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7 July 1940: Six Children and Mother Killed in Raid

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PANIC IN KALKARA – BOMBS KILL SIX CHILDREN UNDER TEN

Panic struck the streets of Kalkara this morning when enemy raiders dropped bombs across the community, destroying several houses in St Rocco and Capuchin Streets.  Eight civilians were killed in the raid and another eight wounded.  Seven of the dead were from a single family: Melania Borg was killed along with her six children, all under ten years of age. 

Armoury, Vittoriosa

Armoury, Vittoriosa

The suddenness and ferocity of the attack shocked the harbour community causing residents to stampede in sheer panic.  Police Sergeant Bujega acted swiftly to calm the situation and set out to find immediate shelter for the stricken community.  Helped by the team at Cottonera ARP centre he forced open the door of the Armoury at Vittoriosa, which they cleared for the homeless.  Once cleaned and made fully ready, the Armoury is expected to accommodate up to 150 refugees from Kalkara.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JULY TO DAWN 8 JULY 1940

Weather  Cloudy and hot. 

0800-0840 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft are reported in the vicinity of Malta but do not cross the coast or drop any bombs. 

0917-0935 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy bombers which cross the coast and drop bombs Benghaisa, then the Dockyard.  Twelve bombs are dropped in the area of Tarxien and Zeitun, severely wounding one officer.  Eight civilians are killed and eight wounded in Kalkara; one civilian is killed in Zeitun.  One Hurricane pilot picks off an enemy bomber at the edge of the formation and attacks with machine gun fire. He is heard on his radio: “Am just giving the right hand bomber a basin full…going down, going down.”  The enemy aircraft is observed falling into the sea south of Filfla.

1000hrs  Private A House of the Dorsetshire Regiment is accidentally shot and killed at Zabbar.

1315 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1835 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Malta fighters are scrambled; the enemy raiders turn back, without crossing the coast or dropping bombs. 

Military casualties  Private Arthur House, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment                     

Civilian casualties  Kalkara  Melania Borg, age 42; Maggie Borg, age 10; George Borg, age 5; Josephine Borg, age 4; Cettina Borg, age 3; Vincent Borg, age 2; Irene Borg, age 8 months.  L Gibbons.  Qormi  Amante Abela, age 30.  Tarxien  Joseph Garcia, age 14.   

Enemy casualties  Tenente Pellegrino Zagnoli, 233a Squadriglia, 59o Gruppo, 41o Stormo, pilot of S79 bomber, shot down; Franco Mora, 233a Squadriglia, 59o Gruppo, 41o Stormo, crewman of S79 bomber, shot down and missing.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 7 JULY 1940

ROYAL NAVY  The Mediterranean Fleet, less Ramillies and the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, left Alexandria today to carry out operation MA5, the objective to cover the passage of fast and slow convoys from Malta to Alexandria with evacuees and fleet stores.  The aim is to reach cover position east of Cape Passero on Tuesday.  Destroyers will proceed with Jervis and Diamond to escort convoys.

AIR HQ  0400 hrs  Anti-submarine and search patrol by flare-dropping Swordfish: nothing to report. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  All unexploded HE bombs and fragments were collected at Marino Pinto, handed over to the Navy, taken out to sea in a minesweeper and dumped at sea.  Dealt with 2 incendiary Zurrieq.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Message received for a working party to stand by for loading stores on board ship tomorrow.

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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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6 July 1940: Dockyard Bombed Without Warning Killing Workers

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DOCKYARD BOMBED WITHIN SECONDS OF SIREN

Bombs struck the Dockyard this evening only seconds after the air raid alert sounded, causing casualties among men who were still making for shelter.  Two dockyard workers were killed and nine wounded, including three with life-threatening injuries.  The casualties have not been named.

fort St Angelo

fort St Angelo

Fort St Angelo evacuated

Four enemy bombers took part in the raid, which also targeted Fort St Angelo.  Three high explosive bombs smashed into gardens adjacent to the Officers’ quarters.  The impact and blast effect shattered all the doors and windows and considerably loosened the stone in the main structural walls of the buildings.  The quarters had to be evacuated and officers billeted temporarily in the former slave quarters, the residences of the Vice Admiral and the Captain of the Dockyard.

Another stick of bombs fell in a line from Vittoriosa to French Creek.  High explosives landed on Dockyard Creek: one on Store Wharf caused a crater and casualties, another demolished the upper floor of an office building.  A third bomb struck HMS Olympus lying in No 2 Dock, piercing its hull and puncturing the Dock itself in 17 places.  Damage to Olympus has set the completion of her refit back two months.

HMS Olympus

HMS Olympus

DEVASTATION AT PAOLA

The attack came just hours after a very heavy air raid over the Dockyard and the workers’ community of Paola.  Just after three o’clock this afternoon 20 enemy aircraft swept over the coast and rained dozens of high explosive bombs over the area.  One unexploded bomb was reported outside Ghajn Dwieli Gate.  Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino rushed to the scene and was shocked by what he saw:

“The scene at Paola was indeed terrifying.  I think it must have been the worst up to date.  The first thing I noticed was splinters of glass inches deep all over the town, far from any burst bombs.  I walked along crunching and breaking glass underfoot. 

There were a hundred houses demolished while twice that number needed new doors and windows.  Roofs and windows and wooden balconies hung imply, overlooking the debris-strewn road.  Electricity and telephone cables were down everywhere.  Here and there water was trickling out from broken pipes.

In some places one or more houses had simply disappeared – nothing remained except an empty space.  The bombs must have been big!  Thank God the place had been evacuated…The town must have been mistaken for a military objective – it had been bombed before and today received the full force of the blow…I spoke to a woman who had been in her house alone when the house next door was demolished by a direct hit…(Her calmness amazed me.)  ‘I have stuck it more than the others, but now I think it were better if we started moving.’”  (1)    

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JULY TO DAWN 7 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine, warm and clear. 

0810-0840 hrs   Air raid alert for three formations of enemy aircraft which approach to within nine miles of the Island before turning away.  No raid materialises.

1455-1540 hrs  20 bombers approach the Island and carry out a heavy bombing raid and dropping 100 bombs.  High explosives are dropped on Kirkop, Luqa, Paola, Verdala Barracks and the Dockyard, in the sea off Benghaisa and San Rocco, and between Mosta and Naxxar.  Several evacuated houses at Paola are destroyed with five minor casualties among civilians.  Nineteen bombs land on Luqa, including six on the runway causing damage which is quickly repaired.  One bomb lands on the corner of a hangar, destroying the building.  Another just misses a slit trench occupied by personnel of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt., covering them with dust but causing no casualties.  Some motor transport at Verdala is damaged.  One Ack Ack gunner at San Giacomo is slightly wounded.  One enemy aircraft is believed brought down and a second badly damaged.

2110-2140 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft attack the Island, dropping high explosive bombs near the Dockyard and on Fort St Angelo, damaging gardens, near Tal Bajda and Tal Virtu, and in the sea off Kalafrana.  A low-flying machine-gun attack is made between Madalena Tower and St Andrews Barracks.  The aircraft swoops over the parade ground of Pembroke Barracks, firing its tail gun towards the ground.  Two enemy aircraft are shot down by small arms fire into the sea off Madalena Tower.

2335 hrs  Lights are reported from the west of Verdala, believed possible signaling.  A few minutes later more possible signaling lights are seen coming from Dingli.

Civilian casualties  Michael Falzon, age 70. 

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 6 JULY 1940

AIR HQ  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Six recruits medically examined for the RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 HE 250lb Dockyard; 1 HE 130lb Mqabba.

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012

 

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Posted by on July 6, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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4 July 1940: Italian Radio Broadcasts False Propaganda in Maltese

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MALTA BROADCASTS COUNTER FALSE ITALIAN RADIO CLAIMS  

Malta’s Rediffusion service is mounting a concerted campaign against false information coming from Italian radio.  Broadcasts from Rome in the Maltese language are making exaggerated and often false claims about the progress of Italian and German war campaigns.  Information from Italy has included claims that the Regia Aeronautica have destroyed Malta’s railways – which closed down in 1931.  Rediffusion announcements will be broadcast daily, systematically refuting the Italian propaganda.

Cant Z506

Cant Z506

MALTA FIGHTERS RESCUE DESTROYER

Malta fighters today helped fight off a surprise attack on a Royal Navy destroyer by an enemy aircraft.  HMS Jervis was attacked at just after six pm by an Italian Cant triple-engined seaplane.  The enemy aircraft swooped low and dropped bombs on the destroyer from between 500 and 1000 feet.  Malta-based fighter aircraft were scrambled and launched a counter-attack.  The encounter lasted half an hour but no damage was caused to the vessel or Malta fighters.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1940

Weather  Fine and very hot; visibility clear.    

0555-0620 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three formations of enemy fighters appear over the Island.  One remains at altitude while the other two carry out a low flying machine gun attack on Hal Far aerodrome and then on Kalafrana.  All ground defence posts, including light machine guns of the RAF and 8th Bn Manchester Regt, return fire from the ground.  No damage or casualties reported.   

2111-2120 hrs  Air raid alert – no raid materialises.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 JULY 1940

Civilian casualties Antonio Azzopardi, Stoker.

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Swordfish damaged on Hal Far aerodrome but repairable.  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Three recruits medically examined for the RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 HE 250lb; 1 HE 130lb Addolorata Cemetery.

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Posted by on July 4, 2020 in 1940, July 1940

 

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26 June 1940: Air Raid Warning System Down – Heavy Casualties

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Operations HQ lacked warnings

Operations HQ lacked warnings

SIRENS SILENT WHILE BOMBERS APPROACHED

A record 37 civilians are reported killed and at least 57 wounded in air raids today.  The high casualty toll followed a complete absence of air raid alerts.  Damage to a radio mast in severe overnight storms is preventing the detection of approaching enemy formations, with the result that no warnings were sounded. 

Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino had a lucky escape:  “…the planes were over us before the sirens went.  At the depot, Police HQ Bujega Institute, Hamrun, two dived on us while we were watching them, thinking they were RAF planes.  Someone yelled, and as I took a leap into the trench shelters I heard the swishing, whistling of bombs careering through the air…then the crash came.  I saw the flash and felt the blast of hot air on my face – but we were still alive.  A group of four bombs had fallen about two hundred yards away but, worst of all, I felt they had been aimed at our headquarters…”  (1)

Malta’s government is very concerned at the impact on the morale of the civilian population.  Military authorities have said that repairs to the mast are unlikely to be complete until this evening at the earliest.

Incendiary bomb destroys bus, killing 21 

Some 45 passengers, mostly dockyard workers, travelling on a bus were involved in a tragic incident at Marsa Crossroads at 5.30pm today.  The bus, which was on its way from Cospicua to Valletta, had stopped to allow its passengers to seek shelter from an air raid.  Almost immediately it was hit by an incendiary bomb and burst into flames.  Local residents tried to help: Gejtu Miscat entered the burning bus and managed to drag out two of the passengers, who survived. 

One survivor who had already alighted and sought shelter in a small shop nearby said he saw at least six corpses and several others injured near the bus.  A fire crew and ARP personnel were quickly on the scene but were unable to prevent further casualties. In all 21 passengers were killed outright and nine others seriously injured.  Of those, seven died shortly afterwards.  Eight of the casualties recovered from the wreckage of the bus could not be identified.

Enemy attack from new direction

Enemy raiders over Malta were reported as coming from Libya as well as Sicily today.  Bombers were seen to approach the Island near Delimara Point in groups of five per raid, flying across the Island in a north westerly direction.  It is suspected that magnetic mines were dropped during raids, as well as high explosive and incendiary bombs.

HMS Proteus

HMS Proteus

MALTA SUBMARINES OVERDUE

Two submarines which have undergone recent refit at Malta, Odin and Orpheus, have been reported overdue in Alexandria.  The Admiralty have ordered the two submarines nearest to Malta to proceed there with all despatch.  Proteus and Pandora embarked immediately.

CONVOY FROM MALTA TO ALEXANDRIA

The Commander in Chief Mediterranean today sent the following signal to the Admiralty in London: “It is now intended to run a convoy from Malta to Alexandria.  Five destroyers will leave tomorrow, Thursday, morning, followed by 7th Cruiser Squadron as a covering force.  Destroyers will proceed first to carry out a hunt for U Boats and thence to Malta to arrive at dusk on 29 June, fuel and sail with two convoys, one of 13 knots and the other 9 knots, with the expected arrival date in Alexandria of 2nd July.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JUNE TO DAWN 27 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fair. 

0720-0815 hrs  Four enemy bombers and three fighters approach the Island and drop four bombs on Kalafrana and Hal Far, where one wrecks part of the quarters.  Gladiators are scrambled but no interceptions.

0928-0940 hrs  Five enemy bombers fly over the coast and drop 30 bombs on and around Luqa aerodrome.

1230-1249 hrs  Five enemy bombers approach the Island, and drop bombs from 16000 feet on the Dockyard.  The Dockyard School is slightly damaged.

1518-1547 hrs  Five more enemy raiders drop five bombs around Luqa aerodrome.

1745-1755 hrs  Five enemy bombers cross the coast and head towards Luqa at 12000 feet.  Bombs are dropped between Marsa and Hamrun, and at Tarxien, as well as several more in the sea. 

2225 hrs  Infantry night patrols report signalling from the direction of St Paul’s Bay and from Imtarfa towards St Paul’s Bay.  A flashing light is also reported from near Mosta dome.  All incidents will be investigated.

Military casualties  P O Std George Howard, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Harry Abela.  Birkirkara  Carmel Cachia, age 33; David Castles, age 62; Arthur Farrugia, age 40.  Gzira  Joseph Farrugia, age 31.  Hamrun  Joseph Cordina, age 22; Ernest Cutajar, age 33; George Zammit, age 32.  Marsa  Carmelo Frendo, age 29; Filomena Pace, age 60; eight unidentified casualties.  Mqabba  Angla Ghigo; age 55; Giulio Ghigo, age 25; Emanuel Ghigo, age 18; Carmela Saliba, age 30; Pauline (Polly) Saliba, age 6; Josephine Saliba, age 3; one unidentified male.  Paola  Francis Caruana, age 54; Raffaele Cini, age 55; George Howard, age 35.  Qormi  Gianni Borg, age 25; Lucrezio (Grazio) Cassar, age 26; PC Calcedonio Saliba, age 25.  Tarxien Dockyard Policeman Albert Peel, age 20.    Valletta  Francis Farrugia, age 50; Domenico Galea, age 28.  Vittoriosa  Paul Saliba, age 7.  Zebbug  Emanuel Cassar, age 53. Zejtun  Lorenzo Caruana, age 35. 

Enemy casualties  Primo Aviere Angelo Alvisi, 33o Gruppo, 11o Stormo, crewmember of a Savoia SM79 bomber bailed out into the sea.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY  SS Masirah arrived and to Marsaxlokk for unloading ammunition.  French submarine Narval arrived. 

AIR HQ  Arrivals  1 Sunderland  Departures  1 SunderlandAir Officer Commanding, Mediterranean proposes to use the Swordfish of 767 Squadron for operations against Sicily.

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland arrived from UK and proceeded further east and one from Middle East proceeded to UK.  LAC Simon (Medical Orderly) discharged from hospital and returned to unit Hal Far.  AC E Agius, AC Farrugia and AC Vella admitted Military Hospital Imtarfa.      

LUQA  0945 hrs  Patrols are sent out to inspect damage to the aerodrome.  Slight damage to the runways includes one crater which is quickly filled in.  There is also minor damage near the Control Tower and two defence posts.  One unserviceable Hurricane is slightly damaged and two hangars are damaged by bomb splinters.  A second report confirms bombs dropped near the main gate and near the reservoir caused no significant damage.  The position of all bombs is plotted on a map.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Incendiary bombs dropped near Bn Hq and a high explosive on crossroads near HQ Company Office, causing civilian casualties.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 HE 250lb Cospicua. 

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012

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Posted by on June 26, 2020 in 1940, June 1940

 

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22 June 1940: Hurricanes and Swordfish Land in Malta

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Fairey Swordfish

Fairey Swordfish

HURRICANES FOR MALTA

Six Hurricane aircraft have arrived in Malta to join the Fighter Flight.  Early this afternoon two Hurricanes landed from Bizerta after a difficult journey across southern France and along the North African coast.  As dusk fell, two more completed the same journey, followed by two more in the early evening.  The six aircraft were all that reached Malta out of twelve Hurricanes and twelve Blenheims that set off from the UK on 18 June.  They join recently arrived Hurricanes from Egypt and will significantly strengthen the Island’s defences.

Twelve Swordfish of 767 Deck Landing Squadron from Toulon have also arrived on the Island and are now under the operational control of the Air Officer Commanding, Mediterranean, with the agreement of the Commander in Chief.

GLADIATORS CLAIM FIRST SUCCESS

Italian Airmen Captured

Malta’s Gladiators claimed their first confirmed ‘destroyed’ enemy aircraft today.  The success came during this evening’s raid.  The two serviceable Gladiators were scrambled at around 1900 hrs.  According to Flt Lt G Burges:

“Timber Woods and I were on the 1600 to dusk watch when the alarm went off.  We took off and climbed as hard as we could go, as was the custom.  We did not attempt to maintain close formation because if one aircraft could climb faster than the other then the additional height gained might be an advantage.  Ground Control, as usual, gave us the position and course of the enemy.  The enemy turned out to be a single SM79, presumably on a photographic sortie.  It came right down the centre of the Island from Gozo, and on this occasion we were 2000-3000 feet above it.  Timber went in first but did not see any results.  I managed to get right behind it and shot off the port engine.  I was told this happened right over Sliema and Valletta and caused quite a stir in the population.  The aircraft caught fire and crashed in the sea off Kalafrana.”

The pilot and one crewman were rescued from the sea and taken prisoner.  The remaining four crew did not survive. (1)

MYSTERY LIGHTS INVESTIGATED

Malta forces today launched an investigation into reports of mysterious flashing lights along the Victoria Lines.  A working party of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers was ordered to make a thorough search of the area between Naxxar caves and the quarries, looking for anything suspicious.  Two men were found in one of the caves and taken for questioning.  Police confirmed the men’s activities were legitimate and they were later released.  However, searches of the area continue.

In a separate incident this morning a car owner near Luqa was seen changing the vehicle’s number plates.  The new number 6057 was notified to Infantry companies and the vehicle will be monitored.   

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1940

1915-1930 hrs  Air raid alert.  One three-engined SM 79 approaches the Island and is attacked by a Gladiator.  The enemy raider bursts into flames, splits into two and falls into the sea off St Thomas’ Bay.  Of the crew of seven, the pilot and assistant pilot are able to bale out and parachute into the sea, where they are rescued and taken prisoner.  The remaining five crew five were killed.

2247 hrs  A light is reported just above the quarry to the left of Naxxar Gap.  Two officers investigated but found nothing.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Francesco Solimena, 53o Gruppo, pilot of SM79, and Sottotenente Alfredo Balsamo, crewman, 34o Stormo, 216a Squadriglia, shot down and taken prisoner.  Giovanni Mauro, Gianpiero Mencione, Remo Trovlusci and Remo Turrisi crewmen of SM79, 216a Squadriglia, 34o Stormo, shot down and died.   

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 22 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY  HM Submarines Otus and Olympus at Malta for refit. 

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  A court of enquiry, president Capt R Cooke, today assembled at Ghain Tuffieha camp to enquire into the circumstances in which Pte R G Bond became deficient of one suit of battle dress and two towels.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 incendiary Sliema.

(1)  From Gladiators Over Malta, Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, Wise Owl Publications, 2008

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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in 1940, June 1940

 

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19 June 1940: First Raid Free Day

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King George VI

King George VI

KING GEORVE VI SENDS MESSAGE OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO MALTA

“I have already heard of the gallant spirit and fine bearing of the Maltese people since they have been brought within the battle zone and I have no doubt that they will be worthy of upholding their great traditions in this struggle in which they are now actively engaged.”

HURRICANES DELAY THREATENS MORALE IN MALTA

From:  Governor and C in C Malta          To:  War Office                  19/06/40

Air Ministry informed AOC here on 17th that six Hurricanes were to be sent to Malta forthwith but since then the execution of plan has been deferred.  Hope you will press for these aircraft to be sent here before it is too late for them to refuel Marseilles.  Most important for maintenance of civil morale here and for defence generally.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1940

1300 hrs  Two Hurricanes and one Hudson aircraft arrive in Malta.

1955 hrs  Two Hurricanes arrive in Malta.

2345 hrs  2/Lt Salmonson 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers reports a light flashing near a Company defence post.  Further investigation leads to the home of a couple who are still up and about late at night.  The flashing lights are caused by opening and closing of their door.  The situation is to be monitored.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE 1940

AIR HQ  Air fields at Hal Far and Kalafrana are notified that the Station air raid warnings should not be sounded except when the general alarm system is heard, when ordered to by Headquarters and when every aircraft has been identified.  Instructions from HQ to observe for aircraft or for fighters to stand by or scramble is not to be taken as an instruction to sound the station air raid warning.    

KALAFRANA  Cpl N McKay to Imtarfa; Pte J Barbara, Kings Own Malta Regiment, to ADS Tarxien.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 2 HE 250lb Ta Qali aerodrome.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A quiet day allows sandbagging and defensive works to be completed undisturbed.

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Posted by on June 19, 2020 in 1940, June 1940

 

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18 June 1940: Malta Now Under Siege

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MALTA COMMAND CONFIRMS ISLANDS UNDER SIEGE

A conference of military commanders today was informed that Malta is now officially under siege.  Strict economies will be necessary in order to conserve vital supplies for military and civilians alike. 

In a Special Order of the Day, His Excellency Lieut-General W G S Dobbie, CB, CMG, DSO wrote:

“The decision of His Majesty’s Government to fight on until our enemies are defeated will be heard with the greatest satisfaction by all ranks of the garrison of Malta.  It may be that hard times lie ahead of us, but however hard they may be, I know that the courage and determination of all ranks will not falter and that with God’s help we will maintain the security of this Fortress.  I call on all Officers and Other Ranks humbly to seek God’s help, and thus in reliance on Him to do their duty unflinchingly.”

HMS Grampus

HMS Grampus

Following the Vice Admiral Malta’s report on Saturday, the Commander in Chief Mediterranean has decided that all submarines should be moved to Alexandria.  Submarines Orpheus, Grampus, Rorqual and Odin have been ordered to sail direct to Alexandria from patrol.

ITALIAN MYSTERY DROP

An aircraft was observed today dropping a possible bomb over a ridge at Kalafrana.  The aircraft was described as large and silver, with two or three engines and high wings.  It was believed to have Italian markings. 

However, evidence later came to light that cigarettes and chocolates had been dropped over the Island.  A warning was issued not to consume any such items but to conserve them and hand them in to the Malta Infantry Brigade for examination in case they are poisoned.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JUNE TO DAWN 19 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine. 

0500-0710 hrs  1st Bn Dorset Regt report seeing signalling from an unidentified lamp.  An Army patrol sent to investigate met with some 50 sportsmen, Special Constabulary and local inhabitants with guns searching for the same party.  No-one was found.

1118-1123 hrs  Air raid alert.  One large unidentified aircraft crosses the Island from north to south and then north west.  It drops one bomb from 15000 feet, 400 yards north east of the Officers’ Mess of Hal Far.  The bomb explodes some ten minutes after impact.  It is also observed dropping possible bombs over a ridge near Kalafrana.   

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 18 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY HM submarine Orpheus currently off Malta.  Vice Admiral Malta was instructed to sail Masirah from Bizerta to Malta without escort at his discretion.

KALAFRANA  13 recruits medically examined for fitness for RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 2 HE 250lb Ta Qali aerodrome, 1 HE 250lb Ta Karach; 1 incendiary Della Grazia. 

 

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Posted by on June 18, 2020 in 1940, June 1940

 

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17 June 1940: Hurricanes for Malta

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TWO HURRICANES ON THE WAY

The Air Officer Commanding, Middle East, has ordered two Hurricanes now at Tunis on passage to Egypt to proceed immediately to Malta.

MILITARY SUPPLIES FOR MALTA

From: War Office                        To: Governor & C in C Malta                                        17/06/40

With reference your communication dated 3 June clothing and necessaries, shoes, canvas and field dressings have been despatched and are en route to Malta.  A consignment of motor cycles was despatched at the end of May, along with 770 bicycles: resume this covers your requirement.  Camp kit not yet available.  Remaining items will be shipped first available opportunity.

Admiral Sir Wilbraham Ford, Vice Admiral Malta

Admiral Sir Wilbraham Ford, Vice Admiral Malta

MALTA CONVOYS TO BE PROTECTED

Commander in Chief Mediterranean informed the Vice Admiral Malta that he hopes to cover the movement of ships to and from Malta and the Eastern Mediterranean in the near future.

MYSTERY GUNSHOTS AT ST ANDREWS

At 2300 hours this evening 2nd Lt E N Lewis of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers heard five shots from the direction of St Julians Police Station.  He went to investigate and heard from the guard at St Andrews Barracks that shots had been heard, and flashes seen, from the direction of St Andrews Church.  A guard from the Kings Own Malta Regiment and a command post also reported hearing shots from a westerly direction.  The Inspector of Police at Sliema set up a search with eight other personnel but found nothing.

Concerns have been voiced about sentries firing shots unnecessarily at night.  Several firing incidents have been traced back to ill-considered responses to unauthorised lights and even glow worms.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine; north west wind.

0625-0700 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy bombers escorted by two Macchi 200 fighters in two formations which approach the Island from the south south east. The raiders approach at 16000 feet then swoop into a shallow dive, increasing speed.  One formation attacks Luqa and Ta Qali, where bombs fall close to the water reservoir and cause slight damage to a water main.  11 bombs are dropped between Corradino and Luqa and another 34 near Ta Qali aerodrome, where two fail to explode.  Two Gladiator fighters intercept but no results are reported.  The Gladiator pilots report enemy fighters to be ‘windy’.

0815 hrs  Two unexploded High Explosive bombs are reported by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

1400-1426 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which attack a destroyer three miles south of Delimara at 15000 feet but drop their bombs in the sea.  

1515-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  No attack.

1525-1545 hrs   Three enemy aircraft approach from the east and drop bombs on the Ta Qali area: four near the reservoir, eight in the centre of the airfield and four opposite the Consezione Church.  One raider is believed brought down by Ack Ack fire.  

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Coral and Diamond attacked and claim to have sunk an Italian U boat off Grand Harbour in position 92 degrees St Elmo light 3.8 miles. 

KALAFRANA  Cpl Sharples, RAF, transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa. 

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 incendiary near Polverista Gate, Cospicua; 1 HE 250lb near Kirkop.

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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in 1940, June 1940

 

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16 June 1940: Four Gladiators Not Enough To Defend Malta

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Gladiators in Malta (NWMA)

Gladiators in Malta (NWMA)

FOUR GLADIATORS CANNOT HOLD OUT SAY MALTA AIR CHIEFS

Malta’s four operational Gladiator aircraft cannot be expected to last long under the current pressure from enemy attacks, according to Air chiefs.  The introduction of Macchi fighters to protect Italian bomber formations has placed the Island’s four defenders under severe threat.  Although the four Gladiators are being conserved as much as possible, they are not expected to last long under present conditions. 

Italian bombers are also using special tactics to isolate and pick off Malta’s Gladiators.  One bomber from a formation of five hangs back, then when attacked by a Gladiator it loses height.  It flies under the rest of the bombers who then attack the Gladiator from above with a down-firing moveable gun.  The straggling bomber is the only target the Gladiators normally have a chance to attack.

Air Chiefs praised the courage and commitment of the Gladiator pilots which had placed the enemy under sufficient pressure to make them deploy fighters and evasive manoeuvres.  However, the usual enemy tactic of a high approach followed by a shallow get-away dive is producing high speeds which make Gladiator interception difficult.  Attempts to optimise Gladiator performance are placing additional strain on already overworked aircraft engineers.

The situation makes it even more imperative that Hurricane fighters are deployed to Malta at the earliest opportunity.

SLIEMA THANKS BOMB DISPOSAL MEN

To the Editor, Times of Malta: Sir,

“I, on behalf of the People living in the area of St. Charles Street, and Rudolph Street, should like to thank through the medium of your paper, the Officers and men, also Police Sergeant Orr, for the excellent work carried out without thought for their own safety in not only removing the unexploded bomb from the said area, but also for the excellent morale instilled into the inhabitants under such trying conditions.

I should like to thank the Officers and men of the Royal Engineers concerned, for the work done under trying circumstances.  I cannot express myself in words, but I on behalf of the inhabitants of this area, once again thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

P G Mayo

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JUNE TO DAWN 17 JUNE 1940

Weather  Fine.

0810-0935 hrs  Air raid alert for thirteen enemy aircraft which cross the Island three formations, flying east to west at 15,000 feet.  The lead formation is reported as five Heinkel bombers.  The raiders are attacked by fighters.  They drop six high explosives and six incendiary bombs over Luqa and Kalafrana, where one 250lb bomb damages the north slipway and damages four vehicles.  Two fall on Kirkop; one fails to explode.  The power house is also damaged but still functioning.  The second formation, identified as five SM 79s, are also attacked by fighters and disperse.  The final three, probably Macchi 200 fighters, also disperse when engaged by Malta fighters.

1445 hrs  A message is received by 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt that the unexploded bomb at a Kirkop defence post will be dealt with in the next 30 minutes.

1450-1545 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers fly across the Island from south west to north east at 10000 feet and drop six bombs on Mosta, believed to be intended for Ta Qali.  Fighters engage the raiders without result.

2115 hrs  Infantry companies are informed that a destroyer is due in Grand Harbour at 2200hrs and will depart before daylight.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Emanuel Spiteri, age 65.  Zejtun  Saviour Mifsud, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 16 JUNE 1940

KALAFRANA  Pte Bartolo, Kings Own Malta Regiment and AC E Bonavia transferred to ADS Tarxien.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Cpl Brewer and three Other Ranks working on unexploded bombs.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 HE 250lb in Gzira was exploded, partially demolishing three houses.

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15 June 1940: Malta Faces Mass Refugee Problem

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MALTA FACES MASS REFUGEE PROBLEM

Floriana refugeesIt is estimated that since last Monday up 100,000 people have fled their homes.  The mass exodus from bombing target areas began as soon as the first air raids struck on Monday.  Refugees headed for every possible safe area of Malta, away from Grand Harbour, Marsamxetto or the airfields.  The population of Siggiewi alone has increased by some 5000.  Many families who had lived for generations in the Harbour areas knew no-one in their destination village but went anyway, knocking on the doors until strangers let them in.

Governor and Commander in Chief today paid tribute to the way in which those living near military objectives have behaved in the recent trying circumstances.  However, recognising the problems that have arisen from the mass removal of civilians from those areas to the villages, he said:

“For every village there is going to be appointed an officer who working in cooperation with the District Committee, the Police and the Special Constabulary, will be responsible for seeing that everything is done that can be done for the safety, health and welfare of the evacuees… [These officers] will make arrangements to improve the distribution of food and other essential commodities; they will take steps to see that the sanitary system and water supply is adequate…they will supervise billeting and see that all available accommodation is used to the best advantage.”

To coincide with the announcement, the Government Gazette published a set of regulations to underpin the establishment of refugee settlement centres in all villages outside the enemy bombing target areas.  Organisations will work together to find homes for refugees and persuade owners to accept them, and to convert public buildings, including schools, into emergency accommodation.  This includes partitioning rooms, making plank beds and collecting furniture, cutlery, china and clothes for refugees whose homes and belongings have been destroyed.

MALTA UNSAFE FOR SUBMARINES SAYS VICE-ADMIRAL

The Vice Admiral Malta today informed the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, that he now considers Malta unsuitable as a submarine base.  The decision follows the extent and number of air raids since Tuesday. In his message, the Vice Admiral proposed that all submarines should not return to Malta but proceed direct to Alexandria from their current patrol.

HMS Calypso

HMS Calypso

The recommendation comes after the tragic loss of HMS Calypso, which was confirmed sunk today by an Italian U-boat.  She was on an anti-shipping patrol against Italian ships heading for Libya when she was struck by a single torpedo.  Calypso is the first Royal Naval vessel to be sunk by the Regia Marina since Italy declared war on the Allies.  One officer and 38 ratings are missing, feared lost.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JUNE TO DAWN 16 JUNE 1940

Weather  Early thundery showers, then clear sky with considerable haze to 5000 feet.  Gale force winds at times.

1035-1045 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft is already over the Island at 15000 feet and drops nine bombs on an approximate line from the Dockyard to Delimara Point, killing two civilians and injuring six more.  The raider immediately dives to 4000 feet.

1539-1353 hrs  Air raid alert.  Fighters take to the air but no aircraft area sighted.

1530 hrs  RAOC explode a bomb successfully near HQ of B Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.

1640 hrs  A loud explosion heard from the direction of Hal Far is reported as a possible delayed action bomb but later confirmed as a controlled explosion by the bomb disposal squad.

1716-1757 hrs  One enemy reconnaissance aircraft crosses over Mellieha.  Two enemy aircraft approach from the north east at 15000 feet and drop six bombs on open ground between Birzebugga and Hal Far.  One enemy raider is intercepted by Malta fighters and is hit but not shot down, and releases its bombs in the sea south of the Island.  The British pilot identifies the enemy aircraft as German from its twin water-cooled engines and swastika on the wings.

1920 hrs  One Gladiator carries out flying practice around Hal Far aerodrome and the Kalafrana seaplane base.  A Sunderland flying boat is also tested at Kalafrana Slipway.

2315 hrs  A defence post reports a flashing light near the Targa Gap; an investigation found nothing.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Anthony Borg, age 26.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 JUNE 1940

ROYAL NAVY  During air raids today the Naval Armament Depot was hit and one lighter was sunk.

KALAFRANA  Sgt Beaddie, Medical Staff Luqa, transferred to Military Hospital, Imtarfa, with gastroenteritis.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS: Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with: 1 HE 250lb Tal Papa; 1 HE 130lb Isla Point, Senglea.

(1) Source: When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta, 1981

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Posted by on June 15, 2020 in 1940, June 1940

 

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