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1-7 November 1942: Fuel Shortages Threaten Malta’s Role in War

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1 November 1942: ‘Spy Ship’ to Relieve Malta Fuel Shortage

Desperate shortages of aviation fuel in Malta have forced Allied naval commanders to come up with an innovative solution.  Intensive enemy air and sea activity makes it impossible to run a convoy through the eastern Mediterranean.  Instead, they have decided to send a captured former Italian ship disguised as an Axis supply vessel to carry supplies to the Island.

Former MS Rodi now Empire Patrol

The former Italian ship MS Rodi was seized by British Contraband Control at Malta on 10 June 1940, the eve of Italy’s declaration of war.  Renamed Empire Patrol she has since been in use by the Ministry of War Transport.

The plan is to disguise the ship under Turkish colours and send her unescorted through Turkish waters east of Cyprus.  She will then change to Italian colours and turn westwards, taking a standard route of Italian freighters bound from the Dardanelles to Southern Italy.

The Empire Patrol was loaded with 1200 tons of aviation fuel and 3000 tons of benzene, all carried in cans.  She left Alexandria this afternoon, steaming northwards at 15 knots.

E BOATS IN MALTA WATERS

Enemy E boats were spotted tonight off the coast by observers of 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment.  Reports described a flashing light out to sea off Delimara.  The searchlights at Fort Delimara were illuminated and gun batteries opened fire on the E boats: no claims are reported.  It is believed that the enemy vessels were engaged in minelaying.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 2 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy to fair; slight shower early.

No air raids.

1205-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled for a raid that does not materialise.  One Spitfire crashes, killing Pilot Officer Wright.  C Company 1st Bn Royal West Kent Regiment mount a guard on the crashed Spitfire at Tal Hlas Church, Zebbug.

2245 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light flashing out to sea.

0200 hrs  D and B Companies 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report lights exposed and two rounds fired by Fort Delimara.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Patrick Attenborough, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Austin Bettridge, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Douglas Jenkins, Royal Air Force VR; Flight Sergeant Arthur Smith, Royal Air Force; Wing Commander Hubert Styles, Royal Air Force, all 233 Squadron; Pilot Officer Russell Wright, Royal Air Force VR; Warrant Officer II Albert Powles, Royal Canadian Air Force; Private Thomas Seville, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 1 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 43 and P 37 were swept out by Hebe and Rorqual by Rye.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Beaufighter, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

LUQA  One Spitfire was sent on reconnaissance of Patras and a shipping search of Cape Katakola.  The 5-6000 ton tanker seen off Cape Maria di Leuca on 29 October was lying in the roads off Patras Harbour with a destroyer.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on shipping search of Sapienza south of Cape Matapan area sighted nothing.

TA QALI  No operations.

2 November 1942:  Operation Supercharge

‘Operation Supercharge’ tanks in W desert (c) IWM E18972

Overnight, Allied forces began an attack westward in the northern sector of the North African campaign under ‘Operation Supercharge’.  By dawn today they had reached their final objectives.  Meanwhile diversionary attacks were made in the central and southern sectors with some success.

RNAS ATTACK AXIS MERCHANT SHIP

Late this afternoon a Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit spotted a convoy of one 5000 ton merchant vessel, one destroyer and one flak ship 15 miles east of Tripoli and heading eastwards.  At 2300 hours one special Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched to attack.  At 0151 hours they found the convoy 45 miles east of Homs.  The Albacores dropped two torpedoes which were seen to run well but the results could not be observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 3 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine.

1340-1409 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island at a great height.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on a practice flight when they are diverted to intercept the approaching formation but they see no hostile aircraft.  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa, plus seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and four 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders: no sightings.

Raiders head for Luqa airfield and attack.  RAF Regiment ground defences open up with machine gunfire and destroy one ME 109 which blows up in the air and crashes near Kirkop.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Kirkop and Misrah Blandun.  Ack Ack guns also fire: no claims.

1617-1638 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy fighters approaching the Island at high altitude.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and are jumped by ME 109s.  Sgt Weir is injured in the thigh and crash-lands back at base.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but sight no raiders.  Six ME 109s cross the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

Enemy aircraft are reported as having a painted white band around the fuselage aft of the cockpit.

0436-0515 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers which drop bombs on Imtarfa, Rabat, Luqa, Zebbug and Birkirkara, damaging property, killing seven civilians and injuring 15.  Two nursing sisters are injured at Imtarfa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Malta fighters are airborne: no interceptions.

Military casualties   Nil.                                                 Civilian casualties  (See 3 November).

Enemy casualties  Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Slany, pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 35, P 44 and P 46 to sea for patrol swept out by Speedy and Parthian swept in by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Beauforts from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed due to enemy action: pilot injured.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron made photo-reconnaissance of Porto Empedocle.  27 Spitfire sorties were made against 54 plus enemy sorties.  10 Spitfire sorties were made in reconnaissance patrols north of Malta: no enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party 1 Officer 30 Other Ranks found by A Company to work for Royal Engineers in Floriana.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT C Company 1 Officer 50 Other Ranks on Luqa.  1 NCO 18 men assisting 173 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers on Luqa.

3 November 1942: Empire Patrol’s Cover Blown

At 1330 hours today Empire Patrol, sailing under Turkish colours with fuel supplies for Malta, was spotted by a German Dornier 215 on reconnaissance to the north west of Cyprus.  Three hours later the ship’s monitors picked up traces of a submarine which was evidently shadowing the merchantman.

The ship had already been plagued with electrical and diesel defects which threatened her power and compromised her potential for evading attack.  The Royal Naval Reserve Lieutenant in command of the ship decided its disguise had been compromised and decided to abandon the mission.  Empire Patrol headed straight for Famagusta.

HMS Clyde

There was some relief for Malta’s ongoing fuel shortage today as HMS Clyde arrived from Beirut with a cargo of petrol and torpedoes.  This will provide a temporary top-up, but supplies are still inadequate to support the Island’s air strength, to defend itself and support the war effort in North Africa, which is now at a critical stage.

MALTA WELLINGTONS DESTROY AXIS FUEL SUPPLY

Malta-based Wellingtons launched successful attacks on enemy supply shipping tonight.  Just after 10 pm Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were despatched to attack an enemy southbound convoy heading for Benghazi.  One Wellington found two medium merchant vessels with three destroyers 118 miles north of Benghazi and attacked.  Two Wellingtons from the Middle East were in the same area and set off flares to illuminate the target.  The Malta Wellington’s torpedo scored a hit on the bows of one heavily laden merchantman, leaving it stationary and down by the bows.

A second convoy of eight vessels, including a tanker, was found 80 miles north of Cape Aamer.  Two Wellingtons attacked with bombs and two with torpedoes.  One torpedo hit was scored aft of the tanker.  A reconnaissance aircraft later reported three separate oil patches each 500 feet across at the location of the attack.  Reports confirm that one tanker and one merchant vessel were hit by torpedoes and sunk.  All aircraft returned safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 4 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair, becoming cloudy.

0850-0900 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to practice flying and for intercept patrol: no sightings.

1047-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for about 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and sight two ME 109s but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1342-1425 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy fighters escorting fighter bombers approach the Island.  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and chase the raiders down to 10000 feet.  Yellow Section engages three Macchi 202s north of Grand Harbour: Sgt Gunstone destroys one.  One Spitfire receives a direct hit and is burned out.  A few raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, making one runway temporarily unserviceable, and on Mqabba.

1537-1606 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne for practice flying and intercept patrol sight two ME 109s and give chase but cannot catch them.  Raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Zejtun and on Hal Far, where a Spitfire suffers a direct hit and is destroyed on the ground.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1630-1720 hrs  Enemy fighters attack a submarine off south coast near Delimara.  4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment put up a protective barrage over the submarine.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to provide a protective patrol.

0100-0137 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers which cross the coast and drop bombs on Birzebbuga and the Hal Far-Kalafrana area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

0458-0637 hrs  Two Beaufighters on anti E boat patrol.  No E boats are seen but a schooner is sighted and shot up.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Roland Ambrose, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Thomas Bailey, RAF; Sergeant Charles Cockburn, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Elder, RAF; Flight Sergeant Ronald Mitchell, RAF VR; Sergeant Harold Warren, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Terence Sassoon, RAF VR; Sergeant Kenneth Thorne, RAF VR, all 202 Squadron.  Flying Officer Egbert Wall, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Lija  Anthony Camilleri, age 56; Saviour Cutajar, age 48; Peter Fenech, age 82; Joseph Galea, age 55; Carmela Zammit, age 24; Anthony Zammit, age 10.  Zebbug  Joseph Abdilla, age 11; Antonia Bonanno, age 16; Salvina Bonanno, age 7; Emanuel Buhagiar, age 29; Philip Muscat, age 75; Anthony Muscat, age 18; Carmela Muscat, age 5.  Gozo (Victoria)  Carmela Galea, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Beirut and was swept in by Hythe, Speedy and four MLs; a large escort was used as it was suspected that mines were laid last night.  Speedy swept P 211, P 212 and P 217 out, and Hythe swept out Una and Utmost, to join major operations in the Mediterranean.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3, one Wellington from LG 224; one Liberator from Middle East.  Departures  One Beaufighter to Abusuier; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one DC 3 to Middle East.

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party A Company continues to work for Royal Engineers in Floriana.  1530 hrs  Funeral of the late [Lance Corporal] Tarr.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1645 hrs  Private T Seville died in No 90 General Hospital as a result of a gunshot wound to the knee.

4 November 1942: 8th Army Breaks Axis Lines

Panzer tanks in Cyrenaica

Malta troops today heard the news that the 2nd Battle of El Alamein has been won by the Allies.  Sources in North Africa report that the 8th Army has broken through in the Middle East.  The Axis losses of men and equipment is so great that Rommel has ordered his Afrika Korps into full retreat.

The skies over Malta remained silent throughout the day, giving the Island time to reflect on the significance of this major step forward in the war in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 5 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

No air raids.

0600-0710 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron were airborne to provide cover for Beaufighters on anti E-boat patrol.  No enemy aircraft are seen.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Harold Bardsley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Green, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Ernest Jones, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Edward Sleigh, Royal Air Force;  Sergeant Thomas Millar, RAF VR; Sergeant John Ritchie, RAF VR; Warrant Officer Joseph Keough, Royal Canadian Air Force, all 210 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 4 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Turbulent was swept in by Rye, who later swept out HM Submarines Pandora and Turbulent – the last two of the twelve submarines sailing to take up position for a major forthcoming operation in the Mediterranean.  No mines have yet been swept in the areas where the E boats were operating on the past two nights.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons to Gianaclis.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photographic reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Catania harbour.

TA QALI  229 Squadron stood down.

5 November 1942: Axis Armies Taken Prisoner

Italians led into captivity at El Alamein

Having broken through the enemy’s position on the El Alamein line, the Eighth Army have continued in pursuit of Rommel’s forces throughout today.  The Allies have taken large numbers of Axis prisoners were taken and seized vast quantities of motor transport equipment and stores. The German rearguards have attempted a delaying action with fighting southwest of the Fuka escarpment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 6 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair.

1530-1557 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa join other fighters engaging the enemy: F/Lt Burgess damages one ME 109.

1929-1942 hrs  One Cant Z 1007 approaches the Island at 20000 feet and drops bombs in the sea over Comino Channel and St Paul’s Bay.  Beaufighter pilot S/Ldr Pain of 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept and shoots down the bomber in flames.  Two Italians are taken prisoner by the Gozo Patrol, 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  One of them is wounded and admitted to 45 General Hospital; the other is handed over to the Camp Commander at St Andrew’s.

2250-2331 hrs  Two enemy bombers approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea off St Paul’s Bay and Grand Harbour.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 5 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from LG 224; one Wellington from Gianaclis; one DC 3 from LG 224; two Beaufighters from Middle East.  Departures  One DC3, one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night  The ASV Swordfish was dispatched to provide illumination for an attack on E boats by Beaufighters.  The Swordfish located and illuminated the enemy vessels but the Beaufighter strike did not make contact.

LUQA  Seven Spitfires 69 Squadron were airborne for photo-reconnaissance.

6 November 1942: Four New Squadrons in Malta

Two new Beaufighter Squadrons are now to operate from Malta.  The first aircraft of 227 and 272 Squadrons arrived today to prepare for operations.  13 Beaufighters of 227 Squadron and 16 of 272 Squadron landed safely from the Middle East ready to begin operations immediately.  They were joined by 13 Beauforts of 39 Squadron which also arrived from the Middle East.

104 Squadron Vickers Wellington Mk II

Detachments of 40 Squadron and 104 Squadrons RAF have been posted to Malta.  The Wellington medium bomber squadrons which form 238 Bomber Wing are to operate from Luqa aerodrome for the time being as part of the Allied offensive in North Africa.  Eight Vickers Wellington II aircraft of 104 Squadron, whose motto is ‘Strike hard’, have already arrived and more are expected imminently.  The policy is for 32 aircraft to be operational whenever possible.

Three other RAF squadrons in Malta were increased today with the arrival of 13 Beauforts from 39 Squadron, 13 Beaufighters 227 Squadron, 16 Beaufighters 272 Squadron from the Middle East.

SUB BRINGS STORES IN LATEST CLUB RUN

HM Submarine Porpoise arrived today, carrying further supplies of aviation fuel, plus general stores and mail for Malta.  Porpoise sailed from Beirut last Thursday for this latest submarine delivery of urgent stores for the Island, known as ‘club runs’.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 7 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair early, becoming cloudy.

1112-1200 hrs  Air raid alert as 36 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled and intercept the raiders well to the north and again over the Island but the enemy escapes engagement.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept.  They are jumped by ME 109s, break formation and return to base.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  Half the raiders cross the coast: Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds – no claims.

1420 hrs  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa patrol over Malta through the afternoon.

1545-1630 hrs  Sixteen Beaufighters 272 Squadron land at Ta Qali.

1645-1740 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 6 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  13 Beauforts from 39 Squadron, 13 Beaufighters 227 Squadron, 16 Beaufighters 272 Squadron from Middle East; one Beaufighter from photo-reconnaissance 69 Squadron; one Beaufighter from 89 Squadron; three Baltimores from LG 227; five Spitfires, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Gianaclis.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort ran into a bomb crater: crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Wellington missing in transit from LG 224 to Malta.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.  1527 hrs; 1603 hrs Two Beauforts arrived.

LUQA  Six Spitfires 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Naples, Palermo, Trapani, Taranto, Augusto, Brindisi and Messina.  Six Wellingtons 69 Squadron carrying torpedoes were sent on reconnaissance for enemy naval units: no sightings.

4th Bn THE BUFFS   Personnel of Bn engaged on co-operational duties with RAF at Luqa aerodrome 0400-1900 hrs: 2 Officers 80 Other Ranks penmen & maintenance Spitfires; 2 Officers 100 Other Ranks GD bombing & refuelling Wellingtons; 2 Other Ranks GD Baltimores; 1 Officer 33 Other Ranks GD Beaufighters; 36 Other Ranks armament assistants.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private T Seville buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali.

7 November 1942: Aviation Fuel Enough For 4 Weeks

MOST SECRET TELEGRAM

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             Rptd:  Cs in C Middle East, Brigadier Jacob, Foreign Secretary, First Sea Lord

1.  Stock of aviation fuel remaining 7th November was 1187 tons.  This includes receipts by submarine and a quantity of DTD 224 used for blending and mixing with 100 octane.

2.  Expenditure week ending 7th November was 286 tons.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 7 NOVEMBER 1942

Two nursing sisters injured in bombing of Imtarfa

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

1.  Enemy air activity reduced: three raidless days, seven alerts, total 160 fighters and fighter bombers.  Few bombs on aerodromes.  RAF destroyed one fighter, damaged one.  Small arms destroyed one fighter.

2.  Total 13 aircraft of which five only crossed the coast.  Slight damage civilian property and Imtarfa military hospital.  Two sisters QAIMNS, 15 civilians injured; seven civilians killed.  One Cant destroyed by Beaufighter: two Italian prisoners.

3.  Offensive activity by RAF against convoys continues.  One merchant vessel, one tanker hit.  One Beaufighter on patrol Sicily destroyed one JU 88.

4.  Some E boat activity off Grand Harbour on four nights; probably minelaying.

5.  RAF heavily reinforced for Operation Torch and army providing approximately 1700 personnel for maintenance of aerodromes and servicing aircraft.

6.  Morale very high on account of successes in western desert.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 8 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy, becoming fine.

No air raids.

0840-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled: raid does not materialise.

1115-1155 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol over Malta at 20000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.

1430-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2015 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are sent on patrol over western Sicily.  One Beaufighter sights a JU 88 and shoots it down into the sea.  The other Beaufighter fails to return.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lincoln Craig, Royal New Zealand Air Force, pilot; Sergeant Keith Donald, Royal New Zealand Air Force, air gunner; Flight-Sergeant Herbert Earney, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Oliver Holmes, air gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer Samuel Morrison, Royal Air Force (VR); all 104 Squadron, RAF.  Flight Sergeant Alistair Paterson, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Beauforts 39 Squadron from Mariut; one Liberator, two DC 3s, four Wellingtons from LG 224; one Wellington from Middle East. Departures  One Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on land: crew killed.  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Aircraft of 40 Squadron arrived.  Nine Spitfires 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance morning and afternoon.  Wellingtons of 69 Squadron and 104 Squadron were sent on shipping searches in Marittimo-Cavoli area: no shipping sighted.

4th Bn THE BUFFS   Personnel of Bn engaged with RAF at Luqa aerodrome as for 6 November.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the week 1-7th November the Bn has found working parties at Hal Far: 2 impressed lorries and 4 Other Ranks for crater-filling; 1 motor-cycle and 1 Other Ranks as special D/R.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali. 

 

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25-31 October 1942: Turning Point in War Over Malta

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25 October 1942:  Enemy Air Attacks Declining

JU 88 bombers have gone from Malta’s skies

The enemy’s latest attempt to neutralise Malta appears to have lost momentum.  It is now two weeks since Axis forces launched heaviest bombing raids since April.   In that time some 350 aircraft have been destroyed or damaged by the Island’s defenders – including forty bombers.  Despite the concentration of bombs aimed at the three airfields, none of the runways has been put out of action for more than 30 minutes.

Since 18 October no twin-engined aircraft have approached the Island and attacks have been limited to ‘tip and run’ raids – often at high level – by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  Their only advantage has been provided by frequent heavy cloud over the Island, which has allowed the few successful raiders to get through, and provided cover for those attempting to escape Malta’s fighters.

During today the enemy carried out fighter sweeps and four fighter bomber raids on Ta Qali, Hal Far and Luqa.  140 raiders were involved in attacks, which were launched at heights ranging from 12000 to 3000 feet.  Fighters are now adopting a new tactic of receding at sea level to escape interception by the Island’s Spitfires.  There were no night air raids.

RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine: fair late evening.

0600-0720 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne for a raid which does not materialise.

0721-0800 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but are attacked by enemy fighters out of the sun: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the raiders north of Gozo: F/Lt Smith destroys one ME 109; Sgt Hughes probably destroys another. The fighter bombers are forced to jettison their bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0815-0850 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.  Most of the raiders cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Qali.

As enemy fighters turn away from the airfield they machine-gun Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.  One ME 109 is destroyed by small arms fire and Light Ack Ack and crashes on the edge of the aerodrome.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light and Heavy Ack Ack guns off Delimara by Height Control shooting at 18000 feet.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Tal Qali are also airborne and chase enemy fighters to within 20 miles of Sicily but cannot engage them.

0925-0951 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers which cross the coast, dropping bombs on Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but were unable to do so due to the enemy’s superior speed.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1110-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1238 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and attempt to engage two Macchi 202s which turn and flee.  The Spitfires chase them to ten miles off the coast of Sicily but are unable to catch them.

1234 hrs  The remaining raiders, about half, cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, destroying one Beaufighter and damaging a Spitfire on the ground.  Gun position XHB 7 of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regt RA destroys one ME 109.  Two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 2500 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1248 hrs  Four fighter bombers drop bombs on the Safi strip, Kirkop and Mqabba village areas.

1300 hrs  Raiders passed.

1350-1445 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol (one returns early): no sightings.

1415-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron, then four 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1517 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 50 ME 109s and Macchi 202s with fighter bombers.  Ten Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  One Spitfire and pilot, Sgt Park, are missing.   Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see three ME 109s but the raiders are too high and distant to intercept.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled but fail in their attempt to engage the enemy aircraft, some of which jettison their bombs in the sea.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and attack Macchi fighters but are jumped from above by other fighters acting as cover: no claims or losses.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Some raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa.

1600 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a plane crashed in the sea on the horizon.

1620 hrs  All clear.

1715-1750 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne to search for the missing dinghy of Sgt Park but find nothing.

1825-2115 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa takes up the search for the missing dinghy: nothing is found.

1940 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a green verey light 4-5 miles out to sea.

2330-0100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is scrambled for a reported raid which does not materialise: no enemy aircraft seen.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Bushnell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flying Officer Richard Bendwig, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Millard Liebeck, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Nigel Park, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flying Officer Fred Wickstrom, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Richard Eckhardt, pilot of a Messerchmitt Bf109 fighter.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER 1942

P 35 HMS Umbra

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 35 in from patrol: the submarine returned to Malta after a four day patrol in which a heavily leaden merchant ship which had beached itself near Homs as a result of an air attack was further damaged by two torpedo hits.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one DC 3 from LG 224.  Departures  Two Beauforts, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return to base: pilot missing.  One Beaufort missing in transit between Malta and LG 224, believed shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  One Special Swordfish and one Albacore were sent on anti-submarine patrol north of Homs: nothing seen.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron carried out a search for enemy shipping to the east of Benghazi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Cagliari.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Winter Dress came into use today.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A and B Companies beach post firing at towed target.

26 October 1942: Malta Bombers Back On The Attack

Wellington bomber

Malta bombers have carried out their first attack on an enemy convoy since last Monday night.  Reports were received from reconnaissance aircraft of a southbound convoy off the west coast of Greece and tonight three special Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were sent to attack.

One aircraft returned unserviceable after 14 minutes but the other two pressed on towards the target area.  One of the Wellingtons located the convoy of one tanker and one merchant vessel, both about 5000 tons, 18 miles to the south west of Antipaxos.  The aircraft then lost visibility and had to abandon the attack, bringing its torpedo back to base.  But the third Wellington was able to close in on the convoy and dropped two 1000 lb bombs.  Results are not yet confirmed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Showery.

0629-0742 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far searches for a dinghy 8-10 miles north west of Gozo.  A body is seen floating in an uninflated dinghy.  The Hurricane has to return to base due to an incoming air raid.

0654-0750 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s but they are too distant to engage.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: P/O McLennan destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  About half the raiders are intercepted by Malta fighters north of the Island and turn back.  The remainder cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  One ME 109 is destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unjurt.

0813-0939 hrs  The Hurricane from Hal Far returns to the area where the pilot earlier spotted the dinghy but finds nothing.  The High Speed Launch is seen in the same area.

1039-1120 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 35 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the first wave of raiders north of the Island: F/L Rolls probably destroys one ME 109.  As incoming waves of raiders attempt to cross the coast the Spitfires force them to split up: a few get through to drop bombs near Luqa airfield.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 3000 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1410-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1515-1537 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 40 enemy fighters and fighter bombers, including six bomb-carrying ME 109s.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are also scrambled and intercept the raiders over the Island: P/O Walton destroys one ME 109; S/L Lovell damages another.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped near Birzebbuga, Hal Far and Ghar Dalam, where an Ack Ack ammunition dump is hit by a bomb.  60 boxes of ammunition are damaged and the dump is set on fire.  The blaze is quickly extinguished by Sgt Willis and other personnel of D Company, 1st Bn Devonshire Regt and of A Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg under Captain Lovering, as well as Royal Artillery personnel.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Hebe

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 212 returning from an uneventful patrol in the Cape Dukato area.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on a shipping search of Pantelleria and Kerkenna.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  B Company took over coast patrol and Tal Virtu observation post.

27 October 1942: RAF Sink Rommel’s Hopes For El Alamein

“The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns.”  (1)

British troops on the move in North Africa

Axis hopes of gaining supremacy in the North African suffered a double blow today thanks to Allied forces. Torpedo bombers of 42 Squadron RAF sank an oil tanker at Tobruk, destroying Rommel’s last hope for much-needed fuel supplies.  The Axis sea convoy comprised three merchant ships with four escorting destroyers and escorting planes overhead.  Allied heavy and light bombers and torpedo planes attacked relentlessly in the face of terrific fire from the destroyers. Only one of the supply ships escaped. A large merchantman blew up and the tanker was set on fire and sank.  The sinking follows several successful attacks on tankers by Malta-based air forces.  The German Field Marshal, who arrived back in North Africa on Sunday to resume command of Axis forces, now has only three days’ fuel to supply his armies.

Meanwhile the Allies scored an important victory over enemy tanks at El Alamein.  Having battled throughout the day against two counter-offensives by Rommel’s forces, this afternoon they repulsed a determined attack by Axis Panzer divisions, destroying 22 German and 10 Italian tanks before the remainder gave up.

QRENDI STRIP DEVELOPS

Troops building aircraft pens

200 servicemen are now employed building new pens at Qrendi strip.  The pens will add to the facilities at the recently-opened air strip, significantly extend the capacity for aircraft based on Malta.  The construction work increases the already significant contribution made by the Army to air operations on the Island.  Following the recent increased enemy bombardment, 1000 soldiers are now assisting the RAF in the maintenance of aerodromes, servicing and refuelling aircraft. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fine: excellent visibility early; electric storm early morning.

0703-0722 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including six ME 109 fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage raiders 15 miles north of the Island: S/Ldr Woods and P/O McCoy each damage one ME 109.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: no claims.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and approach Ta Qali from the east, dropping bombs on the airfield from a height of 10000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

0740-0845 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft seen.

1013-1104 hrs  Air raid alert as 60 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including several ME 109 fighter bombers approach the coast in several waves.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the enemy takes strong evasive action: no claims.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot slightly injured.  High explosives including delayed action bombs are dropped on Luqa and the Safi strip from about 14000 feet.  One aircraft is destroyed on the ground and another damaged.  One ME 109 is probably destroyed by Light Ack Ack.

1457-1518 hrs  Air raid alert as 40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approach the Island at great height.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and successfully attack 25 fighters and fighter bombers, which they force to jettison their bombs in the sea.  F/Lt McElroy damages one Macchi 202.  The raiders turn back at speed, along with the majority of their escort.  One Spitfire is damaged: pilot slightly injured.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are also airborne but see no enemy aircraft.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The area between Grand Harbour and St Julian’s Bay was swept on 27th October by the 3rd ML Flotilla, prior to divers working on the submarine telegraph cables. Three mines were disposed of bringing the total destroyed by this flotilla to 100.

AIR HQ  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action crash-landed: pilot injured.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  AM GOC watched an exercise incorporating practice landings from motorized landing craft.

28 October 1942: Operation Train Brings Reinforcements

HMS Furious

The fast minelayer HMS Welshman also sailed with the convoy carrying emergency supplies for Malta.

ATTACK ON SUBMARINE BASE KILLS THREE

A dive bombing attack on Malta’s submarine base this morning killed three civilians in Sliema.  The raid was the second attempted strike at the base today – the first was beaten off by Malta fighters before the enemy aircraft reached the Island.

The air raid alert just before 9.30 am heralded a second attack by 30 raiders which approached the Island at 27000 feet.  Among them were a dozen ME 109 fighter bombers which swooped down to 12000 feet and then into a shallow dive as they crossed the coast towards their objective in Marsamxetto harbour.  Spitfires engage the raiders as they are still in their dive, causing several to jettison their bombs.  However several bombs did fall on Tigne Barracks, Sliema and Gzira, where three civilians were killed.  Civilian property was also damaged in the raid.

HMS Welshman

The Island was spared a third air raid as the enemy aircraft turned back before coming within 10 miles of the coast.

MALTA WELLINGTONS SINK ANOTHER AXIS TANKER

“The AOC sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron on its brilliantly executed torpedo attack on the enemy convoy on the night of 28/29th October.”

A very successful attack was carried out tonight against an enemy convoy off the Greek coast.  A reconnaissance Baltimore had earlier reported a convoy of one tanker and a merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, off Sapienza.  Three Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and one carrying torpedoes, were sent to locate and attack the vessels.  The bomb-carrying Wellington returned early with engine trouble and crash-landed, having jettisoned its bombs in the sea.

The other two Wellingtons sighted a tanker and a merchant vessel and went in for the attack.  Pilot Officer Matthews scored a direct hit on the merchant vessel with a torpedo.  Pilot Officer Donkersley arrived on the scene at 2252 hours and found no trace of the merchant vessel.  He aimed his bombs at the tanker, setting it ablaze from stem to stern.  A reconnaissance aircraft inspecting the area later found nothing but wreckage, oil streaks and a half-submerged barrage balloon.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; cloudy late evening.

0625-0735 hrs; 0635-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali then eight from Hal Far on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0716-0734 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for 40 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and nine of 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the main formation to the north of the Island.  The Spitfires attempt an engagement from above but the enemy fighters disperse into the clouds and out of sight before heading back to Sicily: no claims.

0924-1001 hrs  Air raid alert as 30 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and fire short bursts at raiders as they head towards Grand Harbour, causing several to drop their bombs.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  P/O Giddings 249 Squadron crashes on take-off and is admitted to hospital with a fractured arm.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Sliema, Gzira and Tigne Barracks area causing damage to property and civilian casualties.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1045-1140 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1233-1247 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far are conducting a practice flight when they see two ME 109s: they turn to engage but the enemy aircraft evade action.  All the fighters recede before coming within 10 miles of the Island but then recede.

1335-1500 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Chargeman E Wright, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Ritz Falzon, age 19; Carmela Micallef, age 42; Vincenza Rice, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1942

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron were despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Navarino, eastern Sicily, Messina, Palermo, Gabini and Pachino.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1600 hrs  Regiment band playing at Birkirkara.

29 October 1942: German Pilots Sick of Fight For Malta

German aircraft losses dent morale (c) IWM CM 745

The strain of fighting for air supremacy over Malta is clearly beginning to tell on the enemy air forces. “Experienced German pilots who became prisoners of war during this month have admitted to a general distaste among the German air force for fights over Malta.  This reluctance is not surprising when it is seen that, in the course of their unsuccessful October offensive, the Axis powers lost 15 air crew for every British pilot lost.”  War Diary, Air HQ, Malta October 1942

SPITFIRES AND SUPPLIES

Twenty nine Spitfires were flown off from HMS Furious today and all landed safely at Malta.  Two others remained on board the aircraft carrier due to defects.  Enemy aircraft made some attempts to intercept the incoming aircraft but continuous cover by Spitfires deterred any serious threat.

At the same time, HMS Welshman detached from the convoy ships to make independent passage to Malta.  The fast minelayer carries some 350 tons of much-needed cargo in her holds.  Welshman’s exceptionally fast speed has brought her through several supply missions to the Island and the Dockyard is preparing for a fast unload on her arrival.  After their successful delivery, Furious and her escort ships turned and set course immediately for Gibraltar.

MALTA FLOTILLA GRABS 100TH MINE

The Vice Admiral Malta reported that the Third Motor Launch Flotilla in addition to their many other valuable services had swept up their hundredth mine in the approaches to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; almost cloudless.

0750-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0910-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are on intercept patrol:  no sightings.

0956-1120 hrs  Air raid alert.  42 enemy fighters approach the Island from the north in five formations of six and three formations of eight aircraft each.  They attempt to intercept delivery Spitfires as they come in to land.  Malta fighters are airborne but the enemy recede before engaging.  The delivery Spitfires land safely.

1020-1125 hrs  Seven Spitfires Hal Far patrol over Grand Harbour area: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1100-1230 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1232-1310 hrs  Air raid alert for a small number of enemy fighters on a high fighter sweep.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1339-1345 hrs  Eight delivery Spitfires land at Hal Far.

1849-1910 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island at 22-25000 feet and drop bombs in the sea three miles north of the Island.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa patrols to the north of Malta but sees nothing.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Walter Parks, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Emanuel Grech, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires crashed into construction on taking off: one pilot injured, one killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance over western Sicily and Pantelleria.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance of enemy shipping in the area Cape Ducato, Cape St Maria di Leuca and Taranto.  Two special Wellingtons 69 Squadron were sent to attack an enemy convoy sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire but did not find it.

30 October 1942: RAF Win Latest Battle For Skies Over Malta

B flight RAF 249 Squadron Malta July 42

The skies fell silent over Malta today.  The absence of air raids is an indication that the RAF has finally secured air supremacy over the Island after the failure of the latest enemy bombing campaign.  With strong fighter escort and a small number of bombers, the enemy has tried to neutralise the aerodromes in order to protect the passage of important convoys to Tripolitania and Libya.

During daylight in October the enemy flew a total of about 250 bomber and 3500 fighter and fighter-bomber sorties against Malta.  Spitfires definitely destroyed a total of 49 bombers and 78 fighters.  By night during the month Beaufighters of 89 Squadron made a total of 61 sorties including 15 intruder patrols over enemy aerodromes and harbours.  Five enemy night bombers were destroyed.  Malta’s losses were 38 aircraft destroyed, mainly Spitfires.

The policy adopted by the RAF of intercepting the enemy north of the island has proved eminently successful.  The enemy reverted to high flying tactics using cloud cover; some damage was done to the aerodromes but without any serious impact.  Finding these tactics too costly, the enemy has now left Malta well alone.

AMMUNITION USE AND FUEL RATIONING TIGHTENED

Heavy Ack Ack Brigades have issued orders restricting the firing pattern of anti-aircraft positions.   From today, only guns in certain strategic positions may engage enemy fighter aircraft, and then only by pointers.  However, all gun positions will continue to engage any enemy aircraft clearly identified as bomb-carrying.

Petrol economies are also now being strictly enforced across all Services in Malta as fuel shortages continue to concern the Island’s commanders.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Variable becoming fine: cloudless evening.

0740-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1350-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Rorqual

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Rorqual arrived with stores from Beirut, swept in by Rye.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Liberators from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1640-1735 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a reconnaissance patrol over south east Sicily while four others provided cover for their return.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli.

31 October 1942: 14 Attacks On Axis Convoys

AIR RAID STATISTICS OCTOBER 1942  

  • Total number of alerts to date 3135
  • Total number of alerts this month 152
  • Number of blank days 2
  • Number of night raids 41
  • Raid free nights 19
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 4 days, 2 hrs, 11 mins
  • Average length of alert 38.2 mins

    P 246 HMS Statesman

ROYAL NAVY SUMMARY FOR OCTOBER

Twenty seven attacks were carried out from Malta during the month, fourteen of which were successful. Three were against merchant ships already beached after air attacks. Ten merchant vessels, aggregating 23900 tons were sunk as well as one fleet destroyer, a tug, and two schooners.  The strength of the Flotilla was brought up to eleven operational submarines by the arrival of P 212 on 9th October and of P 246 on the 19th.

Four submarines continued store-carrying trips to Malta with petrol and vital supplies from Gibraltar and Beirut.  The First and Tenth Submarine Flotillas carried out many brilliant attacks on Axis convoys and shipping running to Libya. An attack on a heavily escorted southbound convoy of one tanker and three merchant ships bound for Tripoli by five submarines off Pantellaria was particularly noteworthy. Albacore and Swordfish aircraft made many attacks before the convoy ran into the submarine concentration. P 211 sank one merchant vessel, stopped after air attack, P 37 sank a destroyer and one merchant vessel in the convoy, and it possible that P 42 also damaged a merchant vessel. The latter was very accurately counterattacked and damaged, and force to return to Malta.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 31

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

1.  Enemy air activity on a much reduced scale.  16 alerts.  Total 290 Spitfire sorties against 650 enemy sorties.  No alerts after 1300 hrs 29 October.  Raids consisted of fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Many jettisoned their bombs in the sea.  A few bombs on the aerodromes.  Ack Ack dump was set on fire and extinguished by soldiers.  Spitfires destroyed three ME 109s, one Macchi 202; probably destroyed two ME 109s; damaged three ME 109s and one Macchi 202.  Ack Ack destroyed two ME 109s; probably destroyed one ME 109.  Photo reconnaissance shows a general decrease 100 enemy aircraft in Sicily but an increase on western aerodromes, particularly JU 84 (or 87)s.

2.  Eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  One tanker and one merchant vessel sunk.  Two 1000 lb bombs aimed at a vessel, believed a tanker: results unobserved.

3.  Army working parties total about 600 on aerodromes and 200 men building the new Qrendi landing strip.  Minor combined operations training being carried out with MLCS.

4.  Military damage negligible.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1942

0755-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no raid materialised; no sightings.

1100-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a possible approaching air raid which does not materialise.

1630 hrs  The regimental band and drums of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment Beat the Retreat at Sliema.  His Excellency the Governor and GOC Troops is in attendance.

Military casualties  Private Raymond Hurley, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Lance Corporal Gerald Tarr, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3 from Middle East.  Departures  One Liberator to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0630-0735 hrs  Four Spitfires patrolled over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.  2135-0235 hrs  One special Swordfish and two strike Albacores searched for shipping between Tripoli and Homs: no sightings.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Lance Corporal G A Tarr fell down a 30 foot well in Valletta and was killed.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the period 22-31 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motor-cycle and five Other Ranks for work in Hal Far aerodrome.  During daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned in anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Hurley, A Company, died from multiple injuries caused by falling masonry.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11.  Dealt with: 9 High Explosives  (3 x 250kg; 7 x 50kg); 173 anti-personnel bombs; 1 oil incendiary.

(1) Alamein, Cecil Ernest Lucas-Phillips, Little Brown & Co, Boston, 1962

 

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18-24 October 1942: Malta Key to El Alamein Offensive

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“The rugged and indomitable courage of the people of Malta have been an inspiration and encouragement to the Empire.”  Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet Admiral Sir John Tovey announcing a gift of £1755 from the Home Fleet to the Malta Relief Fund

18 October 1942: Petrol Running Out

Troops use cycles to save petrol (NWMA Malta)

Military chiefs met today in Valletta to discuss how to manage the rapidly decreasing fuel supplies on the Island.  Officers from all Army units were called to attend a Petrol Economy Conference held at the Castille.  With no immediate prospect of a convoy reaching Malta, the conference focused on ways of rationing fuel use in order to conserve existing stocks.  All possible methods of saving petrol were discussed and several measures decided on, which will be put into operation immediately.

THREE AXIS SUPPLY SHIPS HIT IN RAF AND NAVY ATTACKS

This afternoon a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire sighted two merchant vessels with a 5-6000 ton tanker and one 3-4000 ton merchant vessel with seven destroyers to the west of Sicily, heading southwards.  Two Swordfish and one Albacore aircraft were despatched to make a night attack but failed to locate the primary target.  They came upon a single merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons 40 miles north west of Pantelleria and attacked with a single torpedo, scoring a direct hit on the stern.  The merchantman was last seen down by the stern and going round in circles.

Reconnaissance aircraft also spotted the merchant vessel which was attacked last Wednesday night, beached near Homs.  A Swordfish and an Albacore were despatched to make another attack.  The Albacore launched one torpedo by the light of flares dropped by the Swordfish but bad visibility prevented the observation of results.

In another offensive mission tonight, four Wellingtons of 69 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack an 8000 ton tanker escorted by two destroyers, 50 miles east of Point Stilo.  Three Wellingtons found the convoy and attacked, one torpedo hitting the tanker’s port bow and causing a red flash.  Four 500 lb and two 1000 lb bombs were also dropped but the results were not observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fog over the sea in the morning; light showers morning and evening.

0622-1010 hrs  Two Hurricanes Royal Navy Air Service search off Grand Harbour for a missing dinghy but find nothing.

0701-0738 hrs  Air raid alert for about 50 enemy fighters approaching the Island, escorting seven bombers.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  Six ME 109s engage them, splitting up the Squadron formation.  P/O Reid probably destroys one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Mortimer (126 Squadron) destroys one ME 109.  The enemy bombers turn back while still 15 miles north of the Island and only the fighters come near, some crossing the coast.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali attempt to intercept the fighters, which evade combat.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1006-1106 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including a four bomb-carrying ME 109s approaching the Island.  The raid probably includes some JU 88s which turn back before reaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa, eight Spitfires Hal Far and seven of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage the enemy.  Three ME 109s drop six high explosive bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.

1124-1158 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching formation of 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Ta Salib and San Christu Church area.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1335-1430 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers which approach the Island but do not cross the coast.  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attack two ME 109s: S/Ldr Stephens damages one.  There are reports that the fighter bombers break off and return home before reaching Malta.

1547-1701 hrs  Air raid alert for 75 plus enemy fighters including some fighter bombers which cross the coast in small groups.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and eight 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Hamilton 1435 Squadron damages one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far, plus four 229 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  Bombs are dropped on Gharghur and Qrendi strip, and on Luqa, damaging one Wellington on the ground.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.  One Spitfire of 126 Squadron crashes in a field near Gharghur: the pilot P/O Stevenson is killed.

1836-1936 hrs; 2101-2124 hrs; 2227-2258 hrs; 2347-0027 hrs; 0144-0312 hrs; 0350-0450 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 12 enemy bombers of which 9 cross the coast.  Anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries are dropped on Qawra Point, Birkirkara, Hamrun, the Dockyard and Floriana, and in the sea.  Two civilians are killed and three injured in Fleur de Lys.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  HQ Company and billets of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are sprayed with anti-personnel bombs.  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrols. One Beaufighter sights an enemy aircraft which takes evasive action and escapes.  One Beaufighter on patrol over Sicily attacks and damages a JU 88 over Gerbini.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Stevenson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Camilleri, age 40; Carmela Gatt, age 45; Paul Parlar, age 62; Doris Spiteri, age 8; Maria Carmela Spiteri, age 6; George Zammit, age 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER 1942

P 211 HMS Safari

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 211 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in combat crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed: pilot killed.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Spitfire was despatched on a search for enemy shipping from Messina to Cape Rizzuto.  One Baltimore was despatched to search for enemy shipping off the Greek coast.  One Spitfire was despatched on search for enemy shipping Cape Spartevento to Cape Rizzo.  One Spitfire was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours and aerodromes.

10th HEAVY ACKACK REGIMENT, ROYAL ARTILLERY  2/Lt W J Healy was wounded in action at XHE 25.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company takes over guard duties of Wardia crossroads.

19 October 1942: Booby-Trapped Cluster Bombs on Malta

Butterfly bomb

A Sapper of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal narrowly escaped being blown up today when he encountered a new type of anti-personnel bomb.  The Bomb Disposal Section was called out to deal with a number of unexploded German 2kg ‘butterfly’ bombs which have become all too familiar across the Island since June.  The Sapper was following normal procedure to check whether or not the bomb was armed when he noted the fuze number which was 67, instead of the normal 41.  Instead of going ahead and dealing with the bomb, he withdrew and reported the different fuze number to his Sergeant.

The action would save his life and those of his squad.  The Type 67 is a delayed-action fuze: it can be set to blow the bomb at any time from five to thirty minutes after it falls.  The bomb can kill up to 25 metres away and injure anyone within 150 metres.  Although in this case the maximum time had passed, like any clockwork mechanism, if this one had merely jammed any movement could restart the clock – and then there is no way of knowing how long it has left to run.

From now on, butterfly bombs can no longer be considered relatively harmless if left undisturbed.  Any number of them might explode at random, triggering others within range.  The public has been told about the new hazard and warned to stay well clear of any suspect objects.  With at least thirty reports of unexploded butterfly bombs today alone across civilian and military areas, the RE Bomb Disposal Section is now facing the more complex job of clearing hundreds of potential time bombs.

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

AXIS CONVOY CANNOT ESCAPE MALTA-BASED ATTACKS

The convoy intended for attack by Swordfish and Albacore aircraft last night was again located and photographed this morning by a reconnaissance Spitfire from Malta, 35 miles north west of Lampedusa.

Despite very bad weather, two Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched tonight to attempt another attack.  At 2210 hours they located two merchant vessels and five destroyers which had now reached 53 miles south of Lampedusa.  One Swordfish dropped flares allowing the others to launch three torpedoes.  At least one scored a hit on a merchant vessel, producing a flash and a thick cloud of smoke which obscured the results of the other three missiles.

An hour later four Wellingtons found two merchant vessels and three destroyers some 50 miles south of Lampion and attacked with bombs and torpedoes.  At least one 1000 lb bomb scored a hit on a merchantman.  Then at 0328 hours two Swordfish and two Albacores located the tanker and three destroyers, 80 miles north west of Tripoli.  Of two torpedoes fired at the convoy, one was seen to hit the tanker, producing a large green flash.

During the night three more sorties were made by Wellingtons, one dropping two 1000 lb bombs near the merchant ship which had been attacked by Swordfish hours before and was now stationary.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Frequent showers throughout the day, heavy at times during the morning.  Lightning very early.

0622-0730 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far on a search: nothing seen.

0623-0652 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 plus ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Scott damages one ME 109.  The remaining fighter bombers cross the coast.  Two ME 109s dive on Hal Far airfield and drop bombs damaging two Hurricane aircraft on the ground.  The runway remains serviceable but 160 gallons of petrol are burned out in a pen.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0726-0807 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a high sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s to the south of the Island: the enemy evade combat and flee back to base.

0825-1010 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far searches for a missing pilot, five miles east of Zonqor, north of Grand Harbour and over St Paul’s Bay 20 miles: nothing seen.

0957-1018 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 plus Italian fighters and ME 109 fighter bombers are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and seven 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Walton probably destroys one Re 2001.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on the Gharghur area and on Salina Bay between the Salt Pans and Salina Battery.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1031-1044 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy fighters cross the coast at great height, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1200-1217 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 plus enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attempt to engage four ME 109 fighter bombers: no claims.  Fighter bombers cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali.

1322-1342 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers which come in and drop bombs on Attard.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne and engage the raiders: Capt Kuhlmann and Sgt Gunstone each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot unhurt.

1457-1527 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including several fighter bombers heading for the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa, plus four of 229 Squadron and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the enemy turn away into cloud cover and evade engagement.  Several raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Mosta.

1653-1742 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers which drop bombs on the Luqa area and near Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far plus four Spitfires 229 Squadron and three of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: the enemy is sighted on several occasions but make use of clouds to evade engagement.

1759-1852 hrs  Air raid alert for an attempted dusk raid by 40 enemy bombers and fighter-bombers which approach the Island in two formations.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa with three Spitfires are scrambled to intercept.  One formation is engaged 25 miles west of the Island by three Malta aircraft which force the bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea.  The same three fighters then intercept the other formation to the east of the Island forcing several to jettison bombs.  Only three bombers cross the coast: one JU 88 is pursued by F/Lt Pring of 89 Squadron and destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Hal Far aerodromes; delayed action bombs high explosive bombs land near Bir Miftuh Church.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

2115 hrs  There is an unconfirmed RDF report of a vessel 063 degrees 13 miles from Fort St Elmo, moving 30 at knots from west to east.

0225-0235 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft approaches to within 20 miles north of the Island and drops flares and bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept in P 35 and P 247.

Coast at Madliena

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  2114-0134 hrs  Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack an enemy southbound convoy: one hit with a 1000 lb claimed.  0105-1513 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack the same convoy: no hits observed.  One Spitfire and two Baltimors 69 Squadron despatched during the day on reconnaissance.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company take over guard duties of Qawra Point and Madliena.

20 October 1942: Maltese ‘Spirit of Resistance’ Recognised

From:  Governor (Gen Viscount Gort)                   To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

During the month ended 20th October, total of 134 alerts, 90 by day, 44 by night.  61 bombing raids, 38 by day, 23 by night.  64 people were killed (28 men, 18 women, 18 children), 63 were seriously injured (19 men, 25 women, 19 children).  128 houses were seriously damaged including (repeat including) 48 in Gozo.

Recent recrudescence of enemy air attacks has if anything tended to raise morale by taking people’s minds off continued privations in the shape of shortage of food and other commodities.  From the outset of the new phase of attacks, it has been clear that the spirit of resistance has not fallen during the lull of the previous few months.

NEWS CORRESPONDENT PRAISES ISLANDERS’ RESILIENCE

A news correspondent in Malta said today that the Islanders are becoming used to the almost continuous roar of planes and detonations of anti-aircraft guns. “The people come out into the streets at night, watch the search lights pick out planes, and urge anti-aircraft gunners to quicken their rate of fire.”

An advertisement appeared in The Times of Malta today inviting applications for vacancies on the staff of a school on the Island – one for classics and the other for mathematics and science.

MALTA TROOPS PRACTISE SEABORNE LANDINGS

The General Officer Commanding Troops in Malta attended an exercise today held by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.  The Battalion were demonstrating the results of recent training, particularly practice landings from motor launches.  The GOC also watched an exercise by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment practising assault course techniques.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Frequent showers throughout the day.  Thunder and lightning very late evening.

0640-0711 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft including fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol at 21000 feet east of the Island but do not locate the enemy.  The raiders take advantage of 100 per cent cloud cover at 7-8000 feet to cross the coast and drop four bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.  The airfield’s anti-aircraft gunners open fire, damaging one ME 109.

Wardija

0700 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun St Paul’s Bay.  Wardia Observation Post reports seeing a ME 109 attack and machine-gun a Gozo boat.

0910-0950 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to a submarine: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1106-1150 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which approach the Island in small groups, taking advantage of cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.  ME 109 fighter bombers drop four bombs on the Safi end of Luqa runway, causing craters, and near St Nicola Church.  One Spitfire 1435 Squadron is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1415-1426 hrs  Air raid alert as a small number of raiders approach to within 18 miles of the Island and then recede.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol to the west of the Island and Grand Harbour as cover to incoming aircraft: no engagement.

1700-1805 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Gunner Paul Busuttil, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Vincent Casha, Malta Pioneer Group, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 42 swept in by Speedy, having been met and escorted by two Motor Launches. P 42 claimed hits on two merchant vessels in convoy: her batteries were damaged by an accurate depth charge attack.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two BEauforts, one Liberator, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to Shallufa; two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on a search near Lampedusa for enemy shipping attacked last night.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on photographic reconnaissance Cotrone Harbour.

21 October 1942: Malta Blitz Fails To Stop Sinking of Axis Supplies

Submarines of the Malta flotilla has sunk three enemy merchant vessels in recent days and damaged several others.  The submarine successes follow a week in which the Island’s air forces have launched eleven attacks on enemy convoys attempting to supply Axis troops in North Africa.

It is clear that despite his renewed heavy bombardment of the Island Kesselring has failed to stop its forces interrupting enemy supply lines.  Combined attacks from Allied aircraft and submarines based on both sides of the Mediterranean have halted fuel tankers, caused merchant ships to turn back and sent tons of supplies crucial to Rommel’s war effort to the bottom of the sea.

Ack Ack at Work

ARTILLERY ORDERED: HOLD FIRE TO SAVE AMMO

Gun positions are still restricted to 15 rounds per gun despite the recent increased enemy activity.  Artillery commanders have ordered every gun position to reserve fire for good targets.  At the same time they urge positions which get a good target to ‘engage it hotly’.

QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

Mr William Thorne (MP for West Ham Plaistow) today asked the Secretary of State for Air in the House of Commons how many times Malta had been raided; how many people have been killed, the amount of property damaged and the number of aeroplanes brought down since the declaration of war.  Sir Archibald Sinclair replied: “Up to 19th October there have been 1,660 bombing attacks on Malta, and 1,069 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. I understand that, up to 20th September, 1,386 civilians had been killed and 6,704 buildings destroyed or damaged.”

Commander Sir Archibald Southby, MP for Epsom then asked whether in view of what he had said he does not think it necessary in the interests of the people of Malta, to hit Italy from the air.  The Secretary of State answered:  “We have been hitting Italy from the air, and we shall go on hitting Italy.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  A showery day: thunderstorm and heavy shower early.

0703-0735 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 ME 109s including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: P/O Walton damages one ME 109.  The remaining raiders use cloud cover to drop bombs on the Safi strip and Gudja.  One high explosive lands in Tal Liebru and four on Xlejli.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0847-0915 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 German and Italian fighters including seven ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but are unable to engage. The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs near Siggiewi and on the Safi runway, damaging one aircraft on the ground and one motor transport vehicle.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0930-1030 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 German and Italian raiders including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to join the eight of 126 Squadron still airborne from the previous raid.  P/O Walton destroys one Macchi 202.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Kandia.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

18 pounder gun

1126 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy aircraft including Re 2001s and ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders launch a dive-bombing attack on Qawra Tower post which returns fire.  Bombs land on the searchlight position and the 18 pounder gun position.

1254-1354 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 plus enemy raiders approaching the Island under cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped from a great height on Ta Qali.

1530-1605 hrs  Air raid alert: 25 enemy fighters including fighter bombers drop bombs 10-15 miles north of Gozo.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but see no raiders: none cross the coast.

0435-0515  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach and recede within five miles of Grand Harbour, dropping all bombs in the sea.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne and damages one HE 111 north of the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 247 and P 35 to sea, and escorted P 37 and P 211: the latter reported having sunk one southbound ship east of Pantelleria and P 37 two hits on a southbound merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Wellingtons from Shallufa; one Beaufort from Gibraltar. Departures  One Liberator, one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot runway on landing; undercarriage collapsed: crew uninjured.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search near Greek Islands and photographed shipping in Corfu harbour.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched and photographed Navarino and Tripoli.

TA QALI  229 and 249 Squadrons stood down.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During period 15-21 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motorcycle and five other ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome.  During the hours of daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned for anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

22 October 1942: Luftwaffe Crew Captured After 3 Days Adrift

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

The pilot and crew of a JU 88 bomber were rescued today after three days adrift in a dinghy off the coast of Malta.  The bomber was taking part in a dusk air raid on Monday evening when it was shot down by Flight Lieutenant Pring of 89 Squadron and ditched in the sea.  The crew managed to bail out and get into their dinghy.

Two hours later an enemy search and rescue vessel was spotted searching for the crew but did not find them.  The dinghy was left drifting helplessly until it was spotted today and the RAF Rescue Launch set out in pursuit.  All four crew members survived and were taken prisoner.  They have been named as pilot Oberleutnant Ernst Neuffer, age 27, wireless operator Unteroffizier Fritz Hinterberg (21) and crew members Unteroffizier Hans Ehrentraut (28) and 24 year old Unteroffizier Joseph Stern.

TROOPS BACK TO FULL STRENGTH ON AIRFIELDS                

The number of Army personnel has returned to its former high levels following the recent air raids.  1000 men are now working daily on the aerodromes, repairing pens and filling craters to keep runways open following air attacks.  So far during the recent blitz none of the airfields has been unserviceable for more than a few minutes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0714-0748 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but encounter no enemy aircraft.  The raiders cross the coast at great height taking advantage of cloud cover and drop bombs on Hamrun and Birkirkara, damaging property and causing civilian casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0935-1039 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McLeod destroys one Macchi 202.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McElroy and P/O Lowrey destroy one ME 109; P/O Sanderson destroys one Macchi 202; S/Ldr Woods probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one; Sgt Stead damages one ME 109 and one Macchi 202.  The remaining raiders drop bombs on the Ta Qali and Mosta areas.

1120-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and also Light Ack Ack who destroy one ME 109.

1343-1401 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  The enemy is believed to have turned back.

1512-1619 hrs  Air raid alert for 60 German and Italian fighters escorting fighter bombers towards the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Brown and P/O Walton each damage two Macchi 202s.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but are unable to gain sufficient height to engage.  Many fighter bombers jettison their bombs in the sea.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but see nothing.  About half of the raiders cross the coast in cloud cover: fighter bombers drop bombs near Luqa and Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

Military casualties  William Osborne, Foreman of Stokers, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Calleja, age 37; Mary Calleja, age 11; Anthony Debono, age 54; Carmela Debono, age 42; Alfred Fenech, age 73; Alfred Muscat, age 4; Jennie Scerri, age 17; Filippa Whiddatt, age 12.  St Julian’s  Carmela Sciberras, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 22 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 44 in from patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search along the Greek coast.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and two carrying torpedoes, despatched to attack an enemy tanker sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  All aircraft returned owing to severe electrical storms which make it impossible to locate or attack the convoy.

23 October 1942: Battle For El Alamein Has Begun

Night offensive begins at El Alamein (c) IWM E18467

At 9.40 this evening a four hour Allied ground and air bombardment began targeting Rommel’s forces at El Alamein.  As the shelling subsided, ground troops and armoured divisions began their advance across Axis minefields.  The offensive follows weeks of attacks on enemy supply convoys, designed to weaken Axis troops and reduce their firepower.

LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS STAYING AWAY

Observers report that no JU 88 bombers or other twin-engined aircraft have approached Malta since Monday.  Enemy air raids are now confined to ‘tip and run’ attacks by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  However, the poor weather since Monday has worked to the raiders’ advantage, giving the agile ‘Jabos’ the advantage of cloud from which to launch attacks and escape.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Showers.

0630-0736 hrs  Air raid alert as 35 enemy aircraft including ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island in four quick raids.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Saunders destroys one ME 109, F/Lt Charney damages another.  F/O Lindsay’s Spitfire is shot down and he is killed.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped near St Paul’s Bay, and on Mosta and Imtarfa.  Light Ack Ack guns destroy one ME 109.

0830-0910 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 fighters and fighter bombers which fly round the east of the island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Marshall damages one ME 109.  The raiders then recede.

1010-1038 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approach the Island. Three ME 109 fighter bombers drop high explosive bombs on the south east side of the runway at Ta Qali, and on Mosta, damaging property and wounding one civilian.  Eight fighter bombers drop bombs near Zurrieq village and on St Nicola and Kirkop areas.  Malta fighters are airborne and engage, damaging two ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1240-1301 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  While fighters strafe the airfield with machine guns, three ME 109 fighter bombers dive down and drop six high explosive bombs on the Ta Qali dispersal area.  Malta fighters are airborne; no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1559-1622 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders do not cross the coast.

2210-2300 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders which turn back 35 miles from Malta: no sighting.

Military casualties  Flight-Lieutenant Alec Lindsay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Michael Sultana, age 73; Carmelina Grech, age 9.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Heribert Wagner, pilot of a Messerschmitt BF 109 fighter, shot down and killed.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 23 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol and was swept in by Hythe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, two Liberators from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on land while in combat: pilot killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron sent to search for enemy shipping along the west coast of Greece.

24 October 1942: Rations To Be Cut Again

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 24 OCTOBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy now forced to use fighters or fighter bombers only.  RAF have maintained superiority over Island and little damage done.  Air and submarine offensive against enemy convoys maintained.

Raider over Grand Harbour

2.  During daylight. 37 alerts.  Dusk 19 October 40 bombers approached intercepted by six Spitfires.  Three crossed coast rest jettisoned bombs in the sea.  Two JU 88s destroyed.  Remaining alerts each few fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Total 500 Spitfire sorties against 1245 enemy sorties.  Nine fighters destroyed, four probably destroyed, sixteen damaged by RAF.  Four ME 109s destroyed by Lt Ack Ack, two damaged by small arms.  Only three Spitfires destroyed, four damaged.

3.  By night.  Eight alerts.  18 aircraft approach, 13 crossed coast.  Bombs scattered localities.  Beaufighters damaged one JU 88, one HE 111.

4.  Offensive.  Total five Swordfish, five Albacore, eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  Result one Tanker, two merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one merchant vessel hit by 1000 lb bomb.  Other results unobserved due to bad weather.  Submarines have also been very successful recently.

5.  Admin.  Further economies in motor transport fuel have cut out all mobile training.  Army now existing on less than 4000 gallons petrol per week.  Rations being slightly further reduced on 1st November but calorific value unchanged.  Winter accommodation suffering from lack of petrol and materials.

6.  Military damage negligible; casualties five Other Ranks wounded.

7.  Many unexploded bombs disposed of including 200 anti-personnel and large number of German 1 kg incendiaries.  New type delayed action Butterfly anti-personnel bomb fuze 67 already reported separately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

0635-0740 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 enemy aircraft approach the Island in a series of fighter bomber raids.  The bombers dive to attack Ta Qali and Luqa aerodromes, damaging one aircraft on the ground and injuring three airmen.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light Anti Aircraft fire.

1011-1038 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching at great height.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast at height and drop bombs between Luqa and Grand Harbour, on the Mqabba area and the Safi strip, and on Zurrieq.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1300-1348 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including a few fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Black Section are jumped by enemy fighters and one Spitfire is shot down: Sgt Saunders is killed.  The fighter bombers drop bombs on the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1521 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including a few fighter bombers are intercepted by Malta fighters well to the north of the Island.  Bombs are dropped on the Luqa area, damaging one aircraft on the ground.  One ME 109 and one Macchi 202 are destroyed by fighters and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot uninjured.

1615 hrs  Enemy fighter bombers attack the RAF Station at Burmarrad.  Three bombs land nearby: one on soft ground fails to explode.  Another bomb lands near the motor transport drivers’ billet of 2nd Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment, destroying the ablution facility.  Bombs also explode near their defence posts causing slight shock to ten men manning the posts.

1629 hrs  All clear.

2109-2154 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Private Philip Kanter, Royal Army Medical Corps, No 90 General Hospital;  Sergeant Raymond Saunders, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 247 returned and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two DC3 from LG 224; two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons, two Liberators to Gibraltar; two Beauforts, one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy fighters: pilot killed.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 54.  Dealt with: High Explosives 13 including 3 with unmarked delayed-action fuzes (4 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg); 1 Italian anti-personnel bomb container; 357 anti-personnel bombs; 5 oil incendiaries.

 

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11-17 October 1942: The Blitz is Back

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11 October 1942:  31 Civilians Killed – 17 in Tarxien

Malta was rocked today by heavy bombing raids for the first time three months, as the enemy sent 58 bombers with massed fighter escorts over the Island.  The attacks mark a return to blitz conditions not seen since the end of April 1942.  This time Malta’s Spitfires were airborne in force to counter-attack, destroying eight of the enemy bombers and seven of their fighters.

Heavy Ack Ack also engaged the raiders but with ammunition restrictions at 15 rounds per gun per day due to lack of stocks the Gunners were unable to provide a deterrent to raiders equal to previous months.  The Army has increased the number of men assisting on the aerodromes to 350 daily, to service aircraft and clear damaged runways to keep Malta’s defenders in the air.

The communique from Allied HQ Cairo states: “There was an increase in air activity over Malta yesterday heavily-escorted bombers carried out five attacks during the day. Our fighters engaged them on every occasion. They destroyed at least 15 enemy aircraft, and a great many more were damaged. We lost one fighter. The Malta air craft is the only Allied plane missing from all these operations.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 OCTOBER TO DAWN 12 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair; cloudy about mid-day.

0715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Spitfires of 1435 and 126 Squadrons Luqa are scrambled and intercept nine JU 88s with a large fighter escort approaching Malta from the north. As enemy fighters try to fend them off 126 Squadron attacks and P/O Stevenson destroys one Macchi 202 and F/O Smith destroys one JU 88.  F/S Varey probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one; Sgt Yeatman damages one ME 109, Sgt Marshall one JU 88 and Sgt Tiddy one Macchi 202.  1435 Squadron P/O Walton damages one JU 88 and Sgt Hamilton one ME 109. One Spitfire 1435 Squadron is damaged: pilot unhurt.

Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept.  As they go in to attack enemy bombers they are jumped by escorting fighters: no results.

0719 hrs   Six JU 88s escorted by 30 fighters approached from the south east of Malta to attack Hal Far by shallow dive.  They drop bombs on Benghaisa PT and Hal Far, damaging GHQ, a coal dump and motor transport.

0725 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a bomber crashed in the sea near to defence post RA 3.

0755 hrs  All clear.

0800-0955  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are dispatched to act as escort for the High Speed Launch: no enemy aircraft approach.

0945 hrs  Six JU 88 bombers escorted by 65 fighters are reported approaching the Island.  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  They locate six bombers with twenty fighters and are instructed to attack top cover from up sun.  F/Lt Roscoe destroys one ME 109; Sgt Miller damages one.

0950 hrs  Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept and engage enemy aircraft: no claims.

1009 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron and two 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  1435 Squadron S/L Lovell and P/O Walton each damage one ME 109.

1009-1105 hrs  Air raid alert.  The six JU 88 bombers with their remaining fighter escort cross the coast between 18000 and 3000 feet and drop bombs on Lija, Balzan and Birkirkara on the way to Ta Qali.  The JU 88s attempt to drop 20-30 high explosive bombs on the airfield’s runway but overshoot the target, then split up as they recede.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1230 hrs  Eight JU 88s escorted by 50 fighters approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the raiders and launch a head-on attack on the eight JU 88s escorted by 25 fighters.  W/Cdr Donaldson destroys one JU 88 and damages one ME 109; F/Sgt Ballantyne destroys one ME 109; P/O Nash damages one Macchi 202.

Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They locate one JU 88 with fighter escort and engage: P/O Park damages one RE 2001.

1325 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are scrambled: one Spitfire 126 Squadron is damaged and crash-lands: the pilot is unhurt.  1435 Squadron F/Lt McLeod and F/Sgt MacLennan each damage two ME 109s; Sgt Williams and Sgt Jarrett each damage one; P/O Park damages one Re 2001.  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron are damaged in combat: Sgt Jarrett is slightly hurt.

1400 hrs  The eight JU 88s with fighter escort drop bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome and dispersal areas, and on Rabat, causing damage to property and civilian casualties.  Three Spitfires are slightly damaged and one written off.

1420 hrs  Raiders passed.

A formation of 16 enemy raiders is seen to the north of the Islands but are too far away for identification.  As they approach, they are discovered to be single-engined aircraft with retractable undercarriage and are at first thought to be a new type of JU 87.

1625 hrs  40 German and Italian fighters approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and attack enemy fighters north of St Paul’s Bay.  F/Lt Glazebrook and F/Sgt Ballantyne each destroy one Macchi 202.  Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far: W/Cdr Thompson, Sgt Gore and P/O Reid each destroy one ME 109.   Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: W/Cdr Hanks damages one ME 109 and S/Ldr Wicks one Macchi 202; F/Lt Reels probably destroys one Re 2001 and damages one; F/O Wallace damages one Macchi 202.  One Spitfire is damaged; the pilot is unhurt.  One Spitfire and pilot Sgt MacLean are reported missing.

1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Bombs are dropped on Mellieha Ridge.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700 hrs  4th Bn The Buffs Beat the Retreat in Rabat Square in the presence of His Excellency the Governor.

1720 hrs  Raiders passed.

1735 hrs  Thirty unescorted JU 88s approach the Island.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage 15 JU 88s.  P/O Nash and F/Sgt Ballantyne each destroy one JU 88; W/Cdr Donaldson and F/Lt Parkinson each probably destroy one.

1745 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McLeod and Sgt MacLennan each destroy two JU 88s and Sgt Kebble one; Sgt Ree damages two JU 88s.  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron are damaged: the pilots are unhurt.

1800 hrs  The remaining JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far, Luqa, Tarxien and Qormi, destroying houses and causing civilian casualties. One Beaufighter is burned out the ground on Luqa aerodrome.  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report two planes down in the sea north of defence post RA 3.

In Tarxien, personnel of HQ Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt help to put out fires.  Bombs are dropped in Mqabba and Gudja camp areas.  One Other Rank of 1st Bn Hampshire Regt is injured by an incendiary bomb.  Searchlights effect ten illuminations, in one case illuminating three planes simultaneously.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 4000 feet.

1810-1820 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report anti-personnel bombs between D Company HQ and Ta Ingrau, near Della Grazia and 150 yards south of Fort Ta Silch.  A Company send 40 men to extinguish a fire at Ta Belebel area.  CQMS Rampling, A Company, is injured in the left thigh by a bomb in Tarxien.

1850 hrs  Raiders passed.  The Spitfires landing at Ta Qali have great difficulty due to a cratered runway.

2100-2130 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Bombs are dropped in Birkirkara.  Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne: no engagements.  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a delayed action bomb exploding near Ta Ingrau.

0039-0100 hrs  One HE 111 flies over Malta and drops flares and delayed action bombs on Luqa runway.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  As the enemy raider heads turns to head for Sicily, a Beaufighter of 89 Squadron intercepts.  F/O Shipard and F/Sgt Oxley attack with bursts of cannon and machine gun fire and destroy the HE 111.

0245-0330 hrs  Six enemy bombers approach the Island.  One crosses the coast and drops anti-personnel bombs on the Luqa, Safi and Ghaxaq areas.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne to intercept but do not locate the raiders.

0400 hrs  Two delayed action bombs are discovered by 1st Bn Hampshire Regt west of Kirkop.

Porte des Bombes

0438-0621 hrs  Nine enemy bombers approach the Island, several crossing the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea north of Spinola, on Porte des Bombes, St Patrick’s and St Andrew’s, and north of St Paul’s Bay.  The Beaufighter 89 Squadron of F/O Shipard and F/Sgt Oxley shoots down one HE 111 in flames.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant David MacLean, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Gunner Lawrence Borg, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery, killed by enemy aircraft at Rabat.

Civilian casualties  Mtarfa  Paul Azzopardi, age 17.  Paola  Joseph Hockey, age 30; Rose Hockey, age 25; Doris Hockey, age 4.  Qormi  Joseph Cardona, age 76.  Rabat  Anthony Caruana, age 10; Angiolina Falzon, age 14; Joseph Fsadni, age 28; Maddalena Galea, age 28; Antonia Grixti, age 46; Peter Vella, age 64; Mary Zahra, age 44.  Tarxien  Concetta Attard, age 47; Joseph Baldacchino, age 36; Anthony Barbara, age 55; Antonia Camilleri, age 76; Maggie Cook, age 56; Joseph Debono, age 25; Lonza Debono, age 25; Joseph Degabriele, age 9; Calcedonio Farrugia, age 15; Emily Gleaves, age 28; Joseph Manicolo, age 44; Laurence Piscopo, age 24; Charles Porter, age 71; Edward Redman, age 64; Charles Salsero, age 3; Vincent Scerri, age 60; Mary Tabone, age 12.  Zebbug  Spiro Borg, age 25.  Zejtun  Carmel Grech, age 30.

Enemy casualties (known)  Unteroffizier Gunther Grams, Wireless Operator of a JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea.  He was rescued ten miles north of Grand Harbour and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 11 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy escorted P 42 to sea for patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beaufighters from Edcu; three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Three Spitfires damaged in combat crashed on aerodrome: pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged in combat suffered engine failure on landing: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea by enemy fighters: one pilot missing.

TA QALI  249 Squadron are stood down.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Bugles played at Zebbug where the George Cross was on show.

12 October 1942: 700 Raiders Over Malta in 60 Hours

In the 60 hours to 6 o’clock this evening Axis air forces have made 700 sorties against Malta.   However, the enemy onslaught has been at a heavy cost.  In the same period the Island’s Spitfires have destroyed 20 bombers and 22 fighters, probably destroyed 21 enemy aircraft and damaged another 59.  Wing Commander Donaldson is encouraged by the new RAF tactic of ‘forward interception’ – attacking raiders well before they reach Malta:

W/Cdr A H Donaldson

“It was the most spectacular sight I have ever seen.  The whole sky was filled with enemy aircraft in severe trouble!  I saw three flaming Junkers 88s and another three flaming ME 109s, and counted no less than ten parachutes descending slowly, three of them from a Junkers 88 I had shot down.  Two of my victims, a Junkers 88 and a ME 109 both burst into flames.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 OCTOBER TO DAWN 13 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mostly fair to cloudy.  Slight shower with lightning in the evening.

0540 hrs  Fifteen enemy bombers are reported approaching the Island in two waves, with an escort of 25 fighters each.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept, followed by eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far at 0550 hrs and three of 229 Squadron Ta Qali at 0555 hrs.

The Spitfires of 229 Squadron attack the first wave of seven JU 88s, forcing one to jettison its bombs in the sea.  F/Lt Glazebrook probably destroys one JU 88 and F/Sgt Ballantyne damages another.  The eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled and intercept five JU 88s and fighter escort.  Capt Kuhlmann probably destroys one ME 109; Sgt Vinall damages one JU 88.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0620 hrs  Air raid alert.  The first wave of raiders drops bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa, where aircraft are damaged on the ground.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron and six 126 Squadron Luqa are then scrambled to join the attack.  126 Squadron F/Lt Rolls and F/Sgt Lang each destroy one JU 88; Sgt Park destroys two.  One Spitfire 126 Squadron and pilot S/Ldr Wicks are reported missing.  1435 Squadron Sgt Williams, P/O Stewart and P/O Latimer each damage one JU 88; P/O Owen damages one ME 109.  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron are damaged: the pilots are unhurt.

0630 hrs  The second wave of bombers targets Hal Far, where one Spitfire is burned out and one Spitfire and two Hurricanes slightly damaged.  The eight Spitfires 249 Squadron engage seven JU 88s and their fighter escort, chasing them home.  Sgt/ Stead and S/Ldr Stephens destroy two ME 109s; S/Ldr Woods destroys one and probably destroys a JU 88 over the south Sicilian coast.  One Spitfire crashes into the sea: pilot escapes unhurt and awaits rescue.

0705-0850 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far carry out a search but find nothing.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol locate the pilot in the sea and patrol above until he is picked up.

0738 hrs  All clear.

0814-0900 hrs  Three Hurricanes RNAS carry out a search for missing pilots.

0840 hrs  18 bombers approach the Island in two waves, accompanied by 25 fighters.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and intercept, causing five bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea and turn back.  W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Reynolds destroys one JU 88; P/O Nash damages two and F/Lt Glazebrook damages one.  P/O Parkinson damages one BR 20 and F/Sgt Ballantyne probably destroys one Macchi 202.

0845 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and engage twelve enemy bombers with fighter escort.  F/O McElroy destroys one ME 109; F/Sgt Hiskens and F/Sgt De Lara probably destroy one JU 88.  Other Spitfires close in on six enemy fighters: F/L McEiroy turns towards the ME 109s and destroys one F/Sgt Hiskens probably destroys; F/O McElroy, P/O Sanderson and Sgt Stead damage one each before the Messerschmitts break off the fight.

0907 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron and eight 1435 Squadron are scrambled and engage.  Sgt Park and F/O Wallace 126 Squadron each destroy one JU 88; F/Lt Rolls destroys one Macchi 202 and probably destroys another; F/Sgt Bush and P/O Bazalgette each damage one JU 88.  1435 Squadron Sgt Mclennan destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire crashes but the pilot is unhurt.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0910 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, damaging aircraft on the ground, and at Ta Qali.  Bombs and incendiaries also fall at Bir-id-Dehen, Zeitun and Safi.  Anti-personnel bombs are dropped in the Latnia-Ta Ingrau area.  Four JU 88s drop high explosive bombs near Bir Miftuh Church.

Bir Miftuh Chapel

0950 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled and intercept five JU 88s with fighter escort as they turn away from bombing Ta Qali.  W/Cdr Thompson and P/O Reid each damage one ME 109.  Sgt Vinall fails to return.

1021 hrs  Raiders passed.

1105-1155 hrs  Three Hurricanes RNAS search for missing pilots.

1110-1225 hrs  One Spitfire from Hal Far searches for Sgt Vinall without success.  Sgt Vinall’s body is later discovered at the shoreline, on the west coast of the Island.

1130-1230 hrs  Eight JU 88s with an escort of 30 fighters are reported heading southwards from Sicily.  Malta’s Spitfires are scrambled early, intercepting the raiders a few miles south of the Sicilian coast and 35 miles from Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron attack the JU 88s and fighters head-on.  W/Cdr Donaldson, F/O McElroy and F/Sgt Heskens each destroy one JU 88; W/Cdr Donaldson and S/Ldr Woods each destroy one ME 109.  One JU 88 is probably destroyed and four damaged; two ME 109s are damaged.  Three Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots are unhurt.  229 Squadron F/Lt Roscoe probably destroys one Macchi 202 and another is damaged; S/Ldr H C Baker damages one ME 109.

1205 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to follow up with an on the remaining JU 88s and fighters.  F/Lt Mcleod destroys one ME 109; Sgt McLennan and Sgt Rae each damage one.  In all, three Spitfires are damaged in combat and another is reported missing.

1315-1445 hrs  Three Hurricanes RNAS carry out a search for the missing pilot.  His dinghy is located and the High Speed Launch picks him up.

1430 hrs  45 enemy fighters are reported flying southwards from Sicily at a great height.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are airborne but see nothing.

1446-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  W/Cdr Hanks destroys two ME 109s.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1640 hrs  57 enemy aircraft including at least six JU 88s are reported heading southwards from Sicily.   Eight Spitfires 1535 Squadron and three 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage the raiders 30-40 miles north of Malta.  1435 Squadron S/Ldr Lovell destroys one JU 88; F/Sgt Scott destroys one Re 2001.  P/O Walten, F/Sgt Scott and Sgt Hawkins probably destroy one JU 88 each.  F/Sgt Scott also damages one Re 2001.  One Spitfire is shot down: pilot F/Sgt Stevenson is missing.

1652 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are airborne: no interceptions.

1715 hrs  Only a few enemy aircraft reach the Island at failing light.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron chase three unidentified enemy aircraft but are unable to engage.  The bombers appear to approach singly, dropping bombs on Sliema, Ghaxaq, Safi, Nigret, Latnia and Marsamxetto. Bombs are also scattered near Luqa and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1820 hrs  Anti-personnel, incendiary and high explosive bombs are dropped near the Safi strip (between Tal Liebru and St Nicola Church), Ta Karach and Misrah Blandun.

1847 hrs  All clear.

1945-2011 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five enemy bombers approach Malta at 17-20000 feet; two cross the coast and drop bombs in the sea north of Grand Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  Malta Beaufighter is airborne: no engagement.

2100 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a white flashing light out to sea 6-8 miles bearing 65 degrees Fort Ta Silch.  The vessel is later confirmed as the RAF Rescue Launch.

2120-2205 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy bombers approach at 27000 feet.  Three cross the coast and drop bombs at Benghaisa PT and in the sea north east of the Island.  Malta fighters are airborne: one attacks and destroys a HE 111 which jettisons its bombs during the engagement.

2120-2205 hrs  Four enemy bombers approach Malta.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept; F/O Shipard destroys one enemy bomber.

2220-2320 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron on patrol over Sicily attacks and shoots down an enemy bomber as it is about to land.

0245-0315 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island at heights of up to 15000 feet but none cross the coast.  Flares are dropped off Madliena.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

0430-0500 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five enemy aircraft approach the Island: one crosses the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the Kalafrana area and in the sea east of Leonardo PT.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Vinall, Pilot, Royal Air Force, 185 Squadron; Squadron Leader Bryan Wicks, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties (known)  Unteroffizier Otto Kobszinowski, Wireless Operator of a JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner; Unteroffizier Max Zettelmaier, Crewman of a JU 88 bomber picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 12 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy escorted Una to sea for patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Edcu.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfire shot down into the sea: both pilots bailed out and rescued uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down by enemy fighters: pilot baled out and landed uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires failed to return to base after enemy action: pilots missing.  One Beaufighter taxied into a bomb crater: crew uninjured.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  A detailed bomb search was carried out and discovered 23 unexploded anti-personnel bombs and two unexploded HE bombs.

13 October 1942: 1000 Axis Aircraft Destroyed Over Malta

Wreckage of JU 88

Today Malta claimed the 1000th enemy aircraft destroyed since Italy entered the war in June 1940.  The milestone was reached during the heaviest air raid on the Island since 10 May.  “We wonder can the Axis keep it up.”  (CO, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment).

Air raids are becoming more ‘systematic’ – with one before breakfast, one during the morning, then at lunchtime, mid-afternoon, just after tea and sometimes at dusk.  Attacking forces generally comprise six or seven JU 88 bombers with large fighter escorts raid the aerodromes in turn.  JU 88 bombers now appear to be adopting shallow dive tactics in an attempt to launch bombs on target.

MALTA WELLINGTONS ON THE ATTACK

A Baltimore on an afternoon shipping reconnaissance in the South Ionian Sea sighted two 6-7000 ton merchant vessels and six destroyers, proceeding south at 12 knots.  Three Wellingtons were despatched to attack but only one found the convoy, about half way between southern Greece and Benghazi.  Two 1000 lb bombs were dropped but fell wide of the target.

Two Beaufighters also carried out intruder sorties over Sicily today as Malta continues its role as a fortress against Axis operations in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 OCTOBER TO DAWN 14 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair; slight shower with lightning early morning.

0610 hrs  As seven JU 88s escorted by 30 ME 109s approach the Island eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They engage three JU 88s with a large fighter escort.  F/Lt Charney probably destroys one ME 109; Major Swales and P/O Maynard each damage a ME 109; P/O Maynard and F/Sgt Maher each damage a JU 88.

0620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and dive to attack five remaining JU 88s and fighter escort.  P/O Beurling destroys one JU 88 and one ME 109; P/O Seed probably destroys one JU 88.  P/O Seed, P/O Giddings, F/Lt Hetherington and Sgt Shenell each damage one ME 109.

0705-0729 hrs  Air raid alert.  The remaining raiders cross the coast: bombs are dropped in the Luqa area, killing two civilians.  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the area of Bir Miftuh Church.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Walten destroys one JU 88; P/O Pinney probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.

0935-1035 hrs  Six JU 88s and 42 fighter approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and intercept the raiders about 10 miles north of Zonqor.  They launch a diving attack on one JU 88: no claims.

1007 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron and eight of 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept. 1435 Squadron Sgt Hawkins destroys one JU 88; F/Sgt Scott destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.  Sgt Sharp damages another JU 88 and Sgt Eva damages a ME 109.  126 Squadron WO Farquharson probably destroys one ME 109; W/Cdr Hanks damages one JU 88 and P/O Thompson damages a JU 88.  One Spitfire is damaged: the pilot is unhurt.

1030 hrs  JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and Hal Far, Kirkop and Ta Klantun, Ta Liebru and near Zurrieq.

1037 hrs  Raiders passed.

1123-1140 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on to intercept but see nothing.  The raiders do not approach Malta.

1235-1334 hrs  Six JU 88s with a heavy escort of 44 fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled and intercept the raiders 25 miles north of Zonqor: Major Swales probably destroys a JU 88; Sgt McLeod is reported missing.

1245 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and engage the remaining JU 88s with escorting fighters over Kalafrana Bay.  S/Ldr Baker and F/Sgt Bye each damage one ME 109; Sgt Miller damages one JU 88.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and engage raiders.  F/Lt Jones destroys one ME 109; F/O smith destroys one Macchi 202.  F/Sgt Carey probably destroys one JU 88 and W/O Farquharson one ME 109.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots are unhurt.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1315 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs on Zurrieq village.

1330 hrs  High explosive and incendiary bombs are dropped near Luqa, on Wied Babu and Nigret.  Private Fenech of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is affected by blast; Private Teuma is injured by a bomb splinter in the elbow.

1335 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report one ME 109 shot down into the sea one mile off Grand Harbour.

1344 hrs  Raiders passed.

1550 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept 30 enemy fighters and bombers approaching Malta.

1611 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.   Sgt [White]destroys one JU 88 and F/Lt McLeod destroys one Macchi 202.

1630 hrs  Seven JU 88s cross the coast at Kalafrana heading for Qrendi where they drop into a steep dive to bomb Qrendi air strip.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs land on Qrendi village, near Tal Providenza and on Qrendi strip.  One just misses a defence post, wounding one member of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.  One high explosive bomb lands near Hagiar Qim battery of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

The Spitfires of 229 and 249 Squadrons then launch an attack on the fighters and bombers and a general dogfight ensues.  229 Squadron P/O Nash destroys one JU 88; W/Cdr Donaldson damages another.  His and one other Spitfire are damaged in combat and crash land at Ta Qali: neither pilot is hurt.  Total enemy casualties are two JU 88s, two ME 109s, three Macchi 202s and one Re 2001 destroyed; three JU 88s damaged.

1652 hrs  Raiders passed.

1810-1905 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to locate and intercept enemy raiders but are unable to get within range: visibility is poor due to failing light.  The raid does not materialize.

2212-0013 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten enemy aircraft approach the Island but only four cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped on the edge of Hal Far runway; the aerodrome remains serviceable.  Incendiaries are dropped on Zebbug and Mellieha, and on Wardia Ridge.  Observers identify one enemy aircraft in the searchlights as a Focke-Wolfe Zenstorer.  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no engagement.

0218-0258 hrs  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Alexander MacLeod, Royal Canadian Air Force, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Emanual Mifsud, age 20.  Sliema  John Block, age 20.

Enemy casualties (known)  Sottotenente Maurizio Iannucci, 352a Squadriglia, 20o Gruppo, 51o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi 202 fighter, shot down and killed; Captain Enzo Radini, pilot of Macchi 202 fighter aircraft, picked up from the sea by RAF Launch.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P 34 was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed into the sea during combat with enemy fighters: pilot missing.  One Spitfire force-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter’s hydraulic system failed on landing: crew uninjured.

ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner Davies 6/4 Regt was wounded in action at XHB 10 Heavy Ack Ack position.

 14 October 1942: Screwball Beurling’s Last Mission

82 enemy aircraft have been destroyed over Malta between 10 and 14 October 1942.  “Still they come asking for more, and they get it.”  CO, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment

MALTA SPITFIRE ACES SHOT DOWN

George Beurling

Record-breaking fighter pilot George Beurling was lucky to escape alive today when his Spitfire was strafed by enemy cannon shells, causing him serious injuries.  Pilot Officer Beurling, also known as ‘Screwball’ was flying one of seven Spitfires of 249 Squadron scrambled at 1300 hours today to attack nine JU 88 bombers with and a large close escort of German and Italian fighters just south of Zonqor Point.

Having downed one JU 88, Beurling spotted a fellow Spitfire under fire from a band of Messerschmitts and attacked, downing the leading fighter.  Another JU 88 bomber returned fire, wounding Beurling in the arm and hand.  He broke off and climbed, before turning to pursue another ME 109 on the tail of a Spitfire.  Beurling’s fire shot off the wing of the Messerschmitt and it spiralled downwards as he watched.  The moment’s distraction was nearly fatal: cannon shells from another ME 109 ripped into his Spitfire from below, badly injuring his heel, elbow and ribs and setting the aircraft on fire.

Beurling managed to bail out and parachuted down towards the sea.  The ME 109 fired again at the pilot and his ‘chute but was chased away by another Spitfire.  Beurling was rescued later from the sea by the High Speed Launch and taken to hospital.  His injuries bring to an end his run of 29 enemy aircraft destroyed over Malta between July and October 1942.

Wing Commander Arthur Donaldson DSO was also injured earlier today in combat with enemy raiders.  W/Cdr Donaldson was piloting one of four Spitfires in an air battle with eight JU 88s and their fighter escort.  He flew straight through the fighter cordon to launch a head-on attack on the enemy bombers.  The raiders returned fire, injuring Donaldson in the head and foot.   Two of his fingers were shot away and he had to withdraw.  For the second time in two days, and despite serious injuries, he managed to land his damaged Spitfire safely at Ta Qali before being taken to hospital.

Adrian Warburton

AIRCRAFT LOST IN CONVOY RAID – RECONNAISSANCE PILOT WARBURTON HELPS ENEMY DESTROYER RESCUE SURVIVORS

A reconnaissance Spitfire from Malta today spotted a convoy including a 2000 ton merchant vessel escorted by a destroyer, off the Tripolitanian coast and heading east.  Three Beaufighters of 227 Squadron Luqa were despatched immediately to attack.

At 1130 hrs today they located the convoy and all three Beaufighters went in to attack at mast height.  One was shot down before it reached target.  The other hit the ship’s mast causing the plane to crash into the sea and killing the pilot, Flying Officer Peter Underwood and navigator Flight Sergeant Ivor Miller. The third Beaufighter dropped two 300 lb bombs and fired with cannon and machine gun but no results were seen.

Reconnaissance pilot Squadron Leader Adrian Warburton was still on the scene and spotted the dinghy of the aircraft of P/O Brice and Sgt Cole.  Despite being fired on by Italian fighters, he persevered in making contact with the enemy destroyer, to guide the ship to the location of the Beaufighter’s dinghy.  S/Ldr Warburton reported seeing the survivors picked up by the destroyer before he returned to base.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 OCTOBER TO DAWN 15 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair early morning; otherwise fine.  Very good visibility morning and afternoon.

0535-0640 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

0645 hrs  Eight JU 88s with fighter escort are reported approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  W/Cdr Thompson, P/O Reid and P/O O’Brien each damage a ME 109.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and attack 20 German and Italian fighters head-on, north of St Paul’s Bay.  .  W/Cdr Donaldson damages one JU 88 before his Spitfire is forced to crash-land at Ta Qali; he is injured and admitted to hospital.

0707 hrs  Nine Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and attack just north of Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Rolls destroys one JU 88; Sgt Park and F/O Wallace each destroy one ME 109.  Sgt Park also probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Hending and F/Sgt Bush each damage one.  One Spitfire is lost and two damaged: pilots are unhurt.

0727 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight JU 88s with an escort of forty fighters approach the Island, the majority crossing the coast.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali rendering the aerodrome temporarily unserviceable.  There are two civilian casualties.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron attack six JU 88s as bombs are dropping on Ta Qali.  S/Ldr Woods and F/Sgt De Lara each damage one JU 88.

0741 hrs  Raiders passed.

0940 hrs  60 enemy aircraft including at least eight JU 88 bombers approach the Island in tight formation, with 20 ME 109s flying above as top cover.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the raiders 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, attacking six JU 88s from astern and head-on.  Sgt Brough destroys one JU 88; Sgt Francis probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Lundy damages two JU 88s; F/Lt Glazebrook and P/O Nash each damage one.  One Spitfire is missing: P/O Nash is slightly injured in the face and is picked up by the Rescue Launch.

1026-1056 hrs  Air raid alert.  The remainder head for Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and attack the raiders while they are diving to bomb the airfield.  W/Cdr Thompson destroys a JU 88; P/O Reid and Capt Kuhlmann each destroy a ME 109.  P/O Cheek probably destroys a JU 88 and damages another.  P/O Reid damages a JU 88; Sgt Tarbuck damages a JU 88 and a ME 109, and Capt Kuhlmann damages a ME 109.    Bombs are dropped on Hal Far and Safi, Wied Has Saptan, Ta Klantun and Ta Liebru, and anti-personnel bombs on Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  As the enemy turn away they are attacked again, north west of Kalafrana.

Total enemy casualties three JU 88s and two ME 109s destroyed; one JU 88 and one ME 109 probably destroyed; six JU 88s and three ME 109s damaged.

1300 hrs  Nine JU 88s approach the Island, closely escorted by fighters.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Beurling destroys two ME 109s and one JU 88.  P/O Giddings destroys one ME 109.  F/Lt Hetherington probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Wynn probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Giddings and Sgt Bryden each damage a JU 88 and P/O Williams damages two ME 109s.

1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Parkinson destroys one Macchi 202; S/Ldr Stephens destroys one Re 2001 and damages on JU 88.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots are unhurt.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.

1330 hrs  Seven JU 88s raid Hal Far, dropping high explosives and incendiaries on the aerodrome, causing craters.  Anti-personnel bombs are scattered over Regimental HQ and 14th Battery HQ of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.  Enemy raiders make skillful use of cloud cover during the raid.

1355 hrs  Raiders passed.

1510-1535 hrs  Air raid alert.  35 aircraft including 7 JU 88s approach the Island and are intercepted 15 miles north east of Zonqor.  Four ME 109s and one Re 2001 are destroyed; one JU 88 is probably destroyed; three JU 88s and two ME 109s damaged.

The remainder of the attackers head for Hal Far and are engaged over Kalafrana by eight Spitfires from Hal Far.  F/Sgt Maher destroys a JU 88 and Sgt Guy probably destroys a ME 109 and damages a JU 88.  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far aerodrome causing craters but no major damage.  Heavy Ack Ack fires.

1636 hrs  Air raid alert for ten JU 88s escorted by 40 fighters evidently turning in to head for Ta Qali.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the raiders to the east of Grand Harbour before they can cross the coast.  They attack the bombers head-on, forcing them to turn out to sea and away from their target.  Most of their bombers jettison their load into the sea.  Sgt Miller destroys one JU 88 and damages one; S/Ldr M M Stephens and P/O Johnson each damage one JU 88.  A few bombs are dropped in the Mosta area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and share in the destruction of one JU 88.

1710 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report three bombers and a fighter (believed to be a Spitfire) in the sea off Grand Harbour.

1715 hrs  Raiders passed.

2100-2110 hrs  Air raid alert.  10 enemy bombers approach Malta: all but one turn back before crossing the coast, dropping their bombs in the sea all round the north coast of the Island.  Some high explosives and incendiaries are dropped between Bugibba and Salina, and across to Mosta.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

2145 hrs  Five enemy fighter bombers launch a dive-bombing attack on the RAF station at Qawra Tower and Headquarters of C Company, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

2200 hrs  A Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report bombs in the Latnia area.  E Company report bombs in the area of St Mary’s Battery.

0205-0435 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight enemy bombers approach the Island but only two cross the coast, dropping bombs on Ta Qali, Ghain Tuffieha and Hamrun.  Malta Beauffighters are airborne and one sees a HE 111 approaching at 12000 feet.  The fighter dives from 15000 feet to attack, lowering his undercarriage to avoid overshooting.  He fires at the enemy raider from astern, causing it to explode and crash into the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ivor Miller, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 227 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Roe, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1435 Squadron; Squadron Leader Peter Underwood, RAF VR, 227 Squadron; Flight Sergeant William Williams, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Francis Fenech, age 18.  Msida  Anthony Zahra, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 211 in from sea; the latter reported having driven a 900 ton steamer ashore by gunfire and subsequently destroyed it by torpedo. She also reported two other merchant vessels successfully attacked with torpedoes.  Fleet Air Arm obtained one hit on a 7000 merchant vessel which was subsequently beached at Homs.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Liberator from LG 224; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Beauforts to Shallufa.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires shot down by enemy fighters: pilots missing.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy action crash-landed: crew uninjured.

Four Spitfires damaged in enemy action: one pilot injured.  Three Spitfires shot down by enemy action into sea: pilots rescued, two uninjured, one slightly injured. Two Beaufighters damaged by enemy action while on shipping strike, crashed into the sea: crews missing.

HAL FAR  1925-0032 hrs  Two Albacores and one Swordfish of the RNAS were despatched to attack 7000 ton merchant vessel escorted by two destroyers off the coast of Tripoli.  One torpedo hit the merchantman amidships, which was later observed to be stationary.

LUQA  One Wellington 69 Squadron attacked an enemy convoy south east of Malta.  Two 1000 lb bombs were dropped but no results were observed.  Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron were sent out later to complete the attack.  All the aircraft found the convoy: one torpedo and two 1000 lb bombs were dropped but no results were observed.

TA QALI  The runway is unserviceable for ten minutes for inspection after an air raid: no significant damage.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the period 8-14 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motor cycle and five Other Ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome.  Twin Lewis guns have been manned for Anti-aircraft defence of the Safi Strip during the hours of daylight.

15 October 1942: Luftwaffe Fighter Bombers Target Malta

  • Enemy send ten fighters to protect one bomber.
  • Enemy raiders are now dropping flares only – the reason is unclear, as following raiders rarely take advantage of the light to drop bombs on the illuminated area.
  • Since the beginning of intensified air attack Army has increased the number of soldiers assisting RAF in maintenance of aircraft and aerodromes to 500 daily.

MP SUGGESTS ISLAND SHOULD BE KNOWN AS ‘MALTA GC’

Walter Higgs MP

Mr Walter Higgs, MP for Birmingham West, today asked the Prime Minister in the House of Commons whether he is aware that an official proclamation to the effect that henceforth Malta should be known and addressed as Malta GC would meet with general approval; and will he make the necessary announcement?

MALTA AIR FORCES SCORE STRIKE ON AXIS MERCHANTMAN

Two Albacores in co-operation with a Swordfish were sent out tonight to attack a 7000 ton merchant vessel and two destroyers which had left Patras on a south westerly course.  They found it at 2153 hours, 80 miles north east of Homs and one Albacore scored a direct hit amidships.  The other Albacore which was not able to get into a suitable position to attack while the flares dropped by the Swordfish were still alight brought its torpedo back. 

Wellington bomber

The merchant vessel was left almost stationary and was found 1½ hours later by a Wellington which dropped to 1000 lb bombs but they fell wide.  Later in the night the convoy was attacked again by Wellingtons with one torpedo and two 1000 lb bombs but no results were observed owing to a partially effective smoke screen put up by one of the destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 OCTOBER TO DAWN 16 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine; lightning early morning and late evening.

0650 hrs  A massive formation of some 60 enemy fighters escorting six JU 88s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and are attacked by ME 109s: Sgt Wynn destroys one.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron and eight 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

0705 hrs  Air raid alert.  Dogfights ensue as Malta fighters engage the enemy over Kalafrana, off Zonqor Point and over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and attack the formation.  Despite being outnumbered over fifteen to one, S/Ldr Stephens attacks enemy bombers head on, following one bomber down to sea-level and chasing it 20 miles out to sea before finally shooting it down in flames.  He is then attacked by six enemy fighters but returns fire, destroying one of the ME 109s.  His aircraft is badly shot up and he returns to base, surviving a crash-landing. 

The eight Spitfires 249 Squadron also press on to attack the bombers.  P/O Moody destroys one JU 88.  P/O Williams probably destroys one JU 88; P/O Giddings damages one.

0722 hrs  The remaining four JU 88s come in and drop bombs near Luqa aerodrome and in the Kirkop area.

0740 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a Spitfire down in the sea off Leonardo with a baler-out nearby.  An anti-personnel bomb explodes 25 yards from a post of B Company.

0755 hrs  Raiders passed.

0935 hrs  About 40 enemy fighters, including 15 carrying bombs are reported approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and engage the enemy north of the Island.  Many raiders drop their bombs out to sea, as well as on Marfa and Mellieha Bay, where one civilian is killed and two injured.  A few bombs fall on Gozo.  249 Squadron are jumped by ME 109s flying in pairs and threes.  Sgt Wynn damages one ME 109.  Two Spitfires crash-land and a third ditches into the sea: Sgt Bryden is rescued with a fractured leg.

0940 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1005 hrs  Air raid alert as the raiders approach the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are airborne to intercept the raid: no claims.

1047 hrs  Raiders passed.

1151-1337 hrs  Air raid alert.  About 50 German and Italian fighters approach Malta but turn back before reaching the coast.  They appear to be searching for missing crews, and escorting ambulance aircraft.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They see a float plane with fighter escort 35 miles north of the Island.  F/Lt Charney and F/Sgt Maher each destroy a Macchi 202; Major Swales and Sgt Garvey damage one each.

1235-1355 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to act as cover for 185 Squadron.  Enemy aircraft are sighted but cannot be brought into contact.

1358-1430 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 enemy fighters including at least seven ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol attack, forcing most of the raiders to to drop their bombs in the sea.  Bombs are also dropped on the Ta Qali and Mosta areas.

1610 hrs  Nine JU 88s approach the Island with an escort of 50 fighters.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage the enemy.  F/Lt Glazebrook damages one JU 88; Sgt Francis damages one Macchi 202.

1616 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron attack the enemy formation head-on over Kalafrana Bay, causing them to jettison their bombs.  S/Ldr Woods destroys one ME 109 and damages a JU 88; P/O Yates and Sgt Stead probably destroy one ME 109; several other enemy aircraft are damaged.  1st Bn Cheshire Regt report seeing two enemy bombers crashing into the sea just off Grand Harbour.  The port engine of one had been shot off.  Three Spitfires are damaged (pilots unhurt); one Spitfire is lost and F/Sgt Hiskens is reported missing.

1640 hrs  Seven JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and other bombs and incendiaries on Tal Liebru, Luqa, Kirkop and Marsa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1704 hrs  Raiders passed.

1912-1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft approaches but turns back twenty miles east of the Island.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

1922-1928 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne on intercept patrol but see no enemy aircraft.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is scrambled to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the island, one of which crosses the coast: no engagement.

1940-2034 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island; one crosses the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Grand Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

2028 hrs  Bombs are dropped near a defence post of C Company, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

2124-2158 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach; three cross the Island.  Bombs are dropped in the sea east of Grand Harbour and on land at Zonqor Point.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

0220-0443 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine bombers approach the Island, four crossing the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped in the St Paul’s Bay and Wardia areas and in the sea.  Flares are dropped over Benghaisa Point.  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: one sees an enemy raider crash north of Cape Passero.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer Edwin Hiskens, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Joseph Scicluna, age 48.  Mellieha  Arthur Calleja, age 6.  Sliema  Joseph Letard, age 65.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER 1942

P 212 HMS Sahib

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 212 to sea and P 46 in. The latter reported as having sunk on loaded merchant vessel and one in ballast.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Liberator, two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires damaged in enemy action: pilots uninjured.  Three Spitfires shot down by enemy fighters: both pilots baled out and were rescued, injured.  Two Spitfires damaged by enemy action crashed on landing: pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire forced to land during enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire missing over sea following enemy action: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  2300-0215 hrs  One Swordfish is sent on anti E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

LUQA  Two Baltimores 69 Squadron were despatched in search of an enemy convoy.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photographic reconnaissance of Benghasi.

16 October 1942: Hurricane Hit in Friendly Fire Incident

A Hurricane aircraft was attacked this morning by a Spitfire six miles off Grand Harbour.  The friendly fire incident happened during the confusion of an expected air raid which had not materialised.  The alert was raised just before 8.30 am when eight Axis aircraft were reported patrolling the Kalafrana area.  However, four separate groups of Spitfires scrambled to intercept the raiders failed to locate any enemy planes.

Forty minutes after the scramble, a Hurricane was despatched to search for a missing pilot was recalled with the expectation of imminent action.  Once the ‘raiders passed’ signal was given, a Hurricane was again sent on a rescue mission.  However, the Spitfires were still in the air on the look-out for hostile aircraft: one caught a glimpse of the Hurricane and fired before realising it was friendly.  The Hurricane sustained damage but landed safely: the pilot escaped injury.

137 UNEXPLODED BOMBS IN 7 DAYS

A massive increase in the number of unexploded bombs has resulted from recent enemy air activity.  The intercept tactics now used by RAF Squadrons are costing the enemy dearly – but raiders under attack jettison more bombs.  137 UXB reports have been received by Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal in the week since the Axis renewed heavy air raids on Malta.  All the reports are concentrated around the three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali, and on the north east coast of the Island.

Anti-personnel bomb canister

A third of the reports were for high explosives, the rest were anti-personnel bombs or incendiaries.  The Luftwaffe is using mainly 50kg bombs again: more of them can be loaded onto each aircraft and, with fewer planes reaching target, a single bomber getting through can drop a greater number of bombs in one attempt.

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 OCTOBER TO DAWN 17 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud.

0625-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0649 hrs  50 enemy aircraft including eight JU 88s approach the Island.

0701 hrs  Air raid alert.   Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  The raiders are attacked 5-10 miles north of Grand Harbour.  Capt Kuhlmann and P/O Reid each probably destroy a MU 88; P/O O’Brien damages another and Sgt Gore damages a ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and seven 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the raiders.  126 Squadron Sgt Park destroys one ME 109.  Two Spitfires are lost: F/O Wallace and Sgt Wilson are missing.  1435 Squadron P/O Owen probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another; Sgt Harrison damages one JU 88 and F/Lt McLeod one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged.  The enemy bombers are forced to jettison their bombs over the sea.  Some bombs fall on land at Sliema and St Julian’s, damaging civilian property and injuring thirteen.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

0725 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a fighter crashed in the sea four miles out from Della Grazia.

0742 hrs  Raiders passed.

0800 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a Spitfire crashed into the sea two miles due north of Grand Harbour.

0829-0946 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight enemy aircraft approach the Island and patrol the Kalafrana area.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: no sightings.

0900 hrs  Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no combat.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also airborne on interception: no sightings.

0905 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled but encounter no enemy aircraft.

0910 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far is dispatched to search for a missing pilot but is recalled before beginning the search.

0946 hrs  One Hurricane searches 042 degrees Grand Harbour 6 miles but is attacked by a Spitfire: the aircraft is damaged but the pilot is unhurt.

0950 hrs  More than 60 enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage enemy aircraft.  Sgt Francis destroys one ME 109; Sgt Ballantyne and P/O Reynolds each damage one JU 88.

0952 hrs  Air raid alert.  Fighters carry out a sweep of the Island.  Six Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  F/Lt McLeod destroys one ME 109.

1010 hrs  Seven JU 88s cross the coast near Hal Far and drop bombs on the airfield, slightly damaging an aircraft on the ground.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron make a head-on attack on bombers as they bomb the airfield.  F/Sgt Lara destroys one JU 88; S/Ldr Woods and F/O McElroy each damage one.  P/O Lowrey damages one ME 109.  Two Spitfires are lost: one pilot is safe but injured; F/Sgt Carter is shot down into the sea and is missing.  Four Spitfires are damaged in combat: pilots unhurt.

1045-1235 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far searches for the missing pilot: no sightings.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no sightings.

1050 hrs  Raiders passed.

1250 hrs  35 enemy fighters, including ME 109 fighter bombers, approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They see four ME 109s but the raiders are too far away and flying too fast to be intercepted.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept 35 enemy fighters including fighter bombers: no engagement.

1300-1340 hrs  Air raid alert.  The raiders cross the coast at over 25000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped near Mqabba and in the Mellieha area before escaping towards Sicily.

1505-1612 hrs  Two Hurricanes from Hal Far are dispatched to search for a missing pilot: nothing sighted.

1535 hrs  A massive formation of eight JU 88s with an escort of 60 fighters including six fighter bombers approaches the Island in six waves.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and attack the seven JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers.  P/O Williams destroys one JU 88 and Sgt Wynn probably destroys one.  F/Lt Hetherington and Sgt Budd each damage a JU 88.

1540 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Miller probably destroys one JU 88 and damages another; F/Lt Parkinson also damages one.

1615 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 1435 Squadron and ten 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  126 Squadron Sgt Cherran destroys one JU 88; Sgt Marshall probably destroys one ME 109; Sgt Tiddy and Sgt Roberts each damage one JU 88.  Sgt Tiddy damages one ME 109 and F/Lt Jones damages one Macchi 202.  1435 Squadron P/O Walton, Sgt Fuller and Sgt Eva each damage one JU 88. Three Spitfires are damaged in combat: pilots unhurt.

1630 hrs  The bombers, fighters and fighter bombers cross the coast in six waves.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Four JU 88s attack Luqa, destroying one Beaufighter on the ground and damaging another, before receding south.  4th Bn Heavy Ack Ack Regiment guns at XHB 8 claim a direct hit on one JU 88 which is then seen to crash into the sea: claim one JU 88 destroyed.  The ME 109s bomb Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome temporarily unserviceable and injuring two civilians.

1655 hrs  Raiders passed.

1700 hrs  2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers Beat the Retreat in Castille Square.

1831-1844 hrs  Air raid alert.  One aircraft crosses the coast but no bombs are dropped.  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

2332-2350 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island and cross the coast, dropping flares north west of Ta Qali.  Bombs and incendiaries are dropped on the St Paul’s Bay and Rabat areas.  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no raiders seen.

0246-0335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six enemy aircraft approach the Island; only one crosses the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer II Peter Carter, Royal Canadian Air Force, 249 Squadron; Flying Officer Edward Wallace, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flight Sergeant William Wilson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 1435 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties (known)  Wallenburger and Wehner: crew members of a JU 88 bomber picked up from the sea by RAF Launch.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER 1942

HMS Hythe

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept in P 43 who reported having sunk an 8000 ton southbound merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3 from LG 224. Aircraft casualties  Four Spitfires damaged due to enemy action: one pilot baled out, rescued uninjured; two pilots crash-landed, one injured.  Two Spitfires missing from enemy action: pilots missing.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron was despatched on reconnaissance with one Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance.  2330-0300 hrs  One Wellington 69 Squadron was despatched to locate and illuminate one merchant vessel sighted by the Baltimore.  Flares were dropped.

17 October 1942: Spitfires Must Win 2nd Battle of Malta

AIR OFFICER COMMANDING RALLIES RAF

The following message has been sent by AOC Mediterranean addressed to Spitfire pilots: “Grand work fighter boys.  Your magnificent fighting in the last five days is being watched not only in Malta but by the RAF on other fronts as well as by our Russian allies.  Although heavily outnumbered last May Malta Spitfires came out on top and I am confident that you will win the second battle of Malta.  Some of the enemy bomber squadrons have already shown that they cannot take it.  Keep it up and in a few days the other German bombers will throw up the sponge.  Replacement Spitfires and pilots are on the way but there is still some stiff fighting to finish the job.  Good luck to you and good shooting.”

Army operated fuel bowser

A second message is addressed to all maintenance personnel:  “Your part in the present battle for Malta is greatly appreciated but serviceability of Spitfires continues to fall.  You can and must get it up again.  Where you have worked hard you must work harder and faster.  Give the fighter boys Spitfires and they will drive the Hun out of the sky.”

RAF CLAIM SCALPS OF TWO LUFTWAFFE AIR ACES

Two highly decorated Luftwaffe ‘gruppenkommandeure’ (group commanders) were killed in air battles over Malta today.

GKmdr Major Heinrich Paekpcke was pilot of the leading JU 88 of seven bombers attacking early this morning when his aircraft was involved in a head-on collision with a Spitfire just off the coast to the south east of Valletta.  Both pilots were killed instantly, although the three other Luftwaffe crewmen seen to bail out before the bomber hit the water.  Spitfire pilot Flight Lieutenant Jones was a member of 126 Squadron sent to intercept the enemy raiders.

Gerhard Kollewe

Bomber pilot GKmdr Gerhard Kollewe was flying one of seven JU 88s and nine ME 109 fighter bombers which launched a heavy bombing raid over Malta just after noon today.  His bomber was shot down into the sea during an air battle with Malta Spitfires intercepting the raid off the coast of Valletta. Kollewe and his crew baled out but he and observer Feldwebel Bernhard Mähler were killed. Radio operator Oberfeldwebel Martin Assum and aerial gunner Feldwebel Paul Ballof were rescued alive and taken prisoner of war.

Heinrich Paepcke and Gerhard Kollewe were highly decorated Luftwaffe commanders, among the elite recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded for extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 17 OCTOBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air offensive during daylight resumed with great suddenness on 11 October.  Tactics: 6-8 JU 88s escorted by 30-50 fighters making an average of four raids daily on aerodromes.  These tactics are the same as the beginning of 1942 but with much increased fighter support.  The latter proved most necessary but did not prevent heavy losses German Air Force.  Spitfires made magnificent interceptions, many 15-20 miles north of Gozo and destroyed 49 JU 88s and 59 fighters, probably destroyed 27 JU 88s and 21 fighters and damaged 67 JU 88s and 64 fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack destroyed one JU 88 and damaged another.  As the week progressed, the determination to force home attacks grew weaker and bombs fell further and further from the aerodromes, eg Wardia Ridge, Mellieha and in the sea.  German Air Force towards the end of the week were forced to use fighter bombers.  Malta casualties only 24 Spitfires lost (11 pilots safe) but many damaged.  Little damage to aircraft on the ground or aerodromes.  Photo reconnaissance shows that numbers of aircraft in Sicily continue to increase – now total 660 including 196 German bombers and 238 fighters.

2.  During darkness approximately 100 bombers, of which only 34 crossed the coast.  These attacks were not characterised by the same determination as daylight attacks early in the week.  Bombs in scattered localities; little damage.  Beaufighters destroyed four HE 111s, probably destroyed another.  Heavy Ack Ack destroyed one bomber.  Approximately 33 per cent illuminations by searchlights.

3.  Own air attacks on convoys by a small number of Beaufighters, Albacores and Wellingtons resulted in one merchant vessel 7000 tons hit.

4.  Working parties were increased to assist RAF in maintaining aerodromes and aircraft.  Many UXBs dealt with.

5.  Military damage negligible.  Some damage civilian property and civilian casualties.  Military casualties one Other Rank killed, nine wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 OCTOBER TO DAWN 18 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

0635 hrs  Seven JU 88s with an escort of some 25 fighters approach the Island.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to locate the enemy fighters but do not engage.

0645 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  F/Lt Charney damages one Macchi 202.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron and four 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept and engage the enemy 12 miles east of Zonqor, forcing them to jettison their bombs in the sea.  126 Squadron P/O Thompson, W/Cdr Hanks and P/O Stevenson each destroy one JU 88; F/Sgt Varey destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Yeatman and F/Sgt Varey probably destroy one JU 88 each.  1435 Squadron S/Ldr Lovell damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is damaged (pilot unhurt).  F/Lt Jones crashes into a JU 88, bringing it down: heis missing.

0648 hrs  Air raid alert.  A few remaining aircraft cross the coast and drop bombs on scattered areas from Naxxar to Madliena.  The ME 109s drop their bombs on Ta Qali.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers launch a further attack on Qawra Tower area.

0725-0900 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far is airborne on a search for missing airmen: nothing sighted.

0735 hrs  Raiders passed.

0800-0900 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0915-1100 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far is airborne on a search for missing airmen: nothing sighted.

0938-1007 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight ME 109s approach to within three miles of Grand Harbour, suspected to be searching for survivors.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1133 hrs  75 enemy aircraft including seven JU 88s and nine ME 109 fighter bombers are reported approaching the Island. Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and attack five JU 88s with escort plus six ME 109 fighter bombers.  F/Lt Hetherington destroys one JU 88; P/O Giddings destroys one ME 109.  P/O Seed probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Budd probably destroys one ME 109 and P/O Moody damages one.

1152 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Smith and F/Lt Charney each damage one JU 88; P/O Park damages two others and one ME 109.  Sgt Garvey is shot up and crash lands: his aircraft catches fire and he is injured.

1158 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron attack five JU 88s with fighter escort and six ME 109 fighter bombers head on.  F/Lt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire does not return: pilot Sgt Miller is missing.

1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Tiddy destroys one JU 88 which is seen to crash into the sea at 1232 hrs.  One Spitfire is damaged: the pilot is unhurt.  The remaining raiders cross the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  The JU 88s drop bombs on Birkirkara, Sliema, Naxxar and Gharghur, demolishing several houses and damaging others.  Bombs fall opposite the Officers’ Mess of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment in Birkirkara.

1244 hrs  Ta Qali aerodrome is attacked by six ME 109 fighter bombers: no significant damage is caused.

1314 hrs  Raiders passed.

1502-1513 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy fighters approach to within 3 miles north of Comiso on a search for survivors.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1630 hrs  60 enemy aircraft including ten ME 109 fighter bombers approach from several directions at a great height. Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1637 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: one is damaged in combat and another crash-lands with undercarriage trouble.

1652 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and eight 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and bombs are dropped in the sea and on land in St Paul’s Bay area.

1701 hrs  Four enemy fighters launch a dive-bombing attack on the RAF station at Qawra Tower and Headquarters of C Company 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  The raiders are engaged by anti-aircraft fire from Qawra Tower.

1735 hrs  Raiders passed.  Enemy casualties: nil.  Three Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots unhurt.

1800 hrs  15 enemy bombers approach the Island at dusk.   Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept but do not locate the raiders.

1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Most of the bombers cross the coast and dive-bomb Kalafrana, damaging a hangar, and on Birzebbugga.  High explosive, anti-personnel and incendiary bombs are dropped on Hal Far airfield and Safi in another dive-bombing attack, causing craters near the runway and damaging one Spitfire.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  One HE 111 is destroyed.

1846 hrs  Raiders passed.

0024-0058 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft approach Malta.  One crosses the coast dropping flares over St Paul’s Bay and a delayed action bomb on Ta Qali.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy raiders but see no aircraft.

0315-0352 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy bombers approach the Island but only one crosses the coast, dropping flares.  The other three drop their bombs in the sea north of the Island.  Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Ripley Jones, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 126 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ronald Miller, RAF VR, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Camilleri, age 40; Carmela Gatt, age 45; George Zammit, age 8.

Enemy casualties (known)  Oberfeldwebel Walter Boerner and Feldwebel Edwald Futterknecht, air gunner and crewman of a JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner; Gruppenkommandeure (GKmdr) Gerhard Kollewe pilot of JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea and killed; GKmdr Major Heinrich Paekpcke, pilot of a JU 88 bomber collided with a Spitfire and killed; Unteroffizier Erwin Seibt, Wireless Operator of a JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires missing due to enemy action: pilots missing.  Four Spitfires damaged by enemy action: one pilot uninjured; three crashed – one pilot injured.

HAL FAR  2032-0122 hrs  One Swordfish and one Albacore were despatched to attack a 7000 ton merchant vessel previously attacked on 14 October and discovered beached near Homs Harbour.  The Swordfish returned early with engine trouble, jettisoning the torpedo.  The Albacore located the target but cloud cover over the moon prevented him making an accurate attack.  He dropped a torpedo but observed no results.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron on patrol over Catania sees a HE 111 on the runway and destroys it.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Benghasi and another made a photo-recce of Homs.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  The Battalion is now finding one Officer and 50 Other Ranks for aerodrome maintenance, refuelling and maintaining Spitfires on Luqa air base.  One NCO and 18 men are working in support of the Royal Engineers Tunnelling Company working on the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 137.  Dealt with: 22 High Explosives, including 6 delayed action (8 x 250kg, 14 x 50kg) plus anti-personnel bombs and oil incendiaries.

(1)  Papers of Group Captain Arthur Donaldson, DSO, DFC, AFC, from The Air Battle for Malta, the Diaries of a Spitfire Pilot, James Douglas Hamilton, Pen & Sword 2006

 

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

 
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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

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

 

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