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8-14 November 1942: Fortress Malta Underpins North African Invasion

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8 November 1942: Malta Aircraft & Submarines Join Operation Torch

Operation Torch troops hit beaches near Algiers

Under cover of darkness early this morning scores of thousands of American troops were landed on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of French North Africa.  The objective is to forestall an Axis invasion, remove the threat of an attack on America from the West African coast, and establish an effective second front to assist Russia. British divisions will follow the Americans.

Marshal Petain has ordered the French African Army to resist, and Vichy Radio reports fighting east and west of Algiers. It is reported from Allied Headquarters that initial objectives have been achieved in landings on two important beaches, and that US airborne troops were first landed to seize aerodromes and vital channels of communication.(1)

Malta’s task is now to hinder the enemy’s attempts to rush men and materials into the north east corner of Tunisia by sea and air.  Twenty submarines of the 1st, 8th, and 10th Flotillas are operating from the Island as part of Operation Torch and other Malta-based vessels will come under operational control of Captain (S), 10th Submarine Flotilla, when east of longitude 8 degrees east.

Wellington bombers are to make sorties against targets in Tunisia, Sardinia and Sicily.  They opened their offensive last night with an attack on Cagliari (Elmas) aerodrome to cover the arrival of the Allied landing force in Algeria.

With the opening of the new campaign in North Africa, the role of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance pilots has also been changed, from covering Libyan convoys to monitoring the Italian battle fleet.  They will now be covering Taranto, Messina, Navarino and Naples two or three times a day.

BRITISH BOMBERS USING DELAYED ACTION FUZES

Three special Wellingtons despatched on shipping searches sighted one merchant vessel with escort.  Seven Wellingtons were despatched to attack Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes: the results were difficult to asses as many of the bombs had long delayed action fuzes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 9 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine/fair.

No air raids.

0925-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1720-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on dusk patrol: no sightings.

2045-2240 hrs; 0320-0455 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron at a time patrol over the Island and surroundings: no enemy aircraft seen close to Malta.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Greig, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flying Officer Peter Mould, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Walter Owen, RAF VR; Flying Officer Roy Quarendon, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Hilgrove Teale, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Frank Snelling, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Edward Robbins, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Thomas Parker, RAF VR; Sergeant Ernest Stott, RAF VR; all 233 Squadron.  Flying Officer Harry Lethbridge, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1942

Cape San Vito

ROYAL NAVY  1125 hrs  Submarine HMS P 44 witnessed an attack on a Regolo class cruiser by HMS P 46, 16 miles northwest of Cape San Vito, which blew a considerable portion of the cruiser’s bow away.  P 44 attempted to finish her off but missed, though an escorting destroyer may have been hit.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beauforts from Mariut; three Spitfires from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Liberator, two LG 224s to DC 3.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed: pilot seriously injured.

HAL FAR  One Spitfire on a practice flight crash-lands: pilot unhurt.

LUQA  Nine sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering aerodromes and harbours of Sicily, Pantelleria and southern Sardinia.  Seven Wellingtons (four 104 Squadron, three 40 Squadron) were despatched to bomb Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes.  Five aircraft dropped bombs on Elmas aerodrome, scoring hits on the runways and doing considerable damage.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  All duties at Luqa aerodrome taken over by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the past 24 hours has found working parties at Hal Far as for Nov 7th.

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.

 

9 November 1942: Axis Fighters Move From Sicily to Tunisia

Over 80 enemy fighters are reported to have left Sicily since Wednesday.  It is believed that many of them are heading for Tunisia, as part of the effort to hold that territory in the face of the recent invasion.

FLEET AIR ARM ATTACK CONVOY

Fairey ‘Swordfish’ with torpedo

At midnight two torpedo-carrying Albacores and one torpedo-carrying Swordfish co-operated with a special Swordfish in an attack on three enemy cruisers and several destroyers en route from Navarino to Messina in position 144 degrees Spartivento 75 miles.  Three torpedoes were aimed at the cruisers but an effective smoke screen was put up.   Two explosions were observed, but all three cruisers were subsequently located at Augusta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 10 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to cloudy; clearing later.

No air raids.

1320-1425 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on practice flying and intercept patrol: no sightings.

1400-1440 hrs; 1525-1625 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne at a time on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Night  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne for a raid which does not materialise.  It patrols north of Malta at 12000 feet but sees no enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Charles Brennan, Royal Canadian Air Force, 544 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed being swept out by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from Gianaclis.  Departures  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance to Kilo 8.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Seven sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires which covered the aerodromes of southern Sardinia and harbours of Sicily, Tunis and Bizerta.  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron carried out shipping searches of Taranto, Messina and Sardinia areas.  One cruiser and three destroyers were sighted.  One aircraft failed to return: P/O Matthews, P/O Moffat, P/O James, P/O Reay, P/O Burgess, Sgt Watt missing.

Decimomannu aerodrome aerial view

1913-0330 hrs  Seven Wellingtons (three 40 Squadron, four 104 Squadron) were despatched to attack Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes.  Bombs were dropped on the aerodromes and on buildings to the south.  Some Heavy Ack Ack was encountered.  All aircraft returned.  2020-2125 hrs  Three torpedo-carrying Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were despatched to attack shipping in the Navarino area: no enemy aircraft seen.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0900 hrs  Convoy duties: 3 NCOs and 15 Other Ranks reported to Camerata Barracks for duties as tally clerks.  1 Officer, 5 NCOs and 16 Other Ranks reported to Mifsud’s Verandah for duties at Broken Case Store.  1200 hrs  1 Officer, 1 Warrant Officer and 12 Other Ranks reported for duty at Zabbar motor transport sub-depot.

1500 hrs  Transport and 26 drivers reported to sub-depot for duty.  Unit transport involved eight 15 cwt trucks, two 30 cwt trucks and three impressed vehicles.  1700 hrs  Green Dump established at San Gregoriu Church: 3 Officers, 11 NCOs and 50 Other Ranks reported for duty.  1 Officer 3 Other Ranks reported for duty with Docks Unit.  3 NCOs 18 Other Ranks reported Porte des Bombes for fire fighting duties at Docks.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1730 hrs  18 Officers 361 Other Ranks in position at five convoy dumps and one motor transport sub-depot, locations Pawla, Attard, Tal Balal, L’Imsierah, Hamrun and Gzira.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

10 November 1942: Enemy Transport Aircraft Arrive in Med

Axis command has introduced large numbers of transport aircraft into the Central Mediterranean area.  The planes were reported by pilots returning from reconnaissance missions over Trapani and Tunis, where no fewer than 40 of the aircraft have arrived since yesterday.

ME 323 Transport Aircraft

The majority of the new aircraft are JU 52s but a few larger models have also been seen, including JU 90s, FW 200s and ME 323s.   The latter is a six-engined plane with a 180 foot wingspan and is believed capable of carrying 40-50 fully equipped troops.  The transport aircraft have been observed flying in convoys of 25-30 planes each.

The transport fleet is understood to be part of the renewed efforts North African campaign by Axis forces.  Intelligence reports indicate that the enemy intend to occupy and defend as much as possible of Tunisia.  In response, Malta Air Command have been instructed to transfer the main weight of their bomber effort to the aerodrome of El Aouina at Tunis, where many of the Axis transports and some large gliders are concentrated.

MALTA AIR CREW CAPTURED

Junkers JU 90

One of nine Beaufighters of 272 Squadron despatched to attack German aircraft on El Aouina aerodrome in Tunis last night has been reported missing.  Visibility was good, with only a slight ground haze when the Beaufighters attacked in waves of four, strafing aircraft on the ground.  They reported destroying five JU 52s, two JU 90s and one JU 87, one large glider and a twin-engined aircraft.  They also damaged three JU 87s, two ME 109s, two JU 52s, one large glider, three twin-engined aircraft and five more unidentified aircraft.

The aerodrome’s defences opened up with small gun fire: one Beaufighter appears to have been hit: it was seen by crews of the other aircraft making a successful emergency landing near the airfield.  As the area is French territory the crew are likely to be interned if captured.

A Wellington bomber is also missing after an attack on Elmas aerodrome.  The bomber was one of seven Wellingtons sent to attack the airfield.  Bombs are reported to have fallen all over the aerodrome and runway, causing 17 small fires – believed to be aircraft.  Many hits were scored on an ammunition dump which exploded.

One torpedo-carrying and one bomb-carrying Wellington returned safely after attacking Axis shipping.  The two Wellingtons were on shipping reconnaissance west of Benghazi when they found a westbound merchant ship with a single escort vessel 80 miles east of Misurata.  One of the Wellingtons dropped flares, while the other attacked the merchantman with three 500 lb bombs, scoring near-misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 11 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

No air raids.

0650-0800 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0740-0840 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to friendly shipping.

0830-0945 hrs; 0945-1035 hrs  Three and then four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1018-1118 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island at 12-15000 feet.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0320-0338 hrs  One air raid alert for a single aircraft which proves to be friendly.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer II Byard Fisher, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF); Flying Officer Francis James, RCAF; Flying Officer Allison Burgess, RCAF; Sergeant Ralph Bland, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Hugh Locke, RCAF; Flying Officer William Mathews, RCAF; Flying Officer Verdun Ray, RCAF; Flight Sergeant Frank Lewsley, RAF VR; Flying Officer Bernard Moffatt, RCAF; Warrant Officer II Burchester McNall, RCAF; Warrant Officer II Frank Olsen, RCAF; all 69 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 10 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Porpoise was retained at Malta for a possible landing of military personnel in the Sousse area to captain certain coast defence guns.  0710 hrs  During patrol for Operation Torch HMS Una sighted an enemy force of three 6 inch cruisers, escorted by six destroyers in position 37-11N, 15-30E. Una attacked but missed the cruisers, but a fleet destroyer on the far side of the screen was hit and sunk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter landed in French territory: crew believed to have been interned.

LUQA  Seven sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering aerodromes and harbours in Sicily, northern Sardinia, Tunis and Bizerta.  1645-0450 hrs  Three torpedo-carrying Wellingtons and one special Wellington 69 Squadron were despatched to locate and attack enemy snipping in the Navarino area.  The special Wellington sighted three cruisers and two destroyers.  1730-0535 hrs  Four special Wellingtons 69 Squadron were airborne to search for enemy shipping in the Straits of Messina: no important sightings made.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  1 Officer, 7 NCOs and 16 Other Ranks reported at Docks for fire fighting duties on ships.  10 NCOs and 40 Other Ranks standing by as General Duty reserve.  Other convoy duties as yesterday.  5 Other Ranks reported as reserve drivers to sub-depot.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the past 48 hours has found working parties at Hal Far: 4 x 15 cwt trucks for food delivery, servicing aircraft and for mobile vehicle repairs; 2 impressed lorries for crater-filling; 2 motor-cycles for motor control work; 16 Other Ranks working above trucks.  At Zabbar sub-depot: 4 x 15 cwt trucks.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Dumps and sub-depot on four hours readiness.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

 

11 November 1942:  Qrendi Air Strip Opens

Qrendi air strip (NWMA Malta)

Qrendi air strip officially opened yesterday afternoon.  His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort performed the opening ceremony which was attended by commanders of all Services.  The Air Officer Commanding was given the honour of being the first pilot to use the new airfield, taking off in a fighter immediately after the formal proceedings.  The air strip is now expected to be fully operational.

MERCHANT SHIP GROUNDED EN ROUTE FOR MALTA

HMS Manxman grounded early this morning as she was embarking to bring supplies to Malta.  Manxman sailed from Alexandria at 0500 hours escorted by destroyers Dulverton, Beaufort, Aldenham, Hurworth and Belvoir.

On passing through the boom, the merchant vessel grounded outside the quarantine breakwater of Alexandria Harbour. She was refloated an hour later with the help of a tug.  An inspection of the hull reported no apparent damage and she was declared safe to proceed. After dark, the destroyers turned back for Alexandria and Manxman is reported continuing towards Malta at high speed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 12 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to cloudy.

No air raids.

1230-1340 hrs; 1345-1430 hrs  Four and then five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali search for a submarine: no sightings.

1425-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far search for the submarine but find nothing.

1450-1525 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1505-1810 hrs  Six Beaufighters were despatched to patrol the area between Cape Bon and Trapani.  One HE 115 was destroyed and one schooner shot up.

1620-1655 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2020-2125 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron patrols over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Charles Hall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant Basil Conway, RAF; Sergeant Claude Hotchkiss; Sergeant Kenneth Keston, RAF VR; Sergeant George Love, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Maxton, RAF; Sergeant Eric Mudd, RAF VR; Sergeant William Parsons, RAF; Sergeant Harold Watson, RAF VR; all 210 Squadron.  Lieutenant Gordan Brodziak, South African Air Force; Flight Sergeant Malcolm Humphrey, RAF; Sergeant William Lip-Guey, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Wallace Moss, RAF VR; all 608 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Joseph Busuttil, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 11 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 46 was swept in by Hebe, returning from patrol off Cape San Vito for Operation Torch. At 1123 on 8th November in position 38-14N, 12-43E she torpedoed and hit a Regolo class cruiser heavily escorted by destroyers. This hit was confirmed by a subsequent reconnaissance of Palermo.

Liberator Lands in Malta

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance from Gibraltar; one Liberator, one DC 3, one Wellington from LG 224.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One photo-reconnaissance Spitfire failed to return: pilot missing.  One Wellington failed to return from operations: crew missing.  One Wellington shot down in the sea: crew picked up uninjured.

LUQA  0800 hrs  One 5-6000 ton motor vessel is seen 10 miles south of Naples.  Night sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron cover aerodromes in Italy, Sicily and southern Sardinia.  2010-0125 hrs  Two Wellingtons 40 Squadron and three 104 Squadron were despatched to attack Tunis aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped on the target, causing considerable damage.  Night  Four Wellingtons were airborne on reconnaissance and patrol, covering the Straits of Messina area: no important sightings made and all aircraft returned safely.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Ships’ fire fighting party stands down.  Other convoy duties as for yesterday.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  4 Other Ranks temporarily attached to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt as tally clerks on docks.  1 Other Rank temporarily attached to Docks Unit as batman.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

12 November 1942:  Manxman Arrives With Supplies and Men

HMS Manxman

HMS Manxman entered Grand Harbour at 5 o’clock this afternoon after a successful 1000 mile passage through the eastern Mediterranean from Alexandria.  Manxman was carrying 350 tons of varied foodstuffs including much needed supplies of powdered milk, dried cereals, and preserved meat.  There were also 200 passengers, including RAF and Army personnel, for Malta.  The food was loaded into heavy sacks which slowed the unloading process.  Despite this 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment managed to complete the task by 0230 hours.  The cargo was immediately dispersed to safe keeping in the Island’s storage facilities.

A second supply run by HMS Welshman from the east has been delayed.  The ship set out from the UK on 1st November but has been delayed by bad weather in the eastern Meditteranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 13 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Rain early becoming fair.

No air raids.

0835 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled: raid does not materialise.

0855-1010 hrs  Twelve Spitfire sorties by 126 Squadron Luqa and twelve by 1435 Squadron: no enemy aircraft seen.

1345-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as escort to approaching ship: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1415-1540 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the ship 20 miles off Kalafrana.

1435-1520 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1500 hrs  B Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a circular object with red painted horns floating in the sea 100 yards offshore.

1536-1845 hrs  Seven Beaufighters were despatched to patrol over the Tunis-Sicilian channel.  Five Savoia Marchetti 82s with German markings were sighted 40 miles south east of Pantelleria on a northerly course.  A further SM 82 with Italian markings was following behind.  The Beaufighters attacked and destroyed them all.  Several khaki-clad figures were seen struggling in the water.

1735 hrs  C Coy 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report flashes on the horizon due east of Della Grazia, identified as possible gun fire.

1825 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for approaching aircraft which turn out to be friendly.

0405 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a red glare on the horizon off Della Grazia.

Military casualties  Sergeant Bruce Norman, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 154 Squadron, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 12 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Utmost

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept Utmost in from patrol, and then went out again to sweep Manxman into Grand Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 224.  Departures  One DC3, one Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Two Beaufighters overshot runway on landing: crew uninjured.  One Beaufort crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire belly-landed at Luqa: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  The Air Officer Commanding has sent personal congratulations to ground staff for achieving a record high level of serviceability, including 100% Spitfire serviceability, demonstrating excellent teamwork on the part of all concerned.  Seven sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering aerodromes and harbours in Sicily, Sardinia and Tunis.

1805-0505 hrs  Six Wellingtons attacked El Aouina aerodrome, starting many fires and causing a large explosion – believed to be a fuel dump.  The Wellingtons made a second sortie against the target and caused more fires.  Bombs were seen to explode near hangars and a gun position was silenced.  All aircraft returned safely.  2015 hrs  Six Wellingtons (two of 40 Squadron, four of 104 Squadron) were despatched to attack Tunis.  All bombing was confined to the aerodromes: fires and large explosions seen.  0120-0540 hrs  Five Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in the approachs to Tunis harbour.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bn ‘stood by’ to unload HMS Manxman.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1630 hrs  General Duty reserve reported to No 5 Dock and were employed in unloading HMS Manxman.  Other convoy duties as for yesterday.

4th HEAVY ACK ACK REGIMENT  PM  Orders given to preset ammunition for ship barrage for HMS Manxman.  Dockyard barrages now have priority.

1st Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Red, Brown and Blue [Supply] Dumps remain in position.  White and Pink Dumps stand down except for skeleton guard.  Sub-depot continues operating.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  E Company apprehended 6 civilians smuggling eggs and cheese from Gozo: they were handed over to the civil police.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

 

13 November 1942: Malta Fighters Disable 13 Axis Transport Planes

Focke-Wulf FW 200

Seven Beaufighters patrolling the Tunisian-Sicilian channel at 5000 feet today sighted large formations of enemy transport planes flying at 100 feet.  The Beaufighters attacked, destroying six enemy aircraft and probably destroying seven.  One Beaufighter is missing and six were slightly damaged in the attack.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 14 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy.

No air raids.

0845-0920 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of the Island: nothing sighted.

1100-1315 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne and patrol as far as Mandia but see no aircraft or shipping.

1535-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol see a Spitfire crash into the sea and cover the pilot in his dinghy until he is picked up by the High Speed Launch.

1535-1845 hrs  Seven Beaufighters 272 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight and attack six Savoia Marchetti  82s, shooting all six down into the sea.  Two Beaufighters are damaged in combat: one crash-lands at base and is written off.

1612-1707 hrs  One Swordfish RNAS Hal Far is despatched on Air Sea Rescue and drops a dinghy to a pilot in the sea 16 miles west of Dingli.  He is later picked up by the High Speed Launch.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer II John Stephen, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Samuel Whear, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; both 227 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 13 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una and P 44 were swept in by Rye after missions for Operation Torch.  HMS P 44 was returning to Malta from patrol off the northwest of Sicily.   HMS Una was back from patrol off the southern approaches of Messina and Port Augusta.  Speedy, Hythe and Hebe carried out searching sweep of QBB 298 and swept six mines.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Four Beaufighters damaged by enemy action: crews uninjured.  Two Beaufighters crash-landed at Luqa: crews uninjured.  One Beaufighter shot down in the sea: crew missing.  One Spitfire missing in transit from Gibraltar to Malta.

LUQA  Six sorties were flown by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires covering the harbours of Naples, Taranto and Messina.  Two Baltimores 89 Squadron searched for shipping in the Marittimo area.  Night  One special Wellington 69 Squadron was sent on a shipping search in the area Cavoli-Marittimo: a number of sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0315 hrs  General Duty reserve completed unloading duties.  Personnel employed at Green Dump reduced to 3 NCOs and 12 men on guard duties.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

 

14 November 1942: El Aouina Under Fire

Axis aircraft destroyed at El Aouina

At 1525 hours this afternoon seven Beaufighters of 272 Squadron based at Ta Qali were sent to attack El Aouina aerodrome in Tunis.  Despite intense flak over the target, they strafed the airfield, destroying three JU 52s and three JU 88s, and damaging one JU 87 and one single-engined aircraft on the ground.

Two Beaufighters have been reported missing following the raid.  One was seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis: the crew S/Ldr A Watson and P/O C F Cutting are believed taken prisoners of war.  The whereabouts of the other crew, F/Lt Bale and Sgt Soutter,  are unknown.  The remaining Beaufighters landed safely at 1850 hours this evening.

Tonight seven Wellingtons were despatched to attack El Aouina.  Bombs explode on the landing ground and in dispersal areas, starting several fires.  The Wellingtons made a second sortie and bombs were seen exploding among the buildings, starting two large fires.  All aircraft returned safely.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 14 NOVEMBER 1942

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

1.  No enemy air activity.

2.  Much offensive and reconnaissance air activity in support of Operation Torch.  Beaufighters on daylight shoot-ups El Aouina, destroyed ten transport planes, one large glider, five other planes.  Damaged two transports, one glider and five other planes on the ground.  Beaufighters and Spitfires on patrol Tunisian Sicilian channel intercepted and destroyed 20 transport planes and three other planes; probably destroyed seven transport planes.

By night Wellingtons and Fleet Air Arm aircraft scored torpedo hits: one, possibly two, cruisers near misses with bombs on one merchant vessel.  Wellingtons bombed Elmas and El Aouina where much damaged caused.  Also Cagliari and Decimomannnu.  Beauforts laid mines on approaches to Tunis.

3.  HMS Manxman arrived with approximately 350 tons foodstuffs unloaded by army personnel.  Large working parties on aerodromes continue.

4.  Qrendi landing strip opened.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 15 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather Fair.

No air raids.

0645-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0900-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa patrol 30 miles north east of Malta in response to a report of a possible air raid: enemy aircraft do not approach the Island.

Messerschmitt Bf 110

1000-1255 hrs  Eight long-range Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa carry out a reconnaissance patrol over the Tunisian-Sicilian channel.  They sight one BR 20 with escorting fighters and attack: P/O Piggot destroys one BR 20; P/O Hibbert destroys one ME 110.  Sgt Hendry damages one JU 90 and Sgt Mortimer damages one ME 110. 

1400-1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron carry out reconnaissance in the Cape Bon area.  P/O Kirkman or Sgt Kebble destroy one BR 20; F/Lt McLennan destroys one SM 82 [later identified as S 75].

1155-1325 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of Gozo: nothing sighted.

1215-1555 hrs  Eight Beaufighters on patrol destroy one JU 88, one SM 85 and one ME 109.  Two Beaufighters are reported missing.

1400-1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires on reconnaissance patrol sight a BR 20 and a SM 82 and attack, destroying them both.  Four  Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol as far as Lampedusa and Linosa: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1505-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1605-1735 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: they chase one enemy aircraft but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Seven Beaufighters patrolling the Sicilian channel destroy one HE 114.

Military casualties  Sergeant Cecil Candler, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant John Hughes, RAF; Flying Officer Robert Pearson, RAF; Flying Officer David Witherspoon, Royal Canadian Air Force; all 227 Squadron.  Flight Lieutenant Leslie Bale, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Robert Soutter, RAF VR; both 272 Squadron. Flight Lieutenant Francis Bassett, RAF, 152 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant George Davidson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire, six Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Beaufighters from ECDU; two Baltimores from LG 227; two Liberators from LG 224; four Wellingtons from Gianaclis.  Aircraft casualties  Four Beaufighters shot down by enemy aircraft: crews missing.  One Beaufighter force-landed in French territory: crew saved.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  3 x 1 ton lorries and six Other Ranks reported for transport duties on Luqa.  3 trucks and 6 drivers reported for Brigade special duties at Naxxar.

3rd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  200 men began pen-building at Qrendi aerodrome.  1600 from various units are distributed on the other aerodromes, assisting with maintenance and servicing.

(1) Adapted from Sydney Morning Herald 9 November 1942

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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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31 May 1942: RAF Wins in the Skies but Belts Tight on the Ground

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“Rations have during the month been considerably reduced, and it is now a case of tightening belts until the next convoy comes in.”  (1)

Kingsway, May 1942 (NWMA Malta)

MAY 1942: THE ARMY VIEW

At the beginning of this month it became obvious that the enemy were not maintaining as many aircraft on the Sicilian aerodromes.  The attacks on this Island were on a reduced scale.  On 9th the Island received large reinforcements of Spitfires.  On 10th a minelaying cruiser brought supplies of Bofors ammunition to the Island and this ship was heavily bombed by JU 88s and JU 87s during its stay in the Dockyard.

The enemy was surprised to find over 60 Spitfires in the air waiting for him and also the heaviest Ack Ack barrage that has been seen over Malta for some months.  The result was – on that day the enemy lost 63 aircraft destroyed or damaged.

Since that time we have had air superiority over the Island.  Since this heavy defeat the enemy used mainly Italian aircraft and crews in his attacks and, although the raids have been on a much smaller scale, the percentage of enemy aircraft damaged or destroyed has been very high.  Towards the end of the month bombing raids against Italian targets were resumed from this Island.

A feature of the month has been the increase of enemy E Boat activity around the Island.  Undoubtedly some of these boats have been engaged in mine laying but this is probably not the only explanation of their activities.  On 17th some of these E Boats were engaged by our coast defences and one was left abandoned.  Rather than let this boat fall into our hands and reveal its secrets it was bombed and sunk by enemy aircraft.  On 18th an Italian came ashore at post T4 and, from information given by this prisoner, it appeared that the enemy may possibly be testing our coast defences with a view to making a ‘Commando’ raid against the Island.

During the month nearly all the troops… who are not manning key positions have been engaged in construction work on aerodromes, and salvage work clearing up the damage caused by the heavy bombing in the previous month.  The work on aerodromes has consisted of building pens to protect our aircraft and standing by to fill in craters and thus keep the aerodromes serviceable.

AIR COMMAND REPORTS ON STATE OF AIRFIELDS

By the beginning of May 236 pens had been completed in the aerodromes.  This work had to be given priority over slit trenches, because of the delay in the dispersal programmes.  The allowance of petrol to the RAF was 3000 gallons a week and was not to be exceeded.  All airmen living within four miles of the aerodromes had to march to work.  This limitation of petrol was a serious handicap to aerodrome work.

There was a grave shortage of miners owing to the shelter construction programme, and so any possibility of putting workshops underground had to be shelved, and we had to rely more upon dispersal than on underground workshops.  Stores were distributed to 27 houses throughout the Island and 60 per cent of the work at Kalafrana in engine and airframes repairs was moved to Gzira, including instrument, armament, airscrew, coppersmith and petrol tank repairs.

As regards work on the aerodromes there was a very serious shortage of rollers.  Rollers had to be used and manned during the whole of daylight hours with relief crews.  Often during the whole 24 hours when bombing was heavy and aerodromes had to be made usable.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1221-1259 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1340 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of Italian and German fighters.

1345 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the fighters approach the coast.  603 Squadron Spitfires engage the Re 2001s and ME 109s as they attempt a sweep over the Island.  The Spitfires attack but no strikes are seen.  One Spitfire falls into a bomb-hole while taxiing and breaks its back: the pilot is unhurt.

1508-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to search a position east north east of Grand Harbour.  They sight debris: an overturned float and a raft.

1804-1843 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1945 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four of 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft.  They chase the ME 109s but do not engage.

2235 hrs; 2350 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Chandler, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Domenico Vella, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 31 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Trusty Star, Beryl, and ML 126 sent to Marsaxlokk to sweep the approaches to that Harbour.  HM 235 sweeping off Grand Harbour.  17 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Hudsons, two Spitfires, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons, three Hudson to LG 222; one Blenheim, one Hurricane to Sidi Barrani; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

LUQA  2055-0106 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  The raid was very successful: large fires are seen, believed to be commercial oil storage tanks.  Explosions were seen on the jetty and railway lines.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  15 Malta Volunteer Defence Force fired on Pembroke Ranges.  Shooting quite good.  GOC present.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  One unexploded anti-personnel grenade is reported at 526186.  Strengths:  Officers 36; Other Ranks 833; RAOC (attached) 5; RAMC 1.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Strength of battalion: 33 Officers, 654 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Spr Briffa, No 2 Works Company RE, was involved in a motor-car accident and admitted to hospital.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported nil; dealt with 8 (Italian Thermos).  Strengths  HQ Fortress RE 4 Officers, 18 Other Ranks; 24 Fortress Coy RE 5 Officers, 219 Other Ranks; 173 Tunnelling Company RE 6 Officers 204 Other Ranks; No 1 Works Company RE 5 Officers 225 Other Ranks; No 2 Works Company RE 6 Officers 229 Other Ranks; 127 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 20 Other Ranks; 128 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 16 Other Ranks.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.  A Company Jebel Ciantar 4 Officers 131 Other Ranks; B Coy Ta Karceppu 5 Officers 122 Other Ranks; C Coy Inquisitors Palace 5 Officers 133 Other Ranks; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 Other Ranks; HQ Coy Ta Salvator 15 Officers 261 Other Ranks.  Chaplain and Medical Officer attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The unit has supplied several working parties during the month for Ta Qali aerodrome and the work has consisted of constructing aircraft pens, repairing runways, filling in bomb craters and salvage.  Owing to the very heavy raids during the month this has been very arduous work.

(1) War Diary, 8th Bn The Manchester Regiment, May 1942

 

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30 May 1942: Most Concentrated Attack in the History of Aerial Warfare

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Tug HMS St Angelo sunk by a mine

AIR COMMAND REFLECTS ON CHANGING FORTUNES IN MALTA SKIES

By her resolute opposition Malta has weakened Rommel’s ability to strike at Egypt and is absorbing considerable shock for the Russians by causing wastage, which the German Air Force can ill afford.

Field Marshal Kesselring lost his fight against us when he commanded the German Air Force in the Battle of Britain.  He also failed in his attack on Moscow.  If he fails against Malta a great blow at the heart of German Air Force prestige will have been struck.  When full-scale operations are resumed on the Russian front Malta will almost certainly have a measure of relief by the withdrawal of some units or at least by units based in Sicily getting a lower degree of priority in the matter of replacement aircraft.

The scale of attack against Malta is the most concentrated and sustained attack in the history of aerial warfare.  The average effort of 200 sorties per 24 hours during the early part of April following the 100 sorties averaged during March shows that the utmost is being extracted from the force available.  To achieve this effort two sorties a day by aircraft must be common and a third sortie, particularly by fighters and dive-bombers, is by no means rare.  This intensive use of units over a confined area in which defences are highly concentrated must be producing a high wastage apart from aircraft destroyed.  There are grounds for thinking that the number of aircraft damaged is higher than Malta’s claims. 

Certainly it can be said that, with the resumption of full-scale operations in all theatres, Malta’s contribution to the limitation of Germany’s air power will be felt by the German Air Force for a long time.  War Diary, Air HQ Malta, May 1942

HMS ST ANGELO MINED

HMS St Angelo was sunk at 1415 hrs this afternoon with the loss of four of her crew.  The 150 ton auxiliary tug was involved in a minesweeping operation about ¾ mile off the entrance to Grand Harbour when she struck a mine.  The three other vessels, Beryl, Trusty Star and Swona, returned to port undamaged.

Before being transferred to minesweeping, the tug was a familiar sight in Grand Harbour, ferrying Royal Navy personnel from Fort St Angelo to several destinations, and more recently carrying out rescues from the Harbour waters.  The casualties have been named as Leading Seaman Joseph Debattista, Able Seaman Vincent Farrugia, Stoker Paul Grima and Stoker Joseph Said.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 MAY TO DAWN 31 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; fairly clear – slightly hazy.

0510-0555 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali conduct a patrol off the coast.  One aircraft sights a patch of oil two miles off the coast.

1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept approaching fighters; nil report.

1104-1303 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1132 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a fighter sweep over the Island.

1215-1305 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to patrol the Island: nothing sighted.

1635-1745 hrs  Eight Spitfies 249 Squadron airborne to intercept incoming enemy fighters; nil report.

1705 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1810 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming Italian bombers with a twenty strong fighter escort, including Re 2001s and Macch 202s.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and five of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.

1812 hrs  Three Cant 1007s drop eighteen 100kg bombs on Luqa, causing craters on the runway and damaging one Spitfire. 

The Spitfire patrols intercept the retreating formation.  The cannons of three Spitfires of 185 Squadron jam but Sgt Ferraby is able to fire, damaging one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  126 Squadron’s F/Sgt Milner, P/O Johnson and P/O Goldsmith damage one Cant 1007; F/Sgt Parks damages another.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one Re 2001.  Sgt Smith destroys one Re 2001, and damages one Cant 1007.

1925-2045 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to escort Hudsons arriving on the Island.

2150 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

2335 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching hostile aircraft.

2355 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol to intercept.  He climbs to 14000 feet and chases a Cant bomber towards the coast of Sicily where he attacks a Cant 1007 bis which is seen to crash into the sea.  He returns safely at 0045 hrs.

0455-0601 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to search for a missing delivery Wellington.  They see a large patch of oil five miles north east of Malta.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Lamb, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Welshman; Private Anthony Gusman, 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties   Mosta  Francis Bezzina, age 12; Albino Bezzina, age 11; Edwin Gatt, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 30 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  20 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG 05; three Hudsons, six Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One CW 20 to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; three Hudsons to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100 hrs  Four Albacores and one Swordfish of the NAS took off on strike.  No sightings and all aircraft returned at 0230 hrs.

LUQA  1215-1500 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina and Palermo Harbour.   2104-0345 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight was despatched to locate, shadow and bomb a southbound convoy.  He sighted one merchant vessel and one destroyer and dropped bombs on the merchant vessel which were seen to explode short by 75 yards.  2330-0317 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  One turned back with engine trouble.  The others dropped bombs on the target area: no results observed.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 4 Section, No 2 Works Company RE completed accommodation for Advanced HQ for GOC Troops, Malta.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 4(1 x 1000kg; 2 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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4 May 1942: Pilots Watch Helpless as Spitfire Ace Shot Down in Flames

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Flt Lt Norman MacQueen

FIGHTER PILOTS LOOK ON AS FIGHTER ACE ATTACKED

RAF fighter pilots at Ta Qali had to watch helplessly as one of their comrades was jumped by a German fighter this afternoon.  Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen was one of eight Spitfire pilots scrambled to intercept a heavily protected formation of Italian bombers attacking Grand Harbour.  He was heading back towards Ta Qali from where his comrades watched as he was jumped by a Messerschmitt fighter.

“Norman was flying with another Spitfire and about to attack some 109s, when we saw a 109 sweep across the sky behind him.  Vainly we shouted, ‘Turn! Spit!’ as if there was some hope that he might hear us.  But evidently neither of them saw the 109 and just kept straight on.  We saw the 109’s tracer going right into Norman’s machine.  His spitfire lurched and gave up a thin smoke trail.  For some time it seemed to be under control and circled downwards as if he hoped to land.  Then suddenly the nose went forward, and the machine dived like a stone into the ground, bursting into flames as it hit.” 

The award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen was announced in the London Gazette on 1 May 1942. (1)

MALTA HAS NEW INFANTRY BRIGADE

A new Infantry Brigade as been formed today, increasing the Malta Command structure from three Infantry Brigades to four.  The Western Infantry Brigade is now added to the Central, Northern and Southern Brigades to improve efficiency and coverage across the Island.  The new Brigade will include 4th Bn The Buffs (Royal East Kent) Regiment, 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry and 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment, whose former Commanding Officer, Lt Col F G R Brittorous, DSO, MC, takes over command of the new Brigade.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MAY TO DAWN 5 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0703-0737 hrs  One JU 88 and four ME 109 carry out a reconnaissance patrol across the Island.  They are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack: no claims.

1013 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for plots of enemy aircraft approaching the Island.

1025 hrs  Six enemy fighters approach from the south east and attack Marsaxlokk Bay.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers drop bombs near a trawler and an oil barge in the Bay.  Bombs also land on Wolseley Camp and near the camp Battery.  Guns of E Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt engage two ME 109s which are seen to leave the Island smoking.  Guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt engage one ME 109: hits claimed.

1038-1047 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack Luqa aerodrome and the Safi strip.  Bombs on the main airfield explode near three defence posts: one 15 cwt lorry is destroyed.  A working party of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engages the attacking aircraft with light machine guns, claiming damage to two JU 88s.  Bombs explode either side of their position: 2/Lt Angell and Cpl Latchem are slightly hurt.  Twelve bombs are dropped on Safi strip.

1110 hrs  All clear.

1621 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for incoming formations of enemy fighters and bombers.

1626 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers with fighter escort carry out a repeat dive-bombing attack on Marsaxlokk Bay.  This time bombs score a direct hit on the oil barge and sink it. Bombs are also dropped on Wolseley Camp, damaging a guard room and a gas decontamination centre.

Guns of Fort Ta Silch engage two ME 109s flying east to west at 50 feet.

1645 hrs  Three JU 88s bomb Pieta, Manoel Island and Floriana.

1650 hrs  Three JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on the Hal Far area.  Only one bomb falls within the perimeter of the aerodrome, damaging one Swordfish aircraft.

1650-1700 hrs  Five JU 88s at 2-3000 feet and three ME 109s at 50-300 feet are engaged by seven guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims one ME 109 damaged.

1715 hrs  Raiders passed.

1740 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa and four from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of enemy aircraft.  They are unable to reach the height of the five Cant 1007s who come with a close escort of Macchi 202s at 21000 feet.  14 ME 109s engage the Spitfires.  F/Lt MacQueen, 249 Squadron (Ta Qali), is fired at by a ME 109.  His machine crashes near Naxxar and explodes.  Sgt Brennan (Ta Qali) probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt McConnell (Luqa) engages ME 109s but is hit in the radiator; the pilot is unhurt.

1750 hrs  Five Cant 1007 bombers drop bombs between Corradino and Paola from a high level.  Ack Ack guns destroy one enemy aircraft and damage one.

1815 hrs  Raiders passed.  All seven remaining Spitfires land at Ta Qali.

1930 hrs  A Spitfire on transit from Gibraltar to Malta overshoots the runway and crashes, slightly damaging the aircraft.

Night  Two short alerts: bombs in the south east of the Island and in the sea off Grand Harbour.

2250 hrs  Air raid alert.  A Wellington aircraft on transit from Gibraltar to Malta stalls while coming in to land at Luqa and crashes.  The aircraft is written off but the crew are unhurt.

2305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Incendiaries are reported south of Fort Ta Silch.

2310 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen, DFC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Gunner James Ancient, 186 Battery, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Saviour Bonello, 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Carmelo Schembri, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 4 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S), Tenth Submarine Flotilla and staff left for Alexandria by air.  Oil lighter and tug C308 at Marsaxlokk machine gunned by ME 109s, only slight damage was caused, but during a later raid, the oil lighter was dive bombed and sunk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims, two Spitfires, two Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Hudson to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing; crew uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down: pilot killed.

LUQA  0810-0945 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Italian aerodromes.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  1800-2400 hrs  Working party at Ta Qali continues.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Exercise continues.  There has been no action.  Troops have just “stood to” morning and evening.  1800 hrs  Exercise finishes; Bn stands down and we revert to normal.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 21(4 x 500kg, 14 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg, 1 x Italian anti-personnel bomb container).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0500 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” down.  0730 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.   1800 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” completed.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Our Commanding Officer Lt Col F G R Brittorous, DSO, MC was given command of the new Western Infantry Brigade, consisting of 4 Buffs, 1st Durham Light Infantry and 8 Kings Own.

(1) Diary of Squadron Leader Lord David Douglas-Hamilton, Blackwood’s Magazine, May 1944

 

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28 April 1942: ‘Blackest Day’ as Enemy Targets Church Killing 13

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“There will not be a St Publius Church for tourists to see after the war…All that remains is a memory and a pile of broken masonry”  German Radio 1942 (1)

St Publius Church bomb damage (NWMA Malta)

HISTORIC CHURCH BOMBED WITH 26 CASUALTIES: EYE WITNESS REPORT

“On the morning of April 28, at about 8am…four separate formations of enemy bombers, some forty in all, appeared on the skyline…Then three enemy bombers detached themselves from the last formation and, diving low over the picturesque Church of St Publius in Floriana, they dropped their loads, leaving behind a heart-breaking wreck. 

One bomb struck the dome, crashed down on the high altar and penetrated into the crypt, where about a dozen persons taking cover were killed instantaneously, among them one of the best loved and respected members of the clergy, Rev Pawl Portelli.  Another bomb dropped between the two belfries, tearing away part of the façade, destroying the statue of Our Lady and blowing off the top section of the inner pillars of the church.  Yet another of the enemy’s bombs exploded inside the church and damaged the beautiful statue of the patron saint.

All of a sudden, as if whipped by a strong hand, the people rushed out shouting, weeping and protesting against the dastardly deed.  A mantle of heavy dust still hung over the battered church when the rescue-party arrived; but work was impossible as chaos and pandemonium reigned supreme.  Finally the bad news that several had been killed was broken, and parents and relatives pressed their way through the crowd to see for themselves.” J Xerri (1)

Enemy’s Fury Concentrated on Church

Today has been described as the blackest day for Floriana.  Apart from other places hit, the enemy’s fury was concentrated on St Publius Parish Church which sustained very heavy damage.  When the Church Crypt collapsed, thirteen persons were killed, five were seriously injured and six were slightly injured.  Nothing in the war to date has shaken Floriana as much.

WORKS PREPARE FOR MORE SPITFIRES

Extensive preparations are underway at Ta Qali for the arrival of further Spitfires.  No date has yet been given for the delivery.  Administrative Staff have pointed out to Air Command that, due to excessive secrecy, a lack of instructions last time until the planes actually landed at Ta Qali left the ground organisation unprepared for their arrival.  This will be remedied.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 APRIL TO DAWN 29 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; 70% cloud (haze) at 15,000 feet.

0750 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming formation of 100 enemy aircraft.

0807 hrs  Eight JU 88s bomb Mellieha Camp and four fly on to bomb Ghain Tuffieha.

0810 hrs  38 bombers with fighters as escort bomb the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, Manoel Island, Msida, Sliema and Tigne.

15 JU 88s attack Valletta and Floriana.  St Publius Church, Floriana, is hit by several bombs. The dome and the crypt are demolished, and a number of houses in St Publius Street partly demolished.  Other buildings are destroyed in St Anne Square, St Thomas Street, Strait Street, Gunlayer Street and Capuchin Street.

0825 hrs  One JU 88 crossing from Hompesch  towards Zonqor is engaged by light machine gun fire by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

0830 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron fly out to sea to intercept incoming aircraft and on their return run into four ME 109s.  P/O Stade damages one ME 109.

21 JU 87s dive-bomb Luqa, destroying the Electrical Section, Officers’ quarters and mess, Sergeants’ quarters and a van.  Many other barracks and buildings and a mobile crane are destroyed.  The Sick Quarters and Fighter Flight officers are half demolished.

Three Spitfires 261 Squadron are airborne from Luqa and intercept the JU 87s after the raid.  F/Lt Johnston damages one JU 87.  P/O McLean lands at Ta Qali.

11 JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far aerodrome and dispersal areas, and on Benghaisa gun position, wounding one Other Rank.

0840 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun Torri l’Abjad, damaging the building.

0845 hrs  Two JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: two hits claimed on one JU 88.

0915 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Misrah Blandun and the Safi strip area.

0917 hrs  Raiders passed.

1020-1033 hrs  Two ME 109s circle to the north of the Island.

1245 pm  A total plot of 90 enemy aircraft approach Malta from the north.  30 ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep across the Island before bombers cross the coast and attack the Grand Harbour area, Luqa and Ta Qali airfields.

Three Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy bombers.  P/O McKay and Sgt Boyd engage: results unknown.  P/L Fletcher fails to return.

20 JU 87s attack the Dockyard and French Creek.  A bomb hits the Carmine Tunnel and the EEM’s Drawing Office is demolished. Bombs on Store Wharf cause road blocks and sink lighters, a fire float and water vessel, as well as a tug alongside.  The Officers’ Mess at Marsa gun position is destroyed.  The entrance of a shelter in Senglea Wharf is hit by a bomb, killing 13 and fatally injuring two others.

10 JU 88s attack Valletta and Floriana.  Two bombs explode on Hastings Gardens, another hits a former barracks, demolishing stores and blocking a road.   9 JU 88s bomb Msida, Tigne and Manoel.

1305 hrs  14 JU 88s carry out mid-level and dive-bombing attacks on Luqa and the Safi strip.  One Wellington is destroyed and the dispersal areas cratered.

13 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, cratering runways and dispersal areas and further damaging buildings on the aerodrome.

1330 hrs  One stick of bombs explodes immediately north of Zejtun village.  JU 88s crossing Fort Ta Silch after an attack on Luqa are engaged by guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1339 hrs  Raiders passed.

1725 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an incoming formation of 52 enemy bombers with fighter escort: one ME 109 is damaged.  Enemy bombers divide into four formations to attack Fort Tigne, Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far airfields.

1733 hrs  20 JU 87s and JU 88s carry out mid-level and dive-bombing attacks on Luqa.  Bombs hit the Sergeants’ Mess shelter and a surface shelter outside the Photographic Section.  A water main is penetrated and quarters of the Kings Own Malta Regiment at Poor House are damaged.  Two RAF personnel and one Maltese airman are slightly injured.

1734 hrs  14 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, further cratering the aerodrome and runways.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far and intercept 10 JU 88s and six JU 87s.  Sgt Dodd engages two JU 88s and one JU 87: no results observed.

1747 hrs  An air raid on Hal Far by six JU 88s causes craters on the aerodrome and damages the officers’ quarters.  One Albacore is slightly damaged.

1810 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claim.

1832 hrs  Raiders passed.

Night  No alerts.

Enemy losses  By Malta fighters  One ME 109 and one JU 87 damaged.  By Ack Ack: one JU 88 destroyed, three JU 88s and one JU 87 damaged.  By Ack Ack fire   2 JU88 destroyed, 3 JU88 damaged, 1 JU87 damaged by Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Fletcher, Royal Canadian Air Force, 186 Squadron; Pilot Officer Thomas Foley, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Pilot Officer John McFarlane, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Gunner John Keegan 196th Bty, 65 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Arthur Suter, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Private Arthur Taylor, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; Lance-Corporal Publius Xuereb, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Annunziato Callus, age 65.  Floriana  Annetta Barbara, age 41; Calcedonio Cardona, age 79; Joseph Enriquez, age 65; Joseph Grima, age 64; Mary Mangion, age 74; Salvatore Morana, age 68; Revd Paul Portelli, age 52; Calcedonio Scerri, age 63; Assunta Tabone, age 48.  Hamrun  Vincent Vella, age 50.  Paola  Saviour Salsero, age 66.  Qormi  Carmelo Calleja, age 58.  Senglea  Carmela Borg, age 27; Carmel Borg, age 3; Lawrence Gatt, age 62; Adelaide Gatt, age 60; Carrie Gellel, age 20; Carrie Green, age 20; William Iles, age 24; Mary Micallef, age 39; Josephine Saguna, age 50; Antonia Sizeland, age 46; Charles Sizeland, age 8.  Valletta  Joseph Dalli, age 62; Joseph Grech, age 62; Charles Rapinett, age 50.  Zabbar  Vincent Pulis, age 37.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to Fayid, one Hudson to Gibralter, one Hudson to Gambut, one Wellington, one Beaufort to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  One Hurricane 229 Squadron crashed during an air test and caught fire.  Pilot P/O Foley is killed.

TA QALI   40 NCOs and airmen from Luqa Salvage Corps accommodated in tents at Boschetto Gardens owing to bombing of San Salvatore Barracks.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company billets receive a direct hit during the first raid: Pte A Tayor is killed.  Bombs fall at the entrance to Battalion HQ.  The RE store is hit.  The Officers’ Mess moved into St Francis Ravelin again: the old mess had to be evacuated due to bad drains.  Slight damage to B Company billet at Church Hall in the Dockyard.  Power station hit.  The Orderly Room is now almost in darkness: only candles or hurricane lamps available.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Further bombs on Casemate Barracks: more damage to RE WO/Sgts Mess. No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 33; dealt with 6 (2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn  L/Cpl P Xuereb dies through enemy action while on leave in Floriana.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.

(1) From When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981

 

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

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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21 April 1942: Malta’s Troops Praised World Over Says CO

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Maj Gen D M W Beak

SPECIAL MESSAGE TO ALL RANKS OF THE ARMY 21 APRIL 1942                      

FROM MAJOR-GENERAL D M W BEAK VC DSO MC, GENERAL OFFICER COMMANDING TROOPS, MALTA

“I wish you all to know how much I appraise and appreciate the steadfast and excellent work you have been giving and still are to our cause which is the cause of all free people.

You have been experiencing a tense period fraught with intense difficulties.  Nevertheless you have responded gallantly and never once failed or faltered.  You are sticking to the job with a cheerfulness and fortitude which is beyond praise.  Much has been asked of you but more have you given.The spirit of your effort is representative of the best which the British breed has ever produced in its long history of brilliant achievement and that is saying much.

I know you are straining at the leash to be able to get at the enemy.  Nothing can be more trying than having to ‘sit and take it’.  The day will come when we shall ‘rise and give it’ and then I know you will not be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

There must be many questions passing through your minds which cannot, at the moment, be answered.  Remember that there are no points in the present situation which are forgotten and no efforts lacking to see it through to a successful conclusion.

Your spirited work is known and praised the world over but nowhere is it better known, more understood and appreciated, than in this Island by those of us who are fully in the picture.  Your effort is magnificent.  You may be justly proud.”                                       

ME 109

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT: FEARLESS RETALIATION

Troops of D Company, 3rd Battalion Kings Own Malta Regiment were attacked by two Messerchmitt fighters while out on a route march at noon today.  As the ME 109s swooped low over the march, the infantrymen primed their rifles and returned fire.

Later this afternoon a number of ME 109s flew low over the sector of 1st Battalion, whose Ack Ack Platoon immediately responded with a volley of machine gun fire.  An hour later, A Company of 3rd Battalion opened fire on another enemy aircraft, which then crashed into the sea about four miles off the coast.

AMERICAN PILOT LOST

American pilot Hiram Putnam was killed this afternoon when his Spitfire hit a steel wireless mast and crashed.  Texas born Putnam, serving as a Pilot Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, had been attacked with cannon fire by an enemy fighter.  It is believed he was mortally injured by the attack: his aircraft which spun out of control and crashed into the pylon near quarters of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment who immediately mounted a guard at the site.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 APRIL TO DAWN 22 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; 50% cloud at 15000 feet.

0722 hrs  Large formations of enemy aircraft, including over 70 bombers plus fighter escort,  approach the Island.

0830 hrs  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron based at Hal Far are airborne and intercept twelve JU 88s.  P/O Horricks claims one JU 88 probable and one ME 109 damaged.  Sgt Finlay damages one ME 109.  Sgt Fullalove 229 Squadron is missing.

Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are also airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are destroyed; one JU 88 damaged.  One Spitfire from Luqa is shot up by ME 109s and crash-lands at Hal Far; the Pilot F/Lt Barnham is uninjured.  P/O Brooker does not return.

13 JU 88s attack Ta Qali, aiming for what they believe to be underground hangars beneath the airfield.

Six JU 88s carry out a medium level bombing raid on Luqa causing slight damage to a Maryland.

0845 hrs  As the JU 88s turn away from their attack on Luqa, they are intercepted by six Spitfires from Ta Qali.  S/L Grant and P/O Plagis between them destroy one JU 88.  P/O Plagis destroys one ME 109 and Sgt Hesselyn damages one.  F/O Buchanan damages one JU 88.

35 JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali in two waves, dropping some 150 high explosive bombs on the airfield, causing craters in dispersal roads and damaging buildings.  Four Spitfires are written off and five slightly damaged.

0910 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack the Dockyard, Corradino and Marsa Creek.  SS Pampas is hit.

0910-0930 hrs  Six guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s.  One gun claims a hit on the nose of a ME 109: smoke appears and gunners claim the aircraft as ditched in the sea.

1032 hrs  All clear.

1210 hrs  Several plots of enemy aircraft are identified approaching the Island from the north.  Bombers peel off to attack Salina Bay, damaging billets of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment and wounding one Other Rank at Salina gun position.

1220-1335 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft, claiming one JU 88 probably destroyed; two JU 88s and one ME 109 damaged.  S/L Bircher is shot down: pilot safe.

1230 hrs  16 enemy bombers and fighter bombers head for Ta Qali but are attacked by eight Spitfires before they reach the airfield.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one JU 87 and one ME 109, damaging another.  P/O Watts destroys one ME 109.  F/O Buchanan destroys one JU 87.  P/O Watts damages one ME 109.

1235-1305 hrs  Twelve JU 88s with fighter escort head drop bombs Hal Far airfield.  Bombs are also dropped on the Safi strip.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109s and twelve JU 87s dive-bomb Ta Qali, dropping 25 bombs on the aerodrome and causing craters but the runway remains serviceable.

1335 hrs  Raiders passed.

1450-1530 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa carry out a search for a missing Spitfire pilot: nothing sighted.

1612 hrs  Several formations of enemy aircraft approach the Island in waves, dividing to attack Grand Harbour, Ta Qali, Luca and Safi.  ME 109s flying low over the sector manned by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment are engaged by their Ack Ack Platoon: no claims.

13 bombers attack the Grand Harbour area: San Pietru gun position is bombed.

20 JU 88 bombers carry out another heavy bombing raid on Ta Qali airfield.

1640-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: one JU 88 possibly damaged.

1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali dive to attack ME 109s but two are themselves jumped by the enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1720 hrs  Nine Spitfires from Ta Qali attack enemy aircraft.  F/Lt McQueen destroys one ME 109 F; Sgt Brennan probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Lt McQueen damages one JU 88.  Total enemy aircraft destroyed ten; damaged seven.

1740 hrs  Two ME 109s and six JU 88s bomb Hal Far, severely damaging one Hurricane.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage the enemy aircraft: hits claimed.

1744 hrs  Eight JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa and Safi.  One latrine and a wash house are demolished and the main runway is cratered.  Two Wellingtons are burned out and written off and one damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on Tal Handaq gun positions.

1910-1945 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron carries out another search for the missing Spitfire pilot: nothing sighted.

2121-2210 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north but does not cross the coast.

Night  The air raid alert sounds for eight aircraft approaching the Island singly.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

0340 hrs  One German airman comes ashore at St Thomas’ Bay and gives himself up to 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment at Munshar searchlight detachment.  He is held at Fort Ta Silch.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hiram Putnam, 126 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Stanley Brooker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 601 Squadron; Corporal Peter Clarke, Royal Air Force; Sergeant John Fullalove, Pilot, Royal Air Force (VR), 229 Squadron; Lieutenant George Treadwell, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Joseph Salkeld, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Vincent Zammit, age 39.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Uproar P31 returned from patrol off Spartivento with leaking rivets.  Jade sunk by bomb.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eight Wellingtons from Kabrit; one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  four Wellingtons, one Beaufighter, one Beaufort to 108 MU.

LUQA  1130-1330 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes.   2259-0505 hrs  Five Wellingtons 148 Squadron to attack Comiso aerodrome.  Bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and surrounding area, and on Augusta.  Bursts are seen but no results confirmed.

TA QALI  Aerodrome runway serviceable.   More tents and land taken in Boschetto Gardens.  Kitchens re-erected.   Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding. Cut in rations – difficult to feed men adequately already.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties as for yesterday.  Likely to take some time yet.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1400 hrs  Lt Treadwell is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.  1500 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson are buried at Pieta Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15; dealt with 17 (3 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg, 9 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Bynter is wounded by an aircraft machine-gun bullet.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bn moved to new headquarters at 415202 from 423199.  Pte J Salkeld, A Company, died of wounds received as a result of enemy action on 18/4/42.

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

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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