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MOST DRASTIC STEPS JUSTIFIED
From: Chiefs of Staff, War Office, London To: Commander in Chief, Middle East
“Our view is that Malta is of such importance both as an air staging post and as an impediment to enemy reinforcement route that the most drastic steps are justifiable to sustain it. Even if Axis maintain their present scale of attack on Malta, thus reducing its value, it will continue to be of great importance to the war as a whole by containing important enemy forces during critical months.”
SPITFIRE FLIGHT DOUBLED
Seven new Spitfires landed in Malta today, more than doubling the fighter flight. After four days of intense raids, only five serviceable aircraft are available for the air defence of the Islands. Ground crews have been collecting every serviceable part from damaged planes to restore other machines to flying standard. Fighter command has resorted to using fake radio transmissions, to fool the enemy into believing there are extra fighters in the air to intercept incoming raids.
AURORA & AVONVALE EVACUATED
As a result of heavy and incessant attacks on the Dockyard it was decided that any ships which could steam and were not required in Malta should be evacuated at the first opportunity. Aurora, though her refit was not completed, and Avonvale, who had been patched after collision and bomb damage, were sailed for Gibraltar as soon as darkness fell this evening. Both ships arrived safely.
AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MARCH TO DAWN 30 MARCH 1942
Weather Wind south westerly; cloud and rain – visibility poor.
Throughout the day a series of single enemy aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs from above cloud level on several areas including Hal Far, Gzira and Tigne.
0724 hrs; 0925 hrs One enemy aircraft each time approaches from the north but does not cross the coast.
0940-0948 hrs A single enemy aircraft approaches Grand Harbour and then recedes.
1205 hrs One JU 88 drops bombs on Ta Karach ridge.
1230 hrs P/O Peck (Ta Qali squadron) attacks and scores strikes on a JU 88: claimed as damaged.
1351-1402 hrs One enemy aircraft approaches from the north east but recedes before crossing the coast.
1402 hrs 3rd Bn D Company, Kings Own Malta Regiment reports one unexploded bomb in No 16 Platoon Billet and two more near Bofors position 100 yards south of D Company HQ. The Royal Engineers (RE) Bomb Disposal Officer attends and the bomb, a 250kg high explosive, is dealt with immediately.
1435 hrs Bombs fall at Ta Mehrla church but do not explode: 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment report them to RE Bomb Disposal Section who begin digging for two buried bombs immediately.
1750 hrs Bombs fall on an area north of Bluebell Troop, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.
2039-2225 hrs A series of single enemy aircraft drop bombs from above the cloud on various locations on land, damaging houses, and in the sea. Malta’s fighters seriously damage one JU 88; Heavy Ack Ack probably destroy another.
Night 29/30th No raids during the night.
Military casualties Able Seaman Joseph Yandle, HMS Dulverton; Lance-Corporal Thomas Eaton, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment; Private Charles Patten, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment; Private John Farrington, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 MARCH 1942
ROYAL NAVY 2000 hrs Aurora and Avonvale sailed for Gibraltar.
AIR HQ Arrivals Seven Spitfires, seven Beaufighters, seven Wellingtons, three Blenheims, two Beauforts from Gibraltar.
LUQA 2020-0430 hrs One Wellington S/D flight special search.
TA QALI Spitfires operating from Luqa.
1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT National Day of Prayer. All Companies on church parade.
8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT The following officers were killed by enemy action: LL/Cpl t Eaton; Private J Farrington; Private C Patten.
FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg, 1 x 250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.
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