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29 May 1942: Wellington Destroyed by Friendly Fire – Crewmen Killed

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ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY RESCUE SURVIVORS

A Wellington bomber of 104 Squadron returning from a successful bombing mission over Catania crashed today near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the other two.  It is believed that the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, possibly due to being wrongly identified as an attacking enemy plane.

The Wellington crashed on L’Imrihel Feature, killing three of the crew on impact.  Personnel of 6th Heavy Ack Ack, Royal Malta Artillery, managed to rescue the injured pilot, Sgt R Hills, and the second pilot, Sgt E Martin who was seriously wounded.  Before they could return for the final crew member, the aircraft’s petrol tanks exploded, killing him instantly.

MS Reichenfels

MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS SPOT CONVOY TARGET

A large convoy has been seen by aerial reconnaissance loading at Naples.  Three of these ships, the 7800 ton German ‘Reichenfels’ and two 6500 ton Lenici class ships were today photographed off Pantelleria, heading towards Tripoli under protective destroyer escort.

ITALIANS PILOT STUKAS

Four enemy aircraft which dropped bombs on Mellieha and Dingli overnight are believed to be JU 87s flown by Italian pilots.  The aircraft caused some confusion among observers who were at first unable to identify them.  They reported that the shape and markings suggested JU 87s but the aircraft were not operating in the usual agressive manner of the Stuka dive-bomber.

The pilot of a Beaufighter on patrol with Malta Night Fighter Unit later confirmed that he had engaged with JU 87s at the time of the raid, damaging one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MAY TO DAWN 30 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh; haze.

0510-0605 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on shipping reconnaissance but sight nothing.

0820 hrs  Air raid alert.

0822-0926 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island: no combat.

1202 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far and four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1235 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds as the formation approaches the Island.  There is no engagement with Malta fighters.

1305 hrs  All clear.

1458-1622 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to patrol for enemy fighters: no interceptions.

1638-1748 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1715-1825 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled, climbing to intercept the hostile aircraft.  They sight two but no interceptions take place.

1750 hrs  The air raid alerts sounds as the fighters near the coast.  They carry out a fighter sweep.

1825 hrs  All clear.

2310 hrs  A Wellington bomber returning from operations crashes near Tal Hlas.

0009-0244 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol.

0025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a small formation of enemy bombers approaching the Island.  One JU 88 and four other unidentified bombers drop bombs near Mellieha and Dingli.  The Beaufighter engages and damages one aircraft, identified as a JU 87.

0212 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialize.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant George Davis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 104 Squadron, RAF; Sergeant Andrew McColl,  Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Elwyn Roberts, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR), 104 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Kenneth Ross, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 104 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star continued minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; one CW 20 from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  2145 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish of the NAS were airborne on strike mission.  The convoy consisting of three merchant vessels and three destroyers was located off the Tunisian coast but was covered by a thick fog patch 300 feet deep, 15 miles long and 10 miles across.  No attack was possible and all the aircraft returned with their torpedoes at 0320 hrs.

LUQA  0930-1215 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa, Trapani and Palermo.  1505-1707 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  2117-0310 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search Gulf of Gabies.  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched from Luqa to bomb Catania aerodrome.  Bombs landed in the target area: many fires are seen.  On returning to base the aircraft crashed near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the pilot and second pilot.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1230 hrs  Working parties for pen-building and crater filling at Luqa finished and returned to billets.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs  Pte Porter is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 5 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  1230 hrs  Working party of 50 men tin-loading at Luqa.

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28 May 1942: Eyes of the World on Malta

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Lord Gort

LORD GORT ADDRESSES MALTA GOVERNMENT

When Lord Gort, Governor of Malta, presided for the first time over the Malta Council of Government, he declared in reply to an address of welcome that the eyes of the whole world were upon the Island.  The three services and the civilian population, he said, stand together, and the fortunes of each are inextricably bound together. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MAY TO DAWN 29 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh.  Fair; 90% cloud above 20000 feet.  Visibility 15 miles.

0950 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne to intercept enemy fighters but are unable to catch them.

1030 hrs  The air raid warning sounds as the hostile fighters approach and carry out a fighter sweep over the Island.

1403-1454 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy fighters.  The air raid alarm sounds at 1415 hrs as they approach.  The Spitfires do not engage and the fighters complete a sweep over the Island.

1505-1645 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft which carry out a fighter sweep with no combat.

1638 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept a formation of 24 aircraft, including fighter bombers and fighters.  F/S Schade claims one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1715 hrs  The air raid sounds as the hostile aircraft come within range of the Island.  They approach Luqa airfield and four fighter bombers drop bombs on Luqa airfield, injuring two airmen.

1750-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept another sweep of fighters: no interceptions.

2030-2115 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron is airborne on night patrol: no comabt.

2207-2220 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrol: no combat.

2232 hrs  Enemy bombers drop 100kg bombs on Luqa.  One lands between the old NAAFI buildings and airmen’s billets.

2258-0139 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

2306 hrs  Enemy raiders drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

0327-0759 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

0415 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy aircraft.

0428 hrs  Bombs are dropped in Grand Harbour.

0440 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish are airborne to attack a southbound convoy in the Pantelleria area.  Three Albacores return early with engine trouble.  The remaining aircraft did not locate the convoy.

LUQA  0803-1030 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Catania.  2121-0427 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for a convoy east of Malta.  One unescorted merchant vessel was sighted: no strike.  2102-0110 hrs  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched to attack a given sector of Catania aerodrome.  Bombs were seen to strike on or near main runway, among buildings and causing two small fires.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0725 hrs  Revert to normal.  E boats believed to have been laying mines.  Working parties continue at Luqa; party for Fuel and Light finished for the time being.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs Pte Meader is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 3 (1 x 1000kg;   2 x 500kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Aerodrome working parties continue.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  0715 hrs  Revert to normal conditions.  0725 hrs  Beach posts informed of minesweeping activity at entrance to Grand Harbour.

(1)  AAP, Valletta – The Argus, Melbourne, 28 May 1942

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25 May 1942: Enemy Hits Back Hard After Convoy Attacks

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Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

REPRISALS FOR ATTACKS ON AXIS BASES AND SHIPPING

Yesterday’s attacks on enemy shipping have prompted immediate reprisals from the enemy today.  All three airfields were targeted in a raid at dusk this evening in one of the heaviest attacks in recent days.  The enemy action seemed designed to knock out Wellington and Albacore aircraft which have restarted successful offensive operations again against Sicilian aerodromes and enemy shipping.

PROSPECT OF INVASION STILL LOOMS

“The Photographic Reconnaisance Unit had detailed the construction of airstrips in Italy for gliders. Field Marshall Kesselring seemed to have convinced Hitler, Mussolini and General Rommel that Operation Herkules [the invasion of Malta] should go ahead in July. General Student, who commanded the bloody aerial assault on Crete, was developing similar plans for Malta.

On the evening of May 25 a large German air raid on Gasr El Arid, in Libya, intending to knock out as many of the RAF planes in North Africa as possible, started Rommel’s “Operation Theseus”, his last great advance that died at El Alamein. He had decided that the best way to win the Mediterranean was to conquer North Africa first, then take on Malta. His strategy was generally flawed, as aircraft from Malta could intercept his supplies. Especially with the new supplies of Spitfires. As it turned out, Rommel was a much better tactician than a strategician. Kesselring was correct, Operation Herkules was necessary to knock out Malta prior to defeating the Allies in North Africa. 

The rest of May would turn out to be the harshest month yet.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 MAY TO DAWN 26 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; slight.

0530-0610 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

0830-0945 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0855-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires airborne from Ta Qali and see two ME 109s but do not intercept.

1420-1550 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a 60 strong enemy formation, including three Italian bombers, forty-two ME 109s and Italian fighters attack Luqa.

1457 hrs  16 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons Luqa are scrambled too late to contact the bomber force; they engage the fighter escort.  F/Sgt Goldsmith damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  P/O Caldwell fails to return.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron also engage the enemy.  F/O West destroys one Italian Re 2001.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  S/Ldr New damages one Cant 1007.  F/O Lee damages one Cant 1007 but is then himself hit in the wing and engine.  Sgt Brennan damages one Re 2001.  Sgt De Nancreds damages one ME 109.

1503 hrs  Three Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM 84 aircraft drop eighteen 100kg bombs on the Luqa area from a high level.

1938 hrs  Waves of enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft: no combat is reported.

1945 hrs  Nine JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers with an escort of 20 plus fighters attack all three aerodromes, plus Kalafrana and Corradino.  Raiders are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Delimara gun position is hit, killing seven members of 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment Royal Artillery.

At Luqa bombs fall near the main stores and damage the aerodrome including a large crater on the main runway.  Delayed action bombs are dropped in the dispersal area and near the runway.  Two Wellingtons are damaged.

2057 hrs  Three JU 88s attack, dropping nine high explosive bombs on the Safi strip and Mqabba areas.

2145 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne from Luqa to intercept six JU 88s: no engagement.  They land at Ta Qali.

Night  Eleven enemy raiders come in and drop bombs at various places on the Island including areas around Valletta.  In the early hours of the morning, high explosive bombs on Hamrun cause damage to civilian properties, killing thirteen and injuring six.  The enemy engaged by barrage gunfire.

2300 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa at 2035 hrs lands at Ta Qali.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali airfield, on top of the caves between the western dispersal hut and Imtarfa.

0106-0213 hrs  Nine raiders drop bombs on Luqa.  An unserviceable Wellington is burned out and a number of craters made in the dispersal area.

0139 hrs  One aircraft drops two bombs on Misrah Blandun and two bombs on the Safi strip.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Caldwell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 601 Squadron; Lance Bombardier Alfred Broadhurst, 4 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner John Fitzsimons, 5 Battery, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner William Kelly, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Walter Longville, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sergeant John McCarthy, 4 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner George O’Brien, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harold Ward, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Borg, age 35; Stella Borg, age 34; Carmel Borg, age 3; William Brimmer, age 38; Carmela Brimma, age 62; Joseph Darmanin, age 68; Concetta Decelis, age 64; Adelaide Fabri, age 32; Antonia Falzon, age 60; Carmela Felice, age 66; Carmela Pace, age 5; Paul Rizzo, age 70; Doris Rizzo, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 25 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Harbour craft swept Grand Harbour entrance and destroyed one mine.  About 20 tons of fuel oil was extracted from Breconshire in drums and landed by small craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, Five Beauforts, two Blenheims to LG 222; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed on take-off: crew uninjured.  One Blenheim damaged while taxiing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.

LUQA  0815-1035 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Augusta Harbour.  2054-2345 hrs  Two Wellingtons 104 Squadron despatched to bomb a train ferry at Messina.  Bombs straddled the target and some fell in the south and south east of the harbour.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Summer dress is adopted for all purposes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 4 (3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  CSM May was buried in the Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

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

 

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Posted by on May 25, 2022 in 1942, May 1942

 

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9 May 1942: 60 Spitfires Reach Malta

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OPERATION BOWERY A SUCCESS

Spitfires 601 Squadron

Commanders in Malta are in celebratory mood tonight after the second major attempt to supply the Island with a Spitfire force proved a resounding success.  Under ‘Operation Bowery’ 60 new fighters reached the Island today out of a total of 64 which took off from the aircraft carriers USS Wasp and HMS Eagle.  From the early hours of this morning Malta’s three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali stood ready for the new arrivals.  The Island’s artillery loaded their guns, ready to fight off enemy attacks intent on destroying the Spitfires. 

The first arrivals came into view just before 10 am and ground crews went into action.  Each aircraft was allocated a number which matched them to a specific ground crew, before being taken to a protective pen to refuel and re-arm.  Within minutes, every new Spitfire was ready for a fresh pilot to take off to fight off enemy attacks on the next arrivals.  The new measures ensured there was no repeat of the heavy losses following the previous delivery attempt in April.

  • RAF fighter sorties: 125 by Spitfires, 9 by Hurricanes
  • RAF casualties: 2 Spitfires destroyed
  • Enemy bomber sorties: 24 JU 88s, 17 JU 87s, 10 Cant 1007s, 5 BR 20
  • Enemy casualties: destroyed 4 ME 109s, 3 Cant 1007s; probably destroyed 2 ME 109s, 3 JU 87s, 1 Macchi, 1 BR 20; damaged 7 ME 109s, 3 JU 88s, 2 JU 87s, 2 Macchi 202

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MAY TO DAWN 10 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

0400 hrs  Malta airfields – reveille at Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.  Working parties are picked and final arrangements confirmed for the arrival of Spitfires.  Royal Artillery raise ammunition restriction to cover arrival of Spitfires.

Ready to take off from Wasp

0500 hrs  USS Wasp and HMS Eagle, Western Mediterranean: ‘Operation Bowery’ – Spitfires ready to take off for Malta at first light.

0722 hrs  One JU 88 and six ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Malta.

0800 hrs  Zero hour – Malta’s airfields at state of readiness.

0915 hrs  Five Italian bombers approach the Island with a mass formation of 53 ME 109 fighters.  A number of ME 109s are engaged by two Ack Ack light machine guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): hits claimed.

0924 hrs  Five Cant 1007s drop bombs on the Marsa and Floriana areas.  Bombs hit Haywharf, causing a fire in the HQ of No 1 Section 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers and destroying searchlight equipment.  In Marsa Private Shepherd B Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is injured in the leg by a cannon shell.

0940 hrs  Nine Hurricanes are airborne, six from Luqa and three from Hal Far, as escort for the arrival of Spitfires from the western Mediterranean.  Six Spitfires 242 Squadron are also scrambled from Ta Qali to give high cover.  242 Squadron are attacked by four ME 109s over Luqa.  F/Lt Sanders destroys one ME 109 and F/O Holland and P/O Mitchell between them destroy another.  One Spitfire ditches in the sea: F/Lt Buckstone is missing.

1000 hrs  Ta Qali logs the first 22 new Spitfires and their pilots to arrive over the next hour.  Each aircraft is numbered ready to be met by an allocated ground crew and taken to a protective pen to refuel, re-arm and repair as necessary, ready for a fresh pilot to take off within 20 minutes as cover for the next arrivals.

1015-1020 hrs  Ack Ack Light Machine Guns of 225 LAA  engage ME 109s at 3-600 feet: hits claimed.

1055 hrs  Ta Qali: 11 of the new Spitfires take to the air with experienced pilots of 249 Squadron and engage ME 109s.  P/O Nash destroys one and probably destroys another; F/Lt Buchanan probably destroys one.  P/O Milburn crashes near Safi and is killed.

1100 hrs  11 more new Spitfires arrive at Hal Far plus another flight at Luqa, all to be met, serviced and airborne within minutes.  Ack Ack guns defend them from attack by numerous ME 109s swarming over the airfield at 150-500 feet: hits claimed.

1145 hrs  Guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Wolseley Camp engage ME 109s heading in over Fort Ta Silch to attack Hal Far: no claims.

1200 hrs  Four Spitfires on patrol make visual contact with delivery aircraft heading in towards Malta: one new Spitfire is observed falling into the sea.  A ME 109 is spotted nearby and chased away.

1205 hrs  The last batch of new Spitfires lands.  60 have arrived out of a total of 64.

1258 hrs  Raiders passed.

1312 hrs  News of the delivery of Spitfires has reached the Luftwaffe in Sicily.  A formation of 14 JU 88s and 20 ME 109s is observed heading towards Malta.

1315 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  Two JU 88s claimed as damaged.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also airborne:  P/O Nash damages one ME 109.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are also up: Sgt Tweedale crashes at Luqa and is killed.

1330 hrs  Six JU 88s drop 24 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, damaging two motor transport vehicles.  A delayed action bomb explodes near the caves, injuring A/C Oliver.  Three airmen slightly are injured in the Maintenance Quarry, Attard-Rabat Road.

1355 hrs  Nine JU 88s attack on Hal Far and Safi.  One bomb damages the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for an hour.  About six delayed action bombs are also scattered over the area.  One soldier is seriously injured and four others slightly injured.  Bombs are dropped on Wied Znuber: three Other Ranks 4th Bn Hampshire Reg are injured by bomb splinters.

1356-1415 hrs  Two JU 88s at 2-3000 feet engaged by guns of 225 LAA Bty.

1405 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and Luqa land at Ta Qali.  P/O Noble is shot up over Ta Qali.

1423 hrs  Raiders passed.

1531 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

1550 hrs  12 Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept incoming ME 109 fighters.  F/O Holland, P/O Mitchell and F/Sgt Hurst each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged.

1610 hrs  Messerschmitt 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

1615 hrs  14 JU87s with a 40-strong fighter escort dive-bomb the Safi and Siggiewi dispersal areas.  One Wellington already damaged is burned out. Three JU 87s break away to attack the San Pietru gun position, killing two Other Ranks and wounding five more, and drop bombs between Hompesch and St Clements Church.

1620 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron attack JU 87s over Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Lawrence damages one ME 109. Sgt Broad claims one JU 87 probably destroyed; he also damages one JU 87.  F/Lt Lawrence and P/O Wigley each claim  one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1630 hrs  One JU 87 is engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: hits claimed.

1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, Ta Qali, returning from a patrol over Sicily attack JU 87s who have been bombing Luqa and Grand Harbour.  P/O Nash probably destroys one.

1700 hrs  Raiders passed.

1727 hrs  11 Spitfires (4 of 601 Squadron and 7 of 126 Squadron) are scrambled from Luqa to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Nine aircraft engage in combat; two no contact.  Claims three probable Italian BR 20s destroyed; one Macchi 202 destroyed, two Macchi 202 damaged.

1744 hrs  Five Cant 1007s and numerous fighters attack, dropping fifty 100kg bombs on Attard camp and on Ta Qali airfield.

1805 hrs  Nine Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  Four have combat; five make no contact.  Claims: one ME 109 and one JU 88 damaged.

1835 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali but did not manage to intercept five Cant 1007s and seven JU 88s which go on to attack the airfield.  F/Lt Douglas destroys one ME 109; F/O Slade damages another.  F/L Douglas goes into a bomb crater on landing and damages his aircraft.

1846-1934 hrs  Seven JU 88s drop 40 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali causing craters on the aerodrome.  Three Spitfires are damaged.

0040 hrs; 0230 hrs  Two air raid alerts: a total of 12 aircraft drop bombs in the Tal Handaq area, on Tigne parade ground and in the sea.  An E boat and some aircraft appear to be minelaying in the sea north of Grand Harbour.  Some damage is caused to gas and water pipes.  One JU 88 is probably destroyed by Ack Ack.

0050-0212 hrs; 0250-0520 hrs Two Beaufighters are airborne from Luqa on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft.  One BR 20 is claimed as probably destroyed.

0414-0421 hrs  Three German schnellboote lay a triangular minefield off Sliema point to cover one possible approach of HMS Welshman which has been reported by the Luftwaffe heading for Malta.

0438 hrs  Schnellboot S-31 collides with a loose mine and sinks.  13 men are rescued including her Commanding Officer and two Italian officers; 13 are lost.

Military casualties  Sergeant Alwyn Bentley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Flight Lieutenant John Buckstone, Royal Air Force VR, 603 Squadron; Aircraftsman I John Clarke, Royal Air Force VR; Pilot Officer Harold Milburn, Royal Air Force VR, 245 Squadron.  Corporal Frederick Few, Royal Air Force, Squadron Leader John Gorringe-Smith, Royal Air Force, Flight Sergeant Thomas Grosvenor, Royal Air Force VR, Flying Officer John Leslie, Royal Air Force VR, Flying Officer William White, Royal Canadian Air Force; all 221 Squadron.  Sergeant John Jacklin, Flight Lieutenant Raymond Sly, Pilot Officer Gordon Tweedale, all Royal Australian Air Force.  Private Leonard Harvey, Private Lindon Lever, Corporal Thomas Maloney, Private Raymond Small, all 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.  Gunner Seraphim Cauchi, 30 Bty, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Falzon, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Peter Portelli, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Carmela Muscat, age 23.  Balzan  Sister Alexandra Borda, age 31.  Floriana  Mary Polidano, age 17.  Gzira  Joseph Mifsud, age 36.  Qormi  Teresa Sammut, age 20.  Zejtun  Gaetan Mifsud, age 54.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 9 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Further sweep of Grand Harbour entrance channel with all available minesweeping craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis, three Hudsons to Gibraltar, one Beaufort, one Wellington to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea off Malta; pilot missing, believed killed.  One Hurricane straffed by ME 109s while landing; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  0847-1210 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance and visual reconnaissance of Messina, Palermo and Trapani harbours and south Italian aerodromes.  1525-1730 hrs  Spitfire on search to locate enemy shipping Malta to Messina.  2123 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on special search: failed to return.  S/L Gorringe-Smith, P/O Leslie, P/O White, Sgt Bently, Sgt Grosvener, Sgt Jacklin, C/L Few missing.

TA QALI  3 Officers, 14 Airmen from HQ Mediterranean, 19 from Gzira, attached for temporary duties.  1535-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over Sicily.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Special party four Officers and 100 Other Ranks required for work on Luqa on stand by to fill in bomb craters from 0500-1000 hrs daily.  Working party of 12 men to fill belts for RAF.  9 and 30 cwt lorries required for work at Luqa.  Large deliveries of Spitfires expected.  Italians dropped bombs from a great height in Bn area.  Cpl Maloney, Pte Lever, Pte Harvey, Pte Small killed; Pte Schooley very badly injured, not expected to live.  Capt Roddy slightly injured.  Very unfortunate as men were caught absolutely unawares.  Ptes Harvey and Small were manning the Ack Ack light machine gun.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 20; dealt with 10 (1 x 1000kg,  3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, two Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 14 officers and 261 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion assisting in maintaining and servicing of aerodromes: arrival of reinforcements of Spitfires.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1430 hrs  This unit takes over Luqa working party from Durham Light Infantry.  No craters required filling today.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  This unit supplied a working party of 150 men: Spitfires arrived.

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6 May 1942: Sea Battle off Grand Harbour

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Royal Navy Motor Launch

NIGHT PATROL ATTACKED

Motor Launch ML-130 failed to return from patrol round Malta’s coast during the night and is reported lost.  Coastal watch reported seeing vigorous exchanges of fire between vessels, about six miles off Grand Harbour, which began at 0143 hrs and lasted for some twenty minutes.  Observers concluded ML-130 must have disturbed enemy E-boats engaged in mine-laying activities.

At 0307 hrs there was a loud explosion and a vessel was seen burning continuously until 0500 hrs.  The RAF rescue launch was scrambled and proceeded to the reported position to search for survivors.  Only wreckage and part of a carley float were found, leading to the suspicion that ML-130 exploded and was lost.

Intelligence reports were later picked up suggesting that the launch’s commander and nine other crew members, several of them injured, were taken prisoner by three German schnellboote (fast attack boats) off the coast of Malta.  This leaves four of the launch crew unaccounted for.

Royal Lady

GOZO HARBOUR DIVE-BOMBED: BOATS SUNK

In broad daylight this afternoon enemy fighter-bombers carried out a surprise dive-bombing raid on the harbour at Mgarr, Gozo.  One aircraft was seen to release several bombs over the Royal Lady, splitting the vessel in two.  More bombs were aimed at the trawler SS Franco; one hit the vessel, damaging the funnel.  A coffee and rest-house on the harbour was also damaged by an exploding bomb.  The loss of the Royal Lady is a severe blow to the Gozo Mail Service, which she has served since her purchase from the UK in 1938.

URGE IS MISSING

A Royal Navy Submarine which left Malta on 27 April heading for Alexandria has been reported overdue.  She was last reported on 29 April, when she attacked the Italian sailing vessel San Giusto off Ras Hilal.  It is believed the submarine was spotted by nearby German vessels with their escorting Italian aircraft, which counter-attacked.  Since then nothing has been heard of the submarine, which is believed sunk.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 MAY TO DAWN 7 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; haze – warm.

0533 hrs  Air raid alert: ME 109s patrol around the Island.

0614 hrs  One JU 88 accompanied by two ME 109 fighters drops several bombs on Tigne and one bomb on Valletta.

0655hrs; 0745 hrs  Air raid alert: ME 109s patrol around the Island.

0940 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron and two Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali intercept a plot of JU 88s.  Fl/Lt Sanders, P/O Slade and Sgt Webster damage one JU 88 each.  P/O Booth damages one ME 109.

Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are also scrambled from Hal Far.  F/Sgt Ray crash lands at Hal Far.  Sgt Lees is lost over the sea and reported missing.

0954 hrs  Six JU 88s, three Italian BR 20 bombers and 30 ME 109s attack the Hal Far and Safi areas, dropping bombs on the southern perimeter of the aerodrome and injuring two Naval Officers and four naval ratings, two of whom are admitted to hospital.  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are damaged by fighters and one JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack.

1000 hrs  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claims.

1022 hrs  One Spitfire is shot down in flames: the pilot bales out and is slightly injured.  The aircraft lands in the area are of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment who provide a guard for the wreckage.

1050 hrs  Raiders passed.

1050-1214 hrs  Two ME 109s circle north of the Island.

1225 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  They engage two ME 109s flying low over Ta Qali.  Flt/Sgt Hesselyn damages one ME 109.

1247 hrs  Five Cant 1007 bombers with a 13 strong fighter escort drop a large number of 100kg bombs on Ta Qali and Attard.

1306 hrs  Three BR 20 bombers drop small anti-personnel bombs between Qormi and Attard.

1329 hrs  Raiders passed.

1400 hrs  Cave No 4 at Ta Qali is reported to be on fire: the cave is full of oil and burns all day and late into the night.  The cause of the fire is unknown.

1530 hrs  Four fighter bombers bomb and machine-gun the harbour of Mgarr, Gozo.  The ferry boat Royal Lady is sunk.

1606 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft approaching the Island.

1630 hrs  Five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109 and Macchi 202 fighters attack Luqa airfield and the Safi strip.  One JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack.

1730 hrs  All clear.

1920 hrs  Five Hurricanes Mk 2C arrive at Hal Far from the Middle East.

Night  Three air raid alerts for JU 88s bombers which attack in pairs.  Bombs are dropped on Gozo, Luqa, Safi and Siggiewi, and Ta Qali and Mosta.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0143 hrs  The Beaufighter observes an exchange of fire between E boats and a speed rescue service craft.

Military casualties  Able Seaman John Brown, Royal Navy, ML 130; Stoker 2c John Middlemiss, Royal Navy, ML 130; Able Seaman Albert Williams, Royal Navy, ML 130; Sergeant Robert Lees, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron; Private Albert Stringer, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Saviour Cutajar, age 50.  Sliema  Edwin Azzopardi, age 21.  Zejtun  Toni Gatt, age 71.  Gozo (Victoria)  Toni Saliba, age 38.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires, one Hudson from Gibraltar; two Blenheims, one Beaufighter, five Hurricanes from Gambut; one Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  One Wellington to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane shot down in the sea; pilot missing.  One Hurricane crash-landed; pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires crashed after combat; pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire landed with undercarriage up; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  0700-0910 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes.  0929-0934 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Naples, West Italian and Sicilian aerodromes has to return with cockpit trouble.  He took off again at 1100 hrs but has to land again immediately with engine trouble.  2055-0230 hrs  One Wellington on shipping search: no sightings, bombs brought back.

TA QALI  1435 hrs  NFF establishment came through. 126 Squadron attached Luqa (pilots only).

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0830 hrs  Working party on Luqa aerodrome building sangars: two Officers and 100 Other Ranks.  RAOC working party carries on.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1430 hrs  One unexploded bomb at 51302184.  Two unexploded hand grenades at 49318299 (subsequently brought to Battalion HQ).

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 13 (4 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg; 4 x Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0730 hrs  Luqa working parties continued: first of bomber pens completed.

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4 May 1942: Pilots Watch Helpless as Spitfire Ace Shot Down in Flames

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Flt Lt Norman MacQueen

FIGHTER PILOTS LOOK ON AS FIGHTER ACE ATTACKED

RAF fighter pilots at Ta Qali had to watch helplessly as one of their comrades was jumped by a German fighter this afternoon.  Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen was one of eight Spitfire pilots scrambled to intercept a heavily protected formation of Italian bombers attacking Grand Harbour.  He was heading back towards Ta Qali from where his comrades watched as he was jumped by a Messerschmitt fighter.

“Norman was flying with another Spitfire and about to attack some 109s, when we saw a 109 sweep across the sky behind him.  Vainly we shouted, ‘Turn! Spit!’ as if there was some hope that he might hear us.  But evidently neither of them saw the 109 and just kept straight on.  We saw the 109’s tracer going right into Norman’s machine.  His spitfire lurched and gave up a thin smoke trail.  For some time it seemed to be under control and circled downwards as if he hoped to land.  Then suddenly the nose went forward, and the machine dived like a stone into the ground, bursting into flames as it hit.” 

The award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen was announced in the London Gazette on 1 May 1942. (1)

MALTA HAS NEW INFANTRY BRIGADE

A new Infantry Brigade as been formed today, increasing the Malta Command structure from three Infantry Brigades to four.  The Western Infantry Brigade is now added to the Central, Northern and Southern Brigades to improve efficiency and coverage across the Island.  The new Brigade will include 4th Bn The Buffs (Royal East Kent) Regiment, 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry and 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment, whose former Commanding Officer, Lt Col F G R Brittorous, DSO, MC, takes over command of the new Brigade.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MAY TO DAWN 5 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0703-0737 hrs  One JU 88 and four ME 109 carry out a reconnaissance patrol across the Island.  They are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack: no claims.

1013 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for plots of enemy aircraft approaching the Island.

1025 hrs  Six enemy fighters approach from the south east and attack Marsaxlokk Bay.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers drop bombs near a trawler and an oil barge in the Bay.  Bombs also land on Wolseley Camp and near the camp Battery.  Guns of E Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt engage two ME 109s which are seen to leave the Island smoking.  Guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt engage one ME 109: hits claimed.

1038-1047 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack Luqa aerodrome and the Safi strip.  Bombs on the main airfield explode near three defence posts: one 15 cwt lorry is destroyed.  A working party of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engages the attacking aircraft with light machine guns, claiming damage to two JU 88s.  Bombs explode either side of their position: 2/Lt Angell and Cpl Latchem are slightly hurt.  Twelve bombs are dropped on Safi strip.

1110 hrs  All clear.

1621 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for incoming formations of enemy fighters and bombers.

1626 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers with fighter escort carry out a repeat dive-bombing attack on Marsaxlokk Bay.  This time bombs score a direct hit on the oil barge and sink it. Bombs are also dropped on Wolseley Camp, damaging a guard room and a gas decontamination centre.

Guns of Fort Ta Silch engage two ME 109s flying east to west at 50 feet.

1645 hrs  Three JU 88s bomb Pieta, Manoel Island and Floriana.

1650 hrs  Three JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on the Hal Far area.  Only one bomb falls within the perimeter of the aerodrome, damaging one Swordfish aircraft.

1650-1700 hrs  Five JU 88s at 2-3000 feet and three ME 109s at 50-300 feet are engaged by seven guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims one ME 109 damaged.

1715 hrs  Raiders passed.

1740 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa and four from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of enemy aircraft.  They are unable to reach the height of the five Cant 1007s who come with a close escort of Macchi 202s at 21000 feet.  14 ME 109s engage the Spitfires.  F/Lt MacQueen, 249 Squadron (Ta Qali), is fired at by a ME 109.  His machine crashes near Naxxar and explodes.  Sgt Brennan (Ta Qali) probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt McConnell (Luqa) engages ME 109s but is hit in the radiator; the pilot is unhurt.

1750 hrs  Five Cant 1007 bombers drop bombs between Corradino and Paola from a high level.  Ack Ack guns destroy one enemy aircraft and damage one.

1815 hrs  Raiders passed.  All seven remaining Spitfires land at Ta Qali.

1930 hrs  A Spitfire on transit from Gibraltar to Malta overshoots the runway and crashes, slightly damaging the aircraft.

Night  Two short alerts: bombs in the south east of the Island and in the sea off Grand Harbour.

2250 hrs  Air raid alert.  A Wellington aircraft on transit from Gibraltar to Malta stalls while coming in to land at Luqa and crashes.  The aircraft is written off but the crew are unhurt.

2305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Incendiaries are reported south of Fort Ta Silch.

2310 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen, DFC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Gunner James Ancient, 186 Battery, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Saviour Bonello, 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Carmelo Schembri, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 4 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S), Tenth Submarine Flotilla and staff left for Alexandria by air.  Oil lighter and tug C308 at Marsaxlokk machine gunned by ME 109s, only slight damage was caused, but during a later raid, the oil lighter was dive bombed and sunk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims, two Spitfires, two Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Hudson to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing; crew uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down: pilot killed.

LUQA  0810-0945 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Italian aerodromes.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  1800-2400 hrs  Working party at Ta Qali continues.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Exercise continues.  There has been no action.  Troops have just “stood to” morning and evening.  1800 hrs  Exercise finishes; Bn stands down and we revert to normal.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 21(4 x 500kg, 14 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg, 1 x Italian anti-personnel bomb container).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0500 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” down.  0730 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.   1800 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” completed.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Our Commanding Officer Lt Col F G R Brittorous, DSO, MC was given command of the new Western Infantry Brigade, consisting of 4 Buffs, 1st Durham Light Infantry and 8 Kings Own.

(1) Diary of Squadron Leader Lord David Douglas-Hamilton, Blackwood’s Magazine, May 1944

 

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10 April 1942: Malta’s Gunners Under Heavy Fire

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Admiralty House, Vittoriosa

LUFTWAFFE BOMB AND STRAFE  DEFENSIVE GUNS

Enemy air forces adopted new strategies today aimed at cutting down the loss of bombers in air raids on Malta.  The first wave of each attacking force targeted bombs at gun positions protecting Grand Harbour and approaches to southern airfields.  The attacks were then followed up by bombing raids on the now unprotected areas.

At the same time, ME 109s carried out pinpoint machine-gun and cannon fire attacks on coastal and inland defensive positions, particularly on the northern approaches to the Grand Harbour and Ta Qali.  Despite their combined efforts at least fourteen enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged by Malta’s fighters and anti-aircraft fire during the day.

Observers report that the machine-gun loaded Messerschmitt 109s were painted yellow at the nose.  This is believed to make them identifiable during dog-fights, to avoid destruction by friendly fire.

HEROES’ BRAVE FIRE TO SAVE AIRMAN

George Medal Citation: Corporal Hugh Clawson & Leading Aircraftsman Edward Morris Mitchison

“[On 10th] April, 1942, a considerable force of enemy aircraft attacked an aerodrome in Malta with heavy bombs. A [Hurricane] aircraft, which had been damaged by enemy fighters, crashed and burst into flames when attempting to land. Corporal Clawson and Leading Aircraftman Mitchison, despite the danger from enemy aircraft which were diving to attack and dropping sticks of bombs which were falling across their path, drove across the aerodrome to the scene of the crash. Enemy fighters commenced to attack the burning aircraft with cannon fire but Corporal Clawson and Leading Aircraftman Mitchison assisted the pilot [P/O Ormrod] to safety, although their efforts to subdue the fire were not successful. The courage and determination displayed by these airmen undoubtedly saved the pilot’s life. They set an example which has been the admiration of all on the station.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 APRIL TO DAWN 11 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 30% cloud at 15-18000 feet.

0844 hrs  Two enemy aircraft approach Gozo and recede.

1007 hrs  Two ME 109s circle the Island and recede.

1015 hrs  Four ME 109s machine-gun the Gozo boat in the South Comino Channel causing eight civilian casualties (none fatal).

1246 hrs  Approximately 50 JU 88s and 21 JU 87s approach the Island in waves.  ME 109s machine-gun searchlight positions at Ghain Tuffieha, Ta Qali and Baida Ridge.  No fighters are airborne.  One unidentified aircraft is destroyed by Ack Ack.

1300 hrs  The first wave of eight JU 88s turns south to bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.

1305 hrs  The second wave attacks gun positions to the south of Grand Harbour.  Gun positions at St Angelo, the Customs House and St Elmo are damaged.  Bombs hit Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery and fields west of Hompesch Arch, Tarxien.  The guard room at Hompesch gun position is demolished. One JU 88 is engaged by light machine-gunfire from HQ, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.  Two bakeries and several houses in High St, St James Square and Sanctuary Street, Zabbar are demolished, killing two civilians and injuring two.

A third wave attacks Valletta.  Men of a working party of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt at the Command Fair are wounded.  Bombs hit Floriana, demolishing houses in Gunlayer Sq corner with Granaries St.  Parachute mines are dropped near the War Memorial, the Granaries and Capuchins’ Friary.

21 JU 87s attack the Dockyard: bombs land on the Joiners, Fitters and Painters Shops, and the Sawmills.  Several roads are blocked.  The large travelling crane at head of No 4 Dock, MEDs Pattern Ship and Gunmounting shop and a boat house are damaged.  A 1000kg bomb lands outside K magazine, NA Depot, blocking the road.

1307 hrs  Four ME 109s attempt a raid on Hal Far.  Two are engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one gun claims a hit on one ME 109 with burst of light machine gun.  The other two ME 109s attack Hal Far, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1313 hrs  Ghain Znuber Tower is machine-gunned by enemy aircraft.

1315 hrs  Ten JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.  One Wellington is damaged and two Hurricanes are badly damaged.

1401 hrs  One hand grenade is dropped on Gudja Camp by an enemy aircraft.

1740 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight a large formation of 85 enemy bombers plus fighter escort.  F/O Lee claims one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.  P/O Nash claims one JU 87 probable and one ME 109 damaged.  P/O Buchanan destroys one ME 109.

Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercept ten JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  Sgt Horricks destroys one ME 109; P/O Wigley damages one ME 109 and P/O Ormrod damages a JU 87.  P/O Wigley and Sgt Broad have to bale out: neither is injured.  P/O Ormrod crash-lands at Luqa and escapes the aircraft before it bursts into flames.

Ack Ack destroy one JU 88; Light Ack Ack probably destroy one JU 88, damage one JU 88 and probably destroy one JU 88 and one JU 87.

1742 hrs  The enemy raiders split into three formations.  One attacks Grand Harbour, destroying Admiralty House in Vittoriosa.  St Joseph’s Parish Church in Kalkara is heavily bombed and completely destroyed.

1758 hrs  16 JU88s bomb Hal Far, damaging the Sergeants’ Mess and causing craters on the aerodrome.  Light Ack Ack guns engage: no claims.

1800 hrs  Eight JU 88s bomb Ta Qali, causing craters on the aerodrome.  One JU 88 is hit: one man bails out but his parachute fails: he drops on the Bukana Feature.

1810 hrs  Bombs land adjacent to Hompesch 3″ Ack Ack Battery.  Bombs on Bidni Ridge in vicinity of E Company HQ, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

Night  Five raids: bombers are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and fighters.

2102-2133 hrs  One Italian aircraft comes in from the north and drops bombs in the north of the Island.  15kkg anti-personnel bombs drop on Bukana Camp, HQ of E Company 8th Bn Manchester Regt.  Sgt Jones is injured by shrapnel and admitted to hospital.  Searchlights engage and the enemy aircraft recedes.

2040-2135 hrs; 2345-0215 hrs  A Beaufighter from Luqa airborne on patrol, dives and attacks one enemy aircraft: no results are observed.

2311-2340 hrs  One Italian aircraft drops bombs in the sea off Delimara and incendiaries on Delimara Ridge.

0045 hrs  Incendiaries are dropped by Italian aircraft on the Tas Sinia area.

Military casualties  Petty Officer James Pearsall, HMS St.Angelo; Sergeant John Clarke, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Gunner Thomas Threadgall, 190 Bty (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery;  Corporal Edgar Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun   Anthony Bellizzi, age 65.  Mqabba  Pauline Borg, age 31; Lawrence Mangion, age 61.  Zabbar  Zarena Defelice, age 44; Saviour Grech, age 35.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Paul Boeger, fell from a Junkers JU 88 bomber and died.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 10 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Admiralty House, Vittoriosa, is badly damaged by a heavy bomb.  Jade received further damage.

AIR HQ  Hudson crashed on take-off.  One of crew killed, five seriously injured.  Departures  Three Beauforts to Sidi Barrani; two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  AM Four ME 109s machine-gun the aerodrome.  No damage or casualties.

LUQA  1610-1855 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1610-1950 hrs  One spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes.

TA QALI  Aerodrome repairs proceeding.  Erection of tents for airmen  begins at Boschetto Gardens.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  No further work on Pampas.  The ship had several more hits: doubtful if we shall work on her any more.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Private peace is buried in St Andrews Military Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb on Floriana Parade Ground.  Bomb on 4 Section, 1 Works Company stores: stores and equipment destroyed, no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 17; dealt with 9 (2 x 1000kg, 3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  ME 109 engaged by Ack Ack LMGs in Bn area.  Hurricane crashed in Bn area: pilot safe.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Dog-fight over Salina and Wardia area.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT D Company changed location from Tal Providenz to Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs This unit hands over Tal Minsia to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  L/Cpl Bowers and Pte Schembri are wounded at Luqa and evacuated to No 39 General Hospital.

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

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Ruins of Franciscan Friary, Sliema 1942 (NWMA)

TWO BOMBS ON SLIEMA KILL 22

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

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

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

ENEMY’S HEAVY LOSSES

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 APRIL TO DAWN 2 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2113 hrs  Two bombs land on the Tal Liebru area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

0205 hrs  Three bombs land on the Tal Liebru area.

0420 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

P36 – a U class submarine

OPERATIONS REPORTS 1 APRIL 1942

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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CONVOY FIGHTS ITS WAY INTO GRAND HARBOUR

SS Talabot (Times of Malta)

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MARCH TO DAWN 24 MARCH 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMS Breconshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties   Kalkara  Agostino Mintoff, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 MARCH 1942

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

LUQA  No operations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 23.

 

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18 March 1942: Three Hour Battle Over Malta – Blow by Blow Account

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  • 12 raids in 16½ hours
  • Aerodromes main target
  • Gozo passenger boat machine-gunned
  • Fighters prowl Malta’s coasts

‘Buck’ McNair (Canadian Aces)(1)

MALTA ADOPTS BATTLE OF BRITAIN TACTICS

“The Malta pilots quickly adapted Battle of Britain tactics to their situation under the tutelage of SL Turner. What Spitfires that could get airborne would try to attack the escorts first while the Hurricanes would come in just behind them and try to get at the bombers. This didn’t often work out, due to the overabundance of 109s in the air. However, on March 18 Buck damaged a Bf-109, and the next day he shot one down in flames.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MARCH TO DAWN 19 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; no cloud.

0727-0845 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by sixteen ME 109s drops bombs in the sea west of Anchor Bay, on land near Torri L’Abjad and near Miziep Pumping Station.  Four ME 109s peel off and machine-gun Marfa Beach, firing on the Gozo ferry boat disembarking at Marfa Jetty and injuring three passengers. ME 109s go on to carry out low-flying patrols around the coast.

0855-1216 hrs  Six ME 109s circle the Island, three patrol off the south east coast and three ME 109s patrol off Delimara.  Four ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island and two in the north.  Malta’s fighters engage.

1230-1308 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are  airborne to escort a Maryland south.  While still trying to locate it they see two of the patrolling ME 109s, five miles south of Delimara.  They attack: W/Cdr Turner damages one; P/O McNair damages one.

1326-1400 hrs  ME 109s patrol off the coast and to the north of the Island.

1430 hrs  Five Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of one JU 88 and twelve ME 109s.

1447 hrs  The Hurricanes attack and together damage a JU 88.  P/O Lester is shot up by a ME 109 and wounded.

1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, four Hurricanes 126 Squadron and seven 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept 24 JU 88 bombers in a series of formations, each with fighter escort.

1650 hrs  The four Spitfires are jumped by four ME 109s. One ME shoots down P/O Fox who bales out over the sea.  F/Lt McQueen attacks the ME and sees that go down into the sea.  P/O Sergeant attacks another ME, observing large pieces falling off.  P/O Lee attacks a JU 88, seeing strikes on the fuselage and black smoke from the port engine.

The Hurricanes close to within sight of the attacks.  F/Sgt Fletcher and F/Lt Stone see hits on the same JU 88 attacked by P/O Lee.

1711 hrs  Air raid on Hal Far.  Five JU 88s drop fifteen high explosive (HE) bombs, including three 1000kg.  Eight fall on the airfield.

1715 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage three JU 88s: one hit claimed.

1717 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 14 HE bombs including three 1000kg on Safi strip, and on Hal Far, damaging one Albacore, demolishing a hangar and leaving craters on the aerodrome.

1725 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages a JU 88: no claim. 

1725 hrs  One 1000kg bomb falls on Bubaqra village, damaging headquarters of A Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt and injuring the storeman.  An unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 50 yards away.  B Company reports one fighter in the sea near Filfla.

1730 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claim.

1735 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA engage one JU 88: two guns claim one hit each.  One of the gun positions is hit:  billets are damaged and rendered unserviceable.  Personnel have to be accommodated temporarily in tents.

1735 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Misrah Blandun area.

1755 hrs  Four bombs explode between the headquarters of B and D Companies, 3 Bn Kings Own Malta Regt (KOMR).  One 1000kg bomb is reported near RAF posts at Ghar Lapsi.  An unexploded bomb is reported at position 424193.

1755 hrs  Fighter aircraft return to Ta Qali but Sgt Mulloy and P/O Lester are reported missing.

1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne to escort the High Speed Launch in a search for P/O Lester.

1830 hrs  Seven JU 88s raid Ta Qali, dropping 45 high explosive bombs.  24 hit target, setting fire to and destroying two Hurricanes, one bowser and one tractor.  Bombs fall on the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for a short time.  One Hurricane and one Spitfire are slightly damaged.  LAC Parker is admitted to No 90 General Hospital with severe shock.

Several bombs fall around the camp of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt and on Qrendi strip.  One bomb explodes close to the HQ building. The guard commander is affected by bomb blast and taken to hospital suffering from concussion.

1845 hrs  Four JU 88s drop HE bombs on Luqa airfield.

1900 hrs  P/O Sergeant 249 Squadron attacks a ME 109 with several bursts: the aircraft dives steeply towards the sea, emitting white smoke.

1909 hrs  Raiders passed.

1955 hrs  An observer of 3rd Bn KOMR at Ghar Lapsi sights a bomber in the sea West of Filfla, one fighter south east of Filfla and another fighter south of Filfla.

P/O Lester is rescued by the High Speed Launch.

2235-2300 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast near St George’s and drops bombs on Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2355-0127 hrs  Eight single aircraft approach from the north.  Four cross the coast and bomb searchlight positions at Tal Balal and Mellieha, and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; one night fighter is airborne.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Arthur Delehaunt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 69 Squadron; Sergeant William Anderson, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Harold Fox, Royal Air Force VR, 249 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Grimley, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant George Mulloy, Royal Air Force VR, 126 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Parker, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  St Paul’s Bay  Carmela Muscat, age 72; Francis Muscat, age 14.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Kurt Lauinger, III/JG 53, Pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109, shot down, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Two Swordfish and two Albacores on shipping search without result.  One Swordfish crashed on landing; crew unhurt.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  AM  Two Swordfish and four Albacores of 828 and 830 Squadron on shipping search.  Two merchant vessels and two destroyers sighted 180 degrees Lampedusa 45 miles, course north, 15 knots.  One hit scored.

LUQA  0825-1256 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for shipping: relocation of convoy and traffic moving east from Tripoli.  1434 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron despatched on reconnaissance of Marittimo-Kerkennah.  Sgt Parker fails to return.  One Maryland on reconnaissance Marittimo-Kerkennah failed to return: believed shot down by enemy fighters off Filfla.  Crew: Sgts Parker, Delehaunt, Grimley and Anderson airborne 1434 hrs.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One man A Company Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by [1000kg bomb] in Bubaqra village; one Other Rank slightly injured by bomb blast.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party two Officers and 100 Other Ranks at Luqa.  1400 hrs  30 Other Ranks final parachute practice on Marsa Range. 

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

(1) Profile of Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNair from Canadian Aces (Miles Constable)

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Posted by on March 18, 2022 in 1942, March 1942

 

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