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1-7 November 1942: Fuel Shortages Threaten Malta’s Role in War

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1 November 1942: ‘Spy Ship’ to Relieve Malta Fuel Shortage

Desperate shortages of aviation fuel in Malta have forced Allied naval commanders to come up with an innovative solution.  Intensive enemy air and sea activity makes it impossible to run a convoy through the eastern Mediterranean.  Instead, they have decided to send a captured former Italian ship disguised as an Axis supply vessel to carry supplies to the Island.

Former MS Rodi now Empire Patrol

The former Italian ship MS Rodi was seized by British Contraband Control at Malta on 10 June 1940, the eve of Italy’s declaration of war.  Renamed Empire Patrol she has since been in use by the Ministry of War Transport.

The plan is to disguise the ship under Turkish colours and send her unescorted through Turkish waters east of Cyprus.  She will then change to Italian colours and turn westwards, taking a standard route of Italian freighters bound from the Dardanelles to Southern Italy.

The Empire Patrol was loaded with 1200 tons of aviation fuel and 3000 tons of benzene, all carried in cans.  She left Alexandria this afternoon, steaming northwards at 15 knots.

E BOATS IN MALTA WATERS

Enemy E boats were spotted tonight off the coast by observers of 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment.  Reports described a flashing light out to sea off Delimara.  The searchlights at Fort Delimara were illuminated and gun batteries opened fire on the E boats: no claims are reported.  It is believed that the enemy vessels were engaged in minelaying.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 2 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy to fair; slight shower early.

No air raids.

1205-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled for a raid that does not materialise.  One Spitfire crashes, killing Pilot Officer Wright.  C Company 1st Bn Royal West Kent Regiment mount a guard on the crashed Spitfire at Tal Hlas Church, Zebbug.

2245 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light flashing out to sea.

0200 hrs  D and B Companies 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report lights exposed and two rounds fired by Fort Delimara.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Patrick Attenborough, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Austin Bettridge, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Douglas Jenkins, Royal Air Force VR; Flight Sergeant Arthur Smith, Royal Air Force; Wing Commander Hubert Styles, Royal Air Force, all 233 Squadron; Pilot Officer Russell Wright, Royal Air Force VR; Warrant Officer II Albert Powles, Royal Canadian Air Force; Private Thomas Seville, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 1 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 43 and P 37 were swept out by Hebe and Rorqual by Rye.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Beaufighter, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

LUQA  One Spitfire was sent on reconnaissance of Patras and a shipping search of Cape Katakola.  The 5-6000 ton tanker seen off Cape Maria di Leuca on 29 October was lying in the roads off Patras Harbour with a destroyer.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on shipping search of Sapienza south of Cape Matapan area sighted nothing.

TA QALI  No operations.

2 November 1942:  Operation Supercharge

‘Operation Supercharge’ tanks in W desert (c) IWM E18972

Overnight, Allied forces began an attack westward in the northern sector of the North African campaign under ‘Operation Supercharge’.  By dawn today they had reached their final objectives.  Meanwhile diversionary attacks were made in the central and southern sectors with some success.

RNAS ATTACK AXIS MERCHANT SHIP

Late this afternoon a Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit spotted a convoy of one 5000 ton merchant vessel, one destroyer and one flak ship 15 miles east of Tripoli and heading eastwards.  At 2300 hours one special Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched to attack.  At 0151 hours they found the convoy 45 miles east of Homs.  The Albacores dropped two torpedoes which were seen to run well but the results could not be observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 3 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine.

1340-1409 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island at a great height.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on a practice flight when they are diverted to intercept the approaching formation but they see no hostile aircraft.  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa, plus seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and four 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders: no sightings.

Raiders head for Luqa airfield and attack.  RAF Regiment ground defences open up with machine gunfire and destroy one ME 109 which blows up in the air and crashes near Kirkop.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Kirkop and Misrah Blandun.  Ack Ack guns also fire: no claims.

1617-1638 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy fighters approaching the Island at high altitude.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and are jumped by ME 109s.  Sgt Weir is injured in the thigh and crash-lands back at base.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but sight no raiders.  Six ME 109s cross the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

Enemy aircraft are reported as having a painted white band around the fuselage aft of the cockpit.

0436-0515 hrs  Air raid alert for four enemy bombers which drop bombs on Imtarfa, Rabat, Luqa, Zebbug and Birkirkara, damaging property, killing seven civilians and injuring 15.  Two nursing sisters are injured at Imtarfa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Malta fighters are airborne: no interceptions.

Military casualties   Nil.                                                 Civilian casualties  (See 3 November).

Enemy casualties  Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Slany, pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 35, P 44 and P 46 to sea for patrol swept out by Speedy and Parthian swept in by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Beauforts from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash-landed due to enemy action: pilot injured.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron made photo-reconnaissance of Porto Empedocle.  27 Spitfire sorties were made against 54 plus enemy sorties.  10 Spitfire sorties were made in reconnaissance patrols north of Malta: no enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party 1 Officer 30 Other Ranks found by A Company to work for Royal Engineers in Floriana.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT C Company 1 Officer 50 Other Ranks on Luqa.  1 NCO 18 men assisting 173 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers on Luqa.

3 November 1942: Empire Patrol’s Cover Blown

At 1330 hours today Empire Patrol, sailing under Turkish colours with fuel supplies for Malta, was spotted by a German Dornier 215 on reconnaissance to the north west of Cyprus.  Three hours later the ship’s monitors picked up traces of a submarine which was evidently shadowing the merchantman.

The ship had already been plagued with electrical and diesel defects which threatened her power and compromised her potential for evading attack.  The Royal Naval Reserve Lieutenant in command of the ship decided its disguise had been compromised and decided to abandon the mission.  Empire Patrol headed straight for Famagusta.

HMS Clyde

There was some relief for Malta’s ongoing fuel shortage today as HMS Clyde arrived from Beirut with a cargo of petrol and torpedoes.  This will provide a temporary top-up, but supplies are still inadequate to support the Island’s air strength, to defend itself and support the war effort in North Africa, which is now at a critical stage.

MALTA WELLINGTONS DESTROY AXIS FUEL SUPPLY

Malta-based Wellingtons launched successful attacks on enemy supply shipping tonight.  Just after 10 pm Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were despatched to attack an enemy southbound convoy heading for Benghazi.  One Wellington found two medium merchant vessels with three destroyers 118 miles north of Benghazi and attacked.  Two Wellingtons from the Middle East were in the same area and set off flares to illuminate the target.  The Malta Wellington’s torpedo scored a hit on the bows of one heavily laden merchantman, leaving it stationary and down by the bows.

A second convoy of eight vessels, including a tanker, was found 80 miles north of Cape Aamer.  Two Wellingtons attacked with bombs and two with torpedoes.  One torpedo hit was scored aft of the tanker.  A reconnaissance aircraft later reported three separate oil patches each 500 feet across at the location of the attack.  Reports confirm that one tanker and one merchant vessel were hit by torpedoes and sunk.  All aircraft returned safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 4 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair, becoming cloudy.

0850-0900 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to practice flying and for intercept patrol: no sightings.

1047-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for about 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and sight two ME 109s but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1342-1425 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy fighters escorting fighter bombers approach the Island.  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and chase the raiders down to 10000 feet.  Yellow Section engages three Macchi 202s north of Grand Harbour: Sgt Gunstone destroys one.  One Spitfire receives a direct hit and is burned out.  A few raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, making one runway temporarily unserviceable, and on Mqabba.

1537-1606 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne for practice flying and intercept patrol sight two ME 109s and give chase but cannot catch them.  Raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Zejtun and on Hal Far, where a Spitfire suffers a direct hit and is destroyed on the ground.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1630-1720 hrs  Enemy fighters attack a submarine off south coast near Delimara.  4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment put up a protective barrage over the submarine.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to provide a protective patrol.

0100-0137 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers which cross the coast and drop bombs on Birzebbuga and the Hal Far-Kalafrana area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

0458-0637 hrs  Two Beaufighters on anti E boat patrol.  No E boats are seen but a schooner is sighted and shot up.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Roland Ambrose, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Thomas Bailey, RAF; Sergeant Charles Cockburn, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Elder, RAF; Flight Sergeant Ronald Mitchell, RAF VR; Sergeant Harold Warren, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Terence Sassoon, RAF VR; Sergeant Kenneth Thorne, RAF VR, all 202 Squadron.  Flying Officer Egbert Wall, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Lija  Anthony Camilleri, age 56; Saviour Cutajar, age 48; Peter Fenech, age 82; Joseph Galea, age 55; Carmela Zammit, age 24; Anthony Zammit, age 10.  Zebbug  Joseph Abdilla, age 11; Antonia Bonanno, age 16; Salvina Bonanno, age 7; Emanuel Buhagiar, age 29; Philip Muscat, age 75; Anthony Muscat, age 18; Carmela Muscat, age 5.  Gozo (Victoria)  Carmela Galea, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 3 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Beirut and was swept in by Hythe, Speedy and four MLs; a large escort was used as it was suspected that mines were laid last night.  Speedy swept P 211, P 212 and P 217 out, and Hythe swept out Una and Utmost, to join major operations in the Mediterranean.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3, one Wellington from LG 224; one Liberator from Middle East.  Departures  One Beaufighter to Abusuier; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one DC 3 to Middle East.

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party A Company continues to work for Royal Engineers in Floriana.  1530 hrs  Funeral of the late [Lance Corporal] Tarr.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1645 hrs  Private T Seville died in No 90 General Hospital as a result of a gunshot wound to the knee.

4 November 1942: 8th Army Breaks Axis Lines

Panzer tanks in Cyrenaica

Malta troops today heard the news that the 2nd Battle of El Alamein has been won by the Allies.  Sources in North Africa report that the 8th Army has broken through in the Middle East.  The Axis losses of men and equipment is so great that Rommel has ordered his Afrika Korps into full retreat.

The skies over Malta remained silent throughout the day, giving the Island time to reflect on the significance of this major step forward in the war in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 5 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

No air raids.

0600-0710 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron were airborne to provide cover for Beaufighters on anti E-boat patrol.  No enemy aircraft are seen.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Harold Bardsley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Green, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Ernest Jones, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Edward Sleigh, Royal Air Force;  Sergeant Thomas Millar, RAF VR; Sergeant John Ritchie, RAF VR; Warrant Officer Joseph Keough, Royal Canadian Air Force, all 210 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 4 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Turbulent was swept in by Rye, who later swept out HM Submarines Pandora and Turbulent – the last two of the twelve submarines sailing to take up position for a major forthcoming operation in the Mediterranean.  No mines have yet been swept in the areas where the E boats were operating on the past two nights.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons to Gianaclis.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photographic reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Catania harbour.

TA QALI  229 Squadron stood down.

5 November 1942: Axis Armies Taken Prisoner

Italians led into captivity at El Alamein

Having broken through the enemy’s position on the El Alamein line, the Eighth Army have continued in pursuit of Rommel’s forces throughout today.  The Allies have taken large numbers of Axis prisoners were taken and seized vast quantities of motor transport equipment and stores. The German rearguards have attempted a delaying action with fighting southwest of the Fuka escarpment.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 6 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair.

1530-1557 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa join other fighters engaging the enemy: F/Lt Burgess damages one ME 109.

1929-1942 hrs  One Cant Z 1007 approaches the Island at 20000 feet and drops bombs in the sea over Comino Channel and St Paul’s Bay.  Beaufighter pilot S/Ldr Pain of 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept and shoots down the bomber in flames.  Two Italians are taken prisoner by the Gozo Patrol, 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  One of them is wounded and admitted to 45 General Hospital; the other is handed over to the Camp Commander at St Andrew’s.

2250-2331 hrs  Two enemy bombers approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea off St Paul’s Bay and Grand Harbour.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 5 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from LG 224; one Wellington from Gianaclis; one DC 3 from LG 224; two Beaufighters from Middle East.  Departures  One DC3, one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night  The ASV Swordfish was dispatched to provide illumination for an attack on E boats by Beaufighters.  The Swordfish located and illuminated the enemy vessels but the Beaufighter strike did not make contact.

LUQA  Seven Spitfires 69 Squadron were airborne for photo-reconnaissance.

6 November 1942: Four New Squadrons in Malta

Two new Beaufighter Squadrons are now to operate from Malta.  The first aircraft of 227 and 272 Squadrons arrived today to prepare for operations.  13 Beaufighters of 227 Squadron and 16 of 272 Squadron landed safely from the Middle East ready to begin operations immediately.  They were joined by 13 Beauforts of 39 Squadron which also arrived from the Middle East.

104 Squadron Vickers Wellington Mk II

Detachments of 40 Squadron and 104 Squadrons RAF have been posted to Malta.  The Wellington medium bomber squadrons which form 238 Bomber Wing are to operate from Luqa aerodrome for the time being as part of the Allied offensive in North Africa.  Eight Vickers Wellington II aircraft of 104 Squadron, whose motto is ‘Strike hard’, have already arrived and more are expected imminently.  The policy is for 32 aircraft to be operational whenever possible.

Three other RAF squadrons in Malta were increased today with the arrival of 13 Beauforts from 39 Squadron, 13 Beaufighters 227 Squadron, 16 Beaufighters 272 Squadron from the Middle East.

SUB BRINGS STORES IN LATEST CLUB RUN

HM Submarine Porpoise arrived today, carrying further supplies of aviation fuel, plus general stores and mail for Malta.  Porpoise sailed from Beirut last Thursday for this latest submarine delivery of urgent stores for the Island, known as ‘club runs’.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 7 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair early, becoming cloudy.

1112-1200 hrs  Air raid alert as 36 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled and intercept the raiders well to the north and again over the Island but the enemy escapes engagement.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept.  They are jumped by ME 109s, break formation and return to base.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  Half the raiders cross the coast: Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds – no claims.

1420 hrs  Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa patrol over Malta through the afternoon.

1545-1630 hrs  Sixteen Beaufighters 272 Squadron land at Ta Qali.

1645-1740 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 6 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  13 Beauforts from 39 Squadron, 13 Beaufighters 227 Squadron, 16 Beaufighters 272 Squadron from Middle East; one Beaufighter from photo-reconnaissance 69 Squadron; one Beaufighter from 89 Squadron; three Baltimores from LG 227; five Spitfires, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Gianaclis.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort ran into a bomb crater: crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Wellington missing in transit from LG 224 to Malta.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.  1527 hrs; 1603 hrs Two Beauforts arrived.

LUQA  Six Spitfires 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Naples, Palermo, Trapani, Taranto, Augusto, Brindisi and Messina.  Six Wellingtons 69 Squadron carrying torpedoes were sent on reconnaissance for enemy naval units: no sightings.

4th Bn THE BUFFS   Personnel of Bn engaged on co-operational duties with RAF at Luqa aerodrome 0400-1900 hrs: 2 Officers 80 Other Ranks penmen & maintenance Spitfires; 2 Officers 100 Other Ranks GD bombing & refuelling Wellingtons; 2 Other Ranks GD Baltimores; 1 Officer 33 Other Ranks GD Beaufighters; 36 Other Ranks armament assistants.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Private T Seville buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali.

7 November 1942: Aviation Fuel Enough For 4 Weeks

MOST SECRET TELEGRAM

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             Rptd:  Cs in C Middle East, Brigadier Jacob, Foreign Secretary, First Sea Lord

1.  Stock of aviation fuel remaining 7th November was 1187 tons.  This includes receipts by submarine and a quantity of DTD 224 used for blending and mixing with 100 octane.

2.  Expenditure week ending 7th November was 286 tons.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 7 NOVEMBER 1942

Two nursing sisters injured in bombing of Imtarfa

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rpt:  The War Office

1.  Enemy air activity reduced: three raidless days, seven alerts, total 160 fighters and fighter bombers.  Few bombs on aerodromes.  RAF destroyed one fighter, damaged one.  Small arms destroyed one fighter.

2.  Total 13 aircraft of which five only crossed the coast.  Slight damage civilian property and Imtarfa military hospital.  Two sisters QAIMNS, 15 civilians injured; seven civilians killed.  One Cant destroyed by Beaufighter: two Italian prisoners.

3.  Offensive activity by RAF against convoys continues.  One merchant vessel, one tanker hit.  One Beaufighter on patrol Sicily destroyed one JU 88.

4.  Some E boat activity off Grand Harbour on four nights; probably minelaying.

5.  RAF heavily reinforced for Operation Torch and army providing approximately 1700 personnel for maintenance of aerodromes and servicing aircraft.

6.  Morale very high on account of successes in western desert.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 8 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy, becoming fine.

No air raids.

0840-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled: raid does not materialise.

1115-1155 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol over Malta at 20000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.

1430-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2015 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are sent on patrol over western Sicily.  One Beaufighter sights a JU 88 and shoots it down into the sea.  The other Beaufighter fails to return.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lincoln Craig, Royal New Zealand Air Force, pilot; Sergeant Keith Donald, Royal New Zealand Air Force, air gunner; Flight-Sergeant Herbert Earney, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Oliver Holmes, air gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer Samuel Morrison, Royal Air Force (VR); all 104 Squadron, RAF.  Flight Sergeant Alistair Paterson, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Beauforts 39 Squadron from Mariut; one Liberator, two DC 3s, four Wellingtons from LG 224; one Wellington from Middle East. Departures  One Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on land: crew killed.  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Aircraft of 40 Squadron arrived.  Nine Spitfires 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance morning and afternoon.  Wellingtons of 69 Squadron and 104 Squadron were sent on shipping searches in Marittimo-Cavoli area: no shipping sighted.

4th Bn THE BUFFS   Personnel of Bn engaged with RAF at Luqa aerodrome as for 6 November.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the week 1-7th November the Bn has found working parties at Hal Far: 2 impressed lorries and 4 Other Ranks for crater-filling; 1 motor-cycle and 1 Other Ranks as special D/R.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  9 trucks, 1 motor-cycle, 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks reported for fatigue duties on Ta Qali. 

 

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25-31 October 1942: Turning Point in War Over Malta

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25 October 1942:  Enemy Air Attacks Declining

JU 88 bombers have gone from Malta’s skies

The enemy’s latest attempt to neutralise Malta appears to have lost momentum.  It is now two weeks since Axis forces launched heaviest bombing raids since April.   In that time some 350 aircraft have been destroyed or damaged by the Island’s defenders – including forty bombers.  Despite the concentration of bombs aimed at the three airfields, none of the runways has been put out of action for more than 30 minutes.

Since 18 October no twin-engined aircraft have approached the Island and attacks have been limited to ‘tip and run’ raids – often at high level – by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  Their only advantage has been provided by frequent heavy cloud over the Island, which has allowed the few successful raiders to get through, and provided cover for those attempting to escape Malta’s fighters.

During today the enemy carried out fighter sweeps and four fighter bomber raids on Ta Qali, Hal Far and Luqa.  140 raiders were involved in attacks, which were launched at heights ranging from 12000 to 3000 feet.  Fighters are now adopting a new tactic of receding at sea level to escape interception by the Island’s Spitfires.  There were no night air raids.

RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine: fair late evening.

0600-0720 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne for a raid which does not materialise.

0721-0800 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but are attacked by enemy fighters out of the sun: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the raiders north of Gozo: F/Lt Smith destroys one ME 109; Sgt Hughes probably destroys another. The fighter bombers are forced to jettison their bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0815-0850 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.  Most of the raiders cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Qali.

As enemy fighters turn away from the airfield they machine-gun Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.  One ME 109 is destroyed by small arms fire and Light Ack Ack and crashes on the edge of the aerodrome.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light and Heavy Ack Ack guns off Delimara by Height Control shooting at 18000 feet.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Tal Qali are also airborne and chase enemy fighters to within 20 miles of Sicily but cannot engage them.

0925-0951 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers which cross the coast, dropping bombs on Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but were unable to do so due to the enemy’s superior speed.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1110-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1238 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and attempt to engage two Macchi 202s which turn and flee.  The Spitfires chase them to ten miles off the coast of Sicily but are unable to catch them.

1234 hrs  The remaining raiders, about half, cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, destroying one Beaufighter and damaging a Spitfire on the ground.  Gun position XHB 7 of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regt RA destroys one ME 109.  Two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 2500 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1248 hrs  Four fighter bombers drop bombs on the Safi strip, Kirkop and Mqabba village areas.

1300 hrs  Raiders passed.

1350-1445 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol (one returns early): no sightings.

1415-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron, then four 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1517 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 50 ME 109s and Macchi 202s with fighter bombers.  Ten Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  One Spitfire and pilot, Sgt Park, are missing.   Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see three ME 109s but the raiders are too high and distant to intercept.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled but fail in their attempt to engage the enemy aircraft, some of which jettison their bombs in the sea.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and attack Macchi fighters but are jumped from above by other fighters acting as cover: no claims or losses.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Some raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa.

1600 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a plane crashed in the sea on the horizon.

1620 hrs  All clear.

1715-1750 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne to search for the missing dinghy of Sgt Park but find nothing.

1825-2115 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa takes up the search for the missing dinghy: nothing is found.

1940 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a green verey light 4-5 miles out to sea.

2330-0100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is scrambled for a reported raid which does not materialise: no enemy aircraft seen.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Bushnell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flying Officer Richard Bendwig, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Millard Liebeck, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Nigel Park, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flying Officer Fred Wickstrom, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Richard Eckhardt, pilot of a Messerchmitt Bf109 fighter.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER 1942

P 35 HMS Umbra

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 35 in from patrol: the submarine returned to Malta after a four day patrol in which a heavily leaden merchant ship which had beached itself near Homs as a result of an air attack was further damaged by two torpedo hits.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one DC 3 from LG 224.  Departures  Two Beauforts, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return to base: pilot missing.  One Beaufort missing in transit between Malta and LG 224, believed shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  One Special Swordfish and one Albacore were sent on anti-submarine patrol north of Homs: nothing seen.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron carried out a search for enemy shipping to the east of Benghazi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Cagliari.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Winter Dress came into use today.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A and B Companies beach post firing at towed target.

26 October 1942: Malta Bombers Back On The Attack

Wellington bomber

Malta bombers have carried out their first attack on an enemy convoy since last Monday night.  Reports were received from reconnaissance aircraft of a southbound convoy off the west coast of Greece and tonight three special Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were sent to attack.

One aircraft returned unserviceable after 14 minutes but the other two pressed on towards the target area.  One of the Wellingtons located the convoy of one tanker and one merchant vessel, both about 5000 tons, 18 miles to the south west of Antipaxos.  The aircraft then lost visibility and had to abandon the attack, bringing its torpedo back to base.  But the third Wellington was able to close in on the convoy and dropped two 1000 lb bombs.  Results are not yet confirmed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Showery.

0629-0742 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far searches for a dinghy 8-10 miles north west of Gozo.  A body is seen floating in an uninflated dinghy.  The Hurricane has to return to base due to an incoming air raid.

0654-0750 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s but they are too distant to engage.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: P/O McLennan destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  About half the raiders are intercepted by Malta fighters north of the Island and turn back.  The remainder cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  One ME 109 is destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unjurt.

0813-0939 hrs  The Hurricane from Hal Far returns to the area where the pilot earlier spotted the dinghy but finds nothing.  The High Speed Launch is seen in the same area.

1039-1120 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 35 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the first wave of raiders north of the Island: F/L Rolls probably destroys one ME 109.  As incoming waves of raiders attempt to cross the coast the Spitfires force them to split up: a few get through to drop bombs near Luqa airfield.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 3000 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1410-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1515-1537 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 40 enemy fighters and fighter bombers, including six bomb-carrying ME 109s.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are also scrambled and intercept the raiders over the Island: P/O Walton destroys one ME 109; S/L Lovell damages another.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped near Birzebbuga, Hal Far and Ghar Dalam, where an Ack Ack ammunition dump is hit by a bomb.  60 boxes of ammunition are damaged and the dump is set on fire.  The blaze is quickly extinguished by Sgt Willis and other personnel of D Company, 1st Bn Devonshire Regt and of A Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg under Captain Lovering, as well as Royal Artillery personnel.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Hebe

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 212 returning from an uneventful patrol in the Cape Dukato area.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on a shipping search of Pantelleria and Kerkenna.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  B Company took over coast patrol and Tal Virtu observation post.

27 October 1942: RAF Sink Rommel’s Hopes For El Alamein

“The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns.”  (1)

British troops on the move in North Africa

Axis hopes of gaining supremacy in the North African suffered a double blow today thanks to Allied forces. Torpedo bombers of 42 Squadron RAF sank an oil tanker at Tobruk, destroying Rommel’s last hope for much-needed fuel supplies.  The Axis sea convoy comprised three merchant ships with four escorting destroyers and escorting planes overhead.  Allied heavy and light bombers and torpedo planes attacked relentlessly in the face of terrific fire from the destroyers. Only one of the supply ships escaped. A large merchantman blew up and the tanker was set on fire and sank.  The sinking follows several successful attacks on tankers by Malta-based air forces.  The German Field Marshal, who arrived back in North Africa on Sunday to resume command of Axis forces, now has only three days’ fuel to supply his armies.

Meanwhile the Allies scored an important victory over enemy tanks at El Alamein.  Having battled throughout the day against two counter-offensives by Rommel’s forces, this afternoon they repulsed a determined attack by Axis Panzer divisions, destroying 22 German and 10 Italian tanks before the remainder gave up.

QRENDI STRIP DEVELOPS

Troops building aircraft pens

200 servicemen are now employed building new pens at Qrendi strip.  The pens will add to the facilities at the recently-opened air strip, significantly extend the capacity for aircraft based on Malta.  The construction work increases the already significant contribution made by the Army to air operations on the Island.  Following the recent increased enemy bombardment, 1000 soldiers are now assisting the RAF in the maintenance of aerodromes, servicing and refuelling aircraft. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fine: excellent visibility early; electric storm early morning.

0703-0722 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including six ME 109 fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage raiders 15 miles north of the Island: S/Ldr Woods and P/O McCoy each damage one ME 109.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: no claims.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and approach Ta Qali from the east, dropping bombs on the airfield from a height of 10000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

0740-0845 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft seen.

1013-1104 hrs  Air raid alert as 60 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including several ME 109 fighter bombers approach the coast in several waves.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the enemy takes strong evasive action: no claims.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot slightly injured.  High explosives including delayed action bombs are dropped on Luqa and the Safi strip from about 14000 feet.  One aircraft is destroyed on the ground and another damaged.  One ME 109 is probably destroyed by Light Ack Ack.

1457-1518 hrs  Air raid alert as 40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approach the Island at great height.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and successfully attack 25 fighters and fighter bombers, which they force to jettison their bombs in the sea.  F/Lt McElroy damages one Macchi 202.  The raiders turn back at speed, along with the majority of their escort.  One Spitfire is damaged: pilot slightly injured.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are also airborne but see no enemy aircraft.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The area between Grand Harbour and St Julian’s Bay was swept on 27th October by the 3rd ML Flotilla, prior to divers working on the submarine telegraph cables. Three mines were disposed of bringing the total destroyed by this flotilla to 100.

AIR HQ  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action crash-landed: pilot injured.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  AM GOC watched an exercise incorporating practice landings from motorized landing craft.

28 October 1942: Operation Train Brings Reinforcements

HMS Furious

The fast minelayer HMS Welshman also sailed with the convoy carrying emergency supplies for Malta.

ATTACK ON SUBMARINE BASE KILLS THREE

A dive bombing attack on Malta’s submarine base this morning killed three civilians in Sliema.  The raid was the second attempted strike at the base today – the first was beaten off by Malta fighters before the enemy aircraft reached the Island.

The air raid alert just before 9.30 am heralded a second attack by 30 raiders which approached the Island at 27000 feet.  Among them were a dozen ME 109 fighter bombers which swooped down to 12000 feet and then into a shallow dive as they crossed the coast towards their objective in Marsamxetto harbour.  Spitfires engage the raiders as they are still in their dive, causing several to jettison their bombs.  However several bombs did fall on Tigne Barracks, Sliema and Gzira, where three civilians were killed.  Civilian property was also damaged in the raid.

HMS Welshman

The Island was spared a third air raid as the enemy aircraft turned back before coming within 10 miles of the coast.

MALTA WELLINGTONS SINK ANOTHER AXIS TANKER

“The AOC sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron on its brilliantly executed torpedo attack on the enemy convoy on the night of 28/29th October.”

A very successful attack was carried out tonight against an enemy convoy off the Greek coast.  A reconnaissance Baltimore had earlier reported a convoy of one tanker and a merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, off Sapienza.  Three Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and one carrying torpedoes, were sent to locate and attack the vessels.  The bomb-carrying Wellington returned early with engine trouble and crash-landed, having jettisoned its bombs in the sea.

The other two Wellingtons sighted a tanker and a merchant vessel and went in for the attack.  Pilot Officer Matthews scored a direct hit on the merchant vessel with a torpedo.  Pilot Officer Donkersley arrived on the scene at 2252 hours and found no trace of the merchant vessel.  He aimed his bombs at the tanker, setting it ablaze from stem to stern.  A reconnaissance aircraft inspecting the area later found nothing but wreckage, oil streaks and a half-submerged barrage balloon.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; cloudy late evening.

0625-0735 hrs; 0635-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali then eight from Hal Far on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0716-0734 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for 40 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and nine of 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the main formation to the north of the Island.  The Spitfires attempt an engagement from above but the enemy fighters disperse into the clouds and out of sight before heading back to Sicily: no claims.

0924-1001 hrs  Air raid alert as 30 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and fire short bursts at raiders as they head towards Grand Harbour, causing several to drop their bombs.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  P/O Giddings 249 Squadron crashes on take-off and is admitted to hospital with a fractured arm.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Sliema, Gzira and Tigne Barracks area causing damage to property and civilian casualties.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1045-1140 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1233-1247 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far are conducting a practice flight when they see two ME 109s: they turn to engage but the enemy aircraft evade action.  All the fighters recede before coming within 10 miles of the Island but then recede.

1335-1500 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Chargeman E Wright, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Ritz Falzon, age 19; Carmela Micallef, age 42; Vincenza Rice, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1942

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron were despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Navarino, eastern Sicily, Messina, Palermo, Gabini and Pachino.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1600 hrs  Regiment band playing at Birkirkara.

29 October 1942: German Pilots Sick of Fight For Malta

German aircraft losses dent morale (c) IWM CM 745

The strain of fighting for air supremacy over Malta is clearly beginning to tell on the enemy air forces. “Experienced German pilots who became prisoners of war during this month have admitted to a general distaste among the German air force for fights over Malta.  This reluctance is not surprising when it is seen that, in the course of their unsuccessful October offensive, the Axis powers lost 15 air crew for every British pilot lost.”  War Diary, Air HQ, Malta October 1942

SPITFIRES AND SUPPLIES

Twenty nine Spitfires were flown off from HMS Furious today and all landed safely at Malta.  Two others remained on board the aircraft carrier due to defects.  Enemy aircraft made some attempts to intercept the incoming aircraft but continuous cover by Spitfires deterred any serious threat.

At the same time, HMS Welshman detached from the convoy ships to make independent passage to Malta.  The fast minelayer carries some 350 tons of much-needed cargo in her holds.  Welshman’s exceptionally fast speed has brought her through several supply missions to the Island and the Dockyard is preparing for a fast unload on her arrival.  After their successful delivery, Furious and her escort ships turned and set course immediately for Gibraltar.

MALTA FLOTILLA GRABS 100TH MINE

The Vice Admiral Malta reported that the Third Motor Launch Flotilla in addition to their many other valuable services had swept up their hundredth mine in the approaches to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; almost cloudless.

0750-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0910-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are on intercept patrol:  no sightings.

0956-1120 hrs  Air raid alert.  42 enemy fighters approach the Island from the north in five formations of six and three formations of eight aircraft each.  They attempt to intercept delivery Spitfires as they come in to land.  Malta fighters are airborne but the enemy recede before engaging.  The delivery Spitfires land safely.

1020-1125 hrs  Seven Spitfires Hal Far patrol over Grand Harbour area: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1100-1230 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1232-1310 hrs  Air raid alert for a small number of enemy fighters on a high fighter sweep.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1339-1345 hrs  Eight delivery Spitfires land at Hal Far.

1849-1910 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island at 22-25000 feet and drop bombs in the sea three miles north of the Island.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa patrols to the north of Malta but sees nothing.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Walter Parks, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Emanuel Grech, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires crashed into construction on taking off: one pilot injured, one killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance over western Sicily and Pantelleria.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance of enemy shipping in the area Cape Ducato, Cape St Maria di Leuca and Taranto.  Two special Wellingtons 69 Squadron were sent to attack an enemy convoy sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire but did not find it.

30 October 1942: RAF Win Latest Battle For Skies Over Malta

B flight RAF 249 Squadron Malta July 42

The skies fell silent over Malta today.  The absence of air raids is an indication that the RAF has finally secured air supremacy over the Island after the failure of the latest enemy bombing campaign.  With strong fighter escort and a small number of bombers, the enemy has tried to neutralise the aerodromes in order to protect the passage of important convoys to Tripolitania and Libya.

During daylight in October the enemy flew a total of about 250 bomber and 3500 fighter and fighter-bomber sorties against Malta.  Spitfires definitely destroyed a total of 49 bombers and 78 fighters.  By night during the month Beaufighters of 89 Squadron made a total of 61 sorties including 15 intruder patrols over enemy aerodromes and harbours.  Five enemy night bombers were destroyed.  Malta’s losses were 38 aircraft destroyed, mainly Spitfires.

The policy adopted by the RAF of intercepting the enemy north of the island has proved eminently successful.  The enemy reverted to high flying tactics using cloud cover; some damage was done to the aerodromes but without any serious impact.  Finding these tactics too costly, the enemy has now left Malta well alone.

AMMUNITION USE AND FUEL RATIONING TIGHTENED

Heavy Ack Ack Brigades have issued orders restricting the firing pattern of anti-aircraft positions.   From today, only guns in certain strategic positions may engage enemy fighter aircraft, and then only by pointers.  However, all gun positions will continue to engage any enemy aircraft clearly identified as bomb-carrying.

Petrol economies are also now being strictly enforced across all Services in Malta as fuel shortages continue to concern the Island’s commanders.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Variable becoming fine: cloudless evening.

0740-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1350-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Rorqual

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Rorqual arrived with stores from Beirut, swept in by Rye.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Liberators from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1640-1735 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a reconnaissance patrol over south east Sicily while four others provided cover for their return.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli.

31 October 1942: 14 Attacks On Axis Convoys

AIR RAID STATISTICS OCTOBER 1942  

  • Total number of alerts to date 3135
  • Total number of alerts this month 152
  • Number of blank days 2
  • Number of night raids 41
  • Raid free nights 19
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 4 days, 2 hrs, 11 mins
  • Average length of alert 38.2 mins

    P 246 HMS Statesman

ROYAL NAVY SUMMARY FOR OCTOBER

Twenty seven attacks were carried out from Malta during the month, fourteen of which were successful. Three were against merchant ships already beached after air attacks. Ten merchant vessels, aggregating 23900 tons were sunk as well as one fleet destroyer, a tug, and two schooners.  The strength of the Flotilla was brought up to eleven operational submarines by the arrival of P 212 on 9th October and of P 246 on the 19th.

Four submarines continued store-carrying trips to Malta with petrol and vital supplies from Gibraltar and Beirut.  The First and Tenth Submarine Flotillas carried out many brilliant attacks on Axis convoys and shipping running to Libya. An attack on a heavily escorted southbound convoy of one tanker and three merchant ships bound for Tripoli by five submarines off Pantellaria was particularly noteworthy. Albacore and Swordfish aircraft made many attacks before the convoy ran into the submarine concentration. P 211 sank one merchant vessel, stopped after air attack, P 37 sank a destroyer and one merchant vessel in the convoy, and it possible that P 42 also damaged a merchant vessel. The latter was very accurately counterattacked and damaged, and force to return to Malta.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 31

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd: The War Office

1.  Enemy air activity on a much reduced scale.  16 alerts.  Total 290 Spitfire sorties against 650 enemy sorties.  No alerts after 1300 hrs 29 October.  Raids consisted of fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Many jettisoned their bombs in the sea.  A few bombs on the aerodromes.  Ack Ack dump was set on fire and extinguished by soldiers.  Spitfires destroyed three ME 109s, one Macchi 202; probably destroyed two ME 109s; damaged three ME 109s and one Macchi 202.  Ack Ack destroyed two ME 109s; probably destroyed one ME 109.  Photo reconnaissance shows a general decrease 100 enemy aircraft in Sicily but an increase on western aerodromes, particularly JU 84 (or 87)s.

2.  Eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  One tanker and one merchant vessel sunk.  Two 1000 lb bombs aimed at a vessel, believed a tanker: results unobserved.

3.  Army working parties total about 600 on aerodromes and 200 men building the new Qrendi landing strip.  Minor combined operations training being carried out with MLCS.

4.  Military damage negligible.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1942

0755-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no raid materialised; no sightings.

1100-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a possible approaching air raid which does not materialise.

1630 hrs  The regimental band and drums of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment Beat the Retreat at Sliema.  His Excellency the Governor and GOC Troops is in attendance.

Military casualties  Private Raymond Hurley, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Lance Corporal Gerald Tarr, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3 from Middle East.  Departures  One Liberator to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0630-0735 hrs  Four Spitfires patrolled over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.  2135-0235 hrs  One special Swordfish and two strike Albacores searched for shipping between Tripoli and Homs: no sightings.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Lance Corporal G A Tarr fell down a 30 foot well in Valletta and was killed.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the period 22-31 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motor-cycle and five Other Ranks for work in Hal Far aerodrome.  During daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned in anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Hurley, A Company, died from multiple injuries caused by falling masonry.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11.  Dealt with: 9 High Explosives  (3 x 250kg; 7 x 50kg); 173 anti-personnel bombs; 1 oil incendiary.

(1) Alamein, Cecil Ernest Lucas-Phillips, Little Brown & Co, Boston, 1962

 

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18-24 October 1942: Malta Key to El Alamein Offensive

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“The rugged and indomitable courage of the people of Malta have been an inspiration and encouragement to the Empire.”  Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet Admiral Sir John Tovey announcing a gift of £1755 from the Home Fleet to the Malta Relief Fund

18 October 1942: Petrol Running Out

Troops use cycles to save petrol (NWMA Malta)

Military chiefs met today in Valletta to discuss how to manage the rapidly decreasing fuel supplies on the Island.  Officers from all Army units were called to attend a Petrol Economy Conference held at the Castille.  With no immediate prospect of a convoy reaching Malta, the conference focused on ways of rationing fuel use in order to conserve existing stocks.  All possible methods of saving petrol were discussed and several measures decided on, which will be put into operation immediately.

THREE AXIS SUPPLY SHIPS HIT IN RAF AND NAVY ATTACKS

This afternoon a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire sighted two merchant vessels with a 5-6000 ton tanker and one 3-4000 ton merchant vessel with seven destroyers to the west of Sicily, heading southwards.  Two Swordfish and one Albacore aircraft were despatched to make a night attack but failed to locate the primary target.  They came upon a single merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons 40 miles north west of Pantelleria and attacked with a single torpedo, scoring a direct hit on the stern.  The merchantman was last seen down by the stern and going round in circles.

Reconnaissance aircraft also spotted the merchant vessel which was attacked last Wednesday night, beached near Homs.  A Swordfish and an Albacore were despatched to make another attack.  The Albacore launched one torpedo by the light of flares dropped by the Swordfish but bad visibility prevented the observation of results.

In another offensive mission tonight, four Wellingtons of 69 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack an 8000 ton tanker escorted by two destroyers, 50 miles east of Point Stilo.  Three Wellingtons found the convoy and attacked, one torpedo hitting the tanker’s port bow and causing a red flash.  Four 500 lb and two 1000 lb bombs were also dropped but the results were not observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fog over the sea in the morning; light showers morning and evening.

0622-1010 hrs  Two Hurricanes Royal Navy Air Service search off Grand Harbour for a missing dinghy but find nothing.

0701-0738 hrs  Air raid alert for about 50 enemy fighters approaching the Island, escorting seven bombers.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  Six ME 109s engage them, splitting up the Squadron formation.  P/O Reid probably destroys one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Mortimer (126 Squadron) destroys one ME 109.  The enemy bombers turn back while still 15 miles north of the Island and only the fighters come near, some crossing the coast.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali attempt to intercept the fighters, which evade combat.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1006-1106 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including a four bomb-carrying ME 109s approaching the Island.  The raid probably includes some JU 88s which turn back before reaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa, eight Spitfires Hal Far and seven of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage the enemy.  Three ME 109s drop six high explosive bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.

1124-1158 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching formation of 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Ta Salib and San Christu Church area.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1335-1430 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers which approach the Island but do not cross the coast.  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attack two ME 109s: S/Ldr Stephens damages one.  There are reports that the fighter bombers break off and return home before reaching Malta.

1547-1701 hrs  Air raid alert for 75 plus enemy fighters including some fighter bombers which cross the coast in small groups.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and eight 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Hamilton 1435 Squadron damages one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far, plus four 229 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  Bombs are dropped on Gharghur and Qrendi strip, and on Luqa, damaging one Wellington on the ground.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.  One Spitfire of 126 Squadron crashes in a field near Gharghur: the pilot P/O Stevenson is killed.

1836-1936 hrs; 2101-2124 hrs; 2227-2258 hrs; 2347-0027 hrs; 0144-0312 hrs; 0350-0450 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 12 enemy bombers of which 9 cross the coast.  Anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries are dropped on Qawra Point, Birkirkara, Hamrun, the Dockyard and Floriana, and in the sea.  Two civilians are killed and three injured in Fleur de Lys.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  HQ Company and billets of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are sprayed with anti-personnel bombs.  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrols. One Beaufighter sights an enemy aircraft which takes evasive action and escapes.  One Beaufighter on patrol over Sicily attacks and damages a JU 88 over Gerbini.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Stevenson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Camilleri, age 40; Carmela Gatt, age 45; Paul Parlar, age 62; Doris Spiteri, age 8; Maria Carmela Spiteri, age 6; George Zammit, age 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER 1942

P 211 HMS Safari

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 211 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in combat crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed: pilot killed.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Spitfire was despatched on a search for enemy shipping from Messina to Cape Rizzuto.  One Baltimore was despatched to search for enemy shipping off the Greek coast.  One Spitfire was despatched on search for enemy shipping Cape Spartevento to Cape Rizzo.  One Spitfire was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours and aerodromes.

10th HEAVY ACKACK REGIMENT, ROYAL ARTILLERY  2/Lt W J Healy was wounded in action at XHE 25.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company takes over guard duties of Wardia crossroads.

19 October 1942: Booby-Trapped Cluster Bombs on Malta

Butterfly bomb

A Sapper of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal narrowly escaped being blown up today when he encountered a new type of anti-personnel bomb.  The Bomb Disposal Section was called out to deal with a number of unexploded German 2kg ‘butterfly’ bombs which have become all too familiar across the Island since June.  The Sapper was following normal procedure to check whether or not the bomb was armed when he noted the fuze number which was 67, instead of the normal 41.  Instead of going ahead and dealing with the bomb, he withdrew and reported the different fuze number to his Sergeant.

The action would save his life and those of his squad.  The Type 67 is a delayed-action fuze: it can be set to blow the bomb at any time from five to thirty minutes after it falls.  The bomb can kill up to 25 metres away and injure anyone within 150 metres.  Although in this case the maximum time had passed, like any clockwork mechanism, if this one had merely jammed any movement could restart the clock – and then there is no way of knowing how long it has left to run.

From now on, butterfly bombs can no longer be considered relatively harmless if left undisturbed.  Any number of them might explode at random, triggering others within range.  The public has been told about the new hazard and warned to stay well clear of any suspect objects.  With at least thirty reports of unexploded butterfly bombs today alone across civilian and military areas, the RE Bomb Disposal Section is now facing the more complex job of clearing hundreds of potential time bombs.

Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

AXIS CONVOY CANNOT ESCAPE MALTA-BASED ATTACKS

The convoy intended for attack by Swordfish and Albacore aircraft last night was again located and photographed this morning by a reconnaissance Spitfire from Malta, 35 miles north west of Lampedusa.

Despite very bad weather, two Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched tonight to attempt another attack.  At 2210 hours they located two merchant vessels and five destroyers which had now reached 53 miles south of Lampedusa.  One Swordfish dropped flares allowing the others to launch three torpedoes.  At least one scored a hit on a merchant vessel, producing a flash and a thick cloud of smoke which obscured the results of the other three missiles.

An hour later four Wellingtons found two merchant vessels and three destroyers some 50 miles south of Lampion and attacked with bombs and torpedoes.  At least one 1000 lb bomb scored a hit on a merchantman.  Then at 0328 hours two Swordfish and two Albacores located the tanker and three destroyers, 80 miles north west of Tripoli.  Of two torpedoes fired at the convoy, one was seen to hit the tanker, producing a large green flash.

During the night three more sorties were made by Wellingtons, one dropping two 1000 lb bombs near the merchant ship which had been attacked by Swordfish hours before and was now stationary.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Frequent showers throughout the day, heavy at times during the morning.  Lightning very early.

0622-0730 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far on a search: nothing seen.

0623-0652 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 plus ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Scott damages one ME 109.  The remaining fighter bombers cross the coast.  Two ME 109s dive on Hal Far airfield and drop bombs damaging two Hurricane aircraft on the ground.  The runway remains serviceable but 160 gallons of petrol are burned out in a pen.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0726-0807 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a high sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s to the south of the Island: the enemy evade combat and flee back to base.

0825-1010 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far searches for a missing pilot, five miles east of Zonqor, north of Grand Harbour and over St Paul’s Bay 20 miles: nothing seen.

0957-1018 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 plus Italian fighters and ME 109 fighter bombers are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and seven 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Walton probably destroys one Re 2001.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on the Gharghur area and on Salina Bay between the Salt Pans and Salina Battery.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1031-1044 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy fighters cross the coast at great height, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1200-1217 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 plus enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attempt to engage four ME 109 fighter bombers: no claims.  Fighter bombers cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali.

1322-1342 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers which come in and drop bombs on Attard.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne and engage the raiders: Capt Kuhlmann and Sgt Gunstone each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot unhurt.

1457-1527 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including several fighter bombers heading for the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa, plus four of 229 Squadron and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the enemy turn away into cloud cover and evade engagement.  Several raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Mosta.

1653-1742 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers which drop bombs on the Luqa area and near Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far plus four Spitfires 229 Squadron and three of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: the enemy is sighted on several occasions but make use of clouds to evade engagement.

1759-1852 hrs  Air raid alert for an attempted dusk raid by 40 enemy bombers and fighter-bombers which approach the Island in two formations.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa with three Spitfires are scrambled to intercept.  One formation is engaged 25 miles west of the Island by three Malta aircraft which force the bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea.  The same three fighters then intercept the other formation to the east of the Island forcing several to jettison bombs.  Only three bombers cross the coast: one JU 88 is pursued by F/Lt Pring of 89 Squadron and destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Hal Far aerodromes; delayed action bombs high explosive bombs land near Bir Miftuh Church.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

2115 hrs  There is an unconfirmed RDF report of a vessel 063 degrees 13 miles from Fort St Elmo, moving 30 at knots from west to east.

0225-0235 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft approaches to within 20 miles north of the Island and drops flares and bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept in P 35 and P 247.

Coast at Madliena

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  2114-0134 hrs  Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack an enemy southbound convoy: one hit with a 1000 lb claimed.  0105-1513 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack the same convoy: no hits observed.  One Spitfire and two Baltimors 69 Squadron despatched during the day on reconnaissance.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company take over guard duties of Qawra Point and Madliena.

20 October 1942: Maltese ‘Spirit of Resistance’ Recognised

From:  Governor (Gen Viscount Gort)                   To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

During the month ended 20th October, total of 134 alerts, 90 by day, 44 by night.  61 bombing raids, 38 by day, 23 by night.  64 people were killed (28 men, 18 women, 18 children), 63 were seriously injured (19 men, 25 women, 19 children).  128 houses were seriously damaged including (repeat including) 48 in Gozo.

Recent recrudescence of enemy air attacks has if anything tended to raise morale by taking people’s minds off continued privations in the shape of shortage of food and other commodities.  From the outset of the new phase of attacks, it has been clear that the spirit of resistance has not fallen during the lull of the previous few months.

NEWS CORRESPONDENT PRAISES ISLANDERS’ RESILIENCE

A news correspondent in Malta said today that the Islanders are becoming used to the almost continuous roar of planes and detonations of anti-aircraft guns. “The people come out into the streets at night, watch the search lights pick out planes, and urge anti-aircraft gunners to quicken their rate of fire.”

An advertisement appeared in The Times of Malta today inviting applications for vacancies on the staff of a school on the Island – one for classics and the other for mathematics and science.

MALTA TROOPS PRACTISE SEABORNE LANDINGS

The General Officer Commanding Troops in Malta attended an exercise today held by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.  The Battalion were demonstrating the results of recent training, particularly practice landings from motor launches.  The GOC also watched an exercise by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment practising assault course techniques.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Frequent showers throughout the day.  Thunder and lightning very late evening.

0640-0711 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft including fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol at 21000 feet east of the Island but do not locate the enemy.  The raiders take advantage of 100 per cent cloud cover at 7-8000 feet to cross the coast and drop four bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.  The airfield’s anti-aircraft gunners open fire, damaging one ME 109.

Wardija

0700 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun St Paul’s Bay.  Wardia Observation Post reports seeing a ME 109 attack and machine-gun a Gozo boat.

0910-0950 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to a submarine: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1106-1150 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which approach the Island in small groups, taking advantage of cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.  ME 109 fighter bombers drop four bombs on the Safi end of Luqa runway, causing craters, and near St Nicola Church.  One Spitfire 1435 Squadron is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1415-1426 hrs  Air raid alert as a small number of raiders approach to within 18 miles of the Island and then recede.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol to the west of the Island and Grand Harbour as cover to incoming aircraft: no engagement.

1700-1805 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Gunner Paul Busuttil, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Vincent Casha, Malta Pioneer Group, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 42 swept in by Speedy, having been met and escorted by two Motor Launches. P 42 claimed hits on two merchant vessels in convoy: her batteries were damaged by an accurate depth charge attack.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two BEauforts, one Liberator, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to Shallufa; two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on a search near Lampedusa for enemy shipping attacked last night.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on photographic reconnaissance Cotrone Harbour.

21 October 1942: Malta Blitz Fails To Stop Sinking of Axis Supplies

Submarines of the Malta flotilla has sunk three enemy merchant vessels in recent days and damaged several others.  The submarine successes follow a week in which the Island’s air forces have launched eleven attacks on enemy convoys attempting to supply Axis troops in North Africa.

It is clear that despite his renewed heavy bombardment of the Island Kesselring has failed to stop its forces interrupting enemy supply lines.  Combined attacks from Allied aircraft and submarines based on both sides of the Mediterranean have halted fuel tankers, caused merchant ships to turn back and sent tons of supplies crucial to Rommel’s war effort to the bottom of the sea.

Ack Ack at Work

ARTILLERY ORDERED: HOLD FIRE TO SAVE AMMO

Gun positions are still restricted to 15 rounds per gun despite the recent increased enemy activity.  Artillery commanders have ordered every gun position to reserve fire for good targets.  At the same time they urge positions which get a good target to ‘engage it hotly’.

QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

Mr William Thorne (MP for West Ham Plaistow) today asked the Secretary of State for Air in the House of Commons how many times Malta had been raided; how many people have been killed, the amount of property damaged and the number of aeroplanes brought down since the declaration of war.  Sir Archibald Sinclair replied: “Up to 19th October there have been 1,660 bombing attacks on Malta, and 1,069 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. I understand that, up to 20th September, 1,386 civilians had been killed and 6,704 buildings destroyed or damaged.”

Commander Sir Archibald Southby, MP for Epsom then asked whether in view of what he had said he does not think it necessary in the interests of the people of Malta, to hit Italy from the air.  The Secretary of State answered:  “We have been hitting Italy from the air, and we shall go on hitting Italy.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  A showery day: thunderstorm and heavy shower early.

0703-0735 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 ME 109s including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: P/O Walton damages one ME 109.  The remaining raiders use cloud cover to drop bombs on the Safi strip and Gudja.  One high explosive lands in Tal Liebru and four on Xlejli.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0847-0915 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 German and Italian fighters including seven ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but are unable to engage. The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs near Siggiewi and on the Safi runway, damaging one aircraft on the ground and one motor transport vehicle.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0930-1030 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 German and Italian raiders including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to join the eight of 126 Squadron still airborne from the previous raid.  P/O Walton destroys one Macchi 202.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Kandia.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

18 pounder gun

1126 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy aircraft including Re 2001s and ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders launch a dive-bombing attack on Qawra Tower post which returns fire.  Bombs land on the searchlight position and the 18 pounder gun position.

1254-1354 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 plus enemy raiders approaching the Island under cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped from a great height on Ta Qali.

1530-1605 hrs  Air raid alert: 25 enemy fighters including fighter bombers drop bombs 10-15 miles north of Gozo.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but see no raiders: none cross the coast.

0435-0515  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach and recede within five miles of Grand Harbour, dropping all bombs in the sea.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne and damages one HE 111 north of the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 247 and P 35 to sea, and escorted P 37 and P 211: the latter reported having sunk one southbound ship east of Pantelleria and P 37 two hits on a southbound merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Wellingtons from Shallufa; one Beaufort from Gibraltar. Departures  One Liberator, one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot runway on landing; undercarriage collapsed: crew uninjured.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search near Greek Islands and photographed shipping in Corfu harbour.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched and photographed Navarino and Tripoli.

TA QALI  229 and 249 Squadrons stood down.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During period 15-21 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motorcycle and five other ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome.  During the hours of daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned for anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

22 October 1942: Luftwaffe Crew Captured After 3 Days Adrift

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

The pilot and crew of a JU 88 bomber were rescued today after three days adrift in a dinghy off the coast of Malta.  The bomber was taking part in a dusk air raid on Monday evening when it was shot down by Flight Lieutenant Pring of 89 Squadron and ditched in the sea.  The crew managed to bail out and get into their dinghy.

Two hours later an enemy search and rescue vessel was spotted searching for the crew but did not find them.  The dinghy was left drifting helplessly until it was spotted today and the RAF Rescue Launch set out in pursuit.  All four crew members survived and were taken prisoner.  They have been named as pilot Oberleutnant Ernst Neuffer, age 27, wireless operator Unteroffizier Fritz Hinterberg (21) and crew members Unteroffizier Hans Ehrentraut (28) and 24 year old Unteroffizier Joseph Stern.

TROOPS BACK TO FULL STRENGTH ON AIRFIELDS                

The number of Army personnel has returned to its former high levels following the recent air raids.  1000 men are now working daily on the aerodromes, repairing pens and filling craters to keep runways open following air attacks.  So far during the recent blitz none of the airfields has been unserviceable for more than a few minutes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0714-0748 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but encounter no enemy aircraft.  The raiders cross the coast at great height taking advantage of cloud cover and drop bombs on Hamrun and Birkirkara, damaging property and causing civilian casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0935-1039 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McLeod destroys one Macchi 202.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McElroy and P/O Lowrey destroy one ME 109; P/O Sanderson destroys one Macchi 202; S/Ldr Woods probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one; Sgt Stead damages one ME 109 and one Macchi 202.  The remaining raiders drop bombs on the Ta Qali and Mosta areas.

1120-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and also Light Ack Ack who destroy one ME 109.

1343-1401 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  The enemy is believed to have turned back.

1512-1619 hrs  Air raid alert for 60 German and Italian fighters escorting fighter bombers towards the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Brown and P/O Walton each damage two Macchi 202s.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but are unable to gain sufficient height to engage.  Many fighter bombers jettison their bombs in the sea.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but see nothing.  About half of the raiders cross the coast in cloud cover: fighter bombers drop bombs near Luqa and Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

Military casualties  William Osborne, Foreman of Stokers, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Calleja, age 37; Mary Calleja, age 11; Anthony Debono, age 54; Carmela Debono, age 42; Alfred Fenech, age 73; Alfred Muscat, age 4; Jennie Scerri, age 17; Filippa Whiddatt, age 12.  St Julian’s  Carmela Sciberras, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 22 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 44 in from patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search along the Greek coast.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and two carrying torpedoes, despatched to attack an enemy tanker sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  All aircraft returned owing to severe electrical storms which make it impossible to locate or attack the convoy.

23 October 1942: Battle For El Alamein Has Begun

Night offensive begins at El Alamein (c) IWM E18467

At 9.40 this evening a four hour Allied ground and air bombardment began targeting Rommel’s forces at El Alamein.  As the shelling subsided, ground troops and armoured divisions began their advance across Axis minefields.  The offensive follows weeks of attacks on enemy supply convoys, designed to weaken Axis troops and reduce their firepower.

LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS STAYING AWAY

Observers report that no JU 88 bombers or other twin-engined aircraft have approached Malta since Monday.  Enemy air raids are now confined to ‘tip and run’ attacks by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  However, the poor weather since Monday has worked to the raiders’ advantage, giving the agile ‘Jabos’ the advantage of cloud from which to launch attacks and escape.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Showers.

0630-0736 hrs  Air raid alert as 35 enemy aircraft including ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island in four quick raids.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Saunders destroys one ME 109, F/Lt Charney damages another.  F/O Lindsay’s Spitfire is shot down and he is killed.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped near St Paul’s Bay, and on Mosta and Imtarfa.  Light Ack Ack guns destroy one ME 109.

0830-0910 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 fighters and fighter bombers which fly round the east of the island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Marshall damages one ME 109.  The raiders then recede.

1010-1038 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approach the Island. Three ME 109 fighter bombers drop high explosive bombs on the south east side of the runway at Ta Qali, and on Mosta, damaging property and wounding one civilian.  Eight fighter bombers drop bombs near Zurrieq village and on St Nicola and Kirkop areas.  Malta fighters are airborne and engage, damaging two ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1240-1301 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  While fighters strafe the airfield with machine guns, three ME 109 fighter bombers dive down and drop six high explosive bombs on the Ta Qali dispersal area.  Malta fighters are airborne; no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1559-1622 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders do not cross the coast.

2210-2300 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders which turn back 35 miles from Malta: no sighting.

Military casualties  Flight-Lieutenant Alec Lindsay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Michael Sultana, age 73; Carmelina Grech, age 9.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Heribert Wagner, pilot of a Messerschmitt BF 109 fighter, shot down and killed.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 23 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol and was swept in by Hythe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, two Liberators from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on land while in combat: pilot killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron sent to search for enemy shipping along the west coast of Greece.

24 October 1942: Rations To Be Cut Again

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 24 OCTOBER 1942

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd:  The War Office

1.  Enemy now forced to use fighters or fighter bombers only.  RAF have maintained superiority over Island and little damage done.  Air and submarine offensive against enemy convoys maintained.

Raider over Grand Harbour

2.  During daylight. 37 alerts.  Dusk 19 October 40 bombers approached intercepted by six Spitfires.  Three crossed coast rest jettisoned bombs in the sea.  Two JU 88s destroyed.  Remaining alerts each few fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Total 500 Spitfire sorties against 1245 enemy sorties.  Nine fighters destroyed, four probably destroyed, sixteen damaged by RAF.  Four ME 109s destroyed by Lt Ack Ack, two damaged by small arms.  Only three Spitfires destroyed, four damaged.

3.  By night.  Eight alerts.  18 aircraft approach, 13 crossed coast.  Bombs scattered localities.  Beaufighters damaged one JU 88, one HE 111.

4.  Offensive.  Total five Swordfish, five Albacore, eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  Result one Tanker, two merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one merchant vessel hit by 1000 lb bomb.  Other results unobserved due to bad weather.  Submarines have also been very successful recently.

5.  Admin.  Further economies in motor transport fuel have cut out all mobile training.  Army now existing on less than 4000 gallons petrol per week.  Rations being slightly further reduced on 1st November but calorific value unchanged.  Winter accommodation suffering from lack of petrol and materials.

6.  Military damage negligible; casualties five Other Ranks wounded.

7.  Many unexploded bombs disposed of including 200 anti-personnel and large number of German 1 kg incendiaries.  New type delayed action Butterfly anti-personnel bomb fuze 67 already reported separately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

0635-0740 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 enemy aircraft approach the Island in a series of fighter bomber raids.  The bombers dive to attack Ta Qali and Luqa aerodromes, damaging one aircraft on the ground and injuring three airmen.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light Anti Aircraft fire.

1011-1038 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching at great height.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast at height and drop bombs between Luqa and Grand Harbour, on the Mqabba area and the Safi strip, and on Zurrieq.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1300-1348 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including a few fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Black Section are jumped by enemy fighters and one Spitfire is shot down: Sgt Saunders is killed.  The fighter bombers drop bombs on the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1521 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including a few fighter bombers are intercepted by Malta fighters well to the north of the Island.  Bombs are dropped on the Luqa area, damaging one aircraft on the ground.  One ME 109 and one Macchi 202 are destroyed by fighters and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot uninjured.

1615 hrs  Enemy fighter bombers attack the RAF Station at Burmarrad.  Three bombs land nearby: one on soft ground fails to explode.  Another bomb lands near the motor transport drivers’ billet of 2nd Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment, destroying the ablution facility.  Bombs also explode near their defence posts causing slight shock to ten men manning the posts.

1629 hrs  All clear.

2109-2154 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Private Philip Kanter, Royal Army Medical Corps, No 90 General Hospital;  Sergeant Raymond Saunders, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 247 returned and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two DC3 from LG 224; two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons, two Liberators to Gibraltar; two Beauforts, one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy fighters: pilot killed.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 54.  Dealt with: High Explosives 13 including 3 with unmarked delayed-action fuzes (4 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg); 1 Italian anti-personnel bomb container; 357 anti-personnel bombs; 5 oil incendiaries.

 

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

 

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