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AUDACIOUS DAYLIGHT RAID DESTROYS SIX AIRCRAFT
“A red letter day for the Jerries. They bombed the drome nearly all afternoon and destroyed two Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Hurricane, and two Marylands, which wasn’t a bad bag. “X” was loaded with a 4000 [pound] bomb when hit. It blew up and now no one knows where X is altho we did find two little pieces of the engine. The rest will probably fall at the end of the week.
Plenty of bombs screeching down and yours truly hit the ditch twice once in a great pile of nettles over beside the AOC Med[iterranean]. Three of our kites went u/s. when the 4000 [pounder] went off but ops went on just the same.
Took off for Tripoli at 8.30pm in “Q” with only skeleton crew, myself, Dick, Michie and Ray. Flew there 10/10 cloud on way out and got pretty well iced up. Weather good at target and the ship in harbour stood up well. We carried 8/500 SAP and dropped them in two sticks from 8000′. We got one hit on a large merchantman.
Weather back at Malta very bad. Ceiling zero with rain and clouds and a very bad cross wind. WT message made us circle Gozo for 1½ hrs. Finally went in and landed with visibility about 50 ft. and bad cross wind. Time 4 hrs 25 mins. Jerry dropped a few bombs during night. Two [JU]88’s and two [ME]109 Fs shot down in day.” (1)
A NEAR MISS
“We are having our third noisy raid today, so I will add a little to this [diary]. The Germans are being beaten – at least temporarily – on every front except Sevastopol, and are taking it out of us here. We have had all-night raids…during a short but very fierce raid when we heard much machine-gunning…there was a loud crack which turned out to be a small bomb, (probably an aeroplane cannon shell I am told), in our yard. We found nothing but the nose, but there was a hole in the window 3 feet from Mrs. Clements who was making pastry.” (2)
AIR RAIDS 26 DECEMBER 1941
Weather Cold but fair, sunny.
0832-0950 hrs Air raid alarm. Reconnaissance by six enemy aircraft.
1042 hrs Air raid alarm for 20 ME 109’s escorting a few JU 88’s which approached and crossed the coast. Hurricanes were scrambled and drove off the attack; no bombs were dropped. One Hurricane was damaged and the pilot slightly injured.
1316-1429 hrs Air raid alarm: 60 fighters and JU 88’s approached the Island; 30 crossed coast and attacked Luqa aerodrome, destroying six aircraft on the ground and damaging another five. Ack ack fired, claiming one JU 88 possibly destroyed.
1601-1717 hrs Air raid alarm: 45 fighters escorting reconnaissance aircraft crossed the coast. One Hurricane was shot down; the pilot is safe.
1815-1934 hrs Air raid alarm: 11 enemy aircraft approached from the south east. One JU 88 dived over Grand Harbour and dropped bombs in French Creek area – this aircraft was illuminated for one minute, Bofors engaged it and claimed hits. Heavy Ack Ack engaged with four immediate barrages. Bombs were also dropped on Filfla and near Island Bay searchlight position – no damage.
2014-2125 hrs Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed coast dropping bombs on Qrendi and incendiaries in the sea. Ack Ack engaged; no claims.
2205-2308 hrs Air raid alarm: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs Birkirkara, Safi, Salvatur, Hamrun and in the sea.
2358-0056 hrs Air raid alar: one enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs west of Ta Qali and in the sea.
Military casualties Sergeant James Billett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant William Marshall, (RAFVR), 18 Squadron; Sergeant Oswald Summers, RAFVR, 18 Squadron; Private John Attard, Kings Own Malta Regiment; Frederick Clarke, 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.
Civilian casualty Zurrieq Francis Camilleri, age 11; three civilians wounded.
OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 DECEMBER 1941
ROYAL NAVY: Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores. Convoy ME8, consisting of empty merchant vessels Ajax, Sydney Star, City of Calcutta and Clan Ferguson, sailed to Alexandria escorted by all available forces from Malta: Rear-Admiral Commanding, Seventh Cruiser Squadron, in Ajax, Dido, Lance, Lively, Ghurka, Arrow, Foxhound and Nestor sailed for Alexandria at 1830. Four Albacores laid mines off Zuara.
AIR HQ Arrivals Eleven Blenheims, one Wellington and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.
HAL FAR Night 25/26th Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour. One of the aircraft provided bombing diversion. One minelaying aircraft encountered no opposition.
LUQA 69 Squadron One Maryland SF 15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland special photo-reconnaissance Middle East. 18 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol – Sgt Summers failed to return. Two Blenheims attacked shipping at Zuara. 104 Squadron Seven Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli Harbour. 107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; one Blenheim SF14 patrol. 40 Squadron Eight Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli.
TA QALI 0949-1700 hrs Four alerts. No 126 Squadron Sgt W E Copp slightly injured. S/Ldr E B Mortimer Rose injured – bullet wound in left heel. 1815-0039 hrs Four alerts. Bombs dropped on land and incendiaries in sea. Single Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions. Anti-aircraft engaged.
CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE Mid-day attack by JU88s which dropped bombs on Luqa: two slight casualties among “A” Company 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment. Also damage to transport vehicles and a/g stores of this Company.
2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 1815 hrs One JU88 engaged by small arms fire from Battalion HQ; no hits claimed. Bombs dropped in Battalion sector.
KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT Stick of bombs near RAF billet on Qrendi strip. Another stick of 6 bombs at Ghar Lapsi. One bomb near “Mary House” MR 401179 Wied Maghtab. Bomb near D Coy HQ on Qrendi strip.
(1) A Flyer’s Diary by Jim White (Air Shared Magazine, see http://pawsey.net/whiteproject/joewhitediary-part2.htm
(2) Diary of Rev Reginald M Nicholls, Chancellor of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History
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