrol: no combat.

1125-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft which proves friendly.

1200-1245 hrs; 1545-1620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, followed by another four are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1724-1815 hrs; 1820-1900 hrs; 2000-2035 hrs  Patrols by our Spitfires 185 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and four of 126 Squadron: nil report.

2330 hrs; 0215 hrs; 0405 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 19 enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack destroy one JU 87: the pilot, an Italian, survives and is taken prisoner.  A Beaufighter of Malta Night Fighter Unit destroys one JU 87 and an unidentified four-engined aircraft.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

0405-0630 hrs  A Beaufighter of 1435 Flight Ta Qali on patrol sights a JU 88.  F/O Fumerton and P/O Bing follow and open fire: the bomber bursts into flames and explodes.

Military casualties  Lance Corporal James Byrne, 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three mines swept away.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Sunderlands from Aboukir; one Hudson, one Catalina, one Blenheim Bisley from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Wellingtons from LG 15.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Blenheim Bisleys to LG 224; one Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two Spitfires, one Lodestar to Heliopolis; two Sunderlands to Aboukir; four Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Wellington to LG 106.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located one large merchant ship and four destroyers stationary plus two small vessels in Crotene Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Trapani, Messina and Palermo, locating five small ships outside Trapani Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Marittimo, Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Kerkennah.  One Spitfire visual reconnaissance Messina observes a tanker and train ferry. 

0703-1125 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on search located one small merchant vessel in Lampedusa Harbour.  1915-1930 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron airborne on search but wireless telegraph equipment failed.  1540-2035 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search Messina Straits: no sightings.  2157-0715 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron on shipping search was joined from 0228 hrs by another and three Wellingtons S/D Flight to attack.  One Wellington attacked: no results were observed due to a smoke screen.

25 June 1942: Gunners Help Spitfires in Attack

Pinpoint firing from Heavy Ack Ack gunners helped Spitfire pilots destroy two enemy fighters today.  In recent days ME 109s attempting patrols of the Island have managed to escape pursuing Spitfires before they could engage.

Malta photo-reconnaissance reports that the enemy merchant vessel damaged in recent air raids has reached Taranto Harbour, where it is currently being unloaded and transferred to another ship.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JUNE TO DAWN 26 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0615 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and attack eight ME 109s carrying out a patrol but there are no claims.

0930-1005 hrs; 1050-1140 hrs   Patrols by four Spitfires 126 Squadron followed by two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1320-1330 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to patrol a given point: no air raid.

1340-1440 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover a photo-reconnaissance aircraft.

1625-1735 hrs; 1850-1915 hrs  Patrols by three Spitfires 249 Squadron and two Spitfires 126 Squadron: no combat.

1955 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept ME 109 fighters over Gozo.  P/O Berkeley probably destroys one; P/O Lattimer destroys two.  F/Sgt Tomkins is jumped and shot up over Gozo.  He makes it back to Ta Qali but crashes on the aerodrome.  His aircraft bursts into flames: he does not survive.

2044-2150 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to cover the return of friendly aircraft: nil report.

2205-0035 hrs  Three JU 87s attempt to bomb the Safi strip; one is destroyed by a Beaufighter on intercept patrol.

0317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten JU 88 bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs mainly on Luqa but also on Gudja, Zejtun, Hamrun and Paola. Incendiaries are dropped between Tarxien and San Giacomo causing several fires and damaging buildings, including some of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

0303-0432 hrs; 0331-0506 hrs   One Beaufighter 89 Squadron at a time carries out intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  F/Sgt Maurice Tomkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Stephen Matthews, Royal Air Force VR; Sergeant Wilfred Culbert, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force VR.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweepers and motor launches sweeping entrance channels. Fourteen mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibralter.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, two Blenheims to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crash-landed; crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.

LUQA  One aircraft on delivery crashed near Luqa and was destroyed.  Pilot F/Sgt Docherty was injured and two members of the crew were killed: Observer Sgt Matthews and Wireless Operator Sgt Culbert.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) sighted a tanker just north of Messina.  One Spitfire PR Taranto, Foggia and Naples located two merchant vessels and one destroyer off the Straits of Messina.  One Spitfire PR in Straits of Messina reported the two merchant vessels and one destroyer; one tanker had left.  One Spitfire PR of shipping Trapani, Palermo, Messina.  One Baltimore on shipping patrol east of Catania.  Two Beaufighters 235 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings except for a floating body. 

2032-2250 hrs  Three Beaufighters 235 Squadron despatched to escort Wellington strike: nothing seen en route.  2100-0520 hrs  Three Wellingtons on search and attack mission located one tanker and two destroyers.  One Wellington attacked with bombs but torpedoes were brought back.  2102-0612 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight and two 38 Squadron on shipping search and attack.  One Wellington attacked a convoy of one tanker and two destroyers: no hits; torpedoes brought back.  2209-0612 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search and attack, attacked two merchant vessels and one destroyer: no results observed.

26 June 1942: Italians Attempt Daylight Raid

Cant Z 1007 bombers

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JUNE TO DAWN 27 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0750 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled but the raid does not materialise.

0915 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter on patrol: no combat.

1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  An enemy fighter on patrol does not approach the Island.

1220 hrs  Air raid alert for another single ME 109.  Six Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

1802 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve ME 109s which approach and carry out a fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert for the main formation, including five Cant Z1007s, 15 Macchi 202s as well as Re 2001 fighters. escorted by twelve fighters.  Eight more Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/O Currie destroys one ME 109.  One Macchi 202 is also destroyed.  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron join the attack: F/Lt West destroys one Re 2001.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat.  Sticks of anti-personnel bombs are dropped from Ta Xbiex, Msida, Guardamangia and across to Luqa. Bombs are also dropped in the Luqa area, killing one man who was handling an unexploded bomb canister.

2032-2138 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

0045 hrs  Air raid alert  One enemy aircraft drops bombs in the sea off Zonkor Point.

0045-0117 hrs  One Beaufighter on intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  Fusilier William Wootton, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Anthony Caruana, age 13; Henry Cassar, age 2; Mary Tanti, age 17; Concetta Tanti, age 13. Mosta  Gerald Camilleri, age 33. Msida  Lilian Dimech, age 17; Carmelina Dimech, age 12; Josephine Dimech, age 7; Mary Dimech, age 6; Rita Dimech, age 3.  Qormi  Anthony Borg, age 59; George Borg, age 35.  Sliema  John Attard, age 25.  Ta’ Xbiex  Agnes Smith, age 47.  Zurrieq  Catherine Darmanin, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Six mines swept.  Surface plot investigated by Beaufighters with any tangible result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson en route from Gibraltar to Matruh crashed on Malta.  Departures  One Blenheim to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson engine failed and crashed on landing; observer and wireless operator killed; rest of crew injured.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located three merchant vessels and one destroyer at sea, and two merchant ships leaving Taranto.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron reconnaissance Cape Spartivento and Corfu: nothing sighted.  One Spitfire PR located one convoy of three merchant vessels and one destroyer, then another of one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats.

27 June 1942: Rations Cut Below Healthy Levels

GOVERNOR’S REPORT: WEEKLY MILITARY SITUATION FOR WEEK ENDING 27 JUNE 1942

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

1.  Air:  No attempt to bomb merchant vessels in harbour.  Enemy activity over Island by only strong fighter patrols and eight Italian bombers.  At night total of approximately 90 raiders, some identified as JU 87s and JU 88s.  Main target Luqa and many anti-personnel, incendiaries and high explosive dropped by aid of flares.  Military damage very slight. 

Enemy aircraft casualties 15 fighters destroyed.  Two fighters probably destroyed; five bombers, seven fighters damaged by RAF during daylight for the loss of two Spitfires destroyed and two damaged.  Night Beaufighters destroyed four bombers (word corrupt) at night destroyed two bombers.  One Italian prisoner taken confirms other evidence that Italians now flying JU 87s.

35 sorties by Malta-based torpedo aircraft.  At least four merchant vessels, one destroyer hit for the loss of five Beauforts and five damaged.

2.  Military:  Army working parties employed distributing cargoes ex convoy from dumps to consignees.  Working parties on aerodromes decreased by half.  Calorific value of army ration now 2200 calories which necessitates reduced physical exertion.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; a few small scattered clouds below the main cloud blanket.

0748 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing sighted.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0945-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, led by F/L Daddo-Langlois, are airborne and jump eight Macchi 202 fighters.  P/O Verrall, F/Sgt and F/Sgt Rae each destroy one Macchi.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys another and F/Sgt Middlemas damaged a fifth.  Three of the enemy fighters are observed in the water, all within 200 yards of each other.

1020-1145 hrs; 1128-1214 hrs; 1220-1330 hrs; 1455-1515 hrs; 1544-1637 hrs; 1620-1720 hrs  Intercept patrols by eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa, two from Hal Far, four from 603 Squadron, two from 601 Squadron, four from Hal Far, then four Spitfires 603 Squadron: no combat.

1755-1825 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are despatched to search for E Boats suspected 15 miles from the coast: no sightings.

1840-1945 hrs; 1930-2050 hrs  Intercept patrols by four Spitfires 601 Squadron, twelve Spitfires from Hal Far: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Ivo Falzon, age 37.  Zejtun  Louis Zammit, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  One mine cut. Sweeping curtailed by unfavourable weather.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson en route from Gibraltar to LG 15 landed at Malta.  Departures  One Hudson to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto, Grottagli and Brindisi observes a tanker in Taranto.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 80; dealt with high explosives 15 (1 x 500kg, 8 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 1 x 35kg; 1 x AP container); dealt with 2kg x 300 plus few 2kg Italian and a large number of German 1kg incendiaries.

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

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

 
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14-20 June 1942: Malta Convoy in Fierce Air & Sea Battles

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14 June 1942

MALTA FIGHTERS TO PROTECT CONVOYS

At 2000 hrs this evening the Air Officer Commanding called all Malta’s pilots together to announce that two convoys have been assembled in a concerted attempt to relieve the critical supply situation.  The recent reinforcements of Spitfires, Beaufighters and Beauforts are here to help protect the ships from enemy attacks, he revealed.  In a desperate bid to get a sufficient number of ships through to the Island, it has been decided to mount a dual convoy, approaching from the eastern and western Mediterranean, in the hope of dividing the efforts of Axis forces.

HMS Centurion 1918

OPERATION VIGOROUS

Operation Vigorous, the ‘eastern’ convoy of eleven merchant ships with escort, met yesterday with Force A off Tobruk, bringing the total protective force to eight cruisers and 26 destroyers, plus corvettes and minesweepers, and the veteran battleship Centurion. The convoy came under immediate air attack: one merchantman was damaged and another limping into port with engine trouble was sunk by enemy aircraft.

A Malta-based reconnaissance pilot reported today that two Littorio battleships have left Taranto harbour in the company of four cruisers and ten destroyers and at the same time two cruisers moved from Cagliari to Palermo with their escorting destroyers.  The heavily armed Italian naval force is on course to intercept the convoy heading from Tobruk.  Reconnaissance has also revealed that despite reductions in enemy bombing activity over Malta, German and Italian air forces remain in significant numbers on Sicilian aerodromes.  They are believed to be in a state of readiness to attack the two convoys.

Four Wellingtons were despatched tonight to strike enemy vessels reported 60 miles from Cape Geroghambo 60 degrees.  Only one Wellington was able to release its two torpedoes.  The enemy force put up a heavy smoke screen, and although results were not observed, one of the torpedoes was seen to run well.  Smoke screen prevented the other three Wellingtons from attacking.  A shadowing Wellington saw glow on the water after the attack.

OPERATION HARPOON

Meanwhile Operation Harpoon, consisting of six merchant ships carrying 39000 tons of cargo and oil, and the American tanker Kentucky with 14100 tons of fuel and kerosene, left Gibraltar on Friday.  They are escorted by an anti-aircraft cruiser, HMS Cairo, nine destroyers, the fast minelayer HMS Welshman and a number of smaller ships.  Further cover is being provided by HMS Malaya, carriers Argus and Eagle carrying operational aircraft, three cruisers and eight destroyers.

MV Tanimbar

The ‘western’ convoy was also attacked today, by the Italian Regia Aeronautica: torpedoes sank the freighter Tanimbar and damaged the cruiser Liverpool which has been taken in tow by AntelopeArgus and Eagle were also hit, with the loss of some crew.  Under orders not to enter Malta in order to save fuel, the protective escort returned to Gibraltar leaving the remaining merchantmen with less cover.  HMS Welshman has left the convoy and is heading alone at speed for Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JUNE TO DAWN 15 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly. 100% cloud; Slight rain.

0630-0709 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to provide top cover for 601 Squadron.

0810 hrs  Eight ME 109s patrol over the Island at 20000 feet.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they sight four ME 109s but the enemy fighters immediately dive away.

0817-0850 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

PM  Four aircraft 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled three times without sighting the enemy.  One aircraft of NAS out on patrol: no sightings.

1330-1335 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a single approaching aircraft which is later identified as friendly.

1345-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

2155-2315 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: claims one JU 88 destroyed.

2213 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft drop bombs anti-personnel bombs on Safi, Hal Far and in the sea.

2215-2345 hrs  One Beaufighter is on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0140 hrs; 0350 hrs  Air raid alerts.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweeping continued and Munscair Rock buoyed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; one Hudson en route from Gibraltar to Matruh landed at Malta.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Wellington to Shallufa.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on take-off: crew safe.  One Baltimore crashed on landing from operations: crew safe.

LUQA  AM  One Baltimore 69 Squadron cross-over patrol western Sicily, south Sardinia base.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Messina and Augusta.  One Spitfire (PR) Taranto Harbour.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron cross-over patrol Malta, western Sicily, south Sardinia base.  PM  One Spitfire PR Messina and Straits.  One Spitfire PR Palermo Harbour and western aerodromes.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron special search western Sicily, toe of Italy and Gulf of Taranto.  One Spitfire PR Palermo Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Taranto.

1905-0050 hrs  Four Beaufighters 235 Squadron on shipping protection Allied forces: S/L Cook destroyed one JU 88.

2219-0515 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on A patrol, to drop flares if requested: no ships sighted; no flares dropped.  One Wellington S/D Flight on D patrol, to drop flares if requested: two separate aircraft sighted – lights on.  One Wellington S/D Flight on reconnaissance for enemy fleet in the Ionian Sea: sighted one small destroyer.

2311-0655 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate and illuminate Italian fleet.  Sighted five ships: shadowed until requested to illuminate.  Flares dropped to illuminate for Wellington strike.

2335-0635 hrs  Four Wellingtons 38 Squadron despatched to attack Italian fleet.  One aircraft attacked; smoke screen made results difficult to observe.

0350-0920 hrs  Nine Beauforts 217 Squadron despatched to attack Italian fleet.  One torpedo hit one battleship or heavy cruiser, causing a column of water followed by thick smoke.  One torpedo hit on battleship or heavy cruiser causing flames and dense black smoke.  One torpedo hit on destroyer amidships, causing a column of smoke: destroyer seen listing to port.

0450-0920 hrs   Five Beaufighters 235 Squadron on patrol over [Malta] convoy.  F/Sgt Farquhar and Sgt Briffat attacked one Macchi 202 and also observed a JU 88 hit in the windscreen.  Sgt Hall and Sgt Burnside claimed one JU 88 damaged.

TA QALI  2000 hrs  The Air Officer Commanding met aircrew personnel at the Officers Mess.    2110-2200 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched to carry out a dusk patrol of the Sicilian coast.  They sight a stationary destroyer half a mile from shore.

15 June 1942

“The air over and around Malta rapidly became thick with aircraft, and this continued until sunset.  Sorties were continually being made by Spitfires, Beaufighters, torpedo-carrying and reconnaissance aircraft.” (1)

SPITFIRES TAKE AIR WAR TO SEA

From dawn today 170 sorties were made by Malta-based Spitfires and another 12 by Beaufighters to cover the transit of the two convoys through the Mediterranean.  They intercepted and destroyed three JU 88s, three JU 87s, three ME 109s, two BR 20s and two float planes, probably destroyed two JU 88s, one ME 109 and one Macchi 200, and damaged five JU 88s, one JU 87, three ME 109s, one BR 20 and one unidentified bomber.  Malta lost three Spitfires and one Beaufighter.

SS Kentucky has been hit

WESTERN CONVOY UNDER FIRE

Reports are coming in that the western convoy Operation Harpoon came under attack early this morning near Pantelleria, from Axis aircraft and the Italian navy.  Despite setting up a smokescreen, two Allied destroyers and three of the merchant ships were hit and disabled.  The damaged Kentucky, with its essential cargo of fuel for Malta’s fighters, was taken in tow but after further enemy action the convoy commander made the reluctant decision to sink her in order to save the remaining ships.  The rest of the convoy including two other damaged vessels went on its way slowly towards Malta.

Several fighter missions were flown from Malta in an attempt to protect the beleaguered convoy.  In a counter-attack by the Island’s air forces, four Albacores released torpedoes at a cruiser, scoring two hits: smoke and steam were seen to pour from the vessel.  Another torpedo was dropped at a large destroyer, scoring a probable hit.  Later three more Albacores attacked and probable hits were obtained by two torpedoes on a cruiser.  Two Beauforts also attacked the enemy naval force striking the leading cruiser.  Other aircraft arriving on the scene reported the whole ship ablaze.

WELSHMAN ARRIVES

After a fast passage from Pantelleria without further incident, HMS Welshman entered Grand Harbour at 0730 hrs today.  The ship was unloaded, oiled and re-ammunitioned, and sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to reinforce Force X.

Stricken HMS Bedouin

EASTERN CONVOY ABANDONED

Enemy naval forces were also in hot pursuit of the eastern convoy, which had to undertake a series of direction changes in an attempt to ward off her attackers.  In a fierce sea battle early this morning the destroyer Hasty was disabled by a torpedo, killing twelve men, and had to be sunk.  HMS Bedouin was badly hit and came to a standstill.  She was taken under tow but this afternoon an Italian aircraft scored a direct hit with a torpedo and she sank.  This afternoon the destroyer Airedale was hit several times and disabled; she was later sunk.

Meanwhile, Malta-based air forces launched a series of raids on the Italian fleet, disabling the heavy cruiser Trento.  However, the Luftwaffe continued relentless attacks on the Allied convoy and by 1800 hrs today only six merchant ships remained from the original eleven.

By this evening the eastern convoy ships were facing a serious shortage of fuel and ammunition due to enemy attacks and diversionary tactics.  With a strong Italian fleet still in pursuit, the decision was taken to abandon the eastern convoy operation.  The remaining ships returned to Alexandria: none of the merchantmen reached Malta.

MALTA COUNTER ATTACKS

Tonight five Wellingtons were despatched to attack the enemy force as it returned to Taranto.  One aircraft scored a hit with a torpedo on the port side of the leading battleship, the flash from the explosion being clearly seen.  Despite repeated efforts, a heavy smoke screen prevented the other aircraft from taking aim.

Nine Beauforts attacked two enemy naval forces in position 090 degrees Malta 210 miles.  One force consisted of two battleships, one cruiser and seven destroyers; the other, two cruisers and seven destroyers.  The Beauforts dropped nine torpedoes: one hit a battleship or heavy cruiser, throwing up a column of water 50 feet high, followed by thick smoke and flames visible 35 miles away.  Another torpedo hit was claimed on a battleship or heavy cruiser causing dense black smoke.  A destroyer was hit amidships and left listing to port.

Later 12 Beauforts of 39 Squadron ex Middle East were despatched to strike at enemy shipping.  En route to the target the aircraft were intercepted by ME 109s and two were shot down into the sea, while five returned to the Middle East.  The remaining Beauforts hit a Littorio battleship with at least one torpedo.  A destroyer was also hit amidships and a possible hit was scored on a battleship before the Beauforts returned to Malta.

Photographic reconnaissance later reported that the Italian fleet had returned to Taranto after its attempt to intercept the convoy – but the cruiser Trento was a conspicuous absentee.  A large Italian destroyer was also photographed in tow off south west Sicily.

AIR ACTIVITY DAWN 15 JUNE TO DAWN 16 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 50% medium cloud.

0610-0955 hrs; 1030-1445 hrs  Eleven Beaufighters 235 Squadron are on patrol over the Malta-bound convoy.  S/L Wigmore and P/O Crow destroy one Ro 43; P/O Cohen and Sgt Nacott chase two JU 88s but their guns will not fire. Sgt Armitage and Sgt Hector fail to return.

0615 hrs; 0715 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept reported ME 109s: no sightings.

0720-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched on a series of offensive convoy patrols.  Convoy observed to be under fire from two forces; no enemy aircraft seen.

0840-1100 hrs  The convoy is not sighted in the given area: eight unidentified warships are seen.

0841-1135 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron despatched to patrol Pantelleria sights two destroyers, then two cruisers with two destroyers and a seaplane 25 miles to the south.

0900-1120 hrs; 0930-1145 hrs  Two Beauforts 217 Squadron are despatched to attack two enemy cruisers and escorting destroyers.  They claim one possible torpedo hit on a cruiser.

0912-1155 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne on offensive convoy patrol.  F/Lt Winfield destroys one BR 20.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one Cant 506 and one BR 20 with F/S Evans.  F/S Farquhason damages one BR 20.  Four enemy ships are sighted: two cruisers and two destroyers.  One destroyer is reported to be smoking from the stern.

Spitfires over Malta

0925-1045 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to escort Albacores on a strike mission against Italian cruisers.  They make no contact with the Albacores but they sight the cruisers towards Pantelleria.

0945-1145 hrs  Two Italian cruisers are seen heading for Pantelleria.  A large patch of oil is observed 30 miles east of Linosa.

0955-1110 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol: nothing sighted.  S/Ldr Hamilton’s undercarriage collapses on landing; pilot unhurt.

1115-1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne on offensive convoy patrol.  P/O Ingram and Sgt Rowlandson destroy one JU 87.  W/O Belcher claims one ME 109 destroyed.  Sgt Rowlandson runs out of petrol and has to bale out: he is safe.  P/O Smith claims one JU 87 probably destroyed and one ME 109 damaged.  2/Lt Bartleman destroys one JU 87 and damages another.

1125-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of Albacores.

1210-1320 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on convoy patrol see black smoke 300 degrees Ta Qali.

1302-1332 hrs  Four aircraft 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol: no engagement.

1303-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron and two 126 Squadron on convoy patrol.  P/O Scollan probably destroys one JU 87.  Sgt McConnell, 601 Squadron, fails to return.

1330-1345 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron take to the air on convoy patrol but return with engine trouble.

1350-1400 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron on convoy patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires  603 Squadron are scrambled to escort the rescue launch: they observe a pilot being picked up.

1409-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on convoy patrol.  F/Sgt Schade destroys one ME 109.

1455-1730 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on patrol destroy one unidentified float plane.

1505-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to escort Albacores on a strike mission.  They see a large column of smoke and a cruiser burning 45 miles south of Pantelleria.  Another vessel – possibly a submarine or cruiser – is lying on its side.

1525-1625 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on convoy patrol: nothing sighted.

1525-1645 hrs; 1540-1700 hrs; 1600-1655 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali at a time are airborne on convoy patrol: nothing sighted.

1612-1706 hrs  Four aircraft 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol: no engagement.

1640-1820 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron on patrol locate the Malta-bound convoy 20 miles east of Linosa.

1700-1755 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol see the Malta-bound convoy 15 miles east of Lampedusa and report 20 vessels, including at least two large merchant vessels.  They observe HMS Welshman steaming towards the convoy.

1706-1810 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no engagement.

1730-1940 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are on patrol.  F/O Horne damages one JU 87.  P/O Smith fails to return but is later picked up by the convoy.

1800-1920 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali intercept three Cant 1007s and ME 109s attacking the approaching convoy 30 miles south west of Gozo.  F/Sgt Williams damages one ME 109; F/O Smith damages one Cant 1007.

1802-2010 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on patrol: no combat.

1805-1925 hrs; 1915-2000 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali at a time are airborne on convoy patrol.

1810-1950 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol the convoy approaching from the west.  F/Lt West destroys one ME 109 and probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Sim destroys one JU 88 and P/O Sternberg damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is damaged.

1825-1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no interceptions.

1840 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol the western convoy.  P/O Broad destroys one ME 109.  P/O Barol is shot down in the sea but is picked up uninjured.

1920-2055 hrs;1950-2120 hrs; 2030-2155 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali at a time are airborne on convoy patrol.

1924-0120 hrs  Nine Beauforts 217 Squadron Luqa are despatched to launch a torpedo attack on enemy shipping forces but do not locate the fleet.

2020-2200 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are despatched on convoy patrol.  One crash-lands five minutes later with engine trouble: the aircraft is damaged but the pilot is unhurt.

2025-0039 hrs  Five Wellingtons 38 Squadron are despatched to attack enemy shipping forces.  Only F/O Hawes attacks, seeing a flash of explosives.

2105-2145 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on convoy patrol.

2125-2212 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

2140 hrs  The Spitfires intercept ten JU 88s twelve miles west of Gozo.  P/O Jones destroys one, F/O Lucas and P/O Watts jointly destroy one.  P/O Linton damages one and P/O Lucas another.

2145-0045 hrs  One Beaufighter is on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combats.

2221-2310 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for eight enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  JU 88s drop high explosive bombs on the Hal Far, Siggiewi and Ta Qali areas.  Light Ack Ack damage one JU 88.

0245 hrs; 0400 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Italian anti-personnel bombs are dropped on Kalafrana and in the sea off Grand Harbour.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Cyril Casey, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo; Lieutenant William Paton DSC, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo; Flight Sergeant Allen Harris, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Charles Hector, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Patrick Hedley, Royal Air Force VR; Sergeant Jack McConnell, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Flight Sergeant Alick Greaves, Royal Australian Air Force; Gunner Loreto Cachia, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Paul Vella, age 11.  Siggiewi  Nicholas Farrugia, age 43.  Tarxien  Louis Pulis, age 14.

OTHER OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 JUNE 1942

Beaufighter

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar; five Beauforts from Middle East strike.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft crashed on landing: wireless operatior injured; remainder safe.  One Beaufort crashed on landing: crew safe.  One Spitfire damaged in combat crashed in the sea: pilot safe.  One Baltimore failed to return from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire reported missing from patrol: pilot missing.  One Beaufort crash-landed: crew safe.  One Beaufighter missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot safe.  One Spitfire crash landed with glycol leak: pilot safe.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot safe.  One Spitfire crash landed: pilot safe.

HAL FAR  AM  Four aircraft 185 Squadron are scrambled on two occasions without sighting the enemy.      0845-1150 hrs  Four Albacores of the NAS were airborne on strike.  Two scored strikes on a cruiser and another a probable strike on the same cruiser.  The fourth scored a hit on a large destroyer. 1508-1843 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS are despatched on strike, claiming two probable hits on an enemy cruiser.  One Albacore failed to return: Pilot S/Lt Casey, Observer Lt Paton.

LUQA  Ration strength is 2002, the highest in the history of Luqa Station.  0620-0845 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of western [Malta] convoy sighted two forces – one to the north and another to the south, 225 degrees Pantelleria 25 miles.  Both forces were observed to be firing.  One Spitfire PR Taranto Harbour; crashed on landing on return, possibly due to a burst tyre on take-off – pilot safe.  0650 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search.  P/O Patrick and F/Sgt Harris fail to return.  0934-1403 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on search for Italian naval units.  1245 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on patrol; Sgt Baum, F/S Greaves, Sgt Firboy, Sgt Perslow failed to return.  1300-1600 hrs  One Spitfire PR Taranto.  1820-2120 hrs  One Spitfire PR Taranto.  2015-0410 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol, sights a convoy and drops flares.  2210-2240 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol: recalled after 30 minutes.

TA QALI  Constant patrols by Spitfires and escorting single aircraft attacking the Italian navy.  Hits were scored on three battleships, two cruisers and two destroyers.  One vessel arrived.  0820-1125 hrs  Four Beaufighters 1435 Flight saw convoy at 1030 hrs, observing one large ship and three small, and two formations of four destroyers, six motor torpedo boats, four merchant vessels and one tanker in tow by a naval auxiliary, two other auxiliaries, two smoke generators and a large fire on the water surrounded by flotsam.

16 June 1942

FIRST TWO MERCHANT SHIPS GET THROUGH

Troilus

Supply ships Troilus and Orari entered Grand Harbour in the early hours of this morning to a warm welcome, after surviving a concerted air and sea attack on their convoy off Pantelleria yesterday.  The two merchantmen were escorted by Cairo, Welshman, six destroyers, four fleet minesweepers, and six motor launches.

Only two merchant ships of the original six which set out from Gibraltar on Friday under Operation Harpoon have so far reached Malta. The remains of the fragmented convoy had almost made it to Grand Harbour last night when they ran into a minefield.  Orari and Matchless were damaged and the Polish destroyer Kujawiak was sunk.  Badsworth was damaged off Zonkor Point and Hebe by a near miss from a bomb.  While returning to harbour after having acted as a navigational mark, Justified struck a mine and sank with the loss of three Maltese ratings.

Unloading was started as soon as the two ships were berthed, Maltese stevedores working on Troilus and Army personnel on Orari.  They will work continuously day and night, unless large formations of bombers cause the red flag to be raised over the Dockyard area.  Working parties are then sent to shelters ashore, lorries near the ships dispersed, and a smoke screen put up over the harbour.

There was only one air raid during the day, which caused no damage. Cairo and four destroyers sailed for Gibraltar at 1930 hrs this evening.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JUNE TO DAWN 17 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, no cloud.

0520 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching enemy fighters.  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one ME 109.

0555 hrs  Air raid alert: four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled: no engagement.

0645 hrs  Air raid alert for sixteen ME 109s and four JU 88s which approach Grand Harbour .  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept.  The Harbour barrage fires and a smoke screen is sent up.  Spitfires of 603 Squadron see the JU 88s turn north east, away from the harbour barrage.  They attack destroyers off Grand Harbour.

0649 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also scrambled to intercept.  S/L Lawrence fires a short burst at extreme range at a ME 109 which is believed destroyed.

0700 hrs  Unloading of the convoy ships begins.

0800-0920 hrs; 0910-1005 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa at a time are airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0928-1020 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a defensive patrol over Grand Harbour: no interceptions.

1000-1055 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol: no combat.

1025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching formations of JU 88s and ME 109s.  Eight Spitfires from 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  The Spitfires are jumped by twelve ME 109s.  F/Sgt Vineyard and F/Sgt McNamara are shot down and bale out in the sea.

1027-1135 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron on intercept patrol sight two men in the sea.

1055-1245 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far search for their two pilots.  They are spotted by four Spitfires 603 Squadron, who guide two Air/Sea Rescue launches towards the spot.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa join the escort until their rescue is complete; they are unhurt.

1112-1200 hrs  Four more Spitfires 603 Squadron patrol over Grand Harbour during the rescue.  Sgt Urwin lands without undercarriage; he is unhurt.

1650-1745 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported heading towards Malta.  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept. Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron join the patrol.

1700 hrs  Air raid alert: nine ME 109s patrol the Island. Only two cross the coast but all nine aircraft soon retreat and there is no engagement.

2155-2255 hrs; 2200-2320 hrs  Single Beaufighters of Malta Night Fighter Unit carry out intercept patrols: no combat.

Night  Three alerts for single aircraft.  Bombs are dropped on Mellieha, Gudja, Safi and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack destroys one BR 20 and damages one JU 88.

2215 hrs  Air raid alert.

0130-0300 hrs; 0330-0515 hrs  Single Beaufighters of Malta Night Fighter Unit carry out intercept patrols: no combat.

0210 hrs  Air raid alert.

Military casualties  Stoker 1st Class Joseph Baxter, HMS Badsworth; Petty Officer Vincent Caruana, HMS Justified; Able Seaman Henry Gatt, HMS Justified; Stoker 1c Joseph Medina, HMS Justified.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Mersa Matruh; one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 05; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire in aerial combat crashed in the sea: pilot safe.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot safe.  One Spitfire landed with undercarriage up: pilot safe.

LUQA   1400-1600 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of Catania, Gerbini, Gela, Biscaria, Comiso, Pachino aerodromes.  1800-2020 hrs  One Spitfire on PR of Palermo sights a convoy.  He reports one cruiser in two and one unidentified ship with an escort of two destroyers.  1815-2125 hrs  One Spitfire PR of Taranto also photographs two merchant vessels escorted by three destroyers at sea.

TA QALI  Convoy arrived from Gibraltar and 70 airmen accommodated at Boschetto Gardens in marquees, then posted to this and other stations next day. 

17 June 1942

15 REMAINING SUPPLY SHIPS NOT COMING

Just 15000 tons of supplies arrived with the two ships, Troilus and Orari, extending the supplies available in Malta by only eight weeks.  The failure of two massive convoys to bring more than a token delivery of essential supplies is a massive blow to the besieged Island.  The population is already on starvation rations; access to water and domestic fuel is severely limited.  Aviation fuel and ammunition supplies are extremely low.

Lord Gort

The Times of Malta this morning published a broadcast made by The Governor, Lord Gort, last night outlining the implications to the people of Malta:  “Some days ago, two convoys set out, one from the West and one from the East to bring supplies which we need to restore our situation.  The Western convoy had to endure severe and prolonged attacks, and only two merchant ships survived the ordeal.  They are now in the Grand Harbour…These cargoes are essential for our future and well being.  The Eastern convoy, after suffering from prolonged and intense attacks by the Luftwaffe, was ordered to turn back…

I must break to you what the arrival of only two ships means to us.  For some time past we have been short of supplies and further privations lie ahead of us…Every effort will be made to replenish our stocks when a favourable opportunity presents itself.  Meanwhile we must stand on our own resources and every one of us must do everything in his or her power to conserve our stocks and to ensure that best use is made of all the available resources that remain to us.  We must make all possible savings in every commodity and stock…”

Having lost supremacy in the skies over Malta, the Axis have proved themselves to be in control of the seas.  The Island is now isolated and the plan is clear: to starve Malta into submission.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

0800 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching aircraft.  They are airborne too late to intercept one JU 88 and five ME 109s which fly over the Island at 20000 feet.

0900-0940 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol near the Sicilian coast but make no interceptions.

1045-1120 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1141-1229 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1455 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1545-1705 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne on patrol: no combat.

1735-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters which carry out a patrol: P/O Goldsmith claims one ME 109 damaged.

1803-1838 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an approaching small formation of enemy fighters which trigger the air raid alert: no engagement.

2337-2352 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit airborne on patrol: destroys one JU 88.  bombs are jettisoned in the sea north of Mellieha.

0100 hrs  Air raid alert.

Military casualties  WOI Frederick White, Corps of Military Police.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Two magnetic mines were detonated by Swona in Grand Harbour entrance channels.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  One Beaufort to LG 05; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed due to engine failure: pilot safe, rest of crew injured.

LUQA  0730-0945 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Tripoli.  1410-1815 hrs  One Spitfire PR Lecca, Reggio, Bari and Foggia.   

18 June 1942

CHURCHILL MESSAGE OF SUPPORT 

“It is a great comfort to me to feel that you are in full control of this vital island fortress.  You may be sure we will do everything to help you.”  Winston Churchill to Lord Gort, 18/6/42 (1)

Spitfires 601 Squadron

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JUNE TO DAWN 19 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; strong.  80% cloud.

1035 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept three approaching enemy aircraft which trigger the alert, then carry out a patrol: no engagement.

1040-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

1145-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                   Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three mines detonated in Marsamxett and Grand Harbour entrance channel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar. 

19 June 1942

A Fairey Albacore of the Fleet Air Arm crashed at 1030 hrs this morning shortly after take off from Hal Far on a test flight.  Four soldiers of 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, Lance Corporals Williams and Winsor, and Privates Sutton and Downs, hurried to the rescue and managed to help the injured pilot, Sub-Lieutenant Jordan, to safety.  The observer, Sub-Lieutenant Todd, was killed in the crash and the soldiers carefully rcovered his dead body from the wreckage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; 100% medium cloud.

0630 hrs  Air raid alert.

0640-0730 hrs  Seven Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and attack one ME 109: no claims.  Two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 15000 feet.

0730 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six ME 109s are reported approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no combat.  Four patrol while two carry out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 18000 feet.

1015-1100 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1210-1320 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and nine Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1410-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are on intercept patrol: nil report.

1535-1620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are on intercept patrol: no combat.

1729 hrs  Three enemy fighters carry out a patrol. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

1800 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1904-1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

2000-2030 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are on patrol: no sightings or combat.

2145 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching hostile aircraft.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit to intercept: no combat.  The Beaufighter remains on patrol until 2308 hrs.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Richard Todd, Observer, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beauforts, twelve Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; nine Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on take-off: crew safe.

20 June 1942

MALTA ON SIEGE RATIONS – BELOW SURVIVAL LEVEL

Queue for milk

Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson today announced further cuts in rations to the Maltese population, saying they were “a far greater hardship…than any you have had to bear hitherto.”  He explained the measures were necessary in order for the Island to survive until an undisclosed ‘Target Date’ when further supplies might be expected.

Sir Edward revealed that the rations previous weekly rations would now be issued only every two weeks.  A family of five will now receive monthly: 2000 grams sugar, 1300 ml oil, 400 grams cheese, 200 grams tea, 800 grams fats, 400 grams coffee, 3 bars soap, 4 tins corned beef, 4 tins fish, 4 matches.  The average per capita intake is lowered to 1500 calories per day, which the Ministry of Food in London acknowledges is insufficient.

GOVERNOR REPORTS CONVOY RESULTS TO LONDON

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

Military Situation Report for Week Ending 20 June 1942

1.  Enemy air activity against convoy has been very slight consisting of a few fighters on [reconnaissance] and some night raiders only 12 of which dropped bombs.

2.  Details of convoy operation presumably already known to you.  Only two merchant ships arrived night 15/16 June bringing 15000 tons stores sufficient for approx one month’s supplies.  Separate resume of supply position and other severe cuts now being made has been sent to Mideast defence committee and chiefs of staff.

Large organisation for unloading ships consisting of 2300 men and 240 vehicles from Army daily working in shifts as unloaders, lighter parties, dockside labour, tally clerks, messengers, telephonists and parties for dispersal dumps.  [Motor transport] sub-depots, traffic control, smoke screen party, first aid parties and so on, adapted to situation of only two ships and these unloaded cargoes dispersed in 108 hours working night and day.  No attempts made by enemy to interfere.  Parties on convoy unloading were in addition to 1700 men and 100 vehicles provided for aerodrome ground staffs.

3.  During night raids Ack Ack destroyed one BR 20 and damaged two JU 88s.  RAF over Island and protecting convoy destroyed seven JU 88s, three JU 87s, two BR 20, four ME 109s, two float planes.  Probably destroyed or damaged 12 bombers, 7 fighters.  Attacks on Italian fleet made by Malta based Beauforts and Wellingtons – results known to you.

4.  Following is total of work on improvement of aerodromes carried out by Army for RAF in last three months.  27 miles dispersal track, 10 Wellington pens, 168 fighter pens, 37 light bomber pens, 21 Fleet Air Arm pens.  This in addition to crater filling, improvement of runways etc.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JUNE TO DAWN 21 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, moderate to strong.  100% cloud.

0725 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and chase six Messerschmitts from five miles north of St Paul’s Bay back to Sicily.

0805 hrs  Air raid alert for a patrol of enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

0910-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol: nothing sighted.

1029-1150 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol.

1120 hrs  Air raid alert for a small formation of hostile fighters which patrol the Island: no combat.

1140-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali patrol: nil report.

1221-1312 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on patrol: nothing sighted.

1510-1610 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol.

1600 hrs  Air raid alert for a reported formation of enemy bombers.  The Spitfires see six Messerchmitts but ignore them and fly on in search of the reported bombers.  Two of the Spitfires 603 Squadron see two ME 109s north of Grand Harbour and give chase but do not engage.

1606-2107 hrs  Eight Beaufighters 235 Squadron Luqa are despatched to act as escort for Beauforts: no combat.  They sight one liner of 10-12000 tons with two destroyers.

1715-1800 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1817-1946 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol: nothing sighted.

1900 hrs  Convoy unloading is complete.

1915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft carry out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 28000 feet.

1919-2020 hrs; 2026-2140 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa at a time are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

2155-2355 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne on intercept patrol.

2250 hrs  Air raid alert for three approaching enemy aircraft.  Bombs are dropped south of Hal Far and in the sea.  The Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                 Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Swona sweeping Grand Harbour and Marsamxett entrances. Unloading of Troilus and Orari completed.  After four days and nights of constant labour, by this afternoon 12000 tons deadweight of cargo had been transferred to storage facilities. Naval and Military working parties were released and the remainder of the unloading was then completed under normal conditions by Maltese stevedores.  Less than four hours were lost from disruption due to smoke screens during the work.  Although more than ten hours were spent under alert, no bombs were dropped on the harbour area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudsons, ten Blenheims, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson crashed on landing: observer killed; remainder of crew injured.  One Beaufort attacked by enemy aircraft during a strike: crew missing.

HAL FAR  2327-0448 hrs  Three Albacores NAS took off on strike mission: nothing sighted.

LUQA  1015-1150 hrs  Two Baltimores 69 Squadron despatched on search for enemy shipping were recalled to base.  1131-1430 hrs  Two Baltimores 69 Squadron despatched to continue search.  One sights an enemy convoy of five vessels.  1608-2113 hrs  Twelve Beauforts 217 Squadron despatched to attack enemy shipping. The convoy was not sighted and one aircraft failed to return.  1800-1950 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance photographed enemy convoy.  2201-0404 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight searched Cape Bon area in co-operation with Fleet Air Arm: no sightings.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal for week-ending 20 June: UXB  Reported (50kg or over) 22; dealt with 11(3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 1 x 15kg anti-personnel, 2 x AP containers) plus 153 x 2kg Butterfly bombs.  Work retarted by having to keep a party standing by for priority bombs on Docks area.

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

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

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2017 in 1942, June 1942, Uncategorized

 

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