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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

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

 
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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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Posted by on March 18, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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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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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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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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Posted by on March 11, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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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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25 January 1942: “A Bad Day” for Ta Qali

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Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

  • 69 enemy aircraft attack Hal Far
  • Five Hurricanes and one Swordfish destroyed
  • One pilot killed
  • Five Hurricanes and one Fulmar damaged
  • Hal Far aerodrome heavily cratered
  • No enemy losses 

GOVERNOR PRAISES MALTESE RESPONSE TO RAIDS

In his report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief Lt General Dobbie recognises the role of the Maltese in sustaining the Island during increased enemy action:  “Civil Defence Services have operated well and Demolition Squads and Air Raid Precautions have given general satisfaction.  Public also are bearing up well, although continuous raids are naturally subjecting them to strain.”

AIR RAIDS SUNDAY 25 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south south-west.  70% cloud; fine.

0817 hrs  One aircraft patrols the Island.

0827-0841 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, skirts the Island to the north west and patrols 20 miles south, then recedes north east.

1025 hrs  Fifteen Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali and Hal Far to meet an incoming plot of four JU 88 bombers escorted by twelve ME 109 fighters.  Three Hurricanes return with mechanical trouble.

1030 hrs The remaining Hurricanes are jumped by ME 109s.  F/Lt Kee shoots all his ammunition into an ME 109 and chases it 20 miles north: no claim.  Sgt Alpe of 126 Squadron and P/O M Jones are shot up and ‘belly-land’ at Ta Qali: they receive minor injuries only.  P/Os Anderson, Blackburn and Sluggett all bale out and the latter two are taken to Imtarfa Hospital with injuries.  P/O Russell (126 Squadron) is missing, believed killed.  Heavy Ack Ack engages the bombers.

1053 hrs  The four JU 88s attack Hal Far leaving twenty craters on the aerodrome.  One Swordfish is burnt out and three damaged; one Fulmar and one Hurricane slightly damaged.  Casualties nil; superficial damage to buildings.

1115 hrs  Raiders passed.

1143-1220 hrs  Five aircraft, reported to be ME 109s, patrol to the east of the Island.  Two ME 109s attack HMS Abingdon which opens fire on them.  No Hurricanes are airborne; heavy Ack Ack guns do not engage.

1413-1507 hrs  Three JU 88s with eighteen ME 109s as escort approach the Island and drop bombs on Hal Far causing another seven craters and destroying one aircraft and damaging another; no casualties.  Two ME 109s attack HMS Abingdon which suffers casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Russell, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve), 126 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 25 JANUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Glengyle and Rowallan Castle departed after dark, escorted by Force K: cruiser Penelope and destroyers Lance, Lively, Legion, Maori and Zulu to rendezvous with a convoy out of Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims from El Adem.

HAL FAR  AM Seven Hurricanes (four of 185 Squadron and three of 605 Squadron) intercepted four JU 88s and twelve ME 109s.  One JU 88 was damaged.  One Hurricane crashed (pilot F/Lt Thompson injured) and two Hurricanes were damaged.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance (PR) Tripoli Harbour; one Hurricane PR Sicilian aerodromes and south west Sicily; one Maryland Cairo 1 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 2 patrol.

TA QALI  Church parade held: AOC attended.  Six Sergeants attached to this station from Luqa for fighter Blenheims.  Intruder raids: two flights made – aerodrome found in darkness.  Further operations suspended.  Total casualties:  seven Hurricanes, one pilot missing, three injured. No enemy claims.  A bad day.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party at Luqa aerodrome; now one officer and 140 Other Ranks daily.  This is liable to continue until some time in March.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY 1400 hrs Gunner J Dowling interred at Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  The Battalion played the Lancs Fusiliers at soccer at the Empire Stadium.  The Battalion lost 5 goals to 2.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1(50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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24 January 1942: 132 Bombing Raids Since Christmas

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421 MALTA CIVILIANS KILLED SINCE JUNE 1940

FROM:  Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie)              TO:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

Most important event of the month was the arrival of convoy of three ships totalling 21000 tons on 19th January.  This was most welcome after nearly four months without convoys and has greatly encouraged us all.  I will report further when unloading is completed, but the convoy brought valuable replenishments of wheat, coal, kerosene, and other commodities.

465 buildings damaged or destroyed this month

Raids have greatly increased in frequency during the past month.  There were 150 alerts during the day and 103 at night.  These included 68 raids by day and 64 by night during which bombs were dropped.  91 persons were killed (41 men, 18 women, and 32 children) and 99 seriously injured (47 men, 22 women and 30 children).  430 houses and 35 other premises were demolished or badly damaged.  Worst incidents were at Gzira on the night of 1-2nd January when 27 people were killed and 9 seriously injured, and at Mosta during daytime on 19th January when 16 people were killed and 11 seriously injured.  In neither case were people in the shelters.

The total number of casualties since the beginning of the war with Italy is now 421 killed, 396 seriously injured.  5106 houses, etc., have been demolished or badly damaged…(to be continued)

ARMY CHIEF ISSUES ORDERS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING

The GOC has issued instructions that more fitness training will be carried out.  Already started with physical training for all ranks daily before breakfast, a full fitness training will begin from next week.

The program includes one four mile cross country run weekly; one cross-country run weekly (starting with 1/4 mile and working up to 1 mile); one route march every fortnight during which 15 minutes will be marched and the next five minutes run, alternately throughout.  Lastly bicycle reconnaissance tours will be carried out so that units may learn all areas of the Island.  These will work up to 30 mile cycle marches.

AIR RAIDS SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 1942

Weather   Wind south west.  30% clouds; fine.

0904-1052 hrs  Two JU 88s escorted by nine ME109s approach from the north and drop ten bombs on Hal Far badly cratering the aerodrome, damaging one Swordfish and one Hurricane, a Bofors gun, and one billet and predictor of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

0950 hrs  225 LAA Battery engages the JU 88s, claiming one hit.  Malta fighters are up and engage one JU 88.  Heavy Ack Ack engages until our fighters give “Tally Ho”.  Enemy fighters are too low to effect Ack Ack engagement.  One JU 88 follows the raid on reconnaissance at 25000 feet.

1010 hrs  Seven aircraft of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.  S/Ldr Beazley and P/O Tedford attack six JU 88s and twelve ME 109s; they are forced on the defensive by ME 109s and see no results of their attack on JU 88s.  P/O Tedford attacks a ME 109, with no result.

1102-1144 hrs  Eighteen plus aircraft approach from the north.  Enemy fighters patrol south of the Island, while nine JU 88s escorted by fighters cross the coast to the north west.  They drop bombs on Luqa, damaging several aircraft, including specially-equipped Wellington bombers, and starting a fire.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  L/Cpl G Spiteri of D Company 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment, on duty at Luqa aerodrome, is killed by shrapnel wounds to the abdomen.

1314-1320 hrs  Two aircraft approach the island and are identified as friendly.

1325 hrs  Fifteen aircraft of 126, 242, and 249 Squadrons are scrambled at Ta Qali.  P/O Moon of 249 Squadron joins with 185 Squadron from Hal Far to attack a JU 88, causing damage to the engine.  The enemy raid ultimately fades.   P/O Moon is hit in the glycol tank and manages to land with his engine off, at Luqa airfield.

1333-1412 hrs  Twelve plus unidentified aircraft approach from the north but recede without crossing the coast.  Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1419-1441 hrs  Two JU 88 escorted by three ME 109s approach from the south and drop bombs in the sea, south of the Island.  Hurricanes are up and engage a JU 88, claiming probable damage.

2226-2248 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea to the south east of the Island, before receding north.

2325-2347 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, skirts the Island to the north and north-west and crosses the coast in the Qrendi area, dropping bombs near Hal Far.

0013-0136 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea off St Thomas’ Bay, before receding north.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage because a friendly aircraft is taking off.

0150-0212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage and bombs are dropped in the sea before the aircraft recede north.

Civilian casualty  Mqabba John Mary Briffa, age 54.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Albacore from Berka; one Catalina from Aboukir. Departures  One Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one Hudson to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Eight hurricanes 185 Squadron engaged a formation of two JU 88s and four ME 109s.  Both JU 88s and one ME 109 were damaged.  One Hurricane slightly damaged but pilot unhurt.  Night 24/25th Three Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel, seen earlier by an Albacore.  The Swordfish failed to locate the ship.  All aircraft returned safely.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable.  One airman attached to Kalafrana for Police Course.  1920-0150 hrs   Intruder raids over Sicily commenced by 1435 Night Fighter Unit, with raids over Catania, Cerbini and Comiso.  S/Ldr Westmacott patrolled Catania for 1hr 20 mins – no activity on aerodrome but heavy Ack Ack.  F/Lt Palmer patrolled Comiso for half an hour, finding all lights on.  He saw JU 88 taking off at 2030 hrs and fired a three-second burst at 600 feet.  A bomber disintegrated in mid-air.  He fired at another on the ground and gave a two-second burst at 4-500 yards but saw no results owing to intense Ack Ack.  No searchlights [active].  F/Lt Stones, F/O MIlls and F/Sgt Fowler found nothing on patrol: weather deteriorating.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT 1600 hrs  Funeral of Private F Smith at St Andrews Cemetery.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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