Tag Archives: 185 Squadron

20 April 1942: 46 New Spitfires Bombed on the Ground

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Spitfires at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)


“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


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.


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


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.


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.”


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.


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


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)


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.


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 

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2 April 1942: Malta Teenagers’ Double Tragedy

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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)


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)


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.


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


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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)


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.


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.


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



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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31 March 1942: Enemy Objective – Neutralise Malta

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  • 20 alerts in the last 24 hours

    De Havilland Mosquito

  • Heavy raids at dusk: 150 high explosive bombs on Grand Harbour and Hal Far
  • Mosquito attacked on take-off
  • Army to help day and night unloading Pampas
  • Restricted bus service introduced


“Since the arrival of the convoy dive bombing attacks on Grand Harbour and all the aerodromes have increased in intensity.  There has been an almost continuous battle between enemy dive bombers and Malta’s Ack Ack defence guns.  From time to time our fighters have taken part in this defence at heavy odds.  This month for the first time Spitfires have been operating from this Island.  Losses to the enemy have averaged about four aircraft shot down and six badly damaged daily.

The enemy has continued nuisance raids (ie sending single aircraft over at night) throughout the month although the number of aircraft over each night has been much greater.  Generally it can be said that the enemy this month has been making an enormous bombing effort against Malta with the object of neutralising the Island as a base for aircraft of all kinds and as a harbour.

On occasions it has appeared as if some of these attacks have been directed agains Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.  The enemy has suffered considerable losses and although great damage has been done to property and installations on the ground it would appear that he has not succeeded in his neutralisation; bombers and fighters still operate from Malta and the artillery defence has sustained little damage.”  (1)


Weather  Wind westerly; 100% cloud.

0831-1516 hrs  17 bombers approach singly and drop bombs from above the low cloud.  Only three aircraft drop bombs on land, on Gudja, Hamrun, Zabbar and Zonkor areas, and Valletta near Buttanici Corner.  Heavy Ack Ack fire barrages.  Messerschmitts continually patrol around the Island until 1516 hrs.

1015 hrs  A Mosquito of 69 Squadron is despatched from Luqa on photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli.   Immediately on take-off the pilot is instructed to pancake quickly.  As the Mosquito is slowing in the Luqa circuit, observer Sgt Pike spots two ME 109s.  At least one attacks, hitting the Mosquito in the port and starboard wings and in the rear of the fuselage.  The port wing catches fire and the pilot breaks cloud over Hal Far aerodrome.  Pilot P/O Kelly manages to make a belly-landing: he and Pike scramble out unhurt before the Mosquito burns out completely.

Two Hurricanes airborne from Hal Far are jumped by four ME 109s.  Sgt Broad gives the last of the MEs a short head-on burst and then goes into an evasive spin.  Sgt Steele fails to return.

1025 hrs  Four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two ME 109s: no claims.

1030 hrs  Two guns of 225 LAA engage two ME 109s: no claims.

1200 hrs  A Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report an unexploded bomb 300 yards south of Nigret.

1543 hrs  Six bombers drop bombs in the sea near Grand Harbour and on Luqa, Siggiewi and Zonkor areas.

1705 hrs  Three bombs are dropped on Ta Karach ridge.

1715 hrs  One bomb is dropped on Bubaqra area.

1720 hrs  A single raider drops a stick of bombs between D Company, 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment and Ta Mehrla church.  First bomb of the stick fell very close to the Camp but did only superficial damage to stone billets.

1824 hrs  Three aircraft carry out a patrol to the north of the Island.

1925 hrs  38 aircraft approach from the north.  Malta’s fighters engage.  Searchlights are illuminated 35 times and Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is destroyed by Light Ack Ack.  13 JU 88s drop 52 high explosive bombs of 250kg and 500kg on Grand Harbour, Msida, Gzira and Hamrun.  Bombs on the Dockyard cause severe damage to electric and telephone cables, gas and water mains, and the roadway east of No 3 Dock. Bombs on Hamilton Wharf, destroy the crane track, and 2/3 Dock Pumping Station discharge.  The majority of telephone lines in Dockyard are put out of action.

1940 hrs  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept six plus JU 88s.  P/O Ormrod probably destroys one JU 88 and Sgt Eastman scores hits on another.  P/O Wigley attacks a third: no strikes observed.  Three Hurricanes land at Ta Qali, one at Luqa.

1945 hrs  One stick of bombs lands on the Bubaqra area and others around Misrah Blandun area.  Five bombs land near Hagiar Qim battery of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt.

1950 hrs  All guns of 225 LAA Battery engage numerous JU 88s attacking Hal Far.  Hits are claimed and observed on several enemy aircraft but exact estimate of damage prevented by failing light.

1953 hrs  A stick of bombs lands near Ta Mehrla Church.

1956 hrs  Twenty plus JU 88s dive-bomb Hal Far, each dropping two 250kg and two 500kg HE bombs.  One Albacore and one Swordfish are burned out; one hangar is damaged by fire.

2005 hrs  Gun position L22 of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt expends five magazines at an enemy aircraft dropping bombs nearby.

2035 hrs  All clear.

2204 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Qrendi area.

2215 hrs  A stick of bombs falls between Guarena and HQ Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

2320 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs on rocks near Benghaisa Point.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Archibald Steele, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Elizabeth Casha, age 18; Annie Casha, age 17; M’Anna Micallef, age 45; Emanuela Micallef, age 3.  Zabbar  Antonia Muscat, age 33.


ROYAL NAVY  Pandora arrived from Gibraltar to join First Submarine Flotilla and discharged kerosene at Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudsons, one Beaufort, one Wellington from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Gambut. Departures  Three Beauforts, two Beaufighters, one Blenheim, one Hudson, one Wellington to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Lodestar to Gambut.

LUQA  2217-0042 hrs  One Wellington Transit Flight ASF attacked Catania aerodrome.

TA QALI  Spitfires operating from Luqa: no combats.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0930 hrs  Battalion training exercise started late due to rain.  Held in Birzebbugia.  1430 hrs  All Companies on weekly cross country run.  2030 hrs  Special orders: the Battalion is to unload SS Pampas; 90 men at a time to work day and night from 0900 hrs 1st April.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths:  37 Officers; 827 Other Ranks; 5 RAOC (attached).

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Strength: 34 Officers; 652 Other Ranks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Battalion: A Company (Coy) Ta Karceppu; B Coy & HQ Coy Ta Salvatur; C Coy Ta Hasluk; D Coy Tal Providence.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0600 hrs  GOC visit Battalion HQ during Battalion Scheme.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  During the month a number of unexploded bombs fell in the Bn area; the majority turned out to be delayed action bombs.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 4 (3 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.


(1) War Diary, Southern Infantry Brigade, Malta – March 1942

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23 March 1942: Malta Convoy Under 9 Hour Attack – Only 2 Ships Reach Harbour

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SS Talabot (Times of Malta)

Having changed course frequently in an attempt to avoid detection by the enemy, Convoy MW 10 was unable to reach Grand Harbour under cover of darkness this morning as planned.  Approaching the Island in broad daylight, the convoy of four freighters – Breconshire, Clan Campbell, Pampas and Talabot – and their protective force headed for Malta.  From dawn onwards they were under constant air attack by a determined Luftwaffe.  Malta’s fighters put up a strong resistance against a total enemy force of 62 JU 88 bombers and 25 ME 109 fighters.

Only Pampas and Talabot made it safely into Grand Harbour; Clan Campbell was sunk and Breconshire disabled by Luftwaffe attacks.  Chiefs of Staff have reluctantly concluded that until Malta’s air space is safe no further convoys can be planned.  Without essential supplies, the Island will be unable to feed or defend itself.


Weather  Wind south and squally; 100% low cloud – visibility poor.

0514-1423 hrs  62 JU 88s with an escort of 25 ME 109s attack the convoy as it approaches Malta and within Grand Harbour.

Hurricanes and Spitfires are airborne almost continuously from dawn until dusk, carrying out 42 sorties.  F/Lt Lawrence and Sgt Broad 185 Squadron destroy a Heinkel He111.  Sgt Horricks and Sgt Eastman 185 Squadron probably destroy a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mortimer-Rose, Sgt Eastman, P/O Wigley, F/Sgt Fletcher 185 Squadron and two pilots of 249 Squadron damage four JU 88s.  Sgt Ellis, P/O Noble and P/O Beckett score hits on two other JU 88s.  Many others are hit and forced to jettison their bombs.  Two JU 88s are damaged by Anti-Aircraft fire and others by HM ships.

PM  There is continuous Ack Ack fire out to sea but owing to bad visibility enemy planes are not visible.

0815 hrs  Talabot comes within sight of land, welcomed by two Hurricane fighters sent out to meet her.  Within half a mile of harbour she is attacked by a ME 109 but undamaged.

0915 hrs  Talabot enters Grand Harbour followed by Pampas, surviving another Messerschmitt attack in which four gunners are wounded.  Word has spread of the convoy’s arrival and cheering Maltese crowd the bastions to welcome the two freighters, with destroyers Kingston and Havock – both damaged yesterday en route to Malta – as they cruise into harbour.

HMS Breconshire

0920 hrs   Breconshire is in sight of Delimara Point when she is attacked by ME 109s with bombs and machine-gunfire.

0936 hrs  A JU 88 aims a bomb at Breconshire which explodes under the ship, stopping her engines.

1000 hrs  Another JU 88 aims bombs at Breconshire, causing further damage.  In the heavy swell, the ship begins to drift.

1020 hrs  Still 20 miles from Malta, the slower merchant vessel Clan Campbell is severely damaged by a dive-bombing attack.

1100 hrs  Clan Campbell sinks with the loss of her Captain and five hands.  The destroyer Legion is badly damaged.

1200 hrs  Efforts to bring Breconshire into port have to be abandoned: the weather is too rough for towing or disembarkation.  The ship, passengers and crew have to sit at anchor off Zonkor Point awaiting a tow.  One gun and crew of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery is transferred to Zonkor Point to provide protective cover.

Night 23/24th  Weather and visibility bad: no enemy action.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Basil Rivers, Mentioned in Despatches, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St.Angelo; Ordinary Seaman Norman McLeod, HMS Beaufort; Petty Officer John Blue, HMS Carlisle; Able Seaman J Hulme, HMS Havock; Able Seaman Arthur Adaway, HMS Kingston; Sub-Lieutenant John Carter, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Jordan, HMS Kingston; Leading Stoker Joseph Strange, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Querstret, HMS Kingston.  Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Cherry, Royal Artillery, attached to Malta Territorial Force; Gunner William Griffiths, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties   Kalkara  Agostino Mintoff, age 16.


HAL FAR  Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol.  Fifteen pilots patrol in pairs from dawn to dusk.  PM  One Albacore despatched on shipping search: nothing sighted.  Owing to bad weather the aircraft landed in the sea.  Pilot Lt Head is saved but two others, S/L Rivers and L/A Tuttle are lost.

LUQA  No operations.

TA QALI  Orderly room established in St Edward’s College with accounts and Guard Room.  No operations: runway only is serviceable.  Salvage work proceeding.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy arrives from Mid East bringing reinforcements:  11th  Lancs Fusiliers one Officer; 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt, five Officers; 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry eight Officers, 92 Other Ranks.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy brings Officer reinforcements for Brigade as follows:  4 Buffs eight; 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers ten; 8th Bn Manchester Regt five.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1000 hrs  Gas masks worn for one hour.  1400 hrs  All Companies did weekly cross country run.  Heavy cloud during the day.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers joint the Battalion from the convoy.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  0400 hrs  Duty Officer warned that ‘A’ Company was arriving by convoy early in the morning.  By 1200 hrs two Officers and 40 Other Ranks had joined the Battalion in camp.  The remainder of the Company were on board Breconshire which had stopped ten miles out to sea owing to engine trouble.  The seven Other Ranks killed in the air raid on 21st March were buried in the Imtarfa Hospital Cemetery.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers arrived in Malta and were taken on strength.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  One gun and personnel are transferred to Zonkor Point to protect shipping.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 23.


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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in 1942, March 1942


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