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5 April 1942: Rocket Bombs Hit Valletta

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Bombs on Floriana 5 April 1942 (NWMA Malta)

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

UXB CONFIRMS RETURN OF ROCKET BOMB TO MALTA 

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 APRIL TO DAWN 6 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly: slight haze.

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

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

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

1215 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 APRIL 1942

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

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

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

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

TA QALI  No night operations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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23 March 1942: Malta Convoy Under 9 Hour Attack – Only 2 Ships Reach Harbour

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CONVOY FIGHTS ITS WAY INTO GRAND HARBOUR

SS Talabot (Times of Malta)

Having changed course frequently in an attempt to avoid detection by the enemy, Convoy MW 10 was unable to reach Grand Harbour under cover of darkness this morning as planned.  Approaching the Island in broad daylight, the convoy of four freighters – Breconshire, Clan Campbell, Pampas and Talabot – and their protective force headed for Malta.  From dawn onwards they were under constant air attack by a determined Luftwaffe.  Malta’s fighters put up a strong resistance against a total enemy force of 62 JU 88 bombers and 25 ME 109 fighters.

Only Pampas and Talabot made it safely into Grand Harbour; Clan Campbell was sunk and Breconshire disabled by Luftwaffe attacks.  Chiefs of Staff have reluctantly concluded that until Malta’s air space is safe no further convoys can be planned.  Without essential supplies, the Island will be unable to feed or defend itself.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MARCH TO DAWN 24 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south and squally; 100% low cloud – visibility poor.

0514-1423 hrs  62 JU 88s with an escort of 25 ME 109s attack the convoy as it approaches Malta and within Grand Harbour.

Hurricanes and Spitfires are airborne almost continuously from dawn until dusk, carrying out 42 sorties.  F/Lt Lawrence and Sgt Broad 185 Squadron destroy a Heinkel He111.  Sgt Horricks and Sgt Eastman 185 Squadron probably destroy a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mortimer-Rose, Sgt Eastman, P/O Wigley, F/Sgt Fletcher 185 Squadron and two pilots of 249 Squadron damage four JU 88s.  Sgt Ellis, P/O Noble and P/O Beckett score hits on two other JU 88s.  Many others are hit and forced to jettison their bombs.  Two JU 88s are damaged by Anti-Aircraft fire and others by HM ships.

PM  There is continuous Ack Ack fire out to sea but owing to bad visibility enemy planes are not visible.

0815 hrs  Talabot comes within sight of land, welcomed by two Hurricane fighters sent out to meet her.  Within half a mile of harbour she is attacked by a ME 109 but undamaged.

0915 hrs  Talabot enters Grand Harbour followed by Pampas, surviving another Messerschmitt attack in which four gunners are wounded.  Word has spread of the convoy’s arrival and cheering Maltese crowd the bastions to welcome the two freighters, with destroyers Kingston and Havock – both damaged yesterday en route to Malta – as they cruise into harbour.

HMS Breconshire

0920 hrs   Breconshire is in sight of Delimara Point when she is attacked by ME 109s with bombs and machine-gunfire.

0936 hrs  A JU 88 aims a bomb at Breconshire which explodes under the ship, stopping her engines.

1000 hrs  Another JU 88 aims bombs at Breconshire, causing further damage.  In the heavy swell, the ship begins to drift.

1020 hrs  Still 20 miles from Malta, the slower merchant vessel Clan Campbell is severely damaged by a dive-bombing attack.

1100 hrs  Clan Campbell sinks with the loss of her Captain and five hands.  The destroyer Legion is badly damaged.

1200 hrs  Efforts to bring Breconshire into port have to be abandoned: the weather is too rough for towing or disembarkation.  The ship, passengers and crew have to sit at anchor off Zonkor Point awaiting a tow.  One gun and crew of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery is transferred to Zonkor Point to provide protective cover.

Night 23/24th  Weather and visibility bad: no enemy action.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Basil Rivers, Mentioned in Despatches, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St.Angelo; Ordinary Seaman Norman McLeod, HMS Beaufort; Petty Officer John Blue, HMS Carlisle; Able Seaman J Hulme, HMS Havock; Able Seaman Arthur Adaway, HMS Kingston; Sub-Lieutenant John Carter, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Jordan, HMS Kingston; Leading Stoker Joseph Strange, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Querstret, HMS Kingston.  Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Cherry, Royal Artillery, attached to Malta Territorial Force; Gunner William Griffiths, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties   Kalkara  Agostino Mintoff, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 MARCH 1942

HAL FAR  Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol.  Fifteen pilots patrol in pairs from dawn to dusk.  PM  One Albacore despatched on shipping search: nothing sighted.  Owing to bad weather the aircraft landed in the sea.  Pilot Lt Head is saved but two others, S/L Rivers and L/A Tuttle are lost.

LUQA  No operations.

TA QALI  Orderly room established in St Edward’s College with accounts and Guard Room.  No operations: runway only is serviceable.  Salvage work proceeding.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy arrives from Mid East bringing reinforcements:  11th  Lancs Fusiliers one Officer; 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt, five Officers; 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry eight Officers, 92 Other Ranks.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy brings Officer reinforcements for Brigade as follows:  4 Buffs eight; 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers ten; 8th Bn Manchester Regt five.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1000 hrs  Gas masks worn for one hour.  1400 hrs  All Companies did weekly cross country run.  Heavy cloud during the day.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers joint the Battalion from the convoy.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  0400 hrs  Duty Officer warned that ‘A’ Company was arriving by convoy early in the morning.  By 1200 hrs two Officers and 40 Other Ranks had joined the Battalion in camp.  The remainder of the Company were on board Breconshire which had stopped ten miles out to sea owing to engine trouble.  The seven Other Ranks killed in the air raid on 21st March were buried in the Imtarfa Hospital Cemetery.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers arrived in Malta and were taken on strength.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  One gun and personnel are transferred to Zonkor Point to protect shipping.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 23.

 

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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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22 March 1942: Ta Qali Repaired in 24 Hours – Malta Convoy Attacked

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ROUND THE CLOCK REPAIRS GET AIRFIELD UP AND RUNNING AFTER CARPET-BOMBING

Reviewing the devastation caused by carpet-bombing of Ta Qali over the past 72 hours, Air Officer Commanding, Air Marshall Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd, concludes that the airfield is likely to be out of action for a week.  Responding to a call from Malta’s High Command, the Army joins forces with the RAF in an all out effort to repair the damage and get the runway operational.  Despite enemy bombing, and a heavy machine-gun attack by a formation of Messerschmitts, working parties labour tirelessly round the clock, and by dusk today the airfield was declared serviceable again.

HMS Kingston

FOUR HOUR BATTLE TO DEFEND MALTA CONVOY

Malta’s survival is under threat unless the Island gets essential supplies to keep going and withstand the enemy onslaught.  A small, fast-moving convoy of four freighters left Alexandria 48 hours ago with a large cruiser and destroyer escort, in an attempt to run essential items across the Mediterranean.  By 0930 hrs this morning the Italian Navy had closed on the convoy and attacked the escort ships.  Destroyers Havock and Kingston were hit during a day of engagement, before the attackers were beaten off at 1900 hrs.  The convoy is reported as still heading for Malta with its escort, including the damaged destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 100% low cloud.

0655-0801 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol south east of the Island.

0815-0840 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by seven ME 109s approach the Island.  The ME 109s drop four 250kg and twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali while the JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

0852-0907 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0917-0937 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0951 hrs  ME 109s patrol the Island while JU 88s carry out three bomb attacks.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi strip, and Ta Qali.  Malta’s fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage. HAA damage one JU 88.

1020 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs in a line from Luqa to Siggiewi.  One Maryland and one Wellington are burned out, two Blenheims damaged.   Two RAF and two Army personnel are injured.

1026 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s diving from 5000 to 2000 feet: two guns claim one hit each.  Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three JU 88s.  Sighting their quarry over Filfla, pilots P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley and Sgt Robb attack, scoring hits on fuselage and wings.  P/O Allardice fails to return.

1145 hrs  B Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment reports one fighter crashing into the sea off west Bassasa.

1235 hrs  Raiders passed.

1250-1305 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1318-1323 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1408 hrs  Ten ME 109s carry out a patrol, then swoop down over Ta Qali, machine-gunning the airfield.  Light Ack Ack engage and ground defences return heavy fire, damaging one ME 109.

1410 hrs  Two defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt spot one JU 88 flying low towards the coast and open fire: no claims made.

1440-1725 hrs  Enemy fighters patrol the Island.  ME 109s drop 16 HE bombs on Ta Qali. Malta’s fighters are up: no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1730 hrs  11th Bn Lancashire Regt reports aerial torpedo mines dropped around their coastline.

1733 hrs  Three Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to escort five Albacores.  20 miles from Malta the formation is attacked by two ME 109s.  F/L McQueen attacks one, closing to 50 yards, and sees the ME dive into the sea.

1738 hrs  Four enemy aircraft patrol east of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1827 hrs  One aircraft approaches to the north of Grand Harbour, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1919 hrs  Three aircraft approach to the north of Grand Harbour, then recede.  HAA do not engage.

1938 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south east, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1940 hrs  All clear.

2158-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Night  No air raids: weather deteriorating.

Military casualties  Signalman Claude Brown, HMS Havock; Ordinary Seaman Arthur Crane, HMS Havock.  Leading Stoker Henry Neuschaffer, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Daniel Ferris, HMS Kingston; Pilot Officer Philip Allardice, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Gunner Alfred Segon, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Bartolo, age 40; Saverin Galea, age 45; Grezzju Schembri, age 9.  Valletta  John Cachia, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Five Albacores carried out a shipping sweep without result.  An escort of three Spitfires accompanying the Albacores shot down an ME109.  One Albacore landed in the sea off Zonkor Point: two of the crew missing.  PM  Naval engagement: convoy very heavily bombed; no casualties.  Dark CS 15 returned to Alexandria.  Convoy split and proceeded independently to Malta.

AIR HQ  Departures  Six Beauforts, two Blenheims to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  PM  Five Albacores are despatched to attack an enemy convoy but are recalled.  One Albacore is attacked by an ME 109; no damage.

TA QALI   Large Army working parties and salvage parties arranged and work proceeded.  By nightfall runway made serviceable.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1930 hrs  Storm conditions NORAH and KATE.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Brown, L/Cpl Thomas and Fusilier Surgent injured by shrapnel.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 30.

 

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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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