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12 February 1942: 58 Aircraft in One Raid – 42 Civilians Killed

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ATTACK ON GRAND HARBOUR ECLIPSES ILLUSTRIOUS BLITZ

42 civilians were killed this afternoon in a single massive air raid on Grand Harbour.  18 JU 88 bombers with a 40-strong Messerchmitt fighter escort swooped down the north coast just before two o’clock this afternoon.  They dropped bombs on Valletta, Ricasoli, Zabbar, Corradino, Marsa, Hamrun and Paola, as well as outlying districts.  Densely populated areas of Paola were particularly badly hit: 34 are reported dead in this area alone.

The sheer numbers of aircraft made it impossible for Malta’s Ack Ack gunners to prevent them reaching their targets.  It is estimated that over 150 bombs of up to 500kg were dropped in the raid, which lasted well over an hour.  Airfields were also heavily bombed: many bombs fell on Luqa and the Safi strip, and at least 14 High Explosive bombs are reported on Hal Far.

… “Paola was badly blitzed; whole streets are down, if we are to believe a godly soldier who is stationed there…A corner of Valletta Palace was knocked off; a bomb dropped in Palace Square; it was one of those which goes off on the slightest impact and does not bury itself in the earth. It made only a very small saucer-like hole, but walls within 100 yards have large chunks chipped out. But it killed at least two people.

A man who was there and heard it coming flung himself down and got away with it. But a lady continued her walk and was hit in the face; and a well known man Mr Reggie Smith who was going to the library had his leg blown off. He died a fortnight later. At his funeral which I took in the Chapel at Ta Braxia itself, a large number of Maltese actually came into the building, encouraged by Mr. Charles Edwards.”

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 13 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather   100% low cloud; rain.  Wind westerly.

0818-0951 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers, two ME 109 fighters and two unidentified aircraft approach from the north and carry out patrols at varying heights off the south east of the Island.  Malta’s fighters are up but do not intercept.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; all aircraft recede north.

1013-1023 hrs  One unidentified aircraft approaches from the north at 8000 feet and appears to be searching about 15 miles north of St Paul’s Bay, before finally receding north.  Fighters are up but do not intercept.  The plane does not come within range of Heavy Ack Ack guns.

1035-1050 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north and again appear to be searching 15 miles north of St Paul’s Bay.  Malta’s fighters are not up; enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

Dornier 24 Flying Boat

1120 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes are scrambled to intercept one JU 88, one Dornier 24 and a number of ME 109s.  P/O Ormerod attacks the JU 88 which catches fire and goes straight down into the sea.  The Dornier 24 and two ME 109s are also attacked and hit.  Two Hurricanes are also damaged: one crashes on landing, the other is missing: F/Lt Allan is reported missing.

1158-1241 hrs  Two JU 88s and two ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on the Safi strip.  Malta’s fighters are still up and engage the enemy.   Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1345 hrs  Three aircraft of 249 Squadron mount a search for F/Lt Allan, with no result.  It is thought he was picked up by the Dornier 24 as he bailed out.

1351-1523 hrs  18 JU 88 and 40 ME 109s launch an attack on Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Valletta, Ricasoli, Zabbar, Corradino, Marsa, Hamrun and Paola. There is significant damage to civilian areas with many casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1413 hrs  Six JU 88s attack Hal Far, dropping fourteen bombs and causing blast damage to buildings.  One Swordfish and one Hurricane are damaged.  One soldier of 2nd Bn The Devonshire Regiment is seriously hurt.

1415 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi Strip and Giacomo Ridge area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage, firing a total of 178 rounds.  Hits are claimed by four gun positions.  Gunner W Goulden is removed to No 45 General Hospital with fractured ribs.  There is damage to tent and accommodation at XLS 26 and billets at XLN 77.

1429 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

1520 hrs  Bombs are dropped across the area of 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment: no military damage or casualties are reported.

1607-1835 hrs  One bomber and 25 ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa village.  The fighters carry out an offensive patrol.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2135-2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns three miles east of Gozo and recedes without dropping bombs.

2213-2236 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast over Mellieha and drops bombs in the sea before receding over Gozo.  Ack Ack do not engage.

0043-0057 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west, drops bombs in the sea west of Gozo and recedes without crossing the coast.

0339-0440 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and is barraged as it approaches St Paul’s Bay, causing it to jettison bombs in the sea and recede north.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Alexander McDonald, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, pilot, HMS Grebe; SPO Joseph Fenech, Royal Navy, Lazzaretto; Sergeant Arthur Moore, WOAG, Royal Air Force; Private Reginald Panton, 2nd Bn The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; WOII Emanual Farrugia, 3rd Regt, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Jack Hart, 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment; Gunner William Jones, 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Gharghur  Carmelo Micallef, age 8.  Marsa  Carmelo Calleja, age 54. 

Paola  Maria Agius, age 31; Victor Agius, age 29; Carmel Bugeja, age 76; Emanuel Busuttil, age 26; Antonia Busuttil, age 4; Carmela Cachia, age 52; Carmel Camilleri, age 30; John Desira, age 70; Joseph Fenech, age 35; Maria Fleri, age 29; Lilian Fleri, age 1; Jane Gatt, age 55; Anna Gera, age 75; Carmela Grech, age 53; Mary Grech, age 21; Aurelia Grech, age 19; Jane Grima, age 19; Rosina Mallia, age 56; Louis Mallia, age 9, John Mazzello, age 75; Carmela Morris, age 68; Regina Pace, age 64; Joseph Pisani, age 64; Jane Pisani, age 50; Carmela Pisani, age 34; Mary Salsero, age 17; Lawrence Scerri, age 55; Charles Theobold, age 77; John Vassallo, age 75; Stanley Warne, age 13; Andrea Zammit, age 76; Stephen Zammit, age 62; Carmelo Zammit, age 33; Marianna Zarb, age 50.

Qormi  Joseph Farrugia, age 36.  Tarxien  Alfonzon Camilleri, age 46; Gio Batta Cutajar, age 14; Michelina Grech, age 72.  Zejtun  Salvina Bonnici, age 15; Giusa Buttigieg, age 14.

Enemy casualties  Oberfeldwebel Heinz Bosch, pilot of a JU.88 bomber – shot down; Oberleutnant Herbert Doerz pilot of a JU 88 bomber – shot down and crashed into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 12 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  one Cathay, three Hudsons, three Beaufighters from Gibraltar (one Beaufighter reported missing).  Departures  Four Hudsons to 108 MU; one Champion to Cairo.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF3 patrol.  40 Squadron  One Wellington Catania Aerodrome; six Wellingtons Tripoli shipping.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company handed over Della Grazia are to 1 Dorsets by 1200 hrs; retained Rinella in Battalion area.  A Company took over Valetta from 11 Lancs and moved into Camerata Barracks.  & Platoon B Company took over Corradino from 6 Platoon A Company; C Company took over Notre Dame from A Company.  Companies carried out fortnightly route march.  Working party on Luqa was bombed: four men wounded and admitted to hospital:   Private Dunn broken ankle and contusion of face; Private Bromley a broken femur; Private McNeice contusion of face.  Private Lea slightly wounded.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Brigade boundaries altered to include 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry on south west coast.  1st Cheshire take over Whitehall-Sliema Creek area from this unit.  D Company hand over Valletta posts to 1st Cheshires and become mobile reserve.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Panton killed during afternoon. 

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

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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Posted by on February 12, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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7 January 1942: Storms Over Malta

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AIRFIELDS WATERLOGGED

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

Bad weather has forced Malta’s Air Officer Commanding to send two squadrons of Wellington aircraft to the Middle East, until hard standings can be constructed in waterlogged dispersal areas.  The conditions have so far prevented the Lufwaffe from carrying out their planned dive-bombing attacks on the airfields.

The cloudy weather is also preventing the searchlights operating in tandem with the Island’s Night Fighter Squadron against enemy raiders.  Instead, the Squadron’s aircraft are fitted for offensive operations against enemy aerodromes.

AMMUNITION ON ITS WAY

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

Reptd:  C in C Middle East                                            

Reference your telegram of 30 December: 20 million half 40 millions SAA are being sent to you from Middle East.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 7 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Fair; wind SW.  Heavy rain in the morning, clearing later.

0912-0937 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north above the clouds, circles Grand Harbour and drops bombs in the Dockyard area and in Zabbar.  Heavy Ack Ack fires the Harbour barrage.

1019-1111 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north, patrols several miles north of Grand Harbour and recedes without crossing the coast.

1138-1153 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid does not materialise.

1705 hrs  A plot of three JU 88s and twelve ME 109s bombs Ta Qali and Luqa: no damage.  One JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack.  The enemy fire machine guns at searchlights.

1720-1749 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by twelve ME 109 approach from the west, dropping bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa , and on Dingli village, where two houses are demolished, with one casualty.  Four bombs drop on the RAF camp at Ta Qali near barrack huts and dispersal areas.  One barrack hut is damaged.  Some RAF casualties; no damage to aircraft reported.  No Hurricanes airborne.  Heavy Ack Ack engaged: one JU 88 is hit and left smoking badly but is not seen to come down.

1825-1855 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north east and cross the coast over Kalafrana, dropping bombs on Marsaxlokk, Hal Far, Luqa and Gudja.  One JU 88 is engaged by three guns of 225th Light Ack Ack Bty firing 34 rounds 40mm.  Another gun engaged a separate JU 88 at the same time with total of six rounds 40mm.

1952-2102 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east and patrols east of the Island.  On approaching Kalafrana he flies into a barrage, recedes and resumes his patrol off-shore.  No bombs are reported.

2135-2145 hrs  One aircraft approaches Gozo and recedes without crossing the coast.

2315-0039 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north east and patrol south east of the Island.  One aircraft crosses the coast and drops bombs near Ta Qali and two sticks of bombs north of Rabat.  Heavy Ack Ack open fire.

Night  Five alerts during hours of darkness lasting most of the night.  Bombs are dropped between Ta Qali and Qrendi, and on Kalafrana.  Ack Ack fire is heard over Grand Harbour and machine-gunning towards Gozo.

Civilian casualties  Dingli  Anthony Pace, age 75.

Military casualties  Sergeant Sydney Baker, Royal Air Force, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Hillman, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Derek Phillips, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 18 Squadron; AC1 William Fullbrook, RAF Volunteer Reserve (VR); AC1 George Horn, RAF VR; AC2 George Maltby, RAF VR; AC1 Jeremiah Ryan, RAF VR; AC1 William Watson, RAF VR; L/Bdr Edward Brown, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Fourteen Hudsons, three Wellingtons from Gibraltar. Departures Five Hudsons, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour; one Maryland SF 15 patrol reversed. 107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol. 18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF14 patrol.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable: no flying.

1st BATTALION CHESHIRE REGIMENT  At ‘stand-to’ a total of 22 Vickers machine guns and 27 light machine guns in the battalion were manned for Ack Ack defence of Luqa aerodroma, and the normal 22 guns had been thickened up to 90 in some depth.  The dive-bombing attack did not materialise.  Five enemy aircraft came over and dropped bombs through the clouds.  Some fell in the dockyard but the last of the stick fell on the sports store of D Company, in which there were four men.  Miraculously no-one was killed: one man is fit for duty and three are in hospital.  Their injuries are not yet known.  1615 hrs The new GOC Major General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC visited Battalion HQ.

1st BATTALION DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0714 hrs 56 Light Machine Guns mounted for Ack Ack at ‘stand to’.  “B” Company consisting of nine LMG detachments and Company and platoon HQs in position in area Bir Miftuh church.

11TH BATTALION LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0815 hrs  All troops of this unit reported in position as per Operations Order.  No attack developed as yet.   Working parties at Luqa again not utilised.

8TH BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT  New General Officer Commanding (GOC) visited Battalion area.  Message from Brigade cancels the anti-aircraft precautions ordered yesterday, except on aerodromes.  One unexploded mine located; Post GT3 evacuated.

2ND BATTALION ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  0730 hrs  Battalion mounted all available Light Machine Guns for protection of Luqa aerodrome. D Company Mqabba; C Company Luqa; E Company Poorhouse; HQ and B Company Marsa area.  Guns manned all day. 1600 hrs GOC Major General Beak visited Battalion HQ. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1.

 

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

 

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6 January 1942: Attacks to Neutralise Airfields To Begin Tomorrow

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TROOPS STAND READY TO DEFEND AIRFIELD POSITIONS

Infantry Brigade Operation Order 6 January 1942

British 3.7 inch (LAA) gun, London

British 3.7 inch (LAA) gun, London

Reliable information indicates that Germans may attempt neutralization of Malta aerodromes by heavy dive-bombing attacks beginning 7 Jan 42.  Necessary AA arrangements are being made which involve moving additional troops and Light Anti-aircraft guns into position to reinforce those already defending the airfields.

The intention is to provide maximum defence of aerodromes from ‘stand to’ throughout daylight on 7 Jan 42, both round the airfields themselves and in depth beyond the perimeters.  Positions have been ordered not to ‘stand down’ until further orders are received from Headquarters.

A wet and stormy night prevented enemy air raids, and the move of troops was carried out unmolested.  Malta’s troops are armed and ready.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 6 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Cold, overcast; low clouds, rain most of the day.

1053-1110 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1210-1225 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and aircraft drops bombs in St Thomas’ Bay area: three in the sea and one on the cliff ege.  No Hurricanes airborne.

1255-1305 hrs  Air raid alarm; raid did not materialise.

1430-1445 hrs  One aircraft approaches to within six miles of Grand Harbour, drops bombs in the sea and recedes.

1546 hrs  Air raid.  Four bombs are dropped in the waters of Marsaxlokk Bay between defence post BZ1 and Delimara.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 6 JANUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Breconshire sailed from Malta escorted by four destroyers: Lance, Lively, Jaguar and Havock

AIR HQ  Arrivals One Beaufighter, six Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  Night 6/7th Four Swordfish 830 Squadron sent to attack convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers.  One merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons definitely hit amidships.  All aircraft returned safely.  Three Albacores sent to attack two merchant vessels and two destroyers.  One of the merchant vessels was attacked and hit.  The ship stopped.  Opposition usual light and heavy Ack Ack.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search Gulf of Hammamet;  one Maryland SF10b patrol.  107 Squadron One Blenheim SF14 patrol.  Night 6/7th  S/D Flight one Wellington shipping search.  40 Squadron patrol.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable; no flying.  One air raid alarm.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  1030 hrs  New General Officer Commanding (Major General D M W Beak, VC, DSO, MC, visited Brigade and met officers.  Operation Order No 1 was issued in connection with strengthening anti-aircraft (Ack Ack) defences of Luqa aerodrome.

Bren Light Machine Gun

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  The Light Machine Gun (LMG) Ack Ack defence of all aerodromes and strips in the Bde area was considerably strengthened.  LMGs mounted were: Brens 133, Twin Lewis 17, Single Lewis 10.

1st BATTALION CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Orders were to man as many light machine guns and Vickers machine guns for anti-aircraft as possible.  Company commanders to recce and select positions at dawn.

1st BATTALION DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Brigade Commander ordered Reserve Company to move to area Safi strip to supplement Anti-aircraft defences and as many LMGs as possible mounted for Ack Ack by remaining companies.

1ST BATTALION HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  The Battalion took precautions and ‘stood to’ all Anti-aircraft Light Machine Gun posts while the defence of Safi strip was thickened with extra Ack Ack LMG from the Battalion and from the Dorsets.

11TH BATTALION LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Operation Order No 1 from Central Infantry Brigade issued ref move of troops for intensification of anti-aircraft protection of Luqa aerodromes.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Orders received for reinforcing Hal Far anti-aircraft defence with an additional 9 guns:  59th Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA Bty) RA: 5 guns; 182nd LAA Bty RA: 2 guns; 186th LAA Bty RA: 2 guns.  Reconnaissance completed 2030 hrs.  Guns ready for action by dawn 7th inst.

8TH BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT  All LMG in the Battalion are to be mounted for anti-aircraft duty.  Approximately 50 men from Aerodrome Companies at Ta Qali filled in bomb holes on runways and dispersal areas.

2ND BATTALION ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Working party cancelled at Luqa due to wet weather.  Instructions were issued that Light Anti-Aircraft batteries and certain light machine guns would move to strengthen the Ack Ack defences of Luqa.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6.

 

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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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1 October 1941: Malta Command Reports Standard of Enemy Bomber Crews Deteriorating

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Lt Carroll (l.) & men of RE Bomb Disposal, Malta (NWMA Malta)

Lt Carroll (l.) & men of RE Bomb Disposal, Malta (NWMA Malta)

RAID SUMMARY SEPTEMBER 1941

  • No of air raids to date 828
  • No of air raid alerts this month 31 (including 21 night alerts)
  • Days without air raid alerts 12
  • Total time under alert 19 hours 23 mins
  • Average length of alert 38 mins
  • Civilians killed by enemy action 4
  • Civilians injured 4

ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL SECTION

Unexploded bombs dealt with July-Sept 1941 total: 224

  • High explosives: 15g x 21; 50kg x 8; 130lb x 1; 100kg/250lb x 8; 150kg x 2; 250kg/500lb x 2; 500kg x 2
  • Incendiaries: 2kg x 174; 70kg x 2
  • Anti-personnel: 2kg x 3; 12kg x 1

MALTA COMMANDERS REPORT ON SEPTEMBER RAIDS

The month was chiefly notable for the increase in the number of daylight raids, the majority being made by small numbers of the new Macchi 200s with in-line engines, flying, for the most part, at too great a height for interception by our own fighters. Night bombing increased presumably as a reprisal for our own heavy raids on enemy ports and aerodromes, but the standard of enemy bomber crews appears to be deteriorating.

Bombing occurred only at night. There were twelve night bombing raids, as a result of which three men and one woman were killed, and three men and three women seriously injured. Thirteen houses, one factory and one garage were demolished or badly damaged.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 OCTOBER TO DAWN 2 OCTOBER 1941

Weather  Fine and cool.

1155-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy fighters approaching the Island in two formations. Eight Hurricane fighters 185 Squadron and six 126 Squadron are scrambled.  185 Squadron intercept the first formation five north of Gozo, damaging one enemy fighter.  The second formation which has positioned itself against the sun immediately launches a counter-attack on the Hurricanes which break off their action at once.  One Hurricane’s starboard wing is damaged in an engagement with a Macchi fighter but he returns safely.  Sgt Knight attacks another Macchi and damages its tail unit but is then attacked by three others and forced to break off the action.  The fighter of S/Ldr Mould DFC is shot down.

PM  One Swordfish 830 Squadron carries out a search for S/Ldr Mould without success.

Military casualties  Private Cyril Fletcher, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Squadron Leader Peter W O Mould, DFC and Bar, Royal Air Force, 185 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 OCTOBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Thrasher arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Sirte having carried out two unsuccessful attacks.  Much anti-submarine and minelaying activity off Benghazi. Polish submarine Sokol arrived from Gibraltar and from patrol supporting ‘Operation Halberd’.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 9 Wellington. Departures 1 Maryland, 2 Wellington.  69 Squadron 2 Maryland special patrols. 

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion mounting guard on convoy ships.

 

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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in 1941, October 1941

 

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21 June 1941: Malta Acts to Prevent Tank Invasion

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TANK TRAPS TEST LEAVES ENGINEER BEMUSED

Scaffold barriers in positionMalta’s military chiefs today conducted further tests to protect the Island’s key areas against an enemy invasion. Mines have already been laid at strategic points and last Saturday booby-traps were tested on the airfields to prevent the landing of enemy aircraft and parachutists.  Although most of the Island coastline is too rocky for the landing of military vehicles, some areas have been identified as vulnerable. 

Having reviewed the measures taken in 1940 against an expected seaborne invasion of England’s coast, Military commanders decided to try out ‘beach scaffolding’ structures to prevent the landing of tanks on Malta’s shores. The structures are normally erected on sandy beaches, half submerged in water so that tanks are stopped in their tracks and unable to gain traction to force their way forward due to the wet sand.

A specimen set of 50 scaffold poles and clips has been delivered to Malta to test the effectiveness of the system for the Island. Following last week’s trial of booby-traps at Luqa, the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G D Carroll – an engineering graduate – was asked to manage the construction of the barrier, assisted by men of 24 Fortress Company, RE.  The venue chosen was the Polo Ground at Marsa.  However, Lt Carroll was not impressed with the conduct of the test:  

Scaffolding diagramIf you’re going to build a fence to stop something, you don’t make it slope towards you – you slope it the other way: bracing, it’s called. So we duly erected this – it was about forty or fifty feet long and about 12 feet deep.  We had two tanks in Malta, one was an I-tank I think which was big, but not very, and one was called a light tank.

When we had got it all set up, the Colonel (the Chief Engineer) said we should use the light tank first, which was sensible. We got the light tank out on the correct side of the barrier and the driver stood off about five or six feet, revved the engine and then tore at the fence.  The tank went into the fence a yard or so – so sensibly the driver backed off and went in again, and the tank stopped; it wouldn’t move.  They examined it and one of the scaffolding poles had bent and gone in through the track of the tank and it couldn’t move. 

But then the Colonel said: ‘Right. Try it the other way.’  And the tank was sent round to the other side, where now the fence is sloping the wrong way.  The light tank tore into the back of the fence and went in about 12 feet or more and then it stopped.  And the Colonel’s words were: ‘That’s the way we’ll use it!’  Because on the correct side it had been stopped after eight feet and it had travelled 12 feet the other way!

I had to just sit and watch; I couldn’t say anything. I was flabbergasted: he was supposed to be the expert, he was the Chief Engineer.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JUNE TO DAWN 22 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

0217-0245 hrs Air raid alert for four unidentified enemy aircraft which approach singly from the north east, crossing the coast at various points. Bombs are dropped near Della Grazia searchlight and in the sea off Delimara and Rinella.  Ten heavy anti-aircraft gun positions fire three barrages; no claims.  Hurricane fighters are scrambled but there are no searchlight illuminations and no engagements.

0256-0317 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft approaching the Island. They turn away before reaching the coast.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 21 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 6 Blenheim. Departures 3 Blenheim. 69 Squadron 2 Marylands on reconnaissance; 1 Hurricane on photo-reconnaissance.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0400 hrs An exercise was held to test the defences of Valletta, the Dockyard and Three Cities. Parachute troops were allowed in and appeared at various places and times.  The defences were successful and the majority of the ‘enemy’ were rounded up.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  24 Company commenced erecting tripods to obstruct likely landing grounds. Malta Command Exercise No 4 at 0400hrs to test defence of Valletta and Three Cities against parachute landings.  Standing patrol is Bomb Disposal Section. Officers to report in on 23 June at Marsa Club. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 1 (15kg).

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Troops on parachutist exercise: defence of Three Cities.

 

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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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17 June 1941: RE Tunnelling Company Posted to Malta

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TUNNELLERS TO CREATE UNDERGROUND WAR HQ

173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, is being mobilised for posting to Malta at the earliest opportunity. 173 was one of several tunnelling companies created during World War I to dig and maintain mines and other underground military facilities.  They have been sent to Malta in response to a request from the Governor and Commander in Chief last month (maltagc70 8 May 1941) for additional personnel experienced in rock mining.  One of their first priorities will be to create a new underground combined War HQ, an operating theatre and stores for essential commodities which have proved vulnerable to heavy enemy bombing.

Commodore Muirhead-Gould

Commodore Muirhead-Gould

AUSTRALIAN NAVAL COMMODORE LAUNCHES APPEAL TO HELP MALTESE

More than £700 has been subscribed at a cocktail party held by an Australian naval commodore to help the Maltese people, according to the Sydney press today. The party was organised in as part of an appeal for funds to support air raid victims in Malta.

Launching the appeal, Commodore Muirhead-Gould told the press: ”Although Malta has not been set on fire because of its stone buildings, the casualties there from more than 640 raids have been heavier than might have been expected… More than 30000 people have had to evacuate their homes and are living in camps or underground caves. They need our assistance and the need is urgent and vital.”

The appeal is being organised by a committee of Australian naval officers who have happy memories of service in Malta. They intend to promote the campaign in Australia through the press, radio, films and printed circulars and hope to raise £10,000 for Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0210-0421 hrs  Air raid alert for six unidentified enemy aircraft which approach from the north east. Four of them cross the coast at various points, and drop 15kg bombs on Iz-Zebbieh, Hal Far, Luqa, Ta Qali, Rabat and in the sea off St George’s Bay.  27 of the anti-personnel bombs are dropped close to the headquarters of 8th Bn Manchester Regiment at Ta Saliba.  Heavy anti-aircraft guns fire two barrages; no claims.

Military casualties  Master Gunner Antonis Fiteni, Warrant Officer II, 4 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 JUNE 1941

ROYAL NAVY  830 Squadron Operation to attack enemy A/S vessels in Lampedusa, but were forced to turn back owing to bad weather.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 2 Bombay. Departures 9 Hurricane, 1 Blenheim, 2 Hudson, 2 Bombay, 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron 5 Marylands on reconnaissance.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  New anti-aircraft guns for ground defences under occupation at Tal Handaq and Ghakba.

 

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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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14 June 1941: Malta Airfields Booby-Trapped Against Parachutists

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BOMB DISPOSAL OFFICER TO LAY EXPLOSIVES

Military commanders are conducting tests to booby-trap Malta’s airfields to prevent the landing of enemy aircraft and parachutists. The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer has been asked to put his knowledge of explosives to use in an experiment to assess the potential.  He is overseeing a team from 24 Fortress Company which is digging a series of camouflets in a quarry adjacent to Luqa aerodrome.  The camouflets will contain naval depth charges which would be primed once the alert is raised that an invasion is underway.  A test will be undertaken to assess the potential effectiveness of the booby-traps to defend the aerodrome.

HMS Victorious

HMS Victorious

HURRICANE REINFORCEMENTS FOR MIDDLE EAST LAND IN MALTA

43 Hurricane fighters landed in Malta today along with four Hudsons as part of ‘Operation Tracer’, the latest initiative to deliver reinforcements to the Mediterranean. Originally 48 aircraft were loaded aboard the new fleet aircraft carrier HMS Victorious which sailed under escort for Gibraltar on 31 May.  On arrival, 26 Hurricanes were transferred to HMS Ark Royal and 22 remained on Victorious.  Both vessels left harbour early yesterday, escorted by the battlecruiser Renown and seven destroyers. 

Four Hudsons few out from Gibraltar to meet the carriers at a rendezvous point to the south of the Balearic Islands. 47 of the Hurricanes successfully took off from their carrier in four formations, each led by one of the Hudsons.  One was observed turning away from its formation and heading towards North Africa, presumably suffering from engine trouble. 

The last formation to take off encountered navigational problems and as a result ran very short of fuel. One crashed in the sea before reaching the Island, with the loss of its pilot.  The fuel shortage caused two others difficulties on landing.  One managed to alight safely at Luqa, the second crashed in Wied ik Kbir, killing the pilot.

The Hurricanes were divided between the three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali. 21 of the Hurricanes were refuelled departed today for the Middle East.  Another 13 are expected to leave within days; the remaining nine will stay in Malta.       

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JUNE TO DAWN 15 JUNE 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

No air raids.

1500 hrs  Orders are issued to infantry battalions to man all anti-aircraft positions as of 1600 hrs today until further notice.

2130 hrs  Anti-aircraft positions ordered to stand down.

0315 hrs  One Bombay crashes into the sea off Marsaxlokk with the loss of all crew.

Military casualties  Sergeant Robert MacPherson, pilot, RAF Volunteer Reserve, 260 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 14 JUNE 1941

AIR HQ  Arrivals 43 Hurricane, 4 Hudson. Departures 1 Wellington, 1 Sunderland, 21 Hurricane.  69 Squadron  3 Marylands on reconnaissance.

HAL FAR  11 Hurricanes arrived at Hal Far from Gibraltar.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  24 Fortress Company began work in quarry at Luqa for trial of naval Depth Charges for mining all aerodromes as protection against parachute landings.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Defence scheme for Luqa aerodrome issued; 100% manning of anti-aircraft guns ordered. Bn mounted guard duty over a crashed aircraft in Wied il Kbir. 

 

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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in 1941, June 1941

 

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