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17 March 1942: 30 Civilians Killed by Heavy Bombs Across Malta

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  • Air raids back to full force

    Heinkel He 111

  • 79000 kg high explosive bombs dropped across Island
  • Indiscriminate night bombing hits civilian areas
  • 30 civilian casualties including two policemen
  • Heavier enemy fighter escorts – 40 protect a single raid
  • Heinkel III appears over Malta
  • Malta’s Ack Ack and fighters score hits on enemy aircraft
  • One Spitfire crashes
  • Aircraft destroyed on the ground

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  70% cloud at 500 feet.

0700 hrs  Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  F/L Stone and P/O Noble make a head on attack on one JU 88: results not observed.  P/O Beckett engages a ME 109: no visible results.

0715 hrs  Six Spitfires of 249 Squadron are airborne and locate an incoming formation of JU 88s and Messerschmitts.  The Spitfires split into pairs.  Sgt Brenman scores cannon strikes on one Messerchmitt which goes down.  He then fires at a second ME but sees no results.  F/Lt Heppell has a short squirt at one ME 109 and sees a puff of black smoke as it climbs away.

0737 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Grand Harbour area.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage.

0800 hrs  Six JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  One bowser and two Wellingtons are burned out.  Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged; one is written off. One Spitfire and one Mosquito of the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit are damaged.  One previously unserviceable Beaufighter is badly damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from Hal Far join the fight, spotting five JU 88s and ten Messerchmitts.  S/Lt Wells scores strikes on one Junkers and P/O McHan fires machine gun bullets into the same aircraft.  Sgt Hale attacks another JU and sees smoke pouring from the starboard engine, believed to be glycol.  F/Lt Kemp attacks a ME 109 and sees bits fall from the starboard wing: the ME goes down into cloud.  Sgt Mulloy attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes under the starboard wing root.  He also claims strikes on a 2nd Junkers, along the tail end of the fuselage.

1000 hrs  JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, and on the submarine base.

1025 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 4-6000 feet: no claims.

1030 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne.  Sighting a large formation of Messerschmitt fighters, the Spitfires dive away.  F/Sgt Cormack does not pull out of his dive and his machine heads straight towards Filfla: cause unknown.

1045 hrs  Five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.

1050 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land safely.

1115 hrs  All clear.

1200-1355 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and Luqa, and in the sea off Delimara.

1310 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs in the Zurrieq area and on Safi strip. One JU 88 is engaged by two gun positions of 225 LAA at 5-6000 feet: no claims.

1407 hrs  Four JU 88s and one Heinkel 111 escorted by fighters approach the Island  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Broad engage one JU 88: no visible results.  The raiders drop bombs to the west of Luqa and Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1415 hrs  Three Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and three Spitfires of 249 Squadron from Luqa.  They chase and damage the Heinkel.  A second wave of six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop twelve bombs on Ta Qali, damaging one Hurricane. Two civilians are killed, two are admitted to hospital and two have minor injuries.  Ack Ack engage and damage one JU 88.

1425 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the Mqabba area and near Loreto Church.

1445 hrs  The Spitfires and Hurricanes land safely.

1500 hrs  One Hurricane at Ta Qali is damaged by a delayed action bomb dropped at 1415 hrs.  One civilian is injured and taken to hospital.

1600 hrs  Five Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of JU 88s.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Sutherland attack one JU, hitting the fuselage and engines.  Sgt Sutherland engages a ME 109, scoring hits between the engine and cockpit.

1619 hrs  A six-wave attack of bombers protected by a large fighter force.  The first wave of six JU 88 drops bombs on Sliema, Tigne and Marsaxmett Harbour.

One JU 88 drops bombs on Kirkop and Qrendi.

Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and to the north of Luqa.

One aircraft recedes from south to north at 18000 feet.

Six JU 88s drops bomb on the Qrendi strip and in the sea.

Six JU 88s drops bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.   Malta’s fighters are up and damage one HE 111, one JU 88 and two ME 109s.  Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage another.

1725 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip. Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged and written off.  Guns of 225 LAA Battery engage two JU 88s and one ME 109 at 4-5000 feet: no claims.

1830 hrs  Two Hurricanes 126 Squadron take off from Hal Far with five other Hurricanes of 185 Squadron to intercept an incoming formation.  The two Hurricanes of 126 chase a JU 88 which is last seen diving steeply into the sea.

1836 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and Misrah Blandun.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa and patrol behind the Hurricanes.  Two ME 109s are spotted.  S/L Grant damages one with cannon shells and P/O Plagis attacks the other, observing pieces fall from the aircraft.

1842 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s at 3-4000 feet: three gun positions claim five hits in total.

1846 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 3-4000 feet.  All guns claim hits; two confirmed on the fuselage and starboard wing of one aircraft.  Gunners collect fallen fragments of fuselage and a rubber dinghy.  The plane recedes south apparently badly damaged.

1920 hrs  All clear.

2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is barraged over Grand Harbour and drops its bomb load in the sea.

2044 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the east of Mellieha.

2200 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Pembroke Ranges, on Naxxar and in the sea.

2235 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Rabat area.

2332-0100 hrs  Seven aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the Rabat and Rocco areas, and in the sea.

0156 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on St Georges and in the sea.

0340 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs in the sea west of Gozo and another drops bombs to the south of Latnia.

0517 hrs   Seven aircraft approach the Island: one drops bombs near San Rocco fort, the remainder in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ian Cormack Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.  Gunner Carmel Darmanin, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Alfred Calleja, age 35.  Hamrun  George Debono, age 43.  Lija  Charles Lanzon, age 36.  Paola  Giuseppe Delia, age 60; Joseph Delia, age 4; George Gauci, age 80.  Qormi  Carmelo Aquilina, age 77.  Rabat  Francis Mallia, Ena Mallia Pulvirenti, age 12; Salvu Portelli, age 37; Andrew Spiteri, age 11; Samuel Vassallo, age 25.  Siggiewi  Carmelo Baldacchino, age 44.  Sliema  Eddie Bartolo, age 38; Joseph Bartolo, age 38; Alfred Calapai, age 54; Antonio Fava, age 20; Paul Formosa, age 50; Giuseppa Micallef, age 54; Joseph Micallef, age 11; Joseph Mifsud, age 66; Albert Mifsud, age 14; Anthony Pisani, age 38; Carmela Sghendo, age 15; Francis Spiteri, age 14; Alfred Vella, age 45.  Valletta  Muriel Brocklebank, age 47.  Zebbug  Giuseppe Petroni, age 29.  Zejtun  Joseph Mercieca, age 45.  Zurrieq  Ursola Schembri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  MLs 126 and 130 arrived from Gibraltar.  Five Albacores left to attack convoy sighted earlier but failed to find.  Three Swordfish attacked one merchant vessel of 2000 tons east of Tripoli.  One torpedo was dropped and left ship ablaze from stem to stern.  Two Swordfish and four Albacores sighted and attacked two merchant vessels and two destroyers in Lampedusa area.  Two torpedoes dropped and one hit on a 7000 ton merchant vessel is claimed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Spitfires to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Five Albacores 828 Squadron dispatched to attack convoy – nothing sighted.  Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on shipping search.  They attacked one merchant vessel (position east Tripoli 25 miles, 10 miles from shore).  A hit was scored: merchant vessel left ablaze from stem to stern.  One Swordfish – S/L Shute, Mid. Hillery – missing.

LUQA  0712-1300 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search south and east of Malta for enemy shipping.  1534-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for enemy shipping.

TA QALI  Signal 0831 HQ:  Identity of 242 and 605 Squadrons cease to exist as such on Malta with effect from 15 March 1942.  Pilots being absorbed with existing fighter squadrons at Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Night operations: no interceptions.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company on exercise Corrodino area; normal work for other Companies.  1400 hrs A Company cross-country run.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  St Patrick’s Day parade of Battalion at San Pawl Tat Targe.  Shamrock presented by GOC.  March to Naxxar for church parade and sermon by Rev Navin.  Dinner in evening attended by Brigadier L/Col Iggleden, L/Col Brittorous.  Men entertained by concert party.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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

 

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15 March 1942: Hell on Sunday – 1800kg Satan Bombs on Valletta

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MASSIVE BOMBS ON VALLETTA AS HEAVY RAIDS RETURN TO THE CAPITAL

German 1800kg ‘Satan’ Bomb (NWMA Malta)

Mass bombing returns to Malta today as the enemy responds to the recent success of Spitfires against their raiders.  The city of Valletta became a specific target for the first time this year.  The Luftwaffe chose the heaviest bomb carried by Junkers aircraft for their mission:  the two-ton ‘Satan’.  In five raids on the capital, German bombers dropped over 15000 kg of high explosive bombs on the streets, killing twelve civilians and one serviceman on leave.

Observers report that the number of aircraft in each raid has risen significantly.  Fighter escorts have increased in size, to outnumber the Island’s modest Spitfire force and overcome their recent success rate.

DOCKYARD APPRENTICE FINDS GIANT BOMB

“I was then a 16 years old Dockyard apprentice and Sunday was the only full day off from where I worked… It was a sunny morning and I was outside my home…A detachment of Infantry troops on a route march were coming down the road a short distance away. Suddenly everything erupted all at once. Wailing sirens, dispersing troops and heavy and intense gunfire. Like a second instinct we all dashed to take cover . As usual I was always one of the last to enter the shelter staying at the entrance to see what was going on.

Almost immediately, out of the din, the screaming crescendo of a diving plane filled our ears and, as the noise began to fade, suddenly a loud ”shuuuttle-sshee-shuuuttle ”- the unmistakable and sinister shuttling  noise of a falling bomb. I ducked inside the shelter as far as I was able waiting for the usual shattering explosion and the trembling of the ground under our feet.  But nothing happened.  Another five minutes or so went by and still nothing happened. It was becoming clear that a bomb had come down and had not exploded.

As soon as the noise of gunfire and diving planes had subsided and without waiting for the All Clear sirens, I emerged from the shelter and ran along Zabbar Road to where I thought the bomb had fallen, assuming, with good reason, that the bomb was aimed at the detachment of troops as they marched along the road…I spotted something embedded in the ground right in the middle of the road… a large bomb was clearly visible close to the surface and painted a bluish colour…

Gingerly, and apprehensively with my curiosity overcoming fear I moved nearer for a closer look. It was then that the stark and ominous reality suddenly dawned on me. For a fleeting moment, aghast and transported into a different dimension, I nearly froze rivetted to the spot. What was I doing here so close to this hellish object? Have I taken leave of my senses?  I could be blown to bits in a fraction of a second!

I retreated, hurriedly breaking into a run towards the shelter pointing behind me and shouting at the top of my voice ”Unexploded bomb; unexploded bomb’ and in Maltese,”Emm bomba ma splodiet’ to some of the men now cautiously emerging from the shelter… ”   Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MARCH TO DAWN 16 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind variable; cloudy at times – deteriorated during the day.

0713-0732 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

0818-0905 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s approach from the north.  Two JU 88s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Ta Minsia and St Julians area.  One JU 88 recedes.

0932-1005 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by five ME 109s drops an 1800kg bomb to the west of Zabbar.

Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron (all armed with machine guns) are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Noble engages a ME 109: strikes observed.  P/O Wigley attacks another ME 109: results not observed.

1020 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by 24 fighters approach the Island.  One JU 88 drops an 1800kg bomb on Valletta.  The other three drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Valletta and Qrendi strip.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.

1045 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled.  Sgt Boyd attacks a JU 88 twice but sees no results.  C Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs in area: three men are slightly hurt.

1100 hrs  A bomb explodes in Francis Street, Valletta: suspect delayed-action.

1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They are attacked by three ME 109s.  F/L Heppell sees cannon strikes on the fuselage of one ME which is then lost in cloud.  All Spitfires return safely to Luqa.

1135 hrs  All clear.  Three Hurricanes 242 Squadron return to Ta Qali.

1205-1255 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fifteen ME 109s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs near Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and damage one engine of a JU 88.

1220 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 500kg bombs from below cloud level between headquarters of 8t Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment (Ta Qandia quarries) and C Company at Ta Hasluk.  Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs near Wied Babu.

1319-1438 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar, Latnia and Rinella.  Four Spitfires engage.

1421 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by ME 109s approaches from the north.  Seven Hurricanes and three Spitfires are airborne but do not engage.  The JU 88 drops a 1800kg bomb on Valletta.

1515 hrs  A bomb explodes in Ursula Street, Valletta; suspect delayed-action.

1517 hrs  Three JU 88s and two ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar and Zonqor areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far take off to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1538 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by 25 ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Hal Far and in the sea.  The Hurricanes attack a JU 88: hits are observed on the tail and fuselage.

1545 hrs  Bombs area Della Grazia – Rinella-Maria Tas Silch.

1555 hrs  All clear.

1619-1657 hrs  Seven unidentified aircraft approach above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage with two barrages.

1715 hrs  W/C Satchell leads four Hurricanes from Ta Qali which join up with four from Hal Far; one returns early.  W/C Satchell attacks a JU 88: strikes are observed on the wing.  The same aircraft is fired on by two other Hurricanes.  W/C Satchell becomes separated from the formation and has a dog fight with a Messerschmitt.  He shoots off the tail of the enemy aircraft: claims destroyed.

1732-1820 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Hal Far. Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; no claims.

1931-2045 hrs  Two aircraft drop bombs on Gozo and in the sea.  Ack Ack engage.

2122-2140 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the sea.  Ack Ack do not engage.

2354-0018 hrs  One aircraft approaches and recedes when still 15 miles north of the Island.

0028-0058 hrs  Three aircraft approach; bombs are dropped to the north of Zabbar and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Private Dominic Mifsud, King’s Own Malta Regiment, died whilst on leave in Valletta. Leading Aircraftsman Stanley Leavesley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Salvu Borg, age 20.  Sliema  Polly Cannataci, age 26.  St Julians  Christopher Butler, age 21 months, (son of Capt Butler, 2nd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment).  Valletta  Giovanna Attard, age 56; Joseph Bellizzi, age 66; Dominica Borg Bellizzi, age 39; Michelina Busuttil, age 60; Vincent Busuttil, age 30; Anthony Formosa, age 37; Girlamo Fsadni, age 77; Marianna Mayman, age 34; Harold Miles, age 38; Mary Mifsud, age 57; Michael Vella, age 74; Melita Vella, age 35.  Zabbar  Emmanuele Bongailas, age 28; Giuseppe Lia, age 12.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 15 MARCH 1942

LUQA  0745-0920 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out part of SF 5 patrol.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One Man D Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by bombs in area of Qrendi strip.  Two men E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment Paola sustained slight injuries during a bombing raid.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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9 March 1942: Germany boasts “Malta under a hail of bombs day and night”

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94 ENEMY AIRCRAFT DROP BOMBS ON MALTA

German radio today broadcast the claim: “the Island Fortress of Malta is under a hail of bombs by day and night” as raids continue round the clock.  Luqa received another pounding today with damage to aircraft and runways but the enemy did not escape without losses. Malta’s fighters went on the counter attack, destroying at least three aircraft and damaging ten.  The Island’s anti-aircraft guns also claimed at least one aircraft destroyed and two damaged.

German bombs marked “Iron Greetings for Malta” (NWMA Malta)

LUFTWAFFE BOMBS DURING DAYLIGHT 9 MARCH 1942

  • 1000kg ‘Herman’              19
  • 500kg                              67
  • 250kg                              58
  • 50kg                              163

TOTAL                                307    Weight: 75150 kg

WARNING TO INFANTRY: DO NOT REMOVE BOMB FRAGMENTS

“Fragments of exploded bombs and tail fins often provide important evidence.  Cases have recently occurred where this evidence has been denied to the Bomb Disposal Officer because the pieces have been taken away as souvenirs.  It is the duty of all ranks to report immediately any fragments of exploded bombs and to report anyone seen taking away such pieces.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MARCH TO DAWN 10 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; cloudy.

0750 hrs  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali.  Wing Commander Rabagliati leads 242 Squadron to escort Blenheims leaving the Island,

0825 hrs  Five JU 88s drop twenty-two High Explosive bombs on theSafi strip.  Two aircraft are set on fire.

0845 hrs  One ME 109 with a yellow edge and red spinner is seen by 242 Squadron and attacked but it continues to shadow the Blenheim formation.

0858 hrs  Fourteen ME 109s and six JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi.

0918 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi, destroying one Wellington on the ground.  Three JU 88s drop bombs south west of Loreto Church and south west of Gudja village.  Three soldiers are wounded.

0925 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA Bty) engage three JU 88s at 3-5000 feet: 13 hits claimed.

0927 hrs  Three ME 109s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

0945 hrs Three JU 88s and eight ME 109s cross the coast and drop bombs on Hal Far.  L/Cpl Creek of C Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt receives a slight shrapnel wound.  Hurricanes destroy one JU 88 and one ME 109, damage two ME 109s and seven JU 88s.  Seven ME 109s and four JU 88s are also attacked.  One Hurricane pilot, Sgt Finlay, is slightly injured.

1000 hrs  Gunners of 225 (LAA Bty) engage three JU 88s engaged at 3-5000 feet; no claims.

1020 hrs  All clear.

1040 hrs  Eight Hurricanes from are scrambled from Ta Qali and intercept an incoming raid of three JU 88s and nine ME 109s.

1055 hrs  JU 88s drop bombs between Gudja and Luqa and one bomb in near HQ of 4th Bn Hampshire Regiment.

1120 hrs  The Hurricanes engage the enemy aircraft at a point 20 miles east of Delimara and attack.  One JU 88 is damaged and Wing Commander Rabagliati destroys one ME 109.

1221 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Luqa, dropping heavy High Explosive bombs and causing craters on the Safi strip.

1227 hrs  Bombs are dropped at south end of Safi strip: four fires are seen in the dispersal area.

1255-1315 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.  Four Wellingtons are damaged; three burned out.

1324 hrs  Bombs dropped on Safi strip.

1405 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs north of Safi strip.  One 1000kg bomb lands to the south west of Gudja.

1408 hrs  Guns of 225 (LAA Bty) engage two JU 88s at 6-8000 feet: no claim.

1500 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1515 hrs  225 LAA Bty engage six JU 88s at 4000 feet and one ME 109 at 100 feet.  Fifteen hits are claimed: five of the JU 88s claimed as damaged.

1520 hrs  Six JU 88s with fighter escort drop two 1000kg bombs each on Safi strip.  One Maryland is set on fire.

1520 hrs  Hurricanes of 126 Squadron intercept three JU 88s and six ME 109s off the Island of Filfla, as the enemy are going away from Hal Far.  F/O West damages two JUs.  P/O Hallett destroys one ME 109.  F/O Anderson causes an explosion in a JU and leaves it descending steeply: later confirmed destroyed.  S/L Norris damages a JU causing the engine to emit black smoke.  American P/O Howard Coffin is attacked by an ME and is forced to crash land close to a searchlight position near Gudja, suffering some head injuries: he survives.

1551 hrs  All clear.

1615 hrs  Enemy aircraft come in four waves, each wave dropping bombs onSafi and Luqa.  The first wave is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  One JU 88 is destroyed and crashes on Hal Far; one ME 109 is damaged.  An unexploded bomb is reported at Bir-id-Deheb: traffic is diverted and the RE Bomb Disposal squad informed.

1712 hrs  Three JU 88s at 5000 feet are engaged by Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1740 hrs  Five JU 88s diving on Hal Far are engaged by 225 LAA Bty. Two guns obtain a direct hit on one JU 88 which catches fire and crashes into the ground.  Two enemy airmen bale out and are taken prisoner by RAF personnel.  Two of the remaining aircraft are claimed as damaged.

1840 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Ta Liebru area and from 469195 to 468202.  225 LAA Bty engage the JU 88s at 4-5000 feet: four hits claimed on each plane.

1842 hrs  All Clear.

1940-2020 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses theIsland from north to south: believed to be a rescue plane.

Night 9/10th  Continuous air raid throughout the night: bombs in many areas.  Heavy Ack Ack and searchlights are active but night fighters do not engage.

2037-0615 hrs  Nineteen aircraft approach the Island from the north and drop 200 High Explosive bombs on Luqa, Grand Harbour, Qrendi, Wardia, Ghain Tuffieha, Delimara, St Thomas’ Bay, Latnia and in the sea at Kalafrana.  Searchlights operational and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0200 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Ta Sinia Tower.

0250 hrs  One bomb lands in Kirkop area.

0335 hrs  Four bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

0615 hrs  Bombs land near Fort Ta Silch.

0626 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

0800 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald McGregor Herman, Royal Australian Air Force; Private William Jones, 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Dolores Agius, age 6; Concetta Briffa, age 53; George Ellul, age 17.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Gerhard Becker, 6/KG 77, pilot of a JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti Aircraft fire early evening; also Unteroffizier Anton Schweiger, Air Gunner, who baled out into the sea but died; Unteroffizier Arnulf Thiemann, Observer was found unconscious and taken to hospital but did not recover; Unteroffiziere Walter Kunzi, Wireless Operator baled out and was found unconscious but survived, and was taken prisoner.  Leutnant Herbert Muller, 1/KG 54, Pilot of a JU 88 bomber, plus crew Obergefreiter Heinrich Meier, Obergefreiter Kurt Schrey and Obergefreiter Erich Wulf.

HMS Porpoise

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived from Alexandria with passengers and petrol.  2000 hrs Cleopatra, Penelope and Kingston sailed to intercept enemy convoy.  Three Swordfish and three Albacores attacked an 8000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, in the vicinity of Pantelleria.  Two torpedoes were dropped and the merchant vessel was probably hit.  One Albacore crashed on landing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance unit.  Departures  Three Blenheims, one Wellington to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Marsa Matruh.

LUQA  1030-1435 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carries out a special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Several alerts during the day; little damage to buildings.  Bombs on Luqa: Private Jones, C Company, killed, and Private Smithson, D Company, seriously injured.  Gas masks worn 1000-1100 hrs.  30 Other Ranks C & D Coys fired on Parachute Range at Marsa.  6 Platoon A Company night firing on Pembroke Range.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  L/Cpl Creek, C Company, slightly injured by shrapnel at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO carried out reconnaissance of the Victoria Lines.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT During the night bombs are dropped 300 yards north of Battalion HQ.  No damage.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Almost continuous dogfights and Ack Ack.  Luqa working party sustained minor casualties.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Outcome of raids resulted in slight damage to equipment at one gun position, C Troop HQ is damaged, one caravan badly damaged and one billet rendered unsafe.  One unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 20 yards from a gun position which is evacuated after removal of the gun barrel, auto-loader etc to a place of safety.  The UXB is reported to the RE Bomb Disposal Section.  The BD Officer deals with the bomb and declares the area safe by 1100 hrs next morning.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1) UXB Malta – Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal 1940-44, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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4 March 1942: Dog Fights in 20 Hour Bombing Spree

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  • Bombing almost continuous for 20 hours from 10 am
  • 28000 kg of bombs dropped on Malta
  • Italian bomber joins Luftwaffe formation
  • Five planes damaged on airfields
  • Hits scored on 16 enemy aircraft

AUCHINLECK GIVEN COMMAND OF MALTA: DOBBIE WILL REPORT TO MIDDLE EAST

From: The War Office                                                       To:  Governor & C in C Malta

Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck

Situation in your command has been very much in minds of the COS lately and we have discussed it in Committee several times in last few days.  We have been carefully considering every possible means to assist you in your difficulties, and have impressed on Auchinleck that defence of Malta is part and parcel of operations in his theatre and particularly in Cyrenaica.

2.  Under present system there is inevitable tendency to regard Malta and Cyrenaica as separate problems to be co-ordinated in London.  We have therefore decided that military garrison of Malta should be put under Auchinleck as Naval and RAF garrisons are under command of C in C Mediterranean and AOC-in-C Middle East respectively.  The three Commanders in Chief and Middle East Defence Committee will thus have joint responsibility for Malta as integral part of whole Middle East theatre, and you as Governor will have your hands strengthened by gaining direct access to Minister of State in Cairo as well as to HMG at home.

3.  We want to make it clear to you beyond all doubt that nothing could be further from our minds than lack of confidence in you.  We are all deeply conscious of magnificent fight you have put up and of inspiration which your leadership has given to Malta garrison and colony.  The more reason to strengthen your hands by every possible means now that you have entered such difficult and testing period.

4.  Apart form this change in organisation which is being communicated to Cs-in-C Middle East you will shortly hear in a COS telegram of various schemes for relieving your deficiencies in supplies and personnel.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MARCH TO DAWN 5 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind north west; slight.  30% medium cumulus/cirro cloud.

0745 hrs  Two ME 109s on patrol near the south and south east coast.

1010-1040 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  One JU 88 with an escort of two ME 109s carries out reconnaissance from 22000 feet: engaged by barrage.

1059-1208 hrs  ME 109s continue to patrol.  Four ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 12000 feet, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1224-1330 hrs  Five JU 88s accompanied by ME 109s drop bombs on Safi Strip, setting three Wellingtons on fire: two are destroyed and four more Wellingtons are damaged.  The Officers’ Mess of 37 Squadron is also damaged.  One ME 109 crashes near F range at Pembroke.  The pilot, Unteroffizier Benedikt Wegmann, has already baled out into the sea.  He swims ashore, where he is captured by B Company of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery claim three hits on one JU 88.

1346-1404 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island and patrol.  Six Hurricanes are airborne: no interceptions.

1415 hrs  Five ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 11000 feet.  Five JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa.

1420 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 242 Squadron at Ta Qali under S/L Wells join eight Hurricanes of 605 Squadron scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft as they return from the raid.

F/Sgt Fletcher (605) scores a hit on the rear gun turret of one JU 88, and P/O Noble hits another JU 88 twice, on the tail plane fuselage and the port engine, setting it on fire, before both pilots’ Hurricanes suffer damage (pilots unhurt).  Sgt Gardiner (242) hits the same JU 88.

Fiat BR20 “Cigogna” (stork)

Sgt Wilson hits one ME 109 on the fuselage and wing.  P/O Omerod hits the underside of another ME 109, another on the wing roots and engine cowling, and then hits an Italian aircraft – later identified as a BR 20 bomber – on the tail.   F/Lt Kee and P/O Kidson (242) score cannon strikes on another JU 88 before P/O Kidson dives on a ME 109, damaging its tail and claiming a ‘probably destroyed’.  One JU 88 ditches in the sea to the north of the Island and an ME 109 is shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire.

1515 hrs  All Clear.

1612-1803 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by seven ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.  Two Marylands are damaged.  Two billets are demolished and the sergeants’ sleeping quarters damaged.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagement.

1902-0239 hrs  21 aircraft approach singly, dropping bombs on Gozo, Ta Silch, Hal Far, Luqa, Lapsi, Qrendi, Hagiar Qim, Zeitun, between Nigret and Bubaqra, Wardia, Ta Qali, Salvator and in the sea.  Cpl Refalo of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is killed and L/Cpl Aquilina injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights expose eight targets.  Ta Qali Hurricane pilot Sgt Wood engages a JU 88 over the centre of the Island, as it fires at a searchlight.  Sgt Wood closes in and lets loose a 20 second burst of cannon-fire.  The JU 88 bursts into flames and crashes on land to the south west of Dingli.

0247-0632 hrs  Four aircraft drop bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0649 hrs  One aircraft comes to within 30 miles of Malta and then recedes.

Military casualties  Corporal Joseph Refalo, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Joseph Dingli, age 15; Tessie Dingli, age 4; Valentine Dingli, age 1.  Birkirkara  Michael Gauci, age 40.  Gozo (Zebbug)  Louis Vella, age 22.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber of 2/KG 66 shot down night of 4/5t March 1942:  Unteroffizier Albert Degenhardt, 2/KG 66 (pilot); Unteroffizier Friedrich Engelmann/Engelbert, 2/KG 66 (observer); Unteroffizier Herman Gessele (wireless operator); Unteroffizier Werner Rehschutz (air gunner).

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Kuriat, having hit a northbound tanker, believed sunk.  Unique sailed for Gibraltar and United Kingdom.  An Albacore sent on shipping search south and west of Malta sighted nothing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Catalina to Gibraltar and Lisbon; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

HAL FAR  One Albacore on search for enemy shipping Lampedusa-Zuara areas: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0930-1145 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1010-1353 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron PR Lampedusa Harbour and SF 2 patrol.  2107-0503 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron carried out a shipping search with torpedoes; no attack made.  2128-0508 hrs  Three Wellingtons 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Commanding Officer commenced investigations of landing Wellington against orders.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  ‘A’ Company moved to Safi strip in relief of C Company which moved to Gudja Camp.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Five bombs drop in D Company’s area during the night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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1 March 1942: 32 One-ton Bombs on Civilian Areas – 20 Dead in Floriana

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32 ONE-TON HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS LAND ON CIVILIAN AREAS

1000kg ‘Hermann’ bomb ready for Malta (NWMA Malta)

20 people were killed and 49 injured when 1000kg ‘Hermann’ bombs struck the densely populated area of Gunlayer Square in Floriana on this Sunday afternoon.  Many of the casualties were caught out having stayed at home during the raid; others were standing at the entrance to an air raid shelter.  Emmanuel Tonna might have been among them: “Had it not been for the insistence of my friend, Mr Carmelo Gauci, I would have stayed there talking to people.  Better counsel did, however, prevail and I left the place together with Mr Gauci.  We had barely reached the shelter in St Publius Street, Floriana, when we were violently shaken by the thud of bombs.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 MARCH TO DAWN 2 MARCH 1942

Weather  Rain during the morning.  Wind south west.  Bright periods with low cloud at times.

0737 hrs  Two MEs circle the Island and recede north.  Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.

0912-1000 hrs  16 fighters patrol the Island, dropping four high explosive bombs on Gozo.  Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.

1210-1234 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1245 hrs  Pilots of 242 and 605 Squadrons take to the air in nine Hurricanes and attack three JU 88s and their escort of twelve ME 109s.  F/Lt Stone machine-guns a JU 88; reports damaged.  P/O Lester attacks a Messerschmitt and observes the engine emitting grey smoke before he breaks off engagement; claims one ME 109F destroyed.  F/Sgt Howe claims a JU 88 as probable before he is shot down, baling out and sustaining a leg wound.  P/O Wigley attacks a JU 88 without visible results. P/O Tew and Sgt Harvey are shot down in the sea.  Sgt Harvey is seen to bale out but a rescue vessel later finds his body in the water.

1310 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regt at 5-800 feet; no claims.

1327 hrs  All clear.

1422-1515 hrs  13 JU 88s plus fighter escort drop thirteen 1000kg bombs in St Julian’s, Sliema, Hamrun, Marsa, Gzira, Marsamxetto, Floriana and the Grand Harbour area.   Heavy Ack Ack engage.  AC1 Wright is killed in an air-raid shelter in Floriana along with several civilians.

1716-1839 hrs  Two waves of enemy aircraft approach Malta: first six JU 88s with fighter escort, then eleven JU 88s with fighter escort.  1000kg bombs are dropped in St Julian’s, Sliema and Valletta areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One Other Rank 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment suffers concussion in the raid and is admitted to No 45 General Hospital.  Stella Maris Church in Sliema is gutted by a bomb.

2153-0658 hrs  One continuous air raid.  Ten aircraft approach the Island, one after another.  Bombs are dropped near the Royal Engineers works in Floriana and on rocks off Sliema sea front, then on the Dockyard, Jesuits Hill and near St Edward’s College, on Zabbar, Hal Far, Qrendi and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack engage, with 28 barrages and searchlights illuminating the target for ¾ minute.

Military casualties  Surgeon Captain Algernon Cheeseman*, Royal Navy, HMS Talbot age 55; James Tew, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ray Harvey, pilot, RAF 242 Squadron; AC1 George Wright, RAF, 249 Squadron; Staff Sergeant Jarvis Whittaker, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Private Saviour Debono, 2nd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Robert Attard, age 60; Joseph Borg, age 8; Una Patricia Cameron, age 18; Giovanna Caruana, age 43; Joseph Darmanin, age 60; Stella Debattista,age 19; Annunziata Demanuele,age 13; Benjamin Maggi, age 15; Grezzju Magro, age 16; Emmanuel Pace, age 20; Jane Pace, age 15; Carmelina Portelli,age 4; Sarah Portelli,age 39; Antonio Pulo,age 27; Doris Zammit,age 24.  Msida  Carrie Portelli,age 23.  Sliema  Dolores Borg, age 60; Joseph Muscat, age 35.  St Julians  Doris Cheeseman*, age 45. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS:  SUNDAY 1 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  One Maryland was force-landed during the night.

LUQA  0730-1120 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Lampedusa and SF 24 patrol.  1440-1632 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron PR Palermo.  1415-1925 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF1A patrol.  1952-0322 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on special search.  2225-0235 hrs  Six Wellingtons of 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Six pilot officers left for roof-spotting at the Palace, pending posting to the Middle East.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  One Staff Sergeant died as a result of enemy action.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs on Floriana near HQ Officers’ Mess: several windows broken.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  One Other Rank injured in an air raid.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Battalion:  A Company (Coy) Ta Karceppu (5 Officers, 123 Ors); B Coy Ta Salvatur (6 Officers, 124 Ors); C Coy Tal Hasluk (5 Off 132 OR); D Coy Tal Providence (5 Off, 131 OR); HQ Coy Ta Salvatur (14 Off, 269 OR).  Chaplain and Medical Officer also attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continues: 100 men.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1)  loriana in Wartime, Emmanual S Tonna, Malta 1969

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4 February 1942: Five Hour Air Raid

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  • Five hour raid; nine killed
  • Heavy bombing on Ta Qali: buildings and runway damaged, Headquarters evacuated
  • Three Hurricanes missing
  • Wellingtons attack motor transport south of Tripoli 
  • Blenheims attack Palermo: direct hit on train

    Bomb damage at Chateau Bertrand, Ta Qali

RED FLAG UP NEARLY ALL DA

A diary of life in Valletta, 4 February 1942

“For weeks now we have had them prowling round all night and nearly all day. The day raids cease at dusk, and there is a half an hour’s interval; then Wailing Willie goes again. Sometimes he announces ‘Raider Past’ once or twice in the night; but within a short time the enemy comes again. He appears to go round and round the island, just out of reach of the guns, dropping a bomb here and there; occasionally diving on some post through the clouds – for the very cloudy weather lately has helped him. When he approaches our end of the island our own particular barrage bursts out for a moment or two, and then ceases. We doze through it!

Nature cannot go on keeping on the alert. Sometime something drops fairly near; but we have been lucky. At the moment he definitely has command of the air, for the Messerschmitt which he uses here is definitely faster than our Hurricanes. Even his Junkers when they have discharged their load are only very slightly slower, and cannot be caught if they get any start.

It is very difficult to get anything done in the day. We now have a system by which a large red flag is hoisted when bombers are about. The shops and market immediately shut, and people keep one eye on the nearest shelter, go and sit in the Club, or stand at the door of a shelter till the guns open. This flag is up nearly all day! Many brave or rash people ignore it; some because they must. But many have paid the penalty with their lives.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 5 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Bright periods; 80% cover, low thundery clouds.

0920-0937 hrs  Two plus aircraft approach from the north, pass the Island to the east, turn and recede north without crossing the coast.

1131-1634 hrs  For the first three hours of the raid, single aircraft patrol to the south east and south of the Island.  One bomber drops bombs in the Salina area.

1225 hrs  Six aircraft of 249 and 126 Squadrons, Ta Qali are airborne: intercept JU 88 bombers south of Kalafrana.  F/Lt Davis scores strikes on both engines of a bomber, closing to 50 yards, silencing the rear gunner.  P/O Tedford gets in good bursts at 250 yards from astern.  S/Ldr Beazley attacks from above and astern.  The JU 88 is claimed as damaged.  All aircraft return safely to Ta Qali.

1350 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 249, 242 and 126 Squadrons, Ta Qali, intercept JU 88s over Kalafrana.  F/Lt Carpenter fires all his ammunition from 200 yards: no return fire.

1500 hours  A raid consisting of three plots of six aircraft and three plots of three aircraft approaches from the north.  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Qali area, and near San Biagio church.  The enemy attack Ta Qali camp with large bombs, presumed to be mines.  Headquarters and Billet of Section, Equipment and Parachute Section, Malta Night Fighter Unit, 242 Squadron Offices and A/Cs offices are badly damaged and rendered unusable.  Evacuation of HQ and other buildings is ordered.  The aerodrome surface is badly cratered and made partly unserviceable.  Casualties.

ME 109 fighters then patrol south of the Island, engage Malta’s fighters and machine-gun a high-speed launch.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1806-1817 hrs  Five ME 109s approach from the north, complete a circuit of the Island and then recede north.  They do not come within range of the guns.

1820 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes of 249, 126 and 242 Squadrons, Ta Qali, are airborne to engage the enemy.  Three pilots are reported missing: P/O Hulbert and Sgt MacDowell of 249 Squadron and P/O Main of 126 Squadron.  Searches are made without result: they are presumed shot by enemy aircraft.

2020-2114 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island.

2214-2229 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns at 15 miles from the Island and recedes north.

2255-0011 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Bingemma area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0135-0510 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Hulbert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Thomas Griffith, Royal Air Force (VR); Aircraftsman Gerald King, Royal Air Force (VR), Corporal Theodore Nielsen, Royal Air Force.  Lance Bombardier Albert Beard, 225 Battery, 74th  Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Joseph Buhagiar, age 50, Francis Chetcuti, age 29, Elian Tonna, age 51, Joseph Tonna, age 31; Naxxar  Bartholomew Buhagiar, age 80; St Paul’s Bay  Grazio Galea, age 42.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 FEBRUARY 1942

HAL FAR  Night 3/4th Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on search for single merchant vessel off Kuriat.  Nothing was sighted and all aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol (modified); one Maryland special search Sfax.  21 Squadron  Six Blenheims sent to attack Palermo Harbour; [scored a direct hit on a train identified by daytime photo-reconnaissance mission].  Wing Commander William Selkirk, RAF, P/O Workman and Sgt Ibbetson failed to return.  40 Squadron  2341-0324 hrs  Wellingtons attacked motor transport at Tripoli.  S/D Flight One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Headquarters evacuated [following air raid today] and all equipment salvaged.  Lessons to be learned.  Had bomb been a little closer almost entire HQ equipment and personnel would have been wiped out.  HQ should be underground to save equipment, and above all dislocation of communications and organisation and if possible should be right off the target area.  Shortage of equipment renders it essential that all adequate safeguards be taken.  Typewriters and office machinery were saved from damage through being placed under tables when air raid took place.  Casualties.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT   ’A’ Company held [training exercise] at Tal Balal.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Unexploded bomb C Company area.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party 120 strong.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner A H Beard died in hospital.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  Heavy raid on Ta Qali.  Private Jones was injured when the truck in which he was sitting was very badly damaged by a bomb.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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24 January 1942: 132 Bombing Raids Since Christmas

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421 MALTA CIVILIANS KILLED SINCE JUNE 1940

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

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

465 buildings damaged or destroyed this month

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

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

ARMY CHIEF ISSUES ORDERS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING

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

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

AIR RAIDS SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 1942

Weather   Wind south west.  30% clouds; fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualty  Mqabba John Mary Briffa, age 54.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

 

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