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2 August 1940: Twelve Hurricane Fighters Arrive in ‘Hurry’

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MALTA HAS NEW FIGHTER FLIGHT     

Hurricanes fly in to MaltaTwelve Hurricane fighters flew in to Malta today to strengthen the Island’s air defences. At 0740 hours this morning RAF Luqa received a message to stand by for the arrival of two separate formations, each of seven aircraft.

In ‘Operation Hurry’ the twelve Hurricanes and two Skuas left the Clyde aboard HMS Argus which sailed for Malta on 20 July escorted by four destroyers. The convoy was then joined by two more destroyers, two battleships and one cruiser for the hazardous journey through the western Mediterranean. During their journey, the Mediterranean fleet made a diversionary attack on Cagliari, while a cruiser patrolled the area searching for possible hostile vessels.

The convoy escorted Argus to a point west of Malta from where the Hurricanes took off to fly the remaining distance to the Island in two formations, each guided in by one of the Skuas. At 083 hours the first formation was sighted over Hal Far and within minutes the Skua and Hurricanes were circling over Luqa aerodrome.

The first Hurricane landed successfully; the second plane was circling very low when his engine failed and the aircraft crashed. The Commander in Chief of the aerodrome dashed to the scene of the crash in his car, rescued the pilot, helped him into the car and drove him to the medical incident room at Luqa camp from where he was referred to the Military Hospital at Imtarfa suffering from abrasions and slight concussion. He has been named as Pilot/Sergeant F N Robertson, 66 Squadron. A guard was mounted over the wreck of the Hurricane. The other machines landed safely.

Skua

Skua

Minutes later the second formation of one Skua and six Hurricanes was seen approaching Luqa from the direction of Hal Far. The aircraft circled the aerodrome before the Hurricanes landed safely. As the Skua approached the runway it seemed to wobble and landed heavily on one wheel, skidding along on its left wing for about 200 yards before crashing over the air raid shelter near the control tower. The pilot escaped unhurt and the aircraft is repairable.

The RAF ground crews for the new aircraft arrived separately in Malta aboard submarines Pandora and Proteus.  Declaring Operation Hurry a complete success, the Governor hopes that it will form a model for the future supply of Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and hot.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 2 AUGUST 1940

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties 1 Hurricane. 1845 hrs One Hudson on reconnaissance Cagliari.

LUQA  Strength of Station: RAF 21 Officers, 121 Airmen; Army 9 Officers, 250 Other Ranks; civilians 4.

 

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Posted by on August 2, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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

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94 ENEMY AIRCRAFT DROP BOMBS ON MALTA

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

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

LUFTWAFFE BOMBS DURING DAYLIGHT 9 MARCH 1942

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

TOTAL                                307    Weight: 75150 kg

WARNING TO INFANTRY: DO NOT REMOVE BOMB FRAGMENTS

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MARCH TO DAWN 10 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; cloudy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1020 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1324 hrs  Bombs dropped on Safi strip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1551 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

1842 hrs  All Clear.

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

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

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

0200 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Ta Sinia Tower.

0250 hrs  One bomb lands in Kirkop area.

0335 hrs  Four bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

0615 hrs  Bombs land near Fort Ta Silch.

0626 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

0800 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

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

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

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

HMS Porpoise

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 MARCH 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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5 March 1941: 100 Strong Blitz Puts Air Bases Out of Action

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11 HURRICANES BATTLE VALIANTLY AGAINST 100 RAIDERS

Malta’s tiny fighter force is inadequate to counter mass enemy raids such as the blitz on the Island today, according to the Governor and Commander in Chief in a telegram to the War Office today:  

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

Hal Far Under Attack (NWMA Malta)

“A blitz raid of several formations totally certainly not less than 100 aircraft of which at least 60 bombers attacked Hal Far today. A few of these aircraft dropped bombs and machine-gunned Kalafrana, where damage to buildings and aircraft is slight; one Sunderland will be unserviceable for a few days.” 

The damage to Hal Far was still being assessed this evening. Preliminary reports find that one Swordfish and one Gladiator are burned out and all other aircraft rendered temporarily unserviceable.  The runway is also out of action.  All barrack blocks are now unserviceable; one has been completely demolished; hangars have also been badly damaged.  Water and power have been cut off.

Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino saw the raid as it unfolded:

“I was awe-stricken as I saw the sky filled with planes overhead. In various formations they flew over us towards Hal Far and when just past us they dived into the barrage.  On my left I counted ten in triple V formation, just behind them came fifteen more in two lines, then from the right came eighteen in one single line and they all dived in a follow-my-leader fashion.  Above, fighters whirled and banked.  Our brave fighters, greatly outnumbered (there were about ten of ours up!), flew at the enemy at all heights even right inside our own barrage.  They are a brave lot!  God bless them!(1) 

Eleven Malta fighters were scrambled and destroyed two JU 88s, two JU 87s, one Dornier 215 and two ME109s confirmed, plus one JU 88 probable. One Hurricane was lost in a dog-fight; the pilot, Sgt Charles Macdougal – a veteran of the Battle of Britain – was killed.  Anti-aircraft guns destroyed nine enemy aircraft and damaged one JU 88 and three JU 87s.  There were probably more enemy aircraft too damaged to reach their base but this has yet to be confirmed.

“For this blitz every serviceable Hurricane and every available pilot was put up and they achieved results against very heavy odds,” Lt Gen Dobbie told the War Office. “The only answer to this kind of thing is obviously more fighters and those must somehow be provided if the air defence of Malta is to be maintained.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 MARCH TO DAWN 6 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0713-0725 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy HE 111 aircraft which approaches the Island from the north west at low altitude and machine-guns Sunderland flying boats in St Paul’s Bay. It heads southwards over the Island and drops bombs some distance out to sea off Delimara.  The raider is engaged by small arms and heavy anti-aircraft fire; no claims.  Malta fighters are scrambled; no results.

1710-1800 hrs Air raid alert for large formations totaling 60 enemy bombers and 40 escorting fighters approaching from the north. They fly eastwards along the north coast, turn south and cross the coast, dive-bombing Hal Far aerodrome in two waves, badly damaging hangars, Naval stores and other buildings.  Four aircraft (Swordfish, Seals and a Gladiator) are burned out and two more Gladiators and two Fulmars are damaged and temporarily unserviceable.  The runway is badly cratered and will be unserviceable for 36-48 hours.  One infantry post of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is circled by 26 high explosive and anti-personnel bombs landing within 60 yards.  Kalafrana is also attacked, causing slight damage to buildings and one Sunderland aircraft.

Anti-aircraft guns fire a fixed-height barrage at 2500-3000 feet with marked success, destroying nine raiders and damaging at least four more. Malta fighters are scrambled.  One Hurricane flies through the anti-aircraft barrage to attack an enemy bomber over Luqa aerodrome.  The bomber is seen to lose height as it retreats towards the coast.  Three Hurricanes launch a further attack and the bomber crashes in the direction of Marsaxlokk Bay.  Fighters destroy a total of seven raiders, plus another probable, and damage three.  One Hurricane and its pilot are lost in combat.    

Military casualties  Sergeant Charles White Macdougal, Pilot, 811002, Royal Air Force (Aux), 261 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  As a result of air reconnaissance of the approaches to Tripoli it was decided to sail Upright and Utmost at once for offensive patrols on the Tripoli convoy routes. Truant also sailed for coastal patrol in the Gulf of Sirte.

AIR HQ 0735 hrs  Maryland photoreconnaissance of Tripoli (prior to intended operations tonight by 80 Fleet Air Arm Squadron), and Mellaha.  Sgt Morton, 228 Squadron, awarded the DFM.

LUQA 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Tripoli and Mellaha aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1; dealt with 1 (1000kg).

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, mpi Publishing, 2012

 

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Posted by on March 5, 2016 in 1941, March 1941

 

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