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17 March 1942: 30 Civilians Killed by Heavy Bombs Across Malta

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  • Air raids back to full force

    Heinkel He 111

  • 79000 kg high explosive bombs dropped across Island
  • Indiscriminate night bombing hits civilian areas
  • 30 civilian casualties including two policemen
  • Heavier enemy fighter escorts – 40 protect a single raid
  • Heinkel III appears over Malta
  • Malta’s Ack Ack and fighters score hits on enemy aircraft
  • One Spitfire crashes
  • Aircraft destroyed on the ground

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  70% cloud at 500 feet.

0700 hrs  Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  F/L Stone and P/O Noble make a head on attack on one JU 88: results not observed.  P/O Beckett engages a ME 109: no visible results.

0715 hrs  Six Spitfires of 249 Squadron are airborne and locate an incoming formation of JU 88s and Messerschmitts.  The Spitfires split into pairs.  Sgt Brenman scores cannon strikes on one Messerchmitt which goes down.  He then fires at a second ME but sees no results.  F/Lt Heppell has a short squirt at one ME 109 and sees a puff of black smoke as it climbs away.

0737 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Grand Harbour area.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage.

0800 hrs  Six JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  One bowser and two Wellingtons are burned out.  Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged; one is written off. One Spitfire and one Mosquito of the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit are damaged.  One previously unserviceable Beaufighter is badly damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from Hal Far join the fight, spotting five JU 88s and ten Messerchmitts.  S/Lt Wells scores strikes on one Junkers and P/O McHan fires machine gun bullets into the same aircraft.  Sgt Hale attacks another JU and sees smoke pouring from the starboard engine, believed to be glycol.  F/Lt Kemp attacks a ME 109 and sees bits fall from the starboard wing: the ME goes down into cloud.  Sgt Mulloy attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes under the starboard wing root.  He also claims strikes on a 2nd Junkers, along the tail end of the fuselage.

1000 hrs  JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, and on the submarine base.

1025 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 4-6000 feet: no claims.

1030 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne.  Sighting a large formation of Messerschmitt fighters, the Spitfires dive away.  F/Sgt Cormack does not pull out of his dive and his machine heads straight towards Filfla: cause unknown.

1045 hrs  Five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.

1050 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land safely.

1115 hrs  All clear.

1200-1355 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and Luqa, and in the sea off Delimara.

1310 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs in the Zurrieq area and on Safi strip. One JU 88 is engaged by two gun positions of 225 LAA at 5-6000 feet: no claims.

1407 hrs  Four JU 88s and one Heinkel 111 escorted by fighters approach the Island  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Broad engage one JU 88: no visible results.  The raiders drop bombs to the west of Luqa and Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1415 hrs  Three Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and three Spitfires of 249 Squadron from Luqa.  They chase and damage the Heinkel.  A second wave of six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop twelve bombs on Ta Qali, damaging one Hurricane. Two civilians are killed, two are admitted to hospital and two have minor injuries.  Ack Ack engage and damage one JU 88.

1425 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the Mqabba area and near Loreto Church.

1445 hrs  The Spitfires and Hurricanes land safely.

1500 hrs  One Hurricane at Ta Qali is damaged by a delayed action bomb dropped at 1415 hrs.  One civilian is injured and taken to hospital.

1600 hrs  Five Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of JU 88s.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Sutherland attack one JU, hitting the fuselage and engines.  Sgt Sutherland engages a ME 109, scoring hits between the engine and cockpit.

1619 hrs  A six-wave attack of bombers protected by a large fighter force.  The first wave of six JU 88 drops bombs on Sliema, Tigne and Marsaxmett Harbour.

One JU 88 drops bombs on Kirkop and Qrendi.

Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and to the north of Luqa.

One aircraft recedes from south to north at 18000 feet.

Six JU 88s drops bomb on the Qrendi strip and in the sea.

Six JU 88s drops bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.   Malta’s fighters are up and damage one HE 111, one JU 88 and two ME 109s.  Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage another.

1725 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip. Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged and written off.  Guns of 225 LAA Battery engage two JU 88s and one ME 109 at 4-5000 feet: no claims.

1830 hrs  Two Hurricanes 126 Squadron take off from Hal Far with five other Hurricanes of 185 Squadron to intercept an incoming formation.  The two Hurricanes of 126 chase a JU 88 which is last seen diving steeply into the sea.

1836 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and Misrah Blandun.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa and patrol behind the Hurricanes.  Two ME 109s are spotted.  S/L Grant damages one with cannon shells and P/O Plagis attacks the other, observing pieces fall from the aircraft.

1842 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s at 3-4000 feet: three gun positions claim five hits in total.

1846 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 3-4000 feet.  All guns claim hits; two confirmed on the fuselage and starboard wing of one aircraft.  Gunners collect fallen fragments of fuselage and a rubber dinghy.  The plane recedes south apparently badly damaged.

1920 hrs  All clear.

2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is barraged over Grand Harbour and drops its bomb load in the sea.

2044 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the east of Mellieha.

2200 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Pembroke Ranges, on Naxxar and in the sea.

2235 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Rabat area.

2332-0100 hrs  Seven aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the Rabat and Rocco areas, and in the sea.

0156 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on St Georges and in the sea.

0340 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs in the sea west of Gozo and another drops bombs to the south of Latnia.

0517 hrs   Seven aircraft approach the Island: one drops bombs near San Rocco fort, the remainder in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ian Cormack Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.  Gunner Carmel Darmanin, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Alfred Calleja, age 35.  Hamrun  George Debono, age 43.  Lija  Charles Lanzon, age 36.  Paola  Giuseppe Delia, age 60; Joseph Delia, age 4; George Gauci, age 80.  Qormi  Carmelo Aquilina, age 77.  Rabat  Francis Mallia, Ena Mallia Pulvirenti, age 12; Salvu Portelli, age 37; Andrew Spiteri, age 11; Samuel Vassallo, age 25.  Siggiewi  Carmelo Baldacchino, age 44.  Sliema  Eddie Bartolo, age 38; Joseph Bartolo, age 38; Alfred Calapai, age 54; Antonio Fava, age 20; Paul Formosa, age 50; Giuseppa Micallef, age 54; Joseph Micallef, age 11; Joseph Mifsud, age 66; Albert Mifsud, age 14; Anthony Pisani, age 38; Carmela Sghendo, age 15; Francis Spiteri, age 14; Alfred Vella, age 45.  Valletta  Muriel Brocklebank, age 47.  Zebbug  Giuseppe Petroni, age 29.  Zejtun  Joseph Mercieca, age 45.  Zurrieq  Ursola Schembri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  MLs 126 and 130 arrived from Gibraltar.  Five Albacores left to attack convoy sighted earlier but failed to find.  Three Swordfish attacked one merchant vessel of 2000 tons east of Tripoli.  One torpedo was dropped and left ship ablaze from stem to stern.  Two Swordfish and four Albacores sighted and attacked two merchant vessels and two destroyers in Lampedusa area.  Two torpedoes dropped and one hit on a 7000 ton merchant vessel is claimed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Spitfires to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Five Albacores 828 Squadron dispatched to attack convoy – nothing sighted.  Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on shipping search.  They attacked one merchant vessel (position east Tripoli 25 miles, 10 miles from shore).  A hit was scored: merchant vessel left ablaze from stem to stern.  One Swordfish – S/L Shute, Mid. Hillery – missing.

LUQA  0712-1300 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search south and east of Malta for enemy shipping.  1534-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for enemy shipping.

TA QALI  Signal 0831 HQ:  Identity of 242 and 605 Squadrons cease to exist as such on Malta with effect from 15 March 1942.  Pilots being absorbed with existing fighter squadrons at Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Night operations: no interceptions.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company on exercise Corrodino area; normal work for other Companies.  1400 hrs A Company cross-country run.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  St Patrick’s Day parade of Battalion at San Pawl Tat Targe.  Shamrock presented by GOC.  March to Naxxar for church parade and sermon by Rev Navin.  Dinner in evening attended by Brigadier L/Col Iggleden, L/Col Brittorous.  Men entertained by concert party.

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

 

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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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15 March 1942: Hell on Sunday – 1800kg Satan Bombs on Valletta

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MASSIVE BOMBS ON VALLETTA AS HEAVY RAIDS RETURN TO THE CAPITAL

German 1800kg ‘Satan’ Bomb (NWMA Malta)

Mass bombing returns to Malta today as the enemy responds to the recent success of Spitfires against their raiders.  The city of Valletta became a specific target for the first time this year.  The Luftwaffe chose the heaviest bomb carried by Junkers aircraft for their mission:  the two-ton ‘Satan’.  In five raids on the capital, German bombers dropped over 15000 kg of high explosive bombs on the streets, killing twelve civilians and one serviceman on leave.

Observers report that the number of aircraft in each raid has risen significantly.  Fighter escorts have increased in size, to outnumber the Island’s modest Spitfire force and overcome their recent success rate.

DOCKYARD APPRENTICE FINDS GIANT BOMB

“I was then a 16 years old Dockyard apprentice and Sunday was the only full day off from where I worked… It was a sunny morning and I was outside my home…A detachment of Infantry troops on a route march were coming down the road a short distance away. Suddenly everything erupted all at once. Wailing sirens, dispersing troops and heavy and intense gunfire. Like a second instinct we all dashed to take cover . As usual I was always one of the last to enter the shelter staying at the entrance to see what was going on.

Almost immediately, out of the din, the screaming crescendo of a diving plane filled our ears and, as the noise began to fade, suddenly a loud ”shuuuttle-sshee-shuuuttle ”- the unmistakable and sinister shuttling  noise of a falling bomb. I ducked inside the shelter as far as I was able waiting for the usual shattering explosion and the trembling of the ground under our feet.  But nothing happened.  Another five minutes or so went by and still nothing happened. It was becoming clear that a bomb had come down and had not exploded.

As soon as the noise of gunfire and diving planes had subsided and without waiting for the All Clear sirens, I emerged from the shelter and ran along Zabbar Road to where I thought the bomb had fallen, assuming, with good reason, that the bomb was aimed at the detachment of troops as they marched along the road…I spotted something embedded in the ground right in the middle of the road… a large bomb was clearly visible close to the surface and painted a bluish colour…

Gingerly, and apprehensively with my curiosity overcoming fear I moved nearer for a closer look. It was then that the stark and ominous reality suddenly dawned on me. For a fleeting moment, aghast and transported into a different dimension, I nearly froze rivetted to the spot. What was I doing here so close to this hellish object? Have I taken leave of my senses?  I could be blown to bits in a fraction of a second!

I retreated, hurriedly breaking into a run towards the shelter pointing behind me and shouting at the top of my voice ”Unexploded bomb; unexploded bomb’ and in Maltese,”Emm bomba ma splodiet’ to some of the men now cautiously emerging from the shelter… ”   Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MARCH TO DAWN 16 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind variable; cloudy at times – deteriorated during the day.

0713-0732 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

0818-0905 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s approach from the north.  Two JU 88s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Ta Minsia and St Julians area.  One JU 88 recedes.

0932-1005 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by five ME 109s drops an 1800kg bomb to the west of Zabbar.

Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron (all armed with machine guns) are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Noble engages a ME 109: strikes observed.  P/O Wigley attacks another ME 109: results not observed.

1020 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by 24 fighters approach the Island.  One JU 88 drops an 1800kg bomb on Valletta.  The other three drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Valletta and Qrendi strip.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.

1045 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled.  Sgt Boyd attacks a JU 88 twice but sees no results.  C Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs in area: three men are slightly hurt.

1100 hrs  A bomb explodes in Francis Street, Valletta: suspect delayed-action.

1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They are attacked by three ME 109s.  F/L Heppell sees cannon strikes on the fuselage of one ME which is then lost in cloud.  All Spitfires return safely to Luqa.

1135 hrs  All clear.  Three Hurricanes 242 Squadron return to Ta Qali.

1205-1255 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fifteen ME 109s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs near Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and damage one engine of a JU 88.

1220 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 500kg bombs from below cloud level between headquarters of 8t Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment (Ta Qandia quarries) and C Company at Ta Hasluk.  Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs near Wied Babu.

1319-1438 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar, Latnia and Rinella.  Four Spitfires engage.

1421 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by ME 109s approaches from the north.  Seven Hurricanes and three Spitfires are airborne but do not engage.  The JU 88 drops a 1800kg bomb on Valletta.

1515 hrs  A bomb explodes in Ursula Street, Valletta; suspect delayed-action.

1517 hrs  Three JU 88s and two ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar and Zonqor areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far take off to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1538 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by 25 ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Hal Far and in the sea.  The Hurricanes attack a JU 88: hits are observed on the tail and fuselage.

1545 hrs  Bombs area Della Grazia – Rinella-Maria Tas Silch.

1555 hrs  All clear.

1619-1657 hrs  Seven unidentified aircraft approach above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage with two barrages.

1715 hrs  W/C Satchell leads four Hurricanes from Ta Qali which join up with four from Hal Far; one returns early.  W/C Satchell attacks a JU 88: strikes are observed on the wing.  The same aircraft is fired on by two other Hurricanes.  W/C Satchell becomes separated from the formation and has a dog fight with a Messerschmitt.  He shoots off the tail of the enemy aircraft: claims destroyed.

1732-1820 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Hal Far. Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; no claims.

1931-2045 hrs  Two aircraft drop bombs on Gozo and in the sea.  Ack Ack engage.

2122-2140 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the sea.  Ack Ack do not engage.

2354-0018 hrs  One aircraft approaches and recedes when still 15 miles north of the Island.

0028-0058 hrs  Three aircraft approach; bombs are dropped to the north of Zabbar and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Private Dominic Mifsud, King’s Own Malta Regiment, died whilst on leave in Valletta. Leading Aircraftsman Stanley Leavesley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Salvu Borg, age 20.  Sliema  Polly Cannataci, age 26.  St Julians  Christopher Butler, age 21 months, (son of Capt Butler, 2nd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment).  Valletta  Giovanna Attard, age 56; Joseph Bellizzi, age 66; Dominica Borg Bellizzi, age 39; Michelina Busuttil, age 60; Vincent Busuttil, age 30; Anthony Formosa, age 37; Girlamo Fsadni, age 77; Marianna Mayman, age 34; Harold Miles, age 38; Mary Mifsud, age 57; Michael Vella, age 74; Melita Vella, age 35.  Zabbar  Emmanuele Bongailas, age 28; Giuseppe Lia, age 12.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 15 MARCH 1942

LUQA  0745-0920 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out part of SF 5 patrol.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One Man D Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by bombs in area of Qrendi strip.  Two men E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment Paola sustained slight injuries during a bombing raid.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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11 March 1942: German Raiders Flee Without Dropping Bombs

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ENEMY OUTNUMBERED BY MALTA FIGHTERS

For the first time Malta’s fighters outnumbered enemy attackers in an attempted raid this morning.  The Island’s early warning system picked up signs of an incoming formation at 1130 this morning.  By the time they reached Malta’s airspace, twenty aircraft – four Spitfires and sixteen Hurricanes – were in the air to meet them.  At least three enemy fighters were damaged.  The raid was aborted and the JU 88s turned back without dropping a single bomb.

The success of Malta’s defenders appears to have deterred further raids today:  several formations or single aircraft approached the Island, triggering the air raid alarm, but retreated without nearing the coast.

HMS Naiad

ADMIRAL’S FLAGSHIP SUNK HELPING MALTA SHIPS

HMS Naiad was sunk early this evening while she was leading a protective convoy covering the passage of HMS Cleopatra and HMS Kingston from Malta to Alexandria.  The flagship of Admiral Vian, commander of 15th Cruiser Squadron, Naiad was hit by a torpedo fired from German submarine U565 at dusk, to the north of Sidi Barrani.  Naiad sank in minutes, with the loss of 77 hands.

Vian’s squadron had been sent after an enemy vessel reported by reconnaissance on 9th March but finding nothing they diverted to escort the two vessels on their journey south from Malta.  The torpedo strike followed a day-long battle in which continuous attacks by Italian and German aircraft on the thirteen-strong convoy were fought off by barrages from the besieged ships.  Admiral Vian and his flag-captain were rescued from the water by HMS Dido which returned them to Alexandria.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 MARCH TO DAWN 12 MARCH 1942

Weather  Low clouds at times.

0902 hrs  One JU 88 with fighter escort carries out reconnaissance from 22000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires of 249 Squadron and twelve Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from are scrambled from Ta Qali.  They are joined by four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation.

1146 hrs  Enemy aircraft – JU 88s with fighter escort – approach from the north.

1215 hrs  The Spitfires engage the ME 109s.  S/L Grant attacks one, claiming a probable; F/L Connell damages another.   605 Squadron Hurricanes also attack: P/O Ormrod claims one damaged ME 109; P/O Noble fires at a second without observed results.  The JU 88s turn back without dropping any bombs.  Ack Ack engage.

1232 hrs  All clear.

1410 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1449-1545 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1654-1936 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

2130 hrs  Four 50kg bombs are dropped near battle Headquarters of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt at Tal Minsia, St Julians.

2330-0042 hrs  Island under continuous alert; few bombs dropped on land.

0340-0459 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north but does not cross the coast.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Georgia Borg, age 22.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Swordfish from El Adem; one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beaufighters to 108 MU.

LUQA DSO is awarded to F/L Warburton DFC and Bar of No 2 Photo Reconnaissance Unit for courage, determination and devotion to duty.  DFM is awarded to AC1 Haden who accompanied F/L Warburton.  0745-1250 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carries out Spanner patrol and reconnaissance of Lampedusa Harbour.  1400-1815 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out northern half of Spanner Patrol and Pantelleria.

TA QALI  1500 hrs  Funeral of Pilot Officer Mayall. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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Posted by on March 11, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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4 March 1942: Dog Fights in 20 Hour Bombing Spree

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  • Bombing almost continuous for 20 hours from 10 am
  • 28000 kg of bombs dropped on Malta
  • Italian bomber joins Luftwaffe formation
  • Five planes damaged on airfields
  • Hits scored on 16 enemy aircraft

AUCHINLECK GIVEN COMMAND OF MALTA: DOBBIE WILL REPORT TO MIDDLE EAST

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

Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck

Situation in your command has been very much in minds of the COS lately and we have discussed it in Committee several times in last few days.  We have been carefully considering every possible means to assist you in your difficulties, and have impressed on Auchinleck that defence of Malta is part and parcel of operations in his theatre and particularly in Cyrenaica.

2.  Under present system there is inevitable tendency to regard Malta and Cyrenaica as separate problems to be co-ordinated in London.  We have therefore decided that military garrison of Malta should be put under Auchinleck as Naval and RAF garrisons are under command of C in C Mediterranean and AOC-in-C Middle East respectively.  The three Commanders in Chief and Middle East Defence Committee will thus have joint responsibility for Malta as integral part of whole Middle East theatre, and you as Governor will have your hands strengthened by gaining direct access to Minister of State in Cairo as well as to HMG at home.

3.  We want to make it clear to you beyond all doubt that nothing could be further from our minds than lack of confidence in you.  We are all deeply conscious of magnificent fight you have put up and of inspiration which your leadership has given to Malta garrison and colony.  The more reason to strengthen your hands by every possible means now that you have entered such difficult and testing period.

4.  Apart form this change in organisation which is being communicated to Cs-in-C Middle East you will shortly hear in a COS telegram of various schemes for relieving your deficiencies in supplies and personnel.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MARCH TO DAWN 5 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind north west; slight.  30% medium cumulus/cirro cloud.

0745 hrs  Two ME 109s on patrol near the south and south east coast.

1010-1040 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  One JU 88 with an escort of two ME 109s carries out reconnaissance from 22000 feet: engaged by barrage.

1059-1208 hrs  ME 109s continue to patrol.  Four ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 12000 feet, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1224-1330 hrs  Five JU 88s accompanied by ME 109s drop bombs on Safi Strip, setting three Wellingtons on fire: two are destroyed and four more Wellingtons are damaged.  The Officers’ Mess of 37 Squadron is also damaged.  One ME 109 crashes near F range at Pembroke.  The pilot, Unteroffizier Benedikt Wegmann, has already baled out into the sea.  He swims ashore, where he is captured by B Company of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery claim three hits on one JU 88.

1346-1404 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island and patrol.  Six Hurricanes are airborne: no interceptions.

1415 hrs  Five ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 11000 feet.  Five JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa.

1420 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 242 Squadron at Ta Qali under S/L Wells join eight Hurricanes of 605 Squadron scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft as they return from the raid.

F/Sgt Fletcher (605) scores a hit on the rear gun turret of one JU 88, and P/O Noble hits another JU 88 twice, on the tail plane fuselage and the port engine, setting it on fire, before both pilots’ Hurricanes suffer damage (pilots unhurt).  Sgt Gardiner (242) hits the same JU 88.

Fiat BR20 “Cigogna” (stork)

Sgt Wilson hits one ME 109 on the fuselage and wing.  P/O Omerod hits the underside of another ME 109, another on the wing roots and engine cowling, and then hits an Italian aircraft – later identified as a BR 20 bomber – on the tail.   F/Lt Kee and P/O Kidson (242) score cannon strikes on another JU 88 before P/O Kidson dives on a ME 109, damaging its tail and claiming a ‘probably destroyed’.  One JU 88 ditches in the sea to the north of the Island and an ME 109 is shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire.

1515 hrs  All Clear.

1612-1803 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by seven ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.  Two Marylands are damaged.  Two billets are demolished and the sergeants’ sleeping quarters damaged.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagement.

1902-0239 hrs  21 aircraft approach singly, dropping bombs on Gozo, Ta Silch, Hal Far, Luqa, Lapsi, Qrendi, Hagiar Qim, Zeitun, between Nigret and Bubaqra, Wardia, Ta Qali, Salvator and in the sea.  Cpl Refalo of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is killed and L/Cpl Aquilina injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights expose eight targets.  Ta Qali Hurricane pilot Sgt Wood engages a JU 88 over the centre of the Island, as it fires at a searchlight.  Sgt Wood closes in and lets loose a 20 second burst of cannon-fire.  The JU 88 bursts into flames and crashes on land to the south west of Dingli.

0247-0632 hrs  Four aircraft drop bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0649 hrs  One aircraft comes to within 30 miles of Malta and then recedes.

Military casualties  Corporal Joseph Refalo, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Joseph Dingli, age 15; Tessie Dingli, age 4; Valentine Dingli, age 1.  Birkirkara  Michael Gauci, age 40.  Gozo (Zebbug)  Louis Vella, age 22.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber of 2/KG 66 shot down night of 4/5t March 1942:  Unteroffizier Albert Degenhardt, 2/KG 66 (pilot); Unteroffizier Friedrich Engelmann/Engelbert, 2/KG 66 (observer); Unteroffizier Herman Gessele (wireless operator); Unteroffizier Werner Rehschutz (air gunner).

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Kuriat, having hit a northbound tanker, believed sunk.  Unique sailed for Gibraltar and United Kingdom.  An Albacore sent on shipping search south and west of Malta sighted nothing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Catalina to Gibraltar and Lisbon; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

HAL FAR  One Albacore on search for enemy shipping Lampedusa-Zuara areas: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0930-1145 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1010-1353 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron PR Lampedusa Harbour and SF 2 patrol.  2107-0503 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron carried out a shipping search with torpedoes; no attack made.  2128-0508 hrs  Three Wellingtons 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Commanding Officer commenced investigations of landing Wellington against orders.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  ‘A’ Company moved to Safi strip in relief of C Company which moved to Gudja Camp.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Five bombs drop in D Company’s area during the night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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1 March 1942: 32 One-ton Bombs on Civilian Areas – 20 Dead in Floriana

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32 ONE-TON HIGH EXPLOSIVE BOMBS LAND ON CIVILIAN AREAS

1000kg ‘Hermann’ bomb ready for Malta (NWMA Malta)

20 people were killed and 49 injured when 1000kg ‘Hermann’ bombs struck the densely populated area of Gunlayer Square in Floriana on this Sunday afternoon.  Many of the casualties were caught out having stayed at home during the raid; others were standing at the entrance to an air raid shelter.  Emmanuel Tonna might have been among them: “Had it not been for the insistence of my friend, Mr Carmelo Gauci, I would have stayed there talking to people.  Better counsel did, however, prevail and I left the place together with Mr Gauci.  We had barely reached the shelter in St Publius Street, Floriana, when we were violently shaken by the thud of bombs.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 MARCH TO DAWN 2 MARCH 1942

Weather  Rain during the morning.  Wind south west.  Bright periods with low cloud at times.

0737 hrs  Two MEs circle the Island and recede north.  Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.

0912-1000 hrs  16 fighters patrol the Island, dropping four high explosive bombs on Gozo.  Malta’s fighters are up; no engagements.

1210-1234 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1245 hrs  Pilots of 242 and 605 Squadrons take to the air in nine Hurricanes and attack three JU 88s and their escort of twelve ME 109s.  F/Lt Stone machine-guns a JU 88; reports damaged.  P/O Lester attacks a Messerschmitt and observes the engine emitting grey smoke before he breaks off engagement; claims one ME 109F destroyed.  F/Sgt Howe claims a JU 88 as probable before he is shot down, baling out and sustaining a leg wound.  P/O Wigley attacks a JU 88 without visible results. P/O Tew and Sgt Harvey are shot down in the sea.  Sgt Harvey is seen to bale out but a rescue vessel later finds his body in the water.

1310 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regt at 5-800 feet; no claims.

1327 hrs  All clear.

1422-1515 hrs  13 JU 88s plus fighter escort drop thirteen 1000kg bombs in St Julian’s, Sliema, Hamrun, Marsa, Gzira, Marsamxetto, Floriana and the Grand Harbour area.   Heavy Ack Ack engage.  AC1 Wright is killed in an air-raid shelter in Floriana along with several civilians.

1716-1839 hrs  Two waves of enemy aircraft approach Malta: first six JU 88s with fighter escort, then eleven JU 88s with fighter escort.  1000kg bombs are dropped in St Julian’s, Sliema and Valletta areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One Other Rank 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment suffers concussion in the raid and is admitted to No 45 General Hospital.  Stella Maris Church in Sliema is gutted by a bomb.

2153-0658 hrs  One continuous air raid.  Ten aircraft approach the Island, one after another.  Bombs are dropped near the Royal Engineers works in Floriana and on rocks off Sliema sea front, then on the Dockyard, Jesuits Hill and near St Edward’s College, on Zabbar, Hal Far, Qrendi and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack engage, with 28 barrages and searchlights illuminating the target for ¾ minute.

Military casualties  Surgeon Captain Algernon Cheeseman*, Royal Navy, HMS Talbot age 55; James Tew, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ray Harvey, pilot, RAF 242 Squadron; AC1 George Wright, RAF, 249 Squadron; Staff Sergeant Jarvis Whittaker, Royal Army Ordnance Corps; Private Saviour Debono, 2nd Bn, Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Robert Attard, age 60; Joseph Borg, age 8; Una Patricia Cameron, age 18; Giovanna Caruana, age 43; Joseph Darmanin, age 60; Stella Debattista,age 19; Annunziata Demanuele,age 13; Benjamin Maggi, age 15; Grezzju Magro, age 16; Emmanuel Pace, age 20; Jane Pace, age 15; Carmelina Portelli,age 4; Sarah Portelli,age 39; Antonio Pulo,age 27; Doris Zammit,age 24.  Msida  Carrie Portelli,age 23.  Sliema  Dolores Borg, age 60; Joseph Muscat, age 35.  St Julians  Doris Cheeseman*, age 45. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS:  SUNDAY 1 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  One Maryland was force-landed during the night.

LUQA  0730-1120 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Lampedusa and SF 24 patrol.  1440-1632 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron PR Palermo.  1415-1925 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF1A patrol.  1952-0322 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on special search.  2225-0235 hrs  Six Wellingtons of 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Six pilot officers left for roof-spotting at the Palace, pending posting to the Middle East.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  One Staff Sergeant died as a result of enemy action.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs on Floriana near HQ Officers’ Mess: several windows broken.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  One Other Rank injured in an air raid.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Battalion:  A Company (Coy) Ta Karceppu (5 Officers, 123 Ors); B Coy Ta Salvatur (6 Officers, 124 Ors); C Coy Tal Hasluk (5 Off 132 OR); D Coy Tal Providence (5 Off, 131 OR); HQ Coy Ta Salvatur (14 Off, 269 OR).  Chaplain and Medical Officer also attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continues: 100 men.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1)  loriana in Wartime, Emmanual S Tonna, Malta 1969

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Posted by on March 1, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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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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25 January 1942: “A Bad Day” for Ta Qali

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Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

  • 69 enemy aircraft attack Hal Far
  • Five Hurricanes and one Swordfish destroyed
  • One pilot killed
  • Five Hurricanes and one Fulmar damaged
  • Hal Far aerodrome heavily cratered
  • No enemy losses 

GOVERNOR PRAISES MALTESE RESPONSE TO RAIDS

In his report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief Lt General Dobbie recognises the role of the Maltese in sustaining the Island during increased enemy action:  “Civil Defence Services have operated well and Demolition Squads and Air Raid Precautions have given general satisfaction.  Public also are bearing up well, although continuous raids are naturally subjecting them to strain.”

AIR RAIDS SUNDAY 25 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south south-west.  70% cloud; fine.

0817 hrs  One aircraft patrols the Island.

0827-0841 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, skirts the Island to the north west and patrols 20 miles south, then recedes north east.

1025 hrs  Fifteen Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali and Hal Far to meet an incoming plot of four JU 88 bombers escorted by twelve ME 109 fighters.  Three Hurricanes return with mechanical trouble.

1030 hrs The remaining Hurricanes are jumped by ME 109s.  F/Lt Kee shoots all his ammunition into an ME 109 and chases it 20 miles north: no claim.  Sgt Alpe of 126 Squadron and P/O M Jones are shot up and ‘belly-land’ at Ta Qali: they receive minor injuries only.  P/Os Anderson, Blackburn and Sluggett all bale out and the latter two are taken to Imtarfa Hospital with injuries.  P/O Russell (126 Squadron) is missing, believed killed.  Heavy Ack Ack engages the bombers.

1053 hrs  The four JU 88s attack Hal Far leaving twenty craters on the aerodrome.  One Swordfish is burnt out and three damaged; one Fulmar and one Hurricane slightly damaged.  Casualties nil; superficial damage to buildings.

1115 hrs  Raiders passed.

1143-1220 hrs  Five aircraft, reported to be ME 109s, patrol to the east of the Island.  Two ME 109s attack HMS Abingdon which opens fire on them.  No Hurricanes are airborne; heavy Ack Ack guns do not engage.

1413-1507 hrs  Three JU 88s with eighteen ME 109s as escort approach the Island and drop bombs on Hal Far causing another seven craters and destroying one aircraft and damaging another; no casualties.  Two ME 109s attack HMS Abingdon which suffers casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Russell, Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve), 126 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 25 JANUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Glengyle and Rowallan Castle departed after dark, escorted by Force K: cruiser Penelope and destroyers Lance, Lively, Legion, Maori and Zulu to rendezvous with a convoy out of Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims from El Adem.

HAL FAR  AM Seven Hurricanes (four of 185 Squadron and three of 605 Squadron) intercepted four JU 88s and twelve ME 109s.  One JU 88 was damaged.  One Hurricane crashed (pilot F/Lt Thompson injured) and two Hurricanes were damaged.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance (PR) Tripoli Harbour; one Hurricane PR Sicilian aerodromes and south west Sicily; one Maryland Cairo 1 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 2 patrol.

TA QALI  Church parade held: AOC attended.  Six Sergeants attached to this station from Luqa for fighter Blenheims.  Intruder raids: two flights made – aerodrome found in darkness.  Further operations suspended.  Total casualties:  seven Hurricanes, one pilot missing, three injured. No enemy claims.  A bad day.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party at Luqa aerodrome; now one officer and 140 Other Ranks daily.  This is liable to continue until some time in March.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY 1400 hrs Gunner J Dowling interred at Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  The Battalion played the Lancs Fusiliers at soccer at the Empire Stadium.  The Battalion lost 5 goals to 2.

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

 

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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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