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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

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

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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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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

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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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17 February 1942: Malta’s Worst Ever Winter

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STORMS REPLACE THE HAIL OF BOMBS

Wellington bombers

Gales and heavy continuous rain keep the enemy away but make life in Malta very uncomfortable in stone buildings designed for hot, dry weather.  Rainfall is currently twice the average for February in what is becoming the worst winter on record.  Ta Qali and Hal Far are little better than lakes, preventing the Malta’s air forces from taking to the air to protect convoys or take on the enemy.  Road conditions and the lack of available fuel mean that most journeys on the Island have to be on foot – often for miles.

WEATHER BRINGS RESPITE TO MOURN THE DEAD

Funerals take place today at St Andrews Cemetery for five servicemen killed by the bomb which destroyed the Regent Cinema on Sunday.  Meanwhile it has been announced that another serviceman has died as a result of injuries sustained in the raid.

FOUR WELLINGTONS LOST

Four Wellington aircraft from a delivery flight for Malta were lost overnight.  The four were among a group of thirteen which left Gibraltar overnight heading for Luqa.  Italian news has reported one Wellington shot down in flames by fighters from Castel Vetrano airfield, with a crew of six taken prisoner.  A second Wellington is also reported forced down at Modica by German fighters.  The aircraft was undamaged but its crew of seven were captured.  A third was shot down into the sea by JU 88 aircraft just 45 kilometres from Malta.  F/O J Willis-Richards was rescued by an Italian destroyer; the remainder of the crew did not survive.  The fourth Wellington crashed on landing at Luqa airfield: the aircraft is a write-off but the crew escaped uninjured.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 18 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  80% cloud.  Wind southerly.  Rain continuously during the day; cold.

0906-0943 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s flies over the Island from south to north at 24000 feet without dropping bombs.  Aircraft believed to be on reconnaissance mission.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

No further alerts  Rain and storm conditions continuous.  Little friendly aircraft activity during the night owing to bad weather.

Military casualties  Wing Commander Norman Mulholland DFC, Royal Air Force (RAF); Sergeant Arthur Wills Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Leonard Brain; Sergeant Edward Anstee RAF Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant James Andrews, RAF; Private Alexander Wilson, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment died from injuries received in the bombing of the Regent Cinema.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Carmel Briffa (age 60).

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; one Sunderland from Gibraltar; thirteen Wellingtons from Gibraltar (four missing).  Departures  One Sunderland to Gibraltar, one Wellington to Shallufa, one Wellington to LG224, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just I patrol photo-reconnaissance (PR) Corfu harbour; one Maryland PR Agostoli, Navarin, Patras, Just 2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Beaufighter PR Sicilian aerodromes.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable except for take-off.  Squadrons left to operate at Luqa.  40 personnel attached Luqa; rations arranged.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Re-grouping of NIB to create as large a mobile reserve as possible.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Meanee Day (1).  Battalion parade on Floriana Parade Ground: spoiled by rain. Funeral of Private Wilson and Private Byers at St Andrews.  Rest of the day a holiday.  No air raids: weather too bad.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  The regimental funeral took place of the late Adjutant Captain P Low, Captain H Gough and Fusilier Haunce at St Andrews’ Cemetery.  The Brigadier and representatives of all military units attended.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Private A Wilson died at 90th General Hospital as a result of injuries received on Sunday 15th February.  Corporal Langdon’s injuries are not so serious as at first thought.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Heavy rain all day.  Aircraft activites hampered.  Luqa working party continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Named after a battle in India on 17th February 1843, in which the Cheshire Regiment played an important role

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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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15 February 1942: 20 hours of Air Raids – 41 Killed by Single Bomb

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  • Malta under alert for 19 hours 58 minutes
  • Daytime air raid lasts 10 hours 51 minutes
  • 141 enemy bombers and fighters
  • 175 High Explosive bombs dropped on Luqa and Valletta area
  • Bomb brings down cinema onto audience
  • Mine disposal hero killed
  • Eight enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged

CINEMA HIT DURING SUNDAY AFTERNOON FEATURE

Regent Cinema rescue operations (NWMA Malta)

At 1754 hrs today a single JU 88 bomber turned inland towards Fort St Elmo and aimed a stick of four 250 kg bombs along the peninsula of Valletta.  One hit the Casino Maltese, killing at least eight people, the next struck the Palace and the third smashed into the Regent Cinema.  The auditorium was almost full for the afternoon showing of ‘The North-West Mounted Police’ starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  The building collapsed onto the audience, most of whom were servicemen enjoying their Sunday leave.  Early estimates are 15 civilians and 26 servicemen killed and at least 29 wounded.

Servicemen and civilians who had been sheltering nearby rushed to the scene to help, followed by the Police, ARP squads and medical teams.  According to ARP Sergeant Major John Mifsud:  “…we saw a harrowing scene, with limp and moving limbs entangled between the debris.  We searched for the injured to whom we administered first-aid before rushing them to hospital; our timely intervention saved a few lives.”  (1)

George Boswell was one of the men rescued from the debris.  He had stepped outside to visit the WC when the bomb struck.  A brick wall fell on him, injuring his leg and leaving him in a coma for several days.  

Mr Anton Caruana Galizia was killed in the raid – a man described as “a popular and prominent Maltese” by the Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral:   “I remember the day my father’s brother, Anton Caruana Galizia, was buried.  He had been hit by a splinter from a bomb dropped on Valletta in February 1942.  My father was preparing to leave for the funeral and I remarked on the black tie he was wearing.  He answered, ‘It is not half as black as my heart’.  It was a remark I shall never forget. I was seven years old.”  Anne Parnis, Glenelg, S Australia, 2011

ROYAL NAVY MINE DISPOSAL OFFICER KILLED

Lt Cmdr W Hiscock, DSC, GC

The deaths have been confirmed of Lieutenant Commander William Ewart Hiscock, DSC, and Mrs Alice Beatrice Hiscock.  The bomb and mine disposal officer and his wife were killed by an enemy bomb which landed directly on their home in St George’s Barracks.  Lt Cdr Hiscock, Royal Navy (Retired) was appointed to ‘miscellaneous duties, sea mine disposal’ at HMS St Angelo, where he has served since 1939.  He will receive the posthumous award of the George Cross for disarming a hitherto unknown type of Italian torpedo machine in 15 feet of water of St George’s Bay in September 1941.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 16 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  30% cloud; bright periods.  Wind westerly.

0745-1836 hrs  One continuous air raid.

0745 hrs  Twelve ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0840 hrs  Five Beaufighters from 252 Squadron detachment at Luqa take off to return to Egypt but are warned to return to base due to an incoming enemy raid.  Some fail to hear the message and one is shot down by ME 109s a few miles east of Malta.

Seven JU 88s approach from the east and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage by Height Control destroying one JU 88 which crashes in flames on land near Bubaqra and damaging a second which left the Island smoking badly.  Ten guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery fire 176 rounds, most guns claiming hits on the enemy.  One gun destroys a JU 88 making its escape.

0940-1040 hrs  Wing Commanders Satchell and Rabagliati lead 242 Squadron and 1435 Flight in an attack on three JU 88s without result.  They then attack five ME 109s.  W/Cmdr Satchell shoots off the tail of one and watches the aircraft hit the water: claims one destroyed.  W/Cmdr Rabagliati attacks one ME 109 which turns over and drops into the sea.

0955 hrs  Bombs on are dropped on Safi landing strip and Ta Karach.  One Other Rank is killed and two injured in the raids.

1000 hrs  While enemy fighters patrol off Kalafrana, three JU 88 approach over Kalafrana to bomb Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  All guns of 225 Light Ack Ack battery at Hal Far engage and shoot down one JU 88 which crashes into the sea south of Dingli.

1045 hrs  Twelve aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali and attacked three JU 88s and one ME 109.  No claims.

The ME 109s continue to patrol south of the Island at varying heights up to 18000 feet in formations of up to six aircraft.

1055 hrs  Hal Far aerodrome is attacked again by enemy aircraft.  Three JU 88s at 4-600 feet are engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns.  Four positions each claim one hit.

1100 hrs  Three JU 88 approach over Comino and drop bombs on the Safi strip from a height of 9000 feet.  Barrages are fired and the bombers split up, one receding north over Sliema and the other two south.

ME 109s continue to patrol off the Island.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 dives to 7000 feet over Kalafrana Bay, is engaged by Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire and drops bombs in the sea.

1415 hrs  One JU 88 approaches over St Paul’s Bay at 12400 feet, dives towards Grand Harbour at 6000 feet and drops bombs on Sliema sea front.  Both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1430 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and dives towards Grand Harbour at 4-5000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; bombs are dropped on St Angelo.

1500 hrs  Enemy fighters continue their patrols off the Island.

1636 hrs  A returning Maryland is attacked by two ME 109s.  One ME 109 is shot down but the Maryland itself is so damaged that it has to make a forced landing in Kalafrana Bay.  All the crew are safe.

1715 hrs  Twelve aircraft under S/Ldr Beazley of 249 and 605 Squadrons are scrambled to escort another Maryland.  They are jumped by ME 109s.  They take evasive action but are not successful.  Pilot Officer Lowe of 605 Squadron is shot down into the sea and reported missing.

1800 hrs  One JU 88s dives over Valetta and scores a direct hit on the Casino Maltese, the Palace and the Regent Cinema.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1951-2337 hrs  Fourteen aircraft approach from the north but only two cross the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0052-0150 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0310-0358 hrs; 0427-0535 hrs  One aircraft at a time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.

0620-0708 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.  No bombs reported.

Military casualties  Leading Stoker William Dempster, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman J W Mills, HMS Cleopatra; Ordinary Seaman W Walker, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman Alexander Barr, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class Ronald Williams, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class John W. Wilsdon, HMS Maori; Stoker 1st Class George Cole, HMS St.Angelo.

Aircraftsman Robert Kemp, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Corporal Gordon Singer, RAF; Sergeant John Webb, RAF; Flight Sergeant Clive Mulholland, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Aircraftsman 2nd Class Arthur Sydney Day, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Granville Jackson, Royal Canadian Air force; Aircraftman 1st Class Henry Gorman RAF VR; Sergeant Alan Largent, RAF VR; Sergeant Daniel Keane RAF VR.

Private Francis Byers, 1st Battalion (Bn) The Cheshire Regiment; Private Frank Wilson, 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment; Private William Dudman, 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Private Vincent Vella, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Thomas Wallwork, 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers; Sergeant Robert Cass, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Fusilier Albert Haunce, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers; Capt Henry Gough, 2nd Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers; Captain Peter Low, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara   Pio Carabott, age 34.  Floriana  Gerald Ciantar, age 19; Giulio Mifsud, age 19.  Hamrun  Joseph Cassar, age 30; Mary Cassar, age 19; Renzo Flores, age 65; Albert Zammit, age 26.  Paola  John Attard, age 20; Toni Farrugia, age 14; Michael Wickan, age 19.  Pieta  Frances Patsy Cutter, age 19.  Sliema  Melita Abela, age 26, Joseph Amodeo, age 24.  Valletta  Dr R Bonello MD, age 52; Dr A Caruana Galizia LL.D, age 46; Joseph Cassar, age 17; Francis Cremona, age 16; Joseph Falzon, age 17; Frank Farrugia, age 13; Raffaele Mallia, age 54; Frangiska (Kitty) Mamo, age 17; Fr Gerald Pace OC, age 40; Manasser Reginiano, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Gretz, 7/LG 1, pilot JU 88 bomber pilot shot down.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire:  Pilot Leutnant Waldemar Stadermann, Observer Oberfeldwebel Walter Hesse, Air Gunner Unteroffizier Martin Knobloch, Wireless Operator Oberfeldwebel Albert Stahl; all of 6/KG 77.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HM ships Penelope, Legion, Lance arrived.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Clare from Cairo; one Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Clare, one Whitley to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to 108 MU; five Beaufighters to LG 10 (two reported missing).

HAL FAR  Night 15/16th  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack an enemy force of four cruisers and eight destroyers.  Hits were observed on two cruisers and one destroyer.  Ack Ack and moderate smoke screen effective.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland special search.  S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special search.

TA QALI  Continuous air raids during the day; many scrambles.  No night operations.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Reinforcements arrived from Middle East:  1st Bn Durham Light Infantry 2 Officers; 4 Other Ranks; Malta Tanks 4 Other Ranks.  1st Durham Light Infantry Fourth Rifle Company which had been expected failed to arrive.  1800 hrs  Bomb scored direct hit on Regent Cinema, Valletta during performance.  Numerous service personnel and civilians buried under debris.  1 Cheshire casualties:  three Other Ranks killed; four Other Ranks injured.  Working parties of 1 Cheshire co-operated with civilian ARP in extricating casualties.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Up to this date 1 Hamps had one killed and two injured as a result of enemy action.  8 King’s Own had one killed and three injured when bomb fell on Regent Cinema.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT During the afternoon the Regent Cinema in Kingsway, Valletta received a direct hit.  There were a large number of service personnel in the building at the time.  Casualties were fairly heavy; exact numbers not yet known.  We lost Private F Wilson and Private F Byers, A Company, killed; Privates Hawksley, Blinkham, Richards and Harrod injured.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that A Company and details of Battalion had arrived from Middle East and were at the dockside.  However, it turned out that only two Officers and four Other Ranks had arrived and the ships carrying the remainder of the details and A Company had been forced to return to the Middle East through enemy action.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  The Regent Cinema in Valletta received a direct hit.  The cinema was full at the time, causing many casualties.  Two men of 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers were injured and admitted to hospital.  Rescue parties from 24 Fortress Coy and 173 Tunnelling Coy RE were sent out and did admirable rescue work for 18 hours.  Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  This was a very sad day for the Battalion.  1750 hrs a bomb fell on Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Among the casualties was the Adjutant, Captain P Low and OC A Company Captain H Gough: they were both killed.  Fusilier Haunce of C Company was also killed.  The bodies were recovered and brought to Battalion Headquarters.  This loss of the Adjutant  Capt Low and Capt Gough, both very popular and efficient officers, is most keenly felt by all the officers and men of the Battalion.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Four men of this unit were injured when a bomb fell on the Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Private A Wilson and Corporal T Langdon were the most seriously injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party.  Bombs at Sliema and St George’s Barracks.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a heavy raid on Valletta a cinema was hit causing a number of Army personnel casualties.  The Battalion was fortunate in sustaining only one slight casualty: Private W Butler.

(1) Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten’, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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

 

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