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27 January 1942: Raiders Attack Disembarking Troops

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  • Durham Light Infantry disembark in Grand Harbour

    Durham Light Infantry disembark in Grand Harbour

    Convoy bombed on Grand Harbour

  • Malta’s airmen train for ‘intruder raids’ of Axis airfields
  • Luftwaffe fighters surprise aircraft during training exercise
  • Malta’s two field ambulances not enough, says Commander
  • From:   Governor & C in C Malta                                                 To:  The War Office

    Request addition one S/Sgt (Clerk) 2 Sgts. And 5 Cpls (nursing orderlies for general duty) to…each of Nos 15 and 161 Field Ambulances RAMC while units serving in Malta.  Consider these increases essential: garrison very large for only two field ambulances, and general hospitals function telescoped into field ambulance organisation due to…necessity retention patient in dressing stations, of which there are twelve. 

    AIR RAIDS TUESDAY 27 JANUARY 1942

    Weather  Wind south west.  30% cloud; fine.  Warmer rain at night.

    0910 hrs  A convoy consisting of Force K and Breconshire arrives in Grand Harbour having passed through enemy minefields without incident.   The Breconshire is weighed down with supplies, and the convoy brings military reinforcements: 600 men of the 1st Durham Light Infantry.

    1010 hrs  Two aircraft scrambled; one at 1020 hrs; one at 1030 hrs.  No contact.

    1017-1041 hrs  Three unidentified aircraft pass northwards off the east coast.

    1100 hrs  Disembarkation of troops from convoy begins.

    1147 hrs  Five JU 88 bombers with fighter escort of twelve ME 109s approach Grand Harbour from the south at low altitude, aiming to attack the convoy.   Bombs fall near No 5 Gun Mounting Shop, the Naval Canteen Garden and south of St John’s Bastion.  Bombs on Cospicua cause civilian damage but no casualties.  Meanwhile three ME 109s carry out a patrol north east of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack and Light Ack Ack guns are engaged.

    1730 hrs  As Hurricanes from Ta Qali take to the air for test exercises for planned intruder raids of Sicily, three of the aircraft are surprised by enemy fighters.   P/O Mackie is shot down and fatally injured.  One enemy plane is engaged by aerodrome defence posts of 8th Bn The Manchester Regt with small arms fire: some of the posts claim hits.  The plane is seen flying over Ghain Tuffieha with one wheel down and smoking.

    2017-2032 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.  Bombs are dropped in the Rinella area and in the sea.

    2232 hrs  One JU 88 attacks Hal Far.  Three bombs strike, causing blast damage to windows in the Officers’ Mess.  No casualties.

    0112-0139 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north: barrage is held off as the aircraft is believed possibly friendly.  It crosses the coast and machine-guns a searchlight position in the Grand Harbour area.

    0309-0325 hrs  One bomber approaches from the north and drops incendiary bombs on Sliema and Hal Far, and High Explosive bombs in Cospicua.  Heavy Ack Ack fire four barrages.

    0445-0500 hrs  One bomber approaches the Island from the north at 240 mph and drops bombs in the sea off Delimara.  Heavy Ack Ack guns engage.

    Military casualties  Pilot Officer Alexander Mackie, Royal Air Force, died 29 January 1942.

    OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 27 JANUARY 1942

    ROYAL NAVY  Breconshire arrives Malta escorted by Force K.  Kingston enters dry dock in Malta.

    AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter to LG 224; one Fulmar to Martula; two Wellingtons to LG 224.

    LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland SF6 patrol; one Maryland SF15 patrol; one Hurricane PR Pantelleria.  21 Squadron  Five Blenheims attacked one merchant vessel and one escort vessel.  156 Squadron  Six Wellingtons attacked shipping Tripoli.

    TA QALI  Training of airmen in defence commenced.  1925-2110 hrs  P/O Mills patrolled Comiso; no results.  1924-2145 hrs  Sgt Wood patrolled Catania: experienced heavy Ack Ack and went to Comiso where he shot down a possible JU 88 from 50 yards range.  Enemy aircraft fell to the ground in flames.  2150-0010 hrs  P/O Robertson patrols Catania and Germini: heavy Ack Ack; no result.  2230-0100 hrs  S/Ldr Westmacott patrolled Comiso: saw no activity; heavy Ack Ack.  2325-0210 hrs F/O Winton patrolled Catania and Comiso: no results; heavy Ack Ack.  0045-0250 hrs  F/Lt Stores: Comiso – no activity on aerodrome (heavy Ack Ack).  He fired at a beacon – red and green flares – and received a bullet hole in the tail.  0015-0300 hrs  P/O Grant Catania: saw twin-engined biplane south of Augusta: shot down in flames from 50 yards astern: it dived straight in the sea.

    CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE (CIB)  1st Bn Durham Light Infantry less one Company arrived from MidEast and placed under command CIB.  Floriana Detachment of Malta Tanks moved to area Verdala Palace, thus completing concentration of the amalgamated unit.

    1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT One fairly big air raid during the morning: one large bomb fell a few yards from B Company HQ.  No damage or casualties.

    1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Entered harbour and disembarked 1100-1200 hrs.  One air raid during disembarkation. Proceeded to camp at Verdala.  Now under command of Central Infantry Brigade: role to fill the gap in the defence of the high ground around Boschetto.  Accommodated in area Verdala Palace – Boschetto – Inquisitor’s Palace with HQ at Boschetto.

    KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  2nd Battalion to be trained by 8 Manch in weapons and duties for manning posts north of Victoria Lines and south of Baida Ridge, from 21 February 1942.  Bn HQ will move to Wardia Bay area.

    8TH BN KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT   ‘A’ Company were relieved on Gebel Ciantar by 1st Bn The Durham Light Infantry.  This Bn had been engaged for some time previously in erecting camps, etc. in preparation for the arrival of the [new] Bn.  New location of ‘A’ Company is Ta Chircippu near Siggiewi.

    11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0600 hrs  Physical Training for all ranks before breakfast. 

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

     

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    Posted by on January 27, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

     

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    26 January 1942: Hospital Patients Armed Ready for Invasion

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    IMTARFA INMATES TO HELP DEFEND TA QALI

    Hospital patients and RAF personnel will be called to action in the event of an invasion of Malta, as Ta Qali gets its own armed Garrison.  The extra manpower is to help the Army defend the aerodrome and occupy high ground at Imtarfa and Mdina overlooking the airfield. 

    18 pounder gun

    18 pounder gun

    On declaration of a “General Alarm”,  the Garrison troops will come under the command of 8th Bn The Manchester Regiment (8th Manch), and include one platoon 4th Buffs; two companies 8th Manch and one platoon Static Group.  200 RAF personnel from Ta Qali aerodrome will be called on as soon as the airfield is declared unable to operate.  Up to 200 patients will man the defence posts currently being built for 90thGeneral Hospital at Imtarfa.

    Ta Qali Garrison will be armed with heavy artillery – three 18 pounders – and a varying number of Ack Ack guns.  Two 18 pounders will be dug into the Imtarfa spur, and one at pt 369268, to direct fire on to the aerodrome landing grounds.  At least one automatic weapon will be issued per defence post as well as Ack Ack light machine guns.

    RAF personnel are currently undergoing training in infantry skills for their new defensive role.

    AIR RAIDS MONDAY 26 JANUARY 1942

    Weather  Wind south south-west.  70% cloud; bright periods.

    0838-0901 hrs  Two ME 109s approach from the north, patrol south and south east of the Island at a low height and then recede north.

    0945-1009 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

    1027-1055 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approach from the north, cross the Island from south to north at 26000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

    1210-1338 hrs  Four ME 109s approach from the north, circle the Island and patrol to the south.  The raid recedes at sea level.

    1240 hrs  One mine explodes on Marfa West Coast.

    1517-1609 hrs  Six plus aircraft approach from the north, circle the Island and recede north.

    1636-1709 hrs  A small number of aircraft approach the Island from the north and south.  One aircraft comes within three miles of Grand Harbour then recedes north; others come no closer than ten miles.

    2045-2211 hrs  Thirteen enemy bombers approach the Island from the north.  Only four come within range of Heavy Ack Ack and only one crosses the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire four barrages.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

    2225-2247 hrs  One bomber approaches from the south, crosses the coast near Kalafrana and drops bombs in the Hal Far area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.

    2340-0110 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast near Zonkor Point and drops bombs between San Nicola and Ta Silch.

    Night  Out of 21 raiders in six raids only four cross the coast but remainder are thought to be mine-laying, aware that a convoy is on its way to Malta.

    0246-0319 hrs  One bomber approaches from the north, crosses the coast south of Zonkor Point, taking evasive action by jinking, which makes engagement by Heavy Ack Ack difficult.  One barrage is fired and bombs are dropped in the sea.

    Military casualties  Sergeant Victor Morris, RAF; L/Cpl Gregory Spiteri.

    OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 26 JANUARY 1942

    LUQA  69 Squadron  One Hurricane photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes; one Hurricane PR Italian aerodromes; one Beaufighter PR Medinena-Ben Guardia; one Maryland Cairo 1 patrol; two Marylands Cairo 2 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 1a patrol.  21 Squadron  One Blenheim Cairo 1b patrol; two Blenheims barges off north African coast and motor transport on roads.  156 Squadron  Five Wellingtons attacked Catania aerodrome; three Wellingtons attacked Comiso aerodrome.

    TA QALI  Station Defence Training scheme started; Captain Hynes and five sergeant instructors Royal Irish Fusiliers attached this station for the scheme.  Five wireless operators ceased attachment and returned to Luqa.  Intruder raids by Malta Night Fighter Unit operations cancelled.

    CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  New Brigade HQ Defence Platoon formed from 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers and 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment and took over duty. 

    FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 2 (1 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

     

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    Posted by on January 26, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

     

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