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

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MALTA NIGHT FIGHTER ATTACKS E BOATS

S Boat

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

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  By 4 am the E boats had withdrawn and beach sentries were stood down.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

MALTA BOMBERS STRIKE AT AXIS CONVOYS AND SUPPLY TRAINS

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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

 

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

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MINESWEEPER EDDY IS LOST

HM Drifter Eddy

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

NEW SQUADRON OF JU 87 STUKAS IN SICILY

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 MAY TO DAWN 27 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; haze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 26 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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

 

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25 May 1942: Enemy Hits Back Hard After Convoy Attacks

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Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

REPRISALS FOR ATTACKS ON AXIS BASES AND SHIPPING

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

PROSPECT OF INVASION STILL LOOMS

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 MAY TO DAWN 26 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; slight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 25 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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

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

 

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

 

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24 May 1942: Malta on the Attack as Enemy Bombers Stay Away

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Wellington bombers

EXTRA WELLINGTONS ALLOW FOR RENEWED OFFENSIVE

The arrival of a delivery flight of nine new Wellington bombers today strengthened the Island’s forces for the campaign against Axis convoys supplying Rommel’s forces in North Africa.

Overnight, three Wellingtons of 104 Squadron assisted by S/D Flight attacked a southbound convoy of one merchant vessel of 5000 tons and one of 1000 tons plus two destroyers 135 miles from Benghazi.  Observers report a successful hit on the the large merchant vessel.  One of the destroyers was also machine-gunned during the attack.

NO BOMBING RAIDS TODAY

Malta’s skies were free of enemy bombers today, as the Axis count their losses in the recent battle for supremacy in the air.  Even the endless fighter sweeps were kept at bay by a constant series of patrols by the Island’s Spitfire squadrons.  One JU 88 reconnaissance aircraft and two Italian Macchi fighters were destroyed and a third Macchi damaged in the two air combats today.

Monitors following Radio Roma heard them describe the plight of the Italian bomber pilots sent to attack Malta by night as “a hard lot.  We are blinded by searchlights, hammered by the AA guns, pursued and ambushed by night fighters.  There is no seeing the enemy till the British guns start spitting death at your bomber.” (1)

Thanks to them, for the first time in many weeks Malta’s inhabitants enjoyed a quiet night, with no air raid sirens.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 MAY TO DAWN 25 MAY 1942

Weather  Little wind; no cloud.

0705-0948 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour and east Sicilian aerodromes.

0716-0757 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa on interceptions: no combat.

0745-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

0906-1118 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.

0930-1045 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne; nil report.

1056-1153 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.

1225-1305 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

1313-1414 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled form Hal Far.  P/O Halford destroys one JU 88.

1445-1530 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

1545-1625 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept three enemy aircraft.  P/O Dicks-Sherwood destroys one Macchi 202 and damages another.  P/O Barlow destroys one Macchi 202.

Night  No enemy activity.

Military casualties  Sergeant Arnold Merritt, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 104 Squadron; Gunner Thomas Hunter, 223 Battery, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 24 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Nine Wellingtons from LG 106; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Albarcores from BU-Amud; three Blenheims, six Beauforts, two Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; five Wellingtons to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing: pilot killed, rest of crew injured.

LUQA 2110-0220 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate and bomb convoy then [guide] Wellington force onto same.  2133-0430 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search of Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Marittimo area.  2206-0255 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron are despatched to attack southbound convoy in co-operation with the S/D Flight Wellington.

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

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

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 28 anti-personnel ‘Thermos’ bombs.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Work completed on Hal Far.  Work in Safi strip began. 17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks widening and levelling runway.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion drums and pipes beat the retreat at Mosta.

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.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group Ltd 1992

 

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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23 May 1942: German Air Force Retreat From Sicily

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GOVERNOR REPORTS FEWER LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS IN SICILY

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

Spitfires over Malta

Enemy.  Military situation report for week ending 23/5.  Day bombing effort was almost negligible.  Total of five JU 88s, eight Cants only.  Also fifteen fighter bombers – large number of fighter sweeps continue using mainly ME 109s, some Macchi 202s and Re 2001s.  Total of 25 night bombers mostly Br 20s.  Photo-reconnaissance shows further decrease [German Air Force] in Sicily; all JU 87s now gone.  Approx only 100 JU 88s remain.  Considerable decrease fighters also.

Following enemy aircraft claimed during week.  By Ack Ack: damaged 2 JU 88, 1 Macchi 202.  By RAF: destroyed 1 JU 88, 2 Br 20, 2 Cant, 13 ME 109, 1 Macchi 202, 5 Re 2001; probably destroyed 1 Br 20, 1 Cant, 5 ME 109, 2 Re 2001; damaged 2 Do 24, 2 Cant, 4 ME 109, 2 Macchi, 4 Re 2001.

Slight E boat activity continues.  Italian Petty Officer Urisoker taken 19/5.  On special mission recce coast defences Zonqor point to two miles north.  Specialist in Davis apparatus, dressed in diving suit for submerging when fired upon.  Full report through naval channels.  On 20/5 spy with [wireless-transmission] set, rations etc caught.  Pro-Italian Maltese landed by motor boat from Sicily.  Unable to scale cliffs and captured.  Full report through defence security channels.

Own troops.  Large working parties for RAF continue.  500 pen-building; 300 servicing Spitfires; 150 servicing bombing up Wellingtons.  Military damage negligible during week.  Army Bomb Disposal Section disposed 31 UXB totaling six and a half tons.  Casualties one Other Rank killed; three Other Ranks wounded.  Further 17 Spitfires arrived also Wellingtons.

Conclusion.  Enemy air activity slackening further.  Movement of German Air Force elsewhere continues.  Indication that raids by E boats or human torpedoes or landing raids being considered by enemy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MAY TO DAWN 24 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0716 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming plot of five Cant 1007s in ‘vic’ (1) formation with a large escort of RE 2001s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s, approaching the Island from the north.  12 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell, Sgt James and P/O Tilly destroy two Re 2001s and one ME 109.  P/O Jones probably destroys one Cant and F/Sgt Schade one ME 109.  Sgt Jones damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001; F/Sgt Schade damages one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: the pilot is unhurt.

0720 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.

0739-0745 hrs  Cant bombers drop ten 100kg bombs each on Ta Qali, making craters at dispersal points.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0835 hrs  The alert sounds for a small number of enemy fighters on patrol.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They land at 0919 hrs without engagement.

0926 hrs; 0949 hrs  Alerts sound for small numbers of enemy fighters patrolling near the Island.

1400-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1611 hrs  Four ME 109s approach the Island and make a reconnaissance flight over all three aerodromes.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They land at 1654 hrs with no interceptions.

1855-1923 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a fighter sweep: nil report.

1905-2015 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are scrambled for incoming fighters: nil report.

2020 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  The two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.  The four Spitfires land at 2110 hrs without engagement.

2145-2217 hrs, 2145-0010 hrs; 2235-2250 hrs  One Beaufighter each time is scrambled from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

2212-2257 hrs  ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and drop bombs on Hal Far.  JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi, and on Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome unserviceable for the night.

A delivery Wellington crashes on landing: Sgt Merrit is seriously wounded; other members of the crew have minor injuries.

Military casualties  WO II Carmelo Zahra, (BSM), 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; WO II Cyril May, (CSM), 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Kirkop  Spiro Bartolo, age 73.  Luqa  Andrew Farrugia, age 8.  Sliema  Antonia Pace, age 77.  Zejtun  Vincent Axisa, age 68.  Zurrieq  Carmel Axiaq, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 23 MAY 1942

HMS Porpoise

ROYAL NAVY  The Commander in Chief ordered Porpoise to be sailed from Alexandria to Malta with stores.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS went out after a convoy: no sightings.

LUQA  0705-0914 hrs  One Spitfire  photo-reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  All stood down until 1300 hrs except for skeleton staffs.  Inspector General Air Marshal Ludlow Hewitt visits Station.

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 continued.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Pte Merson was slightly injured by bomb splinter at Hal Far.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 1 Italian Thermos bomb).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by.  CSM May died in Imtarfa Hospital.

(1)  A tight V formation of one lead aircraft and one wingman close behind on each side – more commonly used by the Royal Air Force

 

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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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22 May 1942: Honours for Malta’s Civil Defence Heroes

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LONDON GAZETTE ANNOUNCES AWARDS FOR CIVIL DEFENCE

Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood        St James’ Palace, SW1, 22nd May 1942

The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the undermentioned appointments to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and for the following awards of the British Empire Medal to the persons named below for their brave conduct in Civil Defence in Malta:-

Air Raid Precautions Zabbar

To be An Additional Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-

Charles Henry Sansom, CMG, Air Raid Precautions Officer, Malta  It is mainly due to the leadership and administrative ability of Mr Sansom that his department has consistently performed magnificent work and shown itself capable of standing up to very severe tests during the enemy air raids on Malta.  His courage and energy have been an example to all.

To be Additional Members of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-

Louis Demajo Albanese, Superintendent of Passive Defence, Malta  For two years Superintendent Albanese has been in charge of an Air Raid Precautions Centre which has functioned rapidly and efficiently under his courageous leadership.

Anthony Attard, Telephone Engineer, Malta  Mr Attard has shown consistent skill and initiative in the expansion of the telephone service to meet war requirements.  Air raids have caused considerable damage to cables and Mr Attard has shown courage when effecting repairs which involved exposure to danger.

John Attard, Mains Engineer, Electricity Branch, Water and Electricity Department, Malta  During the intense air raids on the Island breakages in the electricity mains have occurred in many places almost every day.  Mr Attard and his gangs have worked untiringly day and night, often to have their work brought to nothing by further bombing almost as soon as it was completed.  He has shown splendid devotion to duty and his work has contributed to the Island’s resistance by ensuring that interruptions of electric power have been reduced to a minimum.

Charles Jones, Superintendent of Passive Defence, Malta  Mr Jones has shown consistent and marked leadership, resolution and efficiency while in charge of Sliema ARP Centre.  On numerous occasions he has displayed personal courage and it is due to his example that the Centre in his charge has on all occasions performed its work rapidly and efficiently.

Arthur Mortimer, Senior Engineer, Water Branch, Water and Electricity Department, Malta  In conditions of acute difficulty, Mr Mortimer has been responsible for maintaining the water supply for the Island.  Recently difficulties have greatly increased and the Water Branch has been under continuous strain.  It is largely due to Mr Mortimer’s ability and example that the Water Service has been run with such conspicuous success.

AWARDED THE BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

Francis Calleja, Passive Defence Reservist, Malta; Caneelo Galea, Passive Defence Reservist, Malta  A man was trapped in the basement of a house which had been demolished by a bomb.  All entrances to the basement were blocked but Calleja and Galea managed to reach him through a small ventilator.  Although there was serious danger of all three being trapped and crushed by a further fall of masonry the two Reservists succeeded in rescuing the victim.

Vivian Charles Byers Degrey, Inspector of Police, Malta  Inspector Degrey has displayed outstanding ability and calmness in periods of crisis.  He has been in charge of a squad of constables who volunteered to carry out certain defence work on aerodromes.  It is due to his courage and leadership in the face of numerous attacks by the enemy that the work has progressed satisfactorily.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MAY TO DAWN 23 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly.

0715-0830 hrs  The alert is raised for an incoming formation of enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no engagement.

0808-0840 hrs  Another formation of fighters is plotted approaching the Island.  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They climb to 22000 feet and are then recalled.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but do not engage; they land at 0925 hrs.

1054-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: none are sighted.

1100-1200 hrs  A further alert for incoming ME 109s, including five fighter-bombers which drop bombs on Hal Far and Misrah Blandun.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and intercept two Messerschmitts off Kalafrana.  P/O McNair destroys one.

1617 hrs  Four ME 109s make a reconnaissance flight over Hal Far.

1920-2010 hrs  A formation of 17 enemy aircraft approaches the Island.  Four aircraft drop bombs on the Kalafrana and Hal Far areas while the remaining fighters carry out a sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: Sgt Dodd probably destroys one ME 109.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron and four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but report no interceptions.  One Spitfire 603 Squadron is slightly damaged.

2030-2310 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol from Luqa: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2045 hrs  Two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.

2310-0240 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: no combat.

0305-0500 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: destroys one BR 20 and probably destroys another.

0324 hrs  Two hostile aircraft approach from the north at 17000 feet and drop bombs in the sea and at Ta Silch.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.  A Beaufighter is airborne and destroys one Br 20 and probably destroys a second.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Michael McCluskey, Royal Naval Volunteer Resereve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 22 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Hudson, one Lodestar from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore failed to return from operations: crew missing.

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: 2 Officers and 50 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  Reveille is put forward to 0600 hrs.  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 9 (1 x 500kg, 7 x 250kg, 1 x Italian AP bomb container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

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 – aerodrome tasks now from early morning to mid-day.  1800 hrs  Brigade Observation Post at Tal Minsia handed over to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.

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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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21 May 1942: Maltese Man Branded Axis Spy

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  • Enemy activity increased
  • No Italian fighter sweeps
  • 103 enemy aircraft destroyed over Malta since May 5

RESCUED MAN IN BOTCHED SPYING MISSION FOR ITALIANS

Carmelo Borg Pisani

A man who was rescued from a cave beneath the Dingli cliffs has been identified as a possible enemy spy.  Calling himself Caio Borghi, he was apparently discovered yesterday by Sliema evacuee Robert Apap, waving and calling for help from near the cave at Ras id-Dawwara, between Dingli and Imtahleb.  Apap reported him to the Royal Malta Artillery at a nearby defence post, who raised the alarm.  Borghi was apparently stranded when the sea washed away his equipment and he was unable to climb the cliffs to safety.  Rescued by the high speed launch from Kalafrana, he spoke to his rescuers only in Italian, and claimed to be from Italy.

Ras id-Dawwara

However, when he arrived at Imtarfa Military Hospital he was recognised by Captain Tommy Warrington as Carmelo Borg Pisani, a former boyhood neighbour from Senglea.  Admitting that he had been brought to Malta under cover of darkness to report back on conditions and defences on the Island, Borg Pisani was taken into custody pending further enquiries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MAY TO DAWN 22 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0530 hrs  The alert is raised for incoming enemy aircraft.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept them but do not engage.

0602 hrs  Five ME 109s make a dive-bombing and strafing attack on Hal Far aerodrome.  Sgt Dewhurst, recently awarded the Military Medal, is killed, as well as one Leading Aircraftsman; another three airmen are injured, one seriously.

0620 hrs  Raiders passed.

0955 hrs  ME 109s approach the Island and carry out a fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept, without results.

1035 hrs  Raiders passed.

1230-1330 hrs  ME 109s approach again and patrol round the Island.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept, with no results.

1255 hrs  Four Spitifres 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to attack enemy aircraft.  P/O Lambert destroys one ME 109.  The Spitfires land at 1402 hrs.

1349-1455 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: they sight two ME 109s but there is no combat.

1900-1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

2230-0020 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

2304-2351 hrs  An alert for four raiders, two of which drop hundreds of 4kg anti-personnel bombs on Hal Far, Safi and Luqa.

Military casualties  Sergeant James Dewhurst, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Reginald Hanley, Royal Air Force (VR); Aircraftsman William King, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Anthony Pace, age 24.  Kirkop  Spiro Bartolo, age 73.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Gerhard Beitz, pilot of Bf 109 Messerschmitt fighter shot down into the sea, rescued by RAF Launch and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 21 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Hudson from Heliopolis; three Blenheims from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 222.

HAL FAR  2156 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS take off to attack a convoy southbound in the Lampedusa area.  Owing to the efficiency of the smoke screen the Albacores return with their torpedoes.  One Albacore is missing: S/Lt Barnes, pilot, S/Lt McGlusky, observer.  The other two Albacores landed at 0412 hrs.

LUQA  0700-0915 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and south east Sicilian aerodromes.  2123-0359 hrs  One Wellington on armed search for a convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers: attacked one destroyer.

TA QALI  4 Officers and 36 Airmen commended for outstanding good service during recent operations.

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  Pen building party at Luqa reduced to 2 Officers and 50 men.  Other parties unchanged.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private Hillear slightly injured by bomb splinters at Hal Far.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 10 (6 x 250kg, 2 x 35kg, 2 x Italian AP bomb containers).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  B Company moved from Ta Salvatur to Ta Karceppu. Night working party: 6 Officers and 200 Other Ranks building pens for aircraft.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party Ta Qali 100 men and 50 standing by.

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

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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