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16-22 August 1942: Convoy Supplies Will Feed Malta For 3 Months

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Malta is filled with admiration for the gallant efforts made to pass the convoy to the Island.  We thank you and are most grateful.”   Lord Gort to Chief of Naval Staff, Admiralty

WHILE MALTA CELEBRATES SANTA MARIJA CONVOY, COMMANDERS FACE SHORTFALL

Fuel and cooking oil delivered via Pedestal (c) IWM GM1448

While the Island continues to celebrate the arrival of supply ships and the oil tanker Ohio, behind the scenes Malta’s commanders are weighing up the real impact, if any, the delivery will have on rations and military operations.  The fuel off-loaded from Ohio will undoubtedly enable Malta’s air and submarine forces to defend the Island while mounting renewed attacks on enemy convoys.

At the same time, the Governor faces the hard fact that the food and general supplies delivered last week are only enough to extend Malta’s survival for a further three months.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of Operation Pedestal for the Maltese and the military garrison, is improved morale, as they now feel less isolated from their allies far beyond the Mediterranean.  It is hoped that these raised spirits will carry them through the undoubted further hardships to come.

SEAMEN REMEMBER LOST COMRADES

“We were escorting the damaged Indomitable back to Gibraltar. A typical Mediterranean evening, the sea flat calm, the sun still high in a clear blue sky and the silence was sheer bliss after the deafening clangour of the previous few days. Suddenly we could feel the ship losing speed, the flag was lowered to half-mast and our attention drawn to Indomitable. From the stern of the ship we could see bundles toppling into the sea as ‘Indom’ buried her dead. There were some 50 of them – a sight that remains vivid in my memory to this day.”  L Myers, HMS Rodney, WW2 People’s War (1)

16 August: A Day Without Warning

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 AUGUST TO DAWN 17 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine: visibility 10-15 miles.

0810-0905 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron and two of 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0945-0955 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: one had an oil leak and radio transmission was not working so they returned.

1045-1145 hrs; 1100-1210 hrs; 1105-1235 hrs; 1115-1230 hrs  Patrols by three to eight Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons: no sightings.

PM  Two patrols carried out by four Spitfires from Hal Far per patrol. 

1700-1810 hrs; 1800-1910 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol at a time: nothing sighted.

1820-1918 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far patrolled at 16000 feet between Grand Harbour and Gozo.

1900-2005 hrs; 1950-2030 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 then two of 249 Squadron on patrol: nothing sighted.  The second patrol returned early due to low cloud.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 16 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores of Naval Air Squadron searched without success for a merchant vessel reported to the north west of Malta.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Liberator to Fayid.

17 August: Navy Thanks RAF For Convoy Protection

The following is a précis of a message sent by the Royal Navy to RAF HQ Malta:  “The Navy are loud in their praise of the assistance given to the convoy by our fighter aircraft often operating under difficult circumstances.  They engaged and destroyed a great number of enemy aircraft and greatly contributed to reducing the scale of attack.”

NEW SPITFIRE DELIVERY

HMS Furious

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 AUGUST TO DAWN 18 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles

0815-0920 hrs; 0820-0855 hrs; 0925-1003 hrs  Four Spitfires at a time of 229 and 249 Squadrons Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1205-1240 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires from Hal Far (two of Green Section) are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  P/O Stenborg and Sgt Weaver jumps nine ME 109s.  Sgt Weaver shoots down two enemy aircraft and P/O Stenborg shoots down one, before being shot down himself by a ME 109.  He bales out and is picked up by the High Speed Launch.

Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are despatched to cover the arrival of Spitfires: no enemy action.

1300-1350 hrs; 1345-1430 hrs; 1510-1610 hrs; 1600-1710 hrs  Two Spitfires at a time of 229 and 249 Squadrons on patrol: no sightings.

PM  185 Squadron Hal Far fly 16 sorties over shipping in Grand Harbour.

1757-1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders: no sightings.

2000 hrs  Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury sailed for Gibraltar.

2320-2350 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Eugene Connell, Royal Canadian Air Force, 204 Squadron; Sergeant William Davis Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 204 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Edward Jackman, Royal Air Force, 204 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Walter Maconnell, Royal Canadian Air Force, 204 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 AUGUST 1942

HMS Hebe

ROYAL NAVY  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an escorted merchant vessel west of Linosa and obtained one torpedo hit. This ship was subsequently sunk by [submarine] P 44, the force of the explosion being so great as to necessitate the submarine returning to Malta for repairs.  [Submarine] P 42 was swept into Marsamxett by Hebe.

AIR HQ  1600 hrs  Six Beauforts 86 Squadron escorted by five Beaufighters 252 and 235 Squadrons, and four long-range Spitfires 126 Squadron, attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel, patrolled by four JU 88s and two enemy fighters, in position 280 degrees Lampedusa, 35 miles.  Two torpedo hits were scored on the merchant vessel which was left stationary, pouring white smoke and down by the stern.  Two Beaufighters dropped four 250lb [semi-armour-piercing] bombs, scoring one direct hit on the stern of the merchant vessel.  Beaufighters and Beauforts also attached the merchant vessel and other merchant craft with machine-gun and cannon fire.  During the attack, one JU 88 and one enemy fighter were probably destroyed.  Photographs confirm that the merchant vessel has been sunk.

Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar; 29 Spitfires from Naval operation.  Departures  17 Maryland to Abu Sueir; three Baltimores to LG 98; one Spitfire to Kilo 8; one Liberator to Fayid.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on aerodrome: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.  One Spitfire hit an obstruction on landing: pilot uninjured.

18 August: Malta’s Squadrons Praised For Attacks

Malta Spitfires refuelled and re-armed

“The Air Officer Commanding sends congratulations to Nos 217, 235, 126 and 1435 Squadrons for their successful attack on enemy convoy on 17 August 1942.  This was a fine example of good team-work between Beauforts, Beaufighters and Spitfires.”  Re-armed and refuelled thanks to the arrival of the recent convoy, Malta’s RAF Squadrons last night resumed their attacks on Axis convoys through the Mediterranean, with considerable success.  With the battle for control of the Middle East again reaching a critical point, Malta can resume its key role as a base for disrupting the supply of Rommel’s forces in North Africa.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 AUGUST TO DAWN 19 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  Spitfires from Hal Far made eight patrol sorties over Grand Harbour.

0815-0850 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Sgt Beurling reports seeing five hostile fighters, not seen by the other pilots: no contact made.

1045-1155 hrs; 1135-1230 hrs; 1215-1315 hrs; 1300-1415 hrs; 1400-1515 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons at a time are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1525-1630 hrs; 1550-1634 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft: no sightings.

1650-1715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept approaching fighters see six ME 109s above them, among some flak: no combat.  F/Lt Woods’ aircraft has a malfunctioning wing flap and lands at Luqa; he is unhurt.

2230-2245 hrs; 0035-0042 hrs  Air raid alerts. One enemy aircraft which comes to within 25 miles of Gozo and drops bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 AUGUST 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals Four Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Baltimore to LG 98; one Beaufighter to EDCU; four Beauforts to LG 224.

19 August: Gort Flies to Cairo to Meet PM Churchill

Winston Churchill at British Embassy Cairo August 1942 (c) OWM E15347

His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort flew to Cairo today to report in person to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, on the state of things in Malta following the arrival of the Operation Pedestal convoy.  To cover the Governor’s absence, Vice Admiral, Malta is appointed as his Deputy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 AUGUST TO DAWN 20 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine: little or no cloud, increasing later; visibility 10-15 miles. Wind light, variable, becoming east south east, moderate.

0955-1030 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve approaching enemy fighters.  Two groups of four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept; two aircraft return early.  The others sight three ME 109s above them: no combat.

1005-1050 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali patrol over a minesweeper: nothing to report.

1100-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1150-1305 hrs  Enemy aircraft are reported heading for the Islands.  Two Spitfires are scrambled to intercept  but the raid does not approach.

1749-1907 hrs  Seven Spitfires from Hal Far patrol north of St Paul’s Bay and Gozo: nothing sighted.

2315-2320 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs in the sea north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Private William Kelly, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gaetan Mansueto, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Rye swept Una and P 44 into harbour.

AIR HQ Arrivals Two DC3 from Bilbeis; Four Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to Shandur; six Beauforts, one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort engine failed; forced to land: crew uninjured.  One Beaufort shot down into the sea while on shipping strike:crew missing.

20 August: Air Crews are Lucky Survivors

One Beaufighter of 227 Squadron and one Beaufort of 39 Squadron have been reported lost following the latest attack by Malta air forces on an enemy convoy.  They were among a formation of twelve Beauforts and ten Beaufighters 227 Squadron on a mission to bomb a tanker and merchant ship with destroyer escort off Cape Stilo.  The two aircraft were hit by flak as the enemy fired barrages to defend their vessels. 

A Beaufort of 39 Squadron at Luqa

The Beaufighter of pilot Warrant Officer Donald Brixo from New Zealand and navigator Sergeant Douglas Paterson crashed into the sea.  Flying Officer Peter Roper of Canada was also shot down in his Beaufort; he radioed that he and his observer were injured while the remaining crew were unhurt.  Nothing more was heard of them and the crews of both aircraft have been officially reported missing. (2)    

Another Beaufighter was shot down today off Kalafrana Bay, killing the Wireless Operator/Observer, Sergeant George Leslie.  The pilot, Flying Officer Eyre, survived and was rescued by the High Speed Launch.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 AUGUST TO DAWN 21 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine: wind south south-east, light to moderate; visibility 10-15 miles.

1005-1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali and nine of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep.  Sgt Beurling sights two Me 109s but does not engage.

1115-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  They sight four ME 109s at 24000 feet, ten miles north of Grand Harbour: no engagement.

1520-1535 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft (two of 229 return early): no sightings.

1715-1820 hrs; 1955-2035 hrs  Four and two Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Leslie, 227 Beaufighter Squadron; Private Walter Wade, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 20 AUGUST 1942

Speedy makes a smokescreen over Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Smoke was made for one large [enemy] formation approaching, but no attack materialized.  705 of QBB 273 searched by 17th Minesweeping Flotilla.

AIR HQ  Twelve Beauforts 39 Squadron escorted by ten Beaufighters 227 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked a convoy comprising five destroyers, one 8000 ton tanker and one small merchant vessel, escorted by one Cant Z501 and six single-engined fighters in position 180 degrees Cape Stilo four miles, course 040 degrees, speed 5-10 knots.  It was estimated that the tanker was fully laden and had a draft of 22-24 feet.  Torpedoes were released with a 22 ft setting but no hits were seen on the tanker.

Explosions were, however, seen some distance from the convoy to port, but these may have been caused by bombs.  It is now believed that the tanker was not fully laden at the time of the attack and had a much smaller draft than originally anticipated.  This may have been why no strikes were made, as torpedoes were seen to run well.

Four Beaufighters dropped seven 250lb [semi-armour-piercing] bombs, scoring one possible hit on the stern of a destroyer.  The tanker and other craft were also raked with machine-gun and cannon fire.  A small pilot vessel was sunk by cannon fire a quarter of a mile ahead of the convoy.  One Macchi 200 and the Cant Z501 were damaged.

Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crashed into the sea: pilot rescued; Wireless Operator/Observer missing, believed killed.  One Beaufort and one Beaufighter  believed hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: Beaufighter observed crashing into the sea; both crews missing.  One Beaufort hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: pilot and A/Observer injured; rest of crew uninjured.

21 August: Oil Tanker Disabled in RAF Attack

RAF bombers have stopped a major delivery of fuel to Rommel’s forces in North Africa.  This was the second attempt by Malta Beauforts and Beaufighters to disrupt the enemy convoy, following an unsuccessful attack yesterday.  This time the attackers scored three torpedo hits and two near-misses with bombs on the 8000 ton oil tanker, which was brought to a halt, with oil pouring from both sides.  They also destroyed at least five enemy aircraft in the attack.  The tanker was later photographed beached in shallow water on the Corfu coast.

TIMES OF MALTA LAUNCHES ‘MALTA CONVOY FUND’

Lighters full of supplies for Malta (c) IWM GM1464

Malta’s leading newspaper today announced the launch of a fund to help the dependants of those killed trying to bring vital supplies to Malta in Operation Pedestal.  Subscriptions are already coming in from those keen to express their gratitude for the sacrifice of convoy crews, airmen and gunners who lost their lives in the dangerous mission to relieve the siege.  The funds raised will be co-ordinated by the Anglo Maltese League.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 AUGUST TO DAWN 22 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fair.

1335-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron and four 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  Two aircraft of 249 Squadron lose the formation and return early.  No enemy aircraft are sighted.  The wheel of F/Lt Lovell’s aircraft (229 Squadron) collapses on landing.

1814-1901 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far patrol over a homecoming strike force: no interceptions.

Military casualties  None named.                                                           Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 21 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Gibraltar reported the safe arrival of Penn, Ledbury and Bramham.

AIR HQ  1800 hrs  The tanker was again attacked by nine Beauforts 39 Squadron, escorted by eight Beaufighters 248 Squadron, and five Beaufighters 229 Squadron carrying bombs.  Position 003 degrees Paxos, 12 miles, course 170 degrees, speed 6 knots.  Three torpedo hits and two near-misses with bombs were scored on the tanker and a direct hit by a bomb was made on a destroyer.  All aircraft also attacked the tanker with machine-gun and cannon fire.  The Beaufighter escort shot down two P32s, one JU 52, two BR 20s and probably destroyed a JU 88.  Photographs taken after the attack show the tanker to be stationary and oil flowing from both sides of it.  Later photos show it to be beached in three fathoms of water in Saiada Bay, Corfu.

Departures  Three Beauforts to LG 224; one Beaufort to Shandur.  Transit aircraft missing  One Beaufort en route from Malta to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter forced down into the sea by enemy action: crew missing.  One Beaufort had engine trouble and crashed into the sea: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner slightly injured; rest of crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter’s tyre burst: crew uninjured.  One Beaufort believed hit by enemy flak, force landed in the sea: crew missing.  One Beaufort hit by enemy flak while on shipping strike: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner injured; rest of crew uninjured.  One Baltimore;s engine cut on landing: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and A/Observer injured.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy flak crash-landed: crew injured.

22 August: Convoy 32000 Tons of Supplies but No Ration Increase

From: Governor & C in C Malta                To:  C in C Middle East              Rpt: The War Office

Military situation report for week ending [22 Aug] 1942

Convoy brought limited supplies (c) IWM GM1429

1.  Unloading convoy almost complete.  32000 tons unloaded, dispersed to and cleared from dumps mainly by army in 8 days.  This will provide approx. 3 months additional food at present reduced ration scale.  Slight increase in civilian bread ration may be possible; Army bread ration already increased one ounce to compensate shortage potatoes.  Certain variety items received will make Army rations less monotonous but no major alteration practicable.  Further economy in [motor transport] spirit necessary however.

2.  No attempt by enemy to attack convoy in harbour.  Activity confined to small fighter sweeps.  No bombers crossed coast day or night; almost constitutes a record.  3 ME 109s destroyed for loss of one Spitfire.

3.  29 torpedo-carrying Beaufort sorties escorted by bomb-carrying Beaufighters attacked enemy convoys to Libya.  One merchant vessel 7000 tons damaged – subsequently sunk by submarine P44.  One tanker hit and stopped.  Hits or near misses on two destroyers.  One Ju 52 and six other aircraft certainly destroyed and five damaged over convoys.  Three Beauforts, three Beaufighters missing.

4.  Winter accommodation in the form of a simple section hut being built by troops as civil labour used on aerodromes.  1400 Army still working on aerodromes.

5.  Military damage and casualties nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 AUGUST TO DAWN 23 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1715-1810 hrs  Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: no engagement.  One Hurricane force-landed with undercarriage trouble: Pilot S/Lt Elliot unhurt.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Norman Adams, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant George Form, Royal Air Force VR, 202 Squadron; Sergeant Cecil Lee, Royal Air Force, 202 Squadron; Sergeant Alan Morgan, Royal Air Force VR, 202 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 AUGUST 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals One DC3 from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane in accident on aerodrome: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 19.  Dealt with: 3 High Explosives, all 250kg, plus 42 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’

(2)  Warrant Officer Donald Brisco and Sergeant Douglas Paterson 227 Squadron and Flying Officer Peter Roper, 39 Squadron, and his crew survived and were taken Prisoners-of-War.

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

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28 June-4 July 1942: Enemy Launches Night Attacks – 37 Killed

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28 June 1942: Soldiers Train as Dockers

Unloading convoy ship Welshman (NWMA Malta)

Malta command has reviewed the unloading of the recently arrived convoy ships and concluded that the involvement of troops was essential to its success.  Military manpower doubled the labour force and ensured the fastest completion of the operation, before enemy attacks could destroy ships and supplies.

Following the review it has been decided to train service personnel as dockyard winchmen and charge-hands, in advance of the next convoy to Malta.  There is no indication of how soon this will be.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JUNE TO DAWN 29 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0513-0555 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for four enemy bombers with a 10 strong fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi, destroying one Beaufort and damaging a Baltimore.  Hal Far is also attacked: many delayed-action and anti-personnel bombs land on the dispersal areas and on the aerodrome, which is put out of use until 1900 hrs.  One Swordfish is destroyed and four Spitfires are damaged and one soldier is slightly injured.

0515-0614 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

0635 hrs; 0700 hrs  Air raid alerts sound for enemy fighter sweeps.

0830-0915 hrs; 1135-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires from Luqa, then two from 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1515 hrs  A formation of six Messerschmitts is reported approaching the Island.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing; they land at 1600 hrs.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert. A formation of six ME 109s carry out a surprise attack on minesweepers off Grand Harbour.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2345-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: F/O Mitchell destroys a JU 87.

0034 hrs; 0505 hrs  Two air raid alerts sound.  A total of 21 aircraft approach the Island in two raids; only nine cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped across Mellieha, Safi and Hal Far, killing two Other Ranks 1st Bn Hampshire Regt and injuring two.

0445 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 10 JU 88s approaching the Island.

0450-0605 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.  The Spitfires observe F/O Fumerton engage one JU 88, which he destroys: it is seen later burning in the sea.  He later attacks and destroys another JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Nineteen mines swept. Sweepers were machine gunned by ME 109s from 5000 feet without causing damage or casualties.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons and two Blenheims from Gibraltar; five Wellingtons from Shallufa.  Departures  Six Wellingtons to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

HAL FAR  1900 hrs  185 Squadron and RNAS stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto Harbour.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Gela, Biscari, Comiso, Noto.  2220-0142 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched on shipping strike but were recalled without making the attack.

TA QALI   53 airmen of 601 Squadron arrived from Hal Far. 0125-0220 hrs; 0225-0310 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol towards Sicily but see nothing.  0330-0415 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol to Cape Passero and attempt to shoot up a beacon without success.

29 June 1942: Malta Fighters Chase Enemy Back to Sicily

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; moderate to strong.  Little high cloud.

Lockheed Lodestar

0715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires Luqa area scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0855 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters and sight eight ME 109s.

0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled and sight two of the ME 109s, but lose them when gaining height.

0910 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the ME 109s near the Island.  P/O Barbour, 603 Squadron, is jumped by two of the fighters: he bales out and is observed safely in his dinghy.

0915-1045 hrs  Two pairs of Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to cover and protect minesweepers operating off the coast.  They guide the rescue launch to P/O Barbour.

1425 hrs  The air raid alert sounds with the approach of four enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali search and locate them forty miles south east of the Island.  They chase the fighters off towards Sicily.

1515-1540 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of 603 Squadron: no combat.

1655-1725 hrs  Four Spitfires Luqa carry out a patrol: no combat.

1935-2040 hrs  Fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne and ready to intercept: no combat.

2130-2340 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.

2245 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept eight approaching enemy bombers.  The Beaufighter pilot F/L Edwards attacks and destroys one JU 88.

2250 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the bombers approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on St Paul’s Bay and on Luqa, damaging a defence post and motor transport.

2335 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Private Edward Green, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment; Bombardier David Lee, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private William Morgan, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, three Wellingtons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from LG 104; One Beaufighter from Middle East.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; two Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 224; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to Shallufa.    Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in sea after combat; pilot safe.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto reports 100% cloud over Sicily and Foggia.  One Spitfire PR Taranto reports naval situation unchanged.

TA QALI  0625-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on a search mission sight a dinghy in the water ten miles south of Cape Passero.

30 June 1942: Clamp Down on Black Marketeers

The Government of Malta is to introduce very severe penalties for Black Market trading.  The new measures include a maximum term of five years’ imprisonment for those convicted.  The new measures take effect from tomorrow.  (1)

AIR RAID STATISTICS JUNE 1942

  • Total number of raids 173
  • Raid-free days nil
  • Night raids 60
  • Raid free nights 4
  • Alerts for own planes 11
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 3 days, 15 hrs, 43mins.
  • Average length of alert 30.4 mins.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  They encounter seven ME 109s over St Paul’s Bay but there is no combat.

1020-1125 hrs  Three Spitfires from Ta Qali patrol over Gozo.  The air raid alert sounds at 1045 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  They patrol 20 miles towards Sicily but see nothing.

1510-1535 hrs; 1900-1910 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne each time to intercept enemy aircraft but raid does not materialise.

1930-2030 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron patrol over Gozo.  Two more Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to provide cover for launches in Grand Harbour.  The air raid alert sounds at 1955 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

2145-2335 hrs; 2250-2359 hrs  Two Beaufighters on intercept patrol: no combat.

2234-0515 hrs   Air raid alert.  Six JU 88 bombers drop high explosive bombs in the area of Luqa, Qrendi, Birzebbuga and Delimara, and on Fleur de Lys.

0410-0515 hrs  Thirteen enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on Safi and Luqa, where a starter battery is destroyed.

Military casualties  Petty Officer Steward Joseph Attard, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Veneranda Scicluna, age 45.  Safi  Concetta Cashia, age 34; Carmela Cachia, age 2; John Farrugia, age 5.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for sweeping.  SS King of England escorted by ML 462 proceeded to Marsaxlokk, arriving 2150 hrs. King of England pumped 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire during the night.  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with by Royal Navy in June: 3.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley, one Blenheim, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; Departures  One Whitley to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224.

LUQA  2151-0605 hrs  Three Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched on shipping search.  Two Malta-based Wellingtons attacked a southbound enemy convoy of three 6000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers, 23 miles from Cape Maria de Leuca.  Near-misses were observed on one of the merchant vessels. Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes, scoring two hits on one merchant vessel.  The pilots observed a lot of smoke and the ship came to a stop.  After the attack, part of the convoy was seen to turn back towards Taranto.

1 July 1942: Malta Bombers Delay Rommel’s Convoy

A Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit yesterday brought back photographs of Taranto showing much enemy activity in the harbour.  Signs indicate that the convoy subjected to recent attacks has now been re-assembled.  The deck cargo from the damaged merchant ship has been removed and transferred to another ship.  Several more merchant vessels were observed berthed in the outer harbour, ready to embark with supplies for North Africa.

Wellington bombers

Overnight, a search was carried out by two Wellingtons in the Gulf of Taranto, to locate and bomb the enemy ships, and guide in torpedo-carrying Wellingtons ready to attack the convoy as it emerged from harbour.  Another Wellington carried out a search to the south of the Gulf to cover a wider area in case the convoy made more rapid progress.  The five torpedo-bearing Wellingtons left Malta at nightfall and circled near Cape Santa Maria di Leuca, ready to strike as soon as the convoy emerged from the Gulf.

At 0135 hrs this morning, three merchant ships and four destroyers were spotted crawling along the coast near Gallipoli, in the heel of Italy.  The Wellingtons bombed and launched their torpedoes, scoring hits on one ship and near misses with bombs on others.  The Italian crews appeared to panic, and immediately turned tail to head back to Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0810-0817 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter patrol.

0910-0930 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy patrol: no combat.

0950-1100 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  At 1002 hrs the air raid alert sounds.  The patrolling aircraft see four enemy fighters but are unable to engage.

1450-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s escorted by 20 fighters drops one large high explosive bomb on the shore near Qawra Tower. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1815-1925 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two approaching formations totalling some forty aircraft, two Cant 1007s with BR 20s, ME 109s, RE 2001s and Macchi 202s.

1840 hrs  Air raid alert.  The first formation of two Italian SM 84s with a close escort of Italian fighters heads for Ta Qali.  The bombers drop twelve 100kg bombs on the Imtarfa area.  A separate formation of German and Italian fighters is spotted to the north east of Gozo.  P/O Hurst, 603 Squadron, attacks one bomber from 300 yards to point-blank range and sees strikes on the aircraft.  Hurst is hit by return fire and loses all his glycol.  Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Parkinson is then jumped by another fighter and has to bale out.  He is slightly injured and is rescued later.

1930 hrs  All clear.

2000-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.

2015-2130 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on dusk patrol: nil report.

2215-2245 hrs; 2330-2335 hrs; 2359-0045 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 25 aircraft cross the Island, including Italian and German bombers with fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Qrendi, Marsaxlokk, Hal Far, Luqa, Kalafrana, Boschetto, Ta Qali, Marfa and Rabat.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0150-0245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Unidentified enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Luqa area, destroying one Wellington and one Beaufort.

Military casualties  Private James Hoare, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Colour Sergeant Thornton Springett, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Carmela Spiteri, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  SS King of England returned from Marsaxlokk escorted by ML 462, having recovered 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Whitley, two Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Whitley from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, one Blenheim from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot safe.

2 July 1942: Fire bombing of Boschetto Camp Kills 7; Injures 11

Boschetto

Seven RAF servicemen were killed when enemy bombers targeted the RAF camp in Boschetto Gardens in the early hours of this morning.  Three high explosive bombs hit the tented camp at 0100 hrs.  One landed directly on a tent and the others exploded nearby, causing considerable damage to tents, marquees and equipment.  Seven servicemen were killed and two were rushed to hospital with extensive wounds.  Eleven more were taken to hospital later, either suffering from injuries or severe shock.

Dozens of incendiary bombs were also dropped in the raid, setting fire to the trees which burst into flames.  Despite the ongoing air raid, all available men grabbed fire extinguishers and sand buckets to put out the flames.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; little cloud.

0830-0920 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron intercept six ME 109s.  F/O Mitchell damages one ME 109.  P/O Hurst is reported missing.

0920 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They engage eight ME 109s and five Cant 1007 bombers.  S/Ldr Lucas and F/Sgt Parkes each destroy one ME 109.  W/O Ramsay damages a starboard engine of one aircraft and sees pieces fly off the port wing.  F/Sgt De Nancrede scores hits on the leading bomber and damages the port bomber.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne and see a Cant 1007 with 20 strong fighter escort.  P/O King and P/O Glazebrook together probably destroy a Macchi.  Both pilots are then attacked head-on and they crash land at Ta Qali.

0955-1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  The five Cant 1007s drop thirty 100kg and five 50kg bombs on Safi and Kalafrana.  Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack.  P/O Smith damages one Cant and destroys one ME 109.  F/O Mitchell and P/O Newman both attack a bomber, leaving his engine smoking.  Sgt Parkinson and P/O Johnson each damage one RE 2001.

1055-1205 hrs; 1205-1245 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron, then two of 603 Squadron search for P/O Hurst.

1245-1400 hrs  Four Spitfires attack a fishing smack south of Kalafrana.

1400 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy bombers.

1420 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88 bombers escorted by four fighters drop bombs on Luqa from 23000 feet,  killing two civilians and wounding two civilians and two servicemen.  One Beaufighter is slightly damaged.  The Spitfires attack the JU 88s.   P/O Spradley damages the centre one; P/O Linton damages another.  P/O Daddo-Langlois attacks the port bomber and the crew bales out 40 miles north of the Island.  F/Sgt Middlemiss spots a ME 109 on the tail of P/O Kelly.  He opens fire and sees the ME 109 dive down and splash into the sea.  P/O Kelly does not return.

1455 hrs  All clear.

1505-1615 hrs  Spitfires of 249 Squadron search for P/O Kelly but find nothing.

1825-1842 hrs  Air raid alert.

1855-2000 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol to cover minesweepers.

1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight eight Cant 1007s with a 15 strong fighter escort.  S/Ldr Lucas damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Parkes also damages one ME 109 which is last seen diving down.  F/Sgt De Nancrede is hit in the engine in a head-on attack and crash-lands at Ta Qali.

1946-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Cants drop 100kg bombs on Luqa, safi and Hal Far from 20000ft.

2300-2307 hrs; 0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Italian and German bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on scattered areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

0055-0154 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft drop bombs on Luqa.  One Beaufighter is airborne.  P/O Fumerton fires a one-second burst at a JU 88 which causes an explosion.  A further burst sets the bomber on fire and it falls into the sea.  Four pilots of 249 Squadron search for a pilot in the sea 10-12 miles north of Grand Harbour.  They locate him and observe the launch completing the rescue.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Norman Clark, Royal Air Force; Aircraftsman 1 Cecil Clarke Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Corporal Gilbert Cruickshank, RAF; Pilot Officer John Hurst DFC, RAF VR, Leading Aircraftsman John Johnson, RAF VR; Aircraftsman Harry Lapish, Mentioned in Despatches, RAF VR; Aircraftsman George Meyrick, RAF VR; Corporal Bertie Nichols, RAF VR; Leading Aircraftsman J Portelli, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweeping in progress. 22 mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Hudsons, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire badly shot up in combat: pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot missing, believed killed.  One Spitfire shot down in combat into the sea: pilot missing, believed killed.  Two Spitfires crashed on landing after combat: both pilots safe.  One Spitfire force-landed after combat: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  Three Malta-based Wellingtons attacked an enemy convoy of three merchant ships and one destroyer, 8 miles from Madonna Isle and heading south-easterly.  The largest of the merchant vessels was targeted and a direct hit claimed, as well as several near-misses.  Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes and a small faire was observed on one of the merchantmen.

3 July 1942: On the Trail of a Convoy

Santa Maria de Leuca

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JULY TO DAWN 4 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud.

0855-0940 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a formation of three Cant 1007s escorted by about 12 fighters.  The bombers drop twenty-one 100kg bombs on Lija and Attard from 21000 feet.

1145-1235 hrs; 1350-1410 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighters on patrol.

1820 hrs   Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched to act as cover for arriving Beauforts.  Eight more are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.

1830-1845 hrs; 1935-1945 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighter sweeps.

2235-2240 hrs; 2330-2333 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

0015-0124 hrs  Air raid alert for 14 raiders; 10 cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa, Qawra and Dingli.  Several delayed-action bombs are dropped near the runway extension and the cuttings at Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Lance Sergeant Randolph Dutton, 10 Battery, 7 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Grace Borg, age 30; Mary Gauci, age 53.  Floriana  Laurence Cauchi, age 26.  Hamrun  Eleonora Apap, age 66.  Rabat  Consiglio Portellil, age 53.  Siggiewi  Laurence Cutajar, age 62; Josephine Muscat, age 52; Emanuel Muscat, age 22; Rosina Muscat, age 20; Mary Concetta Muscat, age 16; Saviour Muscat, age 7; Joseph Schembri, age 50. Sliema  Peter Cordina, age 57.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 3 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Four mines swept. Channel considered clear as far as Zonkor Point.

AIR HQ  Arrivals    Three Hudsons, two Beauforts, one Wellington, six Whitleys from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire suffered engine failure and crashed into the sea: pilot safe.  Two Beauforts failed to return from shipping strike: crew missing.

TA QALI  Corporal Thomas and Leading Aircraftsman Portelli died of their injuries at Imtarfa Hospital.

LUQA  Three aircraft attacked a convoy of three 9000 ton merchant vessels and seven destroyers, thirty miles from Sapienza.  The pilots reported near-misses on two of the merchantmen.  Another Wellington of 38 Squadron attacked with one torpedo but could not see results due to a smoke screen.  Four Beauforts escorted by five Beaufighters carried out a dusk attack on a convoy of eight destroyers and three 7000 ton merchant vessels steaming south east…miles from Sapienza.  One of the merchant ships was hit, causing much smoke and a red glow.  Another was possibly hit.

4 July 1942: Morale Remains High Says Governor

From: Governor & C in C Malta                To:  C in C Middle East                              Rptd: War Office   Military situation report week ending 4 July 42

St George’s Barracks

2.  Enemy aircraft destroyed: by Ack Ack at night 2 bombers.  By Beaufighters at night 8 bombers.  By Spitfires 2 JU 88s, 3 Cants, 9 fighters.  Probably destroyed or damaged by RAF P 7 bombers, 18 fighters.  For loss of 6 Spitfires and 8 damaged.

3.  Offensive air action limited to 11 sorties by Wellingtons against enemy convoys.

4.  Military casualties.  5 Other Ranks killed, 9 Other Ranks wounded.  Training of soldiers as winchmen, chargehands, etc for unloading future convoy proceeding.  Morale remains high.

BEAUFORTS MISSING AFTER CONVOY RAID

This afternoon a Baltimore sent to find the main convoy from Taranto sighted the three merchant vessels with an escort of eight destroyers 15 miles south of the island of Zante, heading south westerly.  Eight Beauforts were despatched to launch a dusk attack.  They found the convoy ten miles south of Sapienza and attacked, claiming at least one hit.  However, the Beauforts failed to return.  Three Wellingtons launched a second attack with torpedoes and bombs, claiming near misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Beaufort crew: no sighting.

0810 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Italian SM 84s with an escort of ME 109s, Macchi 202s and Re 2001s drop bombs between Attard and Luqa, where they destroy the Signals Maintenance section and damaging another building.  The Spitfires spot the Italian bombers and fighters and attack.  S/Ldr Lucas destroys one bomber; F/Lt Daddo-Langlois and F/Sgt Middlemiss together destroy a second and F/Sgt Rae the third.

0855-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron patrol above the rescue launch and then intercept six Macchi 202s.  P/O King is shot up but unhurt.

0905-1050 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron continue a patrol for the rescue launch as it searches for Italian air crew in the sea.

1550-1555 hrs; 1615-1645 hrs  Air raid alert: raids do not materialise.

1730-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1935 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1948 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Cant 1007s with 15 fighters drop bombs on Ta Qali and Musta.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron attack the raiders.  F/Sgt De Lara damages one Italian fighter.  P/O McElroy probably destroys one RE 2001 and sees two others spinning downwards.  Fighters jump S/Ldr Lucas, damaging his aircraft.

2000 hrs  All clear.

2130-2205 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

2215-2305 hrs; 2315-2359 hrs; 0250-0425 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 26 aircraft approach the Island; 18 cross the coast.   Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Mosta, Imtarfa, Wardia, Naxxar, Floriana and Valetta.  Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Edward Walker, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Andrew Coleiro, age 53.  Siggiewi  Concetta Frendo, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed into the sea in transit from Malta to Kasfareet: crew missing.  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 60.  Dealt with: high explosives 31 (3 x 500kg, 11 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg, 7 AP containers); German 2kg anti-personnel (AP) 275; Italian 2kg AP 46; large no of dud German 1kg incendiaries collected.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group, 1994

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

 
 

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21-27 June 1942: An Ounce of Cheese a Day (28g) as Rations Cut

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21 June 1942: Rations Too Low for Physical Labour

Military rations are now too low for physical exertion, according to medical chiefs.  With the failure of the recent convoys, food stocks are now critical and supplies are not expected in the immediate future.  As a result there will be no increase in the daily allowance – and further cuts in rations cannot be ruled out.   

A typical daily military ration now includes just 12oz (340g) of bread, 1oz (28g) of margarine and ½oz (14g) jam or marmalade, with 1oz (28g) each of tea, tinned milk and sugar.  Meals are small.  On a Monday, for example, the lunch allowance consists of ¾oz (21g) of tinned bacon and 1 oz (28g) of tinned cheese, dinner provides 6oz (170g) of preserved meat, 1oz (28g) of onions, 8 oz (227g) of potatoes and of fresh vegetables plus 2oz (57g) of tinned fruit and 3½oz (99g) of flour. 

In a report released today, the chief of Malta’s military Medical Services writes:  “It is agreed that the present ration is insufficient for men carrying out hard manual labour and training, as is the case with an appreciable number of troops.  A supplemental ration scale is considered advisable and has been recommended.  Arduous training and P.T. although not officially countermanded on paper, is not being carried out in practice.” (1)

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TOBRUK FALLS

At dawn yesterday morning an Axis air attack was launched on Tobruk, followed by a heavy ground offensive.  Last night reports were received in Malta that Tobruk had fallen to Rommel’s forces.

MALTA FORCES ON THE ATTACK

Overnight one aircraft attacked a southbound enemy convoy of two 10000 ton merchant vessels and three destroyers 32 miles from Cape Bon.  The leading merchant vessel was hit and a minute after leaving the target a dull red glow was seen.

Nine Beauforts with Beaufighter escort also attacked a convoy of two merchant ships with one escort vessel, to the south of Cape Bon.  Against heavy opposition, five of the Beauforts attacked, scoring two hits on each merchant vessel.  Another aircraft which managed to hit the vessels failed to return.  An escort vessel was also hit.  One of the enemy ships was believed to be the Reichenfels and which was later identified a considerable distance away, enveloped in smoke.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JUNE TO DAWN 22 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0652-0727 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on intercept patrol: no engagement.

0705-0815 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are ordered up to cover the departure of Blenheim aircraft from Malta.

0750-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three ME 109s carry out reconnaissance of the Island at 23000 feet.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept but do not engage; they land at 0845 hrs.

1400-1435 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol Gozo: nothing sighted.

1710-1745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no interceptions.

1910 hrs  Air raid alert.

1945 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  F/SGt Yarra destroys two ME 109s and damages one JU 88; F/Sgt Sim destroys one ME 109.  F/Sgt Conway is shot up and crash-lands at Ta Qali; he is seriously injured.  F/Sgt Terry is also shot up and crash-lands on the Attard Field dispersal area; he is unhurt.

2002 hrs  Alert for one JU 88 and 12 ME 109s.  Spitfires destroy three ME 109s and damage the JU 88.  Two Spitfires crash-land.

2025-2125 hrs  Enemy raiders are reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled too late to intercept and see nothing.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2233-2341 hrs; 0245-0356 hrs  Two air raid alerts for a total of 28 JU 88 bombers.   Luqa is the main target but bombs also fall in the areas of Hal Far, Hamrun, Ta Qali, Verdala, Naxxar and Dingli.  Flares are used to illuminate targets.  A field of wheat is set on fire at Safi.

0445 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Squadron Leader Robert Lynn, Royal Air Force, 217 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 21 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Catalina, one Spitfire, one Blenheim from Gibraltar; two Lodestars from Heliopolis via 121.  Departures  One Wellington, two Hudsons, eight Blenheims to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down; pilot injured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing from combat; pilot safe.  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft during a strike; pilot injured, remainder of crew safe.  Three Beauforts missing from operations; crews missing.  One Blenheim missing in Transit from Gibraltar to Malta; crew missing.  One Blenheim missing in transit from Malta to LG 224.

HAL FAR  2330 hrs  Two Albacores and two Swordfish are despatched on a strike mission; nothing sighted.

LUQA  0600-0918 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted three merchant vessels without escort in the Cape Bon area.  1145-1404 hrs  Six Beaufighters 235 Squadron on escort duties attacked two JU 88s and two SM79s.  F/O Wood and S/L Cook destroyed one SM 79; F/O Underwood destroyed two JU 88s; F/O Eyre damaged one SM 79.  1120-1425 hrs  Eight Beauforts 217 Squadron on shipping strike located and attacked the convoy, scoring two hits on each merchant vessel and one possible hit by one of three Beauforts which failed to return.  1240-1600 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted two destroyers and one merchant vessel.  1713-2100 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted two merchant vessels of 5-6000 tons, two liners and two destroyers.   2245-0518 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search located a convoy of two merchant vessels and three destroyers.

22 June 1942: Raids Increase – Crops at Risk

Flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

Some 40 JU 88 bombers have attacked Malta since yesterday.  An estimated 50,000 kg of bombs were dropped in just 24 hours, in the heaviest round of bombing raids for many days.    All of the attacks have been in the hours of darkness: the enemy has adopted a new tactic of using flares to illuminate the targets.  Incendiary bombs have been widely used, causing damage to crops.  The Government is planning to warn  farmers and householders to remove all flammable materials into shelter.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0530 hrs  Air raid alert.

0555-0630 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover the arrival of delivery aircraft; nothing sighted.

0835 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept three enemy fighters which approach and carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.  The Spitfires do not engage and land at 0920 hrs.

0935-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an incoming plot which proves friendly.

1158-1245 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1252 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled but the aircraft is friendly.

1323-1446 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled for a reported raid which did not come in.

1745 hrs  Air raid alert for six approaching ME 109 fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  The Messerschmitts withdraw.

1918 hrs  Six more ME 109s are reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  F/Sgt Reid destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Ferraby also fires but without result.

2239 hrs  Air raid alert.  27 enemy aircraft approach, including a dozen JU 88s which drop incendiary bombs in the Luqa area, damaging one barrack block, and in the Safi dispersal area, damaging one Spitfire.

0250 hrs; 0322 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for single enemy bombers which drop bombs mainly on Luqa, Safi and Hal Far but also Baida Ridge.  A Bofors gun position in Qrendi is hit, killing one Other Rank and wounding two others. One Other Rank is wounded by an anti-personnel bomb at Boschetto.

Military casualties  Bombardier Richard Clee, 182 Battery, 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Cornelius Falvey, 186 Battery, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Sergeant Francis Hancocks, 186 Battery, 74 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 22 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Eleven mines swept in entrance channels. Two parachute mines reported dropped off Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, five Beauforts from LG 05; five Beaufighters from LG 224.  Departures  One Wellington to Shallufa; one Wellington, three Blenheims, one Beaufort to LG 224; two Lodestars, one Spitfire to Heliopolis; one Cataline, two Hudsons to Gibraltar; four Beaufighters to Edcu.  Aircraft casualties  One Sea Gladiator damaged on the ground by enemy aircraft.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of Catania, Gerbini, Biscara, Gela and Pachino LG.  One Spitfire PR Lecca aerodromes.  One Spitfire PR of two large merchant vessels, then three small and one large merchant ship in Palermo.  One Spitfire PR Palermo shipping. 

0700-1135 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings, only an oil patch and debris.  1435-1509 hrs  Four Spitfires 129 Squadron act as escort for delivery aircraft: no combat.  2248-0415 hrs  Two Wellingtons (38 Squadron and S/D Flight) on strike mission but made no attack.  2159-0432 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol located a convoy of two large merchant vessels and three destroyers: possible hit on one merchant vessel.  2209-0500 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol on patrol located two large merchant ships and two destroyers with two smaller vessels: a near miss is scored on one destroyer.  2203-0524 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol: no attack.

TA QALI  Flying personnel 89 Squadron arrived and were posted to 1435 Flight.

23 June 1942: Malta Pilots Halt Enemy Convoy

Beaufort 39 Squadron Luqa waits for take-off

An attack was launched from Malta today by twelve Beauforts with Beaufighter escort.  They targeted a convoy of four destroyers and two large merchant vessels steaming eastwards, 31 miles from Cape Spartivento.  One merchant vessel was hit four times and was seen to go down at the stern.  The other merchant vessel was probably hit twice and a destroyer was also hit, causing an explosion.  All ships were left stationary.  A photo-reconnaissance pilot today confirmed that the larger of the two ships is still sitting low at the stern.

A single aircraft launched a solo attack on another convoy of one merchant vessel 5-6000 tons with another small vessel, 30 miles off Cape Bon.  Heavy clouds prevented any report of results.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JUNE TO DAWN 24 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0820-0915 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept nine approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight six ME 109s and get into a dogfight.  P/O Slade damages one ME 109 and another is later seen in the sea.  P/O Glenn damages one ME 109.

1100-1150 hrs; 1125-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires at a time from Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1445-1545 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of Baltimores and Beauforts from their shipping strike.

1700 hrs  A large plot of enemy aircraft is reported approaching the Island, including eight Cant 1007s and seven BR 20s flying in several formations with fighter escort.  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Vineyard damages one ME 109.

1740 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 603 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three Cants flying in tight formation, with an escort of Italian fighters.  P/O Slade damages one ME 109; P/O Glenn damages another.  F/O MacLeod destroys a Macchi 202 and damages another.  Three pilots shared in the destruction of another Macchi.  One Spitfire is destroyed (pilot uninjured) and one slightly damaged.

1815 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  Three BR 20s escorted by fighters get through to drop 10kg anti-personnel bombs and 50kg high explosives on Ta Qali and Mosta, causing civilian damage and casualties. One Other Rank of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment is killed and another seriously wounded by an anti-personnel bomb.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to assist but do not intercept.  F/Sgt McNamara crash-lands; he is unhurt.

2100 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2235 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of JU 88 bombers.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit (MNFU) from Luqa on intercept patrol probably destroys one JU 88.  The remaining aircraft drop bombs including incendiaries on Luqa.  One Spitfire is burned out.

2335 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for another approaching formation, this time of twenty enemy aircraft.  Ten cross the coast and drop bombs, including incendiaries mainly on Luqa but also Qurmi, Ta Karach, Marsa, Hamrun, Zurriek, Nigret and Rabat.  Flares are used to illuminate targets.

2340-0110 hrs  One Beaufighter MNFU is on intercept patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Walter Hillman, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Aircraftsman 1st Class Anthony Vella, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Kalafrana.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Paul Bonnano, age 45; Matthew Bonanno, age 4; James Mangion, age 67; Catherine Micallef, age 57.  Mqabba  Catherine Saliba, age 72.  Zejtun  Laurence Spiteri, age 62; Joseph Spiteri, age 55.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Wellingtons, one Spitfire, five Blenheims, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; four Wellingtons from 231 Wing.  Departures  One Beaufort, one Beaufighter, nine Spitfires, seven Wellingtons to LG 224; two Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Lodestar to Heliopolis. 

Aircraft casualties  One Wellington in taxiing accident; crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot safe.  One Spitfire crashed on take-off; pilot safe.  One Beaufort shot down while attacking a convoy; crew missing.  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft while attacking a convoy; pilot injured, crew safe.  One Beaufort missing after shipping strike; crew missing.  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot safe.

HAL FAR  Naval Air Service is stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located two large merchant ships and four destroyers. One Spitfire PR Messina, Palermo and Trapani Harbour located one merchant ship off Trapani, three more in Trapani.  One Baltimore PR sighted oil patches; one destroyer appeared to be damaged and in tow.  One Spitfire PR located two motor torpedo boats, plus three destroyers and one merchant vessel in Palermo, and three merchant ships at Pantelleria. 

1138-1535 hrs  Eight Beaufighters 238 Squadron on escort located an enemy convoy of two merchant vessels and four destroyers, plus one Cant 501, two CR 42s and one ME 109: no combat.  1110-1519 hrs  Twelve Beauforts 217 and 39 Squadron locate and attack four destroyers and two large merchant vessels, scoring three hits and one probable hit on one merchant ship and two hits on the other.  All ships were reported stationary after the attack.  Two aircraft of 39 Squadron failed to return; one of 217 Squadron crashed on landing.  Three aircraft were slightly damaged by anti-aircraft fire.  2200-0507 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping search: no sightings.  2208-0525 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight located one merchant ship and a small vessel: no hits scored.

24 June 1942: Solo Attacker Targets Enemy Convoy

Wellington bomber

The damaged merchant vessel observed yesterday in the Straits of Messina is now reported under tow by a destroyer.  Tonight a single Wellington aircraft attacked a convoy of two large merchant vessels and one destroyer 50 miles from Taranto, heading north.  On sighting the positioning flares, the convoy closed in and put up an intense smoke-screen.  The attacker dropped bombs in middle of the smoke-screen but was unable to observe the results.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JUNE TO DAWN 25 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0805-0840 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: no combat.

0935 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy fighters carrying out a patrol: no combat.

1125-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft which proves friendly.

1200-1245 hrs; 1545-1620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, followed by another four are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1724-1815 hrs; 1820-1900 hrs; 2000-2035 hrs  Patrols by our Spitfires 185 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and four of 126 Squadron: nil report.

2330 hrs; 0215 hrs; 0405 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 19 enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack destroy one JU 87: the pilot, an Italian, survives and is taken prisoner.  A Beaufighter of Malta Night Fighter Unit destroys one JU 87 and an unidentified four-engined aircraft.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

0405-0630 hrs  A Beaufighter of 1435 Flight Ta Qali on patrol sights a JU 88.  F/O Fumerton and P/O Bing follow and open fire: the bomber bursts into flames and explodes.

Military casualties  Lance Corporal James Byrne, 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three mines swept away.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Sunderlands from Aboukir; one Hudson, one Catalina, one Blenheim Bisley from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Wellingtons from LG 15.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Blenheim Bisleys to LG 224; one Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two Spitfires, one Lodestar to Heliopolis; two Sunderlands to Aboukir; four Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Wellington to LG 106.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located one large merchant ship and four destroyers stationary plus two small vessels in Crotene Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Trapani, Messina and Palermo, locating five small ships outside Trapani Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Marittimo, Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Kerkennah.  One Spitfire visual reconnaissance Messina observes a tanker and train ferry. 

0703-1125 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on search located one small merchant vessel in Lampedusa Harbour.  1915-1930 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron airborne on search but wireless telegraph equipment failed.  1540-2035 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search Messina Straits: no sightings.  2157-0715 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron on shipping search was joined from 0228 hrs by another and three Wellingtons S/D Flight to attack.  One Wellington attacked: no results were observed due to a smoke screen.

25 June 1942: Gunners Help Spitfires in Attack

Pinpoint firing from Heavy Ack Ack gunners helped Spitfire pilots destroy two enemy fighters today.  In recent days ME 109s attempting patrols of the Island have managed to escape pursuing Spitfires before they could engage.

Malta photo-reconnaissance reports that the enemy merchant vessel damaged in recent air raids has reached Taranto Harbour, where it is currently being unloaded and transferred to another ship.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JUNE TO DAWN 26 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0615 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and attack eight ME 109s carrying out a patrol but there are no claims.

0930-1005 hrs; 1050-1140 hrs   Patrols by four Spitfires 126 Squadron followed by two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1320-1330 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to patrol a given point: no air raid.

1340-1440 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover a photo-reconnaissance aircraft.

1625-1735 hrs; 1850-1915 hrs  Patrols by three Spitfires 249 Squadron and two Spitfires 126 Squadron: no combat.

1955 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept ME 109 fighters over Gozo.  P/O Berkeley probably destroys one; P/O Lattimer destroys two.  F/Sgt Tomkins is jumped and shot up over Gozo.  He makes it back to Ta Qali but crashes on the aerodrome.  His aircraft bursts into flames: he does not survive.

2044-2150 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to cover the return of friendly aircraft: nil report.

2205-0035 hrs  Three JU 87s attempt to bomb the Safi strip; one is destroyed by a Beaufighter on intercept patrol.

0317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten JU 88 bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs mainly on Luqa but also on Gudja, Zejtun, Hamrun and Paola. Incendiaries are dropped between Tarxien and San Giacomo causing several fires and damaging buildings, including some of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

0303-0432 hrs; 0331-0506 hrs   One Beaufighter 89 Squadron at a time carries out intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  F/Sgt Maurice Tomkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Stephen Matthews, Royal Air Force VR; Sergeant Wilfred Culbert, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force VR.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweepers and motor launches sweeping entrance channels. Fourteen mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibralter.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, two Blenheims to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crash-landed; crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.

LUQA  One aircraft on delivery crashed near Luqa and was destroyed.  Pilot F/Sgt Docherty was injured and two members of the crew were killed: Observer Sgt Matthews and Wireless Operator Sgt Culbert.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) sighted a tanker just north of Messina.  One Spitfire PR Taranto, Foggia and Naples located two merchant vessels and one destroyer off the Straits of Messina.  One Spitfire PR in Straits of Messina reported the two merchant vessels and one destroyer; one tanker had left.  One Spitfire PR of shipping Trapani, Palermo, Messina.  One Baltimore on shipping patrol east of Catania.  Two Beaufighters 235 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings except for a floating body. 

2032-2250 hrs  Three Beaufighters 235 Squadron despatched to escort Wellington strike: nothing seen en route.  2100-0520 hrs  Three Wellingtons on search and attack mission located one tanker and two destroyers.  One Wellington attacked with bombs but torpedoes were brought back.  2102-0612 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight and two 38 Squadron on shipping search and attack.  One Wellington attacked a convoy of one tanker and two destroyers: no hits; torpedoes brought back.  2209-0612 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search and attack, attacked two merchant vessels and one destroyer: no results observed.

26 June 1942: Italians Attempt Daylight Raid

Cant Z 1007 bombers

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JUNE TO DAWN 27 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0750 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled but the raid does not materialise.

0915 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter on patrol: no combat.

1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  An enemy fighter on patrol does not approach the Island.

1220 hrs  Air raid alert for another single ME 109.  Six Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

1802 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve ME 109s which approach and carry out a fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert for the main formation, including five Cant Z1007s, 15 Macchi 202s as well as Re 2001 fighters. escorted by twelve fighters.  Eight more Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/O Currie destroys one ME 109.  One Macchi 202 is also destroyed.  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron join the attack: F/Lt West destroys one Re 2001.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat.  Sticks of anti-personnel bombs are dropped from Ta Xbiex, Msida, Guardamangia and across to Luqa. Bombs are also dropped in the Luqa area, killing one man who was handling an unexploded bomb canister.

2032-2138 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

0045 hrs  Air raid alert  One enemy aircraft drops bombs in the sea off Zonkor Point.

0045-0117 hrs  One Beaufighter on intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  Fusilier William Wootton, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Anthony Caruana, age 13; Henry Cassar, age 2; Mary Tanti, age 17; Concetta Tanti, age 13. Mosta  Gerald Camilleri, age 33. Msida  Lilian Dimech, age 17; Carmelina Dimech, age 12; Josephine Dimech, age 7; Mary Dimech, age 6; Rita Dimech, age 3.  Qormi  Anthony Borg, age 59; George Borg, age 35.  Sliema  John Attard, age 25.  Ta’ Xbiex  Agnes Smith, age 47.  Zurrieq  Catherine Darmanin, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Six mines swept.  Surface plot investigated by Beaufighters with any tangible result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson en route from Gibraltar to Matruh crashed on Malta.  Departures  One Blenheim to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson engine failed and crashed on landing; observer and wireless operator killed; rest of crew injured.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located three merchant vessels and one destroyer at sea, and two merchant ships leaving Taranto.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron reconnaissance Cape Spartivento and Corfu: nothing sighted.  One Spitfire PR located one convoy of three merchant vessels and one destroyer, then another of one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats.

27 June 1942: Rations Cut Below Healthy Levels

GOVERNOR’S REPORT: WEEKLY MILITARY SITUATION FOR WEEK ENDING 27 JUNE 1942

From:- Governor & C in C Malta               To:- C in C Middle East              Rpt:- The War Office             

1.  Air:  No attempt to bomb merchant vessels in harbour.  Enemy activity over Island by only strong fighter patrols and eight Italian bombers.  At night total of approximately 90 raiders, some identified as JU 87s and JU 88s.  Main target Luqa and many anti-personnel, incendiaries and high explosive dropped by aid of flares.  Military damage very slight. 

Enemy aircraft casualties 15 fighters destroyed.  Two fighters probably destroyed; five bombers, seven fighters damaged by RAF during daylight for the loss of two Spitfires destroyed and two damaged.  Night Beaufighters destroyed four bombers (word corrupt) at night destroyed two bombers.  One Italian prisoner taken confirms other evidence that Italians now flying JU 87s.

35 sorties by Malta-based torpedo aircraft.  At least four merchant vessels, one destroyer hit for the loss of five Beauforts and five damaged.

2.  Military:  Army working parties employed distributing cargoes ex convoy from dumps to consignees.  Working parties on aerodromes decreased by half.  Calorific value of army ration now 2200 calories which necessitates reduced physical exertion.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; a few small scattered clouds below the main cloud blanket.

0748 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing sighted.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0945-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, led by F/L Daddo-Langlois, are airborne and jump eight Macchi 202 fighters.  P/O Verrall, F/Sgt and F/Sgt Rae each destroy one Macchi.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys another and F/Sgt Middlemas damaged a fifth.  Three of the enemy fighters are observed in the water, all within 200 yards of each other.

1020-1145 hrs; 1128-1214 hrs; 1220-1330 hrs; 1455-1515 hrs; 1544-1637 hrs; 1620-1720 hrs  Intercept patrols by eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa, two from Hal Far, four from 603 Squadron, two from 601 Squadron, four from Hal Far, then four Spitfires 603 Squadron: no combat.

1755-1825 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are despatched to search for E Boats suspected 15 miles from the coast: no sightings.

1840-1945 hrs; 1930-2050 hrs  Intercept patrols by four Spitfires 601 Squadron, twelve Spitfires from Hal Far: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Ivo Falzon, age 37.  Zejtun  Louis Zammit, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  One mine cut. Sweeping curtailed by unfavourable weather.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson en route from Gibraltar to LG 15 landed at Malta.  Departures  One Hudson to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto, Grottagli and Brindisi observes a tanker in Taranto.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 80; dealt with high explosives 15 (1 x 500kg, 8 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 1 x 35kg; 1 x AP container); dealt with 2kg x 300 plus few 2kg Italian and a large number of German 1kg incendiaries.

(1) Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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

 
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28 May 1942: Eyes of the World on Malta

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Lord Gort

LORD GORT ADDRESSES MALTA GOVERNMENT

When Lord Gort, Governor of Malta, presided for the first time over the Malta Council of Government, he declared in reply to an address of welcome that the eyes of the whole world were upon the Island.  The three services and the civilian population, he said, stand together, and the fortunes of each are inextricably bound together. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MAY TO DAWN 29 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh.  Fair; 90% cloud above 20000 feet.  Visibility 15 miles.

0950 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne to intercept enemy fighters but are unable to catch them.

1030 hrs  The air raid warning sounds as the hostile fighters approach and carry out a fighter sweep over the Island.

1403-1454 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy fighters.  The air raid alarm sounds at 1415 hrs as they approach.  The Spitfires do not engage and the fighters complete a sweep over the Island.

1505-1645 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft which carry out a fighter sweep with no combat.

1638 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept a formation of 24 aircraft, including fighter bombers and fighters.  F/S Schade claims one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1715 hrs  The air raid sounds as the hostile aircraft come within range of the Island.  They approach Luqa airfield and four fighter bombers drop bombs on Luqa airfield, injuring two airmen.

1750-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept another sweep of fighters: no interceptions.

2030-2115 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron is airborne on night patrol: no comabt.

2207-2220 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrol: no combat.

2232 hrs  Enemy bombers drop 100kg bombs on Luqa.  One lands between the old NAAFI buildings and airmen’s billets.

2258-0139 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

2306 hrs  Enemy raiders drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

0327-0759 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

0415 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy aircraft.

0428 hrs  Bombs are dropped in Grand Harbour.

0440 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish are airborne to attack a southbound convoy in the Pantelleria area.  Three Albacores return early with engine trouble.  The remaining aircraft did not locate the convoy.

LUQA  0803-1030 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Catania.  2121-0427 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for a convoy east of Malta.  One unescorted merchant vessel was sighted: no strike.  2102-0110 hrs  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched to attack a given sector of Catania aerodrome.  Bombs were seen to strike on or near main runway, among buildings and causing two small fires.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0725 hrs  Revert to normal.  E boats believed to have been laying mines.  Working parties continue at Luqa; party for Fuel and Light finished for the time being.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs Pte Meader is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 3 (1 x 1000kg;   2 x 500kg).

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

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Aerodrome working parties continue.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  0715 hrs  Revert to normal conditions.  0725 hrs  Beach posts informed of minesweeping activity at entrance to Grand Harbour.

(1)  AAP, Valletta – The Argus, Melbourne, 28 May 1942

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

 
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9 May 1942: 60 Spitfires Reach Malta

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OPERATION BOWERY A SUCCESS

Spitfires 601 Squadron

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MAY TO DAWN 10 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

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

Ready to take off from Wasp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1258 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1423 hrs  Raiders passed.

1531 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

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

1610 hrs  Messerschmitt 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

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

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

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

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

1700 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 9 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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30 April 1942: Axis Plan Immediate Invasion of Malta

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HITLER AND MUSSOLINI APPROVE ‘OPERATION HERKULES’

Hitler, Mussolini and Kesselring discuss invasion of Malta

The fate of Malta was in the balance today at a summit conference between Hitler and Mussolini with their military Chiefs of Staff in Berchtesgaden, Germany.  Two days of talks sealed plans for Operation Herkules, an invasion of the Island using paratroops, followed by a seaborne landing of infantry forces.

Believing Malta has now been neutralised as a base for offensive operations against the Axis, ‘Il Duce’ and Air Field Marshall Kesselring proposed the time is right to take the Island.  However, Field Marshall Rommel argued that this new freedom for Axis supply convoys to operate through the Mediterranean provides an opportunity to secure Egypt and the Suez Canal.  

With Hitler hesitating, anxious to avoid heavy paratroop losses on a par with Crete in 1942, Rommel won the day.  Plans for the invasion of Malta have been approved but placed on hold, pending the outcome of offensives in North Africa.                                                                 Film of Berchtesgaden Summit: Click Here

APRIL 1942: A MONTH OF MASS BOMBING

At the beginning of this month the enemy continued his mass bombing attacks on the Island.  The average number of bombers over the Island each day was approx 200 of which anything from 30 to 70 would be JU 87 and the remainder JU 88s.  Large daily totals of bombers of the Island are: 14th April 244; 20th April 297; 25th April 259.  Bomber formations always came over with strong fighter escorts.

Targets during the beginning of the month remained similar to last month: in particular the Dockyard area, submarine base and aerodromes and dispersal areas received most of the bombs.  About the middle of the month the Heavy Ack Ack [HAA] gun positions were singled out for attention and as hits were scored on several of these positions it became necessary to split them up wherever possible.  The enemy also selected as targets large buildings such as stores, workshops, etc and has on occasions made deliberate attacks on Valletta, great damage being done to that City.

It is interesting to compare the success of the various arms in the defence of Malta during this peak month of enemy bombing.  The Ack Ack defence was shared between the HAA, mainly 4.5” and 3.7” guns, the Light Ack Ack Bofors guns, and the Ack Ack light machine guns (Bren and Lewis guns) which were manned by the Infantry.

NWMA Malta

Up to 20th April the RAF had never been able to put more than about 10 fighters in the air at one time.  This was usually a mixed force of Spitfires and Hurricanes and was hopelessly outnumbered by the enemy fighters.  On 20th of this month [came] the arrival of 47 more Spitfires.  Despite this large addition only a fraction of this number appeared to take to the air at any one time.  The reason for this was that there was insufficient protection on the ground when they arrived and the enemy bombers were able to knock out a large number in this way.  This deficiency in aircraft pens the Infantry have since been working hard to remedy.  The RAF experienced serious difficulties in maintenance due to the bombing of their workshops.

Although this increase in our fighter strength undoubtedly caused an increase in the number of enemy planes shot down, the results were very disappointing.  On the other hand the Ack Ack defence was increasingly successful despite the fact that ammunition was rationed.  The Ack Ack light machine guns [LMG] of the Infantry were permitted to fire at low flying aircraft [shooting down enemy planes and contributing] to the destruction of many more.

On 25th of the month the enemy switched his attack to military camps, barrack buildings, hospitals and HAA gun positions in the north of the Island.  There was a great increase in military casualties as a result of these attacks…On 27th of the month Italian bombers made their appearance over the Island and the number of German bombers was reduced considerably.  Since then the scale of the attack was only about one third of its previous intensity.  War Diary, Southern Infantry Brigade, Malta, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 APRIL TO DAWN 1 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly: no cloud.  Warm haze.

0855-0925 hrs  Six enemy fighters patrol north of the Island.

1110 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an approaching formation of 30 enemy bombers plus fighter escort.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne from Ta Qali.

1115 hrs  One Spitfire from the interception force has engine trouble and lands at Luqa.

1120 hrs  18 JU 87 Stukas dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome.  Bombs explode on the short runway and in dispersal areas.  Two lorries are burned out and a Beaufort night-fighter damaged.  Luqa personnel with Ack Ack light machine guns engage enemy aircraft: no claims.

Three Spitfires 126 Squadron attack twelve JU 88s.  F/Lt Barton damages one JU 88 and P/O Bailey another.

1120 hrs  Ten JU 88s and three ME 109 fighter bombers raid Hal Far.  F/Sgt Gibbs is killed and other Fleet Air Arm personnel are injured; one civilian is seriously injured.  Bombs are dropped on the barrack block at Hal Far and near defence posts.  The main road is blocked but is immediately cleared by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  The Regt also fire 2800 rounds at enemy aircraft: no claims.

Four Spitfires 603 Squadron attack twelve JU 88s which have just bombed Hal Far.  F/Sgt Hurst probably destroys one JU 88 and F/Lt Buckston damages another.  Many ME 109s attack in a circuit over the aerodrome and one is hit by Spitfire guns.

Four JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by eight guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  Two guns claim hits on two separate JU 88s.

1130 hrs  Three JU 87s are engaged by HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

1132 hrs  four ME 109s machine-gun Delimara Fort and Ack Ack battery.

1135 hrs  Bombs explode near San Pietru.

1200-1210 hrs  Small arms fire from Ta Qali personnel brings down one ME 109 which is trying to intercept Spitfires landing on the airfield’s runway.

1215 hrs  Raiders passed.

1322 hrs; 1346 hrs  Air raid alerts.  ME 109s are observed in the vicinity of the Island but no raids materialise.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1728 hrs  Four Italian Cant Z 1007 bombers cross the north coast and drop 50kg bombs to the south of Mellieha.  They fly on towards Ta Qali and drop further 50kg bombs on Mosta and to the north of the airfield.

1740 hrs  A formation of twelve JU 88s plus five ME 109 fighter bombers and fighter escort approaches the Island.

1745 hrs  Twelve JU 88s and five ME 109s dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome, destroying 69 Squadron wireless section office.  One Spitfire, already written off, is completely destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on the Kirkop area and Loreto Church, as well as Tal Handaq and Siggiewi.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far and is engaged by B Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt. and is later seen to crash in the sea.  The pilot bails out: credit for the plane is given to 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt and 1st Bn Hampshire Regt.

1753 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims a hit on one ME 109 which is observed receding smoking.

1800 hrs  Raiders passed.

1855-1922 hrs  A German DO24 flying boat lands on the water on almost the same spot as the crashed ME 109 and takes off again.

2147-2200 hrs  One enemy raider comes in from the north and drops high explosive bombs on the Luqa and Safi area, and incendiaries nearby which are extinguished by the army.  Eight bombs are dropped from Ta Liebru to Loreto Church.

Night  Five more alerts for thirteen enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Luqa, Hal Far, Ghar Lapsi, Siggiew, Zurrieq, Kirkop and Safi strip.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Harold Gibbs, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Mellieha  Joseph Debono, age 40.  Mosta  Concetta Mifsud, age 80.   Senglea  Mary Zarb, age 10.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol off Pantelleria. Nothing to report.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons, three Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Seven Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Hudson to Gambut; one Wellington to Fayid.

LUQA  0945-1100 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Catania, Pachino and Gala aerodromes.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  0515 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” issued by Southern Infantry Brigade.     0600 hrs  Exercise “Action stations” issued.  0815 hrs  Exercise ends and Signal Exercise begins.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths  32 Officers, 190 Other Ranks.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  D Company still employed at Ospizio Depot.  Remainder of the Battalion carrying out administration and interior economy and salvaging their own kit where necessary.  1610 hrs  At last we have got the lights mended after fumbling in the gloom for two days in the orderly room: we can now see what we are doing.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.  Strengths:  33 Officers; 646 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 7 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Guns of A Company, 2nd Bn shot down one Messerschmitt.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Working party of 450 Other Ranks and 15 Officers still employed on Hal Far.  Strengths:  A Company Ta Karceppu 5 Officers, 120 Other Ranks (OR); B Coy Ta Salvatur 5 Officers 122 OR; C Coy Ta Hasluk 5 Officers 133 OR; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 OR; HQ Coy Ta Salvatur 14 Officers 272 OR. Chaplain & Medical Officer also attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Definite lull in mass air attacks.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  1230 hrs  F Troop return from rest camp and occupy their gun positions which had been manned in their absence by E Troop, 196 Battery Royal Artillery.

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5 April 1942: Rocket Bombs Hit Valletta

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Bombs on Floriana 5 April 1942 (NWMA Malta)

  • 176 bombers attack
  • 280 tons of bombs in four raids
  • Main targets: Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana
  • Five ships damaged

UXB CONFIRMS RETURN OF ROCKET BOMB TO MALTA 

“St Clements Bastion, bomb unit of rocket bomb; fuze recovered”  RE Bomb Disposal 5th April 1942 (1)

The first ‘Rocket Bombs’ recorded in World War II were dropped on Malta in January 1942 when RE Bomb Disposal were called to deal with an unusual UXB in Floriana. Their report to the War Office in London detailed a new and deadly weapon: a heavily-armoured 500kg bomb, made even more powerful by the addition of rocket propulsion.  The extra thrust was designed to aid the bomb’s penetration of warships and fortifications.

In the air the bombs were a terrifying sight, trailing flames several yards long as they fell.  The reintroduction of these bombs against Malta shows the Luftwaffe’s increasing determination to maximise destruction of all targets.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 APRIL TO DAWN 6 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly: slight haze.

0750 hrs  23 JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Dockyard and Floriana, dropping heavy high explosive bombs, including Rocket bombs.  The Victualling Yard is further damaged, another explosion blocks the tunnel leading to No 11 Shelter.  The Cooperage store and houses collapse.  Pinto Wharf and Filippo Sciberras Square in Floriana are hit; the popular First and Last Bar disappears.

1122 hrs  53 enemy aircraft come in from the north and drop bombs on the Dockyard area.  A near miss at the north end of Bakery Wharf causes serious subsidence.  Police Quarters, 27 Store and GD Station are rendered unsafe.  Bombs explode on Store Wharf, the Yard Machinery Shop and another tunnel.  A large bomb hits the side of No 2 Dock puncturing the caisson and flooding the dock.  Two large bombs hit No 1 Boiler Shop and Gunmounting Wharf, which is left with a 20 foot crater.  A large number of bombs land on the Dockyard School area: Corrodino Gate is hit and almost every road is blocked.  A large unexploded bomb is reported near Zabbar Gate.

1145 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs on Hal Far.  They are engaged by five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.

1215 hrs  All clear.

1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept large formations of JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s.  The Spitfires make individual attacks:  F/L Johnston probably destroys one ME 109; P/O Putman destroys one JU 88.  P/O Bisley destroys one JU 87 and damages one JU 88 before he is jumped by six ME 109s.  He is injured in the legs and hand, and lands at Ta Qali with his wheels up, from where he is taken to hospital.

1415 hrs  While 30 ME 109s patrol the Island, 40 JU 88s and 12 JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana, where the Capuchins Friary is almost completely destroyed, killing two.  Bombs also hit St Francis Street, the Granaries (St Publius Square), The Seminary, Great Siege Road and Pinto Wharf.  Several civilians are injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1426 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers approach Hal Far from the south.  Two drop bombs causing craters on the aerodrome.  Two are engaged by four guns of 225 LAA Bty: no claims.

1705 hrs  28 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two JU 88s are destroyed and one ME 109 damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1745 hrs  Six ME 109 fighter bombers attack Ta Qali but miss the runway.  Two others are engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: no claim.

2053; 2119 hrs  One enemy aircraft each time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2337-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island as well as other objects which drop more slowly.

0302-0418 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north: one drops HE and incendiary bombs on Luqa and Gudja, the other drops bombs in the sea.

0513-0605 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops incendiaries on the Rabat and Ta Qali area.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Frederick Barr, HMS Kingston; Thomas Lee, Telegraphist, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Reginald Prince, HMS Kingston; Ordinary Seaman Stanley Sellers, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Taylor, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Stanley Wilson, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Frederick Eager, HMS Penelope; Sergeant John Hawkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Hugh McKee, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Edmund Smith, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Kenneth Thomas, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR).

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Carmela Montague, age 33; Daniel Montague, age 13; Joseph Montague, age 11; Mary Montague, age 8.  Floriana  Antonia Attard, age 50; Joseph Borg, age 70.  Hamrun  Augustine Balzan, age 16; Marianna Borda, age 77; Frances Borg, age 40; Fr Clement Cauchi, age 67; Joseph Farrugia, age 48; Emanuel Grima, age 15; Concetta Sultana, age 6.  Marsa  Paul D’Amato, age 77.  Msida  Joseph Abela.  Rabat  Anthony Camilleri, age 42.  Tarxien  Mary Bonnello, age 11; Amadeo Micallef, age 44.  Valletta  Philip Camilleri, age 64.  Zebbug  Alfred Barbara, age 27.  Zejtun  Angelo Agius, age 29; Dolores Busuttil, age 2.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Havock sailed at 2000 hrs and ran ashore off Kelibia, being subsequently destroyed by her own crew at 0400 hrs on 6th April.  During raids on Grand Harbour, Abingdon and Gallant were damaged and beached.  Lance received a direct hit while in dock and was blown off the chocks and partially submerged.  Kingston and Plumleaf were also hit and damaged.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed taking off: crew and passengers unhurt.  Two Wellingtons crash-landed: crews unhurt.  One Beaufort crashed in flames at Luqa: no survivors.  One Beaufort missing: no further news.  

Arrivals  One Beaufighter, three Blenheims, three Wellingtons, two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Beauforts to Sidi Barrani.

LUQA  1040-1357 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance Tripoli railway-Gabes.

TA QALI  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Work on Pampas cut down to one Officer, 30 OR, 1200-2000 hrs.  Private J Firman injured at RT shed: admitted to hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  4 seater car, motor cycle and fitters shop demolished by bombs at Dockyard School.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and E and part of HQ Companies on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C & D Companies to commence training on 6th.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs on Casemate Bks causing damage to WOs & Sgts Mess.- no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 4 (2 x 500kg; 2 x 250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Working party of 200 Other Ranks and 3 Officers building protective walls for aircraft at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Sgt Ellis wounded by enemy action at St George’s Barracks: taken to 45 General Hospital.

(1)  UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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