Tag Archives: HMS Abingdon

23 January 1942: 8 Hours of Night Bombing

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  • Italian troop-carrying liner sinks
  • Kings Own Malta Regiment to defend beaches
  • Two Gunners killed in action

Fairey ‘Swordfish’ with torpedo


Late last night nine aircraft from Hal Far were despatched to attack a large Italian convoy en route from Taranto to Tripoli.  Engine trouble and navigational problems forced the raiders to turn back before reaching the target.  One Albacore is reported missing, along with its crew, Pilot S/Lt Laidlaw and Observer S/Lt Roberts.

Aware that four previous convoys have made it through with reinforcements to Axis forces in Tripoli in the past ten days, Royal Navy command scrambled another force of six Swordfish to take up the chase.  Two returned with engine trouble but the rest made contact with the convoy of three merchant ships and a passenger liner, with an escort of twenty vessels.  Despite air cover numbering twelve JU 88 bombers, two of the Swordfish managed to launch torpedoes at the liner before making their escape.  All six aircraft returned safely to Hal Far.

Reports are coming in that a ship identified as the Italian 13000 ton fast passenger liner Victoria, has sunk with the loss of a third of the 1400 Italian and German troops who were on board.


The Kings Own Malta Regiment (KOMR) have been allocated increased responsibility for beach defences, to release British units for other duties.  The 2nd Battalion KOMR will now cover St Paul’s Bay and Ghain Tuffieha areas in the north west of the Island.


Weather  Wind south.  50% cloud; warmer.  Aerodrome serviceable.

0619-0655 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the east and drops bombs in the sea south east of Delimara.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.  A second aircraft appears from the north, then turns east ten miles north east of Grand Harbour, circles north of the Island and then, when on a south-westerly course, drops bombs in the sea ten miles from Palace Look-out.

0729-0737 hrs  Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.

0819-0837 hrs  Air raid alarm. Raid does not materialise.

0846-0958 hrs  Two ME 109s approach from the north and patrol round the Island, machine-gunning a submarine, which crash-dived.  Fourteen plus aircraft then come in from the north, dropping bombs in the sea before patrolling to the east of the Island.  No aircraft cross the coast.

1040-1108 hrs  Four ME 109s patrol to the east and south of the Island, where the plot fades.

1140-1156 hrs  Four ME 109s approach from the north and carry out a patrol to the south of the Island.  A report of bombs in the sea south of Hal Far is unconfirmed.  Guns engage.

1211-1310 hrs  Eleven plus aircraft carry out fighter patrols, attacking minesweeper HMS Abingdon with grenades and machine-guns.  They also attack a Maryland which lands safely.  Two Hurricanes are sent up but do not engage.  Heavy Ack Ack engages.

1325-1328 hrs  Air raid warning. Aircraft identified as friendly.

1425 hrs  Twelve aircraft from 242, 126 and 249 Squadrons, Ta Qali, are scrambled and engage five JU 88s and several ME 109s.  Sgt Etchells attacks a JU 88 and gets in a five second burst: claiming ‘damaged’.  F/O Kay attacks a ME 109 and gets in two bursts from astern: claims ‘damaged’.  All Malta aircraft return safely.

1446-1555 hrs  Seven JU 88s, escorted by twenty fighters, approach from the north.  ME 109s machine-gun HMS Abingdon, WD [dredger] Lord Plumer and other small craft off Grand Harbour.  Private F Smith, acting as Ack Ack Light Machine Gunner on the vessel is killed.

Bombs are dropped on Gozo and on the north side of Hal Far dispersal area, damaging eight Hurricanes.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s and one Macchi 200.  They claim one hit on the Macchi, which recedes losing height.  Gunner J Dowling sustains a head injury from bomb splinters and suffers from blast, when a bomb drops near Harrow [gun] position.  He is rushed to hospital at Imtarfa, but dies soon after admission.

Military casualties  Gunner John Dowling, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment; Private Francis Smith, 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment.

1637-1649 hrs  One JU 88 comes in from the north at 22000 feet, passes the island and approaches the coast from the south east, is engaged by heavy Ack Ack, turns away and recedes north.

1845-1912 hrs  Four aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in Grand Harbour and on land.  Heavy Ack Ack fires three barrages.

2210-2245 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on the Safi strip, on Tal Papa/Hal Far crossroads and between Tarxien searchlight and Zeitun..  The aircraft is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack barrage and searchlights.  Tarxien searchlight is machine-gunned.

2311-2352 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in St Paul’s Bay area and near Ta Qali.

0011-0054 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west and drop several bombs in the Latnia and Mqabba areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two barrages.

0150-0248 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north west and drop bombs in Gudja area and in the sea.

0310-0329 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Rabat area, in Siggiewi, and on a searchlight position at Zebbug, with a direct hit on a generator.  Heavy Ack Ack fire one barrage.

0349-0411 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Mgarr area.

0427-0438 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in Targa and St Paul’s Bay areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fires two barrages.

0456-0545 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs in the Bingemma area.


AIR HQ  Departures  One Cathay to Lisbon.

HAL FAR  Seven Swordfish 830 Squadron and two Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack convoy of one battleship, four cruisers, fifteen destroyers, one liner and three merchant vessels.  All seven Swordfish returned early, either with engine trouble or because they failed to formate.  One of the Albacores failed to locate the convoy and the second Albacore failed to return to base.  Missing crew S/Lt Laidlaw, pilot, and S/Lt Roberts, observer (1).

Second striking force of six Swordfish despatched to attack above convoy.  Two aircraft attacked returned with engine trouble.  Two aircraft attacked one of the largest merchant vessels (12000 tons), torpedoes ran well in the direction of the ship and possible hits were scored although no results were observed.  All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Cairo 1 patrol; one Maryland Cairo 2 patrol; one Beaufighter Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto Harbour; one Beaufighter PR Messina, Palermo.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  1000 hrs  Funeral of Sgt Neale at Bighi.  Four airmen returned to Luqa and ceased attachment.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Inspection and check of War Accommodation Stores at Mosta and St Edwards.  Funeral of the late S/Cdr Newman RAOC at St Andrews Cemetery.

1st BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT  45 officers and Other Ranks attended a lecture at the Marsa Club given on “The Anti-Aircraft Problem”.

11TH BN LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Gozo boat again machine-gunned: no damage.  Lecture at Marsa on “The Anti Aircraft Problem”.  Working party of stevedores from this unit ceased [unloading convoy] as from tonight.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 1 (500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  The crew were taken prisoner by Italian troops who also captured their Albacore aircraft (

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Posted by on January 23, 2022 in 1942, January 1942


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31 December 1941: Revenge Attack on HMS Abingdon

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  • Number of raid alerts 169
  • Total time under alert  191 hours 7 minutes
  • Average time length of alert 68 minutes
HMS Abingdon

HMS Abingdon


Enemy fighters attacked HMS Abingdon in broad daylight today as she was engaged in minesweeping duties close to Malta’s coastline.  The vessel was machine-gunned by two ME 109 fighters as part of a raid by 34 aircraft at lunchtime.  Seven of the ship’s crew were wounded, three of them seriously.

Abingdon turned and headed immediately for harbour but she was attacked again, this time by three ME 109s.  Anti-aircraft gunners on board managed to shoot down one of the Messerchmitts.  The attack follows a similar strike yesterday by JU 88s in which Abingdon’s Ack Ack gunners managed to damage one aircraft.  Abingdon will now be restricted to minesweeping under cover of darkness.


0330-0558 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Two enemy aircraft patrol round the Island for over an hour.  Heavy Ack Ack fire two immediate barrages.

0845-0908 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Reconnaissance by one JU 88 escorted by four fighters.

1005-1044 hrs  Six plots of Messerschmitts 109s patrol round the island.

1245-1410 hrs  Air raid alarm: 34 enemy aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Ta Qali and Birkirkara.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two ME109s attack HMS Abingdon which shoots down one of them.  Seven men are wounded, three seriously.

1925-0100 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Nine enemy aircraft approach singly from the north and east.  Several descend below 2,000 feet and carry out patrols round the Island – suspected to be mine-laying.  Low flying aircraft machine-gun St Thomas’ searchlight position and Zonkor Point.

2305 hrs Several enemy aircraft cross the south east coast and drop High Explosive and incendiary bombs on Kalafrana, Benghaisa, and Hal Far areas.

2345 hours onwards  A series of bombing attacks concentrated on Ta Qali and Luqa, causing only slight damage.  Searchlights are illuminated; Heavy Ack Ack fires four immediate barrages; Bofors and light machine guns engage low flying aircraft; no claims.

Military casualties  Corporal Arthur Blyth, LAC William McNicol, Royal Air Force.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudson, two Whitley, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Blenheims for 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 30/31st  Air raid on Hal Far by at least three JU88s.  One Swordfish badly damaged, two Swordfish and one Fulmar slightly damaged.  No damage to buildings except stone pen surrounding Swordfish.  No casualties.

LUQA  69 Squadron Photo-Reconnaissance (PR)  One Maryland PR Misurata aerodrome and town; one Maryland Sicilian aerodromes.  18 Squadron  One Blenheim SF 14 patrol.  104 Squadron  Three Wellingtons nuisance raid Tripoli.  107 Squadron  SF 14 patrol.

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Posted by on December 31, 2021 in 1941, December 1941


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9 November 1940: Reconnaissance Aircraft Reported Missing

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HMS Abingdon joins Malta minesweeping flotilla

HMS Abingdon joins Malta minesweeping flotilla


The crew of a Glenn Martin Maryland reconnaissance aircraft have been reported missing today after they failed to return from a mission. The pilot has been named as Flying Officer Joseph Burgess, a Canadian serving in the RAF.  The observer was Sergeant Brian Hubbard. 

Both were serving in 431 Flight, the reconnaissance unit operating out of Malta. This is the first loss of an aircraft of the flight since it began operations in August.  The unit has been undertaking frequent reconnaissance missions over Italian waters recently to monitor Axis shipping movements.


Weather  Fine.

0730 hrs; 0831 hrs; 0900 hrs; 0930 hrs; 0938 hrs  Wellington bombers land at Luqa.

1325-1409 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve Italian CR42 fighters which approach the Island from the north east and fly over Grand Harbour, Luqa and Hal Far at 20000 feet. Anti-aircraft guns launch a heavy attack damaging one of the raiders.  Malta fighters delay take-off following the report of a second enemy formation of bombers following behind but these turn back when still 35 miles from Malta.  

0601-0650 hrs  Air raid without prior warning by two CR42s which approach the Island and machine-gun Hal Far from a very low altitude, damaging one Swordfish aircraft on the ground. Defence posts at Kalafrana open fire: no claims.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Joseph Burgess, pilot; Sergeant Brian Hubbard, observer, 431 Flight.


ROYAL NAVY  HMS Abingdon arrived to reinforce the Malta minesweeping flotilla. Convoy MW3 of five ships arrived.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 5 Wellingtons.  Departures  1 Sunderland.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Mine reported and explosion at Ras il Pellligrin.

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Posted by on November 9, 2020 in 1940, November 1940


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