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13-19 September 1942: Malta Celebrates the George Cross

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presentation to People of Malta

 WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

14 September 1942: Mystery Loss of Flying Boat Clare

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

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 September 1942: Admiralty in Negotiations with Italians

SAFE PASSAGE FOR HOSPITAL SHIP UNDER THREAT AFTER SINKING OF ARNO

Hospital ship Arno pre-war as HMAT Wandilla

 

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

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

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

SECRET

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

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

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

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

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

NEW ENEMY AIRFIELD UNDER DEVELOPMENT

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

ME 109 fighters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 1942

Qawra Tower

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

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

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

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

16 September 1942: Lt Governor Flies Home to Recover

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1942

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

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

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

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released for the day.

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

17 September 1942: Enemy Fear Malta Spitfires

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

MALTA BEAUFIGHTERS DISABLE AXIS MERCHANTMAN

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

Cant Z 506 Airone

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

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

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

Night  No air raid alerts.

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

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

Submarine P43 HMS Unison

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

18 September 1942: A Raid-Free Day

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

No air raid alerts.

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

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

19 September 1942: Malta Troops in Landing Craft Training Exercise

TROOPS ON LANDING CRAFT EXERCISES

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

WW2 landing craft (c) IWM A17955

MALTA BOMBERS ATTACK TWO CONVOYS

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

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

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

4.  Military casualties and damage – nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  No air raid alerts.

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

 

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Malta

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WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

 

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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

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

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

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

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

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

Victory Kitchen

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

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

No air raid alerts.

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

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

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

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

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

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

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

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

Day  No air raid alerts.

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

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

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

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

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

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

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

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

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

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

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

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

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

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

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

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

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

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

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

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

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

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

Grand Harbour

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

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

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

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

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

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

 

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9 August 1942: Is a Convoy on the Way to Malta?

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL/SANTA MARIJA EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY – STARTS TODAY                                                                                                                      

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Communications between Italian commanders in Rome and Cagliari suggest that a large fleet of Allied warships and merchant transports is approaching the straits of Gibraltar.  According to Enigma decoders in England, Axis wires are alive with warnings to all Mediterranean headquarters that a convoy is gathering to supply Malta.

GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF: SITUATION REPORT MALTA TO 31ST JULY 1942

Morale in Malta ‘high’ despite hardships

Casualties (civilians only)

  • Killed 1308 (men 619, women 382, children 307)
  • Seriously injured 1399 (men 688, women 449, children 262)
  • These figures to not include 28 civilians, men killed in SS Moor in Grand Harbour.

Figures of casualties since 20th April clearly indicate lessening in severity of raids.  This followed on the departure of considerable part of German Air Force from Sicily shortly before the end of that month. Nevertheless substantial German Air Force remains in Sicily, and casualties and damage…are considerably higher than for the corresponding period of last year.  Morale remains high despite restricted food and shocks of the Libyan campaign which local opinion watches eagerly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 AUGUST TO DAWN 10 AUGUST 1942

1010-1102 hrs  Air raid alert.

0950-1105 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight three ME 109s.  Red section makes for the attack but two of the enemy aircraft swing round and make off.  P/O Sherwood makes for the leading Messerschmitt, putting the Spitfire’s nose down to almost vertical and making a beam attack from 250 yards.  He fires a two-second burst and sees strikes slightly forward of the cockpit: pieces fall off.  The Messerschmitt is last seen streaming glycol and losing height.  Several other pilots confirm.  Pilots report excessive radio interference by whistling.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept but are recalled.

1210-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nothing to report.

1425-1455 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol to protect minesweepers off Kalafrana Bay.

1430-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  One Spitfire is knocked sideways on landing, causing one undercarriage leg to collapse: the pilot Sgt Budd is unhurt.

2300-2315 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs near Ghain Tuffieha and in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 9 AUGUST 1942

HMS Hythe

 

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P44 and Una to end of swept harbour whence they proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Beaufighters from EDCU; one Baltimore from Burg Arab; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea; pilot injured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron stood down for the day.

LUQA  A concert is held at the camp cinema.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6. 

 

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2-8 August 1942: Without a Convoy Malta Will Fall

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY.  STARTS 9 AUGUST                                                                                                                

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SUPPLY SITUATION NOW CRITICAL

“I was a waitress at Xara Villa, where the pilots of Ta Qali lived.  I was 15.  We used to lick the plates we collected after the meal, before we sent them down to wash.  When they realised, the pilots even left us a little on the plate.”  Maria Parsons (nee Spiteri), GeorgeCross Island Association

Malta command is facing a crisis.  Unless another convoy reaches the Island by Friday of this week, supplies of food and fuel will run out within days.  The minimal stores delivered over recent weeks by submarine and by fast minelayers Manxman and Welshman have been barely enough to meet a few days’ needs.  Without immediate help, Malta could fall into enemy hands.

2 August 1942: Cluster Bomb Kills 13 Year Old

Butterfly bomb

A 13 year old boy was killed yesterday in Birkirkara by a German anti-personnel bomb. The village is now the most densely populated in Malta thanks to the many refugees from Grand Harbour who have taken shelter there.  In an air raid centred on Ta Qali late on Sunday evening, Birkirkara was showered with butterfly bombs – cluster bombs which are released from canisters holding up to 100 each.

The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Sections were drafted in to clear the dozens of unexploded small bombs reported across the area.  At least one remained undetected.  Yesterday afternoon a group of boys were playing hide and seek behind rubble walls surrounding the fields outside the village.  13 year old Joe Galea jumped over a wall and landed on one of the bombs which exploded, killing him instantly.  Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Aerodrome working parties and transport:  500 men each at Ta Qali and Hal Far, 1000 at Luqa.

0915-0954 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s with an escort of 20 plus fighters including ME 109s drop 2800 kg of bombs on the area of Safi strip.

1310 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft; two return early.  The remainder intercept the enemy: red section is attacked by two MEs with no outcome.  Blue section sight six Messerschmitts, dive past but lose them on tearning.  F/Lt Watts fires on one ME but sees no strike.

1350 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also scrambled to intercept enemy fighters. Sgt Weaver probably destroys one ME 109. P/O Guthrie crashes in a field on the outskirts of Zebbieh and is killed.  Sgt McLeod is reported missing: Spitfires search for him until dusk without success.

1445 hrs  All clear.

1657-1715 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy fighter sweep which does not cross the coast.

2250-2325 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which does not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Guthrie Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant McLeod, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P43 and Una arrived and were swept into Marsamxett Harbour by Rye.

AIR HQ Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Liberator, two Beauforts from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two DC3 to Bilbeis; one Hudson to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot killed.  One Spitfire in formation jumped by enemy aircraft: pilot presumed shot down; missing.

3 August 1942: Radio Interference Hampers RAF Fighter Ops 

RADIO CONTACT CUT DURING DOG FIGHT

RAF Spitfire pilots are reporting interference with their radio signals over Malta.  Signals were interrupted at a crucial moment during an air battle with Messerschmitt fighters this morning.  Early reports suggest the problem only occurs over land: interference clears once aircraft fly out to sea.  The radio signal interruptions could threaten the effectiveness of defensive fighter operations over the Island.

TROOPS GO HUNGRY

…there was less and less food. Our ration went down to 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. We had one tin of bully beef for eight men, and one slice of bread each (when I went to Malta I weighed 10.9 stone, when I came back it was 8.6 stone) . Our uniforms and boots were wearing out. We put bits of cardboard in the boots to protect our feet. All supplies had to come in by sea, and there were enemy submarines that could be seen in the clear water. From the Garrison Fort we heard that it was feared we could no longer hold the island.  Jimmie Ferguson, Royal Irish Fusiliers (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 AUGUST TO DAWN 4 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine.

0615-0700 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

0810-0900 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nothing to report.

0933-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled: nothing sighted.

1105-1200 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to minesweepers: nothing to report.

1115-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires Hal Far and eight of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two of 229 return early.  The remainder sight six Messerschmitts overhead and try to gain height but are bounced by the MEs and have to break away without firing a shot.  All pilots report marked VHF radio interference.

1233-1305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two return early.  The others sight nothing.

1455-1515 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

1610-1625 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept sight four ME 109s which turn and make for home very fast: no contact.

1755-1820 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island.  Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1855-1945 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a patrol but sight nothing.  The weather is hazy, visibility two miles.

2200-2235 hrs; 2230-2345 hrs; 2359-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts, each for single enemy aircraft, none cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 3 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy, Rye, Hythe, and Swona carried out sweep of five cable strip inshore of QBB 273. 4 moored mines were swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224 or Fayid.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into sea: pilot rescued, injured.  One Wellington overshot on landing: pilot and crew uninjured.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

LUQA  The Secretary of State visits Luqa aerodrome.

TA QALI  Wing Commander Douglas Hamilton ceased to be attached from Headquarters, RAF Mediterranean.  Wing Comannder Pike, DFC, arrived on move of 249 Squadron to Ta Qali.  All pilots of 603 Squadron posted to 229 Squadron on formation at Ta Qali.

4 August 1942: Spitfire Pilot Wins Close Dog-fight

Spitfires over Malta (2)

Malta Spitfire pilot Lt Swales was flying one of four Spitfires of 229 Squadron this morning when they encountered two Italian Macchi fighters.  Lt Swales attacked, firing a short burst, followed by S/Ldr Douglas who fired all his ammunition but could not get closer than 400 yards.  No strikes were seen but Lt Swales had not finished.  He turned on the other Macchi and fired a 5 second burst at 200 yards into the starboard wing and fuselage of the enemy aircraft, which started to smoke.  The Italian swooped into a steep dive and Lt Swales followed him down, firing until all his ammunition was spent.  The Macchi was last seen at water level, smoking badly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 AUGUST TO DAWN 5 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Luqa working parties are reduced by the withdrawal of 450 men of 1 Brigade.  Total still employed on all aerodromes approximately 1500 all ranks.

0725-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Wellington.  They see a large oil patch and circle at deck level but find no wreckage.  Enemy fighters are reported but not seen.

0830-0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight two Macchi 202 fighters which are attacked by S/Ldr Douglas and Lt Swales.  One Macchi is probably destroyed by Lt Swales.  A Dornier flying boat escorted by fighters later picks up the pilot.

0915-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: nothing to report.

1445-1530 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft and climb to attack three ME 109s but are unable to catch them.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three enemy aircraft but are ordered on another course and see no others.  All Spitfires report marked radio interference over the Island which is not as bad at sea.

1625-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but sight nothing.

1735-1750 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft carrying out a fighter sweep.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but are unable to make contact.  Spitfires from Hal Far are also airborne: one Re 2001 is probably destroyed.

2220-2340 hrs  Air raid alerts for two enemy aircraft which approach separately and drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  WD Vessel Snipe carried out night run with Coast Artillery Searchlights.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, two Wellingtons, three Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot baled out, uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron is stood down.

1ST BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT Night firing exercises on Pembroke ranges.

5 August 1942:  Malta’s Children ‘Ghostly Pale’

Food shortages had become desperate. It had reached the point where bread, an important staple for most people, had become rationed with hardly enough for the average family and its quality greatly reduced by the addition of potatoes and other ingredients. I still remember my mother, with three growing hungry youngsters, bartering a gold ring on the Black Market in exchange for a badly needed loaf of bread – just to put something into our empty stomachs.  My mother, like most mothers, often kept herself short just to give us a little extra to eat.…

As the siege tightened we begin to notice the lean and haggard faces of the men, women and children around us, the young and the old.  You begin to notice the start of sunken cheeks and dark shadows under the eyes. You begin to see the thinness of the arms and legs of chidren. You feel general body weakness where the minimum effort saps one’s strength. You see the faces of people of fair complexion beginning to turn a ghostly pale or ashen gray and those of darker complexion into a ghastly greenish hue.

The pangs of hunger had become so acute that chewing the end tip of my leather belt became a common practice, as with most others.  The taste sometimes still lingers. For a while water consumption, when not cut off, helped fill the voids in our stomachs, but you can’t fool the body all the time.  Waistlines now had shrunk to the point where, with continued belt tightening the tip of one’s belt was now reaching the small of one’s back…

It was during a heavy air attack at Marsa Creek, an inlet a short distance from my home, where a freighter was hit sending some of its cargo of flour in great clouds high into the air. Just  as soon as the dust had settled, crowds of kids, including my nine years old brother Francis, descended on the scene widely scooping up from the ground, in empty tins and cans, grit, dust and all, as much flour as possible to take home.  At this unexpected bounty, little as it was, my mother, completely surprised and overjoyed, quickly added water kneading it into a kind of dough and cooked it. We could not wait until it was ready and when it was, we literally wolfed it down, crunching the dust and grit between our teeth and offering deep thanks to God for his loving beneficence…

The ravages of the siege with its acute food shortages, continuous bombing and sleepless nights left its mark in the form of early deaths, weakened constitutions, miscarriages and stillborn babies. With weakened immune systems they fell prey to infections and diseases which in normal times would have been easily overcome but became fatal for people so weakened. There were outbreaks of typhoid and of polio, a disease then practically unknown in Malta. Their death certificates may show statements such as ”death from natural causes ” or “death from this disease or that” but really they were war casualties.  Joseph V Stephens, May 17, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 AUGUST TO DAWN 6 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Pen-building on aerodromes continues on the same scale as yesterday.  Extensive beach and aerodrome patrols are carried out by 1 Brigade.  Major General R MacK Scobie CBE MC arrived by air from ME to take over as GOC Troops, Malta.

0850-0935 hrs  Air raid alert.

0930-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for an enemy pilot in the sea but find nothing.

1030-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep; two return early.  The other two see eight ME 109s and attack one apiece, each firing a three-second burst but seeing no strike.  The Spitfires swing round to make a second attack but the Messerschmitts get away.

1045-1155 hrs  Air raid alert.

1207-1239 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1745-1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and sight 15 enemy fighters.  One Re 2001 attacks Sgt Irwin but overshoots.  Sgt Irwin closes in and counter-attacks with a three-second burst at 250 yards, hitting the root of the port wing and forward of the fuselage.  The Italian fighter streams glycol and dives away: probably destroyed.  Sgt Irwin is then attacked by another Re 2001 and hit by an explosive shell.  His Spitfire goes into a downward spin but Sgt Irwin is unhurt.  Four of the Spitfires report marked radio interference.

2330-2350 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo, causing civilian casualties.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gaetana Abela, age 20; Samuel Zammit, age 63.  Gozo (Gharb)  Kalang Mizzi, age 60.  Gozo (San Lawrenz)  Nazzerna Attard, age 28; Josephine Farrugia, age 66; Carmela Farrugia, age 35; Mary Farrugia, age 35.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P44 returned from patrol off Kuriat, having scored 2 hits with 3 inch guns on a 2000 ton [merchant vessel] off Linosa and was swept in by Hythe.  M/S Flotilla swept 19 mines in Northern rectangle of QBB 273.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Spitfire, one Beaufighter, two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Three Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

6 August 1942: Shoes Made From Old Tyres

The shortage was not just in food. It was in everything. Clothes and shoes, for example, were completely unobtainable. Shoes, which wore out quicker than clothes, were substituted by scrapped vehicle and aircraft tyres for soles and with pieces of string to hold them [on] the foot.”  Joseph Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 AUGUST TO DAWN 7 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0645-0750 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol; two return early.  No enemy aircraft are sighted.

0900-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol; one returns early: no sightings.

1010-1030 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing to report.

1150-1220 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1420-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight enemy fighters and climb to three thousand feet.  The enemy aircraft change course and are lost in the haze.

1700-1730 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but find nothing.

1940-2030 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for enemy shipping but sight no craft.

2226-2243 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single enemy aircraft drops bombs three miles north east of Grand Harbour.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy carried out Oropesa, SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk approaches and anchored there for the night. One moored mine was swept in inshore strip and this strip is now considered clear.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

LUQA  A further decrease in the working party strength brings the figure for the aerodrome down to just over 800 all ranks.

7 August 1942: No Deliveries to Relieve Malta

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 AUGUST TO DAWN 8 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Slight increase in strength of working parties provided by 4 Brigade brings the total for all aerodromes up to approx 1400 all ranks.

0830-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing to report.

1315 hrs  Two Beaufighters Mark VI of 248 Squadron arrive at Ta Qali.

1405-1435 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109s which cross the Island at very high altitude.

1630-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nothing to report.

1830-1945 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne: nothing sighted.

1945-2025 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for enemy shipping: no craft sighted.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Only two of the five enemy aircraft which approach the Island cross the coast, dropping bombs near Torri L’Ahmar, Il Maqhtab and in the sea off St Andrews

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 7 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept Otus into Marsaxlokk and then swept centre line of QBB 273 while returning to Marsamxett.  Otus remained bottomed off Delimara Light until dark, when she surfaced and proceeded alongside Shell Pier to unload cargo.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, four Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar; three Beauforts from LG 224; three Beauforts from LG 226; two Baltimores from Burg Arab.

LUQA  The camp cinema is now running.

8 August 1942: Enemy Tactics Aim to Use Up Malta’s Fighter Fuel

Sir Ronald Mackenzie Scobie in Athens

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 8 AUGUST 1942

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

  1. Quietest week in many months for bombing.  Enemy air effort limited to attempts to wear down fighter strength and waste our aviation petrol by fighter sweeps and tip and run tactics.  Average 30 fighter sorties daily against Island.  Total 10 bombers by day, 17 by night.  Bombs widespread.  Enemy fighter casualties four destroyed, two probable, one damaged by RAF.
  2. 2.  RAF and Infantry working parties totalling 2000 men and 150 vehicles completed building of 30 pens for RAF in record time.
  3. 3.  Military damage and casualties nil.
  4. 4.  Major General R Mack Scobie arrived 6 August to take over GOC.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 AUGUST TO DAWN 9 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0930-1015 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 30 approaching enemy fighters including ME 109s and Re 2001s.  Two Spitfires return early.  The remainder sight eight Macchi fighters.  Then two ME 109s are seen diving on three Spitfires as another six pass overhead.  Eight more Messerschmitts join the fight and the Spitfires spiral down towards the MEs.  P/O Jones fires a burst at 50 yards at a ME 109 which is chasing a Spitfire: the Messerschmitt turns into the sun and is seen spinning downwards, streaming glycol.  Sgt Beurling fires at a ME 109 which streams glycol and dives into the sea from 20000 feet.  Sgt Beurling is shot up and crash lands at Luqa; he is unhurt.  Sgt Budd attacks a ME 109, opening fire at 100 yards and hitting the starboard wing.  Sgt Budd is himself shot up and slightly wounded in the shoulder.  Three ME 109s are destroyed and another damaged.

1030-1115 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol off Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1215-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.

1626-1706 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far carry out a search.

1936-2027 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far patrol off the coast of Sicily in search of E boats: nothing sighted.

2145-2205 hrs  Air raid alert for a single aircraft which drops bombs in the sea north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Sergeant Clarence Kelly, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Otus proceeded to bottoming berth at 0600, having discharged all cargo except five torpedoes. Minesweepers cut two mines while clearing special area. After dark, Otus completed unloading.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, two Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from BilbeisDepartures  Four Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return to base:pilot missing.

TA QALI  One ME 109 destroyed by P/O Jones, one by Sgt Beurling.  One ME 109 damaged by Sgt Budd.  Two Spitfires damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 47.  Dealt with: 16 High Explosives, including 2 delayed-action (1 x 1800kg; 2 x 500kg; 6 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg; 3 x 35kg; 1 x 12kg); 127 anti-personnel bombs plus a few oil incendiaries.

(1)  An Irish Fusilier in Malta, BBC WW2 People’s War, contributed by IpswichMuseum.  WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

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

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

 
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26 July-1 August 1942: Six Air Raid Warnings a Day

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26 July 1942: 188 Air Raid Alerts in July

Heading for shelter, South St Valletta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAID STATISTICS – JULY 1942

  • Total number of air raid alerts  188
  • Raid-free days  Nil
  • Night raids  57
  • Raid-free nights  15
  • Alerts for own planes  17
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  3 days, 18 hrs, 3 mins
  • Average length of alert  27.7 mins

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JULY TO DAWN 27 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0920-0943 hrs  Air raid alert: three ME 109s cross the Island.

1030 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1038-1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU88s attack Ta Qali, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on the airfield.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the western dispersal area: one Spitfire is damaged by fire, three others by shrapnel.  Delayed-action bombs are dropped opposite Cave No 4, and between the main Rabat-Valletta road and the site of Chateau Bertrand.  Several anti-personnel bombs fall on Mosta.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Spitfires attack the bombers and twelve fighters after their raid: one Macchi 202 is damaged.

1405 hrs  Eight Spitfires are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft but do not see them.

1411-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU88s with an escort of twenty fighters attack Hal Far from 18000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1600 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft; seven return early with engine trouble.  The remaining Spitfire makes no interceptions.

1651-1740 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU 88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, destroying one Spitfire and three Beauforts and damaging one Wellington.  Twelve bombs are dropped on the Safi strip runway and on the dispersal area from a high level.  Several delayed-action bombs are also dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta fighters destroy one JU 88 and damage one ME 109.

1830 hrs; 2130 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode at Ta Qali.

2215-2300 hrs; 0020-0035 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach the Island: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights illuminate both raiders.

Military casualties  Identity unknown.                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned early with mechanical trouble; another did not locate the target and returned with bombs.  The third, owing to heavy petrol consumption, could not reach the target but released two 250lb bombs in the vicinity of Scilli.  The fourth attacked Gela.  Bombs were dropped from 3000 feet and buildings and motor transport machine-gunned, but no results were seen in either case.

Arrivals  One Wellington, two Hudsons, one Sunderland, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta.  One Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter skidded on landing: crew uninjured.

27 July 1942: Thousands Homeless – Governor Warns PM

GORT PRAISES MALTESE BUT WARNS OF HARDSHIPS TO COME

Maltese living in shelters (NWMA Malta)

Lord Gort has today written to the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill warning that thousands of Maltese could be homeless next winter due to the devastation wrought by enemy bombing.  More than ten thousand homes have been destroyed so far and the Island lacks the manpower or resources to rebuilt them during the continuing conflict.

Gort praised the stoicism of the Maltese, whose morale has been lifted by the recent deliveries of Spitfires to the Island.  However, with the loss of Malta fighters averaging three a day, he reminded the PM that more will be needed to protect any future convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JULY TO DAWN 28 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0740 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode near Ta Qali camp.

0831-0840 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft orbit north of the Island and then recede.

0855 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109.  Malta fighters destroy another three ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy one JU 88 and damage two JU 88s and one ME 109.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0915-0933 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine JU88s with fighter escort attack Ta Qali, killing one Army Officer.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and runway.  Some delayed-action bombs are suspected.  The aerodrome is temporarily unserviceable.  249 Squadron moves to operate from Luqa and 603 Squadron from Hal Far.

1157-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU 88s attempting a bombing raid are intercepted by Malta fighters and forced to jettison their bombs in sea.  They recede north without crossing the coast.  One Heavy Ack Ack pointers engage.  Malta fighters destroy three JU 88s and four ME 109s, and damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1305-1325 hrs; 1355-1420 hrs; 1545-1605 hrs  Three air raid alerts sound for aircraft carrying out searches to the north east of the Island and one fighter sweep by two ME 109s.  Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage another.

1935 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft see two JU 88s with a large escort of ME 109s.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1952-2026 hrs   Air raid alrt.  Three JU 88s bomb the Safi strip. Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage one RE 2001.

2040-2050 hrs  Air raid alert.  A further search is carried out by four enemy aircraft 25 miles north of Grand Harbour.

2245-2330 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for six aircraft, of which only one crosses the coast and drops bombs south of Hal Far.  Another drops bombs in the sea off Benghaisa.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Furio Doglio Niclot, 151a Squadriglia, shot down and died.  Sergente Maggiore Faliero Gelli, 378a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo, 51o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi C202, shot down and injured in the crash: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweepers carried out a sweep of QBB 273. 1 mine cut inside channel and one outside.

AIR HQ  Three Hurricanes were despatched to attack Comiso aerodrome.  One could not release bombs; the other two dropped bombs in the south-west dispersal area.  No results were seen.

Arrivals  One Catalina, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta; three Liberators from LG 224; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Sunderland, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Aboukir; one DC3 from Bilbeis; three Wellingtons from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt T Whitworth arrived from Mid-East and posted to No. 128 Bomb Disposal Section.  Lt F W Ashall posted to HQ Fortress RE.  Establishment 127 Bomb Disposal Section: 1 Officer, 19 Other Ranks; 128 BD Section: 1 Officer, 16 Other Ranks.

28 July 1942: Malta Fighters Double Hat-Trick

Malta Spitfires destroyed or damaged every single bomber attempting an air raid over the Island today.  In two separate raids, three JU 88 bombers were attacked by fighters on intercept missions.  In the first raid one bomber was destroyed and the other two damaged; in the second, all three JU 88s were destroyed.  Five enemy fighters were also damaged or destroyed in the dog-fights.

Liberators Land in Malta

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JULY TO DAWN 29 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; clear.

0836-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  A strong fighter sweep by 27 ME109s.  Malta fighters engage: no claims.

1113 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They spot three JU 88s, eight ME 109s and two RE 2001a.  F/Sgt Rae and Sgt Gass probably destroy one JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Rae and P/O Yates each damage one JU 88.  F/Sgt Parkes probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Wynn damages one ME 109.  P/O McElroy damages one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1145-1215 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1420-1520 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1715-1747 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by twelve ME109s drop bombs on Hal Far and Bubaqra, and near Luqa.   Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters destroy all three bombers and one ME 109.  One JU 88 crashes onto Wolseley Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt, damaging vehicles and equipment.

1720-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to escort the High Speed Launch.  They see a JU 88 crash on a tip of land.  The Launch picks up two German parachutes.

1920-2020 hrs  Two Spitfies 249 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

2245-2340 hrs  Air raid alert for six bombers which approach singly and drop bombs on Hal Far and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights effect two illuminations.

Military casualties  Sergeant Donald Hubbard, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq  Joseph Abela, age 13.  Mosta  John Fenech, age 11.  Zurrieq  Carmel Buhagiar, age 10; Joseph Buhagiar; Salvina D’Amato, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Crews of JU 88 bombers: Gefreiter Peter Bolten, Observer, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Albert Fuehrer, Pilot, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Karl Bauer, Wireless Operator, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner; Unteroffizier Gustav Frick, Air Gunner, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Swona and Motor Launches swept approaches to Marsaxlokk.  Beauforts, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked convoy and damaged one merchant vessel, which was later seen in Navarin by PRU Spitfire. Two Beauforts failed to return.  Three bombs fell close to War Signal Station at Torri L’Ahmar, causing minor damage, but no casualties.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy comprising two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 185 degrees Sapienza 10 miles.  The merchant vessel was hit once, pouring white smoke; this was confirmed by photos.  Bombs carried on three aircraft were dropped on the destroyers scoring near-misses.  All vessels were machine-gunned.  Photos show the merchant vessel in Navarino in the evening and was still there on 1 August 1942.

Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned owing to oil trouble; the other three dropped bombs on the Operations Headquarters and Stores Depot, without visible results.

Arrivals  One Catalina, one Wellington, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Liberators, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued.

29 July 1942: RAF Heroes Skyjack Drama

Last night nine Beauforts of 217 Squadron, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked an enemy convoy of two destroyers and one merchant vessel, steaming southwards from Sapienza.  Among them was Beaufort L9820, piloted by South African Lt E T (Ted) Strever, with P/O W M Dunsmore, Sgt J A Wilkinson and Sgt A R Brown as crew.  As they flew over the merchantman to release their torpedo, the aircraft was hit in both engines.  Forced to ditch in the sea, Strever almost drowned in the cockpit before managing to struggle free and join his crew in their dinghy.

Within hours they were picked up by an Italian Cant Z506B floatplane, which took them to the Island of Corfu.  They were treated very well, given a good meal and a bed for the night.  Next morning they boarded a floatplane to be flown to Taranto, faced with the prospect of becoming prisoners of war.  But as the aircraft approached Sicily, the captive airmen set upon the Cant’s five-man crew, disabling the radio operator and disarming the others before ordering the pilot to change course for Malta.

RAF ‘hijackers’ and Italian crew surrender

As the apparently hostile aircraft neared the Island, it triggered the air raid alert and six Spitfires of 603 Squadron Ta Qali were scrambled to intercept.  Three of them attacked the floatplane as it approached St Paul’s Bay.  Lt Strever ordered the Italian pilot to land immediately on the water.  One of his crew then pulled of his shirt and his vest, to wave as a white flag as they scrambled onto the wings.

Puzzled, the Spitfire pilots ceased firing and radioed for the air sea rescue launch, circling overhead until it arrived.  The crew of HSL 107 were bemused to find four RAF airmen waiting for them on the floatplane’s wings, along with its crew of five Italians.

Highjacked Cant float-plane at Kalafrana

Air Sea Rescue commander J S Houghton recalled:  “The Cant…was towed by HSL 107 to St Paul’s Island.  It was then passed over to our Seaplane Tender and taken to a buoy off St Paul’s Pier, where the five Italians and four Commonwealth airmen were taken ashore.  A very strong Army guard was provided to prevent the locals from attacking the Italians.  The South African captain, who had led the hijack, brandished his revolver, leaving no doubt as to what he would have done if the Italians had been harmed.” (2)  Lt Strever returned his previous captors’ hospitality before seeing them in turn taken prisoners of war.  For their actions Lt Strever and P/O Dunsmore were awarded the DFC and Sgts Brown and Wilkinson the DFM.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JULY TO DAWN 30 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0820-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nil reports.

0915-1040 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching formation of sixteen ME 109s and four Macchi 202s.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire: the bullets shoot the entire hood off his cockpit.  Sgt Budd shoots off the fin and rudder of a ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire.

0955-1023 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol when six JU88s with fighter escort approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and Malta fighters engage, forcing the bombers to jettison their bombs north of the Island and destroying two ME 109s and one Macchi 202 without loss.

1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron see an enemy float plane coming towards St Paul’s Bay.  When attacked, the enemy aircraft is seen to pancake on the water.  Five men come out onto the wings, waving a white flag.  The Spitfires orbit until the enemy aircraft is towed into St Paul’s Bay by the High Speed Launch.

1558-1610 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched to intercept.  Two return early with radio and engine trouble.  Three enemy aircraft carry out a small fighter sweep but do not cross the coast.

1640-1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off on patrol: no engagement.

1705-1730 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over the Italian floatplane.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

2200-2210 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single aircraft drops bombs in the sea north west of Gozo, then recedes.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of Cant-Z506B floatplane hijacked en route from Corfu to Taranto taken prisoner:  Maresciallo Alessandro Cifari, co-pilot; Sergenti T Losi, engineer; Tenente Gaetano Mastrodicasa, pilot; Aviere Scelto Marcello Schisano, wireless operator and Sergente Carabiniere Giulio Scarciella.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived and was swept into Marsaxlokk.  The inshore edge of QBB 273 was then swept and nine mines cut.  Italian flying boat landed in St Julian’s Bay and surrendered. This aircraft was captured by the crew of one of the Beauforts, which crashed during the attack on the convoy the previous night, who while on passage from Navarin to Italy, overpowered the crew and forced them to fly them to Malta.  Clyde discharged practically all her cargo on the night of 29th/30th.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Liberators, three Beauforts, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  Two Beauforts shot down while attacking convoy: one crew took to dinghy; one crew returned to base.  One Spitfire flap failed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.

30  July 1942: War Artist for Malta

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  The War Office                 Personal from Lord Gort for CIGS

I shall be glad to have war artists.  Please consult Ministry of Information whose cable Empax 45 suggests the name.  Is this the artist you have in mind?  It should be made clear that artist would work under information officer.  This would be in accordance with local arrangements whereby official War Office photographer works under general supervision information officer who is in position greatly to assist in choice of subjects and distribution of products.

Malta: Fighters take off from Luca’s bombed runway, by Leslie Cole 1943                                                  © IWM (art.IWM ART LD 3554)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JULY TO DAWN 31 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; fast-moving cloud.

0745-0800 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

0820-0845 hrs  Air raid alert for a 35-strong fighter sweep of 35.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack four ME 109s but then the Spitfires are jumped by six Macchi 202s.  F/Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.

1055 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching a reported plot of 27 hostile aircraft, including bombers.  One Spitfire returns early and runs into enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged; the pilot is unhurt.  Five minutes later, eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off; two return early and are attacked by Messerschmitts.

1125-1200 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise: it is believed that the bombers turned back.

1605-1625 hrs; 1840-1850 hrs  Two air raid alerts for small groups of fighters: one group crosses the Island at 26000 feet on reconnaissance.

2130-2225 hrs  Air raid alert for four single bombers, only two of which cross the coast and drop bombs on St Julians, Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq areas, killing twelve civilians and wounding twenty-four.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and one JU 88 is destroyed by a Beaufighter before reaching the Island.

Military casualties  Sergeant Colin Wood, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  See 31 July.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P42 sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Liberators, one Hudson from Gibraltar;  one Wellington from LG 224; one Beaufighter from Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot uninjured.

31 July 1942: Park’s Tactics Keep Bombers Away

ME 109 fighters

The new tactics introduced by Air Officer Commanding Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park were evidently taking effect today as enemy bombers stayed clear of the Island throughout daylight hours.  The AOC’s ‘Forward Interception Plan’, issued on 25 July, has resulted in increased aircraft losses for the enemy and forced many bombers to jettison their payload before reaching target.

Axis command is now sending only fighter sweeps in daylight, flying at high altitude in an attempt to gain the advantage over Malta’s Spitfires.  In response, Park has ordered his fighters to remain below 20000 feet to force the enemy to drop to their preferred altitude if he wants to engage in combat.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; little cloud.

Day  Three fighter sweeps of 6, 15 and 30 aircraft respectively; very few fighters cross the coast. Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s and one RE 2001, and damage one Macchi 202.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the last raid with pointer rounds.

0735-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1047-1105 hrs  Air raid alert.

1440-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They encounter six unidentified fighters.  One Spitfire’s engine cuts out, and the aircraft returns.  Another Spitfire engine cuts out: Sgt Ballantyne attempts to land at Luqa and overshoots the runway, damaging his aircraft.  Sgt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.

1610-1640 hrs  Air raid alert.

2205-2256 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which do not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Agius, age 29; Carmel Borg, age 27; John Busuttil, age 16; Pauline Busuttil, age 5; Joseph Calleja, age 75; Georgina Dimech, age 28; Michael Fenech, age 47; Orazia Grech, age 4; Maria Melita Medati, age 50; Mary Scerri, age 9; Carmela Sammut, age 23; Amabile Sammut, age 21.  Mgarr  Joseph Deguara, age 45.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 31 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian sailed for Gibraltar.  P34 arrived and swept into harbour by Rye. Swona carried out sweep of entrance channel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire engine cut on landing: pilot uninjured.

1 August 1942: Pilot’s 16 Hour Paddle to Safety

A pilot reported missing turned up safe and well this morning, nearly 24 hours after he left base.  Pilot Officer Tony Bruce took off yesterday from Hal Far to intercept enemy raiders.  He was attacked off-shore by an enemy fighter and his Spitfire was seen to ditch in the sea.  When no trace of him was found, the pilot was thought to have perished, until he staggered ashore this morning.

P/O Bruce had managed to scramble into his dinghy, which he then paddled single-handed the 15 miles back to shore.  He took 16 hours to complete the journey, to the surprise of comrades who thought he had perished.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 1 AUGUST 1942

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

1.  First two days bomber attacks by total 33 JU88 continued against aerodromes.  Successful interceptions by fighters and destruction of complete bomber formations has made enemy change tactics.  Thereafter strong fighter sweeps only.  Bombers have sometimes approached but invariably turned back or jettisoned bombs.

One Italian float plane Cant 506 B captured and flown intact with Italian crew to Malta by crew of Beaufort previously shot down and rescued in Ionian Sea.  Nine Beauforts and six Beaufighters attacked convoy bound for Libya immobilising one merchant vessel 5000 tons.  Eleven sorties by bomb-carrying Hurricanes against Sicilian aerodromes.

2.  Enemy aircraft casualties.  Eight bombers 17 fighters destroyed, five probably 16 damaged by RAF.  Ack Ack no claims.

Army builds 30 more pens in a week

3.  At urgent request of RAF for 30 new aircraft pens to be built in one week and others to be repaired Army working parties of 2000 men and 150 vehicles provided working two shifts daily.

4.  Military damage slight.  Casualties one Officer killed; one Officer, two Other Ranks wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  Four fighter sweeps, two of them in strength totalling 52 aircraft.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert.  A formation of enemy fighters is reported heading towards the Island.  Six Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They are joined by eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, of which two return early.  There is no engagement.

0945-1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol: nothing to report.

1235-1255 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and try to intercept four ME 109s but are unable to catch them before they cross the Island.

1422-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: no engagement.

1645-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: nothing sighted.

2250-2325 hrs  One air raid alert for three aircraft.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Il Blata.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Galea, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY 1 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar being swept out by Hythe, who subsequently swept P31 into Harbour.  P44 also sailed, carrying out night full calibre firing at Filfla before proceeding on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Liberator, two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to St Jean Fayid or LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  Wing Commander Douglas-Hamilton assumed the duties of Wing Commander in charge of flying.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 75.  Dealt with: High Explosives 23, including 7delayed-action (4 x 500kg; 16 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg; 1 x 35kg); 341 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  The SAAF at War 1940-1984, Bouwer, J S & Louw, M N, Chris van Rensburg, 1989

(2)  Malta: Blitzed but not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press, 1985

 

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

 
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19-25 July 1942: Malta Faces Starvation

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19 July 1942: Parthian Supplies Unloaded in Darkness

HUNGER

“There it was. A pitiable animated skeleton with ribs nearly protruding out of its sides of what was once called a dog. It was a small creature with what could have been a light brown coat. Its occasional whimpering, hardly audible, eyes glazed, it was shuffling madly with from one side of one shed and then to another, sniffing here and sniffing there, obviously crazed with hunger, completely oblivious to anything else. It did not even notice me, standing nearby a few yards away, just outside the workshop where I worked as an apprentice, near No 1 Dock in the Malta Dockyard in the Summer of 1942…

NWMA Malta

Malta was in the iron grip of a merciless siege and close to collapse. Fast blockade runners such as the ‘Welshman’ and the ‘Manxman’ and submarines improvised to carry cargo would occasionally break through the iron cordon to supply the beleaguered island. But supplies were hardly ever enough.

The Dockyard itself had become a depressing sight with half-sunken ships, ruined sheds and workshops, rubble every where and bomb craters still being filled. Electric power and telephone service was only intermittent and water supply available only in certain locations.  Into this nightmarish, surreal landscape, this pitiable creature, somehow or other, had found itself…

I felt deeply sorry for it. I would have willingly given it a small piece of my own meagre ration consisting of just a slim sandwich, but I was hesitant and somewhat fearful how it would react in that crazed state…the dog probably was a loving pet with an owner who cared greatly for it but being unable to feed it…let it loose blithely trusting Providence or hoping that somehow or other it would find its own food. It must have been a desperate and agonizing decision.

Even though Malta, at one time, had its own share of pet lovers, with pets, nearly everywhere, I have to say that I could not recall seeing any other dogs or even cats during that summer…”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0740-0758 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter three ME 109s: no combat.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert for a second fighter sweep by Italian RE 2001 aircraft, engaged by Malta fighters.  One Spitfire crashes near Luqa: the pilot is killed.

1820-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no air raid develops.

2145-2230 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach the Island but are engaged by Spitfires: one raider is destroyed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Joseph Otis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 426 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian unloading stores at Marsaxlokk during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire overshot when landing: pilot injured.  One aircraft crashed due to enemy action: pilot killed.

20 July 1942: Victory Kitchens

“By July 1942 life had become more and more unbearable. Kerosene (Paraffin Oil) which most people used for cooking, heating and for oil lamps was in extremely short supply. To save Kerosene in order to have a warm or hot meal my mother often turned off the oil lamps and sent us to bed early often before darkness had set in.

Queuing for kerosene (NWMA Malta)

Since a hot meal was now becoming a luxury and an exception, my mother decided to try the ‘Victory Kitchens.’  These were communal siege kitchens originally set up to provide one hot meal a day to people who had been bombed out of their homes, whose ration cards had been destroyed or lost in the bombing and had nothing to eat. But as the situation deteriorated more and more people, including those who still had roofs over their heads, resorted to using ‘Victory Kitchens’, bartering their regular ration coupons in exchange. At one time, I believe, more than half the island’s population were using these siege kitchens since, in most cases, it was the only way to get something hot to eat, little as it was.

It did not take long for my mother to realize that this pitiable fare was no kind of ‘victory’…I remember it was some kind of broth masquerading as soup with a few floating lumps in it that most people could not identify.  Occasionally, two or three peas or beans were added but the portions were never enough and afterwards you were still left hungry…

Regardless of their faults it should be remembered that these Victory Kitchens played a very important part feeding the people during the siege. It required great skills and much dedication by the Food Distribution Authorities in planning, organizing and putting into operation such an undertaking under living condition that were indescribable and against obstacles that were almost insurmountable.”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

“I also remember visiting a ‘Victory Kitchen’ with my mother; this was after my pet goat had been killed and served to me as stew. I was only told this after I had finished my meal!”  Edward Caruana Galizia, November 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JULY TO DAWN 21 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; haze, no cloud.

0555-0605 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach to within 25 miles of the Island and then recede.

0830-0935 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft.  The air raid alert sounds but the raid does not materialise; there are no interceptions.

1345 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne to act as a protective escort to minesweepers.

1356 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with twenty ME 109s and RE 2001s in escort approach Luqa from the south and attack the airfield, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the area.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron spot the raiders and follow them in, attacking the bombers as they release their bombs over the airfield.  The Spitfires struggle to gain enough height to catch the bombers as they turn away.  Sgt Wynn is shot up by a Messerschmitt fighter and slightly wounded in the leg.

1405-1545 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue search: no sightings.

1442 hrs  All clear.

1535-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: raid does not develop.

1640 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders.  They spot 16 ME 109s in line abreast.  Sgt Irwin probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with fighter drop a large number of high explosive bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level.  One motor car is burned out.

1715 hrs  All clear.

2136-2242 hrs; 2252-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Each time nine JU 88s approach singly and drop bombs in widely scattered areas, including Luqa and the Safi strip, and the western dispersal area of Ta Qali.  At Luqa a Baltimore is damaged.  At Birzebbuga five Army Other Ranks are killed and one Army Officer wounded.  Malta’s fighters airborne for both alerts and both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying three Ju 88s.  Searchlights illuminate every target in the second raid.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hugh Russell, Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunner Franky Agius, 3 Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Francis Baldacchino, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Ellul, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Hearl, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Sillato, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Albert Zammit, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Fidele Zarb, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of a JU 88 bomber, shot down into the sea near Gozo: Leutnant Siegfried Sack, Pilot – body was not recovered; Obergefreiter Arthur Blass, Air Gunner, and Unteroffizier Albert Mulen, Observer, were rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down and died: Feldwebel Karl Bonk, Pilot; Unteroffizier Johann Gerstel, Observer; Unteroffizier Josef Pohl, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Gerhard Priewisch, Wireless Operator.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine P42 arrived and entered Marsamxett.  Speedy swept QBB 197 and Marsaxlokk entrance. 1 Cutter cut. Swona swept Marsaxmett entrance.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire pilot seat slid forward on landing, pushing control column forward and causing aircraft to tip up on nose: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued injured; one pilot missing.

21 July 1942: 28 Spitfires Arrive as Bombers Stay Clear

OPERATION INSECT

Three freighters sailed from the UK on 2 July carrying 32 Spitfires to Gibraltar, where they arrived a week ago.  Yesterday 30 of the aircraft, along with four Swordfish and six Sea Hurricanes were loaded onto HMS Eagle ready to embark for Malta.  The carrier was protected by a convoy including Cairo, Charybdis, Antelope, Ithuriel, Vansittart, Westcott and Wrestler.

Italian submarine Dandolo

Earlier today the Italian submarine Dandolo sighted the convoy and attempted to attack but was driven off, damaged in a counter-attack by the escort’s destroyers.  Eagle was able to reach her rendezvous point without further incident and, with the exception of one defective aircraft, the Spitfires took off for Malta.  Another plane developed problems with its fuel tank and was forced to ditch in the sea.  The remaining 28 Spitfires landed safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JULY TO DAWN 22 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, slight; haze, no cloud.

0835-0855 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1005-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1110-1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  They are bounced by Macchi 202s: no damage.

1410-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1540-1650 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered into the air to act as escort to minesweepers.

1755-1855 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They see four or five ME 109s but are unable to catch them.

0110-0150 hrs; 0205-0220 hrs; 0235-0255 hrs  Three air raid alerts for a total of five enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly.  None crosses the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  During the last alert a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Sergeant Lewis Evans, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Gunner Nazzareno Grima, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A surface plot [reported] south of Filfla may have been Submarine P44 on the surface. She arrived at 2045 and was swept in Marsaxlokk by Speedy.  Parthian completed unload and proceeded to Dockyard to make good minor defects.  A further reinforcement of 28 Spitfires from HMS Eagle arrived without incident.  Torpedo-carrying Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an enemy convoy and claimed hits on one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Q.B.B. 271 swept by Speedy and Hythe. 3 mines cut.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 240 degrees Cape Ghergambo, 8 miles course southerly.  The merchant vessel was hit by at least three torpedoes and white smoke poured form it; this was later confirmed by photos.  One of the destroyers was also hit.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington from Shandur; one Blenheim from Gibraltar; four Beaufighters from ECDU.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

TA QALI  Preparations are made for the arrival of further Spitfires: 16 arrived during the morning.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY, ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party from No 2 Section of one Sergeant and two Other Ranks blew a series of holes at water level in SS Talabot (partly submerged in harbour) to release oil which was interfering with cargo salvage work.  Plastic high explosive was used: very effective.

22 July 1942: ‘Fighting Tenth’ Return to Malta

NWMA Malta

The arrival of P42 yesterday may have triggered a false alarm, with an unconfirmed report of a periscope off Grand Harbour.  However, good news has followed the submarine’s arrival, as it signals the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, after an absence of nearly three months.

Known as the ‘Fighting Tenth’, the submarine force left Lazaretto ten weeks ago when the severity of enemy bombardment risked their complete destruction.  Vice Admiral, Malta has now decided that the reduced scale of mining and air attacks and the successful clearance of all approach channels to the Island by minesweepers makes it safe enough to allow the submarines to return.

The Flotilla Captain and his Staff arrived today and it is expected that by the end of the month at least three submarines of the Flotilla will again be operating from Malta.

AJAX MASTER ILL

HMS Ajax

An urgent telegram was sent to the War Office today asking for a replacement for the master of Ajax, who has been ill from prolonged stomach trouble.  A solution is needed within fourteen days, as the ship is expected to embark soon on operations.  Ajax, her officers and crew have been praised for their valiant service during several Malta convoys.  If no temporary relief can be found, the chief officer may be promoted to hold the fort.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; slight cloud.

0805-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders which carry out a fighter sweep: no engagement.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on shipping cover.

1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop high explosives on Luqa airfield and anti-personnel bombs in the Marsa valley, causing some civilian and RAF casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s.

1120-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a search for missing pilots.  They see three oil patches on the water.  As he approaches to land, P/O Paradis is told to stand off until a threatened raid on Ta Qali has passed.  He is not heard of again.

1144 hrs  All clear.

1225-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for P/O Paradis: nothing found.

1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty fighters attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Safi strip with high explosives and anti-personnel bombs, causing civilian and RAF casualties. Heavy Ack Ack fire without result.

1635-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109s which circle the Island. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.

Night  Two air alerts for a total of eight Italian and German bombers which approach the Island singly, dropping 15kg and 50kg bombs on Luqa, Tal Handaq and Wardia.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta night fighters are airborne for both alerts.  During the first raid, searchlights effect three illuminations and a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88 ten miles north of the Island.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Joseph Paradis, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Jack Wallworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Walter Mifsud, age 14; Edward Mifsud, age 12.  Hamrun  Concetta Borg, age 66.  Rabat  Paul Zammit, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S) 10th Submarine Flotilla and his staff arrived by air from the Middle East.  A doubtful report of a periscope being sighted off Grand Harbour was not confirmed.  Hythe and motor launches commenced sweeping new area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter to EDCU; one Blenheim to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing believed killed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Numerous anti-personnel bombs dropped on billets occupied by No1 Works Company, 1 Sapper is slightly injured.

23 July 1942: Dog Fights Over Malta

ITALIAN CAPTURED

Macchi 202 in flight

Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli was taken prisoner this afternoon after being plucked from the sea by the RAF rescue launch.  The Italian pilot was in a formation of Italian and German fighters escorting a raid on Luqa aerodrome at just after four o’clock when his Macchi 202 was hit by anti-aircraft fire.  With six Spitfires of 249 Squadron hot on his tail, Di Pauli decided to eject from the aircraft and was seen parachuting down into the sea.  The Spitfire pilots alerted headquarters and an air sea rescue patrol was launched within the hour.  Di Pauli was picked up and brought ashore where he was taken in for interrogation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 17% medium cloud.

0720 hrs  The ‘usual’ early morning patrol by three ME 109s.

0800-0910 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for reported enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

1010 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1021 hrs  Air raid alert.  While three ME 109s patrol alone, three JU 88s with seven ME 109s and five RE 2001s as escort attack Luqa, dropping many anti-personnel bombs from a high level on the camp and dispersal areas, and high explosive bombs to the south of Luqa village.  Several unexploded bombs are found near the windmill.  Anti-personnel bombs are also dropped between Hamrun and the RAF station.  One Spitfire and a petrol bowser are destroyed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

The Spitfires of 249 Squadron see the JU 88s and ME 109s, and then encounter five RE 2001s covering the withdrawal of bombers after the raid.  Sgt Beurling destroys one RE 2001 and damages a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell destroys a JU 88 and F/Lt Hetherington damages another.

1046 hrs  All clear.

1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.

1618-1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with fifteen ME 109s and some Macchi 202s as escort attack Luqa, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs from a high level and causing craters on the aerodrome: two make the runway temporarily unserviceable.  One Baltimore is damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta Spitfires attack the raiders and destroy two ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy two ME 109s and damage another three ME 109s and one Macchi. F/Lt Watts and P/O McElroy between them damage one ME 109; P/O Round damages another.

1650-1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue patrol.  They see an Italian pilot: he is picked up and taken prisoner.

Night  No enemy action.

Military casualties  Flying Officer David William Kent, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli, Macchi 202 fighter pilot, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl carried out gun trials at sea.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance of Gerbini shows that the number of JU 88s at Gerbini has almost doubled to 23.  One of the satellites has also come into use at the aerodrome, with 12 fighters present.  Two more satellites are under construction which will bring the total to five.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224; three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane engine cut out; aircraft crashed on landing: pilot killed.  One Spitfire missing from patrol: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied by No 1 Works Company, RE.

24 July 1942: Malta Fighters Pre-emptive Strikes

Spitfire re-fuelled, re-armed and ready (NWMA Malta)

PARK’S NEW STRATEGY FOR MALTA

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park is to introduce new tactics in the RAF battle for the skies over Malta.  After reviewing fighter performance over recent weeks, the new Air Officer Commanding has recognised that the Island’s Spitfires have been forced to fight defensively.  Now the AOC has decided to take the battle to the enemy.

Under the ‘Forward Interception Plan’ due to take effect from tomorrow, RAF Squadrons will be airborne to intercept enemy formations well before they reach the archipelago.  Making use of the increased numbers of Spitfires at his disposal, as well as improved radar and faster take-off times, three Squadrons will now take part in each pre-emptive strike: the first to engage advance fighter formations from out of the sun; the second to engage any close fighter escort and the third to attack bombers head-on.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JULY TO DAWN 25 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0800-0830 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack firing pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they chase the two Messerschmitts until they are lost to view.

1030-1120 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the Air Sea Rescue Launch off Kalafrana Bay.

1039 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s with a fighter escort of twenty ME 109s are intercepted by Malta fighters, which destroy three JU 88s and one ME 109, and damage the remaining JU 88 and two ME 109s; Heavy Ack Ack also engage.  As a result many bombs are jettisoned in widely different areas, including Mosta and Ta Qali, as well as Luqa and the Safi strip.  The two Spitfires of 603 Squadron see two of the JU 88s and pursue them for eight miles, then return to cover duties.

1113 hrs  All clear.

1135-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a search but find nothing.  One returns early.

1352-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three unidentified fighters cross the coast from the south west at 25000 feet.

1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire returns early.

1710 hrs  Air raid alert.  One section of Spitfires dives on five JU 88s and four ME 109s.  The remaining Messerschmitts break off their formation to attack the other section of Spitfires, which counter-attack.  P/O Jones (249) has a dog-fight with three pairs of ME 109s with no claims.  Malta fighters damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1752-1819 hrs  Five JU88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, landing a direct hit on the HQ building of D Coy, 2nd Royal West Kent Regt at Ta Kandia, killing one Other Rank and wounding two Officers, including the Company Commander, and four Other Ranks. At Qrendi one Other Rank of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is wounded by anti-personnel bomb splinters.  One serviceable Beaufort is burned out, two other Beauforts and one Spitfire are damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

2215-2245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach singly but do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Green, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Rodney Kent, 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Fusilier John Millar, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Mallia, age 74.  Rabat  Carmela Borg, age 10.  Zurrieq  Josephine Bondin, 10 mths;  Catherine Bugeja, age 13; Jane Bugeja, age 11; Rev Joseph Cuschieri, age 63; Carmel Ellul, age 70; Anthony Gauci, age 60; Joseph Saydon, age 48; Carmel Schembri, age 16; Joseph Spiteri, 3 mths; Saviour Zammit, age 54; Rev Joseph Zammit Psaila, age 68.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down: Leutnant Sepp Hoermann, Pilot, Obergefreiter Josef Popp, Observer, and Unteroffizier Wolfram Quass, Air Gunner, died; Leutnant Heinz Heuser, Wireless Operator managed to bale out and land safely; he was taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Fleet Sweepers cleared new channel except for 100 yards along inshore edge. 13 mines cut.  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked a convoy off Cape Gheroghambo and hit and set on fire one merchant vessel. Three Beauforts did not return.

AIR HQ  Six Beauforts escorted by nine Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy consisting of two destroyers and three other vessels, including a 7000 ton merchantman laden with deck cargo, in position 273 degrees Cape Geroghambo 10 miles.  One direct hit on a merchant vessel resulted in much smoke and flame.  One of the destroyers was machine-gunned.  Photos taken later showed the merchant vessel to be in tow, stern foremost, down by the bows and blazing.  The fire had reached the engine room.  [Subsequently this same merchant vessel was photographed at Argostoli completely burned out.]

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Catalina, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Catalina to Aboukir; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

TA QALI  A signal was received today from Headquarters, Mediterranean indicating that a General Warning is in effect.  Instructions by telephone state that no action should be taken.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied No 1 Works Company.

25 July 1942: Malta Ready for ‘General Alarm’

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 25 JULY 42

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

1.  Enemy air activity fighter sweeps first three days, thereafter regular two main raids daily each about 5 JU 88 and 17 (or 15) fighters.  Anti-personnel and high explosive bombs on aerodromes.  Night raiders average 5 nightly except Monday when Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 out of 16.

Jamming of RDF etc continues.  Counter measures being investigated. 

Enemy aircraft casualties Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 at night.  RAF destroyed seven bombers, ten fighters; probably destroyed four fighters; damaged six bombers, six fighters.

Imtarfa Hospital

2.  Some damage to military billets and Imtarfa hospital.  Casualties 2 (or 6) Other Ranks killed 2 officers eleven Other Ranks wounded.

3.  Increased security precautions being taken on Gozo.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If there is no air raid in progress at 12 o’clock noon today, there will be a test of the new signal for the ‘General Alarm’.  The sirens will be sounded as though for an air-raid five times with intervals of half a minute between each sounding.  Half a minute after the last time the ‘All Clear’ will be sounded.  At the same time the church bells will be rung.  The public should not be alarmed; it will be nothing but a TEST.  If there is an air-raid in progress at noon, the test will be held immediately the raid is over. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JULY TO DAWN 26 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0700-0758 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME109s crossed the Island, and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack with pointer rounds.  Fighters do not engage.

0800-0825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1125-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover shipping near Zonqor.

1128-1155 hrs  Air raid alert. Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are sent up to avoid an approaching bombing raid.  Five JU88s drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali in the area west of No 15 Cave; some are suspected to be delayed action bombs.  Telephone communications are slightly disrupted.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1200 hrs  The General Warning Alarm is sounded throughout the Island as a test.

1325-1435 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol: nil report.

1355-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol.

1438-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron see four JU 88s with an escort of fifteen fighters but are unable to intercept before the bombers carry out a raid on Hal Far.  P/O Glazebrook destroys a Macchi 202; other fighters damage JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1615-1630 hrs; 1632-1700 hrs  Air raid alerts for a fighter sweep by three ME 109s.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1920-1945 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep by three ME 109s.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0405-0425 hrs   Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach but do not cross the coast; bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  New Channel (QBB 273) cleared of mines; 2 cut.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance shows that the number of JU 88s at Comiso has risen to 37 from 11 last week.

Arrivals  One Sunderland from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Sunderland to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 97.  Dealt with: High Explosives 18, including 6 delayed-action ( 2 x 500kg; 11 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg); 400 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

 

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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in 1942, July 1942

 

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