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28 April 1942: ‘Blackest Day’ as Enemy Targets Church Killing 13

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“There will not be a St Publius Church for tourists to see after the war…All that remains is a memory and a pile of broken masonry”  German Radio 1942 (1)

St Publius Church bomb damage (NWMA Malta)

HISTORIC CHURCH BOMBED WITH 26 CASUALTIES: EYE WITNESS REPORT

“On the morning of April 28, at about 8am…four separate formations of enemy bombers, some forty in all, appeared on the skyline…Then three enemy bombers detached themselves from the last formation and, diving low over the picturesque Church of St Publius in Floriana, they dropped their loads, leaving behind a heart-breaking wreck. 

One bomb struck the dome, crashed down on the high altar and penetrated into the crypt, where about a dozen persons taking cover were killed instantaneously, among them one of the best loved and respected members of the clergy, Rev Pawl Portelli.  Another bomb dropped between the two belfries, tearing away part of the façade, destroying the statue of Our Lady and blowing off the top section of the inner pillars of the church.  Yet another of the enemy’s bombs exploded inside the church and damaged the beautiful statue of the patron saint.

All of a sudden, as if whipped by a strong hand, the people rushed out shouting, weeping and protesting against the dastardly deed.  A mantle of heavy dust still hung over the battered church when the rescue-party arrived; but work was impossible as chaos and pandemonium reigned supreme.  Finally the bad news that several had been killed was broken, and parents and relatives pressed their way through the crowd to see for themselves.” J Xerri (1)

Enemy’s Fury Concentrated on Church

Today has been described as the blackest day for Floriana.  Apart from other places hit, the enemy’s fury was concentrated on St Publius Parish Church which sustained very heavy damage.  When the Church Crypt collapsed, thirteen persons were killed, five were seriously injured and six were slightly injured.  Nothing in the war to date has shaken Floriana as much.

WORKS PREPARE FOR MORE SPITFIRES

Extensive preparations are underway at Ta Qali for the arrival of further Spitfires.  No date has yet been given for the delivery.  Administrative Staff have pointed out to Air Command that, due to excessive secrecy, a lack of instructions last time until the planes actually landed at Ta Qali left the ground organisation unprepared for their arrival.  This will be remedied.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 APRIL TO DAWN 29 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; 70% cloud (haze) at 15,000 feet.

0750 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming formation of 100 enemy aircraft.

0807 hrs  Eight JU 88s bomb Mellieha Camp and four fly on to bomb Ghain Tuffieha.

0810 hrs  38 bombers with fighters as escort bomb the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, Manoel Island, Msida, Sliema and Tigne.

15 JU 88s attack Valletta and Floriana.  St Publius Church, Floriana, is hit by several bombs. The dome and the crypt are demolished, and a number of houses in St Publius Street partly demolished.  Other buildings are destroyed in St Anne Square, St Thomas Street, Strait Street, Gunlayer Street and Capuchin Street.

0825 hrs  One JU 88 crossing from Hompesch  towards Zonqor is engaged by light machine gun fire by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

0830 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron fly out to sea to intercept incoming aircraft and on their return run into four ME 109s.  P/O Stade damages one ME 109.

21 JU 87s dive-bomb Luqa, destroying the Electrical Section, Officers’ quarters and mess, Sergeants’ quarters and a van.  Many other barracks and buildings and a mobile crane are destroyed.  The Sick Quarters and Fighter Flight officers are half demolished.

Three Spitfires 261 Squadron are airborne from Luqa and intercept the JU 87s after the raid.  F/Lt Johnston damages one JU 87.  P/O McLean lands at Ta Qali.

11 JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far aerodrome and dispersal areas, and on Benghaisa gun position, wounding one Other Rank.

0840 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun Torri l’Abjad, damaging the building.

0845 hrs  Two JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: two hits claimed on one JU 88.

0915 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Misrah Blandun and the Safi strip area.

0917 hrs  Raiders passed.

1020-1033 hrs  Two ME 109s circle to the north of the Island.

1245 pm  A total plot of 90 enemy aircraft approach Malta from the north.  30 ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep across the Island before bombers cross the coast and attack the Grand Harbour area, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields.

Three Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy bombers.  P/O McKay and Sgt Boyd engage: results unknown.  P/L Fletcher fails to return.

20 JU 87s attack the Dockyard and French Creek.  A bomb hits the Carmine Tunnel and the EEM’s Drawing Office is demolished. Bombs on Store Wharf cause road blocks and sink lighters, a fire float and water vessel, as well as a tug alongside.  The Officers’ Mess at Marsa gun position is destroyed.  The entrance of a shelter in Senglea Wharf is hit by a bomb, killing 13 and fatally injuring two others.

10 JU 88s attack Valletta and Floriana.  Two bombs explode on Hastings Gardens, another hits a former barracks, demolishing stores and blocking a road.   9 JU 88s bomb Msida, Tigne and Manoel.

1305 hrs  14 JU 88s carry out mid-level and dive-bombing attacks on Luqa and the Safi strip.  One Wellington is destroyed and the dispersal areas cratered.

13 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, cratering runways and dispersal areas and further damaging buildings on the aerodrome.

1330 hrs  One stick of bombs explodes immediately north of Zejtun village.  JU 88s crossing Fort Ta Silch after an attack on Luqa are engaged by guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1339 hrs  Raiders passed.

1725 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an incoming formation of 52 enemy bombers with fighter escort: one ME 109 is damaged.  Enemy bombers divide into four formations to attack Fort Tigne, Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far airfields.

1733 hrs  20 JU 87s and JU 88s carry out mid-level and dive-bombing attacks on Luqa.  Bombs hit the Sergeants’ Mess shelter and a surface shelter outside the Photographic Section.  A water main is penetrated and quarters of the Kings Own Malta Regiment at Poor House are damaged.  Two RAF personnel and one Maltese airman are slightly injured.

1734 hrs  14 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, further cratering the aerodrome and runways.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far and intercept 10 JU 88s and six JU 87s.  Sgt Dodd engages two JU 88s and one JU 87: no results observed.

1747 hrs  An air raid on Hal Far by six JU 88s causes craters on the aerodrome and damages the officers’ quarters.  One Albacore is slightly damaged.

1810 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claim.

1832 hrs  Raiders passed.

Night  No alerts.

Enemy losses  By Malta fighters  One ME 109 and one JU 87 damaged.  By Ack Ack: one JU 88 destroyed, three JU 88s and one JU 87 damaged.  By Ack Ack fire   2 JU88 destroyed, 3 JU88 damaged, 1 JU87 damaged by Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Fletcher, Royal Canadian Air Force, 186 Squadron; Pilot Officer Thomas Foley, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Pilot Officer John McFarlane, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Gunner John Keegan 196th Bty, 65 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Arthur Suter, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Private Arthur Taylor, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; Lance-Corporal Publius Xuereb, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Annunziato Callus, age 65.  Floriana  Annetta Barbara, age 41; Calcedonio Cardona, age 79; Joseph Enriquez, age 65; Joseph Grima, age 64; Mary Mangion, age 74; Salvatore Morana, age 68; Revd Paul Portelli, age 52; Calcedonio Scerri, age 63; Assunta Tabone, age 48.  Hamrun  Vincent Vella, age 50.  Paola  Saviour Salsero, age 66.  Qormi  Carmelo Calleja, age 58.  Senglea  Carmela Borg, age 27; Carmel Borg, age 3; Lawrence Gatt, age 62; Adelaide Gatt, age 60; Carrie Gellel, age 20; Carrie Green, age 20; William Iles, age 24; Mary Micallef, age 39; Josephine Saguna, age 50; Antonia Sizeland, age 46; Charles Sizeland, age 8.  Valletta  Joseph Dalli, age 62; Joseph Grech, age 62; Charles Rapinett, age 50.  Zabbar  Vincent Pulis, age 37.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to Fayid, one Hudson to Gibralter, one Hudson to Gambut, one Wellington, one Beaufort to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  One Hurricane 229 Squadron crashed during an air test and caught fire.  Pilot P/O Foley is killed.

TA QALI   40 NCOs and airmen from Luqa Salvage Corps accommodated in tents at Boschetto Gardens owing to bombing of San Salvatore Barracks.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company billets receive a direct hit during the first raid: Pte A Tayor is killed.  Bombs fall at the entrance to Battalion HQ.  The RE store is hit.  The Officers’ Mess moved into St Francis Ravelin again: the old mess had to be evacuated due to bad drains.  Slight damage to B Company billet at Church Hall in the Dockyard.  Power station hit.  The Orderly Room is now almost in darkness: only candles or hurricane lamps available.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Further bombs on Casemate Barracks: more damage to RE WO/Sgts Mess. No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 33; dealt with 6 (2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn  L/Cpl P Xuereb dies through enemy action while on leave in Floriana.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.

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

 

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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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24 April 1942: Dogfights Over Grand Harbour

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  • 3 enemy aircraft destroyed, 8 damaged
  • 23 civilians killed in 13 localities
  • 40 unexploded bombs reported today
  • 24 tons of unexploded bombs disposed of in 6 days

    Wellington bombers

SECOND BOMBER MISSING AFTER SICILY RAID

Another Wellington bomber was reported missing this morning following the loss of one aircraft in yesterday’s raid on the Axis airfield at Comiso.  Flight Lieutenant Hayter and his five man crew took off from Luqa yesterday evening at 20:45 hours.  Theirs was one of the first wave of four Wellingtons attacked by anti-aircraft fire.  Two were hit, one was badly damaged; the other, piloted by F/Lt Harper, was reported missing.  F/Lt Hayter returned safely to Luqa at 2225 hrs.

Two hours later he took to the air again, as part of a second-wave attack on the same target.  During the early hours of the morning, his aircraft was shot down over the island above Acate. All of the crew except F/Lt Hayter were killed: he was taken prisoner.

The crew are named as Second Pilot Sergeant Douglas King, Observer Sergeant Maurice Buckley, Wireless Operators/Air Gunners Sergeant Edward March, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and Sergeant George Tull, and Air Gunner Sergeant James Kehoe; all Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 APRIL TO DAWN 25 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south easterly; no cloud – visibility approximately 70 miles.  Warm.

0530-0620 hrs  Air raid warning.  One JU 88 bomber approaches from the west and drops bombs on Floriana.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0640-0658 hrs  Three ME 109s machine gun Ta Qali aerodrome.

0709 hrs  Formations of enemy bombers with fighter escort are observed approaching the Island.  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s and ME 109 fighters.  Sgt Boyd damages two ME 109s and F/Lt Lawrence one.  P/O Fletcher damages one JU 88.

Four Spitfires 126 Squadron (Ta Qali) are also airborne and engage enemy aircraft.  F/Lt Johnstone probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Miller and Sgt Christ damage one JU 88; Sgt Milner damages two.

0725 hrs  Seven JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Luqa.  Bombs land on the perimeter of the aerodrome.  One serviceable and one unserviceable Hurricane are burned out.  A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire is damaged.

0730 hrs  22 JU 88 bombers attack the Dockyard, targeting French Creek and Marsa.

0810 hrs  Bombs land on the north east outskirts of Zejtun and near Tal Handaq.

0820 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

0839 hrs  Raiders passed.

1005 hrs  A large plot of enemy bombers and fighters is observed heading towards the Island.

1010 hrs   Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They attack JU 88s while they are engaged in bombing raids over Grand Harbour: Sgt Christ destroys one JU 87.

South Street, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

1015 hrs  45 enemy bombers and fighters attack the Grand Harbour area and drop a considerable number of bombs on houses and buildings in Valletta and Floriana.

In Valletta, heavy bombs explode in St Johns Ditch, Hastings Gardens and South Street, killing one and injuring ten.  ARP officers are reported to have collected six bags of human flesh from the ruins. 

Several members of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are in an air raid shelter in Old Bakery Street when it is hit by a high explosive bomb.  Privates E Jones and F Jepson are reported missing, believed killed.  Witnesses suggest that the bomb landed at their feet, killing both instantly.  Corporal A Johnson is badly injured [he later died of his wounds].  Sergeant Myers and Private Doyle are injured and taken to hospital; Sgt Bollard, L/Cpl Clarke and Pte Leak are slightly injured.

In Floriana bombs explode in St Anne’s Street, St Thomas Street, Sarria Street, Gunlayer Square and Magazine Street, killing two people and injuring thirty, eight seriously.

1030 hrs  Ta Qali is attacked by enemy bombers using heavy calibre bombs – believed to be captured British bombs.

1110 hrs  Raiders passed.

1230 hrs  Three waves of JU 88 bombers with fighter escort (approximately 15 aircraft in each wave) approach the Island.  Two Hurricanes 229 Squadron and one from 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept the incoming formation.  P/O Nixon, 229 Squadron, damages one ME 109.

1235 hrs  The enemy plots separate:  22 JU 88s head for Grand Harbour, bombing Valletta, Corradino, Marsa Creek and Pieta, causing further damage to buildings and Dockyard facilities.

1236 hrs  Six JU 88s raid Luqa, causing craters on the aerodrome and dispersal areas.  Bombs fall on already uninhabitable billets.

1240 hrs  One Spitfire is airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1250 hrs  JU 88s are engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1355 hrs  The lone Spitfire is returning to Luqa when he is shot at by four ME 109s during landing.

1400 hrs  Raiders passed.

1800 hrs  A large number of enemy aircraft is plotted to the north on course for the Island.  They turn towards Grand Harbour: the first formation flying on towards Ta Qali, the second attacking Grand Harbour and Valletta, and the third targeting Msida.  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept.  They engage several JU 87s and ME 109s over Grand Harbour.  One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.

1807 hrs 15 JU 88s and 19 JU 87 Stukas with a large escort of fighters attack Grand Harbour.  Considerable damage is caused to buildings in Floriana and Valletta, including Casemate Barracks, the Torpedo Depot, the General Post Office and GOR Officers’ Mess.

Floriana is a main target: bombs hit the ARP centre, destroying medical equipment one ambulance and a reconnaissance motor cycle.  Bombs also hit houses in Filippo Sceberras Square, St Anne’s Street and Sarria Street, causing 23 casualties (some later died in hospital).  Pte Urquhart, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment, is killed while on leave in Valletta.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept 15 of the JU 87s involved in the raid on Msida.  P/O Wigley and Sgt Finlay each damage a JU 87.  Sgt Dodd attacks four JU 87s: no results observed.

Three Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali to defend the aerodrome from the incoming raiders.  F/Lt Lucas has to crash land near Siggiewi due to Glycol trouble.  The other two Spitfires return with R/T trouble.

1820 hrs  Nine JU 88s with fighters in support attack Ta Qali.  Bombs are also dropped near Targa Heavy Ack Ack position.

1840 hrs  An enemy reconnaissance flight is observed over the north of the Island.

1845 hrs  One ME 109 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment.

1905 hrs  Raiders passed.

Dusk  Three ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.

2042-2340 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs; 0345-0435 hrs Three air raid alerts are sounded for individual approaching aircraft.  German and Italian bombs, including incendiaries are dropped in the Luqa area, Tal Virtu, Gudjia and Safi.  A few houses are destroyed but there are no casualties.  One Beaufighter is airborne in response to each alert to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Alexander Balinson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 148 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Charron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Corporal William Rogerson, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Gunner Carmel Dingli, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance-Sergeant Joseph Sammut, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Delia, age 20.  Floriana  Dolores Abela, age 60. Ghaxaq  John Mary Camilleri, age 67; Anthony Galea, age 51. Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15.   Hamrun  Charles Demajo, age 13; Aida Kelly, age 26; Michael Pace, age 15; Joseph Spiteri, age 12.  Marsa  Michael Cilia, age 18.  Mosta  Luigi Calleja, age 75. Paola  Leone Bartolo, age 20; Teresa Bondin, age 2; Josephine Bondin, age 6 mths; Gaetan Pisani, age 31.  Pieta  Saviour Caruana, age 21; Petra Christine Dungstaad, age 30. Siggiewi  Carmel Cachia, age 53.  Sliema  James Naudi, age 45.  Tarxien  Michael d’Alfonso, age 18.  Valletta  Jane Muliett, age 3; Caroline Salnitro, age 14.  Comino  Rose Zammit, age 15.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Torpedo Depot further damaged in air raid.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Bombay from Gibraltar, one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  One Catalina, one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Bombay to 108 MU.

LUQA  1150-1343 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of East Sicilian aerodromes.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion ceased working on aerodromes at Ta Qali and Luqa during the day and began working from 1930 hrs until 0300 hrs daily for seven days a week.  One Other Rank is wounded by a delayed-action bomb and dies of his wounds shortly afterwards.  A detachment from the Battalion took over observation post duties at Tal Minsia for one week.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb in Casemate Bks destroyed FRE Oil Store. Weight of bombs disposed of still rising: 24 tons in 6 days.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 43; dealt with 10 (3 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit hands over observation post at Tal Virtu at 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.  2100 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.  Work progressing much quicker than by daylight.  No dispersal of troops on air alert at night.  Luftwaffe using firework-incendiary bombs at night, not successfully, against grounded aircraft.

(1) Compiled with reference to Dover War Memorial Project.  Flight Lieutenant Hayter, Mentioned in Dispatches, was one of the escapees from Stalag Luft III, as recalled in the film ‘The Great Escape’. Hayter one of the fifty recaptured and shot on the direct orders of Hitler.

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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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19 April 1942: No Fighter Planes to Defend Malta – 15 Ack Ack Guns Hit – 71 Killed

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Clear-up in Floriana (NWMA Malta)

NO FIGHTERS UP AGAINST 276 BOMBERS  – BOMB HITS CARE HOME

For the second day in a row no RAF fighters took to the air today to intercept incoming enemy formations.  The Luftwaffe were able to arrive in Malta’s air space unhindered and carried out heavy raids on Grand Harbour and all the airfields, dropping a total of 436 tons of bombs (442,376 kg).  Anti-aircraft positions were a main target: fifteen were hit, killing thirteen Gunners and injuring many more.

TRAGEDY IN HAMRUN

The community of Hamrun is in mourning today after a heavy high explosive bomb struck a care home, killing many of the patients and their carers.  St Paul’s Home for the Elderly was run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, many of whom were among the 34 killed in the explosion.

GEORGE CROSS JOINS VICTORY V

“Great exhilaration is being shown by the people of Malta since the award of the George Cross by His Majesty the King.  Replicas of the cross are being chalked on all the buildings alongside the ‘Victory V’ sign.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly.  30% high cloud – fine.

0710 hrs  Air alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0806 hrs  60 JU 88 bombers and 24 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers escorted by fighters are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa, dropping four bombs from each plane.

0845 hrs  Massive formations of JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, including Marsa Creek and Valletta. The San Lorenzo Tunnel is hit, causing a partial collapse.  SS Pampas is set on fire and part of the Tram Depot is destroyed.

Royal Artillery HQ reports bombs on San Pietru gun position – one gun slightly damaged; Benghaisa gun position – gun out of action slightly damaged and three Other Ranks wounded; and on Tal Qroqq, Hompesch and Marsa gun positions.

Msida Bastion (NWMA Malta)

A large formation of JU 88s attacks Valletta.  A stick of bombs falls on Old Mills Street: no casualties.  Eight JU 88s peel off to target Msida Creek: the Ospizio Barracks are hit.

0900 hrs  Two formations – five JU 88s and four ME 109 fighter bombers – carry out high level bombing and dive bombing on Luqa airfield, cratering the runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported in the Beaufort dispersal area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

0915 hrs  Bombs explode north of Zabbar and between close to three defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Light Machine Guns of their Battalion HQ and D Company engage one JU 88: no hits claimed.

0954 hrs  Thirteen JU88 bombers raid Kalafrana and another eight attack Hal Far causing ten craters on the runway and dispersal areas.  Barrack blocks are hit, one Hurricane is burned out, one Albacore and one Swordfish slightly damaged.

1003 hrs  Raiders passed.

1015 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report an unexploded bomb UXB 150 yards from Post RA3 and another at map reference 489224.

1121-1143 hrs  Four enemy aircraft (suspected to be ME 109s) approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

1325 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour Hal Far, Luqa and the Safi strip.

1330 hrs  A massive wave of JU 87s and JU 88s attacks the Grand Harbour area.  The Police Office at Dockyard Main Gate is wrecked, and a surgery damaged.  Several bombs land on Valletta, including one on a shelter in Merchant Street.  In Floriana, Argotti Gardens, the Police Station and the Government Dispensary are hit.  Bombs destroy several houses in St Francis Street: 13 casualties are later recovered from the rubble.  Royal Artillery HQ reports direct hits on the Santa Maria gun position with 14 casualties.

1340 hrs  A large formation of aircraft bomb Marsa crossroads, blocking the road, Marsa Creek and Marsa Ack Ack Battery, where there are six casualties.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 attacks Hompesch: one stick of bombs lands close to a 3″ Ack Ack Battery and other positions of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Their D Company gunners engage one JU 88 turning away from the attack: no hits claimed.

1445 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte D Macpherson, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are killed by an enemy bomb.

1400 hrs  Twenty JU 87s and JU 88s attack Hal Far, badly damaging the Officers’ Mess and other quarters, including barrack blocks, cookhouse and the NAAFI.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  One stick of bombs falls across Hagiar Qim Battery causing some damage to equipment.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1325 hrs  JU 87s, 88s and ME 109s carry out high level and dive-bombing raids on Luqa aerodrome, cratering the main runway, and on Safi strip.  Transit Flight offices and Works and Buildings offices are damaged beyond use; four previously damaged billets are written off.

1446 hrs  Raiders passed.

1530 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map position 518219.

1557 hrs  Four aircraft (suspected to be ME 109 fighter bombers) approach from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.

1600 hrs  A delivery flight of seven Hurricane lands successfully.

1626 hrs  Raiders passed.

1630 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports two unexploded bombs at map position 512227.

1800 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are identified approaching the Island.

1812 hrs  A large formation of bombers attacks the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, French Creek and Marsa Creek.  Bombs on Floriana cause considerable damage to the NAAFI Club in Parade Ground, Portes des Bombes area and Valletta Wharf.

Ack Ack gunners score a direct hit on one JU 88 and the aircraft disintegrates in mid-air.  Manoel gun position is hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding one officer and 5 Other Ranks.  Naxxar, Tal Qroqq, Benghaisa and Hompesch Heavy Ack Ack positions report near misses; the HQ of 32 Light Ack Ack is demolished.

1830 hrs  JU 87 and 88 bombers attack Hal Far.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s: hits claimed.

1840 hrs  One lone JU 88 carries out a high level bombing attack against Hompesch.  One bomb lands on the camp of Battalion HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt but there are no casualties.

1940 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four air raid alerts sound for six enemy raiders.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Safi, Hal Far and Kalafrana.  No fighters are airborne.

2245-2340 hrs  One Italian BR 20 aircraft approaches from the north and drops a number of 12kg bombs round Bir-id-Deheb, and from Ghaxaq to the Safi strip.

0130 hrs; 0238-0251 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds for single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0330-0600 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Joseph Galea, HMS St.Angelo;  Gunner Anthony Cunningham, 7 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Alfred James, 1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Henry Livingstone, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Mifsud, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Anthony Saliba, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Gunner Cyril Bunn; Gunner Sydney Carter; Lance Bombardier Charles Castle; Bombardier Andrew Cullen; Gunner James Ditheridge; Gunner John Mansell; Gunner Thomas Smith; Gunner James Stewart; Gunner Samuel Vickers, all of 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.  Lance Bombardier Albert Johnson and Bombardier Cyril Pughe, both 190 Bty (6th Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment), 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties Gudja   Anthony Borg, age 46.  Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15; Josephine Gingell, age 40.

Hamrun  Marianna Attard, age 70; Filomena Azzopardi, age 70; Rosaria Azzopardi, age 70; Francesca Bonello, age 75; Silvia Bono, age 71; Carmela Borg, age 91; Giovanna Borg, age 72; Lucrezia Borg, age 55; Rosa Calascione, age 70; Mary Calascione, age 40; Maria Camilleri, age 70; Mary Camilleri, age 70; Joseph Caruana, age 77; Teresa Casabene, age 58; Marianna Cassar, age 65; Joseph Cuschieri, age 75; Catherine Cauchi, age 66; Concetta Darmanin, age 70; Carmela Debono, age 80; Pauline Ferro, age 80; Josephine Galea, age 70; Sister Teresa Garabaldi, age 53; Antonia Hyzler, age 75; Mary Kelly, age 90; Emanuela Laferla, age 70; Teresa Meilak, age 90; Teresa Micallef, age 60; Virginia Micallef, age 60; Grace Pace, age 80; Clara Pace, age 70; Giovanna Potenza, age 70; Sister Therese Sciberras, age 85; Mary Vella, age 69; Rosa Zahra, age 70.

Msida  Francesca Bianco, age 70; Vincenza Caruana Mamo, age 74; Joseph Grech, age 76; John Zammit, age 78.  Sliema  Emanuel Borg, age 16.  Valletta  Violetta Bone, age 16; Joseph Borg, age 14; Herman Scerri, age 14.  Zabbar  Angela Degabriele, age 75; Josephine Gatt, age 34; Mary Lia, age 38; Saviour Mallia, age 33; Joseph Mallia, age 30; Grace Tedesco, age 23.    Zejtun  Paul Despott, age 16.  Zurrieq  Carmel Callus, age 43; Anthony Inguanez, age 13.

Enemy casualty  Josef Bauer.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar with passengers.   Attacked by ME 109 off Grand Harbour and returned at 2200 hrs.  Una proceeded on patrol west of Tripoli.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Hurricanes, two Blenheims from Gambut; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  2152-0920 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight search for and attack enemy shipping.  Sight one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats: no attacks made.

TA QALI  20 airmen attached to this station from Luqa for one day.  One Chief Petty Officer and twelve seamen ex Breconshire attached to this station for armament duties.  Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1 Dorset L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson killed by a bomb at Gzira.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 50 men working on electric light mains in Valletta continued working today; other parties stood down.  Several incendiaries in and around Horn Works.  Pte Livingstone, B Company, killed by shrapnel.  Pte Holmes injured and admitted No 90 General Hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0215 hrs  Lt Treadwell dies in No 90 General Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work continued on aerodromes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  NAAFI in Lintorn Bks demolished by bomb.  Further bombs on Floriana Parade Ground – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 13 (1 x 1000kg; 3 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  1700 hrs  No 4 Platoon now located at Ta Salib cross tracks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  One bomb lands close to B Company cook house of 3rd Battalion.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Final day for Hal Far working party.  2100-0630 hrs  Both working parties numbering all available Officers and men at Luqa and Hal Far to complete first set of pens for new aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A working party of 130 Other Ranks is employed at Luqa during the hours of darkness.

(1) Army News, Darwin, Australia, 19 April 1942

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of  use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

 
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9 April 1942: Villages Attacked – Churches Hit – Bombs on Mosta Rotunda

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Sant Andrija, Luqa

22 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET LUQA VILLAGE’

Two public shelters are damaged: 2 people are killed and one seriously injured in St Joseph Street, and 23 in Pope Innocent Street.  The parish church is extensively damaged and two bakeries demolished: the village is now almost completely destroyed.  The Governor, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie, rushes to the scene.

Nine year old Agnes was about to have lunch with her family in Luqa when the siren announced that bombers were on their way: 

“My mother proceeded to share out the food and all of us then went down into the shelter clutching our plates.  We had barely tasted the food when explosion after explosion made the shelter shudder as if it would cave in.  There was no doubt that the bombs could not have landed more than a few metres away.  Silence returned abruptly and seconds later we heard a man’s voice screaming “everyone was dead”…

Two images come to mind when recalling that episode: one that of stretchers piled high with parts of human bodies recovered from the debris, the second that of the distraught father who had just lost eight of his nine children…” (1)

11 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET GUDJA AIRPORT’

Many houses are demolished, others and the Police Station damaged.  Eight civilians are killed, including five members of one family crushed in a private shelter in St Mary Street.

13 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET KIRKOP BARRACKS’

Bombs demolish 7 houses and damage 70 more, as well as the village church.

14 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MQABBA AIRPORT’

The parish church in Mqabba is partly demolished, 50 houses are destroyed,  100 more damaged, killing three civilians and seriously injuring six.

Damage to Mosta dome (NWMA Malta)

10 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MOSTA BARRACKS’

At 1600 hours Mosta’s parishioners were assembled beneath the beautiful Rotunda of St Marija Assunta for the daily hour of prayer.  At the sound of the air raid alarm, many headed for shelter; some preferring to remain in one of the side chapels to pray.

At approximately 1640 hours a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome, smashed into masonry and clattered to the stone floor.  It did not explode. The shocked parishioners were ushered out of the Church to safety and no-one was hurt.  The civil defence authorities were informed, and a call was put through to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal squad.

UXB report number 2175 was given the highest priority: it must be dealt with immediately, and personally by one of the two RE Bomb Disposal Officers, Lt T W T Blackwell or Lt G D Carroll.  Their weekly report confirms a 500kg bomb ‘defuzed and removed’ as well as a 50kg, similarly dealt with, outside the church. (2) For them, apart from the exceptional surroundings it was just one routine UXB among many.  Not so for the people of Mosta:

AN APPRECIATION. MOSTA. “May I through the medium of your paper voice a word of sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Bomb Disposal Squad who so promptly and so gallantly removed the unexploded bombs from the Mosta Church – a church so dear to the heart of the people of this Island.  In so doing, I am sure I am expressing the feelings of every Maltese and, more so, of the people of Mosta who are justly proud of their magnificent dome.” Joseph M Cassar Torreggiani (3)

MOSTA: MYTHS AND FACTS – to read more CLICK HERE

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 APRIL TO DAWN 10 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0725 hrs; 0752 hrs  Air alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

0920-0950 hrs  One JU 88 and two Me 109s carry out reconnaissance over the Island.

1015 hrs  An unidentified submarine is sighted 2000 yards off Anchor Bay by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1035 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs in the Hal Far-Luqa area while two ME 109s patrol to the east of the Island.  Two bombs causing craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

1100 hrs  Six Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercepted a formation of seven enemy bombers.  F/Sgt Fletcher, F/L Lawrence and Sgt Boyd each damaged one JU 88.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.  20 ME 209s machine-gun Campbell Battery.  36 enemy aircraft approach the Island and split into two formations to attack Luqa village and Grand Harbour.

Two unexploded 1000kg bombs are reported at Marsa Heavy Ack Ack position.  One heavy bomb falls outside a shelter in Kalkara with 400 people inside, blocking three of its four entrances; no-one is hurt.  Corradino Hill Road and the road on the east side of No 4 Dock are blocked.  The Royal Navy Canteen is hit.  The Gunmounting shop, the MED Tool Room, and storehouses at NA Depot are wrecked.  Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88, one JU 87 and one ME 109, and damage one ME 109.

1300 hrs  20 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa village and airfield.  Bombs destroy many houses and severely damaged the parish church. An air-raid shelter in Pope Innocent Street is hit, killing 25 of the 32 civilians sheltering inside.  On the aerodrome one Wellington is damaged and one unserviceable Wellington written off.

1303 hrs  14 JU 88 bombers attack Mqabba and Qrendi.  Several sticks of bombs fall on Mqabba village, Bubaqra, and between Qrendi and Zurrieq: one north east of Qrendi demolishes two houses, killing two civilians and injuring two.

1315 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one hit claimed.

1320 hrs  11 JU 88s attack the Safi strip; several bombs also fall on Gudja village.  Battalion HQ 4th Bn Hampshire Regt is hit injuring three Other Ranks.

1630 hrs  Large numbers of enemy aircraft approach the Island in three waves.

1640 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Mosta.  300 people attending a service in the Rotunda are shepherded into shelter.  Several bombs fall around the church; one 500kg bomb penetrates the dome and crashes to the floor, without exploding.

1655-1800 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s off Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Barton damages one.

1705 hrs  Eight JU 88s attack Ta Qali but most of the bombs fall in Mosta.  Messerschmitts machine-gun Ta Qali and Hal Far.  27 JU 88s attack Luqa, Valletta and ships in Grand Harbour.  The Governor’s Palace is further damaged; other bombs hit the bastion opposite the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in Floriana, causing considerable blast damage.

Malta’s fighters engage, destroying one JU 88 and damaging four.  Ack Ack also engage, destroying two JU 88s and one ME 109, and damaging one ME 109.  One Hurricane is shot down in the sea: the pilot escapes uninjured.  ME 109s molest fighters as they land.

1707 hrs  One ME 109 crashes in flames on the Safi strip.  One Hurricane crashes in the Ghar Lapsi area: two bale out, one lands at Lapsi.

1718 hrs  A Hurricane from Hal Far suffers engine failure and is forced to land on the Safi strip with its undercarriage down.  The aircraft hits a wall and is badly damaged.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1959-2204 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island but drop all bombs in the sea.

2007-2235 hrs  A Beaufighter operational to intercept enemy aircraft attacks a JU 88 over Safi strip.  The JU 88 lands and bursts into flames.

2238-2300 hrs  One aircraft drops incendiaries on the St Paul’s Bay area.

0115 hrs  A Hudson taking off from Luqa for transit to the Middle East crashes on take-off.  Sgt Hundy is killed; Sgts Saul, Vivien, Yates and Passmore, and Cpl Sadd are seriously injured.

0405 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island; only one crosses the coast, dropping bombs in the Qrendi and Hamria areas.

0530 hrs  Two aircraft approach: one is identified as friendly, the other drops a mine in the sea.  Four ME 109s machine-gun Hal Far.  Light Ack Ack and Anti-Aircraft light machine-guns engage.

Military casualties  Sergeant Keith Hardy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant John Hannon, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Corporal George Nicklin, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Private John Rathbone, 8th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment; Gunner Joseph Attard*, Royal Malta Artillery (died in shelter in Luqa)*; Sergeant Charles Byers, Royal Naval Dockyard Police.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Charles Byers.  Ghaxaq  Josephine Bugeja, age 68; David Busuttil, age 7; Francis Enriquez, age 60; Mary Fenech, age 31; Nazzereno Fenech, age 8; Carmela Fenech, age 6; Esther Fenech, 10 mths; Joseph Schembri, age 13; Paul Zammit, age 7.  Gudja  Teresa Calleja, age 65; Carmelo Calleja, age 54; Grace Calleja, age 51; Joseph Calleja, age 51; Carmela Calleja, age 33; Peter Calleja, age 30; Peter Zammit, age 62; unidentified child.

Luqa  Joseph Abdilla, age 9; Innocenza Attard, age 42; Gunner Joseph Attard*, RMA, age 21; Salvina Attard, age 17; Andrew Attard, age 13; Michael Attard, age 11; Nicola Attard, age 6; Anthony Attard, age 8; Paskalina Attard, Age 3; Carmelo Azzopardi, age 52; Frances Barbara, age 31; John Barbara, age 10; Andrew Barbara, age 5; Carmela Barbara, 5 mths; John M Ellul, age 51; Felicissima Farrugia, age 38; Andrew Farrugia, age 11; Saviour Farrugia, age 8; Rosario Farrugia, age 6; Joseph Farrugia, age 5; Andrew Farrugia, age 16 mths; Carmel Farrugia, age 4 mths; Grezzju Schembri, age 53; Francis Schembri, age 11;  Censa Vella, age 70. 

Mosta  John M Cauchi, age 56; unidentified male.  Mqabba  Jane Busuttil, age 41; Mary Busuttil, age 15; Salvina Busuttil, age 15.  Qormi  Emmanuel Agius, age 16.  Qrendi  Rose Ellul, age 65; Jane Mifsud, age 60; Joseph Psaila, age 70; Caterina Sciberras, age 86.  Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 43.  Zabbar  Martha Cordina, age 45; Anthony Portelli, age 14.  Zejtun  Emmanuel Rizzo, age 4.  Zurrieq  Joseph Barbara, age 16.

Enemy casualties  Karl Heiser.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Umbra P35 returned from patrol off Lampion.  Two unsuccessful attacks.  Unbeaten proceeded for rendezvous with Upholder then to Gibraltar for repairs.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Beauforts, one Hudson to 108 MU; one Blenheim, one Beaufort, one Hudson to Bing El Arab.

LUQA  1000-1145 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1020-1218 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable on  runway.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  During afternoon raid Sgt Hannon of B Company is killed when a bomb landed on a light Ack Ack position.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0945 hrs  One UXB is reported 15 yards from Bn HQ Guard Room.  1750 hrs  Cpl E Evans is injured at Floriana by an enemy bomb. [He died at 0220 hrs.]

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 25; dealt with 11 (5  x 1000kg;  1 x 500kg, 5  x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Battalion Tactical Exercise:  Object (1) to practice the move of a bicycle battalion to an assembly position; (2) to practice companies in the attack against parachutists who have fallen close to the Bn.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party of 280 men from all Companies continued.  1100 hrs Funeral of Fusiliers Crosland, Milne and Worster, killed by enemy action.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT 1730 hrs  E Company post TK 11 receives a direct hit, killing Pte J P Rathbone.  Venezia Bluff was also bombed.

(1) Agnes Azzopoardi from The People’s War, Malta: 1940/43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press, 1998

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

(3) Times of Malta 16 April 1942

 

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed.  For conditions of  use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com.

 
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5 April 1942: Rocket Bombs Hit Valletta

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Bombs on Floriana 5 April 1942 (NWMA Malta)

  • 176 bombers attack
  • 280 tons of bombs in four raids
  • Main targets: Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana
  • Five ships damaged

UXB CONFIRMS RETURN OF ROCKET BOMB TO MALTA 

“St Clements Bastion, bomb unit of rocket bomb; fuze recovered”  RE Bomb Disposal 5th April 1942 (1)

The first ‘Rocket Bombs’ recorded in World War II were dropped on Malta in January 1942 when RE Bomb Disposal were called to deal with an unusual UXB in Floriana. Their report to the War Office in London detailed a new and deadly weapon: a heavily-armoured 500kg bomb, made even more powerful by the addition of rocket propulsion.  The extra thrust was designed to aid the bomb’s penetration of warships and fortifications.

In the air the bombs were a terrifying sight, trailing flames several yards long as they fell.  The reintroduction of these bombs against Malta shows the Luftwaffe’s increasing determination to maximise destruction of all targets.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 APRIL TO DAWN 6 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly: slight haze.

0750 hrs  23 JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Dockyard and Floriana, dropping heavy high explosive bombs, including Rocket bombs.  The Victualling Yard is further damaged, another explosion blocks the tunnel leading to No 11 Shelter.  The Cooperage store and houses collapse.  Pinto Wharf and Filippo Sciberras Square in Floriana are hit; the popular First and Last Bar disappears.

1122 hrs  53 enemy aircraft come in from the north and drop bombs on the Dockyard area.  A near miss at the north end of Bakery Wharf causes serious subsidence.  Police Quarters, 27 Store and GD Station are rendered unsafe.  Bombs explode on Store Wharf, the Yard Machinery Shop and another tunnel.  A large bomb hits the side of No 2 Dock puncturing the caisson and flooding the dock.  Two large bombs hit No 1 Boiler Shop and Gunmounting Wharf, which is left with a 20 foot crater.  A large number of bombs land on the Dockyard School area: Corrodino Gate is hit and almost every road is blocked.  A large unexploded bomb is reported near Zabbar Gate.

1145 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs on Hal Far.  They are engaged by five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.

1215 hrs  All clear.

1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept large formations of JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s.  The Spitfires make individual attacks:  F/L Johnston probably destroys one ME 109; P/O Putman destroys one JU 88.  P/O Bisley destroys one JU 87 and damages one JU 88 before he is jumped by six ME 109s.  He is injured in the legs and hand, and lands at Ta Qali with his wheels up, from where he is taken to hospital.

1415 hrs  While 30 ME 109s patrol the Island, 40 JU 88s and 12 JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana, where the Capuchins Friary is almost completely destroyed, killing two.  Bombs also hit St Francis Street, the Granaries (St Publius Square), The Seminary, Great Siege Road and Pinto Wharf.  Several civilians are injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1426 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers approach Hal Far from the south.  Two drop bombs causing craters on the aerodrome.  Two are engaged by four guns of 225 LAA Bty: no claims.

1705 hrs  28 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two JU 88s are destroyed and one ME 109 damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1745 hrs  Six ME 109 fighter bombers attack Ta Qali but miss the runway.  Two others are engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: no claim.

2053; 2119 hrs  One enemy aircraft each time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2337-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island as well as other objects which drop more slowly.

0302-0418 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north: one drops HE and incendiary bombs on Luqa and Gudja, the other drops bombs in the sea.

0513-0605 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops incendiaries on the Rabat and Ta Qali area.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Frederick Barr, HMS Kingston; Thomas Lee, Telegraphist, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Reginald Prince, HMS Kingston; Ordinary Seaman Stanley Sellers, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Taylor, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Stanley Wilson, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Frederick Eager, HMS Penelope; Sergeant John Hawkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Hugh McKee, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Edmund Smith, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Kenneth Thomas, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR).

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Carmela Montague, age 33; Daniel Montague, age 13; Joseph Montague, age 11; Mary Montague, age 8.  Floriana  Antonia Attard, age 50; Joseph Borg, age 70.  Hamrun  Augustine Balzan, age 16; Marianna Borda, age 77; Frances Borg, age 40; Fr Clement Cauchi, age 67; Joseph Farrugia, age 48; Emanuel Grima, age 15; Concetta Sultana, age 6.  Marsa  Paul D’Amato, age 77.  Msida  Joseph Abela.  Rabat  Anthony Camilleri, age 42.  Tarxien  Mary Bonnello, age 11; Amadeo Micallef, age 44.  Valletta  Philip Camilleri, age 64.  Zebbug  Alfred Barbara, age 27.  Zejtun  Angelo Agius, age 29; Dolores Busuttil, age 2.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Havock sailed at 2000 hrs and ran ashore off Kelibia, being subsequently destroyed by her own crew at 0400 hrs on 6th April.  During raids on Grand Harbour, Abingdon and Gallant were damaged and beached.  Lance received a direct hit while in dock and was blown off the chocks and partially submerged.  Kingston and Plumleaf were also hit and damaged.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed taking off: crew and passengers unhurt.  Two Wellingtons crash-landed: crews unhurt.  One Beaufort crashed in flames at Luqa: no survivors.  One Beaufort missing: no further news.  

Arrivals  One Beaufighter, three Blenheims, three Wellingtons, two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Beauforts to Sidi Barrani.

LUQA  1040-1357 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance Tripoli railway-Gabes.

TA QALI  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Work on Pampas cut down to one Officer, 30 OR, 1200-2000 hrs.  Private J Firman injured at RT shed: admitted to hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  4 seater car, motor cycle and fitters shop demolished by bombs at Dockyard School.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and E and part of HQ Companies on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C & D Companies to commence training on 6th.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs on Casemate Bks causing damage to WOs & Sgts Mess.- no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 4 (2 x 500kg; 2 x 250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Working party of 200 Other Ranks and 3 Officers building protective walls for aircraft at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Sgt Ellis wounded by enemy action at St George’s Barracks: taken to 45 General Hospital.

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

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9 March 1942: Germany boasts “Malta under a hail of bombs day and night”

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94 ENEMY AIRCRAFT DROP BOMBS ON MALTA

German radio today broadcast the claim: “the Island Fortress of Malta is under a hail of bombs by day and night” as raids continue round the clock.  Luqa received another pounding today with damage to aircraft and runways but the enemy did not escape without losses. Malta’s fighters went on the counter attack, destroying at least three aircraft and damaging ten.  The Island’s anti-aircraft guns also claimed at least one aircraft destroyed and two damaged.

German bombs marked “Iron Greetings for Malta” (NWMA Malta)

LUFTWAFFE BOMBS DURING DAYLIGHT 9 MARCH 1942

  • 1000kg ‘Herman’              19
  • 500kg                              67
  • 250kg                              58
  • 50kg                              163

TOTAL                                307    Weight: 75150 kg

WARNING TO INFANTRY: DO NOT REMOVE BOMB FRAGMENTS

“Fragments of exploded bombs and tail fins often provide important evidence.  Cases have recently occurred where this evidence has been denied to the Bomb Disposal Officer because the pieces have been taken away as souvenirs.  It is the duty of all ranks to report immediately any fragments of exploded bombs and to report anyone seen taking away such pieces.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MARCH TO DAWN 10 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; cloudy.

0750 hrs  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali.  Wing Commander Rabagliati leads 242 Squadron to escort Blenheims leaving the Island,

0825 hrs  Five JU 88s drop twenty-two High Explosive bombs on theSafi strip.  Two aircraft are set on fire.

0845 hrs  One ME 109 with a yellow edge and red spinner is seen by 242 Squadron and attacked but it continues to shadow the Blenheim formation.

0858 hrs  Fourteen ME 109s and six JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi.

0918 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi, destroying one Wellington on the ground.  Three JU 88s drop bombs south west of Loreto Church and south west of Gudja village.  Three soldiers are wounded.

0925 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA Bty) engage three JU 88s at 3-5000 feet: 13 hits claimed.

0927 hrs  Three ME 109s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

0945 hrs Three JU 88s and eight ME 109s cross the coast and drop bombs on Hal Far.  L/Cpl Creek of C Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt receives a slight shrapnel wound.  Hurricanes destroy one JU 88 and one ME 109, damage two ME 109s and seven JU 88s.  Seven ME 109s and four JU 88s are also attacked.  One Hurricane pilot, Sgt Finlay, is slightly injured.

1000 hrs  Gunners of 225 (LAA Bty) engage three JU 88s engaged at 3-5000 feet; no claims.

1020 hrs  All clear.

1040 hrs  Eight Hurricanes from are scrambled from Ta Qali and intercept an incoming raid of three JU 88s and nine ME 109s.

1055 hrs  JU 88s drop bombs between Gudja and Luqa and one bomb in near HQ of 4th Bn Hampshire Regiment.

1120 hrs  The Hurricanes engage the enemy aircraft at a point 20 miles east of Delimara and attack.  One JU 88 is damaged and Wing Commander Rabagliati destroys one ME 109.

1221 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Luqa, dropping heavy High Explosive bombs and causing craters on the Safi strip.

1227 hrs  Bombs are dropped at south end of Safi strip: four fires are seen in the dispersal area.

1255-1315 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.  Four Wellingtons are damaged; three burned out.

1324 hrs  Bombs dropped on Safi strip.

1405 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs north of Safi strip.  One 1000kg bomb lands to the south west of Gudja.

1408 hrs  Guns of 225 (LAA Bty) engage two JU 88s at 6-8000 feet: no claim.

1500 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1515 hrs  225 LAA Bty engage six JU 88s at 4000 feet and one ME 109 at 100 feet.  Fifteen hits are claimed: five of the JU 88s claimed as damaged.

1520 hrs  Six JU 88s with fighter escort drop two 1000kg bombs each on Safi strip.  One Maryland is set on fire.

1520 hrs  Hurricanes of 126 Squadron intercept three JU 88s and six ME 109s off the Island of Filfla, as the enemy are going away from Hal Far.  F/O West damages two JUs.  P/O Hallett destroys one ME 109.  F/O Anderson causes an explosion in a JU and leaves it descending steeply: later confirmed destroyed.  S/L Norris damages a JU causing the engine to emit black smoke.  American P/O Howard Coffin is attacked by an ME and is forced to crash land close to a searchlight position near Gudja, suffering some head injuries: he survives.

1551 hrs  All clear.

1615 hrs  Enemy aircraft come in four waves, each wave dropping bombs onSafi and Luqa.  The first wave is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  One JU 88 is destroyed and crashes on Hal Far; one ME 109 is damaged.  An unexploded bomb is reported at Bir-id-Deheb: traffic is diverted and the RE Bomb Disposal squad informed.

1712 hrs  Three JU 88s at 5000 feet are engaged by Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1740 hrs  Five JU 88s diving on Hal Far are engaged by 225 LAA Bty. Two guns obtain a direct hit on one JU 88 which catches fire and crashes into the ground.  Two enemy airmen bale out and are taken prisoner by RAF personnel.  Two of the remaining aircraft are claimed as damaged.

1840 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Ta Liebru area and from 469195 to 468202.  225 LAA Bty engage the JU 88s at 4-5000 feet: four hits claimed on each plane.

1842 hrs  All Clear.

1940-2020 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses theIsland from north to south: believed to be a rescue plane.

Night 9/10th  Continuous air raid throughout the night: bombs in many areas.  Heavy Ack Ack and searchlights are active but night fighters do not engage.

2037-0615 hrs  Nineteen aircraft approach the Island from the north and drop 200 High Explosive bombs on Luqa, Grand Harbour, Qrendi, Wardia, Ghain Tuffieha, Delimara, St Thomas’ Bay, Latnia and in the sea at Kalafrana.  Searchlights operational and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0200 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Ta Sinia Tower.

0250 hrs  One bomb lands in Kirkop area.

0335 hrs  Four bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

0615 hrs  Bombs land near Fort Ta Silch.

0626 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

0800 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald McGregor Herman, Royal Australian Air Force; Private William Jones, 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Dolores Agius, age 6; Concetta Briffa, age 53; George Ellul, age 17.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Gerhard Becker, 6/KG 77, pilot of a JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti Aircraft fire early evening; also Unteroffizier Anton Schweiger, Air Gunner, who baled out into the sea but died; Unteroffizier Arnulf Thiemann, Observer was found unconscious and taken to hospital but did not recover; Unteroffiziere Walter Kunzi, Wireless Operator baled out and was found unconscious but survived, and was taken prisoner.  Leutnant Herbert Muller, 1/KG 54, Pilot of a JU 88 bomber, plus crew Obergefreiter Heinrich Meier, Obergefreiter Kurt Schrey and Obergefreiter Erich Wulf.

HMS Porpoise

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived from Alexandria with passengers and petrol.  2000 hrs Cleopatra, Penelope and Kingston sailed to intercept enemy convoy.  Three Swordfish and three Albacores attacked an 8000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, in the vicinity of Pantelleria.  Two torpedoes were dropped and the merchant vessel was probably hit.  One Albacore crashed on landing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance unit.  Departures  Three Blenheims, one Wellington to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Marsa Matruh.

LUQA  1030-1435 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carries out a special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Several alerts during the day; little damage to buildings.  Bombs on Luqa: Private Jones, C Company, killed, and Private Smithson, D Company, seriously injured.  Gas masks worn 1000-1100 hrs.  30 Other Ranks C & D Coys fired on Parachute Range at Marsa.  6 Platoon A Company night firing on Pembroke Range.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  L/Cpl Creek, C Company, slightly injured by shrapnel at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO carried out reconnaissance of the Victoria Lines.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT During the night bombs are dropped 300 yards north of Battalion HQ.  No damage.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Almost continuous dogfights and Ack Ack.  Luqa working party sustained minor casualties.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Outcome of raids resulted in slight damage to equipment at one gun position, C Troop HQ is damaged, one caravan badly damaged and one billet rendered unsafe.  One unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 20 yards from a gun position which is evacuated after removal of the gun barrel, auto-loader etc to a place of safety.  The UXB is reported to the RE Bomb Disposal Section.  The BD Officer deals with the bomb and declares the area safe by 1100 hrs next morning.

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

(1) UXB Malta – Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal 1940-44, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

All written content © maltagc70 unless otherwise attributed. For conditions of use contact bdmalta@btinternet.com

 

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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24 February 1942: Bombs Target Cathedral – Civilians Buried Under Debris

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BOMBS STRIKE THE HEART OF VALLETTA:  MILITARY HELP WITH RESCUE

This afternoon enemy raiders drop bombs from a height of 5000 feet on the city of Valletta.  They land just yards from St John’s Cathedral, demolishing houses and shops in Zachary Street.  Civilians are reported buried under the debris.  The call goes out to Army units for rescue parties to help in the rescue operation.

S/Ldr Percival Stanley “Stan” Turner, DFC & Bar (courtesy Canadian Air Aces & Heroes)

MALTA’S NEW FLYING ACE TALKS TACTICS

Squadron Leader Percival Stanley (Stan) Turner DFC & Bar – recently posted to Malta to improve fighter operations – takes to the skies to demonstrate the tactics he believes are needed to win the air battle against the Luftwaffe:

One morning – it was 24 February – Turner took me by the arm in the Mess at Mdina and led me out onto the balcony overlooking the airfield… ‘Look here,’ he said, ‘you’ll be one of the flight commanders in the Squadron and I shall look to you to help me with changing the flying pattern here. We can’t have any more of this goddam VIC formations otherwise we’ll all get bumped, that’s for sure. I want you to learn this line-abreast stuff with me. And quickly.’ …’a couple of guys will never get bounced: attacked maybe, yes; but never surprised, no kidding.’

Reflective, yet impatient, he looked down at the airfield. ‘They’ve got several serviceable aeroplanes down there this morning. If Ops have got nothing on the table we’ll grab a couple of aircraft and run the sequences through. If a raid develops while we’re up, we’ll get stuck into it.’

My log book shows that we were airborne for thirty-five minutes in our clapped-out Hurricane IIs. My recollection is that during that time it seemed that Stan had the throttle of his aircraft permanently ‘through the gate’. It was all I could do to keep station. His taut nerves dictated his air speed. All the while, Woodhall, controlling from the ‘hole’ in Valletta, was in touch over the R/T, his deep, unhurried voice dispensing confidence.

‘Stan,’ he said, rejecting the Squadron’s ‘Tiger’ call sign, ‘there are some little jobs at angels 20 going south very fast. They may be working round up-sun behind you. Keep a good look out.’

‘OK, Woody,’ said Stan, ‘I can see them.’ With that, he seemed to find a bit of extra boost and headed up towards the sun. ‘We’ll just have a swing round,’ he said, over the R/T, ‘and see if we can get at the bastards.’ There wasn’t a chance of it.

Nothing doing, we went back to Takali and landed having done few of the manoeuvres Stan had been talking about. We walked back to what had once been 249’s dispersal hut from our aircraft in their sandbagged pens. The CO lit his pipe. ‘That’s it then,’ he said, ‘all there is to it. Just remember to keep the speed up. It’s no good floating about round here.’” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 25 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather Improved: less wind; brighter periods; warmer.  Wind south.

0801-0813 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0930-0943 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1126 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali – four of 1435 Flight, the balance of 242 Squadron.  They attack two JU 88s: no claims.  A number of ME 109s patrol around the Island.

1145 hrs  One JU 88 comes in and drops bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome, damaging buildings, cratering the runways and cutting the RAF line to the dispersal area. P/O MacNamara is killed; F/O Lloyd and A/C Smith are injured and taken to hospital.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.

1210 hrs  The remaining two JU 88s follow and drop bombs between Safi and Hal Far, straddling Xleili Tower.

1227 hrs   All clear.

1510 hrs  Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1530 hrs  Eight JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack in waves of twos and threes.  Bombs are dropped on Valletta, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s fighters engage ME 109s: no claims.  P/O Tedford is reported missing.  S/Ldr Turner crash lands at Luqa.

1700 hrs  Five Hurricanes scrambled to search for P/O Tedford: no results.

1727 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Zachary Street, near St John’s Cathedral, Valletta, demolishing houses and shops, and burying civilians under debris.

1800 hrs  1st Bn The Cheshire Regt and 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are called in to help remove the debris.  They work in shifts through the night in an attempt to rescue survivors.

1817 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi landing strip.

1842 hrs  All clear.

2022-2045 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north; Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

2232-2310 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on Qrendi strip.  One stick of 250kg bombs straddles D Company HQ, of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment: no serious damage or casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0020-0043 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

0342-0356 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns at 25 miles and recedes.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Thady Brian McNamara, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald Tedford, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  John Borg, age 51; Ghaxaq  Ubaldesca Vella, age 32; Sliema  John Brincat, age 32.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: TUESDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from 231 Wing; three Beaufighters, one Beaufort, one Blenheim from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night 24/25th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron on search for pilot of missing Hurricane off coast of Malta.  Nothing sighted.  Three Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to attack two merchant vessels and one destroyer.  Owing to very bad weather nothing was sighted.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1430 hrs All Companies did their cross country run.  1727 hrs  Bombs dropped on Valletta.  Working party of 1 Officer and 30 Other Ranks sent to clear debris.  Worked from 1800-2100 hrs and 0001-0300 hrs.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  L/Bdr H L Glover and Gunner N Burrows are interred at St Andrews Military Ceremony.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  4 ARWs during day – bombs on aerodromes and Valletta.  Bn provided working party to clear Zachary Street.

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

(1)  Memories of Flt Lt Laddie Lucas, 1942, courtesy of Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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