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

 

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10 February 1942: Bomb Attack on Refugee Village Kills 16

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  • Nine raids under cover of darkness
  • Enemy now using flares to illuminate targets
  • Civilian casualties in Birkirkara, Qormi and Xaghra, Gozo

    Flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

16 KILLED IN RAID ON QORMI

Ten minutes after sunset today a German bomber unleashed its entire load of eight bombs on the community of Qormi.  Thirty houses were destroyed.  Sixteen civilians were killed and another twenty-six injured.  Servicemen from 8th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers based nearby helped rescue  survivors.

The “bakers’ village” – bread-making centre for Malta – had grown in population with evacuees fleeing from Cottonera in the Three Cities at the height of bomb attacks on the Dockyard a year ago.  Qormi was thought to be far enough from enemy targets while still accessible for dockyard employees to reach their place of work.

As well as mourning the dead, many survivors will now be forced back on the road to seek safe shelter further afield.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 11 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  100% cloud.  Wind southerly; cooler.

1103-1210 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers escorted by three ME 109s approach the Island form the north.  One JU 88 jettisons his bombs and recedes north in cloud.  The other comes in over Gozo and down the west coast of the Island, then moves away.  He is later picked up west of Gozo going north, turns back and drops bombs on Gozo before receding north north-east.  Hurricanes are airborne; no interceptions.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1514-1645 hrs  One JU 88 and 25 plus ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Ta Qali and in the sea: off Tigne and off Ras il Fenek.  One barrack block is damaged at Ta Qali but the aerodrome is serviceable  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1748-1826 hrs  Three JU 88s and six plus ME 109s approach from the north and drop a stick of eight bombs on Qormi, demolishing 30 houses, killing 16 civilians and injuring another 26.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2006-2032 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Tal Qroqq, Birkirkara, Floriana and Grand Harbour areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2140-2200 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs and flares on Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2212-2230 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast but drops no bombs.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2332-0020 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and near Qrendi strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0045-0132 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0203-0229 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs and flares in the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0316-0343 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Ta Qali airea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0355-0427 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea ten miles north of Grand Harbour.  Guns do not engage.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Paul Pace, age 48.  Qormi  Liza Aquilina, age 50; Giorgia Borg, age 43; John Briffa, age 33; Salvino Cassar, age 7; Anthony Ciappara, age 12; Saviour Gatt, age 47; George Grech, age 34; Emanuel Giordimaina, age 11; Joseph Giordimaina, age 8; Mary Giordimaina, age 5; Anna Muscat, age 15; John Portelli, age 34; Carmelo Saliba, age 55; Emanuel Sammut, age 7; Maria Sammut, age 6, Spiro Vella, age 20.  Gozo (Xaghra)  Carmelo Attard, age 72; Marianna Attard, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; eight Beaufighters and two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hurricane to Sidi Barani; one Wellington to Kabrit.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes; one Maryland search Maritimo-Cagliari; two Marylands search Cagliari-Maritimo; one Hurricane photo-reconnaissance Pantelleria.  21 Squadron  Four Blenheims shipping sweep Kerkennah-Djerba.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search Kerkennah area.

TA QALI  Funeral of P/O Stewart.  No night flying: weather deteriorated.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Brigade [training exercise] attended by Senior Officers of four Infantry Battalions and Royal Artillery representatives.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Six observation posts established in Brigade area giving observation over the whole area.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B, C and D Companies fired Bren guns on Pembroke range.  Three carriers handed over to 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion established new Observation Posts in sector.  Bomb in A Company area; no casualties – a house destroyed.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs between C Company and Qrendi strip during the night.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Funeral of Fusilier Hopwood.  1746 hrs  Stick of eight bombs fell on this unit’s area at Qormi.  D Company assisted in the rescue work.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 9; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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28 January 1942: Bomb Disposal Men Have to Work Through Raids

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“WE HAD TO WORK, EVEN DURING AIR RAIDS”  RE Bomb Disposal Officer Lt G D Carroll (1) 

The red flag over the Castile, Valletta

Malta’s military forces, dockyard workers and bus drivers must now work through air raids, according to an order from the Island’s high command.  A system of flags has been introduced so that work can continue across the Island, outside of the direct target area.  As well as the siren, a yellow flag will be raised for a raid heading for Malta; a red flag in the danger zone will be the signal to take immediate shelter.

“Necessity of spending long periods at night in shelters naturally reduces efficiency on the following day.  Moreover stoppage of work during raids interferes with business and the progress of works.  Stoppage of all buses during raids has also caused great inconvenience.  The large number of raids has made it essential to deal with this problem, and I have already arranged for buses to run during raids.  This they are now doing, and the arrangement is working well.

Necessity for unloading [convoys] as rapidly as possible made it essential to devise some means under which stevedores could be induced to work during raids until the danger actually approaches.  This has been achieved by posting naval lookout on the Palace Tower, and giving special signals by flag and sounding of the hooter in the Dockyard known as the typhoon, when raiders are likely to approach, or guns to fire over the Grand Harbour.

For the first three days unloading of two ships was worked by soldiers, but the stevedores are now unloading all three, and so far rate of progress is satisfactory.  Am now arranging to extend system of visual warnings of approaching danger so as to enable work to proceed during air raids as far as possible all over the Island.”

Governor & Commander in Chief, Lt Gen Dobbie in a cable to the War Office, January 1942

Airfields devised their own systems so that personnel working far from the main buildings could be alerted to immediate danger, as Joseph Zahra’s father experienced working at Hal Far:

“Dispersal of aircraft was a strategy to reduce the chances of group destructions on the ground by bombing. Dad and colleagues were urged by their immediate superiors to carry on with their job during air raids when the attack was not on Hal Far. Someone would be watching and when enemy formations are seen heading in their direction, a flare shot from a signal pistol warned Dad & Co to take cover. They would sensibly head away from airfield installations and towards a cave on the cliffs they knew of, called ix-Xifer, close by to Ghar-Hasan. There were times when enemy planes caught up with them and and the pilot opened up the machine guns. Lying down flat on their faces terrified they would keep fingers crossed.”

Joe Zahra, Malta 2011

AIR RAIDS WEDNESDAY 28 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west.  Little cloud, fine; rain at night.

1032-1135 hrs  21 aircraft (probably ME 109 fighters) approach the Island from the north and carry out patrols to the west, the south east and over the Island.  No bombs are dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack guns engage; no Hurricanes are airborne.  During the raid, three ME 109s carry out the usual patrol to the east of the Island at a height of 50 feet.

1407-1507 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by fighters approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engages but no bombs are dropped.

1517-1554 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fighters approach from the north and drop five bombs on Hal Far aerodrome.  One Hurricane is burned out and two are damaged.  One Albacore is a write-off and five Swordfish are damaged.  Slight damage to buildings.  No casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack guns engage, along with four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment, twice forcing the bombers off course and destroying one JU 88 which crashes into the sea.

1715 hrs  Two aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali, followed by four more at 1720 hrs.  No contact with the enemy.

1940-2040 hrs  Bombs reported in the sea off Madliena (possibly mines).

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 28 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ   Arrivals  Two Blenheims, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Whitley from Kabrit. Departures  One Hudson to LG 224.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; two Hurricanes photo-reconnaissance south west Italian aerodromes – one (Sgt R Ballantyne, RAAF) failed to return [later reported as prisoner of war].  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Congratulations to Malta Night Flight Unit from Air Officer Commanding.  No intruder raids: weather bad.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT C Company carried out their first run and route march.  Several long air alerts sounded and a few bombs dropped in the area.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT 1600 hrs Funeral of L/Cpl R Carter at St Andrews Cemetery.

1ST BN DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Settling in: heavy kit arrived from the docks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 1(500kg) 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 January 28, 2017 in 1942, January 1942

 

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15 January 1942: RAF to Train as Infantry to Defend Airfields

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RAF PERSONNEL UNDERGO RIFLE TRAINING

RAF personnel are to be armed with rifles and trained to use them in defence of Malta’s airfields, in the event of a possible enemy invasion.  A special army officer has been appointed to each airfield as Aerodrome Defence Commander.  On attack he assumes command of all military personnel on the aerodrome, including RAF as soon as they are no longer able to fulfil their normal duties.  Training of RAF personnel is now underway at each of the Island’s aerodromes.  However, the Army is unable to supply sufficient rifles from already overstretched resources.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has written to the War Office recommending that the RAF should be issued with their own supply of weapons.

Focke-Wulf 200 Condor

GERMAN FOCKE WULF REPORTED OVER MALTA

A German Focke Wulf Condor is spotted taking part in an air raid over Malta this morning.  The aircraft was seen dropping bombs in the sea to the west of the Island.  Built as an airliner, the Condor is normally used in combat as a long-range reconnaissance and anti-shipping bomber.  Reports are as yet unconfirmed.

ENEMY USING HEAVIER BOMBS

All but one of the unexploded bomb (UXB) reports handled since yesterday morning by Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal have been for German High Explosive bombs of 500kg.  They include three Priority reports for UXBs requiring immediate disposal: two at Ghar Hassan searchlight station and one near Hal Far airfield.  Bomb Disposal squads are also at work on excavations for buried bombs at Rinella and near Gudia, all identified as 500kg.

AIR RAIDS 0001 HRS TO 2359 HRS 15 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Low clouds, sky overcast; SE wind reaching gale force at times; cold.

0156-0311 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs (and possibly mines) in the sea off Mellieha Bay and Qawra Tower, before receding.

0354-0417 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crossing over Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea before receding north.

0649-0803 hrs  One aircraft passes west of Gozo and crosses the south coast, dropping bombs near Ta Qali, including incendiaries near Imtarfa.  Guns do not engage.

0831-0850 hrs  Air raid alarm: raid does not materialise.

0937-1016 hrs  Two JU 88s and one aircraft identified as a Focke Wolfe Condor approach the Island.  The JU 88s cross the coast and drops bombs near Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack at Luqa fire a barrage.  The Focke Wolfe Condor crosses over Salina Bay and drops bombs in the sea west of Bingemma.  Two Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1301-1320 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea five miles off Qawra Tower.  Two Hurricanes are airborne but enemy aircraft are not engaged.

1354-1410 hrs  One JU 88 crosses Gozo, machine-guns Jordan Lighthouse on the Island’s north west coast and drops bombs nearby.  Two Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1438-1457 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west, dropping bombs in the sea seven miles off Torri L’Ahmar before receding.  Enemy plane dropped objects (suspected mines) two miles out to sea from Tigne.  Two Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1539-1554 hrs  One JU 88 from the west approaches Grand Harbour via the south west coast, dropping bombs on the Pembroke Ranges and killing three members of a firing party of B Company, Royal Malta Artillery.  Heavy Ack Ack engages.  Two Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage.

1628-1712 hrs  Two bombers escorted by three ME 109s approach from the north.  One raid drops bombs on Gozo and in the sea.  One ME 109 intercepts a returning Maryland, causing it to crash land.

1722-1727 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1748-1800 hrs  Raid does not materialise.

Night  No enemy raids.  Wellingtons from Luqa and Swordfish from Hal Far carry out attacks on enemy shipping, thought to have been successful.

Military casualties  AC1 John Hoare, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron; AC2 Ronald Lamble, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Edward Williams, DFC, Royal Air Force, 69 Squadron; Gunner Thomas Gravina, 1st Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Anthony Storace, 1st Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Philip Sammut, Royal Malta Artillery (died 20 January 1942).

Civilian casualties  Siggiewi  Ganna Micallef, age 17.  Zurrieq  Louis Farrugia, age 22.  Nadur, Gozo  Francis Cutajar, age 48; Rita Galea, age 15; Joseph Muscat, age 9.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: THURSDAY 15 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Blenheims to Helwan.

HAL FAR  Night 15/16th Five Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Two possible hits claimed on the merchant vessel.  Smoke screen by destroyer very effective.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland special search Kerkennah- Cape Bon; one Maryland SF6 patrol; one Maryland SF15 patrol.  21 Squadron  Three Blenheims search one destroyer and one merchant vessel: not located.  40 Squadron  One Wellington nuisance raid Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington T/B and S/M depot ship.

TA QALI  Restricted flying owing to bad weather.   

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 13 (4 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg, 1 x 15kg, 7 x 1kg).

 

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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in 1942, January 1942, Uncategorized

 

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23 December 1941: 700 Prisoners Killed

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U-BOAT ATTACK ON CONVOY KILLS AXIS POWS

SS Shuntien

A German U-boat attacked a British convoy today, sinking a freighter carrying possibly 1000 Italian and German prisoners of.  The passenger/cargo ship, SS Shuntien, was en route from from Tobruk to Alexandria as part of Convoy TA5.  Just after 7pm this evening she was hit by a torpedo fired by U-559 shadowing the convoy to the north east of Tobruk.

Most of the crew of Shuntien were rescued by another convoy ship, HMS Salvia, along with a number of prisoners.  However, Salvia was later hit by another U-boat and sunk with the loss of at least 700 men.

Maltese crewmen lost on SS Shuntien have been named as Emmanuel Azzopardi, Donkeyman; Henri Caffari, Pantryman; John Debattista, Fireman; L Galea, Fireman; Domenic Mercieca, Greaser; E Palmier, Chief Steward; John Said, Greaser; John Smith, Fireman.

AIR RAIDS 23 DECEMBER 1941

0101-0125 hrs; 0303-0357 hrs; 0437-0523 hrs  Alarm sounded for approximately eleven raiders. Bombs are dropped various places on land and in the sea.  Ack Ack fired a number of barrages; no claims.

0650-0742 hrs  Air raid alarm for three enemy aircraft which dropped bombs in sea.

1100-1155 hrs  Air raid alarm for 30 fighters escorting four JU 88’s on an attack on Grand Harbour.  Bombs were dropped on the Grand Harbour area, damaging two houses  Hurricane fighters were scrambled: one Messerschmitt ME 109 was damaged; one Hurricane was also damaged, the pilot slightly wounded.  Ack Ack fired Light and Heavy barrages; no claims.

1211 hrs  Air raid alarm. Caused by return of own aircraft.

1835-1854 hrs  Air raid alarm for two enemy aircraft which crossed the coast and dropped bombs near Zonkor Point, and in the sea.

2050-0600 hrs  Air raid alarm for nine enemy aircraft which crossed coast and dropped bombs near Kalafrana, Hal Far, Gudja and in the sea.  Searchlights illuminated enemy aircraft twice.  Hurricanes engaged without result.  Ack Ack fired five barrages.  A tenth aircraft which did not cross coast was possibly mine-laying.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant pilot Peter Wells, RAF, 69 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Henry Metcalfe and Sergeant Peter Dive, Royal Air Force (RAF); Warrant Officer Alfred Gulliver, RAF, 221 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Leslie Woolley, RAF, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Humphreys, RAF, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Douglas Kingston, RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 221 Squadron; Sergeant William Reason, RAFVR, 221 Squadron; Sergeant Arnold Reid, RAFVR, 221 Squadron.  Private Ronald Yates, 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualty  Zejtun Carmel Attard, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Four Swordfish and five Albacores carried out shipping search without result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons and one Beaufighter from Gibraltar. Departures  Four Wellingtons and two Beaufighters for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 22nd/23rd  Four Albacores 818 Squadron despatched to bomb Castel Benito aerodrome.  All bombs fell on target area.  One small fire in north west corner of aerodrome.  Opposition – some light and heavy Ack Ack. Weather good.

LUQA  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search Tripoli-Misrata; one Wellington special search failed to return.  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF 6 patrol; one Maryland SF 12 patrol; one Maryland special search – photos of North African boats.  Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland PR Catania aerodrome; one Maryland PR Sorman, Zliten, Tripoli – crashed on landing, crew killed. 18 Squadron  Three Blenheims attacked targets at Sirte; one Blenheim SF 1 patrol. 104 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons attacked Misrata; four Wellingtons nuisance raid Naples.  107 Squadron  Three Blenheims despatched to attack targets at Buerat (no attack made); one Blenheim special search Gulf of Sirte.

TA QALI  1835-0600 hrs  Two alerts.  Two attacks.  Hurricanes airborne – no interceptions.  Bombs on land and in sea.  Anti-aircraft fired five barrages.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  High explosive bombs dropped in various parts of area (especially in Dockyard area, Marsa, Luqa) during daylight attacks of considerable duration.  No military damage or casualties.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21-23 December: 29.

 

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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in 1941, December 1941

 

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5 December 1941: All Night Raids – Aircraft Believed German

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Breconshire

Breconshire

EYE-WITNESSES DESCRIBE LUFTWAFFE AIRCRAFT; UNEXPLODED BOMB IS GERMAN 50KG

German aircraft are believed to have been responsible for attacks on Malta overnight.  Air raids started at ten in the evening and the final all clear did not sound until 0530 hrs this morning.  20 minutes later another raid started, lasting for over an hour.  Reports have been coming in of bombs dropped on Luqa and Hal Far airfields.  Rumours are spreading that the attackers were not Italian, but German. 

First thing in the morning, the Bomb Disposal Officer is handed a Priority report of an unexploded bomb near an artillery battery at Targa Gap.  He heads straight for the location, up on the Victoria Lines.  The bomb is a 50kg: it is German. 

REINFORCEMENT REQUEST REFUSED

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

Regret NO increase in personnel can be allowed except by corresponding decrease elsewhere.  If you are prepared to do this cable details.

A DASH FOR OIL

The recent increase in Royal Navy forces operating from Malta has left the Island short of fuel.  As soon as darkness fell, the fast transport ship Breconshire sailed from Grand Harbour with an escort, to make a run for Alexandria to collect supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1941

2145-2229 hrs  Air raid alarm.  One enemy aircraft dropped bombs in sea.

2201-0533 hours  Air raid alarm.  Bombs dropped Luqa, Hal Far, Ta Qali and other areas.

0550-0652 hrs  Air raid alarm.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Anthony Farrugia, age 49; Zabbar  Clementa Pullicino, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Eddy detonated a “Red” mine in position 045 degrees St. Elmo 3/4′.  Breconshire, escorted by Kingston and Kimberley, sailed for Alexandria at 1700.  Ajax, Neptune and Lively sailed on operations at 2000.

Beaufighter

AIR HQ  From Gibraltar: 18 Blenheims, 7 Beaufighters, 3 Beauforts.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol.  One Maryland SF 9 patrol; one Maryland SF 6 patrol.  18 Squadron  Two Blenheims SF 2B patrol.  Photo-reconnaissance Unit 2 on recce Comiso and Gela.  One Maryland on photo-reconnaissance Augusta and Crotone.  One Maryland photo-reconnaissance Lybian aerodromes.107 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 11 patrol.

Two Beaufighters BF/Flight patrol over Pantelleria for protection of aircraft arriving from Gibraltar.  One Wellington S/D Flight special shipping search.  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron and ten Wellingtons 104 Squadron attacked Royal Arsenal at Naples. P/O Hutt [40 Squadron] failed to return.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 1 (50kg high explosive).

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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in 1941, December 1941, Uncategorized

 

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