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9 January 1942: Army Builds Runways for RAF

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WEATHER GROUNDS AIRCRAFT

  • Gale force winds and heavy cloud prevent significant enemy raids and hamper operations from Malta’s air bases. 
  • A heavy swell this evening grounds the Catalina carrying General Scobell and family away from Malta. 
  • Hurricanes make a difficult landing returning from a mission in darkness.

WORKING PARTIES MOBILISED TO IMPROVE RAF LUQA

Central Infantry Brigade Order No 1

Safi Strip (NWMA)

Task  Dispersal of aircraft and improvement of runways for RAF.

Working Parties  These will be made up as follows: 

  • 2nd Bn The Royal West Kent Regiment – 100 men
  • 1st Bn The Chesire Regiment – 50 men
  • 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers – 100 men

Transport  All parties will have one lorry per 20 men available for work on the site…Units will be responsible for their own traffic regulation.

Tools  Shovels and picks will be [issued] on site.  2 Devon are returning 150 shovels.

Rations  Haversack rations for midday meal will be carried. It is hoped to arrange distribution of hot tea.

Dress  Denims, steel helmets.  NO respirators, NO rifles.  Anti-aircraft Light Machine Guns will, however, be taken in accordance with this HQ Signal 0.921 of today’s date…

Further demands on an increased scale are likely to be made.  The maximum commitment of this Brigade will be 500 men.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 9 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold – squally, heavy cloud; wind fresh, force five to gale force; Thundery showers.

0942-1009 hrs  One aircraft on shipping reconnaissance round the Island, 10-20 miles from the coast.

1800 hrs Nine Hurricanes scrambled at Ta Qali: air raid alarm; no contacts.  Planes got down in darkness with difficulty under personal direction of the C O.

Qalet Marku, Bahar-ic-Cahaq

1821-1904 hrs  Fourteen plus aircraft (bombers and fighter escort) approach from the north in four formations.  One raid crosses the coast near Kalafrana and drops bombs west of Hal Far aerodrome and near Ta Silg [radar station].  The second and third raids drop bombs in the Wied at rear of Sans Souci and in the sea off Zonkor Point.   The fourth raid crosses the coast near St Paul’s Bay, dropping bombs in the sea near Madliena and Torri Qalet Marku.  Six hurricanes are airborne; Heavy Ack Ack fire barrages.

1904-2025 hrs  Air raid warning. Raid does not materialise.

2015 hrs  Air raid warning.  One aircraft crosses the coast.  Ack Ack engages and aircraft recedes.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 9 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals five Marylands, one Beaufighter from Middle East; three Blenheims, two Hurricanes from El Adem.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli (F/O Warburton), one Maryland shipping search; one Maryland SF14 patrol.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF2b patrol.

TA QALI   242 Squadron under S/Ldr Wells with seven Officers and seven Sergeant Pilots attached this station for operations from Hal Far.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Companies are re-firing the Tommy Gun and Anti Tank Rifle.  The day was free from air raids: a surprising change.  At dusk 14 aircraft were over and dropped bombs but damage was negligeable.  The night was quiet.  We were to have held a “Close Valletta” exercise between 0100 hrs and 0545 hrs.  This was started but owing to bad weather and to resultant darkness preventing use of tanks it was postponed.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1815 hrs Four bombs in field in front of D3.  Two rifles and one water tank damaged.  Four bombs in Ta Ingrau area bearing 270 degrees from Tas Sienja Tower.  One stick of bombs between RA7 and SA1.  One stick of bombs in Latnia area.  No military damage or casualties.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg, 1 x Thermos) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 9, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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8 January 1942: Bomb Disposal Team Tackles 450 Anti-personnel Bombs

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COMPOSITE SUMMARY OF ARMY BOMB DISPOSAL WORK IN MALTA FOR THE PERIOD 30 JUNE TO 30 SEPTEMBER 1941

Lt G D Carroll (l) and men of RE Bomb Disposal Section, Malta

Army Bomb Disposal Establishment:  One Officer, 20 Other Ranks, Royal Engineers

  • Total unexploded bombs dealt (UXB) with during period: 584
  • Including High explosives (50-500kg) 36; Incendiary 94; Anti-personnel (Thermos)  454
  • No of excavations: 8 (max depth 18 feet; max offset 8 feet)

SUPPLIES FOR MALTA

The fast transport ship Glengyle arrives after a trouble-free run from Alexandria, carrying interim supplies of fuel, food and ammunition for Malta.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 8 JANUARY 1942

Weather cold but fair.

0250-0709 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the North East and patrol round the Island.  One aircraft crosses the coast near Hal Far at 4000 feet and drops bombs on Qrendi Landing Strip near defence posts of the Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Aircraft on patrol are within range on three occasions.  Heavy Ack Ack engages by immediate barrage.  One aircraft patrols near sea level in for 1½  hours; Bofors engage the aircraft in the Kalafrana-Hal Far areas.

0925 hrs Aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali.

0930-1010 hrs  Two JU 88s escorted by 25 fighters approach from the north.  The fighter escort remains to the west and south east of the Island.  The JU 88 came in over Delimara and dropped bombs on Luqa.  14 houses demolished.  16 Hurricanes airborne – these remain over shipping convoy out to sea.  Heavy  Ack Ack engaged.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Mary Camenzuli, age 78; Joseph Penza, age 71; Josephine Psaila, age 24; Teresa Sammut, age 68; Peter Vella, age 60.

1154-1207 hrs  Air raid warning.  Raid does not materialise.

1230-1239 hrs  Air raid warning.  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1357-1414 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

1809-1909 hrs  Six aircraft approach from the north but only one JU 88 crosses the coast east of Grand Harbour.  It approaches Luqa but is turned away by gunfire, dropping three unexploded bombs west of Qormi and a further stick in the sea south of Lapsi.  Heavy Ack Ack engages.  A second JU 88 approaches from the south east and drops bombs on Delimara Point, then recedes.

Night  No raids.  Believed due to bogged conditions of Sicilian aerodromes and enemy preoccupation with reinforcements for Tripoli. Local gales prevented Wellingtons operating from Luqa.

Military casualties  Sergeant Sidney Goldsmith, Royal Air Force, 59 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Jones, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 59 Squadron; Sergeant Thomas Stott, Royal Air Force (VR), 59 Squadron, Douglas Williams, Royal Air Force.  Gunner Alfred Goldsmith, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 8 JANUARY 1942

HMS Glengyle

ROYAL NAVY  Arrivals  Glengyle and Force C: Lance, Lively, Jaguar and Havock.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Wellington, one Whitney from Gib. Departures: six Blenheims, nine Hudsons to 108 MU; two Wellingtons to Mersa Matruh; one Whitley to Kabrit.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF15 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome [conditions] improving.  100 airmen took over billets in Mosta: Officers moved in and filled up Torri Cumbo (dispersal of troops).  Delivery Flight ceased to operate at Ta Qali: 24 airmen of Delivery Flight returned to Luqa.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Approximately four Ack Ack machine guns per Company were kept mounted in case of dive-bombing attacks, but nothing beyond the normal bombing was encountered.  During the morning there was one bombing raid on Luqa.  No aircraft were shot down.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0800 hrs  B Company in re-occupation of Bir Miftub position.  1500 hrs  B Company withdrawn to billets.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with (1 x 70kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

.

(1) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010

 

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Posted by on January 8, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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7 January 1942: Storms Over Malta

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AIRFIELDS WATERLOGGED

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

Bad weather has forced Malta’s Air Officer Commanding to send two squadrons of Wellington aircraft to the Middle East, until hard standings can be constructed in waterlogged dispersal areas.  The conditions have so far prevented the Lufwaffe from carrying out their planned dive-bombing attacks on the airfields.

The cloudy weather is also preventing the searchlights operating in tandem with the Island’s Night Fighter Squadron against enemy raiders.  Instead, the Squadron’s aircraft are fitted for offensive operations against enemy aerodromes.

AMMUNITION ON ITS WAY

From:  The War Office                              To: Governor & C in C Malta

Reptd:  C in C Middle East                                            

Reference your telegram of 30 December: 20 million half 40 millions SAA are being sent to you from Middle East.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 7 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Fair; wind SW.  Heavy rain in the morning, clearing later.

0912-0937 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north above the clouds, circles Grand Harbour and drops bombs in the Dockyard area and in Zabbar.  Heavy Ack Ack fires the Harbour barrage.

1019-1111 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north, patrols several miles north of Grand Harbour and recedes without crossing the coast.

1138-1153 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1705 hrs  A plot of three JU 88s and twelve ME 109s bombs Ta Qali and Luqa: no damage.  One JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack.  The enemy fire machine guns at searchlights.

1720-1749 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by twelve ME 109 approach from the west, dropping bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa , and on Dingli village, where two houses are demolished, with one casualty.  Four bombs drop on the RAF camp at Ta Qali near barrack huts and dispersal areas.  One barrack hut is damaged.  Some RAF casualties; no damage to aircraft reported.  No Hurricanes airborne.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged: one JU 88 is hit and left smoking badly but is not seen to come down.

1825-1855 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north east and cross the coast over Kalafrana, dropping bombs on Marsaxlokk, Hal Far, Luqa and Gudja.  One JU 88 is engaged by three guns of 225th Light Ack Ack Bty firing 34 rounds 40mm.  Another gun engaged a separate JU 88 at the same time with total of six rounds 40mm.

1952-2102 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east and patrols east of the Island.  On approaching Kalafrana he flies into a barrage, recedes and resumes his patrol off-shore.  No bombs are reported.

2135-2145 hrs  One aircraft approaches Gozo and recedes without crossing the coast.

2315-0039 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north east and patrol south east of the Island.  One aircraft crosses the coast and drops bombs near Ta Qali and two sticks of bombs north of Rabat.  Heavy Ack Ack open fire.

Night  Five alerts during hours of darkness lasting most of the night.  Bombs are dropped between Ta Qali and Qrendi, and on Kalafrana.  Ack Ack fire is heard over Grand Harbour and machine-gunning towards Gozo.

Civilian casualties  Dingli  Anthony Pace, age 75.

Military casualties  Sergeant Sydney Baker, Royal Air Force, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Hillman, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Derek Phillips, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 18 Squadron; AC1 William Fullbrook, RAF Volunteer Reserve (VR); AC1 George Horn, RAF VR; AC2 George Maltby, RAF VR; AC1 Jeremiah Ryan, RAF VR; AC1 William Watson, RAF VR; L/Bdr Edward Brown, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Fourteen Hudsons, three Wellingtons from Gibraltar. Departures Five Hudsons, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour; one Maryland SF 15 patrol reversed. 107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable: no flying.

1st BATTALION CHESHIRE REGIMENT  At ‘stand-to’ a total of 22 Vickers machine guns and 27 light machine guns in the battalion were manned for Ack Ack defence of Luqa aerodroma, and the normal 22 guns had been thickened up to 90 in some depth.  The dive-bombing attack did not materialise.  Five enemy aircraft came over and dropped bombs through the clouds.  Some fell in the dockyard but the last of the stick fell on the sports store of D Company, in which there were four men.  Miraculously no-one was killed: one man is fit for duty and three are in hospital.  Their injuries are not yet known.  1615 hrs The new GOC Major General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC visited Battalion HQ.

1st BATTALION DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0714 hrs 56 Light Machine Guns mounted for Ack Ack at ‘stand to’.  “B” Company consisting of nine LMG detachments and Company and platoon HQs in position in area Bir Miftuh church.

11TH BATTALION LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0815 hrs  All troops of this unit reported in position as per Operations Order.  No attack developed as yet.   Working parties at Luqa again not utilised.

8TH BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT  New General Officer Commanding (GOC) visited Battalion area.  Message from Brigade cancels the anti-aircraft precautions ordered yesterday, except on aerodromes.  One unexploded mine located; Post GT3 evacuated.

2ND BATTALION ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  0730 hrs  Battalion mounted all available Light Machine Guns for protection of Luqa aerodrome. D Company Mqabba; C Company Luqa; E Company Poorhouse; HQ and B Company Marsa area.  Guns manned all day. 1600 hrs GOC Major General Beak visited Battalion HQ. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1.

 

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Posted by on January 7, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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6 January 1942: Attacks to Neutralise Airfields To Begin Tomorrow

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TROOPS STAND READY TO DEFEND AIRFIELD POSITIONS

Infantry Brigade Operation Order 6 January 1942

British 3.7 inch (LAA) gun, London

British 3.7 inch (LAA) gun, London

Reliable information indicates that Germans may attempt neutralization of Malta aerodromes by heavy dive-bombing attacks beginning 7 Jan 42.  Necessary AA arrangements are being made which involve moving additional troops and Light Anti-aircraft guns into position to reinforce those already defending the airfields.

The intention is to provide maximum defence of aerodromes from ‘stand to’ throughout daylight on 7 Jan 42, both round the airfields themselves and in depth beyond the perimeters.  Positions have been ordered not to ‘stand down’ until further orders are received from Headquarters.

A wet and stormy night prevented enemy air raids, and the move of troops was carried out unmolested.  Malta’s troops are armed and ready.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 6 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold, overcast; low clouds, rain most of the day.

1053-1110 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1210-1225 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and aircraft drops bombs in St Thomas’ Bay area: three in the sea and one on the cliff ege.  No Hurricanes airborne.

1255-1305 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid did not materialise.

1430-1445 hrs  One aircraft approaches to within six miles of Grand Harbour, drops bombs in the sea and recedes.

1546 hrs  Air raid.  Four bombs are dropped in the waters of Marsaxlokk Bay between defence post BZ1 and Delimara.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 6 JANUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Breconshire sailed from Malta escorted by four destroyers: Lance, Lively, Jaguar and Havock

AIR HQ  Arrivals One Beaufighter, six Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 6/7th Four Swordfish 830 Squadron sent to attack convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers.  One merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons definitely hit amidships.  All aircraft returned safely.  Three Albacores sent to attack two merchant vessels and two destroyers.  One of the merchant vessels was attacked and hit.  The ship stopped.  Opposition usual light and heavy Ack Ack.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search Gulf of Hammamet;  one Maryland SF10b patrol.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF14 patrol.  Night 6/7th  S/D Flight one Wellington shipping search.  40 Squadron patrol.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable; no flying.  One air raid alarm.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  1030 hrs  New General Officer Commanding (Major General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC, visited Brigade and met officers.  Operation Order No 1 was issued in connection with strengthening anti-aircraft (Ack Ack) defences of Luqa aerodrome.

Bren Light Machine Gun

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  The Light Machine Gun (LMG) Ack Ack defence of all aerodromes and strips in the Bde area was considerably strengthened.  LMGs mounted were: Brens 133, Twin Lewis 17, Single Lewis 10.

1st BATTALION CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Orders were to man as many light machine guns and Vickers machine guns for anti-aircraft as possible.  Company commanders to recce and select positions at dawn.

1st BATTALION DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Brigade Commander ordered Reserve Company to move to area Safi strip to supplement Anti-aircraft defences and as many LMGs as possible mounted for Ack Ack by remaining companies.

1ST BATTALION HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion took precautions and ‘stood to’ all Anti-aircraft Light Machine Gun posts while the defence of Safi strip was thickened with extra Ack Ack LMG from the Battalion and from the Dorsets.

11TH BATTALION LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Operation Order No 1 from Central Infantry Brigade issued ref move of troops for intensification of anti-aircraft protection of Luqa aerodromes.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Orders received for reinforcing Hal Far anti-aircraft defence with an additional 9 guns:  59th Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA Bty) RA: 5 guns; 182nd LAA Bty RA: 2 guns; 186th LAA Bty RA: 2 guns.  Reconnaissance completed 2030 hrs.  Guns ready for action by dawn 7th inst.

8TH BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT  All LMG in the Battalion are to be mounted for anti-aircraft duty.  Approximately 50 men from Aerodrome Companies at Ta Qali filled in bomb holes on runways and dispersal areas.

2ND BATTALION ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Working party cancelled at Luqa due to wet weather.  Instructions were issued that Light Anti-Aircraft batteries and certain light machine guns would move to strengthen the Ack Ack defences of Luqa.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6.

 

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Posted by on January 6, 2022 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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5 January 1942: Malta’s Airfields Under Threat

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JU 87 dive-bomber

JU 87 dive-bomber

LARGE-SCALE LUFTWAFFE ATTACKS PLANNED

Intelligence from Cairo indicates that large scale dive-bombing attacks on Malta’s aerodromes are imminent. Large numbers of JU 87 (Stukas) have been moved from Germany and North Africa to Sicily. A shipping search spots one Italian Battleship, three cruisers and nine destroyers 200 miles east of Delimara. Army Infantry Brigades provide hundreds of men to maintain runways and dispersal areas at Luqa and Ta Qali, and keep Malta’s air forces flying. The prospect of an even greater escalation of enemy raids creates an urgent need for more ammunition for Malta’s anti-aircraft gunners.

URGENT TELEGRAM

From:  Governor & Commander in Chief Malta                  To:  The War Office, copy  Commander in Chief Middle East                                                  

Increased activity makes it desirable that all shipments to Malta should include proportion Ack Ack ammunition and spare barrels.  Request sufficient to replace expenditure from 1 Sept to date be dispatched first opportunity from Mideast.…  As a considerable number new AA barrels now dispersed in open at battery positions consider it essential that small reserve be held to replace new barrels damaged by hostile action.  Initial requirements have been included in this cable.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 5 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold and overcast; wind and driving rain for most of the day.  Wind E S E.

0326-0335 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea north of Salina Bay, without crossing the coast.

0420-0443 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops most bombs in the sea six miles north of Tigne without crossing the coast.  Some bombs on the Mellieha-Marfa Road, and on Siggiewi and Birkirkara causing casualties.

1110-1144 hrs  Approximately six plus aircraft approach from the north in two formations.  The first raid passes over Gozo, drops bombs and recedes.  The second raid comes in over Kalafrana crosses the Island and flies out over Grand Harbour.  Bombs land in Msida Creek and near Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack fires barrages from Hal Far, Luqa and the Harbour but aircraft are hidden among the clouds.

1200 hrs  All flying from Ta Qali airfield is cancelled.  The ground is waterlogged due to the heavy rain.

1216-1240 hrs  Three plus aircraft approach from the north above the clouds, pass over Grand Harbour and drop to 3000 feet before heading out over Delimara.  Bombs land near Gudja searchlight position and in Zabbar. Heavy Ack Ack fires an immediate barrage at 10000 feet and the Harbour barrage fires at 6000 feet.

1251-1318 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north above the clouds, dropping bombs in the sea near Madliena and then recedes without crossing the coast.  Gunners initially identify the aircraft as a Maryland, and do not engage.

1425 hrs Storm conditions are declared and remain until 1845 hrs.

1452-1512 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage at 10000 feet, and the aircraft immediately drop their bombs in the sea.  No Hurricanes are airborne.

1659-1716 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and circles Gozo, dropping bombs near Mgarr, and then recedes.  No Hurricanes are airborne.

Night 5/6th Dense cloud, squallish winds and bad visibility prevent air raids.  Two attempts by single aircraft fail; raiders are forced by Malta’s Ack Ack guns to jettison their bombs in the sea.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara Helen Cachia, age 48; Anthony Cachia, 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 5 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals One Catalina, one Flamingo from Gibraltar.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF15 patrol; one Maryland special coast search Misrata.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol.

TA QALI  Advance party of 242 Squadron reported to take up operations with this Station.  47 NCOs and Other Ranks reported from Luqa, were accommodated and taken on ration strength.

300 men of the Manchester Regt, Irish Fusiliers and Buffs reported as labour corps to complete dispersal roads, aprons and shelters etc.  Three officers and 28 airmen of Delivery Flight ceased attachment at this station and returned to Luqa.

ARMY HQ  Major-General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC arrives by Catalina from the UK to take up duties of General Officer Commanding, Malta, relieving Major-General Scobell.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  On this and following days the Brigade found daily working parties of 150 men (11th Lancs Fusiliers: 50; 2nd Royal West Kent, 70; 1st Cheshire, 30) for the task of preparing new dispersal areas for the RAF at Luqa.  Working hours 0900-1600 hrs.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5.

 

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Posted by on January 5, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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4 January 1942: Invasion of Malta ‘Imminent’

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CAPTURED LUFTWAFFE CREW REVEAL INVASION PLANS

On Sunday every serviceman not required for duty can do as the Maltese and attend church.  Their prayers are timely, as the Island faces a new threat.  Following interrogation of the Luftwaffe bomber crew detained yesterday, Malta’s military commanders are facing the prospect of imminent invasion.  Orders are issued to all forces to raise the state of alert to “Asia Minor” – readiness for airborne invasion.  Every possible site where enemy troops could make a parachute landing must be manned until further notice.  Reconnaissance aircraft are dispatched to scour the air space and sea approaches to Malta.  Until they report back, there is nothing to do but wait.

Castel Vetrano aerodrome 1942

MALTA FIGHTS BACK

RAF air reconnaissance has spotted a massive build-up of enemy aircraft on the ground at Castelvetrano aerodrome in Sicily.  Facing the threat of a possible airborne invasion, Malta’s air forces plan a pre-emptive strike but after the heavy mid-morning air raid Luqa’s runway is badly cratered.  Army troops work flat out, and by 1400 hrs the airfield is ready.

Four Blenheim aircraft from 107 Squadron and six from 18 Squadron RAF take off and head northwards.  They launch a surprise attack on Castelvetrano, destroying 44 enemy aircraft in one of the most successful operations carried out from Malta to date. (1)

Retaliation is not long in coming.  Under a nearly full moon, fifteen bombers conduct almost continuous raids throughout the night, dropping heavy bombs across the Island and damaging civilian property as well as Luqa airfield.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 4 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Warm in the morning – clear sky; clouding over and cold later in the day; wind freshening.

1012-1055 hrs  30 bombers and fighter aircraft approach from the South East in two formations.  One JU 88 with escorting fighters carries out reconnaissance over the Island.  Six Hurricanes from Hal Far engage a formation of ten ME 109s, damaging one. Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged in the engagement but pilots are unhurt.

A second formation of two JU 88 and escorting fighters approaches Luqa under cover of cloud, diving steeply from 18000 to 7000 feet to attack.  Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Gunners are unable to see enemy aircraft in time to fire a barrage but one JU 88 is destroyed by HAA and Bofors guns.  Fifteen Hurricanes engage the enemy: one JU 88 is seen to burst into flames and fall into the see.

No aircraft are damaged on Luqa airfield but the runways are badly cratered.  Army troops get to work immediately and the runways are repaired and cleared for operations to resume by 1400 hrs.

1130-1255 hrs Infantry Brigades are ordered to Policy “ASIA MINOR”.  Anti-parachute posts are manned at “Stand To” but no anti-tank minefields are laid.  Day and night sentries are mounted at selected beach posts.

1406-1533 hrs  Four JU 88 escorted by twelve plus ME 109s approach from the north in three formations.  The first raid circles the Island at 10000 feet.  The second raid of three JU 88s and escorting fighters crosses the Island from south to north and drops bombs on Balzan and Attard.  The third raid of one JU 88 and escorting fighters crosses the Island on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack is engaged; no Hurricanes are airborne.

1650-1756 hrs Four JU 88s and fifty fighters approach from the north.  While enemy fighters patrol round the Island.  Four JU 88s with fighter escort carry out a shallow dive-bombing attack on Luqa and Ta Qali.

Two JU88s bomb Ta Qali aerodrome near Chateau Bertrand and the dispersal areas, damaging the Chateau and the HQ building, and a bowser fuel tank.  One Maryland and three Hurricanes of 126 Squadron are damaged on the ground.  Heavy [High Explosive] bombs cause serious damage to dispersal roads.  The airfield’s own personnel start repairs.

2225-0150 hrs  During this period 15 aircraft approach from the north.  Bombs are dropped in areas Ta Qali, Il Bidni, Balzan, Zebbug, Safi strip and Luqa aerodrome, Hal Far, Hagiar Qim, Delimara and Gozo.  Heavy Ack Ack fires eleven immediate barrages; barrage over Grand Harbour and Luqa also fired.  Both barrages appear effective.  One aircraft probably destroyed.

2240 hrs Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali aerodrome.  One petrol bowser is burned out, one damaged by splinters.  Six craters are left near 126 Squadron dispersal area.  Six bombs fall close to the Sergeants Mess: one barrack block and eight Hurricanes are slightly damaged.

2350 hrs Two bombs land ten yards from 8 Platoon HQ, 1st Bn The Dorset Regiment.  A building is demolished and one Officer is slightly injured.  Thirteen bombs fall near Fort Ta Silch.  Five bombs within 150 yards of a defence post, four more near Munshar Villa and two on Lombardi Ridge.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Frederick Lewthwaite, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 4 JANUARY 1942

HAL FAR  Two Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched to lay mines outside Tripoli Harbour.  Owing to bad weather target not located and aircraft returned with mines.  One Albacore 828 Squadron carried out mine laying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.

LUQA  69 Squadron one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto; one Maryland SF6 patrol; one Maryland special search Italian fleet, one Beaufighter PR Tripoli.  107 Squadron  Four Blenheims attacked aircraft at Castel Vetrano aerodrome.  18 Squadron  Six Blenheims attacked aircraft at Castel Vetrano aerodrome.  S/D Flight one Wellington on special search.  40 Squadron Five Wellingtons returned and then took off again with the exception of one aircraft.  In the second attack on Castel Vetrano aerodrome: Sgt Lewthwaite failed to return.

TA QALI  AM  Six Blenheim aircraft took off to return to Luqa.  One could not rise and jettisoned bombs near Mosta: one exploded.  Five Hurricanes were scrambled.  PM  Raid on caused slight damage to Hurricanes. No fighter aircraft are airborne. Ack Ack claims two possibly three JU 88s damaged.

11TH BATTALION THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1945 hrs   A working party of 76 Other Ranks of 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers reported to Luqa, to repair bomb damage to taxi-strips.  The work was finished in half the scheduled time “due to excellent spirit with which men tackled the job”. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg).

(1) “My father, the late Group Captain W H A (Bill) Bradshaw was an air gunner on 18 Squadron at the time and flew on the raid… I recall clearly the particular pleasure everyone had at catching the planes on the ground and being able to destroy so many…”  John Bradshaw

 

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Posted by on January 4, 2022 in 1942, January 1942

 

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3 January 1942: 36 Hour Attack on Malta

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Chapel of Sta Maria Bir Miftuh, Gudja

Chapel of Sta Maria Bir Miftuh, Gudja

LUQA RUNWAY CRATERED – LUFTWAFFE PILOTS TAKEN PRISONER

In the early hours of this morning the enemy launched the first attack of a 36 hour campaign against Malta’s airfields.  The enemy’s target is aircraft on the ground. During the morning alone there are over 80 enemy sorties over the Island.  Bombs fall in several districts including Birzebuggia, Msida, Hamrun and Luqa, which is attacked by 30 aircraft, damaging the airfield and four Wellingtons on the ground.

Luqa’s runway is badly cratered: Army working parties are called up to carry out emergency repairs.  Despite continuous bombing, they work on into the night, finishing the job at 1159 hrs.

The Police and Air Raid Precautions headquarters also report being at full stretch, handling the reporting and guarding of unexploded bombs.

AIR RAIDS

Weather  Morning cold, fine and clear; clouding over in the afternoon.

0225 hrs  Eight Hurricanes from 185 Squadron at Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of three JU 88s and twelve ME 109s.  Hurricanes of 185 Squadron destroy one JU 88 and damage another.  One Hurricane is destroyed; the pilot, Sgt Westcott, bails out and is slightly injured.

Three High Explosive bombs are dropped on the south west of Gudja village near an army HQ.  One Other Rank is killed and billets are damaged.  One bomb falls on the outskirts of Qrendi village, one in a field near the tents of HQ Company and one behind the HQ of 3rd Battalion, The Kings Own Malta Regiment.

0300 hrs Eight bombs fall on Qrendi strip and three on the road to Zurrieq. 0315 hrs A stick of eight bombs falls near the road leading to Ghar Lapsi in the Qrendi strip area.

0430-0510 hrs  A stick of bombs is dropped in the area of Bir Miftuh Church.

0850 hrs Nine Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

0855 hrs  Air alert.  Eight JU 88s with ME 109s escorting approach from the north and carry out a shallow dive-bombing attack on Luqa and Safi, followed by a similar attack on Hal Far.  Hurricanes unable to intercept; one Hurricane is damaged by gunfire and crashes on landing.  Heavy Ack Ack also responds with defensive barrages, shooting down one ME 109 fighter.

The aircraft crashes in the area of B Company, 4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment who search the wreckage, finding documents which they hand over to the RAF authorities.  The body of the NCO (Unteroffizier) pilot is looked after by the Regiment.

0933-1015 hrs A further two JU 88 bombers with nineteen escorting fighters approach from the north and carry out a second shallow dive-bombing attack on Safi landing strip.  Heavy Ack Ack guns fire a barrage.

21 Hurricanes engage the enemy attackers damaging one JU 88 and destroying another which lands near Zebbug.  The crew bales out and four German airmen are taken prisoner.  One lands in the area of A Company, 4th Bn The Hampshire Regt, who escort him to Corradino Barracks and hand him over to RAF Headquarters for interrogation.

Private Holford of D Company, 2nd Bn The Royal West Kent Regiment on attachment to RAF Luqa is reported killed.

1108-1228 hrs  38 plus aircraft (three JU 88 and escorting ME 109s) approach from the north at 18000 feet and drop bombs from above the clouds on Safi landing strip, starting two fires, and near Gudja searchlight station.  Heavy Ack Ack fire barrages, damaging one JU 88 bomber.  No Hurricanes are airborne.  Heavy Ack Ack damaged one JU 88.

1440-1510 hrs One JU 88 and two ME 109s cross the Island on reconnaissance at a height of 20-25000 feet.  Seventeen Hurricanes are airborne and Heavy Ack Ack stands ready but they do not engage the enemy.

1528-1601 hrs  Four JU 88 escorted by some fifteen fighters approach from the south east and carry out another shallow dive-bombing attack on Luqa and Hal Far aerodromes.  Heavy Ack Ack gunners of Grand Harbour, Luqa and Hal Far open fire on the incoming aircraft and Light Ack Ack gunners of 225 Battery engage one JU 88, claiming hits. No Hurricanes are airborne.

1629-1731 hrs  Six JU 88 escorted by ten fighters approach from the south west and carry out a shallow dive-bombing attack on Luqa.  Six houses in Luqa village are destroyed.  One Whitley and one Maryland aircraft are destroyed on the ground.  Enemy aircraft stay out of sight above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack sends up a  barrage and twelve Hurricanes are scramble but do not engage.

1732-1758 hrs  Seven Blenheims of 105 Squadron are transferred from Luqa to Ta Qali and are moved out to dispersal areas.

1932-2046 hrs Royal Artillery Policy Orders are fighters up, guns engage up to 6000 feet; searchlights expose.  Five aircraft approach singly from the north, dropping bombs near Cospicua in Msida Valley and on Birkirkara.  Two aircraft do not cross the coast.

2004 hrs  Bombs damage the power system at Central Infantry Brigade, cutting off the electricity supply for 24 hours.

2025 hrs  One Other Rank of 1st Bn The Hampshire Regt is killed when billets are hit by bombs dropped on south west of Gudja village.

2218-0531 hrs Raids on aerodromes and shipping in Grand Harbour continue throughout the night.  18 aircraft approach the Island during the night.  Bombs are reported across a wide area: in Zeitun, Tal Handaq, Luqa (causing a fire), Safi, Gudja, Dingli, Hal Far, Ta Silch, Qrendi.  Several houses are destroyed. Two Maryland aircraft and four Wellingtons are damaged and four airmen are reported killed.

The Dockyard is also bombed. HMS Havock is attacked and one officer and two ratings killed, and two ratings injured.

Several enemy aircraft are reported to have descended to 4000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fired five immediate barrages and defensive fighters are reported to have damaged one bomber aircraft after a short engagement.

Military casualties  Private Arthur Sigrist, 4th Bn The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).  Private Charles Holford, 2nd Bn The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Cpl John Granard, RAF; Cpl Edgar Verney, RAF.

Civilian casualties  in Birkirkara Raphael Caruana, age 69, Louis Di Mauro, age 59; in Siggiewi Luqa Saliba, age 27; in Gozo (Nadur) Carmelo Gatt, age 2; in Gzira Anglu Mallia, age 43.

Enemy casualites  Unteroffizier Werner Mirschinka, pilot of ME109 fighter, shot down and died. Crew of JU 88 bomber, bailed out and taken prisoner: observer Feldwebel Ulrich Arnold, air gunner Feldwebel Heinrich Freese; wireless operator Obergefreiter Gerhard Hoppe, pilot Oberleutnant Victor Schnez.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 3 JANUARY 1942

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Castel Vetrano aerodrome.  18 Squadron  one Blenheim SF14 patrol returned owing to intercom failure; one Blenheim SF 14 patrol.  107 Squadron Six Blenheims attacked motor transport Misrata-Zliten.  18 Squadron Two Blenheims attacked motor transport Zliten-Misrata.  

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

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2 January 1942: First Ever Rocket Bombs Used on Malta

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RE BOMB DISPOSAL SQUAD FACES UNKNOWN BOMB

Insignia of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal

The small slip of paper delivered to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal early this morning was covered in hastily scribbled notes.  It was also marked ‘Priority’ – requiring immediate action.  The UXB Report suggested unusual traces of one or possibly two unexploded bombs in one position, possibly connected to the ‘fireball’ seen skimming over the roof of the NCOs’ Mess last night.

The Bomb Disposal Officer was puzzled by what he found at the site.  Two holes were so close together it seemed a bomb had entered one hole and passed out through the other.  From their size, the bomb was at least a 500kg.  It could explode at any moment; he had to find it.

The Bomb Disposal squad started digging gently into the ground, so as not to disturb the bomb and detonate it as they worked.  Gradually an array of debris emerged: strips of tail fin in a strange blue alloy, sections of piping and metal plating unlike any part of a bomb they had seen before.  Then an NCO sent to search the area reported a 500kg bomb on the surface nearby: it looked unusual.

The Bomb Disposal Officer was facing the first known example of a new and highly-developed type of bomb, seemingly rocket-propelled.  The War Office needed full details.  A controlled explosion was not an option.  Somehow he must make it safe and transport it intact back to the workshop… (1)

AMMUNITION EMERGENCY

From: The War Office                     To:  Governor & Commander in Chief Gibraltar, copy to: Governor & Commander in Chief Malta            

Request that you will make maximum possible use of any opportunities offered by Navy of sending from Gibraltar stocks small consignments of urgently needed ammunition to Malta.  Malta to inform Gibraltar, repeated Troopers, types of ammunition required.  Troopers will replenish Gibraltar stocks earliest opportunity.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 1 JANUARY 1942

0035-0120 hrs  Alarm.  No engagement.

Fort Mosta (NWMA Malta)

0157-0415 hrs  Alarm. Two enemy aircraft approach the Island from N singly, carrying out a nuisance patrol round Island.  1 enemy aircraft crosses the coast dropping small bombs near Musta Fort.

1117-1135 hrs  Alarm. No engagement.

1527-1612 hrs  Alarm. Three JU 88s escorted by twelve ME 109s pass over Gozo. One JU 88 crosses the coast at Ghain Tuffieha, descending from 17,800 feet to carry out a shallow dive-bombing attack on Luqa aerodrome and Safi Strip. Heavy Ack Ack engaged damaging one JU 88. Bofors engaged at the bottom of the dive. One JU88 and one ME 109 damaged by Hurricanes.

Heavy Ack Ack fires S and I geographical barrages and engaged by height control. Sandwich and Sidmouth guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 6-7000 feet with 11 rounds of 40mm.  Bofors guns engage the JU 88 at the bottom of its dive.  21 Hurricanes engaged.

Heavy Ack Ack damages one JU 88 by height control.  One JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged by Hurricanes.  The only aircraft hit on the ground is one Wellington already “written off”.  The D F Station near Safi is damaged.

“Received a surprise this morning when the Wing Com told us we were moving further east probably Egypt. What a rush to get ready… As a final treat we were dive bombed in the afternoon by three Ju99’s who came down to 2000 feet. The bombs fell about 400 yards from us and sent another of 40 Sqdn’s planes up in smoke. Hurricanes chased them off.

Take off was at 2 am. We had a heavy load with 14 men in each plane plus kit and overload tanks which were empty. The Jerrys bombed us at take off but didn’t score any hits. We were third off and the old wreck took off well considering the load. Our last look at Malta showed a long stick of bombs exploding near the drome.” (2)

1930-2134 hrs  Alarm. The Policy order is issued: fighters up, guns engage up to 6,000 feet.  Searchlights expose.  Eight enemy aircraft approach from the west, height 18-21,000 feet.  Two crossed south coast and dropped 30 bombs in Qrendi area.  The remainder drop bombs out to sea.  No illuminations.

2240-2304 hrs  Alarm.  Policy order issued: guns engage, searchlights expose.  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on Wardia Ridge.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two immediate barrages at 13,600 feet and 9,000 feet.  Aircraft turn as soon as the first barrage is fired.  No illuminations.

2245-2316 hrs  Air raid.

2320-0506 hrs  Alarm. Policy order changes to fighters up, guns engage up to 6,000 feet and searchlights expose at 0137 for short period.  Intruder Phases I, II and III in operation.

Several enemy aircraft cross the coast and drop bombs on Safi (killing one CR of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment), Birkirkara (12 bombs – civilian casualties), Hamrun, Luqa, Hagiar Qim, Qrendi Strip, Gudia, Kalafrana, Zebbug Heavy Ack Ack gun position (no casualties), Ta Qali and Jesuits Hill.  Two Wellingtons are destroyed at Luqa.  Average height of aircraft 11/12000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fired nine immediate barrages, several of which cause aircraft to turn off course.  Searchlights make one illumination of 30 seconds.  Hurricanes do not engage.

Civilian casualties:  in Mosta Carmel Mifsud, age 55, Carmel Muscat, age 58.  In Zeitun Carmelo Bonnici, age 50, remains of an unidentified corpse probably Giuseppe Debono, age 65.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 2 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals one Hudson, eight Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures: six Wellingtons, one Whitley for Kabrit; one Beaufort, one Wellington for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Ten Hurricanes, 185 Squadron, scrambled to attack four JU 88s and a number of ME 109s.  One JU 88 was damaged by Hurricanes K and R.  Hurricane J engaged and damaged one ME 109.  Our casualties one Hurricane damaged, pilot Sgt Sutherland slightly wounded.  Night 2/3rd January Two Albacores despatched to attack merchant vessel of 6000 tons and one destroyer.  Results not observed owing to intense and accurate opposition.

LUQA  107 Squadron  one Blenheim attacked tanker off Misrata.  18 Squadron one Blenheim SF patrol; four Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessel off Kerkennah.  One only attacked.  S/D Flight  one Wellington special search Melita, Tripoli, Zuara.  40 Squadron: Two Wellingtons nuisance raid Tripoli; 104 Squadron 3 Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.

TA QALI  Warm in morning but wind strong – cloudy – fine periods – cold later in day.  0810 hrs One Hudson arrived from Gibraltar (Delivery Flight).  Aerodrome surface wet and soggy.  Advance party of Delivery Flight arrived; officers arranged.  Squadron Leader Pascall in charge.  P/O Gudgeon Adjutant.  One Enquiries Officer and three airmen arrived from Luqa.  Five aircraft scrambled.  Several air raids during day – no bombs on aerodrome.  PM Several air raids, no damage to drome.  Heavy gunfire. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 1 (250kg).

(1) Full story in UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010

(2) Extract from “A Flyer’s Diary”, Joe White, WWII (from Air Shared Magazine)  

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Posted by on January 2, 2022 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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1 January 1942: 25 Civilians Killed in ‘Fireball’ Attack

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FLAMING MISSILES LAUNCHED ON MALTA

“The paper said we have had 99 air raids in the last twelve days. I can believe it.” (1)

At one minute before midnight tonight a fireball with a tail of flame is seen descending towards the military barracks at Floriana, just outside the walls of Valletta.  It skims the roof of a Mess building and crashes into the road 30 yards away, exploding with a massive roar.  Observers report seeing a single enemy aircraft drop from 10000 feet into a steep dive, releasing his bomb load at about 2,000 feet.

The Canteen at Corradino (NWMA Malta)

Within minutes, two more flaming missiles strike the heart of the Dockyard and explode.  One scores a direct hit on a Naval Canteen in Corradino, burying stores and injuring one Army officer.  A fourth is observed heading for Floriana again; it descends with a swishing sound, but this time it hits the ground with a thud.

The next ball of flame swoops down towards a residential area of Gzira, crashing into houses, and explodes, killing 25 civilians.  Reports soon come in of an unusual bomb with a burning tail which has exploded in Marsascala Bay.

The military authorities are baffled and concerned: this is clearly a powerful weapon, like nothing they have come across before.  However, reports of an unexploded bomb in Floriana may provide the answer.  The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers have been called to deal with this as yet unknown UXB.  (to be continued 2 January)

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 1 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold and showers.

0203-0300 hrs  Air raid alarm. One enemy aircraft drops bombs on Luqa.

0326-0600 hrs  Alarm three enemy aircraft patrol the Island trying to intercept returning Wellingtons. Eventually they cross the coast dropping bombs on Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged. Searchlights: one illumination of 30 seconds.

0935-1015 hrs  Alarm.  Reconnaissance raid by 1 JU88 with Messerschmitt escort.

1123-1215 hrs  Alarm. Three JU 88s escorted by fourteen ME 109s make a shallow dive-bombing attack on Ta Qali aerodrome and Qrendi landing strip.  No damage.  Heavy Ack Ack fire several barrages.

1442-1535 hrs  Alarm.  Four ME109s carry out a shipping sweep round the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

1547-1635 hrs  Alarm.  Fifteen enemy fighters in two formations carry out a shipping sweep round the Island, down to 50 feet above sea level.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

2024-2213 hrs  Alarm. One enemy aircraft patrols south of the Island crossing the south east coast four times. High Explosive and incendiary bombs are dropped on Hal Far aerodrome and Safi landing strip.  One short illumination by searchlights.

2230 hrs  Report of E-boats off Zonkor Point and south of Filfla. Beach posts stood to.  Nothing materialises however.

2305-0117 hrs  Alarm. Royal Artillery reports a fighter up, and orders guns to engage up to 6000 feet.  Searchlights are exposed.  Twelve enemy aircraft approach from the north. The first patrols south of Island.

2346 hrs  Intruder Phase III is put into operation owing to returning Wellingtons.

2359 hrs  Phase I reinstated.  Ten aircraft approach Grand Harbour, each aircraft about five miles apart at 10-12000 feet; they dive to 2-3000 feet to release bombs on the Dockyard, with one direct hit on the Naval Canteen at Corrodino (one slight casualty), as well as Floriana, Marsascala Bay, and at Gzira, where there are civilian casualties.

0035 hrs Royal Artillery HQ orders ‘Guns Engage’.  A fighter was sent south of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire four immediate barrages of 10-13000 feet, which have a marked deterrent effect on the enemy.  Bofors engage the low-flying aircraft.  Three illuminations (two for ½ minute and one for 1½ minutes).  The Hurricane does not engage the enemy.

Military casualties  Private Charles Row, 2nd Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Gzira Joseph. Abdilla, age 32; Josephine Azzopardi, age 30; George Debono, age 32; Saviour Debono, age 24; John Filletti, age 34; Mary Filletti, age 22; Stella Micallef, age 13; Violet Micallef, age 13; Albert Mifsud, age 10; Alfred Mifsud, age 2; Blanche Mifsud, age 14; Joseph Mifsud, age 13; Mary Mifsud, age 36; Tancred Mifsud, age 15; Winnie Mifsud, age 4; Giorgia Schembri, age 56; Carmela Spiteri, age 10; Benedetta Spiteri, age 15; Alfred Spiteri, age 7 months; Emanuel Spiteri, age 2; Domenic Spiteri, age 10; Domenic Spiteri, age 50; Josephine Spiteri, age 5; Mary Spiteri, age 12; Vincenza Spiteri, age 3.  Plus 14 injured.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 1 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  4 Hudson, 1 Wellington, 1 Beaufort.

HAL FAR    Four Hudson aircraft (Delivery Flight) left for Middle East AM.  22 Airmen attached from Luqa for Delivery Flight duties.  No operations during the day.  Night 1/2nd Three Albacores, 828 Squadron, despatched on minelaying operations outside Zuara Harbour.  One Albacore failed to return. Missing crew S/Lt Pettit (pilot) and S/Lt Capes (observer).

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland SF6 patrol.  18 Squadron One Blenheim SF14 patrol.  Three Blenheims Attacked shipping and motor transport Homs and Buerat.  107 Squadron One Blenheim attacked motor transport Homs-Ras el Hallab.  S/D Flight one Wellington special search; 40 Squadron: one Wellington Tripoli nuisance raid.

TA QALI  Four Hudson aircraft (Delivery Flight) left for Middle East AM.  22 Airmen attached from Luqa for Delivery Flight duties.  No operations during the day.  12 noon  Seven bombs on aerodrome near Pottery and Chateau Bertrant.  Blackout and windows damaged.  Two unexploded bombs located.  One of Kings Own Malta Regiment sustained chest injuries.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The New Year started off with more air raids; the all clear was not given until 0600 hrs. Normal work and training continued during the day.  B Coy carried on with its gas work; A and D Companies continued building posts for the MVDF.

During the night low bombing raids were carried out against the harbour.  Bombs fell very close to HQ Coy and A Coy, and a direct hit was scored on B Coy Officers’ Mess and lay stores in the dockyard.  2/Lt Gerwin was lacerated about the head and face and was taken to hospital.  Much of the officers’ private kit and the Coy stores will be lost, though a certain amount may be salvaged.

8th Bn KINGS OWN ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT  Five alerts during day.  During early morning six bombs were dropped 320 yards east of Tal Providence.  Slight damage to walls and civilian property.  Battalion HQ was moved to Ta Kandia quarries in furtherance of a plan to disperse the troops as much as possible.

(1) Extract from “A Flyer’s Diary”,  Joe White, WWII (from Air Shared Magazine)

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31 December 1941: Revenge Attack on HMS Abingdon

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RAID SUMMARY DECEMBER 1941

  • Number of raid alerts 169
  • Total time under alert  191 hours 7 minutes
  • Average time length of alert 68 minutes
HMS Abingdon

HMS Abingdon

MESSERSCHMITT FIGHTERS STRAFE MINESWEEPING VESSEL

Enemy fighters attacked HMS Abingdon in broad daylight today as she was engaged in minesweeping duties close to Malta’s coastline.  The vessel was machine-gunned by two ME 109 fighters as part of a raid by 34 aircraft at lunchtime.  Seven of the ship’s crew were wounded, three of them seriously.

Abingdon turned and headed immediately for harbour but she was attacked again, this time by three ME 109s.  Anti-aircraft gunners on board managed to shoot down one of the Messerchmitts.  The attack follows a similar strike yesterday by JU 88s in which Abingdon’s Ack Ack gunners managed to damage one aircraft.  Abingdon will now be restricted to minesweeping under cover of darkness.

AIR RAIDS 31 DECEMBER 1941

0330-0558 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft patrol round the Island for over an hour.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two immediate barrages.

0845-0908 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconnaissance by one JU 88 escorted by four fighters.

1005-1044 hrs  Six plots of Messerschmitts 109s patrol round the island.

1245-1410 hrs  Air raid alarm: 34 enemy aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Ta Qali and Birkirkara.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two ME109s attack HMS Abingdon which shoots down one of them.  Seven men are wounded, three seriously.

1925-0100 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Nine enemy aircraft approach singly from the north and east.  Several descend below 2,000 feet and carry out patrols round the Island – suspected to be mine-laying.  Low flying aircraft machine-gun St Thomas’ searchlight position and Zonkor Point.

2305 hrs Several enemy aircraft cross the south east coast and drop High Explosive and incendiary bombs on Kalafrana, Benghaisa, and Hal Far areas.

2345 hours onwards  A series of bombing attacks concentrated on Ta Qali and Luqa, causing only slight damage.  Searchlights are illuminated; Heavy Ack Ack fires four immediate barrages; Bofors and light machine guns engage low flying aircraft; no claims.

Military casualties  Corporal Arthur Blyth, LAC William McNicol, Royal Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 31 DECEMBER 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudson, two Whitley, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Blenheims for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 30/31st  Air raid on Hal Far by at least three JU88s.  One Swordfish badly damaged, two Swordfish and one Fulmar slightly damaged.  No damage to buildings except stone pen surrounding Swordfish.  No casualties.

LUQA  69 Squadron Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland PR Misurata aerodrome and town; one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol.  104 Squadron  Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Tripoli.  107 Squadron  SF 14 patrol.

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Posted by on December 31, 2021 in 1941, December 1941

 

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