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20-26 September 1942: Malta Forces Subdue Luftwaffe and Rommel

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20 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

A ceremony was held today in Victoria to formally present the George Cross to the People of Gozo.  The counterpart to last Sunday’s Valletta presentation ceremony was held at It Tokk.  All the sister Island’s leading dignitaries were present including Monsignor Gonzi and Mr George Ransley, the Commissioner for Gozo.

MALTA’S MAIN CONCERN STILL LACK OF SUPPLIES

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

1.  During the month ended 20th September there were 59 alerts; 38 by day and 21 by night.  9 bombing raids; nil by day, 9 by night.  9 people were killed (4 men, 1 woman, 4 children); 11 were seriously injured (4 men, 3 women, 4 children).  15 houses were seriously damaged.

2.  The principal concern of the Government remains the control and the even distribution of commodities, both local and imported.  Apart from this, the main events of the period were the departure of Sir Edward Jackson and Locker and the arrival of Campbell as Acting Lieutenant-Governor.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

No air raids.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1702-1811 hrs  Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1715-1835 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Captain James Golding, Royal Army Pay Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Surface plots were reported 15 miles off Grand Harbour, but faded by 0200 without having been confirmed.

AIR HQ  Twelve Spitfires carried out offensive recce over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily attacked a ship 300 yards offshore near Licata.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron arrived as Ta Qali was under repair.

21 September 1942: Malta RAF is Helping Win the War, Says Air Marshal

The Air Officer Commanding, Malta has received the following letter from Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Trenhard:

“I am writing you a line to say that I had hoped to have come and visit you on my way to the Middle East.  I shall fly very near you but not come down as I am told every aeroplane is of value to take you supplies, and not to use your petrol.  Under the circumstances you will realise that I must agree to this but I am sorry from my own point of view.

B flight 249 Squadron July 42 (1)

I would like to congratulate you most heartily on what you are doing in Malta.  It is magnificent.  The Air Forces are great.  It is wonderful what they have done.  They have saved the situation everywhere and are pressing on with their work which will anyhow eventually be the great instrument for winning this war.

I do congratulate you also on the wonderful spirit that exists in Malta both in the Army and in the Air Force.  I am told, and believe it thoroughtly, that all work as one and I congratulate you and your staff, all the pilots, the maintenance crews and everyone.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

1108-1136 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve enemy aircraft approach and observers detect and report a possible bombing raid.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but do not engage.  The attack develops into a small fighter sweep with few aircraft crossing the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagements.

1405-1505 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1830-1930 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out anti E boat patrol of the Sicilian coast: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  With a view to eliminate the sharp turn in QBB 273 off Zonkor Point, and provide a transit line into Grand Harbour, Speedy, Hebe and Hythe carried out a clearance sweep of the small area of unswept water near Position 2, and also a strip four cables inshore of the inshore edge of the new leg of the proposed new channel.  One anti sweeping device was cut and sunk by rifle fire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1700-1821 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out offensive reconnaissance over south east Sicily: no enemy activity.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HQ Company fired machine-guns at Pembroke Range.  Battalion swimming competition vs 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Bn won the swimming events but 1st Bn KOMR beat us at water polo.

22 September 1942: George Cross Starts Tour of Malta

GC ARRIVES IN DINGLI

George Cross Display

The George Cross medal awarded to Malta was today taken to the village of Dingli, carried by the Inspector of Police with a small police guard.  Twelve buglers of the 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry played as the George Cross was carried in procession from the outskirts of the village to the church and placed on a plinth so that villagers could view it.  At the end of the ceremony, the Army buglers heralded the medal’s departure.

To recognise the endurance of the people of Malta, the George Cross will continue its tour to all parts of the Island, including Cottonera, Luqa, Marsa, Mellieha, Mgarr, Mosta, Mqabba, Empire Stadium, Paola, Qrendi, Siggiewi, Sliema, Rabat, Zabbar, Zebbug, Zurrieq, Safi, Senglea, Zejtun and Gharghur.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0845-0910 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s, believed to be on weather reconnaissance, approach to within six miles of the coast at 30,000 feet.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagements.

1015-1130 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1215-1245 hrs  Air raid alert.  18 enemy fighters approach the Gozo to St Paul’s Bay area at 25000 feet.  Nine Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept patrol: no engagement.

1835-1935 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on anti E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

2300-0310 hrs  One Swordfish from Hal Far carries out two anti E boat patrols: nothing sighted.

2305 hrs  Beach Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is warned to look out for a Beaufighter which might force-land into the sea.

2351-0039 hrs  Five enemy aircraft approach, three of which cross the coast.  Two are definitely identified as JU 87s.  They drop 250kg bombs on Qrendi and on Delimara Heavy Ack Ack position, where there is one slight casualty.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea south of Ta Silch and north of St Paul’s Bay.  Searchlights illuminate one aircraft and Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0023 hrs  A hostile shipping plot is reported ten miles off Grand Harbour.  Beach Companies Kings Own Malta Regiment are warned and Coastal Defences are ordered to open fire if necessary.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant James Burrett, Royal Australian Air Force;Sergeant William Doodson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR);Flying Officer Aubrey Izzard, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Ralph Jones, RAF VR; all 39 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 1942

HMS Proteus

ROYAL NAVY  The new channel QBB 288 was declared open.  Speedy swept Proteus into harbour.  Swona swept to Marsaxlokk and back.  3rd ML Flotilla swept area to NE commenced on 15th and 16th but had to abandon the operation after 4 hours owing to the weather. 6 moored mines were cut.  Swona carried out SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk and approaches and also of QBB 273.  Hythe swept P 35 to sea and P 46 in from patrol. She reported having sunk a schooner and two merchant vessels.

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive recces over Sicily: no enemy sighted.  Nine Beauforts and seven Beaufighters despatched to attack enemy convoy of one tanker escorted by three destroyers.  One, possibly two hits on tanker.  One Beaufort missing, one Beaufighter damaged.

Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort damaged by accompanying Beaufighter and crashed into the sea: crew missing.  One Beaufighter crashed into Beaufort while on operations: crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy action crashed while attempting to land: crew slightly injured.

HAL FAR  1505-1610 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol south east Sicily: nothing seen.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company started their three day march.  Left billets at 0800 hrs, arrived at Mellieha Bay about 1215 hrs – distance about 13 miles.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies in the Battalion except C Coy began classification firing at Ghain Tuffieha.

23 September 1942: RAF Aircraft in Fatal Mid-Air Collision

The crew of a Malta based Beaufort were killed last night when their aircraft was in collision with a Beaufighter during an attack on an enemy convoy.  The Beaufort of 39 Squadron was one of nine sent with seven Beaufighters of 227 Squadron to target a 6000 ton tanker with three destroyers as escort, ten miles west of Antipaxos.  They reached their target as daylight was failing.

Beaufort 39 Squadron before take-off at Luqa

Two Beaufighters raked the leading destroyers with cannon fire, causing a small explosion on one, and succeeding in their objective of drawing the flak away from the torpedo-carrying Beauforts which attacked the tanker from port and starboard.  Eight torpedoes were released, scoring one definite hit and one possible hit on the tanker and causing an explosion.  Black smoke would be seen two miles away.  The other Beaufighters drove off three JU 88s accompanying the convoy.

During the mission one Beaufort collided with a Beaufighter and crashed into the sea.  The Beaufort crew are reported missing, presumed dead.  They have been named as Flight Sergeant James Burrett, Sergeant William Doodson, Flying Officer Aubrey Izzard and Flying Officer Ralph Jones; all 39 Squadron.

The Beaufighter remained airborne but late last night Malta’s coastal defences were warned to keep a look out for the damaged aircraft which might force-land into the sea.  The Beaufighter made it back to base but crashed while attempting to land, causing slight injuries to the crew.

Later in the night six Wellingtons of 69 Squadron found the convoy again, this time 33 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The destroyers attempted to lay a smoke screen, but this was blown away by the wind.  The Wellingtons dropped twenty 500lb bombs dropped, some of which fell within 15 yards of the port side of the tanker.  According to reconnaissance photographs taken at first light the tanker has been forced to take refuge in Patras Harbour.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

AM  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched on air sea rescue to 35 miles north of Grand Harbour but find nothing.

0958-1143 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept patrol (two return early): no sightings.  Four more patrol 30 miles north of the Island: no sightings.

1055-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two enemy aircraft but develop radio trouble and return to base: nothing sighted.

1350-1409 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and climb to 20000 feet over Grand Harbour before flying at 14000 feet to within ten miles of the Sicilian coast: nothing seen.

1605-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers, none of which cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Delimara.  One is engaged by 4th Bn Heavy Ack Ack Regt.  The enemy raider shoots down the searchlight beams with his machine gun.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Ian Preston, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  1845-2205 hrs  Two Beaufighters are despatched on intruder patrol: one shoots up E boats and submarines moored at Trapani.  The other shoots up a seaplane station.

Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire believed damaged by enemy fighters: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1740-1850 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep of south east Sicily: enemy aircraft reported but not seen.  2300-0325 hrs  One Swordfish RNAS carried out two anti E boat offensive patrols: nothing seen.

TA QALI  Aerodrome was unserviceable while new drainage system was being installed across the centre of the landing ground.  229 Squadron detachment operated from Luqa.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company fired on F Range Pembroke: results very good.

24 September 1942: Malta Bombers Praised for Strike Against Rommel

MESSAGE FROM AIR OFFICE COMMANDING READS

Beaufighter as flown by 227 Squadron

“Well done again 227 Squadron.  Your successful bombing of a merchant vessel on September 17th has deprived Rommel of yet another ship carrying important supplies.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0835 hrs  Air raid alert for seven ME 109s approaching the Island.  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron (one spare returned early) are scrambled to intercept.  Blue Section sights four ME 109s but lose them in the sun.  Red Section report no sightings.  Only three enemy raiders cross the coast at 27000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.

1025-1055 hrs  Air raid alert as nine ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept with no sightings.  Six enemy raiders cross the coast at 23-270000 feet.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1705-1720 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighters which cross the coast and carry out a fighter sweep from Gozo to Kalafrana.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1900 hrs  One Spitfire returning from Luqa is damaged on landing: pilot P/O Williams is uninjured.

Military casualties  Major Douglas Armstrong, 57 Field Hygiene Section, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Proteus sailed for Gibraltar, being swept out by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Two Beauforts of 39 Squadron made their first night torpedo attack on a convoy of three destroyers, one small unidentified naval vessel and a 5/6000 ton merchant vessel, which was coast crawling northwards, ten miles north of Point Stile.  Two torpedoes were dropped but although they were seen to run well the results could not be observed, as the aircraft had to fly into the moon on leaving the target.  One Hurricane and two Beaufighters carried out intruder patrols over Sicily.  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  0625-0755 hrs  Ten Spitfires made a reconnaissance sweep over south east Sicily: no enemy activity.

TA QALI  1735-1900 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine of 249 Squadron (one of each Squadron returned early) on Rodeo raids.  P/O Beurling 249 Squadron sighted one unidentified enemy aircraft: no combat.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company fired machine-guns on F range Pembroke.  C Coy marched back from Mellieha, arrived at billets about 1330 hrs.  B & D Coys held a night exercise.

25 September 1942: Luftwaffe Fighters Flee in Face of Spitfires

US AIR FORCE LIBERATORS ATTACK BENGHAZI – MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS REPORT SUCCESS

Port of Benghazi before attacks

Photographs taken of Benghazi by Malta reconnaissance pilots have revealed the success of a recent raid by US air force Liberators.  A 7000 ton merchant vessel which had been unloading in the port has clearly been blown to pieces, together with most of the improvised jetty at which she was moored.  The destruction of the jetty has reduced by half the wharfage available to the enemy for unloading large ships at Benghazi.  Another 7000 ton ship was also reported to be damaged.

BEAT THE RETREAT

At dusk this evening, Castile Square echoed to the moving tradition of Beat the Retreat, by the band and drums of 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.  The ceremony at 1800 hrs was performed before the General Officer Commanding, Malta and other dignitaries, plus many onlookers who gathered to enjoy the moment.  A brief air raid alert at 1750 hrs threatened to disrupt proceedings but the yellow flag only was raised over the Castile and it was decided to continue with the parade.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine: visibility good – slight early morning haze.

1115-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve ME 109s approaching the Island. Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter the raiders 35 miles north east of Grand Harbour.  They destroy two ME 109s and damage one.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: the pilot is uninjured.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  17 ME 109s approach to within 10 miles of Gozo.  Malta fighters see the enemy but are unable to engage as the raiders flee northwards to avoid conflict.

Night  No alerts.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                         Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 37 arrived from Gibraltar to join 10th S/M Flotilla and was swept into harbour by Hebe.  P 34 sailed for the United Kingdom, and P 42 and Una on patrol, all being swept out by Hebe.  Weather unsuitable for air operations.

AIR HQ  Three Beaufighters despatched to attack a minesweeper in the area Kuriat to Sfax.  Target not located.  One Cant 506 B destroyed.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash landed due to enemy action: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

TA QALI  0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol sight barges loaded with sacks but do not attack.  1530-1630 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance cross the Sicilian coast: no sightings.

26 September 1942: Malta Attacks Enemy Tanker, Merchantmen, Destroyers and Subs

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air: Six alerts daylight for total 83 aircraft – high fighter sweeps: two ME 109s destroyed, one ME 109 damaged.  Seven aircraft approached Bight, four crossed coast, bombs Qrendi and Delimara areas.

2.  Own air:  Day (A) Nine Beauforts, seven Beaufighters attacked tanker escorted by three destroyers.  One, possibly two, hits on tanker.  One Beaufort missing, one Beaufighter damaged.  (B)  Three Beaufighters despatched to attack minesweeper: target not located.  One Cant 506B destroyed.  (C)  Over 100 Spitfire sorties offensive reconnaissance Sicily.  One ME 109 destroyed, one probably destroyed, without loss.

Night  (A)  Six Wellingtons attacked tanker: stick of bombs within 15 yards.  (B)  Three Beauforts attacked 5/6000 ton merchant vessel escorted by three destroyers: results not seen.  (C)  Total five Beaufighters, one Hurricane, on intruder patrols Sicily: E boats and submarines Trapani and small ship off Licata machine-gunned.

3.  General: Approximately 450 soldiers daily detailed to assist RAF.

4.  Military casualties and damage: one officer wounded last April now died; one other rank slight casualty.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 27 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine; visibility good.

0910-1030 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a report of approaching enemy aircraft.  The raid does not materialise and no raiders are seen.

1040-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1735-1835 hrs  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft (two return early with radio trouble).  The raiders retreat before they are seen.

2005-2035 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island; only one crosses the coast and is illuminated by searchlights for 3 ¾ minutes.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Pulis, 11th AA, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY Hebe swept Utmost in from patrol and then proceeded to Dockyard for retubing of boilers. P 211 sailed, being swept out by Hythe.  A report of a fire in the Dockyard area turns out to be a crashed bomber (identified as friendly).

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive recces over Sicily.  One ME 109 destroyed, one probably destroyed.  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Castel Vetrano: no sightings.  Arrivals  One Spitifre from LG 28.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter engine failure: crew injured.

TA QALI  1345-1435 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol cross the Sicilian coast over Comiso: no sightings.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 24.  Dealt with: 6 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg;); 1 anti-personnel container; 18 anti-personnel bombs; 9 oil incendiaries.

(1) Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

 

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Posted by on September 26, 2022 in 1942, September 1942

 

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13-19 September 1942: Malta Celebrates the George Cross

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presentation to People of Malta

 WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

14 September 1942: Mystery Loss of Flying Boat Clare

Short S30 flying boat ‘Clare’ (c) IWM CM6525

A Short S30 Flying Boat “Clare” which used to be a regular visitor to Malta has disappeared in mysterious circumstances off the coast of West Africa, near Bathurst, with the loss of all thirteen passengers and six crew.  Questions are to be asked in the UK Parliament about the loss of the aircraft which is believed to have developed mechanical trouble and caught fire before ditching into the sea.

Crewed by members of 37 Squadron – a RAF unit well known at Luqa airfield – who were seconded to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), the flying boat was en route from Lagos to Poole, in England when she went down.

Clare made the first BOAC flight from Britain to Cairo, and Malta was a scheduled stop on the route.  In February of this year while on the Island the flying boat survived an enemy bombing raid when she was damaged by incendiaries.  In October 1941 she carried King George of Greece and Sir Stafford Cripps on a visit to Gibraltar.

Reflecting their connections with Malta, five of the casualties of 37 Squadron are to be commemorated on the Island’s memorial.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0945-1040 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1343-1416 hrs  Six Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1539-1610 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine ME 109s cross the coast but refuse combat and turn back for home.

1750-1820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of a Rodeo mission: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2240 hrs  2nd Bn Devonshire Regt report seeing lights 4-5 miles out to see, 120 degrees from D Company HQ.

0450-0506 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea 5-10 miles north of the Island.  A Malta night fighter is airborne and chase on raider but are unable to engage.

Military casualties  Radio Officer Edgar Brent, BOAC; First Officer Anthony Cundy, BOAC; Sergeant Eric Lace, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 37 Squadron, serving with BOAC; Flying Officer George Musson, Flying Officer, Royal Air Force (O), BOAC, Captain; Radio Officer J Wycherley, BOAC; all crew of the flying-boat Clare.  Pilot Officer Albert Dixon, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 37 Squadron; Sergeant James Glansfield, Royal Air Force, 37 Squadron; Flight Sergeant William Kelly, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant James Maguire, Royal Canadian Air Force, 37 Squadron; Wing Commander Ronald Graham, RAF VR, commanding 37 Squadron; Squadron Leader John Parker, RAF VR, 37 Squadron; Warrant Officer Alick Turley, Royal Air Force, 37 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Rye swept P35 out, and Una in from patrol. Una reported one hit on 4000 ton merchant vessel which probably sank.

AIR HQ  Day  A wing sweep of eight aircraft from 185 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron led by W/Cdr Thompson carried out an extensive sweep of south east Sicily.  Enemy aircraft were reported north of Gela but not sighted.  2350-0250 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.

Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC3, one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter ran off the runway during take-off: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  0915-1020 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft were reported over Gela but the leader of the Spitfire formation had radio trouble and did not receive the message, so no contact made.  One Spitfire from Hal Far burst a tyre on taking off for wing sweep: the undercarriage collapsed and the airscrew was damaged; pilot unhurt.

TA QALI  0635-0725 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast: no sightings.  1700-1925 hrs  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo raid over Sicilian coast: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  All men working on Luqa returned this morning: no men required until next month.

15 September 1942: Admiralty in Negotiations with Italians

SAFE PASSAGE FOR HOSPITAL SHIP UNDER THREAT AFTER SINKING OF ARNO

Hospital ship Arno pre-war as HMAT Wandilla

 

Rome radio has today alleged that Italian Hospital Ship Arno was sunk last Wednesday night by aerial torpedoes fired by British aircraft.  The incident took place about 40 miles east of Ras el Tin, Alexandria, with the loss of 27 lives.  If confirmed, this is first recorded incident of Allied action against a hospital ship but not the first since the outbreak of war. A Greek hospital ship was sunk by Italian aircraft in April last year and a Russian vessel sunk by German bombers in November.

The sinking threatens to undermine delicate negotiations with the Italian high command for the safe passage of a ship to take sick and wounded from Malta’s hard-pressed hospitals to Allied territories where they can be more easily catered for.

From:  Admiralty      To:  C in C Mediterranean    Rptd:  RA Malta; GHQ Middle East

SECRET

1.  Your 1117/7 Italian Government replied in June that they would order Axis armed forces to refrain from attack upon the area where our hospital ship was anchored at Malta provided embarkation took place in daylight.

2.  At same time they intimated that they would exercise their right under the 10th Hague Convention to examine the ship on passage to Malta and that this would be facilitated if the ship called voluntarily at Syracuse.  Nothing was said about the return voyage.

3.  The difficulty remains that under article 12 of 10th [Hague] Convention the Italians would have a perfect right to stop the ship on return voyage and move all sick and wounded as prisoners of war.  We also dislike the idea of putting one of our ships in Italian hands though the ships of the Italian repatriation scheme may be sufficient security for her return.

4.  Another possibility is to propose to the Italians that a neutral Red Cross Commission should examine the ship at port of departure, travel to Malta, supervise the embarkation and return with her.  This proposal would be accompanied with a request for absolute assurances for freedom from molestation on both outward and homeward voyages.  Italians may well refuse and recent sinking of Arno reduces chances of Italian acceptances.

5.  It would help us to know the degree of urgency to be attached to the voyage of a hospital ship to Malta.

NEW ENEMY AIRFIELD UNDER DEVELOPMENT

Photo-reconnaissance pilots today reported development of a new aircraft facilities at a former aerodrome 8½ miles south of Cotrone, near Cape Rizzutto.  Although much of the surface still appears unusable, extensive levelling appears to be in progress on the north side of the field.  A dispersal area with a small hangar and nine blast shelters have also been marked on the site.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0615-0655 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

ME 109 fighters

0830-0913 hrs  Air raid alert for twenty enemy fighters of which eight are identified as ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and nine Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.  Two ME 109s pass Blue Section moving in the opposite direction but are lost to view.  Two ME 109s dive on Red Section out of the sun: the Spitfires turn and dive after the enemy aircraft.  As they complete the turn, Sgt Peters is straggling.  A Spitfire is reported as performing aerobatics and cannon fire is also seen.  Four ME 109s are sighted but are impossible to intercept.  Sgt Peters does not return to base and is posted as ‘missing’.

0950-1115 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for Sgt Peters.  They encounter four ME 109s and engage but no claims are made.

1025-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for a fighter sweep of 20 enemy aircraft.  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft but do not engage.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol see two Macchi 202s.  F/Lt Roscoe fires a one-second burst at one Macchi and sees white smoke pour from the engine as the aircraft turns diving away.  P/O Scott turns to attack but is not seen again.  Sgt Turner attacks three enemy aircraft but is attacked himself from behind; no damage.  On heading back to base Sgt Turner is attacked by an unseen aircraft and is shot up; he is forced to land at Luqa.  P/O Scott is posted as ‘missing’.

1033 hrs  A friendly sea craft bearing 101 degrees is attacked and bombed by enemy aircraft: no damage.

1610-1650 hrs  Air raid alert for fifteen enemy aircraft on a fighter sweep: half cross the Island.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are despatched to patrol over Grand Harbour as cover for minesweepers.

1745-1825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: they engage four enemy fighters: no claims.

2330-2354 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy aircraft which approach the Island at great height: Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Only one raider crosses the coast and drops incendiaries and anti-personnel bombs on Ta Qali, Wardia and Mellieha areas.  The other aircraft drop bombs in the sea north east of Grand Harbour and south of Gozo.  Malta night fighters are airborne but do not intercept.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Bernard Peters, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve;Pilot Officer John Scott, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron;Private Norman Salmon, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 1942

Qawra Tower

ROYAL NAVY  3rd ML Flotilla carried out a searching sweep of NE coast between Sliema Point and Ras il Kaura at a distance of 2 ½ miles from the coast, with the object of clearing the area used by army Launches towing targets and to give freedom of action to our surface forces in the event of their being required to take action against the enemy in these waters. Owing to the large number of partings only 10% clearance was effected. Many mines were observed 3 to 4 feet below the surface.  The Flotilla anchored in St Paul’s Bay for the night.

AIR HQ  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea, believed due to enemy action: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1310-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a sweep over south east Sicily.  No enemy aircraft seen but accurate Ack Ack encountered near Comiso.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Aerodrome working parties took over duties from 2nd Bn Queens Own Royal West Kent Regt for one week’s work.  Two shifts of one Officer and 50 Other Ranks (OR) each for crater filling and general duties; two shifts of eight OR and 12 OR respectively for refuelling aircraft; one shift of 12 OR ammunition loading, one Sergeant and 16 drivers.

16 September 1942: Lt Governor Flies Home to Recover

Former Lieutenant Governor Sir Edward Jackson left Malta today for England.  Sir Edward collapsed two weeks ago with a suspected heart attack while he was deputising for Viscount Gort during his visit to the Middle East.  In recent months he has been greatly exercised in overseeing the supply situation in Malta and ensuring the survival of the Island until further convoys can reach the Island.  Mr D C Campbell, former Colonial Secretary of Gibraltar, has been appointed as his successor.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0855-0935  Air raid alert for twenty enemy fighters which approach the Island from the north at heights of 20-30000 feet.  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept (one returns early).  They see nine enemy fighters who attack the Spitfires from the port and stern.  The Spitfires break formation and evade the attack: no claims.

1140-1210 hrs  Air raid alert for eight enemy fighters in a sweep.  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they see enemy aircraft but do not engage.

1700-1710 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighters which approach within four miles north of Gozo before receding.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept (one returns early): no sightings.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert for twenty enemy aircraft approaching on a high fighter sweep.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Red Section sight enemy aircraft but are unable to engage.  Blue Section patrolling Grand Harbour see four ME 109s below them and dive to attack.  Sgt Wynn fires a two-second burst but makes no claim.

0008-0014 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft.  One drops his bombs in the sea immediately after crossing the Sicilian coast; the other drops bombs 15 miles north of Malta.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1942

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  3rd ML Flotilla carried out 90% clearance inside the bay, and then swept down to Grand Harbour without result.  Speedy carried out Oropesa search of QBB 273 and LL and SA search of Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicity.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released for the day.

TA QALI  0800-0845 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast: no sightings.

17 September 1942: Enemy Fear Malta Spitfires

According to intelligence summaries, the enemy will not engage with Malta fighters unless absolutely compelled to do so.  Their caution proved well-founded today, as three ME 109s and four Macchi 202s were defeated in dog fights by intercepting Spitfires during the morning.

MALTA BEAUFIGHTERS DISABLE AXIS MERCHANTMAN

This morning an unescorted 2000 ton merchant vessel was seen off the Tunisian coast, heading on a southerly course.  Six Beaufighters of 227 Squadron – five carrying bombs and one to deal with a reported air escort – were despatched to attack.  They found the merchant vessel 30 miles south of Keliba and dived down to mast height to attack.  Six 500lb and two 250lb bombs were dropped on the ship.  One direct hit with a 500lb bomb and several near-misses hurled the deck cargo into the sea.  The vessel came to a halt, listing to port, emitting brown and white smoke and pouring oil.

Cant Z 506 Airone

Later reconnaissance of the scene revealed a long streak of oil and wreckage spread over half a mile, while a Cant Z 506 circled overhead.  Some 40 large packing cases and three upturned ship’s boats were drifting nearby and four more boats pulled up on the beach in front of Hammamet village.

One Beaufighter has been reported lost in action.  Pilot Officer John Moffatt was making his first operational flight when his aircraft was hit and crashed into the sea, killing all the crew.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0850-0935 hrs  Air raid alert for 22 enemy aircraft in a fighter sweep.  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept (one spare returns early).  Blue Section sights enemy fighters 20 miles off Grand Harbour, go into line astern and attack.  F/Lt Roscoe fires a 2-3 second burst at a Macchi 202 and sees pieces fall off its wing roots and fuselage: aircraft probably destroyed.  P/O Farmer fires at the enemy leader and sees strikes on the ME 109: aircraft probably destroyed.  As he returns to base Sgt Irwin sees two ME 109s and fires a 4 second burst as he closes from 300 yards.  Thick grey smoke streams from the engine of one aircraft and the leg of its undercarriage drops down: aircraft damaged.

1100-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for 27 enemy aircraft which make a sweep, crossing the coast at Delimara and St Paul’s Bay in three formations.  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Irwin attacks a ME 109 head-on, seeing strikes on its wings and fuselage: one radiator falls off and glycol streams out – aircraft probably destroyed.  Sgt Irwin also attacks a Macchi from astern, seeing strikes on the fuselage and tail plane – aircraft damaged.  P/O Farmer is shot down in the sea and picked up later by the High Speed Launch: he suffers bruises only.

1555-1630 hrs  Air raid alert for 18 enemy fighters which approach at between 26000 and 30000 feet but do not cross the coast.  Two Spitfires Hal Far patrol over minesweepers but see no enemy aircraft.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled but see no enemy aircraft.

1700-1730 hrs  Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters which approach in two formations.  Six Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far and patrol over the Island: no combat.

Night  No air raid alerts.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Dicker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Pilot Officer John Moffatt, RAF VR.

Civilian casualties  Mgarr  Saviour Bugeja, age 8.  Mosta  Carmel Bezzina, age 73.

Submarine P43 HMS Unison

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P43 from patrol and later Hebe swept Utmost to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea by enemy action: pilot rescued uninjured.  One Beaufighter missing from patrol: crew missing.

18 September 1942: A Raid-Free Day

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

No air raid alerts.

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1620-1735 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled on intercept patrol: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P35 into harbour.  P46 proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Luqa won their 11th successive cricket match, beating the Convoy XI at Marsa.  Luqa 161 for 3 wickets; Convoy XI 32 all out.

19 September 1942: Malta Troops in Landing Craft Training Exercise

TROOPS ON LANDING CRAFT EXERCISES

Two Motor Landing Craft arrived in St Paul’s Bay today.  Units of 2nd Brigade will carry out practice landings from these craft.  The nature of the future operation for which they will be used has not been revealed.

WW2 landing craft (c) IWM A17955

MALTA BOMBERS ATTACK TWO CONVOYS

Four Beaufighters of 227 Squadron today carried out a low-level bombing attack on three small vessels of about 1000 tons which were crawling along the coast from Tripoli towards Benghazi.  The Beaufighters came upon the convoy 24 miles east of Tripoli, just three miles from shore, where they attacked, dropping seven 500lb bombs close to the ships.  All three were also raked with cannon fire.  One of the ships ground to a halt; its wheel house collapsed and grey smoke pouring from the stern.  The other two ships headed for shore and were later reported heading back for Tripoli under tow.

Then tonight six Wellingtons of 69 Squadron launched an attack on a southbound convoy of two 7000 ton merchant vessels with seven destroyers as escort, 75 miles south of Sapienza.  An effective enemy smoke-screen made accurate bombing impossible but the bombers managed to unleash four 1000lb and twenty 500lb bombs on the convoy.  Pilots reported near-misses on two destroyers but results cannot be confirmed due to the restricted visibility.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air – day: total 209 fighter sorties; approx 50 crossed the coast.  Two ME 109s destroyed; two ME 109s, one Macchi 202 probably destroyed; four Macchi 202s damaged.  Our losses two Spitfires missing, one Spitfire destroyed (pilot safe); one Spitfire damaged (pilot unhurt).  Night:  18 bombers approached, only 3 crossed coast.  Bombs area Ta Qali, Mellieha, St Paul’s Bay; no damage.

2.  Own air – daylight:  (A)  Total 10 Beaufighter sorties: result one merchant vessel 2-3000 tons left stationary, oil pouring from sides; one ship 1000 tons left stationary.  Strikes with cannon and machine gun on three ships 1000 tons.  One Beaufighter missing.  (B) Total approx 70 Spitfire sorties offensive reconnaissance Sicily: two flying boats destroyed, one Macchi 202 damaged.  One Spitfire missing.  Night:  (A) Total six Beaufighters intruder patrols Sicily.  (B) Nine Wellingtons attacked two merchant vessels escorted by seven destroyers: no results seen due to effective smoke screen.

3.  Approx 250 Army personnel daily assisting RAF servicing etc.  Three UXBs totalling 0.6 tons disposed of not including incendiaries and anti-personnel.

4.  Military casualties and damage – nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  No air raid alerts.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1715-1835 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1755-1900 hrs  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are sent to search for a missing Spitfire from the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit: nothing found.

0237-0322 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  Only one crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of St Paul’s Bay.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Talisman is 24 hours overdue.  P211 arrived from Gibraltar, not having been expected until the following day. She was swept in by Hythe.  P44 arrived and reported having sunk two small ships and damaged another off Misurata.  Ploughboy carried out trial SS and LL sweep of Grand Harbour entrance having completed 5 months of refit.

AIR HQ  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from reconnaissance mission: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3.  Dealt with 1 high explosive 250kg; 1 anti-personnel container; 13 anti-personnel bombs; 30 oil incendiaries.

 

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Malta

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WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

 

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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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30 August 1942: Rations Cut Again – Meat Only Twice a Week

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

Please pass to Secretary of State for the Colonies and Chiefs of Staff MidEast please pass to Minister of State Cairo.

1.  Unloading and dispersal of supplies from convoy is now complete except for aviation and benzene, fortress can hold out until early December.  Aviation spirit position has been reported separately to Chiefs of Staff in HQ Med Sig 0726 of 25/8.  Benzine consumption has been reduced to 15,200 gallons per week but even so stocks will only last until mid-November.  Benzine can be made to last until target date by drawing on 77 octane but this is likely to be required for blending with aviation spirit.  We have 600 tons of 77 octane available, of which 250 tons are held as fortress reserve of MT spirit and 100 tons are needed for consumption by naval and RAF craft.

2.  Target date of early December allows for following adjustments of consumption on civil side:

  • (i)  Bread ration for men between 16 and 60 will be increased by 3½ ounces per day to 14 ounces.
  • (ii)  Fat ration will be at half normal ration level during September but I hope to increase it to normal level at beginning of October.
  • (iii)  Regular issues of edible oil will be made at normal ration rates.
  • (iv)  There will be regular issues of coffee with possibly one period skipped.
  • (v)  Regular weekly issues of kerosene will be made as from 1st October but at summer rather than higher winter rate.
  • (vi)  Domestic electricity supply will be restored on 1st October.
  • (vii)  Brewing will be resumed as soon as possible.
  • (viii)  Present reduced rations of sugar and soap will be maintained, sugar being issued twice every three half-monthly periods and soap once very two periods.

3.  Victory kitchens now have 60,000 persons registered and 170 kitchens are in operation.  Further rapid expansion is possible but supply of vegetables cannot be further increased while potatoes are now almost unobtainable and meat supply is not as great as was expected and is already falling off.  In future it will be possible to provide meat on only two days a week instead of five, and this may later have to be reduced to one if registration increases as expected. 

Victory Kitchen

In this situation I have been carefully considering the future of the Victory kitchens.  Allowing for small increases in rations now being made, calorie value of rationed foods per day for a man between 16 and 60 who is member of average size family is 1300, or 200 calories below figure normally taken as minimum.  Outside rations, very little food is obtainable.  Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are all too scarce to be rationed, even if this were possible from other points of view.  Marketing of meat and vegetables is now under control of Government and no meat except poultry and rabbits and small amount only of vegetables is being sold on open market.  Victory kitchens provide only satisfactory method of distributing evenly what meat and vegetables are available and if we were now to revert to old arrangement under which kitchens provide meals only on surrender of rations allowing majority of meat and vegetable supply to return to open market, effect would be that poorer classes would get very little, while those who are prepared to pay any price would obtain what they wished.

4.  I am satisfied that in our present food situation it is essential to continue existing policy of providing one meal a day through kitchens outside rations so as to raise calorie value of diet to about 1800 calories.  This can only be done by introducing considerable quantities of imported supplies into the menus.  I have decided accordingly that all civil supplies of dried vegetables, dried eggs and cheese shall be allotted to the communal feeding department and that [pasta] shall be issued through kitchens on a substantial scale, estimated to absorb 230 tons of flour per month on an average registration of 150,000 persons.  This allotment of flour has been allowed for in calculating target date.  Menu will then consist of macaroni and cheese on two days, minestra on two days, meat and vegetables on two days and an egg dish on one day.  I anticipate that effect of new policy will be to encourage rapid increase in registration.

5.  In spite of increased issues described above, the civil food situation is still causing me considerable anxiety.  Rates of rations and general scale of diet remain low.  No signs of serious malnutrition have yet appeared but prolonged continuance of present food shortage must have its effect both on health and morale and shortage will be more seriously felt in winter.  Anything which can be done by special means at any time before another convoy is run, to supplement diet by importing concentrated foodstuffs or food of small bulk, will help greatly.  I will telegraph our immediate requirements of these types of food in the course of the next two days in case any special opportunity occurs to send such supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud: visibility 15-20 miles.  Wind variable becoming southerly; light.

No air raid alerts.

1105-1215 hrs; 1625-1725  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron then ten 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on patrol: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by Hythe.  Una sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Day  Nine Beauforts escorted by eleven Beaufighters were despatched to attack an enemy convoy.  Night  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Ten Spitfires went out to area 15-30 miles south east of Correnti Island and patrolled at 20000 feet over returning Beauforts.  No enemy aircraft seen.

TA QALI  Final movement of 248 Squadron pilots to United Kingdom.

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2225
  • Total number of alerts this month 141
  • Bombing raids  day 39  night  20
  • Raid-free days  3
  • Night raids  37
  • Raid-free nights  12
  • Alerts for own planes  8
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  2 days, 56 mins
  • Average length of alert 29.1 mins
  • Killed  41 (15 men, 12 women, 14 children)
  • Seriously injured  33 (10 men, 14 women, 9 children)
  • Buildings seriously damaged  58

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during Operation Pedestal were landed at Malta. 207 of whom sailed in Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury on 18th August. The remainder being evacuated by air as opportunity arises.  The bulk of the cargo was unloaded by 23rd August, about 12,000 tons of furnace fuel, 3600 tons of diesel fuel, and 32,000 tons of general cargo having been received.  The enemy made no attempt to bomb any of the ships after they had arrived in harbour, or, in fact, once they were within comfortable range of shore based fighter protection.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine, visibility 20-30 miles.  Wind south-westerly, light; varying north westerly, light to moderate.

Day  No air raid alerts.

0915-1005 hrs; 1515-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron then four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali carry out patrols: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2221-2246 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approached from the north but receded before crossing the coast.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmela Ellul, age 30.  Mqabba  Emanuel Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Paola  Emanuel Paris.  Qormi  Spiro Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML carried out sweep of the area extending seaward of entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett to the 40 fathom line, and swept two moored mines and one conical float.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Bisley to LG 224.

INFANTRY  R Company, Lancashire Fusiliers, took over area from E Company, 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, and vice versa.

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

Reports released today show that 936 Axis aircraft have been destroyed over Malta or by Malta-based aircraft since Italy entered the war in June 1940.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

1300 hrs  One anti-personnel bomb explodes on Ta Qali aerodrome, seriously injuring three Maltese children: two of them die in hospital.

1858-1907 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turn back five miles from the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Francis Sammut, age 16; Carmel Tanti, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  2150 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron were despatched to attack a 4000 ton tanker with an escort of two destroyers near Corfu.  They dropped four 250lb and twenty 500lb bombs with several near-misses: the convoy continued on course.  One Wellington missing.  0130 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  No enemy sighted.

Arrivals  Four Beauforts, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off, crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter undercarriage collapsed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0930-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far carried out a high level sweep over Correnti Island, Noto, Ragusa and Pozzala in Sicily.  No enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.  1315-1325 hrs  The Spitfire of Pilot Officer Cheek crash-landed on an air test: his tyre burst on take-off and he had to land ‘wheels up’.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Gun Operations Room in a cricket match: results Luqa 108 (Neale 46), GOA 97.  Camp Cinema: Captain Fury.

TA QALI  0705-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1200-1315 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine 249 Squadron Ta Qali on a sweep over Sicily saw ships believed to be tankers outside Licata Harbour.  The Spitfires are met with heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire over Licata at 11000 feet but see no enemy aircraft.

Nos 242, 314, 502 and 841 AME Stations, Observer Corps Detachments at Dingli, Torri L’Ahmar and Ghargur, Officers’ and Airmen’s rest camp at St Paul’s Bay taken over by this Station for administration and rations.

INFANTRY  0545 hrs  Exercise to test the alertness of sentries and communications within 4 Brigade.  Also rapid destruction of parachutists in the Brigade area.  Exercise began with firing of three Verey lights around Marsaxlokk Bay.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company are performing coast patrol duties at Il Kaus; B Company are manning Tal Virtu observation post.

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

“We have some very grave shortages.”  Letter from Rommel to his wife, 30 August 1942

Malta-based attacks on southbound convoys in the Mediterranean have forced Field Marshal Rommel to give up his attempt to retake El Alamein.  The Island’s air and naval forces have starved the Axis of more than half of the supplies they need to continue the battle in North Africa.  Rommel originally intended to begin a major offensive against British forces on 26 August but had to postpone due to a shortage of fuel, thanks to the sinking of two tankers in the Mediterranean.

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

With a promise that another convoy would set out immediately from Italy, at 2330 hrs on Sunday Rommel launched an attack at Alam el Halfa but came up against a massive minefield and a well-equipped British force under Lt Gen Montgomery.  But nine Beauforts and eleven Beaufighters had already set off from Malta to attack the supply convoy, which had been spotted by 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance pilots.  At the same time destroyers, bombers and naval aircraft launched heavy attacks on Axis stores and workshops close to the battlefield.

Yesterday Malta-based submarine P 35 sank a southbound 5000 ton merchant vessel and the Island’s bombers stand ready to act immediately to any further attempts to re-supply the enemy.  Attacks continued today with Wellington bombers targeting a tanker and Navy Air Service Albacores striking a merchant vessel and escort with torpedoes.

After three days of relentless allied bombing and artillery fire and faced with a precarious supply situation Rommel has been forced to call off the attack and withdraw his forces.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0915-1020 hrs; 1015-1055 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on intercept patrol and sweep: no sightings.

1015-1045 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1303 hrs  Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight one Macchi 202.  F/Lt Hetherington, W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Farmer each fire a burst in turn, all obtaining strikes.  The tail of the Macchi is shot off and the aircraft goes down streaming glycol.  The remaining aircraft recede without coming within 25 miles of the Island.

1930-1950 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Corporal Arthur Simpson, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P34 swept out but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky DSEA hatch.

AIR HQ  1305 hrs  An offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily.  One Macchi 200 is shot down.  Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the tanker targeted last night, now 10 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The drop six 500lb bombs on the tanker, scoring one hit and causing a large explosion, followed by clouds of white smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa two Beauforts one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.    Aircraft casualties  One Hudson tyre believed burst during take-off, crashed and burned out: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1720-1830 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over Sicily and encounter enemy aircraft.  2129-0235 hrs  One Swordfish with flares and two Albacores NAS located and attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by two destroyers and a small flak ship, 15 miles north east of Cape Spartivento heading easterly.  They located the target just off the toe of Sicily and score hits with two torpedoes, one aft of the funnel and one aft of the bridge, followed by a violent explosion.  They leave the vessel down by the stern and belching clouds of black and white smoke.  A later photo-reconnaissance report showed the merchant vessel aground close to where it had been attacked.

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

“The Air Officer Commanding sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron (Reconaissance) for successful attacks on two successive nights, when Wellingtons scored direct hits on an important tanker heading for North Africa and also near-misses on destroyers.  The loss or even the disabling of the enemy tanker should greatly assist the British fighting Rommel.”

69 Squadron crew disembark Baltimore Luqa 1942 (c) IWM GM 1042

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0935-1030 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1701-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Two enemy fighters fly over Comino Channel at 20,000 feet.  Spitfires chase them back to within 10 miles of the Sicilian coast but are unable to intercept.

1845-1930 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. Clyde and P43 were also swept out to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI  1540-1635 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance circled Linosa and spotted a new building – ‘apparently’ a church.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

Two Albacores Royal Naval Air Squadrons were despatched today to finish off the merchant vessel beached after their previous attack on Wednesday night.  One Albacore scored a torpedo hit on the ship’s port quarter, while the other scored a direct hit with a 250lb bomb on the destroyer alongside, and straddled the merchant vessel with two other bombs.   Photo-reconnaissance later showed that the merchant vessel had a large gap in her starboard side.

Later tonight two Wellington bombers took advantage of intense darkness to attack a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice.  They dropped a total of eight 500lb bombs on the ship but were unable to observe results, which will await confirmation by photo-reconnaissance.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Local thunder; rain with bright periods.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0848-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy fighters approach at low altitude, apparently intending a low-level machine gun attack, but turn back while still eight miles off the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1459-1544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eighteen enemy fighters approach the Island; four are identified as ME 109s.  Some of the raiders skirt the Zonqor coast, while others patrol five miles north of Gozo.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light out to sea, 80 degrees RA 4.

2313-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but turn back when 20 miles north west of Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William Storer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Ronald Rooke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Night  Two Albacores RNAS were despatched to attack a merchant vessel beached eight miles north of Bianca.

AIR HQ  1720 hrs  Six Beauforts and six Beaufighters were despatched to attack a convoy off Cape Spartivento but failed to locate the target.  Night  Two Wellingtons attacked a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice, dropping eight 500lb bombs on the ship.  No results are seen due to the intense darkness.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire had engine trouble, force-landed: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1000-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a Rodeo raid over Sicily but encounter no enemy aircraft.  PM  Seven Spitfires were despatched on a sweep over Sicily.  The leader had a faulty radio and broke formation: owing to a misunderstanding the rest followed suit and as a result the Spitfires returned to base.

LUQA  Luqa beat the RASC at cricket by nine wickets: RASC 36, Luqa 38 for one wicket.  Camp cinema: Second Chorus.

TA QALI  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1320-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance sighted two unidentified aircraft but did not intercept due to a radio fault and subsequent misunderstanding.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Major General Scobie, GOC troops Malta, visited the Battalion.  This is the second time the Bn has been under his command – Tobruk October 1941 was the first.

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

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

1.  Enemy activity confined 48 fighter sorties by day and 6 bomber sorties by night.  One JU 88 crossed coast; good [searchlight] illumination.  Bombs on land.  One Macchi 202 destroyed, two ME 109s probably destroyed.  Own losses nil.  Recently there has been a large decrease in the numbers of bombers and fighters in Sicily, particularly German.

2.  Own air offensive continues.  150 Spitfire sorties over Sicily also 4 Beaufighters by night.  Malta based air attacks on convoys to Libya continue resulting in 1 tanker blown up, 1 tanker stationary, 2 merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one destroyer hit by bombs; near-misses one merchant vessel, one destroyer.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.  Intensified training being carried out.  Small parties employed on aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0910-0958 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron and five from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire of 249 returns early, its hood blown off.

Grand Harbour

12 ME 109s and Macchi 202s cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires intercept some of the enemy over Grand Harbour and others 20 miles off Zonqor.  249 Squadron engage six ME 109s. P/O Williams scores strikes on one.  P/O Giddings attacks a second; he sees no strikes but a panel flies off the port wing of the enemy aircraft.  Hal Far pilot F/Lt Charney destroys one Macchi 202.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires see three ME 109s and four other fighters six miles east of Zonqor and chase them back towards Sicily: no engagement.

1725-1825 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a reported formation of enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

2250-2317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach the Island; one recedes 40 miles from the coast.  The other, a JU 88, crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of Birkirkara.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no interceptions.  Searchlights effect one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report several white verey lights off the Delimara area.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Wellingtons, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0640-0800 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft encountered.

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

TA QALI  1145-1315 hrs  Thirteen Spitfires 249 Squadron (two returned early) and nine of 229 Squadron (one returned early) were despatched on a Rodeo raid.  Two enemy fighters are seen but not intercepted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26.  Dealt with: 7 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 116 anti-personnel bombs, 18 oil incendiaries.

 

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

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21 June 1942: Rations Too Low for Physical Labour

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

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

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

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TOBRUK FALLS

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

MALTA FORCES ON THE ATTACK

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JUNE TO DAWN 22 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1910 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

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

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

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

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

0445 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 21 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

22 June 1942: Raids Increase – Crops at Risk

Flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0530 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 22 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

23 June 1942: Malta Pilots Halt Enemy Convoy

Beaufort 39 Squadron Luqa waits for take-off

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JUNE TO DAWN 24 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2100 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 JUNE 1942

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

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

HAL FAR  Naval Air Service is stood down.

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

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

24 June 1942: Solo Attacker Targets Enemy Convoy

Wellington bomber

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JUNE TO DAWN 25 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three mines swept away.

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

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

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

25 June 1942: Gunners Help Spitfires in Attack

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JUNE TO DAWN 26 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

26 June 1942: Italians Attempt Daylight Raid

Cant Z 1007 bombers

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JUNE TO DAWN 27 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

27 June 1942: Rations Cut Below Healthy Levels

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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29 May 1942: Wellington Destroyed by Friendly Fire – Crewmen Killed

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ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY RESCUE SURVIVORS

A Wellington bomber of 104 Squadron returning from a successful bombing mission over Catania crashed today near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the other two.  It is believed that the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, possibly due to being wrongly identified as an attacking enemy plane.

The Wellington crashed on L’Imrihel Feature, killing three of the crew on impact.  Personnel of 6th Heavy Ack Ack, Royal Malta Artillery, managed to rescue the injured pilot, Sgt R Hills, and the second pilot, Sgt E Martin who was seriously wounded.  Before they could return for the final crew member, the aircraft’s petrol tanks exploded, killing him instantly.

MS Reichenfels

MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS SPOT CONVOY TARGET

A large convoy has been seen by aerial reconnaissance loading at Naples.  Three of these ships, the 7800 ton German ‘Reichenfels’ and two 6500 ton Lenici class ships were today photographed off Pantelleria, heading towards Tripoli under protective destroyer escort.

ITALIANS PILOT STUKAS

Four enemy aircraft which dropped bombs on Mellieha and Dingli overnight are believed to be JU 87s flown by Italian pilots.  The aircraft caused some confusion among observers who were at first unable to identify them.  They reported that the shape and markings suggested JU 87s but the aircraft were not operating in the usual agressive manner of the Stuka dive-bomber.

The pilot of a Beaufighter on patrol with Malta Night Fighter Unit later confirmed that he had engaged with JU 87s at the time of the raid, damaging one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MAY TO DAWN 30 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh; haze.

0510-0605 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on shipping reconnaissance but sight nothing.

0820 hrs  Air raid alert.

0822-0926 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island: no combat.

1202 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far and four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1235 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds as the formation approaches the Island.  There is no engagement with Malta fighters.

1305 hrs  All clear.

1458-1622 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to patrol for enemy fighters: no interceptions.

1638-1748 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1715-1825 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled, climbing to intercept the hostile aircraft.  They sight two but no interceptions take place.

1750 hrs  The air raid alerts sounds as the fighters near the coast.  They carry out a fighter sweep.

1825 hrs  All clear.

2310 hrs  A Wellington bomber returning from operations crashes near Tal Hlas.

0009-0244 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol.

0025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a small formation of enemy bombers approaching the Island.  One JU 88 and four other unidentified bombers drop bombs near Mellieha and Dingli.  The Beaufighter engages and damages one aircraft, identified as a JU 87.

0212 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialize.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant George Davis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 104 Squadron, RAF; Sergeant Andrew McColl,  Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Elwyn Roberts, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR), 104 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Kenneth Ross, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 104 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star continued minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; one CW 20 from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  2145 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish of the NAS were airborne on strike mission.  The convoy consisting of three merchant vessels and three destroyers was located off the Tunisian coast but was covered by a thick fog patch 300 feet deep, 15 miles long and 10 miles across.  No attack was possible and all the aircraft returned with their torpedoes at 0320 hrs.

LUQA  0930-1215 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa, Trapani and Palermo.  1505-1707 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  2117-0310 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search Gulf of Gabies.  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched from Luqa to bomb Catania aerodrome.  Bombs landed in the target area: many fires are seen.  On returning to base the aircraft crashed near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the pilot and second pilot.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1230 hrs  Working parties for pen-building and crater filling at Luqa finished and returned to billets.

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

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 5 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  1230 hrs  Working party of 50 men tin-loading at Luqa.

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

 
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9 May 1942: 60 Spitfires Reach Malta

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OPERATION BOWERY A SUCCESS

Spitfires 601 Squadron

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MAY TO DAWN 10 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

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

Ready to take off from Wasp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1258 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1423 hrs  Raiders passed.

1531 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

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

1610 hrs  Messerschmitt 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

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

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

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

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

1700 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 9 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2022 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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20 April 1942: 46 New Spitfires Bombed on the Ground

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Spitfires at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

NEW SPITFIRES SLOW TO GET OFF THE GROUND

“The fighter strength was reinforced on the 20th by the arrival of 46 Spitfires from UK…Prior to the above mentioned reinforcement there was a period when it was not possible to have any fighter aircraft airborne at all, due to unserviceability.  It was very noticeable that with the arrival of the fighter reinforcements, the enemy preluded his bombing attacks with fighter sweeps and maintained fighters over the Island even after the bombers had made their get-away.

During the period when the 46 Spitfires were necessarily grounded for refuellling and re-arming and brought into a fully operational condition, many were damaged on the ground by enemy action.  The inability to scramble our aircraft was due in the first place to the fact that minor details such as cannon testing were not done, and it would appear that the aircraft had come straight from the factory without being tested to see that they were fit to fly operationally.”   War Diary, Air HQ Malta, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 APRIL TO DAWN 21 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; no cloud, fine.

0615-0635 hrs  Air alert sounds for a single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0810 hrs  63 enemy bombers plus fighter escort approach the Island from the north in several plots.

“Pampas” ablaze (NWMA Malta)

0815 hrs  30 JU 88s bomb the Grand Harbour area, including Floriana, Pieta and Marsa Creek.  In the Dockyard the Abattoir is bombed; Pampas is hit and set on fire.  A shelter in St Lawrence Street, Senglea is hit by a bomb and partly collapses, killing one person and injuring five.  Manoel Island is hit by several bombs, damaging offices and workshops, as well as the pier.

One stick of bombs falls on Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery, wounding two Other Ranks.  The bombers are engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment.

18 of the JU88s target Pieta, Marsa and Floriana: bombs land on the Argotti Gardens, St Anne’s Street, Gunlayer Street and Square, Market Street, Magazine Street, Mall Gardens and Mall Street, St Calcedonio Street, First Street and New Street.  One person is killed and one seriously injured.

22 JU 87 Stukas and 11 JU 88s bomb Kalafrana and Hal Far.  Delimara Gun position is hit – one gun is damaged.

0830-0855 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s and JU 88s: hits claimed.

0935 hrs  All clear.

1000 hrs  23 Spitfires land at Ta Qali from Gibraltar.

1046-1106 hrs  Two enemy aircraft patrol to the north of the Island.

1100 hrs  23 more Spitfires are reported landed safely at Ta Qali.

1230 hrs  Over 100 enemy aircraft – JU 87s, JU 88s and ME 109s – head towards the Island in several waves and divide to attack the Grand Harbour area, Ta Qali, Luqa, Hal Far and Delimara.

23 JU 88s and 30 JU 87 Stukas attack Grand Harbour and Floriana, where bombs cause extensive damage to the Parade Ground, St Philip’s Garden, Lintorn Barracks, Kingsgate, Rundle Garden, Mall Gardens, the Granaries and Sliema Bus Terminus.

12 JU 88s raid Hal Far, damaging barrack blocks and leaving craters on the aerodrome.  One petrol bowser is destroyed.  Four JU 88s bomb Delimara point.

1250 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far engage twelve JU 88s.  P/O Noble and P/O Wigley each claim one JU 88 damaged.  Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron intercept another formation of JU 88s.  F/L Lloyd and SGt Brooks each damage a JU 88; Sgt Tweedale claims two destroyed.

1250 hrs  JU 88s heading south from Grand Harbour are engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment at Hompesch: hits are claimed.

1315-1330 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s and JU 88s: hits claimed.

1330 hrs  Fifteen JU 88s dive bomb Luqa airfield, Safi strip and the dispersal areas.  One Maryland is damaged by a Bofors shell.  Incendiary bombs are dropped, setting the grass on fire.

1400 hrs  Another wave of enemy raiders drops bombs on Ta Qali.  Sgt Taylor destroys one ME 109 and one JU 87.  He is slightly injured by perspex splinters in the face. P/O Sergeant damages a JU 88.  Aircraft cannons are reported to have jammed continuously owing to bad ammunition.

1430 hrs  Twelve more JU 88s attack Floriana and Valletta, where bombs explode in St James and Porte Reale.

Four ME109s drop bombs on St Paul’s Bay near positions of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1715 hrs  For the third time massed formations of enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island, dividing to attack. Ta Qali is the main target but Luqa and Safi, Hal Far and the Dockyard are also bombed.

1720 hrs  20 JU 88s carry out medium-height bombing of Luqa aerodrome.  Several ME 109s machine-gun the airfield: two Spitfires are shot up on the ground.  Craters are blown in the Siggiewi end of the main runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported near the bomb store, close to the Zurrieq road.

1730 hrs  Five Spitfires 601 Squadron take to the air to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: only one returns to Luqa, at 1840 hrs.

1800 hrs  31 JU 88s attack Ta Qali: many bombs land on the camp, including several delayed action bombs.  Ghain Znuber is machine-gunned, causing three casualties to D Company, 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; one serious.

1805 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs from the Safi strip to Ta Karach ridge.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous enemy bombers: hits claimed.

1815 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hompesch.  One stick of bombs falls between Bluebell Troop (1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt) and Zejtun and another at 497225.

1825 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun B Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Zejtun School and fly out to sea over Zonqor Ridge.  Troops retaliate with light machine gun fire: no hits claimed.  One stick of bombs falls 400 yards west of St Clements Church.

1853 hrs  Raiders passed.

1925 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island without crossing the coast.  They are followed in by a formation of bombers with fighter escort.

1930 hrs  Eleven Spitfires from Ta Qali and five from Luqa are scrambled to intercept the incoming aircraft.  Six of the Spitfires from Ta Qali have a dog fight with ME 109s.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.  P/O Brooker damages one ME 109.  Sgt Brennan destroyes one ME 109 and one JU 88.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Sergeant destroys one JU 88.  F/Lt McQueen destroys one JU 88.   F/Lt Lucas damages one ME 109.

P/O Putnam is killed and F/Sgt Ryckman is missing.  F/Lt Johnson successfully bales out over Luqa.  Two Spitfires are slightly damaged.  Total enemy aircraft: 8 destroyed, one probably destroyed, six damaged.

2000 hrs  Nine remaining JU 88s carry out a dusk attack on Ta Qali.  Many incendiary bombs are dropped during the raid, evidently intended to destroy the newly-arrived Spitfires.

2020-2044 hrs  Nine aircraft approach the Island in two waves: three are illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped in the Dockyard area.

Night  Six alerts are sounded for single approaching aircraft.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Luqa, Corradino, Hal Far and in the sea.

2336-0115 hrs  One JU 88 bomber comes in from the north and drops incendiaries near a Pioneer billet near Tarxien, which are extinguished by the Pioneer platoon.

0240-0327 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and drops bombs and incendiaries between two defence posts of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt causing a slight fire among crops, which is quickly put out.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer George Ryckman, Royal Canadian Air Force, 402 Squadron; Gunner Lewis Evans, Lance Sergeant James Golding, Gunner Sidney Nurse, Gunner Alfred Phillips, all of 484 Bty, 4 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sapper Leonard Soper, Mentioned in Despatches, 16 Fortress Coy., Royal Engineers; Police Constable C Cachia HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Henry Moakes, age 42.  Hamrun  Dr Annetto Montanaro LLD, age 79.  Mosta  Concetta Mifsud, age 80; Rev Joseph Mifsud, age 50.  Rabat  Louis Agius, age 20; Giovanna Maria Bezzina, age 20.  Sliema  Carmel Rogers, age 71.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde carried out successful trial and sailed for Gibraltar.  Upholder 48 hours overdue.  46 Spitfires arrived – Operation Calendar – USS Wasp.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed on landing: crew unhurt.  Spitfire PRU 907 departed from Gibraltar for Malta missing: no further news.  Arrivals  47 Spitfires, 13 Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; four Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Blenheims to Gambut.

LUQA  1042-1225 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes.  2135-0135 hrs  Seven Wellingtons S/D Flight on search for and strike enemy tanker and escort: attack carried out.

TA QALI  F/O Penny is discharged from No 90 General Hospital.  More Spitfires arrive.  20 Officers (603 Squadron) accommodated.  Aerodrome serviceable – repairs proceeding.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs near the entrance of Battalion HQ.  Pte Kilshaw HQ Company hit by piece of stone: mouth cut.  Working parties resumed as Saturday.  C Coy 80 men and A Coy 40 men Valletta.  D Coy 40 men at Ospizio salvaging RAOC stores.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bastion shelter hit by bomb, bomb on north Square Lintorn Barracks, no casualties. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15; dealt with 20 (2 x 1000kg; 5 x 500kg, 12 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Regimental silver removed from Valletta.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs 150 yards wide of Battalion HQ west to east.  Spitfire hit steel pylon and crashed in area at 417208: guarded by this unit.  Aerodrome working party started working at night instead of during the daytime.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2130 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.

ROYAL ARTILLERY HQ  Ammunition restrictions raised to cover arrival of Spitfires.

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Posted by on April 20, 2022 in 1942, April 1942

 

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10 April 1942: Malta’s Gunners Under Heavy Fire

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Admiralty House, Vittoriosa

LUFTWAFFE BOMB AND STRAFE  DEFENSIVE GUNS

Enemy air forces adopted new strategies today aimed at cutting down the loss of bombers in air raids on Malta.  The first wave of each attacking force targeted bombs at gun positions protecting Grand Harbour and approaches to southern airfields.  The attacks were then followed up by bombing raids on the now unprotected areas.

At the same time, ME 109s carried out pinpoint machine-gun and cannon fire attacks on coastal and inland defensive positions, particularly on the northern approaches to the Grand Harbour and Ta Qali.  Despite their combined efforts at least fourteen enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged by Malta’s fighters and anti-aircraft fire during the day.

Observers report that the machine-gun loaded Messerschmitt 109s were painted yellow at the nose.  This is believed to make them identifiable during dog-fights, to avoid destruction by friendly fire.

HEROES’ BRAVE FIRE TO SAVE AIRMAN

George Medal Citation: Corporal Hugh Clawson & Leading Aircraftsman Edward Morris Mitchison

“[On 10th] April, 1942, a considerable force of enemy aircraft attacked an aerodrome in Malta with heavy bombs. A [Hurricane] aircraft, which had been damaged by enemy fighters, crashed and burst into flames when attempting to land. Corporal Clawson and Leading Aircraftman Mitchison, despite the danger from enemy aircraft which were diving to attack and dropping sticks of bombs which were falling across their path, drove across the aerodrome to the scene of the crash. Enemy fighters commenced to attack the burning aircraft with cannon fire but Corporal Clawson and Leading Aircraftman Mitchison assisted the pilot [P/O Ormrod] to safety, although their efforts to subdue the fire were not successful. The courage and determination displayed by these airmen undoubtedly saved the pilot’s life. They set an example which has been the admiration of all on the station.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 APRIL TO DAWN 11 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 30% cloud at 15-18000 feet.

0844 hrs  Two enemy aircraft approach Gozo and recede.

1007 hrs  Two ME 109s circle the Island and recede.

1015 hrs  Four ME 109s machine-gun the Gozo boat in the South Comino Channel causing eight civilian casualties (none fatal).

1246 hrs  Approximately 50 JU 88s and 21 JU 87s approach the Island in waves.  ME 109s machine-gun searchlight positions at Ghain Tuffieha, Ta Qali and Baida Ridge.  No fighters are airborne.  One unidentified aircraft is destroyed by Ack Ack.

1300 hrs  The first wave of eight JU 88s turns south to bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.

1305 hrs  The second wave attacks gun positions to the south of Grand Harbour.  Gun positions at St Angelo, the Customs House and St Elmo are damaged.  Bombs hit Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery and fields west of Hompesch Arch, Tarxien.  The guard room at Hompesch gun position is demolished. One JU 88 is engaged by light machine-gunfire from HQ, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.  Two bakeries and several houses in High St, St James Square and Sanctuary Street, Zabbar are demolished, killing two civilians and injuring two.

A third wave attacks Valletta.  Men of a working party of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt at the Command Fair are wounded.  Bombs hit Floriana, demolishing houses in Gunlayer Sq corner with Granaries St.  Parachute mines are dropped near the War Memorial, the Granaries and Capuchins’ Friary.

21 JU 87s attack the Dockyard: bombs land on the Joiners, Fitters and Painters Shops, and the Sawmills.  Several roads are blocked.  The large travelling crane at head of No 4 Dock, MEDs Pattern Ship and Gunmounting shop and a boat house are damaged.  A 1000kg bomb lands outside K magazine, NA Depot, blocking the road.

1307 hrs  Four ME 109s attempt a raid on Hal Far.  Two are engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one gun claims a hit on one ME 109 with burst of light machine gun.  The other two ME 109s attack Hal Far, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1313 hrs  Ghain Znuber Tower is machine-gunned by enemy aircraft.

1315 hrs  Ten JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.  One Wellington is damaged and two Hurricanes are badly damaged.

1401 hrs  One hand grenade is dropped on Gudja Camp by an enemy aircraft.

1740 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight a large formation of 85 enemy bombers plus fighter escort.  F/O Lee claims one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.  P/O Nash claims one JU 87 probable and one ME 109 damaged.  P/O Buchanan destroys one ME 109.

Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercept ten JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  Sgt Horricks destroys one ME 109; P/O Wigley damages one ME 109 and P/O Ormrod damages a JU 87.  P/O Wigley and Sgt Broad have to bale out: neither is injured.  P/O Ormrod crash-lands at Luqa and escapes the aircraft before it bursts into flames.

Ack Ack destroy one JU 88; Light Ack Ack probably destroy one JU 88, damage one JU 88 and probably destroy one JU 88 and one JU 87.

1742 hrs  The enemy raiders split into three formations.  One attacks Grand Harbour, destroying Admiralty House in Vittoriosa.  St Joseph’s Parish Church in Kalkara is heavily bombed and completely destroyed.

1758 hrs  16 JU88s bomb Hal Far, damaging the Sergeants’ Mess and causing craters on the aerodrome.  Light Ack Ack guns engage: no claims.

1800 hrs  Eight JU 88s bomb Ta Qali, causing craters on the aerodrome.  One JU 88 is hit: one man bails out but his parachute fails: he drops on the Bukana Feature.

1810 hrs  Bombs land adjacent to Hompesch 3″ Ack Ack Battery.  Bombs on Bidni Ridge in vicinity of E Company HQ, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

Night  Five raids: bombers are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and fighters.

2102-2133 hrs  One Italian aircraft comes in from the north and drops bombs in the north of the Island.  15kkg anti-personnel bombs drop on Bukana Camp, HQ of E Company 8th Bn Manchester Regt.  Sgt Jones is injured by shrapnel and admitted to hospital.  Searchlights engage and the enemy aircraft recedes.

2040-2135 hrs; 2345-0215 hrs  A Beaufighter from Luqa airborne on patrol, dives and attacks one enemy aircraft: no results are observed.

2311-2340 hrs  One Italian aircraft drops bombs in the sea off Delimara and incendiaries on Delimara Ridge.

0045 hrs  Incendiaries are dropped by Italian aircraft on the Tas Sinia area.

Military casualties  Petty Officer James Pearsall, HMS St.Angelo; Sergeant John Clarke, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Gunner Thomas Threadgall, 190 Bty (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery;  Corporal Edgar Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun   Anthony Bellizzi, age 65.  Mqabba  Pauline Borg, age 31; Lawrence Mangion, age 61.  Zabbar  Zarena Defelice, age 44; Saviour Grech, age 35.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Paul Boeger, fell from a Junkers JU 88 bomber and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 10 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Admiralty House, Vittoriosa, is badly damaged by a heavy bomb.  Jade received further damage.

AIR HQ  Hudson crashed on take-off.  One of crew killed, five seriously injured.  Departures  Three Beauforts to Sidi Barrani; two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  AM Four ME 109s machine-gun the aerodrome.  No damage or casualties.

LUQA  1610-1855 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1610-1950 hrs  One spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes.

TA QALI  Aerodrome repairs proceeding.  Erection of tents for airmen  begins at Boschetto Gardens.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  No further work on Pampas.  The ship had several more hits: doubtful if we shall work on her any more.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Private peace is buried in St Andrews Military Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb on Floriana Parade Ground.  Bomb on 4 Section, 1 Works Company stores: stores and equipment destroyed, no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 17; dealt with 9 (2 x 1000kg, 3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  ME 109 engaged by Ack Ack LMGs in Bn area.  Hurricane crashed in Bn area: pilot safe.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Dog-fight over Salina and Wardia area.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT D Company changed location from Tal Providenz to Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs This unit hands over Tal Minsia to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  L/Cpl Bowers and Pte Schembri are wounded at Luqa and evacuated to No 39 General Hospital.

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8 April 1942: Fierce Battle to Save a Ship – Penelope’s Story

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1-8 APRIL 1942: enemy bombers 1427; bombs 1,759,186kg (1731 tons); casualties 234

  • Thousands of tons of bombs have ravaged Luqa, Ta Qali, Hal Far and Grand Harbour
  • Yesterday enemy bombers devastated Valletta – are civilians the target now?
  • Intelligence suggests a Luftwaffe plan to extend bombing across Malta’s villages and towns
  • With electricity, gas and water cut off and bread supplies under threat, how can the Island survive?
  • Visit maltagc70 for the latest news from Malta, 1942

PENELOPE’S LAST STAND

HMS Penelope holed and patched in Malta

Dockyard Foreman Len Austin remembers the final departure of HMS Penelope, thanks to the combined efforts of the Navy, Army and Dockyard workers, and his highly respected Manager, Mr Joughin.  One of the cruisers of Force K, the convoy so effective at sinking enemy merchant ships, Penelope has been in dry dock since 27March, for essential repairs:

“…she was now a sitting duck for the bombers. Bombs rained down but she was not hit, although the dock coping and the workshops adjacent were badly damaged…The two gangways from the dockside one forward and the other aft received direct hits and the ship’s sides in these areas were pierced by hundreds of holes, above and below the waterline. All that could be done was to weld patches over the holes and this proceeded.  There were not enough welders available so Mr Joughin asked whether any were available among the troops on the Island who could help and only one was found.”

By this afternoon almost the entire ship has been peppered with holes, all the aft cabins wrecked and the quarterdeck covered with debris from bomb damage to Dockyard structures.  It was decided that Penelope should sail as soon as possible.  As if aware of her departure, the Luftwaffe bombers returned for another heavy raid on the dockyard:

“arrangements were made for further supports under the ship so that she could help in the barrage. She fired until her gun barrels were virtually worn out. It was obvious that her luck could not last out indefinitely and undocking was scheduled for [this] afternoon. A long raid developed and we were in the Shelters for some hours…the afternoon raid had delayed the repair so the dock flooding time had to be put back…

With serious doubts whether Penelope could be lifted in time to leave port tonight the Vice Admiral Malta convened a conference and Mr Joughin was asked what could be done:

“’You must land every man who is not required for the working of the ship, all their equipment, all surplus easily removed fittings, all spare gear, as much fresh water as possible, in fact strip the ship of as much weight as could be done without impairing her steaming. We will take the ship to Canteen Jetty. You may embark 200 tons of oil fuel and a full outfit of ammunition and then sail with a good chance of reaching Gibraltar.’

…In minutes all was in hand and the dockside quickly became littered with off loaded weight. A halt was called whilst the ship was towed to the Jetty where the activity was resumed.  The “Kingston” a Destroyer which had sustained a near miss hit was then moved into the vacated dock. [Another] heavy raid developed and “Kingston” was hit amidships and sunk. This could have been “Penelope’s” fate.  She sailed at dusk, was attacked in the Narrows by Pantelleria, fired all her ammunition but reached Gibraltar safely” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 10% cloud at 18000 feet.

0825-0922 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Ta Qali, dropping four small bombs on the aerodrome.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 88s north west of Grand Harbour.  F/L Lloyd claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged. P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Boyd claimed one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.

1045-1145 hrs  Seven JU 88s, part of a larger formation of bombers, carry out a deliberate attack on aerodrome buildings at Luqa.  All bombs fall on the motor transport section.  Bombs are also dropped on Misrah Blandun area.

1120 hrs  Air raid by eight JU 88s with fighter escort of ME 109s attack Hal Far.  Ten craters on aerodrome and about 30 incendiaries dropped on aerodrome.

1125 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA)  engage numerous JU 88s, claiming seven hits on four aircraft.

1324 hrs  26 aircraft come in from the south east and drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.   Two bombs land on Hompesch 3.7″ Battery, near Battalion HQ Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg.  Another bomb explodes between the Camp and Zabbar.

1335 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron sight six JU 88s with fighter escort.  Hurricanes attack, then Spitfires follow in.  F/L Heppell destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O West G damages one JU 88 and destroys one ME 109; P/O Kelly damages one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Three ME 109s are engaged by 5 guns of 225 LAA; two hits claimed on one by two guns.

1400 hrs  Four ME 109s drop four bombs on Ta Qali, causing two small craters on the aerodrome.  One soldier is seriously wounded and one slightly. 

1505 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron attack eight JU 88s.  F/O West R probably destroys one; F/L Heppell damages one but is then blown out of his machine, probably by a Bofors shell.  He lands safely near Floriana.

1405 hrs  Four ME 109 fighters machine-gun Mellieha Camp.  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage raiders: no claims.

1510 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.  Bombs also land on the Mall Gardens in Floriana and an unexploded bomb is discovered in St James Ditch.  Lintorn Barracks and the Central Civil Hospital are also hit.

1525 hrs  ME 109 fighters machine-gun Luqa while four ME 109 fighter-bombers drop bombs on the airfield.  Six guns of 225 LAA engage three ME 109s: no claims.

1615 hrs  A stick of four 250kg bombs falls 500 yards south of Selmun Palace causing slight damage.

1721 hrs  22 ME 109, 32 JU 88 and 26 JU 87 attack ships in Grand Harbour.  Penelope’s gunners fire back until they exhaust their ammunition supplies.  The Gunnery Officer is killed and the Captain and several others wounded.  A bomb penetrates the forward decks of Kingston passing through and piercing her hull, but does not explode.

1744 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment receive a message to say work on Pampas ceases at 2000 hrs, with 12 hours’ notice to start again.  Men of B Company volunteer to load ammunition onto HMS Penelope prior to her departure from Malta.  An air raid is on at the time and the ship is a target.

1815 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and see a Dornier 26 on the water, plus two JU 88s and ME 109s.

1910 hrs  P/O West 249 Squadron destroys the Dornier flying boat and one ME 109; P/O Kelly destroys one JU 88.

1938 hrs  All clear.

2007-2235 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft destroys a JU 88.

2026-2050 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the east, crossing Zonkor Point.  It is engaged by a Beaufighter with a short burst and crashes in flames at the Safi end of Luqa aerodrome.

2140-2212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.

2230-0050; 0135-0255; 0525-0635 hrs  Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

2345-0645 hrs  A series of raids by single enemy aircraft.  Incendiaries are dropped on several locations including Ospizio, Latnia and Sliema sea front.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Jack Miller, HMS Penelope; Marine Daniel Soames, Royal Marines, HMS Penelope;  Able Seaman Sidney Tancock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Penelope.

Private Ivan Harrold, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Private Cecil Peace, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Fusilier Charles Milne, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Henry Worster, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Marjorie Smith, wife of Regimental Sergeant-Major Smith, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Lance Bombardier John Hovell, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artilllery; Gunner Stanley Smith, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Geoffrey Worrall, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment);Staff Sergeant Henry Staples, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Mallia, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner George Falzon, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Bombardier John Grech, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Emanuelle Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gudja  Fred Scicluna, age 45.  Marsa  Salvu Grima, age 57.  Qormi  Francis Barbara, age 56.  Tarxien  Joseph Bartolo, age 52.  Valletta  Joseph Cachia, age 49.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  During a dive-bombing attack on Grand Harbour Penelope ran out of ammunition and the Captain was wounded.  Kingston was damaged and in sinking condition.  Penelope sailed for Gibraltar at 2000 hrs.  Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Maryland from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufort to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 8-9th  Swordfish despatched to check up the position of the Kelibe light.

LUQA  1230-1325 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance western Sicilian aerodromes.  2340-0555 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for shipping and attack.  Sighted one merchant vessel with escorting destroyer and submarine.  Bombed merchant vessel but undershot.

TA QALI  Orderly Rooms, SWO , Guard Room move from St Edward’s College Mdina to Nos 3 & 11 caves.   Messina House taken over for billets.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties still on Pampas.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Cpl Worn is injured by machine-gun bullet from enemy aircraft.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2345 hrs  Pte C Peace died in No 39 General Hospital as a result of wounds received from a bomb at Corradino on 7 April.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and B Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C, D and HQ Companies working on Luqa aerodrome.  One Other Rank wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali and died of wounds same day.  Three Naval Officers and 56 Naval Ratings attached to the Battalion for rations and accommodation, with a further 25 Naval Ratings with effect from 9th.  All from ships damaged in Grand Harbour by enemy air raids.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Incendiary bombs in the Barracks. Quickly extinguished – no damage or casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 9 (4 x 50kg; 3 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  Extract from Autobiography of Leonard (Len) Austin, Foreman of Malta Dockyard, August 1939 – March 1943 

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

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2022 in 1942, April 1942, Uncategorized

 

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