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9 May 1942: 60 Spitfires Reach Malta

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OPERATION BOWERY A SUCCESS

Spitfires 601 Squadron

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MAY TO DAWN 10 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

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

Ready to take off from Wasp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1258 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1423 hrs  Raiders passed.

1531 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

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

1610 hrs  Messerschmitt 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

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

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

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

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

1700 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 9 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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30 April 1942: Axis Plan Immediate Invasion of Malta

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HITLER AND MUSSOLINI APPROVE ‘OPERATION HERKULES’

Hitler, Mussolini and Kesselring discuss invasion of Malta

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

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

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

APRIL 1942: A MONTH OF MASS BOMBING

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

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

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

NWMA Malta

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 APRIL TO DAWN 1 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly: no cloud.  Warm haze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1135 hrs  Bombs explode near San Pietru.

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

1215 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1800 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Harold Gibbs, Royal Air Force.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 APRIL 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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5 April 1942: Rocket Bombs Hit Valletta

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Bombs on Floriana 5 April 1942 (NWMA Malta)

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

UXB CONFIRMS RETURN OF ROCKET BOMB TO MALTA 

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 APRIL TO DAWN 6 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly: slight haze.

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

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

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

1215 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 APRIL 1942

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

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

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

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

TA QALI  No night operations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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18 March 1942: Three Hour Battle Over Malta – Blow by Blow Account

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  • 12 raids in 16½ hours
  • Aerodromes main target
  • Gozo passenger boat machine-gunned
  • Fighters prowl Malta’s coasts

‘Buck’ McNair (Canadian Aces)(1)

MALTA ADOPTS BATTLE OF BRITAIN TACTICS

“The Malta pilots quickly adapted Battle of Britain tactics to their situation under the tutelage of SL Turner. What Spitfires that could get airborne would try to attack the escorts first while the Hurricanes would come in just behind them and try to get at the bombers. This didn’t often work out, due to the overabundance of 109s in the air. However, on March 18 Buck damaged a Bf-109, and the next day he shot one down in flames.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MARCH TO DAWN 19 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; no cloud.

0727-0845 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by sixteen ME 109s drops bombs in the sea west of Anchor Bay, on land near Torri L’Abjad and near Miziep Pumping Station.  Four ME 109s peel off and machine-gun Marfa Beach, firing on the Gozo ferry boat disembarking at Marfa Jetty and injuring three passengers. ME 109s go on to carry out low-flying patrols around the coast.

0855-1216 hrs  Six ME 109s circle the Island, three patrol off the south east coast and three ME 109s patrol off Delimara.  Four ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island and two in the north.  Malta’s fighters engage.

1230-1308 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are  airborne to escort a Maryland south.  While still trying to locate it they see two of the patrolling ME 109s, five miles south of Delimara.  They attack: W/Cdr Turner damages one; P/O McNair damages one.

1326-1400 hrs  ME 109s patrol off the coast and to the north of the Island.

1430 hrs  Five Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of one JU 88 and twelve ME 109s.

1447 hrs  The Hurricanes attack and together damage a JU 88.  P/O Lester is shot up by a ME 109 and wounded.

1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, four Hurricanes 126 Squadron and seven 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept 24 JU 88 bombers in a series of formations, each with fighter escort.

1650 hrs  The four Spitfires are jumped by four ME 109s. One ME shoots down P/O Fox who bales out over the sea.  F/Lt McQueen attacks the ME and sees that go down into the sea.  P/O Sergeant attacks another ME, observing large pieces falling off.  P/O Lee attacks a JU 88, seeing strikes on the fuselage and black smoke from the port engine.

The Hurricanes close to within sight of the attacks.  F/Sgt Fletcher and F/Lt Stone see hits on the same JU 88 attacked by P/O Lee.

1711 hrs  Air raid on Hal Far.  Five JU 88s drop fifteen high explosive (HE) bombs, including three 1000kg.  Eight fall on the airfield.

1715 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage three JU 88s: one hit claimed.

1717 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 14 HE bombs including three 1000kg on Safi strip, and on Hal Far, damaging one Albacore, demolishing a hangar and leaving craters on the aerodrome.

1725 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages a JU 88: no claim. 

1725 hrs  One 1000kg bomb falls on Bubaqra village, damaging headquarters of A Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt and injuring the storeman.  An unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 50 yards away.  B Company reports one fighter in the sea near Filfla.

1730 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claim.

1735 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA engage one JU 88: two guns claim one hit each.  One of the gun positions is hit:  billets are damaged and rendered unserviceable.  Personnel have to be accommodated temporarily in tents.

1735 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Misrah Blandun area.

1755 hrs  Four bombs explode between the headquarters of B and D Companies, 3 Bn Kings Own Malta Regt (KOMR).  One 1000kg bomb is reported near RAF posts at Ghar Lapsi.  An unexploded bomb is reported at position 424193.

1755 hrs  Fighter aircraft return to Ta Qali but Sgt Mulloy and P/O Lester are reported missing.

1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne to escort the High Speed Launch in a search for P/O Lester.

1830 hrs  Seven JU 88s raid Ta Qali, dropping 45 high explosive bombs.  24 hit target, setting fire to and destroying two Hurricanes, one bowser and one tractor.  Bombs fall on the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for a short time.  One Hurricane and one Spitfire are slightly damaged.  LAC Parker is admitted to No 90 General Hospital with severe shock.

Several bombs fall around the camp of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt and on Qrendi strip.  One bomb explodes close to the HQ building. The guard commander is affected by bomb blast and taken to hospital suffering from concussion.

1845 hrs  Four JU 88s drop HE bombs on Luqa airfield.

1900 hrs  P/O Sergeant 249 Squadron attacks a ME 109 with several bursts: the aircraft dives steeply towards the sea, emitting white smoke.

1909 hrs  Raiders passed.

1955 hrs  An observer of 3rd Bn KOMR at Ghar Lapsi sights a bomber in the sea West of Filfla, one fighter south east of Filfla and another fighter south of Filfla.

P/O Lester is rescued by the High Speed Launch.

2235-2300 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast near St George’s and drops bombs on Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2355-0127 hrs  Eight single aircraft approach from the north.  Four cross the coast and bomb searchlight positions at Tal Balal and Mellieha, and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; one night fighter is airborne.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Arthur Delehaunt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 69 Squadron; Sergeant William Anderson, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Harold Fox, Royal Air Force VR, 249 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Grimley, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant George Mulloy, Royal Air Force VR, 126 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Parker, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  St Paul’s Bay  Carmela Muscat, age 72; Francis Muscat, age 14.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Kurt Lauinger, III/JG 53, Pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109, shot down, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Two Swordfish and two Albacores on shipping search without result.  One Swordfish crashed on landing; crew unhurt.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  AM  Two Swordfish and four Albacores of 828 and 830 Squadron on shipping search.  Two merchant vessels and two destroyers sighted 180 degrees Lampedusa 45 miles, course north, 15 knots.  One hit scored.

LUQA  0825-1256 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for shipping: relocation of convoy and traffic moving east from Tripoli.  1434 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron despatched on reconnaissance of Marittimo-Kerkennah.  Sgt Parker fails to return.  One Maryland on reconnaissance Marittimo-Kerkennah failed to return: believed shot down by enemy fighters off Filfla.  Crew: Sgts Parker, Delehaunt, Grimley and Anderson airborne 1434 hrs.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One man A Company Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by [1000kg bomb] in Bubaqra village; one Other Rank slightly injured by bomb blast.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party two Officers and 100 Other Ranks at Luqa.  1400 hrs  30 Other Ranks final parachute practice on Marsa Range. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

(1) Profile of Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNair from Canadian Aces (Miles Constable)

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17 March 1942: 30 Civilians Killed by Heavy Bombs Across Malta

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  • Air raids back to full force

    Heinkel He 111

  • 79000 kg high explosive bombs dropped across Island
  • Indiscriminate night bombing hits civilian areas
  • 30 civilian casualties including two policemen
  • Heavier enemy fighter escorts – 40 protect a single raid
  • Heinkel III appears over Malta
  • Malta’s Ack Ack and fighters score hits on enemy aircraft
  • One Spitfire crashes
  • Aircraft destroyed on the ground

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  70% cloud at 500 feet.

0700 hrs  Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  F/L Stone and P/O Noble make a head on attack on one JU 88: results not observed.  P/O Beckett engages a ME 109: no visible results.

0715 hrs  Six Spitfires of 249 Squadron are airborne and locate an incoming formation of JU 88s and Messerschmitts.  The Spitfires split into pairs.  Sgt Brenman scores cannon strikes on one Messerchmitt which goes down.  He then fires at a second ME but sees no results.  F/Lt Heppell has a short squirt at one ME 109 and sees a puff of black smoke as it climbs away.

0737 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Grand Harbour area.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage.

0800 hrs  Six JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  One bowser and two Wellingtons are burned out.  Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged; one is written off. One Spitfire and one Mosquito of the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit are damaged.  One previously unserviceable Beaufighter is badly damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from Hal Far join the fight, spotting five JU 88s and ten Messerchmitts.  S/Lt Wells scores strikes on one Junkers and P/O McHan fires machine gun bullets into the same aircraft.  Sgt Hale attacks another JU and sees smoke pouring from the starboard engine, believed to be glycol.  F/Lt Kemp attacks a ME 109 and sees bits fall from the starboard wing: the ME goes down into cloud.  Sgt Mulloy attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes under the starboard wing root.  He also claims strikes on a 2nd Junkers, along the tail end of the fuselage.

1000 hrs  JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, and on the submarine base.

1025 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 4-6000 feet: no claims.

1030 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne.  Sighting a large formation of Messerschmitt fighters, the Spitfires dive away.  F/Sgt Cormack does not pull out of his dive and his machine heads straight towards Filfla: cause unknown.

1045 hrs  Five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.

1050 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land safely.

1115 hrs  All clear.

1200-1355 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and Luqa, and in the sea off Delimara.

1310 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs in the Zurrieq area and on Safi strip. One JU 88 is engaged by two gun positions of 225 LAA at 5-6000 feet: no claims.

1407 hrs  Four JU 88s and one Heinkel 111 escorted by fighters approach the Island  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Broad engage one JU 88: no visible results.  The raiders drop bombs to the west of Luqa and Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1415 hrs  Three Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and three Spitfires of 249 Squadron from Luqa.  They chase and damage the Heinkel.  A second wave of six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop twelve bombs on Ta Qali, damaging one Hurricane. Two civilians are killed, two are admitted to hospital and two have minor injuries.  Ack Ack engage and damage one JU 88.

1425 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the Mqabba area and near Loreto Church.

1445 hrs  The Spitfires and Hurricanes land safely.

1500 hrs  One Hurricane at Ta Qali is damaged by a delayed action bomb dropped at 1415 hrs.  One civilian is injured and taken to hospital.

1600 hrs  Five Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of JU 88s.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Sutherland attack one JU, hitting the fuselage and engines.  Sgt Sutherland engages a ME 109, scoring hits between the engine and cockpit.

1619 hrs  A six-wave attack of bombers protected by a large fighter force.  The first wave of six JU 88 drops bombs on Sliema, Tigne and Marsaxmett Harbour.

One JU 88 drops bombs on Kirkop and Qrendi.

Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and to the north of Luqa.

One aircraft recedes from south to north at 18000 feet.

Six JU 88s drops bomb on the Qrendi strip and in the sea.

Six JU 88s drops bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.   Malta’s fighters are up and damage one HE 111, one JU 88 and two ME 109s.  Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage another.

1725 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip. Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged and written off.  Guns of 225 LAA Battery engage two JU 88s and one ME 109 at 4-5000 feet: no claims.

1830 hrs  Two Hurricanes 126 Squadron take off from Hal Far with five other Hurricanes of 185 Squadron to intercept an incoming formation.  The two Hurricanes of 126 chase a JU 88 which is last seen diving steeply into the sea.

1836 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and Misrah Blandun.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa and patrol behind the Hurricanes.  Two ME 109s are spotted.  S/L Grant damages one with cannon shells and P/O Plagis attacks the other, observing pieces fall from the aircraft.

1842 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s at 3-4000 feet: three gun positions claim five hits in total.

1846 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 3-4000 feet.  All guns claim hits; two confirmed on the fuselage and starboard wing of one aircraft.  Gunners collect fallen fragments of fuselage and a rubber dinghy.  The plane recedes south apparently badly damaged.

1920 hrs  All clear.

2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is barraged over Grand Harbour and drops its bomb load in the sea.

2044 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the east of Mellieha.

2200 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Pembroke Ranges, on Naxxar and in the sea.

2235 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Rabat area.

2332-0100 hrs  Seven aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the Rabat and Rocco areas, and in the sea.

0156 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on St Georges and in the sea.

0340 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs in the sea west of Gozo and another drops bombs to the south of Latnia.

0517 hrs   Seven aircraft approach the Island: one drops bombs near San Rocco fort, the remainder in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ian Cormack Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.  Gunner Carmel Darmanin, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Alfred Calleja, age 35.  Hamrun  George Debono, age 43.  Lija  Charles Lanzon, age 36.  Paola  Giuseppe Delia, age 60; Joseph Delia, age 4; George Gauci, age 80.  Qormi  Carmelo Aquilina, age 77.  Rabat  Francis Mallia, Ena Mallia Pulvirenti, age 12; Salvu Portelli, age 37; Andrew Spiteri, age 11; Samuel Vassallo, age 25.  Siggiewi  Carmelo Baldacchino, age 44.  Sliema  Eddie Bartolo, age 38; Joseph Bartolo, age 38; Alfred Calapai, age 54; Antonio Fava, age 20; Paul Formosa, age 50; Giuseppa Micallef, age 54; Joseph Micallef, age 11; Joseph Mifsud, age 66; Albert Mifsud, age 14; Anthony Pisani, age 38; Carmela Sghendo, age 15; Francis Spiteri, age 14; Alfred Vella, age 45.  Valletta  Muriel Brocklebank, age 47.  Zebbug  Giuseppe Petroni, age 29.  Zejtun  Joseph Mercieca, age 45.  Zurrieq  Ursola Schembri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  MLs 126 and 130 arrived from Gibraltar.  Five Albacores left to attack convoy sighted earlier but failed to find.  Three Swordfish attacked one merchant vessel of 2000 tons east of Tripoli.  One torpedo was dropped and left ship ablaze from stem to stern.  Two Swordfish and four Albacores sighted and attacked two merchant vessels and two destroyers in Lampedusa area.  Two torpedoes dropped and one hit on a 7000 ton merchant vessel is claimed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Spitfires to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Five Albacores 828 Squadron dispatched to attack convoy – nothing sighted.  Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on shipping search.  They attacked one merchant vessel (position east Tripoli 25 miles, 10 miles from shore).  A hit was scored: merchant vessel left ablaze from stem to stern.  One Swordfish – S/L Shute, Mid. Hillery – missing.

LUQA  0712-1300 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search south and east of Malta for enemy shipping.  1534-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for enemy shipping.

TA QALI  Signal 0831 HQ:  Identity of 242 and 605 Squadrons cease to exist as such on Malta with effect from 15 March 1942.  Pilots being absorbed with existing fighter squadrons at Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Night operations: no interceptions.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company on exercise Corrodino area; normal work for other Companies.  1400 hrs A Company cross-country run.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  St Patrick’s Day parade of Battalion at San Pawl Tat Targe.  Shamrock presented by GOC.  March to Naxxar for church parade and sermon by Rev Navin.  Dinner in evening attended by Brigadier L/Col Iggleden, L/Col Brittorous.  Men entertained by concert party.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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11 March 1942: German Raiders Flee Without Dropping Bombs

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ENEMY OUTNUMBERED BY MALTA FIGHTERS

For the first time Malta’s fighters outnumbered enemy attackers in an attempted raid this morning.  The Island’s early warning system picked up signs of an incoming formation at 1130 this morning.  By the time they reached Malta’s airspace, twenty aircraft – four Spitfires and sixteen Hurricanes – were in the air to meet them.  At least three enemy fighters were damaged.  The raid was aborted and the JU 88s turned back without dropping a single bomb.

The success of Malta’s defenders appears to have deterred further raids today:  several formations or single aircraft approached the Island, triggering the air raid alarm, but retreated without nearing the coast.

HMS Naiad

ADMIRAL’S FLAGSHIP SUNK HELPING MALTA SHIPS

HMS Naiad was sunk early this evening while she was leading a protective convoy covering the passage of HMS Cleopatra and HMS Kingston from Malta to Alexandria.  The flagship of Admiral Vian, commander of 15th Cruiser Squadron, Naiad was hit by a torpedo fired from German submarine U565 at dusk, to the north of Sidi Barrani.  Naiad sank in minutes, with the loss of 77 hands.

Vian’s squadron had been sent after an enemy vessel reported by reconnaissance on 9th March but finding nothing they diverted to escort the two vessels on their journey south from Malta.  The torpedo strike followed a day-long battle in which continuous attacks by Italian and German aircraft on the thirteen-strong convoy were fought off by barrages from the besieged ships.  Admiral Vian and his flag-captain were rescued from the water by HMS Dido which returned them to Alexandria.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 MARCH TO DAWN 12 MARCH 1942

Weather  Low clouds at times.

0902 hrs  One JU 88 with fighter escort carries out reconnaissance from 22000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires of 249 Squadron and twelve Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from are scrambled from Ta Qali.  They are joined by four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation.

1146 hrs  Enemy aircraft – JU 88s with fighter escort – approach from the north.

1215 hrs  The Spitfires engage the ME 109s.  S/L Grant attacks one, claiming a probable; F/L Connell damages another.   605 Squadron Hurricanes also attack: P/O Ormrod claims one damaged ME 109; P/O Noble fires at a second without observed results.  The JU 88s turn back without dropping any bombs.  Ack Ack engage.

1232 hrs  All clear.

1410 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1449-1545 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1654-1936 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

2130 hrs  Four 50kg bombs are dropped near battle Headquarters of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt at Tal Minsia, St Julians.

2330-0042 hrs  Island under continuous alert; few bombs dropped on land.

0340-0459 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north but does not cross the coast.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Georgia Borg, age 22.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Swordfish from El Adem; one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beaufighters to 108 MU.

LUQA DSO is awarded to F/L Warburton DFC and Bar of No 2 Photo Reconnaissance Unit for courage, determination and devotion to duty.  DFM is awarded to AC1 Haden who accompanied F/L Warburton.  0745-1250 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carries out Spanner patrol and reconnaissance of Lampedusa Harbour.  1400-1815 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out northern half of Spanner Patrol and Pantelleria.

TA QALI  1500 hrs  Funeral of Pilot Officer Mayall. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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4 February 1942: Five Hour Air Raid

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  • Five hour raid; nine killed
  • Heavy bombing on Ta Qali: buildings and runway damaged, Headquarters evacuated
  • Three Hurricanes missing
  • Wellingtons attack motor transport south of Tripoli 
  • Blenheims attack Palermo: direct hit on train

    Bomb damage at Chateau Bertrand, Ta Qali

RED FLAG UP NEARLY ALL DA

A diary of life in Valletta, 4 February 1942

“For weeks now we have had them prowling round all night and nearly all day. The day raids cease at dusk, and there is a half an hour’s interval; then Wailing Willie goes again. Sometimes he announces ‘Raider Past’ once or twice in the night; but within a short time the enemy comes again. He appears to go round and round the island, just out of reach of the guns, dropping a bomb here and there; occasionally diving on some post through the clouds – for the very cloudy weather lately has helped him. When he approaches our end of the island our own particular barrage bursts out for a moment or two, and then ceases. We doze through it!

Nature cannot go on keeping on the alert. Sometime something drops fairly near; but we have been lucky. At the moment he definitely has command of the air, for the Messerschmitt which he uses here is definitely faster than our Hurricanes. Even his Junkers when they have discharged their load are only very slightly slower, and cannot be caught if they get any start.

It is very difficult to get anything done in the day. We now have a system by which a large red flag is hoisted when bombers are about. The shops and market immediately shut, and people keep one eye on the nearest shelter, go and sit in the Club, or stand at the door of a shelter till the guns open. This flag is up nearly all day! Many brave or rash people ignore it; some because they must. But many have paid the penalty with their lives.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 5 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Bright periods; 80% cover, low thundery clouds.

0920-0937 hrs  Two plus aircraft approach from the north, pass the Island to the east, turn and recede north without crossing the coast.

1131-1634 hrs  For the first three hours of the raid, single aircraft patrol to the south east and south of the Island.  One bomber drops bombs in the Salina area.

1225 hrs  Six aircraft of 249 and 126 Squadrons, Ta Qali are airborne: intercept JU 88 bombers south of Kalafrana.  F/Lt Davis scores strikes on both engines of a bomber, closing to 50 yards, silencing the rear gunner.  P/O Tedford gets in good bursts at 250 yards from astern.  S/Ldr Beazley attacks from above and astern.  The JU 88 is claimed as damaged.  All aircraft return safely to Ta Qali.

1350 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 249, 242 and 126 Squadrons, Ta Qali, intercept JU 88s over Kalafrana.  F/Lt Carpenter fires all his ammunition from 200 yards: no return fire.

1500 hours  A raid consisting of three plots of six aircraft and three plots of three aircraft approaches from the north.  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Qali area, and near San Biagio church.  The enemy attack Ta Qali camp with large bombs, presumed to be mines.  Headquarters and Billet of Section, Equipment and Parachute Section, Malta Night Fighter Unit, 242 Squadron Offices and A/Cs offices are badly damaged and rendered unusable.  Evacuation of HQ and other buildings is ordered.  The aerodrome surface is badly cratered and made partly unserviceable.  Casualties.

ME 109 fighters then patrol south of the Island, engage Malta’s fighters and machine-gun a high-speed launch.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1806-1817 hrs  Five ME 109s approach from the north, complete a circuit of the Island and then recede north.  They do not come within range of the guns.

1820 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes of 249, 126 and 242 Squadrons, Ta Qali, are airborne to engage the enemy.  Three pilots are reported missing: P/O Hulbert and Sgt MacDowell of 249 Squadron and P/O Main of 126 Squadron.  Searches are made without result: they are presumed shot by enemy aircraft.

2020-2114 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island.

2214-2229 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns at 15 miles from the Island and recedes north.

2255-0011 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Bingemma area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0135-0510 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Hulbert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Thomas Griffith, Royal Air Force (VR); Aircraftsman Gerald King, Royal Air Force (VR), Corporal Theodore Nielsen, Royal Air Force.  Lance Bombardier Albert Beard, 225 Battery, 74th  Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Joseph Buhagiar, age 50, Francis Chetcuti, age 29, Elian Tonna, age 51, Joseph Tonna, age 31; Naxxar  Bartholomew Buhagiar, age 80; St Paul’s Bay  Grazio Galea, age 42.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 FEBRUARY 1942

HAL FAR  Night 3/4th Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on search for single merchant vessel off Kuriat.  Nothing was sighted and all aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol (modified); one Maryland special search Sfax.  21 Squadron  Six Blenheims sent to attack Palermo Harbour; [scored a direct hit on a train identified by daytime photo-reconnaissance mission].  Wing Commander William Selkirk, RAF, P/O Workman and Sgt Ibbetson failed to return.  40 Squadron  2341-0324 hrs  Wellingtons attacked motor transport at Tripoli.  S/D Flight One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Headquarters evacuated [following air raid today] and all equipment salvaged.  Lessons to be learned.  Had bomb been a little closer almost entire HQ equipment and personnel would have been wiped out.  HQ should be underground to save equipment, and above all dislocation of communications and organisation and if possible should be right off the target area.  Shortage of equipment renders it essential that all adequate safeguards be taken.  Typewriters and office machinery were saved from damage through being placed under tables when air raid took place.  Casualties.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT   ’A’ Company held [training exercise] at Tal Balal.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Unexploded bomb C Company area.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party 120 strong.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner A H Beard died in hospital.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  Heavy raid on Ta Qali.  Private Jones was injured when the truck in which he was sitting was very badly damaged by a bomb.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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