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1-7 November 1942: Fuel Shortages Threaten Malta’s Role in War

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1 November 1942: ‘Spy Ship’ to Relieve Malta Fuel Shortage

Desperate shortages of aviation fuel in Malta have forced Allied naval commanders to come up with an innovative solution.  Intensive enemy air and sea activity makes it impossible to run a convoy through the eastern Mediterranean.  Instead, they have decided to send a captured former Italian ship disguised as an Axis supply vessel to carry supplies to the Island.

Former MS Rodi now Empire Patrol

The former Italian ship MS Rodi was seized by British Contraband Control at Malta on 10 June 1940, the eve of Italy’s declaration of war.  Renamed Empire Patrol she has since been in use by the Ministry of War Transport.

The plan is to disguise the ship under Turkish colours and send her unescorted through Turkish waters east of Cyprus.  She will then change to Italian colours and turn westwards, taking a standard route of Italian freighters bound from the Dardanelles to Southern Italy.

The Empire Patrol was loaded with 1200 tons of aviation fuel and 3000 tons of benzene, all carried in cans.  She left Alexandria this afternoon, steaming northwards at 15 knots.

E BOATS IN MALTA WATERS

Enemy E boats were spotted tonight off the coast by observers of 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment.  Reports described a flashing light out to sea off Delimara.  The searchlights at Fort Delimara were illuminated and gun batteries opened fire on the E boats: no claims are reported.  It is believed that the enemy vessels were engaged in minelaying.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 2 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy to fair; slight shower early.

No air raids.

1205-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled for a raid that does not materialise.  One Spitfire crashes, killing Pilot Officer Wright.  C Company 1st Bn Royal West Kent Regiment mount a guard on the crashed Spitfire at Tal Hlas Church, Zebbug.

2245 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light flashing out to sea.

0200 hrs  D and B Companies 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report lights exposed and two rounds fired by Fort Delimara.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Patrick Attenborough, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Austin Bettridge, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Douglas Jenkins, Royal Air Force VR; Flight Sergeant Arthur Smith, Royal Air Force; Wing Commander Hubert Styles, Royal Air Force, all 233 Squadron; Pilot Officer Russell Wright, Royal Air Force VR; Warrant Officer II Albert Powles, Royal Canadian Air Force; Private Thomas Seville, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 1 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 43 and P 37 were swept out by Hebe and Rorqual by Rye.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Beaufighter, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

LUQA  One Spitfire was sent on reconnaissance of Patras and a shipping search of Cape Katakola.  The 5-6000 ton tanker seen off Cape Maria di Leuca on 29 October was lying in the roads off Patras Harbour with a destroyer.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on shipping search of Sapienza south of Cape Matapan area sighted nothing.

TA QALI  No operations.

2 November 1942:  Operation Supercharge

‘Operation Supercharge’ tanks in W desert (c) IWM E18972

Overnight, Allied forces began an attack westward in the northern sector of the North African campaign under ‘Operation Supercharge’.  By dawn today they had reached their final objectives.  Meanwhile diversionary attacks were made in the central and southern sectors with some success.

RNAS ATTACK AXIS MERCHANT SHIP

Late this afternoon a Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit spotted a convoy of one 5000 ton merchant vessel, one destroyer and one flak ship 15 miles east of Tripoli and heading eastwards.  At 2300 hours one special Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched to attack.  At 0151 hours they found the convoy 45 miles east of Homs.  The Albacores dropped two torpedoes which were seen to run well but the results could not be observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 3 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine.

1340-1409 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island at a great height.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on a practice flight when they are diverted to intercept the approaching formation but they see no hostile aircraft.  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa, plus seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and four 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders: no sightings.

Raiders head for Luqa airfield and attack.  RAF Regiment ground defences open up with machine gunfire and destroy one ME 109 which blows up in the air and crashes near Kirkop.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Kirkop and Misrah Blandun.  Ack Ack guns also fire: no claims.

1617-1638 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy fighters approaching the Island at high altitude.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and are jumped by ME 109s.  Sgt Weir is injured in the thigh and crash-lands back at base.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but sight no raiders.  Six ME 109s cross the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

Enemy aircraft are reported as having a painted white band around the fuselage aft of the cockpit.

0436-0515 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers which drop bombs on Imtarfa, Rabat, Luqa, Zebbug and Birkirkara, damaging property, killing seven civilians and injuring 15.  Two nursing sisters are injured at Imtarfa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Malta fighters are airborne: no interceptions.

Military casualties   Nil.                                                 Civilian casualties  (See 3 November).

Enemy casualties  Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Slany, pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 35, P 44 and P 46 to sea for patrol swept out by Speedy and Parthian swept in by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Beauforts from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed due to enemy action: pilot injured.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron made photo-reconnaissance of Porto Empedocle.  27 Spitfire sorties were made against 54 plus enemy sorties.  10 Spitfire sorties were made in reconnaissance patrols north of Malta: no enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party 1 Officer 30 Other Ranks found by A Company to work for Royal Engineers in Floriana.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT C Company 1 Officer 50 Other Ranks on Luqa.  1 NCO 18 men assisting 173 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers on Luqa.

3 November 1942: Empire Patrol’s Cover Blown

At 1330 hours today Empire Patrol, sailing under Turkish colours with fuel supplies for Malta, was spotted by a German Dornier 215 on reconnaissance to the north west of Cyprus.  Three hours later the ship’s monitors picked up traces of a submarine which was evidently shadowing the merchantman.

The ship had already been plagued with electrical and diesel defects which threatened her power and compromised her potential for evading attack.  The Royal Naval Reserve Lieutenant in command of the ship decided its disguise had been compromised and decided to abandon the mission.  Empire Patrol headed straight for Famagusta.

HMS Clyde

There was some relief for Malta’s ongoing fuel shortage today as HMS Clyde arrived from Beirut with a cargo of petrol and torpedoes.  This will provide a temporary top-up, but supplies are still inadequate to support the Island’s air strength, to defend itself and support the war effort in North Africa, which is now at a critical stage.

MALTA WELLINGTONS DESTROY AXIS FUEL SUPPLY

Malta-based Wellingtons launched successful attacks on enemy supply shipping tonight.  Just after 10 pm Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were despatched to attack an enemy southbound convoy heading for Benghazi.  One Wellington found two medium merchant vessels with three destroyers 118 miles north of Benghazi and attacked.  Two Wellingtons from the Middle East were in the same area and set off flares to illuminate the target.  The Malta Wellington’s torpedo scored a hit on the bows of one heavily laden merchantman, leaving it stationary and down by the bows.

A second convoy of eight vessels, including a tanker, was found 80 miles north of Cape Aamer.  Two Wellingtons attacked with bombs and two with torpedoes.  One torpedo hit was scored aft of the tanker.  A reconnaissance aircraft later reported three separate oil patches each 500 feet across at the location of the attack.  Reports confirm that one tanker and one merchant vessel were hit by torpedoes and sunk.  All aircraft returned safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 4 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair, becoming cloudy.

0850-0900 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to practice flying and for intercept patrol: no sightings.

1047-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for about 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and sight two ME 109s but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1342-1425 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy fighters escorting fighter bombers approach the Island.  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and chase the raiders down to 10000 feet.  Yellow Section engages three Macchi 202s north of Grand Harbour: Sgt Gunstone destroys one.  One Spitfire receives a direct hit and is burned out.  A few raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, making one runway temporarily unserviceable, and on Mqabba.

1537-1606 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne for practice flying and intercept patrol sight two ME 109s and give chase but cannot catch them.  Raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Zejtun and on Hal Far, where a Spitfire suffers a direct hit and is destroyed on the ground.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1630-1720 hrs  Enemy fighters attack a submarine off south coast near Delimara.  4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment put up a protective barrage over the submarine.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to provide a protective patrol.

0100-0137 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers which cross the coast and drop bombs on Birzebbuga and the Hal Far-Kalafrana area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

0458-0637 hrs  Two Beaufighters on anti E boat patrol.  No E boats are seen but a schooner is sighted and shot up.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Roland Ambrose, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Thomas Bailey, RAF; Sergeant Charles Cockburn, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Elder, RAF; Flight Sergeant Ronald Mitchell, RAF VR; Sergeant Harold Warren, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Terence Sassoon, RAF VR; Sergeant Kenneth Thorne, RAF VR, all 202 Squadron.  Flying Officer Egbert Wall, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Lija  Anthony Camilleri, age 56; Saviour Cutajar, age 48; Peter Fenech, age 82; Joseph Galea, age 55; Carmela Zammit, age 24; Anthony Zammit, age 10.  Zebbug  Joseph Abdilla, age 11; Antonia Bonanno, age 16; Salvina Bonanno, age 7; Emanuel Buhagiar, age 29; Philip Muscat, age 75; Anthony Muscat, age 18; Carmela Muscat, age 5.  Gozo (Victoria)  Carmela Galea, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Beirut and was swept in by Hythe, Speedy and four MLs; a large escort was used as it was suspected that mines were laid last night.  Speedy swept P 211, P 212 and P 217 out, and Hythe swept out Una and Utmost, to join major operations in the Mediterranean.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3, one Wellington from LG 224; one Liberator from Middle East.  Departures  One Beaufighter to Abusuier; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one DC 3 to Middle East.

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party A Company continues to work for Royal Engineers in Floriana.  1530 hrs  Funeral of the late [Lance Corporal] Tarr.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1645 hrs  Private T Seville died in No 90 General Hospital as a result of a gunshot wound to the knee.

4 November 1942: 8th Army Breaks Axis Lines

Panzer tanks in Cyrenaica

Malta troops today heard the news that the 2nd Battle of El Alamein has been won by the Allies.  Sources in North Africa report that the 8th Army has broken through in the Middle East.  The Axis losses of men and equipment is so great that Rommel has ordered his Afrika Korps into full retreat.

The skies over Malta remained silent throughout the day, giving the Island time to reflect on the significance of this major step forward in the war in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 5 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

No air raids.

0600-0710 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron were airborne to provide cover for Beaufighters on anti E-boat patrol.  No enemy aircraft are seen.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Harold Bardsley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Green, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Ernest Jones, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Edward Sleigh, Royal Air Force;  Sergeant Thomas Millar, RAF VR; Sergeant John Ritchie, RAF VR; Warrant Officer Joseph Keough, Royal Canadian Air Force, all 210 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 4 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Turbulent was swept in by Rye, who later swept out HM Submarines Pandora and Turbulent – the last two of the twelve submarines sailing to take up position for a major forthcoming operation in the Mediterranean.  No mines have yet been swept in the areas where the E boats were operating on the past two nights.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons to Gianaclis.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photographic reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Catania harbour.

TA QALI  229 Squadron stood down.

5 November 1942: Axis Armies Taken Prisoner

Italians led into captivity at El Alamein

Having broken through the enemy’s position on the El Alamein line, the Eighth Army have continued in pursuit of Rommel’s forces throughout today.  The Allies have taken large numbers of Axis prisoners were taken and seized vast quantities of motor transport equipment and stores. The German rearguards have attempted a delaying action with fighting southwest of the Fuka escarpment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 6 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair.

1530-1557 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa join other fighters engaging the enemy: F/Lt Burgess damages one ME 109.

1929-1942 hrs  One Cant Z 1007 approaches the Island at 20000 feet and drops bombs in the sea over Comino Channel and St Paul’s Bay.  Beaufighter pilot S/Ldr Pain of 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept and shoots down the bomber in flames.  Two Italians are taken prisoner by the Gozo Patrol, 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  One of them is wounded and admitted to 45 General Hospital; the other is handed over to the Camp Commander at St Andrew’s.

2250-2331 hrs  Two enemy bombers approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea off St Paul’s Bay and Grand Harbour.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 5 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from LG 224; one Wellington from Gianaclis; one DC 3 from LG 224; two Beaufighters from Middle East.  Departures  One DC3, one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night  The ASV Swordfish was dispatched to provide illumination for an attack on E boats by Beaufighters.  The Swordfish located and illuminated the enemy vessels but the Beaufighter strike did not make contact.

LUQA  Seven Spitfires 69 Squadron were airborne for photo-reconnaissance.

6 November 1942: Four New Squadrons in Malta

Two new Beaufighter Squadrons are now to operate from Malta.  The first aircraft of 227 and 272 Squadrons arrived today to prepare for operations.  13 Beaufighters of 227 Squadron and 16 of 272 Squadron landed safely from the Middle East ready to begin operations immediately.  They were joined by 13 Beauforts of 39 Squadron which also arrived from the Middle East.

104 Squadron Vickers Wellington Mk II

Detachments of 40 Squadron and 104 Squadrons RAF have been posted to Malta.  The Wellington medium bomber squadrons which form 238 Bomber Wing are to operate from Luqa aerodrome for the time being as part of the Allied offensive in North Africa.  Eight Vickers Wellington II aircraft of 104 Squadron, whose motto is ‘Strike hard’, have already arrived and more are expected imminently.  The policy is for 32 aircraft to be operational whenever possible.

Three other RAF squadrons in Malta were increased today with the arrival of 13 Beauforts from 39 Squadron, 13 Beaufighters 227 Squadron, 16 Beaufighters 272 Squadron from the Middle East.

SUB BRINGS STORES IN LATEST CLUB RUN

HM Submarine Porpoise arrived today, carrying further supplies of aviation fuel, plus general stores and mail for Malta.  Porpoise sailed from Beirut last Thursday for this latest submarine delivery of urgent stores for the Island, known as ‘club runs’.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 7 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair early, becoming cloudy.

1112-1200 hrs  Air raid alert as 36 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled and intercept the raiders well to the north and again over the Island but the enemy escapes engagement.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept.  They are jumped by ME 109s, break formation and return to base.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  Half the raiders cross the coast: Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds – no claims.

1420 hrs  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa patrol over Malta through the afternoon.

1545-1630 hrs  Sixteen Beaufighters 272 Squadron land at Ta Qali.

1645-1740 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 6 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  13 Beauforts from 39 Squadron, 13 Beaufighters 227 Squadron, 16 Beaufighters 272 Squadron from Middle East; one Beaufighter from photo-reconnaissance 69 Squadron; one Beaufighter from 89 Squadron; three Baltimores from LG 227; five Spitfires, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Gianaclis.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort ran into a bomb crater: crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Wellington missing in transit from LG 224 to Malta.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.  1527 hrs; 1603 hrs Two Beauforts arrived.

LUQA  Six Spitfires 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Naples, Palermo, Trapani, Taranto, Augusto, Brindisi and Messina.  Six Wellingtons 69 Squadron carrying torpedoes were sent on reconnaissance for enemy naval units: no sightings.

4th Bn THE BUFFS   Personnel of Bn engaged on co-operational duties with RAF at Luqa aerodrome 0400-1900 hrs: 2 Officers 80 Other Ranks penmen & maintenance Spitfires; 2 Officers 100 Other Ranks GD bombing & refuelling Wellingtons; 2 Other Ranks GD Baltimores; 1 Officer 33 Other Ranks GD Beaufighters; 36 Other Ranks armament assistants.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private T Seville buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali.

7 November 1942: Aviation Fuel Enough For 4 Weeks

MOST SECRET TELEGRAM

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             Rptd:  Cs in C Middle East, Brigadier Jacob, Foreign Secretary, First Sea Lord

1.  Stock of aviation fuel remaining 7th November was 1187 tons.  This includes receipts by submarine and a quantity of DTD 224 used for blending and mixing with 100 octane.

2.  Expenditure week ending 7th November was 286 tons.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 7 NOVEMBER 1942

Two nursing sisters injured in bombing of Imtarfa

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

1.  Enemy air activity reduced: three raidless days, seven alerts, total 160 fighters and fighter bombers.  Few bombs on aerodromes.  RAF destroyed one fighter, damaged one.  Small arms destroyed one fighter.

2.  Total 13 aircraft of which five only crossed the coast.  Slight damage civilian property and Imtarfa military hospital.  Two sisters QAIMNS, 15 civilians injured; seven civilians killed.  One Cant destroyed by Beaufighter: two Italian prisoners.

3.  Offensive activity by RAF against convoys continues.  One merchant vessel, one tanker hit.  One Beaufighter on patrol Sicily destroyed one JU 88.

4.  Some E boat activity off Grand Harbour on four nights; probably minelaying.

5.  RAF heavily reinforced for Operation Torch and army providing approximately 1700 personnel for maintenance of aerodromes and servicing aircraft.

6.  Morale very high on account of successes in western desert.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 8 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy, becoming fine.

No air raids.

0840-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled: raid does not materialise.

1115-1155 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol over Malta at 20000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.

1430-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2015 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are sent on patrol over western Sicily.  One Beaufighter sights a JU 88 and shoots it down into the sea.  The other Beaufighter fails to return.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lincoln Craig, Royal New Zealand Air Force, pilot; Sergeant Keith Donald, Royal New Zealand Air Force, air gunner; Flight-Sergeant Herbert Earney, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Oliver Holmes, air gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer Samuel Morrison, Royal Air Force (VR); all 104 Squadron, RAF.  Flight Sergeant Alistair Paterson, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Beauforts 39 Squadron from Mariut; one Liberator, two DC 3s, four Wellingtons from LG 224; one Wellington from Middle East. Departures  One Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on land: crew killed.  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Aircraft of 40 Squadron arrived.  Nine Spitfires 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance morning and afternoon.  Wellingtons of 69 Squadron and 104 Squadron were sent on shipping searches in Marittimo-Cavoli area: no shipping sighted.

4th Bn THE BUFFS   Personnel of Bn engaged with RAF at Luqa aerodrome as for 6 November.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the week 1-7th November the Bn has found working parties at Hal Far: 2 impressed lorries and 4 Other Ranks for crater-filling; 1 motor-cycle and 1 Other Ranks as special D/R.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali. 

 

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14 February 1942: Bomb Disposal Officer’s Lucky Escape

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UNEXPLODED BOMB AT THE OPERA HOUSE

This morning Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officer Lt George Carroll received a call from the Police in Valletta: an unexploded bomb is located close opposite their station:

Opera House with balustrade to R (NWMA Malta)

“When you look at the front of the Opera House, to the right a building ran across the present Square, with a balustrade on the top of it, which was part of a walkway.  I was told that there was a bomb on the balustrade.

When I arrived, I saw that the bomb was hanging suspended over the street.  The balustrade had a ledge extending towards the square.  I edged along this parapet on my knees – knowing I could fall onto the pavement below.  When I reached the bomb I found it was one which I hadn’t seen before:  it was small, made of metal, and on the top it had a rocking cap.  The bomb was attached to a wire, which I had to carefully snip, so that I could deal with the fuze and then take the bomb away for examination.

I traced the wire back and found that stretched across streets and houses.  Then I realised that, while I was on the ledge delicately holding the bomb, someone anywhere in Valletta could have found the wire and pulled it out of curiosity, banging the bomb against the balustrade and exploding it in my hands.

I found out that the bomb had been sent up by the Navy.  To deal with Stukas, they invented a system whereby they sent into the air a pot of explosive with a rocking cap on top – the fuze mechanism – attached to a thousand feet of wire, with a parachute at the end.  It would probably be fired up by a mortar, to launch it vertically into the sky.  As it was fired into the air, the parachute would separate and as a Stuka hit the wire, the parachute would pull across the wing;   The pot would hit the wing and the rocking cap would set it off, destroying the wing and bringing the plane down…I could have been blown to smithereens!”

Realising that other such bombs could easily fall into less expert hands with fatal consequences, Lt Carroll promptly arranges for an Information Office to issue a warning to the public, which appears on the front page of the Times of Malta.  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 15 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; light.  Clear sky.

0941-1040 hrs  A raid by one ME 109 fighter which drops two bombs on Ta Qali and machine-guns the rear of Chateau Bertrand.  Light Ack Ack engage.  A reconnaissance mission by one JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack at height control.  Hurricanes are airborne; no engagement.

1051-1135 hrs  Two raids, each of three plus ME109s aircraft orbit an area north of Grand Harbour without approaching the coast.

1151-1354 hrs  Three ME 109s approach at 15000 feet and dive to 5000 feet to drop bombs on Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Bombs damage the Guard-room, Photo section and and equipment store: one administration building collapses and three lorries are destroyed.  AC1 Wilson sustains slight injuries.  Ten enemy aircraft patrol at 17000 feet, waiting for two Marylands returning from a convoy patrol.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne and the two Marylands land safely.

1612-1753 hrs  Eight enemy fighters approach from the north.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.  No enemy aircraft cross the coast.

1950-2045 hrs  One enemy bomber approaches the Island from the north.  One anti-aircraft barrage is fired and bombs fall in the sea north east of Ricasoli.

0200-0737 hrs  Two air raid warnings last most of the night.  A series of eleven aircraft approach the Island in ten incursions.  17 barrages are fired.  Bombs are dropped in the sea and on land in the areas of Mosta, Corradino, French Creek, Zebbug, Mqabba and Madliena.

Military casualties  Leading Seaman Augustus Rendell, HM Whaler Swona, Royal Naval Patrol Service; Lance Sergeant Leonard Johnson, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Mrs Alice Hiscock, St.Georges Barracks.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Beaufort, two Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Catalina to Cairo; one Beaufort to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night 14/15th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched on shipping search.  Area covered: Malta-Lampedusa-Rerenna-Tripoli.  Nothing sighted.  Two Hurricanes of 605 Squadron based at Hal Far are scrambled from Ta Qali.  P/O Lowe is shot down in the sea and reported missing.  P/O Wigley fired at an ME 109 with no observed result.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just I patrol; one Maryland Just II patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour; one Maryland special search for friendly convoy.  252 Squadron  Four Beaufighters protection of friendly convoy.  21 Squadron  One Blenheim reconnaissance for enemy forces.  40 Squadron  Two Wellingtons attacked Gerbini aerodrome; six Wellingtons attacked Catania; three despatched to attack Comiso aerodrome; two aircraft also attacked Syracuse; one aircraft also attacked Augusta and one aircraft attacked Augusta only.  One aircraft jettisoned his bombs and returned early.  S/D Flight  One Wellington search around friendly convoy.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Regimental Dance Band plays at Manoel Theatre, Valletta.

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

(1)  UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in 1942, February 1942, Uncategorized

 

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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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5 February 1942: 88 Aircraft Attack This Morning

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  • Enemy exploits fine weather to launch 14 air raids
  • 54 aircraft in a single attack
  • Heavy bombing along north coast
  • Officers and civilians killed
  • Airman’s body found washed ashore

HOMES BOMBED IN SLIEMA: HEADMISTRESS KILLED

“On Thursday February 5th the Clergy had a one-day retreat at Holy Trinity, Sliema. There were 16 of us. At 10.40 during the first lesson of Mattins a fearful barrage broke out over Sliema. The whole district rocked, the Church trembled, the crashing of buildings and of broken glass. Everybody sat tight, but our hearts were in our mouths, and I felt myself go white. Thomas who was reading the lesson carried on, shouting the guns down and bombs with his tremendous voice. The noise died down and a few moments later there was a whisper at the church door and Farrie fetched his surplice. He had been sent for to see Miss Yabsley [an elderly retired headmistress who had been standing at her front door when a bomb struck the house.  She] had been badly injured and was lying at the Blue Sisters Hospital. He took her the Blessed Sacrament, and she died within an hour.

Her house had had a direct hit. She was not in her shelter, but her maid, who was, was uninjured. Her great friend with whom she lived was out shopping and escaped. The retreat was abandoned as the Military Chaplains were anxious to see about their casualties. There was another bad raid on Manoel Island that afternoon.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 6 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  50% cloud; wind southerly.  Bright periods; warmer.

0750 hrs  Two aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali, followed by two more at 0815 hrs; they join up at Luqa – no interceptions.

0843-0859 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters chase a returning friendly aircraft but recede before coming within range of the guns.

1010 hrs  Two Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali; no interceptions.

1012-1122 hrs  21 plus aircraft approach from the north (six JU 88 bombers and ME 109s), and pass over Ta Qali and Grand Harbour areas.

1040-1100 hrs  Bombs are dropped east of Hamrun, on St George’s, Sliema, Manoel and Lazaretto Creek, Cospicua, St Edward’s College and Marsa Creek.  Manoel Command Post receives a direct hit: two Ack Ack officers are killed and several injured. Bombs on St George’s Bay strike a billet of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers causing five casualties, two of them serious.  Corporal Latchem of ‘B’ Company saves two lives by administering prompt first aid.

Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage the enemy.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two ME 109s flying at 100 feet.  Another low-flying ME 109 is attacked by Light Machine Guns from No 16 Platoon, 1st Bn The Dorset Regiment, who are carrying out training in the Leonardo area.

1110 hrs  Five ME 109s carry out a low-flying machine-gun attack on a Heinkel in Kalafrana Bay, setting it on fire and destroying it.  Enemy aircraft are engaged by Light Machine Gun fire from post GP8 and Fort Ta Silch.

1154-1227 hrs  Three ME 109s approach from the north, patrol the west and east coasts, and recede.

1305-1317 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

1424-1507 hrs  A total of 54 aircraft approach the Island (12 JU 88s with ME 109 escort).  Bombs are dropped in the Grand Harbour area, on the Three Cities, Bighi, on Zonkor Ridge, to the east of Tigne, and on Salina Bay.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88.  Enemy fighters carry out a patrol round the Island.

1914-1930 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs near Msida Church.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2109-2140 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north and drops bombs 300 yards west of Rabat searchlight position before receding north.  Heavy Ack Ack fires two barrages.

2223-2240 hrs  Aircraft do not approach beyond 12 miles east of Kalafrana.

2354-0036 hrs  Three aircraft cross the coast at various points and drop bombs on Floriana, in the sea off Hal Far and in the sea off Benghaisa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.

0237-0312 hrs  One aircraft flies down the coast from the north west to south east and drops bombs near Hal Far.  A second aircraft comes in round the south of Gozo and crosses the coast near Dingli.  Bombs are dropped near Birzebuggia.  Two Ack Ack barrages are fired.

0434-0447 hrs  One aircraft crosses the coast near Zonkor, drops bombs near Latnia and recedes north over Madliena.  Two Ack Ack barrages are fired.

0543-0647 hrs  One aircraft approaches the north of the Island, circles the east coast and drops bombs in Marsaxlokk.  The aircraft machine-guns Kalafrana searchlight position, with no damage.  Two barrages are fired.  A JU 88 approaches from the south and drops bombs near Lancer Heavy Ack Ack position.

0655-0725 hrs  One aircraft approaches over St Paul’s Bay and drops bombs in the Lapsi-Qrendi areas and Safi landing strip.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Alexander Robinson, Royal Air Force, 249 Squadron; Captain Joseph Anderson, (6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment) 10 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lt (QM) John Sandell, 10th HAA Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Liberata Bugeja, age 75, Adelaide Incorvaja, age 6, Edward Pace Bonello, age 51, Caroline Ethel Yabsley, age 72.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 5 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Beaufort, ten Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Six Beaufighters, ten Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland SF6 patrol; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Sirte.  40 Squadron  2330 hrs  Eight Wellingtons sent to attack motor transport park north of Tripoli Race Course; successful.  Returned 0322 hrs.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Night  Intruder raids by 1435 Flight. 0015 F/O Thompson to Catania: saw red flare; had to return owing to engine trouble.  0115 hrs  F/Lt Stores saw nothing; returned 0300 hrs.  0320 hrs  S/Ldr Westmacott had special task would not complete owing to bad visiblity: machine-gunned train at Catania – two vivid white flashes and train lights extinguished – returned 0505 hrs.  0410 hrs  P/O Mills to Comiso but would not get there in time to attack aircaft landing – returned 0640 hrs and overshot on landing, damaging undercarriage only.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Enemy aircraft engaged by Light Machine Gun fire from post GP8 and Fort Ta Silch.  One Ack Ack shell exploded near Post SA1 causing slight damage to cookhouse.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Normal work and training.  Continuous air raids throughout the night; several long alerts during the day.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Battalion exercise:  “Speed in Attack”.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  1600 hrs  Gunner A Beard interred at Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER The body of a RAF man was washed ashore in the northern sector: identified by wrist watch and marks on clothing.  Northern Infantry Brigade informed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2 not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

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4 February 1942: Five Hour Air Raid

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  • Five hour raid; nine killed
  • Heavy bombing on Ta Qali: buildings and runway damaged, Headquarters evacuated
  • Three Hurricanes missing
  • Wellingtons attack motor transport south of Tripoli 
  • Blenheims attack Palermo: direct hit on train

    Bomb damage at Chateau Bertrand, Ta Qali

RED FLAG UP NEARLY ALL DA

A diary of life in Valletta, 4 February 1942

“For weeks now we have had them prowling round all night and nearly all day. The day raids cease at dusk, and there is a half an hour’s interval; then Wailing Willie goes again. Sometimes he announces ‘Raider Past’ once or twice in the night; but within a short time the enemy comes again. He appears to go round and round the island, just out of reach of the guns, dropping a bomb here and there; occasionally diving on some post through the clouds – for the very cloudy weather lately has helped him. When he approaches our end of the island our own particular barrage bursts out for a moment or two, and then ceases. We doze through it!

Nature cannot go on keeping on the alert. Sometime something drops fairly near; but we have been lucky. At the moment he definitely has command of the air, for the Messerschmitt which he uses here is definitely faster than our Hurricanes. Even his Junkers when they have discharged their load are only very slightly slower, and cannot be caught if they get any start.

It is very difficult to get anything done in the day. We now have a system by which a large red flag is hoisted when bombers are about. The shops and market immediately shut, and people keep one eye on the nearest shelter, go and sit in the Club, or stand at the door of a shelter till the guns open. This flag is up nearly all day! Many brave or rash people ignore it; some because they must. But many have paid the penalty with their lives.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 5 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  Bright periods; 80% cover, low thundery clouds.

0920-0937 hrs  Two plus aircraft approach from the north, pass the Island to the east, turn and recede north without crossing the coast.

1131-1634 hrs  For the first three hours of the raid, single aircraft patrol to the south east and south of the Island.  One bomber drops bombs in the Salina area.

1225 hrs  Six aircraft of 249 and 126 Squadrons, Ta Qali are airborne: intercept JU 88 bombers south of Kalafrana.  F/Lt Davis scores strikes on both engines of a bomber, closing to 50 yards, silencing the rear gunner.  P/O Tedford gets in good bursts at 250 yards from astern.  S/Ldr Beazley attacks from above and astern.  The JU 88 is claimed as damaged.  All aircraft return safely to Ta Qali.

1350 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 249, 242 and 126 Squadrons, Ta Qali, intercept JU 88s over Kalafrana.  F/Lt Carpenter fires all his ammunition from 200 yards: no return fire.

1500 hours  A raid consisting of three plots of six aircraft and three plots of three aircraft approaches from the north.  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Qali area, and near San Biagio church.  The enemy attack Ta Qali camp with large bombs, presumed to be mines.  Headquarters and Billet of Section, Equipment and Parachute Section, Malta Night Fighter Unit, 242 Squadron Offices and A/Cs offices are badly damaged and rendered unusable.  Evacuation of HQ and other buildings is ordered.  The aerodrome surface is badly cratered and made partly unserviceable.  Casualties.

ME 109 fighters then patrol south of the Island, engage Malta’s fighters and machine-gun a high-speed launch.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1806-1817 hrs  Five ME 109s approach from the north, complete a circuit of the Island and then recede north.  They do not come within range of the guns.

1820 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes of 249, 126 and 242 Squadrons, Ta Qali, are airborne to engage the enemy.  Three pilots are reported missing: P/O Hulbert and Sgt MacDowell of 249 Squadron and P/O Main of 126 Squadron.  Searches are made without result: they are presumed shot by enemy aircraft.

2020-2114 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island.

2214-2229 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns at 15 miles from the Island and recedes north.

2255-0011 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Bingemma area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0135-0510 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Hulbert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Thomas Griffith, Royal Air Force (VR); Aircraftsman Gerald King, Royal Air Force (VR), Corporal Theodore Nielsen, Royal Air Force.  Lance Bombardier Albert Beard, 225 Battery, 74th  Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta Joseph Buhagiar, age 50, Francis Chetcuti, age 29, Elian Tonna, age 51, Joseph Tonna, age 31; Naxxar  Bartholomew Buhagiar, age 80; St Paul’s Bay  Grazio Galea, age 42.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 FEBRUARY 1942

HAL FAR  Night 3/4th Three Albacores 828 Squadron despatched on search for single merchant vessel off Kuriat.  Nothing was sighted and all aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour; one Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol (modified); one Maryland special search Sfax.  21 Squadron  Six Blenheims sent to attack Palermo Harbour; [scored a direct hit on a train identified by daytime photo-reconnaissance mission].  Wing Commander William Selkirk, RAF, P/O Workman and Sgt Ibbetson failed to return.  40 Squadron  2341-0324 hrs  Wellingtons attacked motor transport at Tripoli.  S/D Flight One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Headquarters evacuated [following air raid today] and all equipment salvaged.  Lessons to be learned.  Had bomb been a little closer almost entire HQ equipment and personnel would have been wiped out.  HQ should be underground to save equipment, and above all dislocation of communications and organisation and if possible should be right off the target area.  Shortage of equipment renders it essential that all adequate safeguards be taken.  Typewriters and office machinery were saved from damage through being placed under tables when air raid took place.  Casualties.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT   ’A’ Company held [training exercise] at Tal Balal.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Unexploded bomb C Company area.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party 120 strong.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner A H Beard died in hospital.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  Heavy raid on Ta Qali.  Private Jones was injured when the truck in which he was sitting was very badly damaged by a bomb.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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22 January 1942: Fierce Air Battle Over Malta

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HURRICANES FIGHT OFF ENEMY BOMBERS AND FIGHTERS – RAF PILOT KILLED BY FRIENDLY FIRE

AIR RAIDS 22 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south south-west.  80% low clouds.

0855-0904 hrs  Air raid warning; nothing transpires.

1120 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

1128-1207 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by five Macchi fighters approach the Island.  The bombers cross the coast over Delimara and drop twelve bombs on Hal Far, badly cratering the aerodrome and damaging buildings as well as two Hurricane aircraft.

As two Hurricanes from 242 Squadron dive through the barrage to attack the enemy, they are hit by friendly Anti Aircraft fire.  Sgt Harvey manages to land with a damaged tail but Sgt Neale spins in on landing and is killed.  Sgt Gardiner attacks a JU 88 from 50 yards, apparently damaging both engines; the bomber turns westwards, losing height rapidly.

F/Lt Kemp and Sgt Hale attack three of the Macchis.  F/Lt Kemp chases one out to sea and gets in several bursts of machine-gun fire.  The Italian is last seen spinning slowly into cloud, with brown smoke streaming from the engine: probably destroyed.

Other Malta Squadrons on the offensive force enemy raiders to drop their bombs in the sea.  P/O Man attacks a JU 88 and uses up all his ammunition: but claims one JU 88 damaged.  P/O Crichton attacks a JU 88 and gets in a long burst of machine-gun fire up to 50 yards.  Small pieces of the bomber’s engine appear to break off.  F/Lt Davis and P/O Tedford then attack the same JU 88, which is last seen at a height of twenty feet, thirty miles north of Gozo.

242 Squadron’s total claims: one Macchi or ME 109 probably destroyed by F/Lt Kemp; one JU 88 probably destroyed by Sgt Gardiner; one Ju 88 damaged P/O Mann; one JU 88 damaged by F/Lt Davis, and P/Os Crichton and Tedford.

1400 hrs  Thirteen aircraft are scrambled from 126, 249 and 242 Squadrons.

1408-1455 hrs  While one raid of three aircraft patrols off the south of the Island, another raid of twelve plus crosses the south coast and drops bombs on Hal Far and Safi, Ta Liebru and Misrah Blandun.  Two bombs fall on the aerodrome but no damage is reported.

The Hurricanes engage the enemy: Sgt Boyd attacks a JU 88, causing its engine to stream black and white smoke.  He claims one JU 88 probably destroyed.  P/O Kee, leading a top cover of fighters, attacks two enemy fighters getting in a four-second machine-gun burst, damaging the fuselage of one: he claims one ME 109 damaged.  As enemy raiders recede northwards, all Hurricanes land safely.

HMS Abingdon

1545-1653 hrs  24 aircraft approach from various directions, some of them attacking the minesweeper HMS Abingdon off Zonkor Point.  One aircraft then crosses the coast north of Grand Harbour, dropping bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; no Hurricanes airborne.

2152-2257 hrs  One bomber approaches Kalafrana via the east of the Island and drops bombs in the Delimara area.  Throughout the raid single enemy aircraft patrol 40 miles east of the Island.

2316 hrs  Four bombers approach from the north; each is barraged as it comes in.  Several bombs are dropped in the sea, one on land near Qawra Tower area, and another on land south of Wardia.

0109-0135 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and are barraged.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Leonardo and on land near Ghallis Tower.  No damage is reported.

0151-0410 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the coast three times, at Marsaxlokk, Kalafrana and north west of Dingli.  The aircraft is illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrages.  Bombs are dropped on land between Bubaqra and Hal Far: no damage is reported.

Military casualties  Sergeant Donald Neale, Pilot, RAF, 242 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 22 JANUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A large enemy convoy was sighted by RAF reconnaissance during the day.  Two submarines are sent out at short notice and Force K is standing by.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Champion from Cairo.  Departures  One Champion to Lisbon.

HAL FAR  Night 22/23rd  Three Albacores were despatched on shipping search Tripoli-Kerkennah area.  No sighting was made.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland SF 9c patrol; one Maryland SF 9d patrol; one Beaufighter Photo-reconnaissance African aerodromes.  21 Squadron One Blenheim special search, toe of Italy and Sicily.  40 Squadron  Eight Wellingtons attacked Tripoli Harbour.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome surface drying but bad patches.  94 airmen commenced training with the Army on [airfield] Defence Scheme.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa continues, also unloading convoy. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 3 (2 kg incendiaries).

 

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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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20 January 1942: Bomb on Dockyard Buries Nine

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BOMB INTENDED TO HIT CONVOY SHIP

62 bombers and fighters carry out in five raids; their targets Hal Far, the Dockyard and the convoy ships in Grand Harbour.  At 1430 hrs a heavy bomb aimed at the ship Rowallan Castle demolishes the clothing store at Marina Pinto, burying nine people under debris.  Royal Engineers (RE) rescue parties dig through the night in an attempt to recover survivors.  Only one civilian is found alive.

Bomb damage GOC’s residence Pieta (NWMA Malta)

ARMY COMMANDER’S LUCKY ESCAPE

An unexploded bomb falling on the residence in Pieta of the Army General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major-General D M W Beak split the house in two, leaving the GOC stranded on the top floor with no means of escape.  No-one was hurt.

The RE Bomb Disposal Officer attended immediately, and neutralised the 500kg bomb’s fuze.  However, air raids and the building’s precarious state prevented the immediate removal of the bomb which was placed under guard.  (1)

AIR RAIDS 20 JANUARY 1942

Weather   Wind west.  100% low cloud.  Thundery showers.

0628-0753 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north.  One bomber patrols south east of the Island.  The other two drop bombs in Mellieha and Qawra Tower areas.  Guns do not engage.

0850-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0928-1004 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers with fighter escort approach from the north.  One JU 88 crosses over Grand Harbour on reconnaissance, followed by a second JU 88 which dives down to drop bombs over the Dockyard.  Four bombs land in the Dockyard School and Verdala Barracks area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire height control; no Hurricanes are airborne.

0955 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engages one JU 88 at 5000 feet, claiming one hit.

1134-1253 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s approach from north.  One JU 88 crosses over Delimara and drops bombs in Marsaxlokk Bay and near Zejtun.  The ME 109s remain off the east coast at 5000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

1405 hrs  Eight aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1410-1503 hrs Three JU 88s escorted by twenty ME109s come in from the north and drop bombs on Marino Pinto, Ospizio, Guardamangia, Gzira and Tal Qroqq, on the Dockyard, and Floriana, Tal Qroqq and Birkirkara.  Heavy Ack Ack engages and Hurricanes chase one JU 88, without results.

1534-1730 hrs  Enemy aircraft come in from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.  Three aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1947-2137 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island from the north, two turning back thirty miles out.  The rest do not cross the coast but orbit to the east apparently unable to find the Island.  One aircraft is barraged as it approaches from the east.

2045-0230 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs on the Safi strip and the Grand Harbour area.

2153-0230 hrs  Six aircraft approach the Island, three only crossing the coast.  Two are turned away by barrages.  Bombs are dropped near a military defence post, severing an overhead electric cable, as well as west of Hal Far and west of Gzira.  No military damage is reported.

Military casualties  L/Cpl Reginald Carter, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Thomas Hall, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Gunner Philip Sammut, Royal Malta Artillery; WO1 Alfred Newman, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

Civilian casualties  Floriana Carmelo Grima, age 37; Hamrun Carmelo Brincat, age 54, Wigi Micallef, age 55; Lija Luigi Fenech, age 47; Mosta Edwige Vincenti, age 37; Sliema Attilio Mamo, age 45.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals One Clare from Cairo; two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures One Clare to Lisbon; two Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland SF15 patrol; one Maryland SF 16 patrol; one Maryland SF6 patrol. 21 Squadron  Two Blenheims attacked barracks west of Homs. 40 Squadron  Three Wellingtons nuisance raid on Tripoli. S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aircraft returned [to base] from operating at Luqa.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT A & D Companies fired their pistol course during the morning.  The Battalion is providing a guard and a working party on the GOC’s house which was hit by a bomb.  Luckily the bomb failed to explode but the house received extensive damage.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1(500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries. 

(1) UXB Malta, SAM Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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