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10 January 1942: Churchill Helps Malta’s Troops Write Home

 

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  • RAF Blenheim

    RAF Blenheim

    Fighter Blenheims to begin operations at Ta Qali

  • Bad weather prevents enemy raids and offensive operations from Luqa for a second night
  • Funeral of Anti-Aircraft Gunner at Pembroke Military Cemetery

RANDOLPH CHURCHILL TO HELP GOVERNOR IMPROVE TROOP POSTAL SERVICE

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

Any scheme to improve unsatisfactory postal arrangements will be welcomed.  Doubtful whether 55 kilogrammes will suffice to take one card per man per week.  Estimate 70 kilogrammes required if all personnel take advantage of scheme.

In this connection please note that Mideast Air priorities committee have only guaranteed minimum of 50 kilogrammes per machine to include official mail as well as private.  This is quite inadequate.

Suggest that carriage of air letter cards should not be limited to BOAC machines but that advantage should be taken of space in any type of aircraft passing through so that real priority for letter cards can be ensured.  Scheme can not be put into operation until supply of letter cards has arrived.  Estimated weekly expenditure is twenty five thousand.  Please send initial supply by air as soon as possible.  As space is limiting factor installation of airgraph machinery here is again strongly advocated.  Major Randolph Churchill is bringing further details by hand shortly.  This telegram has been agreed by three services.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 10 JANUARY 1942

Weather Thundery showers, heavy at times; driving wind, cold.

0852-0900 hrs  Air raid warning; raid does not materialise.

1205-1207 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the south east and recedes without crossing the coast, dropping bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fires one barrage.

1412-1438 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the south east under cloud cover at 14,500 feet, dives to 7000 feet and drops bombs on Luqa before climbing away to the east.  One barrack block near the Officers’ Mess is slightly damaged but there are no casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fires a barrage and Hurricanes are airborne but fail to intercept.

1500-1515 hrs  Air raid warning.  Raid does not materialise.

1605-1631 hrs  Two JU 88 approach the south coast, one from the west and one from the south east.  They drop bombs on Hal Far, Tal Papa and near Gudja searchlight station.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage and four Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1630-1709 hrs  Air raid warning; raid does not materialise.

1700-1713 hrs  Air raid warning; raid does not materialise.

2252-2333 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, dropping bombs in the sea off Leonardo.  Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages.

NIGHT  One raid only by a single aircraft which drops bombs in the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 10 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, eight Blenheims from Gib. Departures  Six Blenheims, three Wellingtons to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Tunisian coast patrol, one Maryland SF14 patrol, one Hurricane photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes.  21 Squadron  Three Blenheims despatched to attack merchant vessel off Kuriat.  Vessel not located.

TA QALI  Six air raid alarms during the day; gunfire; no bombs on camp.  Two fighter Blenheims arrived and Pilot Officer and Sergeants 242 Squadron at readiness for the first time.  No scrambles.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Units of the Brigade found large working parties for work on dispersal areas for aircraft and improvement of runways at Ta Qali and Luqa.  This is to last some weeks.  Average number of men 400.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  50 Other Ranks (OR) to Luqa aerodrome, to prepare dispersal areas for aircraft and improve runways. Our party of 12 men attached to Luqa for assisting in preparing aircraft returned today and another 12 were sent.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party two Officers and 100 Other Ranks to Luqa to work on dispersal area edge of Safi Strip.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  1400 hrs  Gunner Goldsmith A G interred at Pembroke Military Cemetery, St Andrews, Malta.

8TH BN MANCHESTER REGIMENT About 100 men formed a fatigue party for moving clay from Ta Qali aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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9 January 1942: Army Builds Runways for RAF

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WEATHER GROUNDS AIRCRAFT

  • Gale force winds and heavy cloud prevent significant enemy raids and hamper operations from Malta’s air bases. 
  • A heavy swell this evening grounds the Catalina carrying General Scobell and family away from Malta. 
  • Hurricanes make a difficult landing returning from a mission in darkness.

WORKING PARTIES MOBILISED TO IMPROVE RAF LUQA

Central Infantry Brigade Order No 1

Safi Strip (NWMA)

Task  Dispersal of aircraft and improvement of runways for RAF.

Working Parties  These will be made up as follows: 

  • 2nd Bn The Royal West Kent Regiment – 100 men
  • 1st Bn The Chesire Regiment – 50 men
  • 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers – 100 men

Transport  All parties will have one lorry per 20 men available for work on the site…Units will be responsible for their own traffic regulation.

Tools  Shovels and picks will be [issued] on site.  2 Devon are returning 150 shovels.

Rations  Haversack rations for midday meal will be carried. It is hoped to arrange distribution of hot tea.

Dress  Denims, steel helmets.  NO respirators, NO rifles.  Anti-aircraft Light Machine Guns will, however, be taken in accordance with this HQ Signal 0.921 of today’s date…

Further demands on an increased scale are likely to be made.  The maximum commitment of this Brigade will be 500 men.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 9 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold – squally, heavy cloud; wind fresh, force five to gale force; Thundery showers.

0942-1009 hrs  One aircraft on shipping reconnaissance round the Island, 10-20 miles from the coast.

1800 hrs Nine Hurricanes scrambled at Ta Qali: air raid alarm; no contacts.  Planes got down in darkness with difficulty under personal direction of the C O.

Qalet Marku, Bahar-ic-Cahaq

1821-1904 hrs  Fourteen plus aircraft (bombers and fighter escort) approach from the north in four formations.  One raid crosses the coast near Kalafrana and drops bombs west of Hal Far aerodrome and near Ta Silg [radar station].  The second and third raids drop bombs in the Wied at rear of Sans Souci and in the sea off Zonkor Point.   The fourth raid crosses the coast near St Paul’s Bay, dropping bombs in the sea near Madliena and Torri Qalet Marku.  Six hurricanes are airborne; Heavy Ack Ack fire barrages.

1904-2025 hrs  Air raid warning. Raid does not materialise.

2015 hrs  Air raid warning.  One aircraft crosses the coast.  Ack Ack engages and aircraft recedes.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 9 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals five Marylands, one Beaufighter from Middle East; three Blenheims, two Hurricanes from El Adem.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli (F/O Warburton), one Maryland shipping search; one Maryland SF14 patrol.  107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF2b patrol.

TA QALI   242 Squadron under S/Ldr Wells with seven Officers and seven Sergeant Pilots attached this station for operations from Hal Far.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Companies are re-firing the Tommy Gun and Anti Tank Rifle.  The day was free from air raids: a surprising change.  At dusk 14 aircraft were over and dropped bombs but damage was negligeable.  The night was quiet.  We were to have held a “Close Valletta” exercise between 0100 hrs and 0545 hrs.  This was started but owing to bad weather and to resultant darkness preventing use of tanks it was postponed.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1815 hrs Four bombs in field in front of D3.  Two rifles and one water tank damaged.  Four bombs in Ta Ingrau area bearing 270 degrees from Tas Sienja Tower.  One stick of bombs between RA7 and SA1.  One stick of bombs in Latnia area.  No military damage or casualties.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg, 1 x Thermos) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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

 

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5 January 1942: Malta’s Airfields Under Threat

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JU 87 dive-bomber

JU 87 dive-bomber

LARGE-SCALE LUFTWAFFE ATTACKS PLANNED

Intelligence from Cairo indicates that large scale dive-bombing attacks on Malta’s aerodromes are imminent. Large numbers of JU 87 (Stukas) have been moved from Germany and North Africa to Sicily. A shipping search spots one Italian Battleship, three cruisers and nine destroyers 200 miles east of Delimara. Army Infantry Brigades provide hundreds of men to maintain runways and dispersal areas at Luqa and Ta Qali, and keep Malta’s air forces flying. The prospect of an even greater escalation of enemy raids creates an urgent need for more ammunition for Malta’s anti-aircraft gunners.

URGENT TELEGRAM

From:  Governor & Commander in Chief Malta                  To:  The War Office, copy  Commander in Chief Middle East                                                  

Increased activity makes it desirable that all shipments to Malta should include proportion Ack Ack ammunition and spare barrels.  Request sufficient to replace expenditure from 1 Sept to date be dispatched first opportunity from Mideast.…  As a considerable number new AA barrels now dispersed in open at battery positions consider it essential that small reserve be held to replace new barrels damaged by hostile action.  Initial requirements have been included in this cable.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 5 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold and overcast; wind and driving rain for most of the day.  Wind E S E.

0326-0335 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea north of Salina Bay, without crossing the coast.

0420-0443 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops most bombs in the sea six miles north of Tigne without crossing the coast.  Some bombs on the Mellieha-Marfa Road, and on Siggiewi and Birkirkara causing casualties.

1110-1144 hrs  Approximately six plus aircraft approach from the north in two formations.  The first raid passes over Gozo, drops bombs and recedes.  The second raid comes in over Kalafrana crosses the Island and flies out over Grand Harbour.  Bombs land in Msida Creek and near Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack fires barrages from Hal Far, Luqa and the Harbour but aircraft are hidden among the clouds.

1200 hrs  All flying from Ta Qali airfield is cancelled.  The ground is waterlogged due to the heavy rain.

1216-1240 hrs  Three plus aircraft approach from the north above the clouds, pass over Grand Harbour and drop to 3000 feet before heading out over Delimara.  Bombs land near Gudja searchlight position and in Zabbar. Heavy Ack Ack fires an immediate barrage at 10000 feet and the Harbour barrage fires at 6000 feet.

1251-1318 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north above the clouds, dropping bombs in the sea near Madliena and then recedes without crossing the coast.  Gunners initially identify the aircraft as a Maryland, and do not engage.

1425 hrs Storm conditions are declared and remain until 1845 hrs.

1452-1512 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage at 10000 feet, and the aircraft immediately drop their bombs in the sea.  No Hurricanes are airborne.

1659-1716 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and circles Gozo, dropping bombs near Mgarr, and then recedes.  No Hurricanes are airborne.

Night 5/6th Dense cloud, squallish winds and bad visibility prevent air raids.  Two attempts by single aircraft fail; raiders are forced by Malta’s Ack Ack guns to jettison their bombs in the sea.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara Helen Cachia, age 48; Anthony Cachia, 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: MONDAY 5 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals One Catalina, one Flamingo from Gibraltar.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF15 patrol; one Maryland special coast search Misrata.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol.

TA QALI  Advance party of 242 Squadron reported to take up operations with this Station.  47 NCOs and Other Ranks reported from Luqa, were accommodated and taken on ration strength.

300 men of the Manchester Regt, Irish Fusiliers and Buffs reported as labour corps to complete dispersal roads, aprons and shelters etc.  Three officers and 28 airmen of Delivery Flight ceased attachment at this station and returned to Luqa.

ARMY HQ  Major-General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC arrives by Catalina from the UK to take up duties of General Officer Commanding, Malta, relieving Major-General Scobell.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  On this and following days the Brigade found daily working parties of 150 men (11th Lancs Fusiliers: 50; 2nd Royal West Kent, 70; 1st Cheshire, 30) for the task of preparing new dispersal areas for the RAF at Luqa.  Working hours 0900-1600 hrs.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5.

 

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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29 December 1941: Attacks On Airfields and Ships; Passengers Killed

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MALTA AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS DAMAGED; CIVILIAN AND MILITARY CASUALTIES 

AIR RAIDS 29 DECEMBER 1941

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

0947 hrs  Six JU 88 bombers and thirty fighters approach Malta in two waves.  One formation peels off to bomb destroyers lying off the east coast; no damage is reported. The second formation of seven ME 109s and two JU 88s crosses the coast and attacks Luqa airfield, damaging two Blenheim aircraft on the ground. Seven Hurricanes of 185 Squadron and four of 242 Squadron engage the enemy.  Four Hurricanes are damaged, the pilots unhurt.  One ME 109 is destroyed and one damaged.  Two Hurricanes of 242 Squadron collide and crash into the sea.  Pilot P/O Blanchard is reported missing.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far aerodrome.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors are engaged and no damage is reported; no claims.

1103 hrs  All clear.

1209-1226 hrs; 1321-1335 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy aircraft on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fires immediate barrage.

1443 hrs  24 fighters and bombers approach from the north and attempt to bomb submarines off Delimara.  ME 109s launch a heavy machine-gun attack on submarines Urge and Upholder, and anti-submarine trawler Beryl.  Commanding Officer of Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, DSO, RN) is wounded and Beryl is rendered unfit for sea with minor damage and six wounded.

HMS Beryl

Bombs are also dropped in the Marsascala area despite a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  Major G H W Wright is reported killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Wright, RA and two Other Ranks of the Dorset Regiment injured.  Eight Hurricanes of 185 Squadron engage with the enemy aircraft.  One ME109 is shot down and three others damaged.  One Hurricane crashes on landing; the pilot, Sgt Forth, is killed.

1550 hrs  All clear.

1612 hrs  Five ME 109s attack friendly [non-military] ships with machine-gun fire.  A Gozo passenger boat is hit in St George’s Bay and set on fire. (1)  A rescue launch sent to help the sinking boat is badly strafed.  Hurricanes engage the attackers, destroying two ME 109s. 

Twelve further enemy aircraft (including four ME 109 F’s) cross the coast.  JU88 bombers drop into a shallow dive to bomb Luqa.  Fifteen aircraft on the ground are written off.  Bombs are dropped in a quarry occupied by 2nd Battalion The Royal West Kent Regiment, damaging signals installations.  Heavy Ack Ack and Bofors gunners damage one JU 88.

1712 hrs  All clear.

2032 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast over St Julian’s.  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage at 13,000 feet and jettisons bombs near Ta Qali.

2140-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2236 hrs  Air raid alarm. No engagement.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Merton Blanchard, Royal Canadian Air Force, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Alfred Forth, Royal Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Sidney Brandt, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Roy Lawson, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve), 249 Squadron; Major G H W Wright, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Ghajnsielem, Gozo  Paul Azzopardi, age 52; Marcel Teuma, age 51; Felic Bigeni, age 32.  Luqa  Saviour Demicoli, age 15.  Siggiewi  Nicholas Schembri, age 50.  Hamrun Gaetan Scicluna, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Luftwaffe Pilot Leutnant Joachim Louis destroyed one Hurricane earlier today, before being wounded in a counter-attack by another.  Still able to fly, his aircraft was hit again, and severely damaged, crashing into the sea.  In the search operation to recover missing Hurricane pilots, Leutnant Louis was picked up and taken prisoner. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores laid mines outside Zuara.

RAF LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland SF 15 patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance (PR): one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland PR North African aerodromes, Tripoli & Zara; one Maryland PR Misrata, Sirte, Tamet, Zanzar and Tange. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; two Blenheims attacked transport Tripoli-Zuara.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF 14 patrol; one Blenheim special search for two destroyers (Br); four Blenheims despatched to attack transport on road Homs-Misurata – two attacked.

RAF TA QALI  0808-1730 hrs  Six alerts; five scrambles – three interceptions.  One ME 109 shot down in sea and two probably shot down. 

(1) The vessel was the schooner Marie Georgette, skippered by Marcel Theuma, sailing from Malta to Gozo with passengers on board. Theuma managed to beach the vessel but it was attacked again and he was fatally wounded. Two other crewmen were killed.

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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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