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30 January 1942: RAF Fight On Through Fire and Storm

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  • Enemy use cloud cover to attack Hal Far five times in four hours.
  • Ta Qali and Hal Far waterlogged: operations restricted to Luqa aerodrome.
  • Successful Wellington attacks on shipping at sea.

MALTA AIR FORCES OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS REPORT JANUARY 1942

Castel Vetrano aerodrome 1942

Squadrons covered the Italian convoy routes almost daily through January.  PRU Hurricanes and Beaufighters of 69 Squadron carried out frequent photographic reconnaissance of Sicily and North Africa.  Marylands destroyed one ME 109 and probably one ME 110.  Our losses were one Maryland and one PRU Hurricane.

Wellingtons of 40 Squadron carried out 26 operations, dropping 152 tons of bombs.  Tripoli was attacked fifteen times causing large fires, destroying buildings and damaging ships in harbour, as well as one 13000 ton liner, three merchant vessels, and possibly a cruiser.  There were four attacks on Catania and one each on Castel Vetrano (14 aircraft destroyed and 3 damaged), on Comiso and on Naples, damaging the railway station and an airframe factory.

Blenheims of 18, 21 and 107 Squadrons carried out seven operations against shipping, hitting one merchant vessel, and on transport and buildings around Homs, Zeiten and Misrata.  Blenheims also played a prominent part in the successful raid on Castel Vetrano.  During these operations four Blenheims were lost.  One ME 109 was probably destroyed.

Swordfish of 830 Squadron carried out 12 operations against shipping, 54 aircraft taking part.  One merchant vessel of 12000 tons was sunk, one destroyer, one 8000 ton tanker and four merchant vessels [of 2000-8000 tons] were hit.  From these operations one Swordfish is missing.

Twenty three Albacores took part in mine-laying operations as well as attacking shipping.  One merchant vessel 5000 tons was hit amidships; another of 4000 tons was left stationary and listing to port.  Three aircraft are missing.

Hurricanes of the Malta Night Fighter Unit began intruder raids over Sicilian aerodromes, with 17 sorties so far.  Two JU 88s were destroyed and a third damaged at Comiso, where a twin-engined bi-plane was also shot down in flames.  Four Hurricanes carried out a daylight raid on Comiso aerodrome, starting two good fires.

AIR RAIDS DAWN FRIDAY 30 TO DAWN SATURDAY 31 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west, strong and very cold.  50% cloud.  Bright periods; heavy showers.

0911-0934 hrs  One JU 88 bomber approaches the Island via Gozo and drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay and Ghaxaq areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  During the raid a number of ME 109 fighters patrol north and south of the Island.

1112-1135 hrs  Two JU 88s approach the Island: one crosses the coast over Hal Far and recedes without dropping bombs.  The other JU 88 is joined by another bomber which approaches from the north.  Both cross the coast, dropping bombs in the Hal Far area from a height of 15000 feet.  Ten Hurricanes are airborne: no engagement with the enemy.  Heavy Ack Ack did not engage.

1143 hrs  One JU 88 from the previous raid approaches again, dropping bombs on the shore near Leonardo before receding north.  Eight Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage; Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1219-1229 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hal Far, dropping four bombs just off the aerodrome.  Windows are blown out in Officers’ Mess.  No casualties.

1304-1340 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island from Mellieha to Ghain Tuffieha.  It then goes away to the south and re-approaches, crossing the Island from Dingli to Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Qrendi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack fire six barrages.  Six Hurricanes are airborne but are called in due to bad weather.

1428-1515 hrs  Two enemy aircraft follow a returning Maryland to within 25 miles of the coast and then recede.

1542-1743 hrs  Two JU 88s escorted by eight fighters patrol around the Island.  One JU 88 crosses the coast and drops bombs in the Dockyard area.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1923-2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast near Kalafrana and is met by a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  The aircraft drops bombs in the Benghaisa area.

2305-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east, drops bombs on the Kalafrana Bay and Hal Far areas, then continues a nuisance patrol at 5000 feet.

0043-0216 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the south of the Island, between Kalafrana and Hal Far.

0238-0314 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north east, passes the Island 18 miles to the east, turns and recedes north.

0348-0410 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east and attacks the Harbour, dropping bombs in the Dockyard and Zabbar areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

0528-0622 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, drops bombs in the Marsa area, recedes and makes three more attempts to cross the coast but each time is turned away by Heavy Ack Ack barrage.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Joseph Aquilina, age 38; Mary Rose Aquilina, age 34.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 30 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ Arrivals  Five Blenheims from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Cairo; one Wellington from Burg el Arab. Departures  one Blenheim to LG 224; one Hurricane to Mersa Matruh.

HAL FAR  Night 30/31st Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel of 8000 tons and one destroyer.  Three torpedoes released at merchant vessel which stopped and appeared to be listing to port when last aircraft left. All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland special search.  156 Squadron  Two Wellingtons shipping sweep Tripoli-Sirte-Misrata; five Wellingtons attacked motor transport park Benito Gate, Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable later in the day: no intruder operations..  Two Sections of 249 Squadron attached to Luqa for operations.  Concert at Mosta: Raffians “Babes in the Wood”.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs between RA7 and RA6.  No military damage or casualties.

8TH BN KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT MALTA  Bombs in D Company’s area during early morning.  Slight damage to civilian property.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 2 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 30, 2017 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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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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

 

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30 December 1941: 90 Enemy Aircraft in Single Daylight Raid

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Grand Harbour

Grand Harbour

HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS STRIKE DOCKYARD, AIRFIELDS AND COASTAL DEFENCES

Over 90 enemy aircraft attack Malta just before noon today, unleashing High Explosive bombs on key strategic targets across the Island.  Anti-aircraft gunners fire off barrages and Hurricanes are scrambled to drive off the attackers, damaging five bombers.  The Dockyard, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields, and coastal defences at Delimara and St Paul’s Bay are all bombed. Reports indicate that Italian Macchi fighters were among the formations of Luftwaffe aircraft.

“Out to the strip today to see if we had any planes left. Shrapnel and rocks everywhere and a crater 24 feet deep and 100 feet across near the bomb dump. Lucky it rained last night and cooled off the bombs. “Q” has about four holes in her and needs a new tail plane which is the third out here. “H’ is burned out and “P” riddled badly. The rest holed but will be OK in a few days. Five escaped. 40 Sqn had a bad time though. Seven of their planes completely wiped out and just piles of junk. Three are serviceable for tonight’s ops. Most of their squadron is wiped out tho.

As we were returning for lunch there, Ju88 jumped out of the clouds and bombed us again wiping out another 40 Sqn plane. They were only at about 3000′ and were jumped by six Hurricanes. Later heard two shot down. Plenty of dog fighting most of the afternoon high up tho as the machine gun and cannons fire was very faint. About two pm we saw two sticks of bombs over Rabat way go off. The rest of the island must have got a bashing too. Kalafrana machine-gunned by ME 109s. About 5 pm the Grand Harbour was bombed again while we were at tea. These Jerrys must have plenty of fighter escorts. They are based at Catavia but we can’t very well bomb it as they report underground hangars.” (1)

AIR RAIDS 30 DECEMBER 1941

0032-0114 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast and drops bombs near Hamrun.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no claims.

0358-0430 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and passes over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages causing the enemy aircraft to change course on each occasion.  Bombs are dropped on Corrodino area, with a direct hit on a latrine, injuring dockyard workmen who had taken shelter there instead of their designated refuge.  Bombs near San Pietru Heavy Ack Ack Bofors gun position damage a billet.  Three are killed, four injured.

0947-1053 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconaissance raid by four JU 88s escorted by 12 ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

Macchi C200

1148-1254 hrs  Air raid alarm.  90 enemy aircraft consisting of JU 88s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s approach from the north.  Bombs are dropped on the Dockyard, Luqa and [San] Rocco area, Delimara Heavy Ack Ack gun position (causing two casualties) St Paul’s Bay and Ta Qali, which is also machine gunned.

Heavy Ack Ack, Bofors and light machine guns engage low flying aircraft, probably destroying one JU 88.  Naval Ack Ack guns from HMS Abingdon also open fire, damaging one JU 88.  Hurricanes engage the enemy, destroying two JU 88s, plus one JU 88 ‘probably destroyed’ and a fourth damaged.

1332-1343 hrs  Air raid alarm: caused by return of friendly aircraft.

1453-1516 hrs  Air raid alarm for a reconnaissance raid by one JU 88 and four fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no claims.

1640-1740 hrs  Air raid alarm: three JU 88s escorted by 21 fighters approach from the north.  Two JU 88s carry out a shallow dive attack over Luqa, dropping bombs to the east of the airfield.  The third JU 88 bombs Grand Harbour.  A stick of bombs in Dockyard Creek damages buildings near Sheer Bastion and sinks the Vittoriosa ferry pontoon. A direct hit on Benghaisa Quarry causes the RAF Oxygen Plant to explode causing several casualties, including airmen coming off duty at a Wireless Transmitting Station and personnel of Kings Own Malta Regiment .

Heavy and Light Ack Ack Bofors engage the enemy, damaging one JU 88 bomber.

1748-1752 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Caused by friendly aircraft.

1821-1840 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Three JU 88s cross the coast and dropped bombs across Marsaxlokk Bay, Kalafrana and Hal Far.  Searchlights illuminate all three enemy aircraft: Heavy Ack Ack fires one barrage.  Bofors and searchlight light machine guns engage low flying aircraft in Kalafrana area.

2045-0415 hrs  Air raid alarm.  20 enemy aircraft carry out intruder tactics and patrolling south of Island.  A continual stream of attacks hit the Hal Far area, with bombs on the aerodrome and Birzebbuga.  Searchlights make one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack fires five immediate barrages.

Military casualties  Sergeant Hugh Campbell, Gunners Rowland Boyington and Herbert Gaskin, 32nd LAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; AC 1 Joseph Pirotta, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Marsascala  Lawrence Cachia, age 24.  Sannat, Gozo  Joseph Muscat, age 35.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant George Lust, pilot of JU 88 bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 DECEMBER 1941

HAL FAR  Night 29/30th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on a minelaying operation outside Zuara harbour.  Opposition four light Ack Ack guns fairly accurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  one Maryland PR Palermo; one Maryland PR Tripoli, Psida, Zuara.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol – P/O Wyatt failed to return; one Blenheim attacked Tripoli-Zuara road; two Blenheims attacked Homs-Tripoli road.  104 Squadron  Four Wellingtons attacked buildings Misrata.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; two Blenheims attacked motor transport Zuara-Psida; one Blenheim attacked Tripoli-Zuara road.  40 Squadron  Three Wellingtons attacked buildings in Misrata.

TA QALI  0950-1750 hrs  Six alerts; two scrambles.  Two JU88s destroyed, one probable and one damaged.  Three damaged by anti-aircraft.  No night fighters airborne.

2nd BATTALION THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 1640-1740 hrs  About 25 to 30 small craters 200 yards from Marnisi (E Company) caused by High Explosives.  No damage or casualties.  One heavy bomb was dropped near slipway at Marsaxlokk.  1821-1840 hrs  Bombs dropped near Tank Bridge on road to Post R29 (C Company).  More bombs dropped near L37 and RAF emergency hospital, and on R Post Road.  2045-0415 hrs  Bombs near R33 and HF7 (D Company), Windsock Area (C Company) and off pier at Kalafrana near CI (B Company).  No casualties.  Some bombs also fell near Birzebuggia Church (B Company).

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

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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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29 December 1941: Attacks On Airfields and Ships; Passengers Killed

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MALTA AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS DAMAGED; CIVILIAN AND MILITARY CASUALTIES 

AIR RAIDS 29 DECEMBER 1941

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

0947 hrs  Six JU 88 bombers and thirty fighters approach Malta in two waves.  One formation peels off to bomb destroyers lying off the east coast; no damage is reported. The second formation of seven ME 109s and two JU 88s crosses the coast and attacks Luqa airfield, damaging two Blenheim aircraft on the ground. Seven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron and four of 242 Squadron engage the enemy.  Four Hurricanes are damaged, the pilots unhurt.  One ME 109 is destroyed and one damaged.  Two Hurricanes of 242 Squadron collide and crash into the sea.  Pilot P/O Blanchard is reported missing.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far aerodrome.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors are engaged and no damage is reported; no claims.

1103 hrs  All clear.

1209-1226 hrs; 1321-1335 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy aircraft on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fires immediate barrage.

1443 hrs  24 fighters and bombers approach from the north and attempt to bomb submarines off Delimara.  ME 109s launch a heavy machine-gun attack on submarines Urge and Upholder, and anti-submarine trawler Beryl.  Commanding Officer of Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, DSO, RN) is wounded and Beryl is rendered unfit for sea with minor damage and six wounded.

HMS Beryl

Bombs are also dropped in the Marsascala area despite a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  Major G H W Wright is reported killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Wright, RA and two Other Ranks of the Dorset Regiment injured.  Eight Hurricanes of 185 Squadron engage with the enemy aircraft.  One ME109 is shot down and three others damaged.  One Hurricane crashes on landing; the pilot, Sgt Forth, is killed.

1550 hrs  All clear.

1612 hrs  Five ME 109s attack friendly [non-military] ships with machine-gun fire.  A Gozo passenger boat is hit in St George’s Bay and set on fire. (1)  A rescue launch sent to help the sinking boat is badly strafed.  Hurricanes engage the attackers, destroying two ME 109s. 

Twelve further enemy aircraft (including four ME 109 F’s) cross the coast.  JU88 bombers drop into a shallow dive to bomb Luqa.  Fifteen aircraft on the ground are written off.  Bombs are dropped in a quarry occupied by 2nd Battalion The Royal West Kent Regiment, damaging signals installations.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors gunners damage one JU 88.

1712 hrs  All clear.

2032 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast over St Julian’s.  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage at 13,000 feet and jettisons bombs near Ta Qali.

2140-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2236 hrs  Air raid alarm. No engagement.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Merton Blanchard, Royal Canadian Air Force, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Alfred Forth, Royal Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Sidney Brandt, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Roy Lawson, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve), 249 Squadron; Major G H W Wright, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghajnsielem, Gozo  Paul Azzopardi, age 52; Marcel Teuma, age 51; Felic Bigeni, age 32.  Luqa  Saviour Demicoli, age 15.  Siggiewi  Nicholas Schembri, age 50.  Hamrun Gaetan Scicluna, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Luftwaffe Pilot Leutnant Joachim Louis destroyed one Hurricane earlier today, before being wounded in a counter-attack by another.  Still able to fly, his aircraft was hit again, and severely damaged, crashing into the sea.  In the search operation to recover missing Hurricane pilots, Leutnant Louis was picked up and taken prisoner. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines outside Zuara.

RAF LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR): one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland PR North African aerodromes, Tripoli & Zara; one Maryland PR Misrata, Sirte, Tamet, Zanzar and Tange. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; two Blenheims attacked transport Tripoli-Zuara.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim special search for two destroyers (Br); four Blenheims despatched to attack transport on road Homs-Misurata – two attacked.

RAF TA QALI  0808-1730 hrs  Six alerts; five scrambles – three interceptions.  One ME 109 shot down in sea and two probably shot down. 

(1) The vessel was the schooner Marie Georgette, skippered by Marcel Theuma, sailing from Malta to Gozo with passengers on board. Theuma managed to beach the vessel but it was attacked again and he was fatally wounded. Two other crewmen were killed.

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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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28 December 1941: Airfield Ack Ack Gunners Fight Back

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Searchlights scan night skies for raiders

Searchlights scan night skies for raiders

GERMAN BOMBER SHOT DOWN OVER HAL FAR

Anti-aircraft gunners shot down an attacking Luftwaffe bomber over Hal Far aerodrome in an air raid tonight. The single JU 88 bomber flying without fighter escort was spotted approaching Malta from the north early this evening.  Sources report that the pilot flew a complete circuit of the Island,  which allowed plenty of time for searchlights to pick up and track his progress.

The aircraft was seen to turn over the south coast, and dropped bombs the new landing strip at Qrendi.  The Island’s defensive Gunners were primed and ready to fire at the first sighting.  The JU88 flew into a barrage of Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors fire and fell into a steep dive, crashing in front of hangars at the edge of Hal Far aerodrome.  Members of 2nd Battalion The Devonshire Regiment were manning defence posts within yards of the crash site but no injuries are reported.  There were no survivors among the JU88 pilot and crew. 

AIR RAIDS 28 DECEMBER 1941

0942-1020 hrs  Air raid alarm: 19 enemy aircraft approached the Island, only one crossing the coast.  Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

1102-1116 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise. 

1235-1315 hrs  Air raid alarm: two enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs on the St Angelo area.

1507-1540 hrs  Air raid alarm: one JU 88 on reconnaissance escorted by 12 fighters, crossed over Grand Harbour.  Harbour guns fired a heavy Ack Ack barrage.  One Hurricane was lost.

1806-1840 hrs  Air raid alarm: six enemy aircraft crossed the coast near St Paul’s Bay and dropped bombs at Marsa and in the Mellieha area.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged; no claims. 

1940-2057 hrs  Air raid alarm: one JU 88 approached and carried out a complete circuit of  the Island before crossing the south coast and dropping bombs on Qrendi landing strip.  The raider was illuminated by searchlights for periods of two, one ,and half a minute.  Heavy Ack Ack shrapnel and Bofors engaged; the aircraft was hit and crashed west of Hal Far.

2324 hrs  Air raid alarm: two enemy aircraft approached from the north and probably laid mines south of the Island.  One aircraft machine-gunned Lapsi searchlight position – no damage or casualties.  Bofors and light machine gun engaged.  The second aircraft dropped bombs near Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Enemy casualties   Leutnant Wilfred Babinek, pilot; Gefreiter Heinrich Schwarz, wireless operator; Gefreiter Wilhelm Gutt, air gunner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 DECEMBER 1941

HAL FAR  Night 27/28th  Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on a minelaying operation outside Tripoli Harbour.  Opposition intense but inaccurate light Ack Ack.  Rain over target area.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland North African aerodromes, harbours of Zuara and Tripoli; one Maryland PR North African dromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 1 patrol; one Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked Mellaha aerodrome.  104 Squadron  Four Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 2B patrol; two Blenheims attacked Homs Road.

TA QALI  Night 27/28th  Bombs dropped on various parts of the Island.  Night fighters airborne.  P/O Winton destroyed one enemy raider.  0942-1622 hrs  Four alerts.  Three scrambles: no interceptions, one Hurricane missing.  Sgt Owen rescued from sea, multiple gunshot wounds left arm.

HQ FIXED DEFENCES   ASV [search] set installed at Harbour Fire Command post Elmo for detecting the approach of E-boats.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Stick of bombs on Mehrla strip and north of Mehrla Church.   One unexploded bomb at 403186.

 

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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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27 December 1941: Malta Under Alert for 16 hours out of 24

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GHAXAQ FAMILY WIPED OUT BY ENEMY BOMBS

Hurricanes scrambled 10 times

Malta was under air raid alert for 16 hours out of 24 today as the Luftwaffe continue their post-Christmas campaign against Malta.  RAF Hurricane aircraft from Ta Qali were scrambled ten times to fight off enemy raiders.

An entire young family was wiped out early this evening when bombs hit the southern village of Ghaxaq.  The deceased have been named as John Abela, his wife Vincenza, 26, and their two children: one year old Teresa and baby Carmel, three months.  A fifth person, Michelina Busuttil, 47, was also claimed in this major blow to a small agricultural community.

ENEMY MINE-LAYERS DETECTED

Urgent orders were issued early this morning confirming the presence of enemy mine-laying vessels within reach of Grand Harbour.  The overnight watch of the Harbour Fire Command reported the sound of engines indicating the presence of surface craft just off the harbour entrance.

Despite regular searchlight sweeps, the engine noise continued.  On receiving the report, the Royal Navy suspected enemy E-boats are again engaged in laying mines while aircraft create diversions overhead.  The Harbour Fire Command was placed on high alert and continued searchlight sweeps at regular intervals throughout the night, but nothing further was spotted.

This morning’s operation instruction outlined measures to destroy the craft, which are laying mines within the range of the Harbour guns and searchlights.  The Harbour Fire Commander at Fort St Elmo is to be issued with a RDF (radio direction-finding) set by 1200 hours tomorrow, to give early warning of the presence of MTBs (motor torpedo boats).

The RDF equipment will switched on at intervals or when enemy ship movements are suspected.  Once a craft is detected, searchlights will be trained towards them but not switched on until the RDF shows the target to be within beam and gun range – to retain an element of surprise.

Meanwhile the Royal Navy is maintaining a patrol six miles off shore to intercept surface craft and prevent them from reaching Malta’s shores.  Any hostile vessels seen are to be immediately engaged, regardless of the presence of the naval patrol.  All harbour guns available will be used in such attacks, taking great care not to engage the naval patrol vessel.

AIR RAIDS 27 DECEMBER 1941

0822-0933 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine ME 109’s in two formations patrolled over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors engaged; no claims.

0931-1100 hrs  Air raid alarm: 14 fighter aircraft crossed the coast – no engagement.

1109-1245 hrs  Air raid alarm.  A formation of JU 88’s with large fighter escort approached the Island.  Hurricanes intercepted causing the enemy to jettison their bombs.  One JU 88 was confirmed destroyed, one ME 109 probably destroyed, one JU 88 damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged.

1450-1531 hrs  Air raid alarm: 33 enemy aircraft approached the Island, nine only crossing the coast; no bombs were dropped.

1617-1644 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1757-1926 hrs  Air raid alarm: nine enemy aircraft crossed the coast and dropped bombs at Ghaxaq, in the sea and near Corrodino.

1940-0520 hrs  Air raid alarm: seven alerts were sounded for a total of ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs were dropped in sea and on land near Hal Far, on Wardia Ridge and Luqa, where they caused slight damage to officers’ quarters.  At 2010 hrs an enemy raider was illuminated and shot down in flames into the sea.  A second illumination was effected during last alert when Ack Ack engaged; no claims.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant William MacCosham, Royal Canadian Air Force, 179 Squadron; Gunner Thomas North, 4th Searchlight Regt, Royal Artillery/Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq John Abela, age 33; Vincenza Abela, age 26; Teresa Abela, age 1; Carmel Abela, age 3 months; Michelina Busuttil, age 47.  Sliema  Carmel Muscat, 17.

Enemy casualties German Hauptmann Eberhard Stahle, Stab II/KG 77, Pilot of a Ju.88 bomber, shot down into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines off Tripoli.

Whitley

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Two Wellingtons, one Beaufort, one Whitley from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 26/27th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron carried out a minelaying operation outside Zuara Harbour.  Opposition spasmodic and inaccurate.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland special search (friendly) north half of C/V; one Maryland special search (friendly) south half of C/V; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  Photo-Reconnaissance One Maryland Catania, Celibria.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked rail shipping Zuara-Tripoli; one Blenheim attacked rail transport at Zuara.  107 Squadron  Two Blenheims SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim attacked road transport at Zuara.

TA QALI  Hurricanes scrambled at 0822-0909, 0932-1038, 1109, 1237, 1450, 1531, 1617, 1637, 1757, 1918.  One JU88 destroyed.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Air alarms lasting throughout the day: High explosive bombs dropped in scattered parts.

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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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