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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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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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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.

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Posted by on May 9, 2017 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, 2017 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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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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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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2 April 1942: Malta Teenagers’ Double Tragedy

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CHARLES GRECH

Young Charles Grech returned home from the Friary at lunchtime today, heavy with the news that the body of his mentor Fr Diego Galdes had been discovered in the ruins (maltagc70 – 1 April 1942).  He found his father already apparently pre-occupied with other matters:

“When I told him that I thought the bombs had fallen on Spinola Battery, he mumbled back that that was not quite where they had fallen.  They had been dropped on Villa Rosa.  Mother apparently did not understand what he had just said and interjected: ‘Aunty Mary went to live just there.’  Father retorted curtly: ‘What has this got to do with your Aunty Mary?  Villa Rosa!  Not Villambrosa!  That is where Joe works!’

Mother suddenly froze, dropped everything and…told father she was going to see Sur Guze, as his son in law Leslie Beckett, a corporal in the Royal Army Pay Corps, who lived with him, also worked with my brother at Villa Rosa.

Mother and Sur Guze’s daughter, Lina, hurried…to St George’s Bay.  On arriving there, they found a complete shambles.  Mother asked for here son and Lina for her husband…Major Howell informed Lina that her husband had been wounded… [they] were still looking for Joe.”

The family had to wait for news until 4.30pm next day, when a policeman arrived at the door: Joe’s body had been found – in the ruins of the Army Pay Office.  (1)

HMS Pandora (2)

JOSEPH STEPHENS

16 year old Dockyard apprentice Jo Stephens was admiring the sleek lines of the newly-arrived submarine “Pandora” yesterday afternoon when he heard the sirens:

“Knowing that, in all probability, the Dockyard would be the target I sought refuge in the nearest shelter deep in the rock under a bastion a short distance from the submarine.  I was not far into the entrance when the firing of guns began…A blast of air like a powerful gale lifted me off my feet, glogging my ears, and blowing me further into the shelter causing me to clutch the best I could to its walls.  Another blast and again I was blown in farther, assisting my own efforts to get into the deepest part of the shelter Then another blast and another and yet another, each with powerful tremors, ear glogging air pressure accompanied by  attempts on my part  to keep my balance. I don’t know how long it lasted but I thought it would never stop. Stop it did. The ”All Clear ” sirens sounded and I emerged from the shelter…

The submarine had completely disappeared; it had vanished. The moorings were still there,  confirming my fears and suspicions that the submarine must have been badly hit and was now lying at the bottom of the water. There was no floating debris, no sign of life, just murky waters around where she was berthed. An acrid smell of fuel oil hung about the place. A deep sadness came over me. In a matter of minutes a submarine with its entire crew, men mostly in the prime of life, had been wiped out.  (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 APRIL TO DAWN 3 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; 50% medium cloud.

0822-0850 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches the Island from the south, carries out reconnaissance.  Ack Ack engage.

0950 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an incoming formation of 15 JU 88 bombers and 25 ME 109 fighters.  Two Spitfires are jumped by ME 109s: both are lost, though one pilot is saved.  F/L Johnson damages one JU 88.

1010 hrs  A formation of JU 88s carries out a heavy raid on the Dockyard and Submarine Base. The Army Pay Office at Villa Rosa, St Georges is hit, killing one Officer and six Other Ranks of the Royal Army Pay Corps.

1017 hrs  Eight JU 88s with an escort of six ME 109s attack Hal Far, causing 22 craters on aerodrome and dispersals.  One Swordfish badly damaged.

1025 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Klantun and Misrah Blandun areas.

1030 hrs  Three Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled and engage the enemy aircraft.

1040 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one ME 109.

1050 hrs  P/O McCarthy is shot down in flames.  P/O McLeod is shot into the sea and saved.  One JU 88 is damaged.

1119 hrs  All clear.

1222 hrs; 1400 hrs  Air alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

1610 hrs  Eight Hurricanes 185 & 229 Squadrons are scrambled to intercept an incoming enemy formation.

1624 hrs  15 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour with over 40 high explosive (HE) bombs including four 1000kg: several bombs land on Valletta and Floriana.

21 JU 87s attack Hal Far, dropping 250kg and 500kg bombs across the airfield.  The Airmen’s bath house is demolished and other buildings damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the enemy, destroying two JU 87s and badly damaging one JU 88 and one JU 87.

12 JU 88s follow the first wave and drop another 48 HE bombs of 250kg and 500kg on Grand Harbour.

1650 hrs  Hurricanes 185 & 229 Squadrons engage enemy aircraft: one JU 87 is probably destroyed, one ME 109, one JU 87 and one JU 88 damaged.

1655 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA also engage: hits are claimed by the majority of Battery guns.  One JU 87 is observed smoking badly and losing height.

1740 hrs  The trawler SS Franco is machine-gunned by six ME 109s off Dahlet Ish-Shielep, causing slight damage and two minor casualties.  C and E Companies of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage the fighters with machine-gunfire: no claims.

1807 hrs  All clear.

2036 hrs   Six enemy aircraft come in from the north, dropping bombs in the sea and on land at Ta Salvatur and Ghar Lapsi.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2205 hrs  Two aircraft come in from the north east and drop bombs in the Marsa area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2343-0556 hrs  21 German JU 88 and Italian BR 20 aircraft approach singly at regular intervals throughout the night, dropping bombs in many areas, including Bubaqra, Safi and Luqa aerodrome, where one unserviceable Wellington is burned out.  Searchlights illuminate 14 of the 18 aircraft which cross the coast.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Winston McCarthy, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron; Private Charles Davies, Private Albert Golledge, Lieutenant Frank Harrod, Private Arthur Pullan, all Royal Army Pay Corps; Gunner Wilfred Allen and Bombardier Jeffrey Osborne, (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Leslie Sutton, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Staff Sergeant Edward Redman, 173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers; Private Carmel Camenzuli, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Paola  Rose Midlane, age 41.  Sliema  Joseph Grech, age 17.

Enemy casualties  Hans Frank.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, four Hudsons, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Hudsons, two Blenheims, one Beaufighter, one Spitfire PRU, one Catalina, two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

LUQA 2025-0610 hrs  One Wellington SD Flight Special Search with bombs.  Possible hospital ship sighted.

TA QALI  PM Spitfires returned to Ta Qali from Luqa and Hurricanes proceeded to Luqa to operate.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Work continues on the Pampas: still great difficulty through lack of power for the winches.  Large raid on Grand Harbour by 64 JU 87 & 88s.  Several large bombs dropped near Pampas.  Work continues on Pampas throughout the night.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Three slight casualties – Sgt Higgins, Cpl Tannatt, BEM, and Private Adams of A Company – caused by either pom pom or cannon Bullets.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome during the day.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  S/Sgt Redman died at Imtarfa Hospital. RE Welders worked on HMS Penelope enabling her to put to sea.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26; dealt with 10 (1 x 500kg, 6 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg)

(1) Extract from Raiders Passed: Wartime Recollections of a Maltese youngster, Charles B Grech (translated by Joseph Galea Debono), Midsea Books, Malta 1998

(2) Joseph V Stephens, 2012

(3)  www.wrecksite.eu

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1 April 1942: 148 aircraft bomb Malta – 9 ships hit – 62 killed

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Ruins of Franciscan Friary, Sliema 1942 (NWMA)

TWO BOMBS ON SLIEMA KILL 22

Teenager Charles Grech of Sliema was due to meet Fr Diego Galdes when he heard the air raid alarm.  Ignoring the advice of his friend to take cover, Charles set off towards the friary.  He froze when he saw a JU 88 bomber release its load, and two heavy bombs heading in his direction:

“I mumbled a quick Act of Contrition and clung to the corner of the block almost as if to stop the building from falling on top of me.  Then two huge deafening explosions and a tremendous blast flung me to the ground.  There was a cloud of dust and smoke.  Pieces of glass and wood were flying in all directions.  Balconies fell into the street and doors and windows were blown out to the opposite side of the road…The cuts I received from the glass soon brought me back to my senses.  I could not see further than five yards up the street, because of the thick dust cloud and the dense smoke and could not tell where the bombs had fallen… most probably, not more than a block away…I thought that they must have fallen pretty close to the church…[Father] told us that besides the church and the friary many other buildings had also been damaged and that there were dead and wounded everywhere.  I immediately thought of Fr Diego…” (1)

Fr Diego Galdes was killed when a bomb struck the Franciscan friary: he was one of 22 killed in Sliema, who also included Police Sergeant Michael Riviera.

ENEMY’S HEAVY LOSSES

During these 24 hours Heavy and Light Ack Ack destroyed five JU 87s and two JU 88s and one ME 109.  Aircraft destroyed two JU 88s, two JU 87s and two ME 109s; probably destroyed five JU 87s and damaged five JU 88s, one JU 87 and two ME 109s.  None of Malta’s aircraft are missing.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 APRIL TO DAWN 2 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0917 hrs  26 JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers escorted by fighters approach the Island.

0955 hrs  23 JU 88s and fighter bombers attack Hal Far, dropping over 100 high explosive (HE) bombs and destroying one Albacore and damaging three plus a Swordfish, badly damaging four Hurricanes and slightly damaging another four.  Three vehicles are written off and two bowsers damaged.  Private C F Rowe, A Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed while working on the airfield. Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery attack the enemy aircraft: no claims.

1005 hrs  Five JU 88s drop 50kg bombs on Safi strip, Mqabba area and south of Gudja village.  One unexploded bomb is reported on Safi.

1015 hrs  JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome, cratering the runway.  Two airmen are slightly injured, one Transit Wellington and an ambulance damaged.

1030 hrs  Four ME 109s machine-gun positions of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regt (KOMR) at Armier Bay, Torri L’Abjad.  They also fire on a Gozo boat in the South Comino Channel.  Seven men from E Company immediately man the bullet-ridden boat and, while enemy fighters were still overhead, they help the boat’s engineer put to sea to rescue one of the crew who had dived overboard during the attack.

1051 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour.

1101 hrs  Six ME 109s raid Hal Far, dropping five 250kg and four 50kg bombs and causing craters on the aerodrome.  One Hurricane is written off.  One large bomb is dropped on Tal Liebru area, near Safi.

1315-1350 hrs  Four Spitfires take off from Luqa and intercept six ME 109s.  P/O Plagis damages one.

1437 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron attack two Messerschmitts and fifteen JU 88s.  F/O Nash and P/O Plagis both probably destroyed JU 88s and S/L Grant damaged one.  One Spitfire is damaged; F/O Lee is wounded in the foot.

1455 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA Bty engage JU 88s heading for Hal Far.

1500 hrs  Nine JU 88s drop dozens of HE bombs on Hal Far, causing craters on the aerodrome.  One airman is killed.

1510 hrs  Four guns of 225 LAA Bty engaged three ME 109s diving from 1500 to 300 feet.

1530 hrs  Nine JU 88s drop 65 high explosive bombs, including six 1000kg, across Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto.  Several houses are demolished in Valletta.  Bombs on Floriana hit Kingsgate, Sliema bus terminus, St Johns Ditch, Great Siege Road, Msida Bastion Quarters, Block B and Lintorn Barracks.  In Sliema the Convent of the Franciscan Minors is destroyed and adjacent churches badly damaged, killing two women and a child.  Nearby houses are also destroyed, killing 22 civilians.

1535 hrs  Two ME 109s attack Mellieha Camp of 1st Bn KOMR.

1555 hrs  Twenty JU 88s approach the Island, dropping bombs on Luqa and the Safi strips.

1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron intercept Messerschmitts and a Dornier 24.  P/O Plagis and Sgt Hesselyn destroy ME 109s; P/O Buchanan and S/L Grant damage ME 109s.

1711 hrs  A large formation of JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s are reported heading towards the Island.

1800 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron sight 25 JU 87s and many ME 109 fighters approaching Grand Harbour.  F/O Buchanan and P/O Nash destroy one JU 87 each and P/O Plagis and S/L Grant probably destroy one each.

1835 hrs  Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron then approach at 8000 feet and join the attack.  Sgt Fletcher destroys one JU 87 and probably destroys another.  Sgt Pawley probably destroys one JU 87 and damages one JU 88.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  The remaining Stukas dive-bomb Grand Harbour, dropping 96 bombs of 250kg across the Dockyard and submarine base.

2000 hrs  30 JU 88s and JU 87s drop bombs on Hal Far, causing numerous craters on the aerodrome.  Three sticks of bombs fall on Safi strip and four on the Tal Liebru area.

Night  Total of 46 JU88s and Italian BR 20 aircraft raid the Island, of which 18 drop bombs.

2035 hrs  One bomb is dropped on the Ta Salib area.

2100 hrs  One Beaufighter takes off from Ta Qali on patrol over Malta.

2113 hrs  Two bombs land on the Tal Liebru area.

2120 hrs  One JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack fire and is seen to drop into the sea.

2140 hrs  Two bombs fall in Wied Has-Saptan and eight on the Safi strip.

2225 hrs  One bomb lands on the San Christu Church area and one on Wied Has-Saptan; a stick of unexploded bombs is reported in the Nigret area.

2310 hrs  One bomb lands on the Nigret area and explodes, severely damaging the Togores Palace.

2354 hrs  The Beaufighter attacks and damages one JU 88 which counter-attacks, setting fire to the port engine of the Beaufighter.  The starboard engine stops but the aircraft lands safely at Ta Qali at 0015 hrs: crew unhurt.

0008 hrs  One stick of bombs is dropped on Ta Karach ridge.

0205 hrs  Three bombs land on the Tal Liebru area.

0420 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Henry Gunn, HMS Penelope; Thomas Lewis, Chargeman of Boilermakers, HMS Dockyard.  Corporal Ronald David, Leading Aircraftsman Michael Ellis, Leading Aircraftsman Stanley Hoskin, Leading Aircraftsman Albert Osborne, Corporal Joseph Pitt, Flight-Lieutenant Frederick Povey, Corporal Dennis Wills, all Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  Gunner Thomas (Edgar) Burfield, Gunner Thomas Richardson, Lance-Bombardier John Scarborough-Taylor, Gunner Ernest Smith, all 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Anthony Mifsud, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.  Sapper Ronald Feltham and Sapper Clarence Weaver, 16 Fortress Company, Royal Engineers.  Corporal Fred Chappell, Sapper Evan Evans, Sapper Henry Hayes, Sapper William Leighton, Sapper Daniel Mizen, Sapper John Sandilands, all 173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers.  Private Charles Rowe, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment; Lance-Corporal Charles Pearce, Corporal William Foote and Private Ernest French, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Sapper Paul Psaila, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Edgar Zahra, age 3.  Balzan  Walter Farrugia, age 43.  Gzira  John Azzopardi, age 15; Ophelia Colombo, age 25; Concetta Mifsud Ellul, age 43; Mary Anne Miller, age 10.  Paola  Anthony Vassallo, age 22.  Sliema  Carmen Bates, age 6; Imelda Bates, age 5; George Bates, 9 mths; George Cassar, age 27; Vincenza Cassar, age 20; Censa Cauchi, age 80; Hilda Clarke, age 32; Ivy Clarke, age 5; Joseph Clarke, age 2; Albert Fava, age 1; Fr Diego Galdes, age 52; Alfred Gatt, age 50; Giulia Gatt, age 46; Rose Marie Gatt, age 4; Thomas Lewis, age 54; Lonza Micallef, age 50; Michael Riviera, age 40; Josephine Tabone, age 22; Antonia Tabone, age 7; Alfred Zammit, age 50; Marianna Zammit, age 45; Carmel Zammit, age 15.  Zebbug  Carmel Attard, age 50; Frances Attard, age 16.  Zejtun  Carmel Camilleri, age 18; Cristopher Caruana, age 77; Annunziato Desira, age 21; Louis Grech, age 31.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Winfried Gunther, 8/StG 3, Pilot of a JU 87 Stuka shot down by Anti Aircraft fire.  He baled out into the sea, was rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.

P36 – a U class submarine

OPERATIONS REPORTS 1 APRIL 1942

 

ROYAL NAVY  During heavy air raid P36, Pandora and drifter Sunset were sunk.  Havock, Sokol, Swona, Girl Margaret and a number of small craft were damaged and Unbeaten was damaged while bottomed.  Talabot received one hit with a heavy bomb.  Submarine workshops were damaged.  One Albacore and one Swordfish at Hal Far were burned out.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires PRU, two Beaufighters, three Blenheims, one Sunderland, one Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington, four Hudsons, one Beaufort, one Sunderland to 108 MU.

LUQA  1045-1345 hrs  69 Squadron Spitfire Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  2242-0607 hrs  One Wellington SD Flight Special Search with bombs. One destroyer sighted: bombs jettisoned.

TA QALI  Considerable work carried out on erection of pens for aircraft.  Large numbers of soldiers working on aerodrome and 42 men reported from Hal Far on attachment.  Hurricanes from Hal Far operating from Ta Qali.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0900 hrs  GOC speaks to the troops starting work on SS Pampas.  Work is hampered by lack of power for the winches – and air raids.  Private Camenzuli KOMR attached to us for training was killed by a bomb.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Explosion of bombs on crashed JU 87 kills Cpl Foote, L/Cpl Pearce and Pte French, and wounds LCpl Bell and Pte Garrett.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome during the day.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  During afternoon raid, the garage received a direct hit. Casualties: 173 Company – 6 killed; 24 Fortress Coy – 1 killed.  A further bomb fell at the rear of the Administrative Block, Lintorn Barracks.  UXB  Reported 23; dealt with 11 (3 x 500kg; 1 x 250kg; 7 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1000 hrs  This unit takes over the Observation Post at Tal Minsia from 1 Cheshire Regt (now unloading convoy).

(1) From Raiders Passed: Wartime Recollections of a Maltese youngster, Charles B Grech (translated by Joseph Galea Debono), Midsea Books, Malta 1998

 

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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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