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7 February 1942: Malta’s Guns Silenced to Save Ammunition

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ROYAL ARTILLERY OPERATION INSTRUCTION: 7 FEBRUARY 1942

Anti-Aircraft Battery at Work

Anti-Aircraft Battery at Work

Information  Air attack is at present on a large scale causing heavy expenditure of ammunition.

Intention  To conserve stocks of Anti-Aircraft ammunition.

Method:  Enemy fighters will not be engaged by Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery with the following provisos:

  1. Fighters which look as if they intend to attack shipping or make low-flying attacks on aerodromes may be engaged by Heavy Anti-Aircraft artillery by Range Control procedure only.
  2. Heavy Anti Aircraft artillery may engage enemy fighters in order to afford protection to our own aircraft.
  3. When our fighters are airborne pointer rounds may be fired in accordance with present policy.
  4. These instructions will come into force at 1800 hours Sunday 8th February 1942.

Lieut-Colonel, RA

FUNERAL UNDER FIRE

“We buried Miss Yabsley on the 7th. There was a big crowd; gunfire opened while we were awaiting the body, and I personally asked Lady Dobbie to go to the door of a shelter quite near as unless she did so nobody would; and there were many young Scouts and Guides present. I went myself partly to set an example. Splinters of shell were falling through the leaves of the trees.

When the funeral was about to start Mrs Denaro the Head of the Guides said that she was not bringing the Guides to the graveside, I asked her what harm it could do them. In the end she allowed them to come round the grave after we had finished that part of the service which I took in the Chapel. That evening I heard again the scream of falling bombs close to the Cathedral.”

Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta (1) 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 8 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Clear sky, no cloud.  Wind south south-east.

0824-0846 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters approach from the north, patrol to the north east of the Island, are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and recede north.

0905 hrs  Four aircraft of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali: no interceptions.

0929-0936 hrs  One JU 88 bomber escorted by two ME 109s approaches from the south west having skirted the Island a long way to the east.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta’s fighters are up: no engagement.  No bombs are dropped.

1031-1217 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by twelve plus ME 109s approach from the north.

1041 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Hal Far area.  Billets of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at XLS 25 are damaged by bomb blast.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Two ME 109s carry out a low-flying attack on Luqa and are engaged by ground defences.   Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1120 hrs  One ME 109 attacks a friendly aircraft trying to land on the Safi strip.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery gun position attack, destroying the ME 109 which crashes near another gun position at Hal Far.

1130 hrs Kings Own Malta Regiment 3rd Bn reports two ME 109s shot down: one crashing between Zurrieq and Hal Far, the other near Gudja.

1229-1346 hrs  A hostile raid of six ME 109s approaches from the north: two ME 109s sweep very low over Luqa.  No Hurricanes are up; Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1425-1802 hrs  Fourteen plus ME 109s patrol round the Island while one JU 88 comes in on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the bomber.  Three JU 88s then come in and drop bombs on Hal Far, damaging three Hurricanes and injuring two RAF personnel.  Heavy Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88, confirmed by an intercepted German radio message.  Several ME 109s are machine-gunned and engaged by Malta’s destroyers.  The enemy aircraft shadow the destroyers for some considerable time before returning to their base.

1745 hrs  Six aircraft of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali as escort for a rescue launch; landing 1850 hrs.

1837-1857 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1911-1945 hrs  Four bombers approach singly from the north and drop bombs in the Hal Far, Grand Harbour, Floriana, Qawra Tower areas and also in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1954-2028 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south and drops bombs near Comino and then recedes north.

2051-2144 hrs  One bomber approaches from the north and after dropping bombs in the Madliena area circles the Island twice and recedes north.

2219-2250 hrs  One bomber approaches via Gozo, crosses the coast near Ghain Tuffieha and drops bombs in the Bingemma-Benghaisa areas.

2307-0035 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north west, crosses the coast at St Paul’s Bay and drops bombs in the sea off Kalafrana, then machine-guns Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack engage, firing two barrages.  Another aircraft approaches from the north, is engaged by a barrage and drops bombs in the sea north of Ricasoli.

0050-0115 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north and  drops bombs 2000 yards from Nicola.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

0213-0316 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north over Gozo and Comino and drops bombs on Safi Strip, north of Gudia and in Gudia village.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

0422-0549 hrs  One aircraft crosses the coast four times at various points, dropping bombs on Qrendi strip, Lapsi searchlight position, Luqa area, east of Qormi, north of Salvatore, near the Palace and on the Fleur de Lys gun position, near the headquarters of the 11th Bn The Lancashire Regiment.

0457 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment reports a stick of bombs between Qrendi and Providenza.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Anthony Pizzuto.

Enemy casualties  Oberfeldwebel Otto Goethe, pilot of a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 7 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from 234 Wing; three Wellingtons from UK (one missing).  Departures  Three Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search; one Beaufighter Sicilian Task; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Taranto, Messina; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland special search Tripoli-Buerat.  40 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons sent to attack Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search Lampedusa-Kerkennah.

TA QALI  One Blenheim arrived for attachment 242 Squadron.  15 air raid alarms between 0030 and 2220 hrs – no bombs on camp.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion drill parade held at Corrodino: 17 Officers and 290 Other Ranks on parade.  Luqa working parties increased to 140.  Holiday in the afternoon.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  During an early evening raid, four bombs fell on and around Msida Bastion quarters of 173 Tunnelling Company RE.  Half of one is destroyed, with minor damage to equipment and stores.  Fortunately, there were no casualties, as the men were out, but it can be safely assumed that had this occurred on any other night in the week, casualties would have been of a serious nature.  No 1 Section were found alternative accommodation in Lintorn Barracks.  Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 2; dealt with 7.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bombs fell in Battalion sector close to B Company: superficial damage to billet; no casualties.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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11 August 1941: German Stuka Dive-bombers Attack Malta

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JU 87 dive-bomber

JU 87 dive-bombers over Malta

ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IN HEAVIEST RAID FOR MONTHS

German JU 87 dive-bombers were seen in significant numbers tonight over Malta for the first time in many weeks. Nine JU 87 ‘Stukas’ attacked the Island in the heaviest raid on the Island for some time.   A large number of high explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped on the Ta Qali area and Grand Harbour.  However, damage was relatively minor, with a few houses in Lija slightly damaged and Dockyard timber warehouses set on fire.  Two of the nine enemy aircraft were shot down by Malta fighters.

Results were very different according to Rome radio, which has broadcast a heavily embellished report of the results of tonight’s raid:

“The naval and air bases of Malta have been made the object of another very heavy attack by the Fascist air force. Formations of bombers and dive-bombers brought themselves over the more important military objectives of the Island.  A veritable shower of bombs was rained down on [Luqa] aerodrome.  Aerodrome buildings and other establishments, stores and aircraft dispersed on the airfield were hit by medium and heavy calibre bombs and hundreds of grenades which caused vast destruction and fires. 

The attack on the naval base of Valletta was extremely effective. Loud explosions were heard and huge fires visible from a great distance were started.  The fires served as beacons for later formations of aircraft and facilitated the location of objectives.  Bombs caused damage to harbour installations and to the dry docks.

Anti-aircraft and fighter opposition supported by the wide use of searchlights did not prevent the crews of our planes from carrying out one of the most heavy attacks that the Island has experienced in the last few months.”

BLENHEIM CREW FACED WITH ON-BOARD UNEXPLODED BOMB

The crew of a Blenheim of 105 Squadron are lucky to be alive today after one of their own bombs became stuck in the aircraft during a raid over southern Italy. Squadron Leader George Goode was the pilot of one of three Blenheims sent to attack a chemical factory at Crotone.  All three released their bombs on target but as S/Ldr Goode pulled away, the crew reported that one bomb was still stuck in the Blenheim. 

The crew tried their best to jettison the bomb and S/Ldr Goode made a sharp turn to try and release it. As they flew back over the port, enemy guns hit the port engine and the Blenheim began to lose power.  A crash landing was inevitable but dead ahead of them were the cliffs at Capo Colonna.  S/Ldr Goode managed to gain just enough height to clear the clifftop and landed safely in a field. 

Immediately the crew began to take measures to destroy their aircraft, conscious meanwhile that the unexploded bomb could go off and kill them all.   However, Italian soldiers reached them before they could achieve their objective.  S/Ldr Goode, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner P/O E W Applebee and Observer Sgt H A Nicolls were all taken prisoner. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and fresh.

0040-0200 hrs Raid no 813  Air raid alert for nine unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east at intervals and cross the coast over Grand Harbour. They carry out an hour-long raid over the Island.  Some 250kg and 500kg high explosives, and hundreds of incendiary bombs are dropped on Grand Harbour, Marsa, Pieta, Salvatore Gate, Gzira, Lija, San Nicola, Ta Silch and Ta Qali.  The incendiaries are of a type not seen in Malta before.  Warehouses in Marsa are ignited, damaging some timber; the fire was soon extinguished.  A few houses in Lija are slightly damaged and a donkey killed.  Four Hurricanes are scrambled and searchlights illuminate raiders on two occasions.  Two enemy aircraft are shot down in flames in the sea; three crew are seen baling out.  A rescue launch is sent out but finds no survivors.

Military casualties  Flight-Sergeant Campbell Clark, Wireless.Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron; Pilot Officer Robert G Scott, 202 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 11 AUGUST 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 2 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Marylands on strike force patrols for enemy shipping.  Photoreconnaissance Comiso and Syracuse. 38 Squadron 5 Wellingtons sent to attack north west of Tripoli dropped bombs from 6000 feet on targets causing fires and destroying large buildings.  Machine gun attacks launched on a military convoy near Homs. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims sent to attack chemical works attacked military facilities with success.  3 Blenheims sent in follow up attack scoring further direct hits. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm A Swordfish sunk the 13000 ton Italian hospital ship California at Syracuse. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  One Company takes over Ta Saliba headquarters with one platoon in St Paul’s Bay.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion in Gozo.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion moved to Gozo for intensive training.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Two Companies take over defence of Ta Qali aerodrome.

(1) Source: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in 1941, August 1941

 

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26 July 1941: Italian Torpedo Boats Attack Malta Harbours

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Italian plan of attack

Italian plan of attack

RAIDING BOATS WIPED OUT IN MINUTES BY HARBOUR GUNNERS

A flotilla of Italian boats launched a daring attack at dawn this morning on Malta’s main harbours. It is believed the attack was aimed at the convoy ships in Grand Harbour and the submarine base at Manoel Island. But within a matter of minutes all the enemy vessels had been destroyed or disabled by Harbour defences. 

The Harbour gunners had been at their posts since before midnight last night, when enemy shipping was detected off the north coast of the Island. In anticipation of a naval bombardment, all coastal defence posts were ordered to ‘stand to’ and Swordfish aircraft were sent out to attack but the vessels were reported to have turned away.  However, the incident placed the Harbour Fire Command on high alert; gunners were not sent to barracks but ordered to sleep at their gun positions.

Just before dawn this morning the air raid alert sounded for a small group of enemy fighters approaching the Island. No attack was made but as All Clear siren died down, the sound of motor boat engines was heard off Grand Harbour. 

A minute later came the first intimation of the attack on the Harbour, with a heavy explosion under the St Elmo Viaduct. The order was given for all searchlights to be switched on and the sea outside Grand Harbour was lit up across a wide area, exposing the flotilla of enemy E-boats close to the shore. The gunners at St Elmo and Ricasoli and along the coastline opened fire.  The first enemy boat was blown up within 10 seconds, followed at short intervals by several others. 

Already woken by the air raid alert, many civilians watched: “the resulting fireworks display, as [the tracer bullets] ricocheted off the surface of the sea and formed interweaving patterns of dark red, green and light red, was a sight witnessed by the crowds, which surprisingly enough for the hour of the morning had gathered along Valletta bastions and Sliema front…” (1)

As it became lighter more E-boats were sighted and engaged with great success by the twin 6 pounders of the Harbour Fire Command, the Bofors positions at Dragut Point, Fort St Elmo and Ricasoli, and also from a coastal defence post.

Corporal L G Ferris of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment was manning a gun at the defence post: 

Italian MTB

Italian MTB

I heard loud explosions in the mouth of the Grand Harbour. I went outside and saw two Motor Torpedo Boats.  I watched them for approximately ten minutes and decided that they were hostile craft, and so I engaged them with a Vickers Machine Gun… We continued to fire until both boats were sunk and all firing ceased at approximately 0530 hrs.  Daylight showed the wreckage of two boats with survivors clinging to them, and these survivors were picked up by a naval boat…” 

At about 0550 hrs we saw three other craft on the horizon and this was reported to Company Headquarters.”

Meanwhile the RAF reported enemy aircraft approaching the Island. Hurricanes fighters were sent to intercept and engaged the raiders.  While most concentrated on the Macchi fighters, two Hurricanes dived on enemy motor boats and opened fire, damaging at least two.

P/O Winton was surprised by a Macchi fighter: “and received such damage to his machine that his fan stopped. Using his speed to gain height, he was able to reach 700 feet and then baled out, both his parachute and dinghy doing all the things that a kind-hearted MO likes them to do… then he spotted a stationary torpedo boat.  He paddled the dinghy with his hands and, finding progress slow, towed it and swam towards the boat.  By climbing up the side he was able to peer into it and was confronted by eight very much dead Italians.

Taking possession of the boat was thus quite easy and as he couldn’t start it he waited, flying the flag at half-mast, since he didn’t know which side would rescue him. An Army rescue boat did a circuit round him – almost six hours after he had baled out on an empty stomach – and thinking he was an Italian, also that there was a machine-gun on the boat, left him to cool his heels for a time.  Before they could return a Swordfish with floats dropped in to pay him a visit and gave him a lift home…” (2)

The attacking force is believed to have consisted of one fast tender vessel carrying the strike flotilla, one two-man and nine one-man motor torpedo boats, one motor boat carrying two two-man submarines and two large rescue boats. The rescue boats and carrier apparently escorted the MTBs and submarines to within a couple of miles of Grand Harbour before turning out to sea.  Six MTBs, one two-man motor torpedo boat and a large motor boat were destroyed by coastal defences, three MTBs and two rescue launches were destroyed by the RAF. 

One two-man submarine exploded on attacking the St Elmo breakwater; the second, probably intended for an attack on Marsamxetto Harbour, ran aground and was abandoned by its crew. The outer span of the breakwater was brought down, effectively blocking access to Grand Harbour for the following attack vessels.  No other damage was caused.

Malta rescue boats and aircraft searched throughout the day for survivors. The enemy also carried out air searches and an Italian hospital ship remained 12 miles offshore for most of the day; the RAF did not mount any attacks.  In all, 15 dead bodies were recovered; 18 Italians were rescued alive and taken prisoner.  One MTB was recovered and brought in to Grand Harbour.  A one-man MTB was also recovered intact, and it is hoped to salvage other craft.  

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JULY TO DAWN 27 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

0415 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft approaching the Island. They turn away without dropping any bombs.

0445 hrs  Five motor torpedo boats (MTB) are reported off Grand Harbour.

0446 hrs  A large explosion is heard from the direction of Grand Harbour.

0450 hrs  MTBs, one-man motor boats and two-man submarines are reported off Grand Harbour. The St Elmo alarm sounds again and sentries take up positions on all beach posts.

0500 hrs  The vessels are engaged by the twin six-pounders of the Harbour Fire Command at a range between 3000 and 500 yards. Bofors gun positions at Dragut Point, Fort St Elmo and Ricasoli also engage. Defence posts of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment engage the boats with machine-gunfire.

Hurricane fighters join in the attack on the Italian MTBs.

Two MTBs are sunk and two disabled, along with the entire force of one-man speed boats and two-man submarines. One Bofors claims six hits on a MTB.  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment reports hitting one MTB with machine-gunfire at 1450 yards; the vessel then explodes.  

Eight two-man submarines attempt to break through the boom defences of Marsamxetto and Grand Harbour. Seven are either sunk or destroyed before reaching their target; one reaches the viaduct of Elmo breakwater and explodes, blowing it up.  Gas and water mains are broken by the impact; supplies are shut off by Royal Engineers personnel. 

0525 hrs  Air raid alert for a large formation of enemy aircraft approaching the Island 15 Hurricanes fighters are scrambled.  Nine of the Hurricanes sight two enemy rescue boats 15 miles from Malta on a north-easterly course.  Two fighters dive towards the boats and open fire from 500 yards, five of the remaining Hurricanes follow in to attack while one remains on lookout.  One of the boats is halted and appears to be sinking, the other is pursued for five miles before bursting into flames. Hurricanes also attack MTBs off the coast of Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto.

A Macchi fighter approaches and attacks one of the Hurricanes. Another Hurricane launches a counter-attack on the Macchi and shoots it down into the sea.  Hurricanes engage 15 Macchi fighters apparently on their way back to Sicily; two Macchis are shot down.

One Hurricane is shot down in the engagement and P/O Winston is reported missing. Another pilot reports having seen him in the sea 25-30 miles north east of Grand Harbour. 

0622 hrs  Raiders passed signal is sounded. Heavy machine-gun fire is heard out to sea.

St Elmo Viaduct has been damaged but the Harbour defences have not been penetrated. Reports claim a mixture of ten vessels including MTBs and one-man submarines sunk by shore gun batteries and Hurricane fighters; numbers are difficult to confirm due to the half-light.  However, excellent work by the twin six-pounders of the Harbour Fire Command undoubtedly accounted for the majority of the craft destroyed.

DAY  Swordfish aircraft and rescue boats from Kalafrana carry out patrols to search for survivors, totalling five and a half hours. P/O Winston is picked up unhurt.  Eighteen Italians are rescued alive and taken prisoner.  One disabled MTB is brought into Grand Harbour.  A one-man speed boat is also recovered intact and it is hoped to salvage other craft. 

The enemy also carry out searches for the missing MTBs, small submarines and Macchi pilots throughout the day. Hurricanes make no further contact with enemy aircraft. 

2152-2218 hrs; 2231-2348 hrs  Air raid alerts for six Italian BR 20 bombers which approach the Island singly. Although there is little moon, the raiders manage more hits on the Island than usual.  Bombs are dropped on fields between Mosta and St Paul’s Bay, where they cause a fire among crops which acts as a beacon for a second raider to drop more bombs.  250kg high explosive bombs are also dropped between Naxxar and Mosta, on Zonqor Point and Maddalena, on Zabbar and near Marsascala, on fields behind Sliema, and in the sea.  Hurricanes 249 Squadron are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns fire one barrage; no claims. 

An enemy hospital ship searches through the night for survivors of this morning’s engagement.

Military casualties  Lance-Sergeant Artificer Frederick G Morris, 4th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Ruggero Gallina, 76a Squadriglia, 7o Gruppo, 54o Stormo, Macchi 200 pilot shot down and died. 

Italian attack on Grand Harbour casualty list

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 26 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Dawn attack on Grand Harbour and Marsamxett by enemy E and smaller M boats.  Attack decisively defeated, believed a total of 15 boats sunk by harbour defences and RAF.  18 prisoners collected.  St Elmo Viaduct torpedoed – our only casualty. Cachalot sailed for Alexandria with stores and personnel.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Sunderland. Departures 1 Blenheim. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Sicily, Tripoli, Castel Benito and special patrols. 110 Squadron 3 Blenheims sent to attack ship reported by patrol but failed to locate it.

HAL FAR  Wing Commander R H Harris took over command of Station.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  A and C Companies now at Buschetto Gardens and D Company at Zebbug.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A machine-gun of a D Company defence post sank an Italian small vessel.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1. 0500 hrs Stand to for action on Harbour defences and action on damage to breakwater. 0530hrs Stand down. First action other than air attacks in this war in which men of FRE unit have taken part.  Results highly successful.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  A private was killed when handling an unexploded 25 pound shell which he had collected as a souvenir. Three Other Ranks were injured in the explosion.

(1) Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985)

(2) Air Battle for Malta, HMSO

 

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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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29 April 1941: Heaviest Bombing Yet in 6½ Hour Raid

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GRAND HARBOUR, VALLETTA, AIRFIELDS AND VILLAGES HIT

Malta experienced its heaviest bombing raid of the war so far tonight when nearly 90 enemy aircraft came over and dropped mines and bombs. The raid followed an earlier attack in which another 84 bombs were dropped on Grand Harbour. 

From just before 9 this evening the Island was under alert for 6½ hours as raiders launched their attacks in two waves, dropping over 800 high explosive bombs from 50kg to 1000kg on the Grand Harbour, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields and several inland villages. Parachute mines were laid in the harbours and approaches.

Bombing Aub Auvergne now law courtsSeveral 1000kg were among the bombs which landed on Valletta, badly damaging many buildings including St John’s Cathedral, a church, theatre and cinema, and causing a large fire. A bomb demolished the corner of Merchants Street and St Christopher Street, as well as several shops in Kingsway.  Another fire started in Floriana.  The Dockyard fire engine was sent to assist civil fire engines in tackling the blazes. Fort St Elmo was damaged, one officer and three men killed. Electricity and water supplies and telephone communications have been badly affected. 

In the Dockyard bombs hit two dock areas, forming numerous craters. Workshops and stores were completely demolished and three damaged, a nearby wharf is now blocked by debris. HMS Encounter in dry dock was damaged by bomb splinters, then a bomb penetrated the forecastle and exploded inside the ship, blowing a hole in her bottom. A bomb hit the bridge of Fermoy in No 5 dock and passed through the hull, causing her to settle by the bow.

Bighi Hospital and Fort St Angelo were hit by bombs; two marines and two dockyard personnel were wounded and one master at arms is missing. One of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers was killed and one injured; one of Royal Malta Artillery was killed and two injured.  The guard room of HQ 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment was hit by a bomb and destroyed, along with the recreation room; rifles are written off. 

In Zabbar five houses were demolished and three damaged by four bombs; two women are injured. In Cospicua 16 bombs were dropped demolishing eight houses and badly damaging five houses and seven shops. 10 houses were demolished at Marsa, one civilian killed and one injured.

86 bombs were dropped on the Ta Qali area alone, where some 22 flares were seen floating down to illuminate the target. Several mines exploded on land, including one near Luqa where a serious fire broke out. Several sticks of bombs were dropped on the south and south west perimeters of Luqa aerodrome, severing telephone communications.  One stick of bombs landed near the entrance to a dugout of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment; there are no reported casualties.

In Zurrieq, six bombs damaged 17 houses and injured one woman; bombs also fell near the HQ of 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment.  18 bombs were dropped on the village of Zebbug and many more on the outskirts. 4 houses and a store were demolished and 106 houses damaged, many seriously; six civilians were killed.  The mine dropped near Tad-Dawl Chapel and failed to explode.

Buildings including a hangar and messes were damaged at Ta Qali; 13 unexploded bombs were reported across the aerodrome. Three Hurricanes were damaged and will be out of action for a week. 

During the raid troops across the Island were placed on full alert for a possible enemy parachute landing. The Island went into shut-down as road blocks were put in place.  The alarm was triggered by a report of parachutists who had baled out of an enemy aircraft shot down during the raid earlier this evening.  Once it was confirmed there were no more parachutists at large the precautions were relaxed but barriers remained closed as a precaution. 

A total of eight civilians were killed and 15 seriously wounded. 34 unexploded bombs were reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal.  Only two JU 88 bombers were shot down in the raids, one by Bofors fire.  The second was hit by Ack Ack fire before being destroyed by Hurricane fighters.

HEAVY ACK ACK BRIGADE FOR MALTA DELAYED

The War Office has written to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief today warning that there will be a delay in the arrival of the much needed additional anti-aircraft units. Shipping will not be available to transport 68 Heavy AA Regiment to join the next planned convoy WS 7 for onward travel to Malta.  However, the telegram confirms that 199 Heavy AA Battery is expected to arrive in the Middle East on WS 7 and will be transported to Malta as soon as possible.  The date of embarkation will be notified later.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 APRIL TO DAWN 30 APRIL 1941

Weather   Fine.    

0744-0815 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1051-1115 hrs Air raid alert for a single JU 88 bomber which approaches the Island and carries out reconnaissance. Heavy anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1835-1920 hrs  Air raid alert for six JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s which approach the Island and carry out a high level bombing attack on Grand Harbour, dropping 24 high explosive bombs of 250kg and 60 of 50kg. One private of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment is wounded.  One JU 88 is hit by anti-aircraft fire using height control and then attacked by Hurricanes; it crashes just above the Naval Ranges at Ghain Tuffieha.  The crew of four bale out: one lands on Pembroke Ranges and is captured by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, the other three in the sea nearby and are rescued and taken prisoner.  One ME 109 is also believed shot down by a Hurricane.  One Hurricane is damaged on landing.

2050 hrs  Air raid alert for 70 JU 88 and HE 111 bombers which cross the coast in two waves and launch a heavy raid for four hours, dropping some 700 high explosive bombs and mines on the Grand Harbour area as well as the Luqa and Ta Qali areas and several villages. Parachute mines are dropped on Grand Harbour, off the harbour entrance and in Sliema Creek. 

Searchlights are effective, illuminating raiders 13 times for 2 minutes each. Heavy Ack Ack fire 34 predicted barrages, some of which succeed in turning the enemy off course; one JU 88 is shot down by Bofors fire.  Some mines are exploded by Bofors guns. 

2232 hrs  Infantry Brigades issue an alert to all troops: “Take parachutist precautions.”

2332 hrs  All defensive barriers are closed and road blocks manned.

2340 hrs Parachutists are confirmed as eight in number and identified as having baled out from aircraft engaged in an earlier air raid. Anti-parachutist precautions are relaxed but the barriers remain closed.  

0030 hrs  All clear.

0112-0130 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft which approaches the Island but does not cross the coast.

0144-0314 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 Heinkel HE 111 bombers which approach from the north and drop mines and bombs on Grand Harbour and Valletta, as well as Ta Qali, Zebbug, Qrendi, Mosta and Balzan. 144 high explosive bombs are dropped and mines laid.  Heavy Ack Ack fire nine predicted barrages; no claims.

0313 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Herbert Cecil Hermon, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Ralph Norman Tapper, Royal Air Force; Lance-Corporal Alexander Booker Watton, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; Gunner Joseph Zarb, 3 Battery, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Senglea  Carmel Degiorgio, age 34. Valletta  Brother Bonaventura Attard, age 21; Brother Hilarion Borg, age 22; Nazzareno Cachia, age 38; Connie Grech, age 45; Philip Grech, age 23; Brother Marcellino Pisani, age 22.  Zebbug  Rochani Tikamadas, age 48. 

Enemy casualties  Weldwebel Rudolf Lenzner, pilot; Unteroffizier Paul Kietzmann, air gunner, Weldwebel Wilhelm Heller, Observer; Helmut Hartlich, Wireless operator; crew of JU 88 bomber 5th Staffel, 2nd Gruppo, shot down and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 29 APRIL 1941

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.    

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Training exercise held in spite of a very disturbed night due to heavy air raids and a false alarm of parachutists.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland (RAAF) arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and freight.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A and D Companies on the range firing MMG. During night air raids Bn HQ guard room was hit by a bomb and destroyed, along with the recreation room.  Much kit and stores destroyed.  The Bn fire engine turned out and gave useful assistance.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 34; dealt with 0.

MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Classification of Signallers 4th Bn The Buffs (passed 4, failed 0).

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Workshops personnel returned to Gzira from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1700 hrs Fusilier H E Hawkins was buried at St Andrew’s Cemetery.

 

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

 

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28 April 1941: Six Destroyers Join Malta Strike Fleet

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OPERATION SALIENT REINFORCES NAVY OPS AGAINST AXIS CONVOYS

HMS Kelly

HMS Kelly

Six destroyers arrived in Malta today to operate as a striking force against Axis supply lines to North Africa. The First Sea Lord reported to the War Cabinet in London today that Operation Salient has now been successfully carried out.  The destroyers Kelly, Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling, Jersey, and Jackal left Gibraltar yesterday as Force S, making a decoy turn towards the Atlantic before doubling back eastwards and through the Mediterranean for Malta.  The light cruiser HMS Gloucester is also remaining at Malta with the strike force.

Breconshire sailed from Malta today after a rapid unloading of her cargo of supplies. The fast transport ship is escorted on her return to Alexandria by the cruiser Dido, minelayer Abdiel and destroyers Imperial, Jaguar, Jervis and Juno. Imperial has just completed repairs after being damaged by a mine last October.  Destroyer Janus is remaining at Malta for repairs.

DOCKYARD DEFENCE BATTERY DISBANDED

The Dockyard Defence Battery is to be disbanded after 1 year and 283 days of service. Members have been given the option of joining as regular soldiers the Royal Malta Artillery which has now assumed responsibility for the guns.  Three members of the Battery were recommended awards in January for their bravery under fire during the attacks on HMS Illustrious.  Lt F W Angle was awarded the Military Cross, Sgt L Apap and Bombardier G Balzan were each awarded the Military Medal.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 APRIL TO DAWN 29 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

0906 hrs  Six destroyers and two cruisers enter Grand Harbour.

0920-0935 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 which crosses the coast at Marsaxlokk at 20000 feet on reconnaissance before turning away over Spinola Bay. Three escorting ME 109 fighters are engaged by Hurricanes; one is probably destroyed.

1105-1205 hrs  Air raid alert for a JU 88 with an escort of three ME 109s which carries out reconnaissance at 20000 feet over the Island.

2050-2200 Air raid alert for approximately 30 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, and in twos and threes. They drop mines and bombs on the Dockyard, Grand Harbour and Valletta areas causing damage to Dockyard buildings and civilian property.  Bombs fall near a defence post manned by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, killing one Fusilier and seriously wounding a NCO.  Mines are also laid off Grand Harbour and Tigne.  Bombs are also dropped on the Naxxar area and Ta Qali.  Searchlights illuminate five times and anti-aircraft guns fire predicted barrages between 6000 and 12000 feet; one enemy aircraft is probably destroyed.

0107-0235 hrs  Air raid alert for eight JU 88 bombers escorted by 17 ME 109s which approach the Island from the north and drop mines off Grand Harbour and bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta, Floriana and Senglea, as well as St Julians.  Government property in Valletta is badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns fire 14 barrages.  One JU 88 is shot down by anti-aircraft guns; the crew are seen baling out.  One ME 109 is severely damaged.  13 unexploded bombs are reported in the Rinella area.

Military casualties  Fusilier Harry Edward Hawkins, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties Marsa  Joseph Dimech, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 28 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY Operation Salient was successfully carried out. Dido and Abdiel arrived and sailed after unloading certain important stores.  Destroyers of 14th Destroyer Flotilla with Imperial (which had completed repairs after being mined in October 1940) sailed with Breconshire for Alexandria.  Captain (D), 5th Destroyer Flotilla, arrived and remained with six destroyers of his flotilla and Gloucester, as the Malta Force. Janus remained for docking and repairs. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Wellington. Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrol eastern Tunisian coast AM and PM.  Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli was chased out to sea by a fighter; no damage. 148 Squadron Transferred to Middle East; departed for Kabrit. 82 Squadron Arrived Malta.  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar arrived AM and departed later for Middle East. 

HAL FAR  New draft of 25 RAF personnel arrived.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company spent the day on the range on shooting MMG practices.   With the limited amount of ammunition available, ranging and traversing practices were fired.  1700 hrs  Personnel from ‘Picnic’, all from B Company, returned from Gozo and went to new billets in the docks.  At 0115 hrs bombs fell on the billets; all personnel were in shelter and there were no casualties but kit and equipment were damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Acting Lieutenant Colonel G R McMeekan, RE (CO of Fortress Royal Engineers) to be temporary Lieutenant Colonel.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 1 (50kg).

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  2 platoons of B Company and one section of 4 Platoon returned from Gozo.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bombs fall near defence post R15 killing Fusilier H E Hawkins and seriously wounding L/Cpl A Watton, both of HQ Company.

 

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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in 1941, April 1941

 

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21 October 1940: Enemy Losses Over Malta Total 45

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Italian SM 79

Italian SM 79

AIRCRAFT LOSSES FIFTEEN TO ONE IN FAVOUR OF MALTA

The Information Office has released details of the number of enemy losses over Malta since the declaration of war by Italy. A total of 25 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. Another 20 have been severely damaged and therefore probably unable to reach their bases. Malta losses to date have been three fighters and two pilots. The figures follow recent propaganda announcements by Rome radio in which exaggerated and false claims have been made regarding aircraft shot down in Malta and damage on the ground.

TWO HELD ON SUSPICION OF IRA ACTIVITY IN MALTA

Two servicemen of 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers are facing discharge from the service. The two fusiliers are suspected to have engaged in IRA activities while serving in Malta. Governor and C in C has applied to the War Office for authority to apply the sanction which he sees as essential to the security of the fortress. One of the men is at present serving two years imprisonment for involuntary homicide; the other is currently interned in Malta pending discharge and repatriation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1940

Weather   Cloudy with poor visibility and thunderstorms; scirocco in the morning and fresher after an afternoon shower.

0841-0912 hrs Air raid alert for eight enemy aircraft which cross the coast over Delimara at 20000 feet heading for Hal Far. Three Hurricanes are scrambled and engage, along with Ack Ack guns: the raiders are driven off, turning south east then north. No bombs are dropped.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron and Sunderland 228 Squadron; nil reports by all aircraft. Reconnaissance Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil report.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance area Malta-Tripoli-Jerba Island; nil report. One Sunderland 10 Squadron RAAF arrived from Middle East en route for UK.

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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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7 August 1940: Two New Infantry Brigades for Malta

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MALTA INFANTRY BRIGADE DIVIDED INTO TWO ZONES

The Malta Infantry Brigade ceased operations today at Lascaris Barracks, to be replaced by two new Brigades. Infantry will now be operated in two zones: the Northern Infantry Brigade under Brigadier W H Oxley MC with its headquarters at the Melita Hotel and the Southern Infantry Brigade under Brigadier L H Cox MC, based at Luqa. Lt Col E D Corkery MC will be Brigadier i/c Administration, Malta.

Fort Lascaris

Fort Lascaris

The Northern Brigade will include units of 2nd Battalion (Bn) Royal Irish Fusiliers, 8th Bn Manchester Regiment and 1st and 2nd Bns Kings Own Malta Regiment. The Southern Brigade will include units of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment and 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 AUGUST TO DAWN 8 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

1628-1652 hrs  Air raid alert for six aircraft reported approaching over St Paul’s Bay. Malta fighters are up and the raiders turn back before any interception and before reaching the coast. No bombs are dropped.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 7 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Pandora sailed.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Major R F B Hill to be Acting Lieutenant Colonel and assumed command of the Battalion.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Operation Order issued today giving detailed instructions for the defence of Wardia sector.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1800 hrs  Luqa  An order was received for the removal of wire and obstacles from the landing ground; carried out. Mail received from the UK.

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Posted by on August 7, 2015 in 1940, August 1940

 

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