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19 April 1942: No Fighter Planes to Defend Malta – 15 Ack Ack Guns Hit – 71 Killed

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Clear-up in Floriana (NWMA Malta)

NO FIGHTERS UP AGAINST 276 BOMBERS  – BOMB HITS CARE HOME

For the second day in a row no RAF fighters took to the air today to intercept incoming enemy formations.  The Luftwaffe were able to arrive in Malta’s air space unhindered and carried out heavy raids on Grand Harbour and all the airfields, dropping a total of 436 tons of bombs (442,376 kg).  Anti-aircraft positions were a main target: fifteen were hit, killing thirteen Gunners and injuring many more.

TRAGEDY IN HAMRUN

The community of Hamrun is in mourning today after a heavy high explosive bomb struck a care home, killing many of the patients and their carers.  St Paul’s Home for the Elderly was run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, many of whom were among the 34 killed in the explosion.

GEORGE CROSS JOINS VICTORY V

“Great exhilaration is being shown by the people of Malta since the award of the George Cross by His Majesty the King.  Replicas of the cross are being chalked on all the buildings alongside the ‘Victory V’ sign.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly.  30% high cloud – fine.

0710 hrs  Air alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0806 hrs  60 JU 88 bombers and 24 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers escorted by fighters are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa, dropping four bombs from each plane.

0845 hrs  Massive formations of JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, including Marsa Creek and Valletta. The San Lorenzo Tunnel is hit, causing a partial collapse.  SS Pampas is set on fire and part of the Tram Depot is destroyed.

Royal Artillery HQ reports bombs on San Pietru gun position – one gun slightly damaged; Benghaisa gun position – gun out of action slightly damaged and three Other Ranks wounded; and on Tal Qroqq, Hompesch and Marsa gun positions.

Msida Bastion (NWMA Malta)

A large formation of JU 88s attacks Valletta.  A stick of bombs falls on Old Mills Street: no casualties.  Eight JU 88s peel off to target Msida Creek: the Ospizio Barracks are hit.

0900 hrs  Two formations – five JU 88s and four ME 109 fighter bombers – carry out high level bombing and dive bombing on Luqa airfield, cratering the runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported in the Beaufort dispersal area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

0915 hrs  Bombs explode north of Zabbar and between close to three defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Light Machine Guns of their Battalion HQ and D Company engage one JU 88: no hits claimed.

0954 hrs  Thirteen JU88 bombers raid Kalafrana and another eight attack Hal Far causing ten craters on the runway and dispersal areas.  Barrack blocks are hit, one Hurricane is burned out, one Albacore and one Swordfish slightly damaged.

1003 hrs  Raiders passed.

1015 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report an unexploded bomb UXB 150 yards from Post RA3 and another at map reference 489224.

1121-1143 hrs  Four enemy aircraft (suspected to be ME 109s) approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

1325 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour Hal Far, Luqa and the Safi strip.

1330 hrs  A massive wave of JU 87s and JU 88s attacks the Grand Harbour area.  The Police Office at Dockyard Main Gate is wrecked, and a surgery damaged.  Several bombs land on Valletta, including one on a shelter in Merchant Street.  In Floriana, Argotti Gardens, the Police Station and the Government Dispensary are hit.  Bombs destroy several houses in St Francis Street: 13 casualties are later recovered from the rubble.  Royal Artillery HQ reports direct hits on the Santa Maria gun position with 14 casualties.

1340 hrs  A large formation of aircraft bomb Marsa crossroads, blocking the road, Marsa Creek and Marsa Ack Ack Battery, where there are six casualties.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 attacks Hompesch: one stick of bombs lands close to a 3″ Ack Ack Battery and other positions of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Their D Company gunners engage one JU 88 turning away from the attack: no hits claimed.

1445 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte D Macpherson, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are killed by an enemy bomb.

1400 hrs  Twenty JU 87s and JU 88s attack Hal Far, badly damaging the Officers’ Mess and other quarters, including barrack blocks, cookhouse and the NAAFI.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  One stick of bombs falls across Hagiar Qim Battery causing some damage to equipment.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1325 hrs  JU 87s, 88s and ME 109s carry out high level and dive-bombing raids on Luqa aerodrome, cratering the main runway, and on Safi strip.  Transit Flight offices and Works and Buildings offices are damaged beyond use; four previously damaged billets are written off.

1446 hrs  Raiders passed.

1530 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map position 518219.

1557 hrs  Four aircraft (suspected to be ME 109 fighter bombers) approach from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.

1600 hrs  A delivery flight of seven Hurricane lands successfully.

1626 hrs  Raiders passed.

1630 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports two unexploded bombs at map position 512227.

1800 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are identified approaching the Island.

1812 hrs  A large formation of bombers attacks the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, French Creek and Marsa Creek.  Bombs on Floriana cause considerable damage to the NAAFI Club in Parade Ground, Portes des Bombes area and Valletta Wharf.

Ack Ack gunners score a direct hit on one JU 88 and the aircraft disintegrates in mid-air.  Manoel gun position is hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding one officer and 5 Other Ranks.  Naxxar, Tal Qroqq, Benghaisa and Hompesch Heavy Ack Ack positions report near misses; the HQ of 32 Light Ack Ack is demolished.

1830 hrs  JU 87 and 88 bombers attack Hal Far.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s: hits claimed.

1840 hrs  One lone JU 88 carries out a high level bombing attack against Hompesch.  One bomb lands on the camp of Battalion HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt but there are no casualties.

1940 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four air raid alerts sound for six enemy raiders.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Safi, Hal Far and Kalafrana.  No fighters are airborne.

2245-2340 hrs  One Italian BR 20 aircraft approaches from the north and drops a number of 12kg bombs round Bir-id-Deheb, and from Ghaxaq to the Safi strip.

0130 hrs; 0238-0251 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds for single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0330-0600 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Joseph Galea, HMS St.Angelo;  Gunner Anthony Cunningham, 7 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Alfred James, 1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Henry Livingstone, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Mifsud, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Anthony Saliba, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Gunner Cyril Bunn; Gunner Sydney Carter; Lance Bombardier Charles Castle; Bombardier Andrew Cullen; Gunner James Ditheridge; Gunner John Mansell; Gunner Thomas Smith; Gunner James Stewart; Gunner Samuel Vickers, all of 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.  Lance Bombardier Albert Johnson and Bombardier Cyril Pughe, both 190 Bty (6th Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment), 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties Gudja   Anthony Borg, age 46.  Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15; Josephine Gingell, age 40.

Hamrun  Marianna Attard, age 70; Filomena Azzopardi, age 70; Rosaria Azzopardi, age 70; Francesca Bonello, age 75; Silvia Bono, age 71; Carmela Borg, age 91; Giovanna Borg, age 72; Lucrezia Borg, age 55; Rosa Calascione, age 70; Mary Calascione, age 40; Maria Camilleri, age 70; Mary Camilleri, age 70; Joseph Caruana, age 77; Teresa Casabene, age 58; Marianna Cassar, age 65; Joseph Cuschieri, age 75; Catherine Cauchi, age 66; Concetta Darmanin, age 70; Carmela Debono, age 80; Pauline Ferro, age 80; Josephine Galea, age 70; Sister Teresa Garabaldi, age 53; Antonia Hyzler, age 75; Mary Kelly, age 90; Emanuela Laferla, age 70; Teresa Meilak, age 90; Teresa Micallef, age 60; Virginia Micallef, age 60; Grace Pace, age 80; Clara Pace, age 70; Giovanna Potenza, age 70; Sister Therese Sciberras, age 85; Mary Vella, age 69; Rosa Zahra, age 70.

Msida  Francesca Bianco, age 70; Vincenza Caruana Mamo, age 74; Joseph Grech, age 76; John Zammit, age 78.  Sliema  Emanuel Borg, age 16.  Valletta  Violetta Bone, age 16; Joseph Borg, age 14; Herman Scerri, age 14.  Zabbar  Angela Degabriele, age 75; Josephine Gatt, age 34; Mary Lia, age 38; Saviour Mallia, age 33; Joseph Mallia, age 30; Grace Tedesco, age 23.    Zejtun  Paul Despott, age 16.  Zurrieq  Carmel Callus, age 43; Anthony Inguanez, age 13.

Enemy casualty  Josef Bauer.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar with passengers.   Attacked by ME 109 off Grand Harbour and returned at 2200 hrs.  Una proceeded on patrol west of Tripoli.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Hurricanes, two Blenheims from Gambut; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  2152-0920 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight search for and attack enemy shipping.  Sight one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats: no attacks made.

TA QALI  20 airmen attached to this station from Luqa for one day.  One Chief Petty Officer and twelve seamen ex Breconshire attached to this station for armament duties.  Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1 Dorset L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson killed by a bomb at Gzira.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 50 men working on electric light mains in Valletta continued working today; other parties stood down.  Several incendiaries in and around Horn Works.  Pte Livingstone, B Company, killed by shrapnel.  Pte Holmes injured and admitted No 90 General Hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0215 hrs  Lt Treadwell dies in No 90 General Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work continued on aerodromes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  NAAFI in Lintorn Bks demolished by bomb.  Further bombs on Floriana Parade Ground – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 13 (1 x 1000kg; 3 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  1700 hrs  No 4 Platoon now located at Ta Salib cross tracks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  One bomb lands close to B Company cook house of 3rd Battalion.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Final day for Hal Far working party.  2100-0630 hrs  Both working parties numbering all available Officers and men at Luqa and Hal Far to complete first set of pens for new aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A working party of 130 Other Ranks is employed at Luqa during the hours of darkness.

(1) Army News, Darwin, Australia, 19 April 1942

 

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

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in 1942, April 1942, Uncategorized

 

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18 April 1942: Skies Clear – Raiders Return With 1000 bombs

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KALAFRANA SHELTERS UNDER FIRE

“…we were being bombed mercilessly. By that time my parents had hired a private shelter and organized it [to] live in.  That meant that we did not have to jump out of bed at night and run, at panic speed, to the shelter whenever the sirens blared the air raid warning. If we were awoken at night by the noise of the guns and falling bombs, it was just a matter of turning over and go back to sleep…it was definitely safer in those instances when incoming enemy planes were not detected until they were on top of us dropping their bombs.

The shelter was in a stone quarry out in the fields. There were three other shelters besides ours. Two were next to ours on the same quarry face but the other one was on an opposite corner, hewn, as it later turned out, in a rather queer manner.  Although situated nearer to Kalafrana than our proper home, it was still considered to be at a safe distance.

However, the shelters in the quarry must have attracted the attention of the Luftwaffe commanders who regularly scanned the terrain on photographs taken during reconnaissance flights…on one occasion, when my sister and I were just outside the entrance to our shelter, it just occurred to me to lift my head up and I saw the front of a Junkers 87 on a vertical dive right over us. I suddenly pushed my sister into the shelter entrance and I followed. When we were about five or six feet inside the shelter, we felt a terrific blast pushing us in. It was a bomb, dropped by the enemy plane I had just seen. True, there was an air raid on at that time but the planes were attacking Luqa airfield quite a distance away. We thought we were safe but that 87 I saw must have been detailed to attack our spot.

The shelter on the corner away from us was hit and it gave in. It would not have collapsed had it been properly planned and constructed. There were people inside that shelter and as it turned out, a seven year old boy and his nine year old sister were killed. Their mother was maimed when a large piece of rock landed on her leg… Joseph Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 APRIL TO DAWN 19 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.  Clear; no cloud.

0612-0704 hrs  Two ME109s patrol the Island.

0717-0743 hrs  One aircraft is spotted to the west of Malta but does not cross the coast.

0855 hrs  15 JU 88s bomb Hal Far.

0920-0936 hrs  One bomber accompanied by two fighters carries out reconnaissance.  On crossing the coast they are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

0947 hrs  26 JU 88 bombers attack Kalafrana and Ta Silch.  One Other Rank 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed and three slightly injured at Dowdalls Motel.  The buildings and hangars at Kalafrana suffer severe damage and a small fire breaks out in the Gzira petrol station.  One defence post is hit, knocking off its corner.  Bombs are also dropped on the Wied Znuber area.

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s carry out high-level bombing and dive-bombing over Luqa, leaving craters on the runway.  One unserviceable Wellington is burned out.

1020 hrs  JU 88 bombers attack Delimara Fort and Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

1030 hrs  Six JU 88s attack Hal Far, damaging one Fordson and some buildings.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged.  1030 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

1140 hrs  Three bombs explode near the Headquarters of A Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment at Bubaqra.

1200 hrs  A stick of bombs explodes close to B Company 1st Bn Dorset Regt at Zejtun, injuring Lt G H Treadwell and Capt N H Golding.

1220 hrs  Four waves of JU 88s approach the Island and split into formations to bomb the Grand Harbour area, Luqa, Safi and Hal Far.

16 JU 88s bomb the three runways; 27 JU 88s target Grand Harbour and surrounding areas, including Floriana, Corrodino, Msida Creek, Manoel Island and Tigne.  The Royal Malta Yacht Club at Hay Wharf receives a direct hit.  1st Btn Dorsetshire Regt reports an attack on Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery by JU 88s: bombs also fall between Bluebell Troop and Hompesch.  Enemy aircraft are engaged by light machine gun fire from Bn HQ.

1227 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Hal Far, leaving five craters on the aerodrome and damaging the Airmen’s cookhouse.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged.

1228 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Bubaqra area.

1230 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

1255 hrs  All clear.

1405-1452 hrs  24 JU 87s and 36 JU 88s attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Birzebbuga, where the petrol tank is set on fire.  An underwater mine cable is broken.  Three JU 87s target Delimara Fort and Ack Ack Battery.

1439 hrs  15 JU 88s targeting Hal Far cause ten craters on aerodrome and dispersal area.  One Hurricane is burned out.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

1650 hrs  45 JU 88s bomb Grand Harbour, Marsa Creek, Dockyard Creek and the Abattoir, and Zabbar.  Tal Handaq, Tal Qroqq and Manoel gun positions are also bombed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1655 hrs  Eight JU 88s carry out a high-level bomb attack on Luqa, Safi and Siggiewi.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1806 hrs  Raiders passed.

1811 hrs  24 JU 87s and 27 JU 88s and three ME 109s approach the Island and split into separate formations to bomb Delimara, Kalafrana, Birzebbuga, Benghaisa and Hal Far.  Bombs hit RAF main workshops, Delimara and Benghaisa Forts.  Delimara searchlight projector is damaged.  There are 16 casualties.

1817 hrs  15 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa, cratering the runway.  One unserviceable Hudson and one Wellington under repair are burned out; one Maryland is slightly damaged and two Hurricanes under repair are written off.  A motor roller is badly damaged.

1830 hrs  20 JU 87s bomb Hal Far, damaging barrack blocks and cratering the aerodrome.

1928 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four alerts for seven Italian BR 20 bombers.  Bombs are dropped on Latnia, Mosta and in the sea.

2030-2105 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on interceptions: no engagements.

2105 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

2220 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Bombs are dropped in the Latnia area.

0012-0042 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on interceptions: no engagements.

0355 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0455 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Shipwright 1st Class John Burns, HMS St Angelo; Flight Lieutenant Archibald Beer, Mentioned in Despatches (Three times), Royal Air Force; Corporal Kenneth Hayter, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Jack Smith, Royal Air Force; Sergeant F M Smith, serving at Kalafrana RAF Base; Bombardier Anthony Bonello, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Sergeant Gaetan Cristina, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner George Ford, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Galea, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Henry Marshall, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Michael Mizzi, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties Birzebbugia  Carmel Cutajar, age 31.  Cospicua   (PC 49) Carmel Borg; (PS 850) V. Walton, age 40.  Marsa  Joseph Formosa, age 78.  Zejtun  Joseph Bonavia, age 9.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 18 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar. Departures  Four Blenheims, one Wellington, one Hudson, three Beauforts to 108 MU.

TA QALI  Extensive preparations pushed on with pens during day and night by Police, Army and ground crews, under Pilots.  Maintenance pushed up for arrival of Spitfires.  Many air raids during day – no bombs on camp.  Runway serviceable.  No scrambles.

ROYAL ARTILLERY HQ  Fort Delimara one NCO, three Other Ranks wounded.  Fort Tigne and Tigne LAA positionn 1 Other Rank killed, 6 wounded.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All activity resumed. Working parties in Valletta continue: 80 men from C Coy, 40 men from A Coy.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  U/L/Cpl Leonard Percy Galton A Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed at Dowdalls Motel (W/T Cadre) and L/Cpl Barnes (Carrier Platoon), L/Cpl May (A Coy) and Cpl Sear (E Coy) are slightly injured.  Sector post R33 received a direct hit.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Lt Treadwell and Capt Golding were injured by a bomb at Zejtun.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 8 (2 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Pte Salkeld A Company received serious injuries from a bomb splinter when member of aerodrome working party.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0800 hrs  Hal Far and Luqa working parties continue.  2230 hrs  Luqa working party now operating during hours of darkness to accelerate completion of tasks.  Hal Far working party to work at night also.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  130 Other Ranks working on Luqa overnight.

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

 
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8 April 1942: Fierce Battle to Save a Ship – Penelope’s Story

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1-8 APRIL 1942: enemy bombers 1427; bombs 1,759,186kg (1731 tons); casualties 234

  • Thousands of tons of bombs have ravaged Luqa, Ta Qali, Hal Far and Grand Harbour
  • Yesterday enemy bombers devastated Valletta – are civilians the target now?
  • Intelligence suggests a Luftwaffe plan to extend bombing across Malta’s villages and towns
  • With electricity, gas and water cut off and bread supplies under threat, how can the Island survive?
  • Visit maltagc70 for the latest news from Malta, 1942

PENELOPE’S LAST STAND

HMS Penelope holed and patched in Malta

Dockyard Foreman Len Austin remembers the final departure of HMS Penelope, thanks to the combined efforts of the Navy, Army and Dockyard workers, and his highly respected Manager, Mr Joughin.  One of the cruisers of Force K, the convoy so effective at sinking enemy merchant ships, Penelope has been in dry dock since 27March, for essential repairs:

“…she was now a sitting duck for the bombers. Bombs rained down but she was not hit, although the dock coping and the workshops adjacent were badly damaged…The two gangways from the dockside one forward and the other aft received direct hits and the ship’s sides in these areas were pierced by hundreds of holes, above and below the waterline. All that could be done was to weld patches over the holes and this proceeded.  There were not enough welders available so Mr Joughin asked whether any were available among the troops on the Island who could help and only one was found.”

By this afternoon almost the entire ship has been peppered with holes, all the aft cabins wrecked and the quarterdeck covered with debris from bomb damage to Dockyard structures.  It was decided that Penelope should sail as soon as possible.  As if aware of her departure, the Luftwaffe bombers returned for another heavy raid on the dockyard:

“arrangements were made for further supports under the ship so that she could help in the barrage. She fired until her gun barrels were virtually worn out. It was obvious that her luck could not last out indefinitely and undocking was scheduled for [this] afternoon. A long raid developed and we were in the Shelters for some hours…the afternoon raid had delayed the repair so the dock flooding time had to be put back…

With serious doubts whether Penelope could be lifted in time to leave port tonight the Vice Admiral Malta convened a conference and Mr Joughin was asked what could be done:

“’You must land every man who is not required for the working of the ship, all their equipment, all surplus easily removed fittings, all spare gear, as much fresh water as possible, in fact strip the ship of as much weight as could be done without impairing her steaming. We will take the ship to Canteen Jetty. You may embark 200 tons of oil fuel and a full outfit of ammunition and then sail with a good chance of reaching Gibraltar.’

…In minutes all was in hand and the dockside quickly became littered with off loaded weight. A halt was called whilst the ship was towed to the Jetty where the activity was resumed.  The “Kingston” a Destroyer which had sustained a near miss hit was then moved into the vacated dock. [Another] heavy raid developed and “Kingston” was hit amidships and sunk. This could have been “Penelope’s” fate.  She sailed at dusk, was attacked in the Narrows by Pantelleria, fired all her ammunition but reached Gibraltar safely” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 10% cloud at 18000 feet.

0825-0922 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Ta Qali, dropping four small bombs on the aerodrome.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 88s north west of Grand Harbour.  F/L Lloyd claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged. P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Boyd claimed one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.

1045-1145 hrs  Seven JU 88s, part of a larger formation of bombers, carry out a deliberate attack on aerodrome buildings at Luqa.  All bombs fall on the motor transport section.  Bombs are also dropped on Misrah Blandun area.

1120 hrs  Air raid by eight JU 88s with fighter escort of ME 109s attack Hal Far.  Ten craters on aerodrome and about 30 incendiaries dropped on aerodrome.

1125 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA)  engage numerous JU 88s, claiming seven hits on four aircraft.

1324 hrs  26 aircraft come in from the south east and drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.   Two bombs land on Hompesch 3.7″ Battery, near Battalion HQ Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg.  Another bomb explodes between the Camp and Zabbar.

1335 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron sight six JU 88s with fighter escort.  Hurricanes attack, then Spitfires follow in.  F/L Heppell destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O West G damages one JU 88 and destroys one ME 109; P/O Kelly damages one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Three ME 109s are engaged by 5 guns of 225 LAA; two hits claimed on one by two guns.

1400 hrs  Four ME 109s drop four bombs on Ta Qali, causing two small craters on the aerodrome.  One soldier is seriously wounded and one slightly. 

1505 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron attack eight JU 88s.  F/O West R probably destroys one; F/L Heppell damages one but is then blown out of his machine, probably by a Bofors shell.  He lands safely near Floriana.

1405 hrs  Four ME 109 fighters machine-gun Mellieha Camp.  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage raiders: no claims.

1510 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.  Bombs also land on the Mall Gardens in Floriana and an unexploded bomb is discovered in St James Ditch.  Lintorn Barracks and the Central Civil Hospital are also hit.

1525 hrs  ME 109 fighters machine-gun Luqa while four ME 109 fighter-bombers drop bombs on the airfield.  Six guns of 225 LAA engage three ME 109s: no claims.

1615 hrs  A stick of four 250kg bombs falls 500 yards south of Selmun Palace causing slight damage.

1721 hrs  22 ME 109, 32 JU 88 and 26 JU 87 attack ships in Grand Harbour.  Penelope’s gunners fire back until they exhaust their ammunition supplies.  The Gunnery Officer is killed and the Captain and several others wounded.  A bomb penetrates the forward decks of Kingston passing through and piercing her hull, but does not explode.

1744 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment receive a message to say work on Pampas ceases at 2000 hrs, with 12 hours’ notice to start again.  Men of B Company volunteer to load ammunition onto HMS Penelope prior to her departure from Malta.  An air raid is on at the time and the ship is a target.

1815 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and see a Dornier 26 on the water, plus two JU 88s and ME 109s.

1910 hrs  P/O West 249 Squadron destroys the Dornier flying boat and one ME 109; P/O Kelly destroys one JU 88.

1938 hrs  All clear.

2007-2235 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft destroys a JU 88.

2026-2050 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the east, crossing Zonkor Point.  It is engaged by a Beaufighter with a short burst and crashes in flames at the Safi end of Luqa aerodrome.

2140-2212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.

2230-0050; 0135-0255; 0525-0635 hrs  Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

2345-0645 hrs  A series of raids by single enemy aircraft.  Incendiaries are dropped on several locations including Ospizio, Latnia and Sliema sea front.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Jack Miller, HMS Penelope; Marine Daniel Soames, Royal Marines, HMS Penelope;  Able Seaman Sidney Tancock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Penelope.

Private Ivan Harrold, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Private Cecil Peace, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Fusilier Charles Milne, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Henry Worster, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Marjorie Smith, wife of Regimental Sergeant-Major Smith, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Lance Bombardier John Hovell, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artilllery; Gunner Stanley Smith, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Geoffrey Worrall, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment);Staff Sergeant Henry Staples, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Mallia, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner George Falzon, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Bombardier John Grech, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Emanuelle Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gudja  Fred Scicluna, age 45.  Marsa  Salvu Grima, age 57.  Qormi  Francis Barbara, age 56.  Tarxien  Joseph Bartolo, age 52.  Valletta  Joseph Cachia, age 49.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  During a dive-bombing attack on Grand Harbour Penelope ran out of ammunition and the Captain was wounded.  Kingston was damaged and in sinking condition.  Penelope sailed for Gibraltar at 2000 hrs.  Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Maryland from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufort to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 8-9th  Swordfish despatched to check up the position of the Kelibe light.

LUQA  1230-1325 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance western Sicilian aerodromes.  2340-0555 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for shipping and attack.  Sighted one merchant vessel with escorting destroyer and submarine.  Bombed merchant vessel but undershot.

TA QALI  Orderly Rooms, SWO , Guard Room move from St Edward’s College Mdina to Nos 3 & 11 caves.   Messina House taken over for billets.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties still on Pampas.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Cpl Worn is injured by machine-gun bullet from enemy aircraft.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2345 hrs  Pte C Peace died in No 39 General Hospital as a result of wounds received from a bomb at Corradino on 7 April.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and B Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C, D and HQ Companies working on Luqa aerodrome.  One Other Rank wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali and died of wounds same day.  Three Naval Officers and 56 Naval Ratings attached to the Battalion for rations and accommodation, with a further 25 Naval Ratings with effect from 9th.  All from ships damaged in Grand Harbour by enemy air raids.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Incendiary bombs in the Barracks. Quickly extinguished – no damage or casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 9 (4 x 50kg; 3 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  Extract from Autobiography of Leonard (Len) Austin, Foreman of Malta Dockyard, August 1939 – March 1943 

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26 March 1942: Malta’s Most Intense Raid to Date – Floriana a Furnace

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“Never during the War years was I overtaken by fear more than on the night of the 26th March 1942” (1)

  • Massed air raids on shipping in Grand Harbour
  • Plumleaf, Talabot, Pampas hit as well as Sliema Ferry
  • Breconshire hit again – on fire amidships
  • Targets outside harbour badly damaged – Marsa HAA gun position hit
  • Four JU 88s and three JU 87s destroyed; many more damaged
Talabot is hit (NWMA Malta)

Talabot is hit (NWMA Malta)

LUFTWAFFE PINPOINT BOMBING DESTROYS SHIPS IN GRAND HARBOUR

For nearly six hours today, 120 enemy bombers accompanied by massed fighters attacked in wave after wave, dropping over 350 high explosive (HE) bombs of 250kg and 500kg on ships, docks and gun positions in Grand Harbour and 40 more on Breconshire in Marsaxlokk Bay.

“Unfortunately on this day the German Air Force achieved a degree of accuracy with their bombing which they had never attained either before or since.  Talabot, Pampas and Plumleaf were all hit in a single raid and in the evening Breconshire too was hit and set on fire.

By the evening with Legion sunk, Penelope badly damaged and a large part of the small craft in the harbour sunk or out of action from near misses it was felt that there was little further injury that the enemy could do…Talabot which caught fire and blazed furiously as a result of her hit, had to be scuttled to avoid her cargo of ammunition exploding.  All her holds were flooded and the ship was aground with her gunwale just above water…” (2)

FLORIANA IS A FURNACE

“The odds were that the Talabot with considerable ammunition in its holds would, at any time, explode and damage would have been terrific.  The tragic situation was communicated to us in Floriana with strict instructions to evacuate all in Floriana residing in …the part overlooking the Grand Harbour where the Talabot was anchored.

At sunset Floriana became immersed in a reddish glow, deepening into an inferno-like colour as night set in.  All the surrounding areas in the Grand Harbour assumed a reddish incandescence: the skies were red, the sea was red; red prevailed everywhere – such a scene was never witnessed before.  In the meantime flames were still belching from the Talabot, uncontrolled, and presaging doom.  Floriana looked like a furnace!

As soon as orders for evacuation reached us we [advised] the people to leave their houses and their shelters, move to the northern area and use what shelter space was available.  Many obeyed; others did not as they preferred to watch the flaming scene from vantage points without realising the danger they were exposing themselves to, should the ship explode and blow up vast areas in Valletta, Floriana, Marsa and the three cities.” (1)

“Pampas” ablaze (NWMA Malta)

Desperate attempts to unload the two merchant ships, Talabot and Pampas, were hampered by conditions in the harbour and the constant heavy bombing of ships, docks and salvage equipment.  By the end of today, of the convoy escort which accompanied the supply ships to Malta, HM Ships Legion and Southwold were sunk, Kingston further damaged by bombs and Penelope has serious structural damage from near misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 MARCH TO DAWN 27 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south; 100% low cloud.

0700 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but recedes before crossing the coast.

1022-1610 hrs  68 enemy aircraft – JU 87s, JU 88s and ME 109s – attack Grand Harbour.  Fighters destroy two JU 87s and two JU 88s, and damage one JU 87 and three JU 88.  One JU 88 is shot down in south Comino Channel and four German prisoners are captured in Gozo.  Ack Ack destroy one JU 88.

1210 hrs  S/L Gracie leading six Spitfires from Luqa attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes.  He himself is them jumped and his aircraft is damaged.  P/O Ormerod in a Hurricane chases a JU 88 through the barrage; his aircraft is damaged and he returns to Luqa.

1230 hrs  Talabot is hit by a 500kg bomb which explodes in the engine room, which starts to fill with oil; a large fire breaks out.  Firefighters and crew of other ships join the efforts to control the blaze while enemy bombs continue to fall close to the ship.  Both pumps in No 2 fire float and one in No 1 float are put out of action by the near miss.

Plumleaf at Parlatorio receives a direct hit and is sunk.  Tug West Cocker at Boiler Wharf is damaged and starts taking water. Front walls and doors in B and C Yards, Marsa are demolished with some damage to lighters.

High explosive bombs hit dockyard buildings and wharves.  The verandah and structure of 10-14 Stores on Stores Wharf and No 2 Caisson are damaged; the south end of No 8 Store demolished.  The north end of Hamilton Wharf is badly shaken. No 3 Boiler Shop entrance doors and offices are smashed by blast. Crane No 623 and  2/3 Dock Pumping Station are damaged. Explosions cause a large crater in front of No 1 Boiler Shop and others on Canteen Wharf and the Scrap Ground.

1335 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa.  Sgt Brennan damages a JU 88.

1400 hrs  A stick of bombs falls close to PampasLuqa Spitfire P/O McNair gets on its tail and despatches it.  F/L Johnston damages two JU 87s – both probably destroyed.  F/L Connell severely damages a JU 87 and a JU 88.  P/O McNair destroys a JU 88.

1430 hrs  A 500kg bomb falls down the funnel of Pampas and explodes, flooding the engine room and starting a fire amidships.

1550 hrs  The drowned body of German pilot Winkler is discovered by 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment, washed ashore near Wied Zurrieq.  They also find some naval garments washed ashore at Wied Zurrieq and Ghar Lapsi.

Six Hurricanes from Hal Far are airborne to intercept a formation of JU 88s and JU 87s.  Hurricanes attack the bombers over Kalafrana and later over Grand Harbour.  Sgt Steele (cannon) accounts for one JU 88.  Sgt Broad hits two JU 88s.  F/Sgt Fletcher scores hits on two JU 88s, one ME 109 and one JU 87.

1632 hrs  A raid in three waves:  50 JU 88s drop bombs on Grand Harbour: Penelope is near missed and flooded forward; tug Ancient is hit and beached; submarine P39’s back is broken;  Sokol is near missed; Legion sunk; Avonvale hit (damage not very serious).

10 JU 88s attack Breconshire in Marsaxlokk Bay.  The ship is hit, causing a fire on board.  Fighters and Ack Ack engage.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 87 and two JU 88s, and damage others.

1725 hrs  F/L Connell (Ta Qali) damages a JU 88.  Sgt Brennan damages a JU 88.

1730 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s: one hit claimed.  Post SA4 of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt engages two JU 88s, expending two magazines.

1740 hrs  225 LAA engage three JU 88s: one gun claims four hits.  One gun and personnel transfers to the Nigret area.

1750 hrs  P/O McNair (Ta Qali) damages two JU 88s.

1808 hrs  Bombs land near Fort Ta Silch.

1815 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Hamria.

1915-1930 hrs  An enemy flying boat carries out rescue work to the north of the Island.

2230 hrs  Enemy boats are reported 12 miles south east of the Island.  Beach Companies are warned to keep a strict look-out.

Night 26/27th  No enemy aircraft activity although E Boats are plotted off E coast of the Island. The fire on Talabot is contained but the blaze on Breconshire is getting out of control.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Alfred Keylock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Avonvale; Able Seaman Albert Bowman, HMS Avondale; Able Seaman James Warwick, HMS Legion; Able Seaman Ernest Lynch, HMS Avonvale.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Valent Sammut, age 33.  Mosta  Alfred St John, age 2.  Sliema  Carmel Coppola, age 50; Doris Coppola, age 17; Herman Mifsud, age 42.  St Paul’s Bay  Rita Vella, age 6.

Enemy casualties  Paul Winkler.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 26 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Upholder  returned from patrol, having sunk a U boat and trawler off Brindisi and missed a battleship off Taranto owing to very heavy weather and zig-zag on firing.

AIR HQ  Departures  Five Beaufighters, two Blenheims, eight Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Wellington to Shalufa.

HAL FAR  828 and 830 Squadrons amalgamated as Naval Air Squadron, Malta on instructions from Vice Admiral Malta, pending Admiralty confirmation.  PM  One Albacore on shipping search.  Nothing sighted.

LUQA  0753-1545 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search.

TA QALI  No night operations. 

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company proceeds from Boschetto Gardens to camp at the Pumping Station between Rabat and Dingli.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO attends funeral of SSO1.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A and B Companies changed over: A Company to Marsa, B Company to Luqa.  Private Ryan wounded at Luqa by enemy action.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 22.

(1) Floriana in Wartime, Emanuel S Tonna, Malta 1969

(2)  War Diary, Vice Admiral Malta, March 1942

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19 March 1942: 345 High Explosive Bombs on Malta in 24 Hours

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LUFTWAFFE RECORD OF ATTACKS ON MALTA 19 MARCH 1942

  • 1 JU 88**               4 x 250kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 4 ME 109**            4 x 250kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 5 JU 88**             20 x 250kg; 30 x 50kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 6 JU 88**             24 x 500kg (Marsaxlokk)
  • 10 JU 88**             8 x 500kg; 15 x 250kg; 36 x 50kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 3 JU 88**             12 x 250kg; 24 x 50kg (Luqa and Safi strip)
  • 6 JU 88**             20 x 500kg (West of Luqa)
  • 13 JU 88*            44 x 250kg; 100 x 50kg (Positions on South Malta)

*night **daylight

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  No cloud.

0710 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island.  One dives on a submarine in Grand Harbour, then flies over Ta Qali and Luqa at 5000 feet.  Light Ack Ack engage.

0725 hrs  Three gun positions of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one ME 109: no claims.

0740 hrs  All clear.

0957-1027 hrs  One JU 88 drops bombs on St Paul’s Bay and Wardia Ridge.  Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1053-1122 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1128-1143 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol round the Island without crossing the coast.

1405 hrs   Three JU 88s bomb Sliema, Gzira and St Julians. 

One Beaufort heading into Malta from Gibraltar crash-lands at Hal Far, its rear gunner wounded in combat with a ME 110.  The crew proceeds to Luqa.

1443 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty-four 500kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Hal Far and Benghaisa gun position.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  One man is injured at a Light Ack Ack position.  Two bombs hit headquarters of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, demolishing half of the buildings, including officers’ quarters.  2/Lt Wilsher and seven Other Ranks are admitted to hospital.

1500 hrs  One gun position of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claims.  One gun position is damaged by bombing and ammunition is destroyed.  Gunner McDermott is injured by bomb splinters and removed to No 45 General Hospital.

1540 hrs  All clear.

1617 hrs   One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance, followed by six JU 88s which drop 23 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

1630 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 36 HE bombs on Safi strip and Luqa.

1700 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty 500kg HE bombs on Luqa, east of Qrendi and Nigret.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One Wellington at Luqa is burned out, one damaged; one Maryland is slightly damaged.

1705 hrs  36 HE bombs land on Ta Qali camp, damaging two buildings.  One Beaufighter under repair is partly burned out; another Beaufighter, a fighter Blenheim and two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.

1718 hrs  A stick of bombs drops on the area of San Kristu church.

1800 hrs  Five JU 88s drop HE bombs through Mqabba village to within 300 yards of Zurrieq village, straddling headquarters of D Company, 4th Bn Hampshire Regt. 

1820 hrs  One bomb falls 100 yards from headquarters of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt; another near Tal Hniena Chapel.

2120-0016 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea, and on land across Qrendi, Kalafrana and Luqa.  Incendiary bombs are dropped on the Benghaisa area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0151-0306 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea and on land at Tal Qroqq and Ta Giorni.  Night fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by fighters.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Moloney, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Richard Morgan, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Paul Vassallo, age 50. Lija  Paul Azzopardi, age 39. Sliema  Mikiel Borg, age 64.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Spartivento having sunk a U boat and probably hit a large merchant vessel.  Embarked torpedoes and left again non patrol.  Upright sailed for Gibraltar and UK to refit.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims, seven Beauforts from Gibraltar.

LUQA  1536-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF5 patrol

TA QALI  No scrambles.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT CO and Company Commanders visited loading demonstrations at 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.  1930-2200 hrs  Night firing by platoons C Company on Pembroke Ranges.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Vehicle loading demonstration to be inspected by all Brigades.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Exercise attack on Victoria Lines by D and C Companies.  A and B defended.  Fusilier Thompson was hit by bomb shrapnel in Sliema and killed.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1st Bn reports a stick of bombs in the sea off Post MB5.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Demonstration Platoon and Company truck loading.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 1700 hrs  Lecture at Marsa for all officers on “Correct Orders to Forward Artillery in Support of Infantry Attack.”

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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17 March 1942: 30 Civilians Killed by Heavy Bombs Across Malta

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  • Air raids back to full force

    Heinkel He 111

  • 79000 kg high explosive bombs dropped across Island
  • Indiscriminate night bombing hits civilian areas
  • 30 civilian casualties including two policemen
  • Heavier enemy fighter escorts – 40 protect a single raid
  • Heinkel III appears over Malta
  • Malta’s Ack Ack and fighters score hits on enemy aircraft
  • One Spitfire crashes
  • Aircraft destroyed on the ground

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  70% cloud at 500 feet.

0700 hrs  Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  F/L Stone and P/O Noble make a head on attack on one JU 88: results not observed.  P/O Beckett engages a ME 109: no visible results.

0715 hrs  Six Spitfires of 249 Squadron are airborne and locate an incoming formation of JU 88s and Messerschmitts.  The Spitfires split into pairs.  Sgt Brenman scores cannon strikes on one Messerchmitt which goes down.  He then fires at a second ME but sees no results.  F/Lt Heppell has a short squirt at one ME 109 and sees a puff of black smoke as it climbs away.

0737 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Grand Harbour area.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage.

0800 hrs  Six JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  One bowser and two Wellingtons are burned out.  Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged; one is written off. One Spitfire and one Mosquito of the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit are damaged.  One previously unserviceable Beaufighter is badly damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from Hal Far join the fight, spotting five JU 88s and ten Messerchmitts.  S/Lt Wells scores strikes on one Junkers and P/O McHan fires machine gun bullets into the same aircraft.  Sgt Hale attacks another JU and sees smoke pouring from the starboard engine, believed to be glycol.  F/Lt Kemp attacks a ME 109 and sees bits fall from the starboard wing: the ME goes down into cloud.  Sgt Mulloy attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes under the starboard wing root.  He also claims strikes on a 2nd Junkers, along the tail end of the fuselage.

1000 hrs  JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, and on the submarine base.

1025 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 4-6000 feet: no claims.

1030 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne.  Sighting a large formation of Messerschmitt fighters, the Spitfires dive away.  F/Sgt Cormack does not pull out of his dive and his machine heads straight towards Filfla: cause unknown.

1045 hrs  Five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.

1050 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land safely.

1115 hrs  All clear.

1200-1355 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and Luqa, and in the sea off Delimara.

1310 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs in the Zurrieq area and on Safi strip. One JU 88 is engaged by two gun positions of 225 LAA at 5-6000 feet: no claims.

1407 hrs  Four JU 88s and one Heinkel 111 escorted by fighters approach the Island  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Broad engage one JU 88: no visible results.  The raiders drop bombs to the west of Luqa and Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1415 hrs  Three Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and three Spitfires of 249 Squadron from Luqa.  They chase and damage the Heinkel.  A second wave of six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop twelve bombs on Ta Qali, damaging one Hurricane. Two civilians are killed, two are admitted to hospital and two have minor injuries.  Ack Ack engage and damage one JU 88.

1425 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the Mqabba area and near Loreto Church.

1445 hrs  The Spitfires and Hurricanes land safely.

1500 hrs  One Hurricane at Ta Qali is damaged by a delayed action bomb dropped at 1415 hrs.  One civilian is injured and taken to hospital.

1600 hrs  Five Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of JU 88s.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Sutherland attack one JU, hitting the fuselage and engines.  Sgt Sutherland engages a ME 109, scoring hits between the engine and cockpit.

1619 hrs  A six-wave attack of bombers protected by a large fighter force.  The first wave of six JU 88 drops bombs on Sliema, Tigne and Marsaxmett Harbour.

One JU 88 drops bombs on Kirkop and Qrendi.

Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and to the north of Luqa.

One aircraft recedes from south to north at 18000 feet.

Six JU 88s drops bomb on the Qrendi strip and in the sea.

Six JU 88s drops bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.   Malta’s fighters are up and damage one HE 111, one JU 88 and two ME 109s.  Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage another.

1725 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip. Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged and written off.  Guns of 225 LAA Battery engage two JU 88s and one ME 109 at 4-5000 feet: no claims.

1830 hrs  Two Hurricanes 126 Squadron take off from Hal Far with five other Hurricanes of 185 Squadron to intercept an incoming formation.  The two Hurricanes of 126 chase a JU 88 which is last seen diving steeply into the sea.

1836 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and Misrah Blandun.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa and patrol behind the Hurricanes.  Two ME 109s are spotted.  S/L Grant damages one with cannon shells and P/O Plagis attacks the other, observing pieces fall from the aircraft.

1842 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s at 3-4000 feet: three gun positions claim five hits in total.

1846 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 3-4000 feet.  All guns claim hits; two confirmed on the fuselage and starboard wing of one aircraft.  Gunners collect fallen fragments of fuselage and a rubber dinghy.  The plane recedes south apparently badly damaged.

1920 hrs  All clear.

2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is barraged over Grand Harbour and drops its bomb load in the sea.

2044 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the east of Mellieha.

2200 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Pembroke Ranges, on Naxxar and in the sea.

2235 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Rabat area.

2332-0100 hrs  Seven aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the Rabat and Rocco areas, and in the sea.

0156 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on St Georges and in the sea.

0340 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs in the sea west of Gozo and another drops bombs to the south of Latnia.

0517 hrs   Seven aircraft approach the Island: one drops bombs near San Rocco fort, the remainder in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ian Cormack Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.  Gunner Carmel Darmanin, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Alfred Calleja, age 35.  Hamrun  George Debono, age 43.  Lija  Charles Lanzon, age 36.  Paola  Giuseppe Delia, age 60; Joseph Delia, age 4; George Gauci, age 80.  Qormi  Carmelo Aquilina, age 77.  Rabat  Francis Mallia, Ena Mallia Pulvirenti, age 12; Salvu Portelli, age 37; Andrew Spiteri, age 11; Samuel Vassallo, age 25.  Siggiewi  Carmelo Baldacchino, age 44.  Sliema  Eddie Bartolo, age 38; Joseph Bartolo, age 38; Alfred Calapai, age 54; Antonio Fava, age 20; Paul Formosa, age 50; Giuseppa Micallef, age 54; Joseph Micallef, age 11; Joseph Mifsud, age 66; Albert Mifsud, age 14; Anthony Pisani, age 38; Carmela Sghendo, age 15; Francis Spiteri, age 14; Alfred Vella, age 45.  Valletta  Muriel Brocklebank, age 47.  Zebbug  Giuseppe Petroni, age 29.  Zejtun  Joseph Mercieca, age 45.  Zurrieq  Ursola Schembri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  MLs 126 and 130 arrived from Gibraltar.  Five Albacores left to attack convoy sighted earlier but failed to find.  Three Swordfish attacked one merchant vessel of 2000 tons east of Tripoli.  One torpedo was dropped and left ship ablaze from stem to stern.  Two Swordfish and four Albacores sighted and attacked two merchant vessels and two destroyers in Lampedusa area.  Two torpedoes dropped and one hit on a 7000 ton merchant vessel is claimed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Spitfires to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Five Albacores 828 Squadron dispatched to attack convoy – nothing sighted.  Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on shipping search.  They attacked one merchant vessel (position east Tripoli 25 miles, 10 miles from shore).  A hit was scored: merchant vessel left ablaze from stem to stern.  One Swordfish – S/L Shute, Mid. Hillery – missing.

LUQA  0712-1300 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search south and east of Malta for enemy shipping.  1534-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for enemy shipping.

TA QALI  Signal 0831 HQ:  Identity of 242 and 605 Squadrons cease to exist as such on Malta with effect from 15 March 1942.  Pilots being absorbed with existing fighter squadrons at Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Night operations: no interceptions.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company on exercise Corrodino area; normal work for other Companies.  1400 hrs A Company cross-country run.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  St Patrick’s Day parade of Battalion at San Pawl Tat Targe.  Shamrock presented by GOC.  March to Naxxar for church parade and sermon by Rev Navin.  Dinner in evening attended by Brigadier L/Col Iggleden, L/Col Brittorous.  Men entertained by concert party.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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1 March 1942: 32 One-ton Bombs on Civilian Areas – 20 Dead in Floriana

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32 ONE-TON HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS LAND ON CIVILIAN AREAS

1000kg ‘Hermann’ bomb ready for Malta (NWMA Malta)

20 people were killed and 49 injured when 1000kg ‘Hermann’ bombs struck the densely populated area of Gunlayer Square in Floriana on this Sunday afternoon.  Many of the casualties were caught out having stayed at home during the raid; others were standing at the entrance to an air raid shelter.  Emmanuel Tonna might have been among them: “Had it not been for the insistence of my friend, Mr Carmelo Gauci, I would have stayed there talking to people.  Better counsel did, however, prevail and I left the place together with Mr Gauci.  We had barely reached the shelter in St Publius Street, Floriana, when we were violently shaken by the thud of bombs.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 MARCH TO DAWN 2 MARCH 1942

Weather  Rain during the morning.  Wind south west.  Bright periods with low cloud at times.

0737 hrs  Two MEs circle the Island and recede north.  Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.

0912-1000 hrs  16 fighters patrol the Island, dropping four high explosive bombs on Gozo.  Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.

1210-1234 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1245 hrs  Pilots of 242 and 605 Squadrons take to the air in nine Hurricanes and attack three JU 88s and their escort of twelve ME 109s.  F/Lt Stone machine-guns a JU 88; reports damaged.  P/O Lester attacks a Messerschmitt and observes the engine emitting grey smoke before he breaks off engagement; claims one ME 109F destroyed.  F/Sgt Howe claims a JU 88 as probable before he is shot down, baling out and sustaining a leg wound.  P/O Wigley attacks a JU 88 without visible results. P/O Tew and Sgt Harvey are shot down in the sea.  Sgt Harvey is seen to bale out but a rescue vessel later finds his body in the water.

1310 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regt at 5-800 feet; no claims.

1327 hrs  All clear.

1422-1515 hrs  13 JU 88s plus fighter escort drop thirteen 1000kg bombs in St Julian’s, Sliema, Hamrun, Marsa, Gzira, Marsamxetto, Floriana and the Grand Harbour area.   Heavy Ack Ack engage.  AC1 Wright is killed in an air-raid shelter in Floriana along with several civilians.

1716-1839 hrs  Two waves of enemy aircraft approach Malta: first six JU 88s with fighter escort, then eleven JU 88s with fighter escort.  1000kg bombs are dropped in St Julian’s, Sliema and Valletta areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One Other Rank 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment suffers concussion in the raid and is admitted to No 45 General Hospital.  Stella Maris Church in Sliema is gutted by a bomb.

2153-0658 hrs  One continuous air raid.  Ten aircraft approach the Island, one after another.  Bombs are dropped near the Royal Engineers works in Floriana and on rocks off Sliema sea front, then on the Dockyard, Jesuits Hill and near St Edward’s College, on Zabbar, Hal Far, Qrendi and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack engage, with 28 barrages and searchlights illuminating the target for ¾ minute.

Military casualties  Surgeon Captain Algernon Cheeseman*, Royal Navy, HMS Talbot age 55; James Tew, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ray Harvey, pilot, RAF 242 Squadron; AC1 George Wright, RAF, 249 Squadron; Staff Sergeant Jarvis Whittaker, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Private Saviour Debono, 2nd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Robert Attard, age 60; Joseph Borg, age 8; Una Patricia Cameron, age 18; Giovanna Caruana, age 43; Joseph Darmanin, age 60; Stella Debattista,age 19; Annunziata Demanuele,age 13; Benjamin Maggi, age 15; Grezzju Magro, age 16; Emmanuel Pace, age 20; Jane Pace, age 15; Carmelina Portelli,age 4; Sarah Portelli,age 39; Antonio Pulo,age 27; Doris Zammit,age 24.  Msida  Carrie Portelli,age 23.  Sliema  Dolores Borg, age 60; Joseph Muscat, age 35.  St Julians  Doris Cheeseman*, age 45. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS:  SUNDAY 1 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  One Maryland was force-landed during the night.

LUQA  0730-1120 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Lampedusa and SF 24 patrol.  1440-1632 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron PR Palermo.  1415-1925 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF1A patrol.  1952-0322 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on special search.  2225-0235 hrs  Six Wellingtons of 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Six pilot officers left for roof-spotting at the Palace, pending posting to the Middle East.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  One Staff Sergeant died as a result of enemy action.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs on Floriana near HQ Officers’ Mess: several windows broken.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  One Other Rank injured in an air raid.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Battalion:  A Company (Coy) Ta Karceppu (5 Officers, 123 Ors); B Coy Ta Salvatur (6 Officers, 124 Ors); C Coy Tal Hasluk (5 Off 132 OR); D Coy Tal Providence (5 Off, 131 OR); HQ Coy Ta Salvatur (14 Off, 269 OR).  Chaplain and Medical Officer also attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continues: 100 men.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1)  loriana in Wartime, Emmanual S Tonna, Malta 1969

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Posted by on March 1, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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