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

MALTA WORLD WAR 2 DIARY MALTAGC70.COM GOES WEEKLY FROM JUNE                              

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

Kingsway, May 1942 (NWMA Malta)

MAY 1942: THE ARMY VIEW

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

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

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

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

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

AIR COMMAND REPORTS ON STATE OF AIRFIELDS

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS 31 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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MALTA NIGHT FIGHTER ATTACKS E BOATS

S Boat

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

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

MALTA BOMBERS STRIKE AT AXIS CONVOYS AND SUPPLY TRAINS

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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

 

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18 May 1942: Italian Spy Caught – Reveals Invasion Plot

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RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

ITALIAN DIVER CONFESSES

A lone figure scrambled ashore this morning in Marsascala Bay and gave himself up to members of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment guarding the coastline.  Italian navy diver Giuseppe Guglielmo was immediately taken prisoner.  He later confessed that he had been dropped from a naval torpedo boat in the bay during the night, with a mission was to investigate the beach defences.  However, he was unable to locate the boat which was due to collect him.  Faced with few options, he decided to put himself at the mercy of Malta’s forces.

SEVENTEEN NEW SPITFIRES

Yesterday afternoon, HMS Eagle sailed from Gibraltar along with HMS Argus, under the protection of cruiser HMS Charybdis and six destroyers, to deliver of another seventeen Spitfires and six Albacores to Malta.  At 0830 hrs this morning, Charybdis escaped with a near miss from torpedoes, fired from an Italian submarine.  Despite being shadowed by enemy aircraft, some of which carried out a brief attack, the convoy reached the rendezvous point.  The aircraft were flown off successfully but the six Albacores experienced defects and had to return to Eagle.  All the Spitfires arrived safely in Malta.

AIRMEN SUFFER FOOD AND WATER SHORTAGES

RAF personnel at Ta Qali will no longer be able to supplement their diet between set meal times.  Commanders at the aerodrome today announced that the sale of bread and sandwiches in the canteens is to stop.  The measure is necessary due to the serious shortage of food supplies and is expected to remain in place until a significant convoy can reach the Island.  The announcement added that water use is to be rationed to nine gallons per head per day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0545 hrs  Six plus aircraft patrol fifteen miles north east of the Island. Then fourteen Caproni Reggiani Re 2001s and ME 109s carry out a sweep at 12000 feet.

0625 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali and sight four of the Re 2001s.  Sgt Brennan, F/O West and Sgt Gilbert each destroy one.

0705 hrs  Another Re 2001 is forced to land in good condition near Fort Leonardo; the pilot is taken prisoner.  (1)

0845 hrs  An Italian diver comes ashore at Marsascala Bay and is taken prisoner by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

0845-0925 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

0927 hrs  Five ME 109s patrol around the Island at heights between 23000 and 15000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

0940 hrs  25 ME 109s and Re 2001s are reported approaching the Island.  With the arrival of a new delivery of Spitfires expected, five Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Two are recalled.

1028 hrs  The remaining three Spitfires 601 Squadron are jumped by ME 109s.  P/O Scott claims one ME 109 destroyed.  Sgt Farlow is shot down.  The RAF Air/Sea Rescue launch puts out.

1100 hrs  Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far to escort to incoming aircraft. They engage enemy fighters: Sgt Pendlebury is shot down and killed.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to act as high cover for the Hurricanes.  Sgt Yarra attacks four ME 109s, destroying one and probably destroying another.

1114 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to help protect the rescue launch.  P/O Bisley destroys one ME 109.

1145 hrs  Sgt Yarra 185 Squadron runs short of petrol and has to land his Spitfire at Ta Qali.   Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered up from Ta Qali to patrol.  Sgt Gilbert destroys one ME 109; Sgt Gray probably destroys another.

Sgt Farlow and a German pilot are rescued alive by the RAF launch but Sgt Pendlebury is found to have been killed during the air attack.

1300-1340 hrs  Six Me 109s fly over the Island at 18000 feet and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1600-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to patrol over the Island: no combats.

1609 hrs  One Dornier 24 escorted by 20 plus fighters carries out a rescue search to the east of the Island.  Fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1724 hrs  20 ME 109s and Macchi 202s make a sweep over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: one hits and damages a Macchi 202 at 23000 feet.

1750 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1755 hrs  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  They chase several ME 109s.  Two Spitfires (P/O Peck and Sgt Jones) fire at a ME 109 from extreme range; the aircraft is later seen to crash in flames by Spinola Ack Ack battery.

2043-2133 hrs; 2123-2217 hrs; 2340-0115 hrs; 0050-0400 hrs; 0245-0345 hrs; 0340-0445 hrs  Beaufighters maintain a standing patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagements.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Boyd, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Robert Charters, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Pendlebury, Royal Air Force VR, 229 Squadron; Lance Bombardier A Aquilina, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Johann Lompa, Pilot of ME 109 Messerschmitt shot down into the sea, rescued by RAF Launch and taken prisoner; Tenente Remo Cazzolli, 152a Squadriglia, Re 2001 Pilot, shot down and crash landed, badly injured and taken to hospital as a prisoner; diver Giuseppe Guglielmo, Italian Navy: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 18 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  17 Spitfires, 2 Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts, two Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson, one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane shot down in combat; pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea; pilot injured.  One Beaufort failed to arrive at Middle East: crew missing.

HAL FAR  2015 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS were airborne to attack a convoy.  The convoy was not located and they returned with their torpedoes at 0245 hrs.  2224 hrs  Four Albacores of the NAS took off to attack a convoy.  Two returned with mechanical trouble and the other two found their target but did not attack owing to unfavourable conditions.  They returned with their torpedoes, landing at 0340 hrs.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.  1015-1240 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Sicilian aerodromes.  2104-0400 hrs  One Wellington on search to locate and join Albacores strike onto enemy convoy in Tripoli area.

TA QALI  Eight Spitfires arrived ex Carrier.  Consumption of water reduced to 9 gallons per head per day.  Sale of bread or sandwiches in EF1 canteens to be discontinued until further notice owing to shortage of supplies.

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa working parties increased this morning.  3 Officers and 100 men on pen-building.  2 Officers 50 men crater-filling.  1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continued.  D Company moved from Jebel Ciantar to Boschetto Gardens.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  One half of No 2 Section, 1 Works Company RE commenced work at Hompesch (accommodation for RA and Infantry).  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 4 officers and 140 Other Ranks working on pens at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion working parties continue to be engaged at aerodromes doing valuable work.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

(1)  Italian pilot recalls his capture – CLICK HERE

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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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12 May 1942: Luftwaffe Fight Back – 9 Spitfires Lost

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  • Enemy losses 5 destroyed, 3 probably destroyed, 7 damaged 
  • RAF losses 7 Spitfires downed by enemy; 2 damaged on ground

    Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF PRAISES RAF AND ARTILLERY

“I congratulate all the fighting services on their magnificent team work over the week-end and I particularly congratulate the Royal Air Force and the Anti-Aircraft defences on their notable success.  The Lufwaffe has seen that wounded Malta can hit back gamely.”  Signed Gort, General.

BRITISH REPORTER LOST FOR WORDS AFTER TOUR OF MALTA

‘Words do not exist to convey the picture of what has happened in Malta as the result of air raids, so I have tried figures instead,’ writes a correspondent of the British United Press who has just completed a tour of the Island.

Valletta 1942 (NWMA Malta)

‘The following buildings have been destroyed or damaged:  15500 houses (this counts blocks of flats as one house), 70 churches, 18 convents and nunneries, 10 theatres, 22 schools, 8 hospitals, eight of the principal clubs, five of the principal banks, 48 other buildings of which many were world-famous.  75 per cent of the houses of Valletta have been destroyed or damaged and more than 55 per cent of the buildings in most populated areas have been so smashed that complete rebuilding will be necessary.  There is hardly a hamlet on the Island that has not been hit.

The miracle is that the casualties are so low: 1104 killed, 1308 seriously injured, and 1299 slightly injured.  This is due chiefly to underground shelters.’  British United Press, Sunday 10 May 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 MAY TO DAWN 13 MAY 1942

Weather  No cloud; haze.

0605 hrs  One JU 88 with an escort of ME 109s carries out reconnaissance.

0615-0720 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reconnaissance formation: no interceptions.

0946 hrs  Two ME109s are in the vicinity of the Island attempting to intercept a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  Two Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the ME 109s: no engagements; they land at 1030 hrs.

1052 hrs  Three JU 88s with a fighter escort of over 35 ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and bomb Hal Far aerodrome.

1055-1207 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 and 126 Squadrons are airborne from Luqa and engage in combat with enemy aircraft off Kalafrana with ME 109s: no claims.  One Spitfire is shot down; pilot unhurt.  One Spitfire crash-lands; pilot unhurt.  One bailer out is seen bearing 45 degrees off Grand Harbour.

1110 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack JU 88s with fighter escort.  F/O West probably destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O Linton damages one JU 88.  Sgt Hesselyn damages one ME 109 and destroys another.  P/O Mitchell is shot down in the sea and is missing.  Sgt Brennan is slightly wounded.  The remainder land at 1205 hrs.

1113 hrs  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Yarra destroys one ME 109.  Owing to a bad crosswind at Hal Far, six of the Spitfires land at Luqa at 1216 hrs, without damage or casualties.

1139 hrs  Two JU 88s bomb Hal Far, causing no damage or casualties.

1140 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claims.

Three ME 109s carry out a patrol.

1344 hrs  Raiders passed.

1555 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialize.

1700 hrs  A formation of three Italian Savoia Marchetti SM 84 bombers with fighter escort approaches the Island.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron, are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept the incoming aircraft.

1705 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 126, 601 and 185 Squadrons are airborne from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell claims one Macchi 202 probable; Sgt Graves claims one JU 88 probable; Sgt Lusty claims one ME 109 damaged.  Two Spitfires are lost in combat: P/O Graves is unhurt but Sgt Graysmark is killed.  Sgt Bush receives gunshot wounds and his aircraft is damaged.  P/O Baily’s aircraft is damaged but he is unhurt.

1715 hrs  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack three SM 84 bombers high over Ta Qali as they attempt to bomb the airfield.  F/O Mitchell and F/L Sanders claim one SM 84 and P/O Sherwood another.

1735 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali from a high level.  Four parachutes are seen falling from the sky.

1745 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are airborne on patrol as three JU 88s with fighter escort approach to bomb the aerodrome.  F/O Lee damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Williams damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1749 hrs  Six Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept enemy aircraft.  All fire guns but make no claims.  Sgt Vidler lands at Luqa.  The other aircraft land at Hal Far at 1850 hrs.

1815 hrs  One section of 603 Squadron is waiting to take off from Ta Qali when the red flag goes up calling the operation to a halt.  The aerodrome is bombed, damaging two Spitfires on the ground.

1830 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 602 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.  One Spitfire 601 Squadron engages one ME 109: no claims.

1942 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four alerts are sounded for ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs, including incendiaries, are dropped on Rinella, Salina Bay, St Pauls and Mellieha, and in the sea.

2159-2315 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: claims one JU 88 destroyed.

0100-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Sergeant Charles Graysmark, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 601 Squadron; Pilot Officer Herbert Mitchell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 603 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Schembri, age 11.

Enemy casualties  Aviere Scelto Francesco Carabellese, pilot; Primo Aviere Luigi Conte, Air Gunner; Averie Scelto Sergio Orsingher, crewman; Primo Aviere Gustavo Petrai, crewman; Sergente Eugenio Rivolta, crewman, Tenente Vinicio Vego Scocco, pilot; all shot down while crew of Savoia Marchetti S 84 aircraft of 14a Squadriglia, 4o Gruppo Autonomo, Regia Aeronautica.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 12 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The Greek submarine Triton sailed for Alexandria at 0030 with passengers.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in the sea off Malta; pilot safe.  One Spitfire missing from operations; pilot missing.  One Spitfire force-landed; pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot safe.  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires collide on the runway during scramble; pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy aircraft; crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  ONe Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot killed.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.

TA QALI  1350-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron and two Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali patrol along the Sicilian coast at 31000 feet.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  2355 hrs 4th Bn The Buffs became embodied in Western Infantry Brigade.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties four Officers and 100 Other Ranks for Luqa.  A Coy party 1 Officer and 33 Other Ranks still working at the Ospizio.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 14 (2 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 2 x 35kg, 1 Italian AP container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 16 Officers and 297 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Chief task of unit during this period is maintaining Luqa aerodrome.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Unit supplied a working party of 150 men on Ta Qali aerodrome.

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11 May 1942: Spitfires Winning in the Air

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TIMES OF MALTA , MONDAY MAY 11 1942

Spitfires RAF 601 Squadron

  • Battle of Malta: Axis heavy losses
  • Spitfires Slaughter Stukas
  • 63 Enemy Aircraft Destroyed or Damaged over Malta Yesterday
  • Brilliant team work of Ack Ack gunners and RAF

The last two days has seen a metamorphosis in the Battle of Malta.  After two days of the fiercest aerial combat that has ever taken place over the Island the Luftwaffe with its Italian lackeys has taken the most formidable beating that has been known since the Battle of Britain two and a half years ago.  Indeed, in proportion to the numbers of aircraft involved, this trouncing is even greater than the Germans suffered at that time.

It has always been known that man for man, and machine for machine, the RAF were infinitely superior to the Hun, and everybody looked forward to the day when he could be met on terms of parity, for they looked upon the outcome as a certainty.  That day has arrived – the RAF even had numerical superiority over its fighter opponents for the first time – and the results have excelled the most optimistic expectations.  Our fighters have formed, with the A.A. Artillery, a team which has dealt out appalling destruction on the enemy…

WE HIT ENEMY VERY HARD SAYS LORD GORT’S FIRST REPORT

From:  Governor and C in C Malta To:  C in C Middle East Rpt The War Office  11/5/42

…Own troops combined effort made this week end to gain local air superiority.  Reinforcement fifty seven Spitfires arrived 9/5 also some Hurricanes.  Ack Ack ammunition expenditure restriction temporarily lifted.

Besides new building parties 1500 men earlier in week, parties total 700 men, 90 vehicles provided for assistance to RAF aerodromes for refuelling, ammunition belt loading, crater filling, motor transport driving etc from 9/5 in special effort to enable RAF to keep aerodromes serviceable and prepare fighters quickly.

Preliminary reports: 10/5 show very heavy loss inflicted on enemy and ninety per cent our fighters still serviceable.  Preliminary figures [enemy aircraft] 22 destroyed, 19 probable, 20 damaged.  Army Bomb Disposal Section disposed of 102 unexploded bombs totalling 21 tons.  Cut in troops rations accepted cheerfully.

Damage military installations:  Three Heavy Ack Ack gun positions attacked; some casualties, one gun destroyed.  Further damage billets, stores.  Pay office damage forced move fourth time.  Further damage ordnance depots.

Other effects:  Civil situation considerably eased by respite.  Civil morale still good.

Army casualties: 16 Other Ranks killed; 24 Other Ranks wounded.

Conclusion:  Enemy now moving proportion of air force away from Sicily with consequent lessening of attack.  Reinforcement Spitfires is enabling us hit enemy very hard which may deter from further efforts.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 MAY TO DAWN 12 MAY 1942

Weather  Strong south easterly wind; warm – no cloud.  In the afternoon a thunderstorm blows up and there is 90% cloud at 10,000 feet for the last scrambles.

0605 hrs  ME 109s patrol and a JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

0655-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali on patrol  They chase the reconnaissance flight back towards Sicily and run into Macchi fighters.  P/O Plagis engages one, which takes evasive action, stalls and dives into the sea.

0725 hrs  Two alerts sounded for patrolling ME 109s and a recce by JU 88.

0733-0830 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept the enemy aircraft.  One ME 109 is attacked: no claim.

1020 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and six Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming plot of 30 enemy aircraft including three JU 88s plus ME 109 fighters.  F/Sgt Williams damages one JU 88; Sgt Brennan destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  P/O Nash destroys one ME 109; P/O MacLean damages one ME 109.

1032 hrs  Nine Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  One ME 109 is probably destroyed; one damaged.

1057-1110 hrs  Only one JU 88 crosses the coast and makes a dive-bombing attack on Hal Far aerodrome dropping nine bombs on the runways.  The aerodrome is unserviceable for one hour.

1146 hrs  Raiders passed.

1215 hrs  Nine ME 109 fighters carry out a patrol 30 miles east of the Island.

1424 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol to the south east of the Island.

1635 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches to within 15 miles of the Island and then turns back.

1720 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept an incoming formation of enemy aircraft including three JU 88s and 20 fighters; one Spitfire returns early.  Three Spitfires destroy ME 109s.  F/Lt Douglas and P/O Barnfather collide over Ta Qali: both bale out successfully. One enemy aircraft makes a direct attack on Salina gun position.

1725 hrs  Seven Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  Claims: one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1739 hrs  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  P.O McKay damages one ME 109 and P/O Wigley damages one JU 88.  The Spitfires land at 1830 hours without damage.

1745 hrs  Three JU 88s with fighter escort make a medium level attack on Luqa aerodrome, damaging one Spitfire.  One BR20 and two JU 88s drop eight high explosive bombs and a number of anti-personnel bombs on Ta Qali, causing craters on the aerodrome, damaging two Spitfires and injuring one airman and one soldier.

1805 hrs  Four ME 109s dive bomb Hal Far, dropping bombs at the side of the runway and in the dispersal area.  Two Hurricanes are damaged.

1840-1919 hrs   A German Dornier Do 24 flying boat carries out a search for survivors to the north of the Island, escorted by numerous ME 109s.

Night  No alerts or raids.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Trevor Davies; Ordinary Signalman Eric Dillon; Able Seaman John Freeman; Stoker Petty Officer Francesco Grech; Ordinary Signalman Norman Harris; Petty Officer Alan Kendall; Stoker Petty Officer John Knee; Ordinary Signalman John McClure; Able Seaman Cyril Newman; Boatswain Cedric Radcliffe: all C308.

Civilian casualties  Nil

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 11 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  All sweepers returned to harbour at 0230, except C308. She struck a mine at about 0300 and sank. Seven survivors were picked up by the boom patrol picket boat. The Commanding Officer and eight of the crew were lost. Tug St Angelo detonated six mines.  The Vice Admiral, Malta pointed out that 12 mines had been cut and two had sunk ships in the last few days in the North East approach channel to the Grand Harbour. It was essential that at least two fleet minesweepers should accompany the next convoy and sweep it in.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Lodestars from Gambut; two Albacores from 235 Wing.  Departures  One Wellington to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires collide: pilots injured.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Party of one Officer and 20 Other Ranks for filling ammunition belts for aircraft at Ta Qali aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0500-1000 hrs  Working parties four Officers and 100 Other Ranks standing by at the Addolorata Cemetery for crater filling.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 6 (2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 17 Officers and 324 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1430 hrs  Luqa working parties continued – so far inactive due to inability of Luftwaffe to bomb aerodromes.

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9 May 1942: 60 Spitfires Reach Malta

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OPERATION BOWERY A SUCCESS

Spitfires 601 Squadron

Commanders in Malta are in celebratory mood tonight after the second major attempt to supply the Island with a Spitfire force proved a resounding success.  Under ‘Operation Bowery’ 60 new fighters reached the Island today out of a total of 64 which took off from the aircraft carriers USS Wasp and HMS Eagle.  From the early hours of this morning Malta’s three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali stood ready for the new arrivals.  The Island’s artillery loaded their guns, ready to fight off enemy attacks intent on destroying the Spitfires. 

The first arrivals came into view just before 10 am and ground crews went into action.  Each aircraft was allocated a number which matched them to a specific ground crew, before being taken to a protective pen to refuel and re-arm.  Within minutes, every new Spitfire was ready for a fresh pilot to take off to fight off enemy attacks on the next arrivals.  The new measures ensured there was no repeat of the heavy losses following the previous delivery attempt in April.

  • RAF fighter sorties: 125 by Spitfires, 9 by Hurricanes
  • RAF casualties: 2 Spitfires destroyed
  • Enemy bomber sorties: 24 JU 88s, 17 JU 87s, 10 Cant 1007s, 5 BR 20
  • Enemy casualties: destroyed 4 ME 109s, 3 Cant 1007s; probably destroyed 2 ME 109s, 3 JU 87s, 1 Macchi, 1 BR 20; damaged 7 ME 109s, 3 JU 88s, 2 JU 87s, 2 Macchi 202

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MAY TO DAWN 10 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

0400 hrs  Malta airfields – reveille at Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.  Working parties are picked and final arrangements confirmed for the arrival of Spitfires.  Royal Artillery raise ammunition restriction to cover arrival of Spitfires.

Ready to take off from Wasp

0500 hrs  USS Wasp and HMS Eagle, Western Mediterranean: ‘Operation Bowery’ – Spitfires ready to take off for Malta at first light.

0722 hrs  One JU 88 and six ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Malta.

0800 hrs  Zero hour – Malta’s airfields at state of readiness.

0915 hrs  Five Italian bombers approach the Island with a mass formation of 53 ME 109 fighters.  A number of ME 109s are engaged by two Ack Ack light machine guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): hits claimed.

0924 hrs  Five Cant 1007s drop bombs on the Marsa and Floriana areas.  Bombs hit Haywharf, causing a fire in the HQ of No 1 Section 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers and destroying searchlight equipment.  In Marsa Private Shepherd B Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is injured in the leg by a cannon shell.

0940 hrs  Nine Hurricanes are airborne, six from Luqa and three from Hal Far, as escort for the arrival of Spitfires from the western Mediterranean.  Six Spitfires 242 Squadron are also scrambled from Ta Qali to give high cover.  242 Squadron are attacked by four ME 109s over Luqa.  F/Lt Sanders destroys one ME 109 and F/O Holland and P/O Mitchell between them destroy another.  One Spitfire ditches in the sea: F/Lt Buckstone is missing.

1000 hrs  Ta Qali logs the first 22 new Spitfires and their pilots to arrive over the next hour.  Each aircraft is numbered ready to be met by an allocated ground crew and taken to a protective pen to refuel, re-arm and repair as necessary, ready for a fresh pilot to take off within 20 minutes as cover for the next arrivals.

1015-1020 hrs  Ack Ack Light Machine Guns of 225 LAA  engage ME 109s at 3-600 feet: hits claimed.

1055 hrs  Ta Qali: 11 of the new Spitfires take to the air with experienced pilots of 249 Squadron and engage ME 109s.  P/O Nash destroys one and probably destroys another; F/Lt Buchanan probably destroys one.  P/O Milburn crashes near Safi and is killed.

1100 hrs  11 more new Spitfires arrive at Hal Far plus another flight at Luqa, all to be met, serviced and airborne within minutes.  Ack Ack guns defend them from attack by numerous ME 109s swarming over the airfield at 150-500 feet: hits claimed.

1145 hrs  Guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Wolseley Camp engage ME 109s heading in over Fort Ta Silch to attack Hal Far: no claims.

1200 hrs  Four Spitfires on patrol make visual contact with delivery aircraft heading in towards Malta: one new Spitfire is observed falling into the sea.  A ME 109 is spotted nearby and chased away.

1205 hrs  The last batch of new Spitfires lands.  60 have arrived out of a total of 64.

1258 hrs  Raiders passed.

1312 hrs  News of the delivery of Spitfires has reached the Luftwaffe in Sicily.  A formation of 14 JU 88s and 20 ME 109s is observed heading towards Malta.

1315 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  Two JU 88s claimed as damaged.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also airborne:  P/O Nash damages one ME 109.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are also up: Sgt Tweedale crashes at Luqa and is killed.

1330 hrs  Six JU 88s drop 24 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, damaging two motor transport vehicles.  A delayed action bomb explodes near the caves, injuring A/C Oliver.  Three airmen slightly are injured in the Maintenance Quarry, Attard-Rabat Road.

1355 hrs  Nine JU 88s attack on Hal Far and Safi.  One bomb damages the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for an hour.  About six delayed action bombs are also scattered over the area.  One soldier is seriously injured and four others slightly injured.  Bombs are dropped on Wied Znuber: three Other Ranks 4th Bn Hampshire Reg are injured by bomb splinters.

1356-1415 hrs  Two JU 88s at 2-3000 feet engaged by guns of 225 LAA Bty.

1405 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and Luqa land at Ta Qali.  P/O Noble is shot up over Ta Qali.

1423 hrs  Raiders passed.

1531 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

1550 hrs  12 Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept incoming ME 109 fighters.  F/O Holland, P/O Mitchell and F/Sgt Hurst each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged.

1610 hrs  Messerschmitt 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

1615 hrs  14 JU87s with a 40-strong fighter escort dive-bomb the Safi and Siggiewi dispersal areas.  One Wellington already damaged is burned out. Three JU 87s break away to attack the San Pietru gun position, killing two Other Ranks and wounding five more, and drop bombs between Hompesch and St Clements Church.

1620 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron attack JU 87s over Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Lawrence damages one ME 109. Sgt Broad claims one JU 87 probably destroyed; he also damages one JU 87.  F/Lt Lawrence and P/O Wigley each claim  one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1630 hrs  One JU 87 is engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: hits claimed.

1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, Ta Qali, returning from a patrol over Sicily attack JU 87s who have been bombing Luqa and Grand Harbour.  P/O Nash probably destroys one.

1700 hrs  Raiders passed.

1727 hrs  11 Spitfires (4 of 601 Squadron and 7 of 126 Squadron) are scrambled from Luqa to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Nine aircraft engage in combat; two no contact.  Claims three probable Italian BR 20s destroyed; one Macchi 202 destroyed, two Macchi 202 damaged.

1744 hrs  Five Cant 1007s and numerous fighters attack, dropping fifty 100kg bombs on Attard camp and on Ta Qali airfield.

1805 hrs  Nine Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  Four have combat; five make no contact.  Claims: one ME 109 and one JU 88 damaged.

1835 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali but did not manage to intercept five Cant 1007s and seven JU 88s which go on to attack the airfield.  F/Lt Douglas destroys one ME 109; F/O Slade damages another.  F/L Douglas goes into a bomb crater on landing and damages his aircraft.

1846-1934 hrs  Seven JU 88s drop 40 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali causing craters on the aerodrome.  Three Spitfires are damaged.

0040 hrs; 0230 hrs  Two air raid alerts: a total of 12 aircraft drop bombs in the Tal Handaq area, on Tigne parade ground and in the sea.  An E boat and some aircraft appear to be minelaying in the sea north of Grand Harbour.  Some damage is caused to gas and water pipes.  One JU 88 is probably destroyed by Ack Ack.

0050-0212 hrs; 0250-0520 hrs Two Beaufighters are airborne from Luqa on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft.  One BR 20 is claimed as probably destroyed.

0414-0421 hrs  Three German schnellboote lay a triangular minefield off Sliema point to cover one possible approach of HMS Welshman which has been reported by the Luftwaffe heading for Malta.

0438 hrs  Schnellboot S-31 collides with a loose mine and sinks.  13 men are rescued including her Commanding Officer and two Italian officers; 13 are lost.

Military casualties  Sergeant Alwyn Bentley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Flight Lieutenant John Buckstone, Royal Air Force VR, 603 Squadron; Aircraftsman I John Clarke, Royal Air Force VR; Pilot Officer Harold Milburn, Royal Air Force VR, 245 Squadron.  Corporal Frederick Few, Royal Air Force, Squadron Leader John Gorringe-Smith, Royal Air Force, Flight Sergeant Thomas Grosvenor, Royal Air Force VR, Flying Officer John Leslie, Royal Air Force VR, Flying Officer William White, Royal Canadian Air Force; all 221 Squadron.  Sergeant John Jacklin, Flight Lieutenant Raymond Sly, Pilot Officer Gordon Tweedale, all Royal Australian Air Force.  Private Leonard Harvey, Private Lindon Lever, Corporal Thomas Maloney, Private Raymond Small, all 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.  Gunner Seraphim Cauchi, 30 Bty, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Falzon, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Peter Portelli, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Carmela Muscat, age 23.  Balzan  Sister Alexandra Borda, age 31.  Floriana  Mary Polidano, age 17.  Gzira  Joseph Mifsud, age 36.  Qormi  Teresa Sammut, age 20.  Zejtun  Gaetan Mifsud, age 54.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 9 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Further sweep of Grand Harbour entrance channel with all available minesweeping craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis, three Hudsons to Gibraltar, one Beaufort, one Wellington to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea off Malta; pilot missing, believed killed.  One Hurricane straffed by ME 109s while landing; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  0847-1210 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance and visual reconnaissance of Messina, Palermo and Trapani harbours and south Italian aerodromes.  1525-1730 hrs  Spitfire on search to locate enemy shipping Malta to Messina.  2123 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on special search: failed to return.  S/L Gorringe-Smith, P/O Leslie, P/O White, Sgt Bently, Sgt Grosvener, Sgt Jacklin, C/L Few missing.

TA QALI  3 Officers, 14 Airmen from HQ Mediterranean, 19 from Gzira, attached for temporary duties.  1535-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over Sicily.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Special party four Officers and 100 Other Ranks required for work on Luqa on stand by to fill in bomb craters from 0500-1000 hrs daily.  Working party of 12 men to fill belts for RAF.  9 and 30 cwt lorries required for work at Luqa.  Large deliveries of Spitfires expected.  Italians dropped bombs from a great height in Bn area.  Cpl Maloney, Pte Lever, Pte Harvey, Pte Small killed; Pte Schooley very badly injured, not expected to live.  Capt Roddy slightly injured.  Very unfortunate as men were caught absolutely unawares.  Ptes Harvey and Small were manning the Ack Ack light machine gun.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 20; dealt with 10 (1 x 1000kg,  3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, two Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 14 officers and 261 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion assisting in maintaining and servicing of aerodromes: arrival of reinforcements of Spitfires.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1430 hrs  This unit takes over Luqa working party from Durham Light Infantry.  No craters required filling today.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  This unit supplied a working party of 150 men: Spitfires arrived.

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

 

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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

 

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

 

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