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26 April 1942: Without More Spitfires Malta Will Be Destroyed, Says Churchill

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CHURCHILL AND ROOSEVELT ACT TO SECURE MALTA

USS Wasp

Yesterday Winston Churchill asked President Roosevelt to allow the aircraft carrier USS Wasp to make a second emergency run from Gibraltar to deliver Spitfires for Malta, saying “Without this aid I fear Malta will be pounded to bits.  Meanwhile [Malta’s] defence is wearing out the enemy’s Air Force and effectively aiding Russia.”

Receiving the US President’s sanction for the move, the Prime Minister thanked Roosevelt for allowing Wasp to “have another good sting.”  Churchill then immediately instructed his Chief of Air Staff to: “let me know the programme for feeding Malta with Spitfires, week by week, during the next eight weeks.” 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 APRIL TO DAWN 27 APRIL 1942

Weather  Cold northerly wind.  60% cloud at 20,000 feet.

0936 hrs  Air raid alert; nothing transpires.  A second alert follows with no air raid.

1245 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map ref 512248.

1341 hrs  Air raid alert; nothing transpires.

1420 hrs  A total of 54 JU 88 bombers and 17 JU 87 Stukas plus a heavy fighter escort approach the Island.

1428 hrs  Incoming raiders divide into six formations to raid Ta Qali, Luqa, Kalafrana and the Grand Harbour area.  17 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers head for Ta Qali.  15 JU 88s bomb Marsa Creek and 11 JU 88s attack Kalafrana.  12 JU 88s target Sliema and Msida.  Spinola Heavy Ack Ack position is bombed, killing one Other Rank, and Tigne searchlight is damaged.

Bombs are also dropped on St Paul’s Bay and Salina, Qormi, Fleur de Lys, the Buffs Camp at Attard and Delimara.  A bomb explodes near the Heavy Ack Ack position at Salina, damaging buildings.  Searchlights are damaged at St Paul’s Bay and Attard.  Many unexploded bombs are reported.

1440 hrs  Three Spitfires from Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.

1445 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are ordered into the air with Spitfires from Luqa: no engagement.

1445 hrs  12 JU 88s target the barracks in Floriana, damaging buildings within Lintorn Barracks and the Ordnance Depot at Ospizio.  The Parade Ground, Great Siege Road, Harper Lane and the Traffic Office near Kingsway also sustain damage.  Porta Reale steps in Valletta and nearby buildings are also hit.

1445 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa, Safi and Kirkop.

1500 hrs  Sgt Hesselyn 249 Squadron damages one ME 109 and destroys one JU 87.  One Spitifre is attacked by enemy fighters: P/O James, 249 Squadron, is injured and admitted to hospital.

1515 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One light machine gun claims hits on one ME 109.

1520 hrs  One JU 88 recedes from an attack on Grand Harbour with its engine smoking, passing out over Della Grazia Fort. 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt open fire, claiming several hits.

1530 hrs  A second Spitfire from the Luqa flight is attacked. The fighter crashes at L’Imriehal.  Troops reach the baled out pilot, who is seriously injured.  They take him to a medical facility at Hamrun: he is expected to live.

1540 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land at Luqa.

1544 hrs  Raiders passed.

1745 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for the approach of 65 bombers with a protective force of fighters.  As they approach the coast, the raiders divide into four groups, each with fighter escort: one formation of 16 JU 88s heads towards Ta Qali, also attacking Naxxar gun position and the military camp at Attard.  A second group of 14 JU 88s heads for Luqa and Hal Far airfields and a third formation of 10 JU 88s flies on to turn over Delimara and Kalafrana.  The final formation of 25 JU 88s heads for Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Floriana and Marsa Creek.

Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 87s heading across the coast with a fighter escort of ME 109s.  P/O Horricks DFM claims one ME 109 damaged.  P/O Eastman engages the bombers: no results.  Sgt Lees claims one JU 87damaged.  S/L Dafforn, 229 Squadron, is injured.

1755 hrs  10 JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far aerodrome leaving craters on the aerodrome and badly damaging stores, the NAAFI, the Sergeants Mess and other buildings.  One van is a write-off.  Accommodation of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is hit, badly shaking the building which has to be evacuated.  Bombs are dropped on an 18 pounder gun position, killing and injuring Gunners who are sheltering in an underground cook house.

1800 hrs 16 JU 88s attack Floriana.  Bombs explode on the Granaries and opposite St Publius Church, on Filippo Sceberras Square and Crucifix Hill.  One boy is admitted to Central Civil Hospital for treatment.  Bombs are also dropped on Savoy Hill and Msida; Spinola Heavy Ack Ack position is hit, destroying one gun.

One JU 88 is seen to crash in flames in the north of the Island.

1834 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.

1845-1900 hrs  Numerous JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1854 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Kalafrana and Delimara.  JU 88s attacking Delimara Ack Ack Battery are engaged by light machine gun fire from Wolseley Camp and Fort Ta Silch: no hits claimed.

1923 hrs  All clear.

2219 hrs  A plot of enemy sea craft is suspected off Zonqor Point.  All beach posts and patrols are warned to be on the look-out.

2320 hrs  Sea plot alerts are called off.

0350-0358 hrs  An alert sounds for one aircraft which comes in from the north and recedes again to the north.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Cripps, Royal Canadian Air Force, 601 Squadron; Leading Aircraftsman William Flower, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Murray McEwen, Royal Air Force (VR).

Gunner Stephen Allsop, 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Leslie Furber, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner James Keating, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harry Nicholson, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Salvatore Gauci, Malta Auxilliary Corps; Albert Montgomery, 1st Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy; Gunner Consiglio Ellul, 3rd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sapper Emmanuel Vella, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Anthony Coleiro, age 22  Sliema  Salvatore Gauci.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 31 sailed for Alexandria. One Swordfish and one Albacore attacked three destroyers and 3 M.V.s south of Linosa and obtained one hit on a M/V.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons to Kabrit; one Blenheim to 108 MU.

LUQA  2107-0407 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on enemy shipping strike.  Two convoys are picked up: two merchant vessels with one destroyer, and one merchant vessel with two destroyers.  The second convoy was attacked and a near-miss obtained on one merchant vessel.

TA QALI  Extensive dive-bombing on camps and gun positions all over the Island.  More accommodation is required: further tents are obtained and erected in Boschetto Gardens.  2205 hrs  S/L Westmacott in a Hurricane flew to Comiso waiting around the aerodrome at Catania; intense barrage put up.  He attacked a train which took shelter in a tunnel.  There being no activity he returned.  Sgt Wood took up the machine and did not return.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Only two working parties today: 40 personnel from D Company at Ospizio Depot, 40 personnel B Company at Marsa Basin.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT   Accommodation Hut C Company rendered unserviceable by bombs.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs Lintorn Bks Cookhouse, C Block Msida Qrs, Lintorn Cookhouse, Ration Store, Shoemaker’s Shop and Boiler House demolished.  Field Cooking improvised. No casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 6 (1 x 1000kg; 1 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Air attacks on Infantry camps continued.  One JU 88 crashed in the Battalion sector.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1545 hrs  Fusilier Robinson, B Coy, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died in hospital from injuries sustained in enemy action at Pembroke Battery yesterday.  Three heavy raids today: JU 88s flying extremely low (500-1000 feet) possibly brought down by us.  Many strikes claimed by all Companies light machine gun anti-aircraft fire.  2000 hrs  Both working parties now on Luqa building bomber pens.

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

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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9 April 1942: Villages Attacked – Churches Hit – Bombs on Mosta Rotunda

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Sant Andrija, Luqa

22 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET LUQA VILLAGE’

Two public shelters are damaged: 2 people are killed and one seriously injured in St Joseph Street, and 23 in Pope Innocent Street.  The parish church is extensively damaged and two bakeries demolished: the village is now almost completely destroyed.  The Governor, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie, rushes to the scene.

Nine year old Agnes was about to have lunch with her family in Luqa when the siren announced that bombers were on their way: 

“My mother proceeded to share out the food and all of us then went down into the shelter clutching our plates.  We had barely tasted the food when explosion after explosion made the shelter shudder as if it would cave in.  There was no doubt that the bombs could not have landed more than a few metres away.  Silence returned abruptly and seconds later we heard a man’s voice screaming “everyone was dead”…

Two images come to mind when recalling that episode: one that of stretchers piled high with parts of human bodies recovered from the debris, the second that of the distraught father who had just lost eight of his nine children…” (1)

11 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET GUDJA AIRPORT’

Many houses are demolished, others and the Police Station damaged.  Eight civilians are killed, including five members of one family crushed in a private shelter in St Mary Street.

13 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET KIRKOP BARRACKS’

Bombs demolish 7 houses and damage 70 more, as well as the village church.

14 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MQABBA AIRPORT’

The parish church in Mqabba is partly demolished, 50 houses are destroyed,  100 more damaged, killing three civilians and seriously injuring six.

Damage to Mosta dome (NWMA Malta)

10 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MOSTA BARRACKS’

At 1600 hours Mosta’s parishioners were assembled beneath the beautiful Rotunda of St Marija Assunta for the daily hour of prayer.  At the sound of the air raid alarm, many headed for shelter; some preferring to remain in one of the side chapels to pray.

At approximately 1640 hours a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome, smashed into masonry and clattered to the stone floor.  It did not explode. The shocked parishioners were ushered out of the Church to safety and no-one was hurt.  The civil defence authorities were informed, and a call was put through to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal squad.

UXB report number 2175 was given the highest priority: it must be dealt with immediately, and personally by one of the two RE Bomb Disposal Officers, Lt T W T Blackwell or Lt G D Carroll.  Their weekly report confirms a 500kg bomb ‘defuzed and removed’ as well as a 50kg, similarly dealt with, outside the church. (2) For them, apart from the exceptional surroundings it was just one routine UXB among many.  Not so for the people of Mosta:

AN APPRECIATION. MOSTA. “May I through the medium of your paper voice a word of sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Bomb Disposal Squad who so promptly and so gallantly removed the unexploded bombs from the Mosta Church – a church so dear to the heart of the people of this Island.  In so doing, I am sure I am expressing the feelings of every Maltese and, more so, of the people of Mosta who are justly proud of their magnificent dome.” Joseph M Cassar Torreggiani (3)

MOSTA: MYTHS AND FACTS – to read more CLICK HERE

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 APRIL TO DAWN 10 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0725 hrs; 0752 hrs  Air alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

0920-0950 hrs  One JU 88 and two Me 109s carry out reconnaissance over the Island.

1015 hrs  An unidentified submarine is sighted 2000 yards off Anchor Bay by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1035 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs in the Hal Far-Luqa area while two ME 109s patrol to the east of the Island.  Two bombs causing craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

1100 hrs  Six Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercepted a formation of seven enemy bombers.  F/Sgt Fletcher, F/L Lawrence and Sgt Boyd each damaged one JU 88.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.  20 ME 209s machine-gun Campbell Battery.  36 enemy aircraft approach the Island and split into two formations to attack Luqa village and Grand Harbour.

Two unexploded 1000kg bombs are reported at Marsa Heavy Ack Ack position.  One heavy bomb falls outside a shelter in Kalkara with 400 people inside, blocking three of its four entrances; no-one is hurt.  Corradino Hill Road and the road on the east side of No 4 Dock are blocked.  The Royal Navy Canteen is hit.  The Gunmounting shop, the MED Tool Room, and storehouses at NA Depot are wrecked.  Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88, one JU 87 and one ME 109, and damage one ME 109.

1300 hrs  20 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa village and airfield.  Bombs destroy many houses and severely damaged the parish church. An air-raid shelter in Pope Innocent Street is hit, killing 25 of the 32 civilians sheltering inside.  On the aerodrome one Wellington is damaged and one unserviceable Wellington written off.

1303 hrs  14 JU 88 bombers attack Mqabba and Qrendi.  Several sticks of bombs fall on Mqabba village, Bubaqra, and between Qrendi and Zurrieq: one north east of Qrendi demolishes two houses, killing two civilians and injuring two.

1315 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one hit claimed.

1320 hrs  11 JU 88s attack the Safi strip; several bombs also fall on Gudja village.  Battalion HQ 4th Bn Hampshire Regt is hit injuring three Other Ranks.

1630 hrs  Large numbers of enemy aircraft approach the Island in three waves.

1640 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Mosta.  300 people attending a service in the Rotunda are shepherded into shelter.  Several bombs fall around the church; one 500kg bomb penetrates the dome and crashes to the floor, without exploding.

1655-1800 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s off Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Barton damages one.

1705 hrs  Eight JU 88s attack Ta Qali but most of the bombs fall in Mosta.  Messerschmitts machine-gun Ta Qali and Hal Far.  27 JU 88s attack Luqa, Valletta and ships in Grand Harbour.  The Governor’s Palace is further damaged; other bombs hit the bastion opposite the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in Floriana, causing considerable blast damage.

Malta’s fighters engage, destroying one JU 88 and damaging four.  Ack Ack also engage, destroying two JU 88s and one ME 109, and damaging one ME 109.  One Hurricane is shot down in the sea: the pilot escapes uninjured.  ME 109s molest fighters as they land.

1707 hrs  One ME 109 crashes in flames on the Safi strip.  One Hurricane crashes in the Ghar Lapsi area: two bale out, one lands at Lapsi.

1718 hrs  A Hurricane from Hal Far suffers engine failure and is forced to land on the Safi strip with its undercarriage down.  The aircraft hits a wall and is badly damaged.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1959-2204 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island but drop all bombs in the sea.

2007-2235 hrs  A Beaufighter operational to intercept enemy aircraft attacks a JU 88 over Safi strip.  The JU 88 lands and bursts into flames.

2238-2300 hrs  One aircraft drops incendiaries on the St Paul’s Bay area.

0115 hrs  A Hudson taking off from Luqa for transit to the Middle East crashes on take-off.  Sgt Hundy is killed; Sgts Saul, Vivien, Yates and Passmore, and Cpl Sadd are seriously injured.

0405 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island; only one crosses the coast, dropping bombs in the Qrendi and Hamria areas.

0530 hrs  Two aircraft approach: one is identified as friendly, the other drops a mine in the sea.  Four ME 109s machine-gun Hal Far.  Light Ack Ack and Anti-Aircraft light machine-guns engage.

Military casualties  Sergeant Keith Hardy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant John Hannon, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Corporal George Nicklin, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Private John Rathbone, 8th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment; Gunner Joseph Attard*, Royal Malta Artillery (died in shelter in Luqa)*; Sergeant Charles Byers, Royal Naval Dockyard Police.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Charles Byers.  Ghaxaq  Josephine Bugeja, age 68; David Busuttil, age 7; Francis Enriquez, age 60; Mary Fenech, age 31; Nazzereno Fenech, age 8; Carmela Fenech, age 6; Esther Fenech, 10 mths; Joseph Schembri, age 13; Paul Zammit, age 7.  Gudja  Teresa Calleja, age 65; Carmelo Calleja, age 54; Grace Calleja, age 51; Joseph Calleja, age 51; Carmela Calleja, age 33; Peter Calleja, age 30; Peter Zammit, age 62; unidentified child.

Luqa  Joseph Abdilla, age 9; Innocenza Attard, age 42; Gunner Joseph Attard*, RMA, age 21; Salvina Attard, age 17; Andrew Attard, age 13; Michael Attard, age 11; Nicola Attard, age 6; Anthony Attard, age 8; Paskalina Attard, Age 3; Carmelo Azzopardi, age 52; Frances Barbara, age 31; John Barbara, age 10; Andrew Barbara, age 5; Carmela Barbara, 5 mths; John M Ellul, age 51; Felicissima Farrugia, age 38; Andrew Farrugia, age 11; Saviour Farrugia, age 8; Rosario Farrugia, age 6; Joseph Farrugia, age 5; Andrew Farrugia, age 16 mths; Carmel Farrugia, age 4 mths; Grezzju Schembri, age 53; Francis Schembri, age 11;  Censa Vella, age 70. 

Mosta  John M Cauchi, age 56; unidentified male.  Mqabba  Jane Busuttil, age 41; Mary Busuttil, age 15; Salvina Busuttil, age 15.  Qormi  Emmanuel Agius, age 16.  Qrendi  Rose Ellul, age 65; Jane Mifsud, age 60; Joseph Psaila, age 70; Caterina Sciberras, age 86.  Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 43.  Zabbar  Martha Cordina, age 45; Anthony Portelli, age 14.  Zejtun  Emmanuel Rizzo, age 4.  Zurrieq  Joseph Barbara, age 16.

Enemy casualties  Karl Heiser.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Umbra P35 returned from patrol off Lampion.  Two unsuccessful attacks.  Unbeaten proceeded for rendezvous with Upholder then to Gibraltar for repairs.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Beauforts, one Hudson to 108 MU; one Blenheim, one Beaufort, one Hudson to Bing El Arab.

LUQA  1000-1145 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1020-1218 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable on  runway.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  During afternoon raid Sgt Hannon of B Company is killed when a bomb landed on a light Ack Ack position.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0945 hrs  One UXB is reported 15 yards from Bn HQ Guard Room.  1750 hrs  Cpl E Evans is injured at Floriana by an enemy bomb. [He died at 0220 hrs.]

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 25; dealt with 11 (5  x 1000kg;  1 x 500kg, 5  x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Battalion Tactical Exercise:  Object (1) to practice the move of a bicycle battalion to an assembly position; (2) to practice companies in the attack against parachutists who have fallen close to the Bn.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party of 280 men from all Companies continued.  1100 hrs Funeral of Fusiliers Crosland, Milne and Worster, killed by enemy action.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT 1730 hrs  E Company post TK 11 receives a direct hit, killing Pte J P Rathbone.  Venezia Bluff was also bombed.

(1) Agnes Azzopoardi from The People’s War, Malta: 1940/43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press, 1998

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

(3) Times of Malta 16 April 1942

 

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

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

 

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8 April 1942: Fierce Battle to Save a Ship – Penelope’s Story

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1-8 APRIL 1942: enemy bombers 1427; bombs 1,759,186kg (1731 tons); casualties 234

  • Thousands of tons of bombs have ravaged Luqa, Ta Qali, Hal Far and Grand Harbour
  • Yesterday enemy bombers devastated Valletta – are civilians the target now?
  • Intelligence suggests a Luftwaffe plan to extend bombing across Malta’s villages and towns
  • With electricity, gas and water cut off and bread supplies under threat, how can the Island survive?
  • Visit maltagc70 for the latest news from Malta, 1942

PENELOPE’S LAST STAND

HMS Penelope holed and patched in Malta

Dockyard Foreman Len Austin remembers the final departure of HMS Penelope, thanks to the combined efforts of the Navy, Army and Dockyard workers, and his highly respected Manager, Mr Joughin.  One of the cruisers of Force K, the convoy so effective at sinking enemy merchant ships, Penelope has been in dry dock since 27March, for essential repairs:

“…she was now a sitting duck for the bombers. Bombs rained down but she was not hit, although the dock coping and the workshops adjacent were badly damaged…The two gangways from the dockside one forward and the other aft received direct hits and the ship’s sides in these areas were pierced by hundreds of holes, above and below the waterline. All that could be done was to weld patches over the holes and this proceeded.  There were not enough welders available so Mr Joughin asked whether any were available among the troops on the Island who could help and only one was found.”

By this afternoon almost the entire ship has been peppered with holes, all the aft cabins wrecked and the quarterdeck covered with debris from bomb damage to Dockyard structures.  It was decided that Penelope should sail as soon as possible.  As if aware of her departure, the Luftwaffe bombers returned for another heavy raid on the dockyard:

“arrangements were made for further supports under the ship so that she could help in the barrage. She fired until her gun barrels were virtually worn out. It was obvious that her luck could not last out indefinitely and undocking was scheduled for [this] afternoon. A long raid developed and we were in the Shelters for some hours…the afternoon raid had delayed the repair so the dock flooding time had to be put back…

With serious doubts whether Penelope could be lifted in time to leave port tonight the Vice Admiral Malta convened a conference and Mr Joughin was asked what could be done:

“’You must land every man who is not required for the working of the ship, all their equipment, all surplus easily removed fittings, all spare gear, as much fresh water as possible, in fact strip the ship of as much weight as could be done without impairing her steaming. We will take the ship to Canteen Jetty. You may embark 200 tons of oil fuel and a full outfit of ammunition and then sail with a good chance of reaching Gibraltar.’

…In minutes all was in hand and the dockside quickly became littered with off loaded weight. A halt was called whilst the ship was towed to the Jetty where the activity was resumed.  The “Kingston” a Destroyer which had sustained a near miss hit was then moved into the vacated dock. [Another] heavy raid developed and “Kingston” was hit amidships and sunk. This could have been “Penelope’s” fate.  She sailed at dusk, was attacked in the Narrows by Pantelleria, fired all her ammunition but reached Gibraltar safely” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 10% cloud at 18000 feet.

0825-0922 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Ta Qali, dropping four small bombs on the aerodrome.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 88s north west of Grand Harbour.  F/L Lloyd claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged. P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Boyd claimed one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.

1045-1145 hrs  Seven JU 88s, part of a larger formation of bombers, carry out a deliberate attack on aerodrome buildings at Luqa.  All bombs fall on the motor transport section.  Bombs are also dropped on Misrah Blandun area.

1120 hrs  Air raid by eight JU 88s with fighter escort of ME 109s attack Hal Far.  Ten craters on aerodrome and about 30 incendiaries dropped on aerodrome.

1125 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA)  engage numerous JU 88s, claiming seven hits on four aircraft.

1324 hrs  26 aircraft come in from the south east and drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.   Two bombs land on Hompesch 3.7″ Battery, near Battalion HQ Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg.  Another bomb explodes between the Camp and Zabbar.

1335 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron sight six JU 88s with fighter escort.  Hurricanes attack, then Spitfires follow in.  F/L Heppell destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O West G damages one JU 88 and destroys one ME 109; P/O Kelly damages one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Three ME 109s are engaged by 5 guns of 225 LAA; two hits claimed on one by two guns.

1400 hrs  Four ME 109s drop four bombs on Ta Qali, causing two small craters on the aerodrome.  One soldier is seriously wounded and one slightly. 

1505 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron attack eight JU 88s.  F/O West R probably destroys one; F/L Heppell damages one but is then blown out of his machine, probably by a Bofors shell.  He lands safely near Floriana.

1405 hrs  Four ME 109 fighters machine-gun Mellieha Camp.  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage raiders: no claims.

1510 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.  Bombs also land on the Mall Gardens in Floriana and an unexploded bomb is discovered in St James Ditch.  Lintorn Barracks and the Central Civil Hospital are also hit.

1525 hrs  ME 109 fighters machine-gun Luqa while four ME 109 fighter-bombers drop bombs on the airfield.  Six guns of 225 LAA engage three ME 109s: no claims.

1615 hrs  A stick of four 250kg bombs falls 500 yards south of Selmun Palace causing slight damage.

1721 hrs  22 ME 109, 32 JU 88 and 26 JU 87 attack ships in Grand Harbour.  Penelope’s gunners fire back until they exhaust their ammunition supplies.  The Gunnery Officer is killed and the Captain and several others wounded.  A bomb penetrates the forward decks of Kingston passing through and piercing her hull, but does not explode.

1744 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment receive a message to say work on Pampas ceases at 2000 hrs, with 12 hours’ notice to start again.  Men of B Company volunteer to load ammunition onto HMS Penelope prior to her departure from Malta.  An air raid is on at the time and the ship is a target.

1815 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and see a Dornier 26 on the water, plus two JU 88s and ME 109s.

1910 hrs  P/O West 249 Squadron destroys the Dornier flying boat and one ME 109; P/O Kelly destroys one JU 88.

1938 hrs  All clear.

2007-2235 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft destroys a JU 88.

2026-2050 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the east, crossing Zonkor Point.  It is engaged by a Beaufighter with a short burst and crashes in flames at the Safi end of Luqa aerodrome.

2140-2212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.

2230-0050; 0135-0255; 0525-0635 hrs  Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

2345-0645 hrs  A series of raids by single enemy aircraft.  Incendiaries are dropped on several locations including Ospizio, Latnia and Sliema sea front.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Jack Miller, HMS Penelope; Marine Daniel Soames, Royal Marines, HMS Penelope;  Able Seaman Sidney Tancock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Penelope.

Private Ivan Harrold, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Private Cecil Peace, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Fusilier Charles Milne, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Henry Worster, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Marjorie Smith, wife of Regimental Sergeant-Major Smith, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Lance Bombardier John Hovell, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artilllery; Gunner Stanley Smith, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Geoffrey Worrall, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment);Staff Sergeant Henry Staples, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Mallia, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner George Falzon, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Bombardier John Grech, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Emanuelle Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gudja  Fred Scicluna, age 45.  Marsa  Salvu Grima, age 57.  Qormi  Francis Barbara, age 56.  Tarxien  Joseph Bartolo, age 52.  Valletta  Joseph Cachia, age 49.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  During a dive-bombing attack on Grand Harbour Penelope ran out of ammunition and the Captain was wounded.  Kingston was damaged and in sinking condition.  Penelope sailed for Gibraltar at 2000 hrs.  Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Maryland from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufort to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 8-9th  Swordfish despatched to check up the position of the Kelibe light.

LUQA  1230-1325 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance western Sicilian aerodromes.  2340-0555 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for shipping and attack.  Sighted one merchant vessel with escorting destroyer and submarine.  Bombed merchant vessel but undershot.

TA QALI  Orderly Rooms, SWO , Guard Room move from St Edward’s College Mdina to Nos 3 & 11 caves.   Messina House taken over for billets.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties still on Pampas.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Cpl Worn is injured by machine-gun bullet from enemy aircraft.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2345 hrs  Pte C Peace died in No 39 General Hospital as a result of wounds received from a bomb at Corradino on 7 April.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and B Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C, D and HQ Companies working on Luqa aerodrome.  One Other Rank wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali and died of wounds same day.  Three Naval Officers and 56 Naval Ratings attached to the Battalion for rations and accommodation, with a further 25 Naval Ratings with effect from 9th.  All from ships damaged in Grand Harbour by enemy air raids.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Incendiary bombs in the Barracks. Quickly extinguished – no damage or casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 9 (4 x 50kg; 3 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  Extract from Autobiography of Leonard (Len) Austin, Foreman of Malta Dockyard, August 1939 – March 1943 

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20 March 1942: Carpet Bombing of Ta Qali – 1000 HE Bombs in 2 Hours

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Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

 

  • Five-hour continuous air raid from 8am
  • 114 high explosive bombs on Valletta and Grand Harbour
  • 1800kg bombs dropped on the capital
  • Cannon shells fired at civilian area
  • 21 civilians, 5 military killed
  • Army called in to repair Ta Qali runways

MASS FORMATIONS OF ENEMY RAIDERS 

“’There was a red flag warning, I was making my way down the main street in Valletta, clambering over masses of rubble. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining.  Looking up at the bright blue sky between the buildings, I watched as some 30 or more German bombers went over my head… they seemed headed towards Ta Qali.  It was that sort of life.  As far as I could tell, almost everyone else was in shelter or heading for shelter – which I respected.  I was on my own out there.’

Lt Carroll was looking up at the forward party of the 74 aircraft attacking Ta Qali today.  The enemy turned on the airfield with all their might, determined to destroy runways and write off all the aircraft…In just 24 hours, the Luftwaffe dropped nearly a thousand bombs, totalling almost 300 tons, on Ta Qali – an area the size of a small English village.  In a similar period 500 tons of bombs were used across the entire city of Coventry in England.  Here was the first ever instance of carpet bombing on such a scale against a military target.  And it had just been inflicted on the tiny Island of Malta. 

Delayed action bombs were scattered all over the airfield, holding up repair work on the runways.  The RAF called on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to help with the sheer number of unexploded bombs (UXB).  In two days, RE Bomb Disposal alone have received over 70 UXB reports.”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; clear.

0805 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali, joining seven others from Hal Far.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to act as top cover for the eleven Hurricanes.  Spitfire pilots spot six ME 109s: P/O McNair attacks and destroys one.

0825 hrs  P/O Leggo’s aircraft is attacked by ME 109s and loses its tail fin, causing it to spin downwards. P/O Leggo tries to regain control but without success, and bales out but at 100 feet his parachute has no time to open: he falls to his death.  The aircraft crashes to the ground between Qrendi and Siggiewi.

0900 hrs  Six JU 88s bomb Sliema and St Julians.  Bombs land on St Julians Police Station and Rockyvale.  L/Cpl Patt and Fusilier Russell of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers is killed; two Fusiliers are injured and admitted to hospital.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88. 

0920 hrs  Two JU 88s approach and drop one 1800kg High Explosive bomb each near the Fish Market in Valletta, and in Grand Harbour. 

One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance from the north to the south of the Island at 30000 feet.  Five JU 88s approach Grand Harbour but are turned away by Heavy and Light Ack Ack, dropping all bombs in the sea off Ricasoli and St Elmo. 

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s approach and bomb Marsa, Jesuits Hill and Gzira.  One gun position at Jesuits Hill receives a direct hit: no casualties.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  During the raid a Dornier flying boat searches north of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engages at extreme range.  Military casualties:  two killed; two wounded.

1245 hrs  Bombs land near D and R Companies of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt, south east of Cisk Brewery.  Cannon shells are fired at Birkirkara, causing civilian casualties.

1250 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one JU 88: one hit claimed.

1311 hrs  All clear.

1618 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches, then recedes, at 25000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1707 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1720 hrs  44 JU 88s dive-bomb and machine-gun Ta Qali, killing 13 civilians.  Bombs cause considerable damage to barrack blocks and ablutions, roads and pens.  The aerodrome is cratered and unserviceable.  Several aircraft are damaged and one airman slightly injured.  Many fires are started.  Many delayed action bombs are used.  Ack Ack fires a strong response: four JU 88s are shot down and destroyed.

1816 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by sixteen ME 109s bomb Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1830 hrs  Three bombers dropped six bombs on Ta Qali, damaging Camp Magister and one billet.  LAC Armstrong is admitted to hospital, as is LAC Bond, who dies at 2345 hrs.

1919 hrs  About 50 aircraft, including JU 88s and fighter escort, head towards Malta in from North formed up in line ahead, at about 10000 ft. Heavy Ack Ack engage and as the raiders come with range of Bofors guns, the Light Ack Ack gunners open fire.  The shooting is extremely accurate in spite of difficult light. 

Enemy bombers get through to carry out a concentrated bombing attack on Ta Qali.  Bombs rain down on the airfield for half an hour causing numerous craters, though runways are not significantly damaged.  Many of the high explosive bombs carry delayed action fuzes. Large numbers of incendiary bombs are dropped on the camp. Two RAF personnel are wounded.  Other bombs fall near Mqabbe and Tal Liebru.

After dark, three further aircraft patrol to the south, then cross the coast and drop bombs near Mqabba and Tal Liebru and on Ta Qali.

2333 hrs  All clear.

0047 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island without dropping any bombs.

0241-0609 hrs  Four enemy aircraft drop bombs on Ghain Tuffieha, St Paul’s Bay and St Julian’s.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Douglas Leggo, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Leading Aircraftman George Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Lance-Corporal John Patt, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Harold (Joseph) Russell, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Edward Thompson, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Alessandro Camilleri, age 50; Salvo Gatt, age 49; Ganni Portelli, age 55; Emmanuele Vassallo, age 47.  Birkirkara  Anthony Gatt, age 12.  Hamrun  Carmelo Camilleri, age 11; Guisa Cuschieri, age 3; Francis Farrugia, age 13.  Lija  Salvu Mallia, age 45.  Marsaxlokk  Nardu Caruana, age 56.  Mosta  Salvu Dimech, age 70; Giovanna Frendo, age 75; Pietro Micallef, age 45; Rita Micallef, age 24; Duminka Micallef, age 18.  Naxxar  Zaru Grech, age 30; Joseph Sciberras, age 18.  Pieta  Lewis Camilleri, age 44. St Julian’s  Joseph Debono, age 45. Valletta  Margherita Buttigieg, age 44.  Zejtun  Salvu Spiteri, age 30.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and petrol.  Three Albacores dropped two torpedoes aimed at one light cruiser and one merchant vessel, 2000 tons, escorted by one destroyer.  Result unobserved.  0800 hrs – convoy MW10 sailed from Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Blenheims, four Beauforts , one Hudson from 108 MU; one Wellington from Shalufa.

HAL FAR  PM  Three Albacores 828 Squadron were despatched on a shipping search.  0415 hrs  A Convoy of one 2000 ton merchant vessel, one light cruiser, one destroyer position 190 degrees Messina 23 miles course 200 degrees, speed 10 knots.  Two torpedoes were aimed, one at the cruiser and one at the merchant vessel.  Aircraft had to take avoiding action due to flak.  Strikes not observed.

LUQA 1140-1710 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Trapani, Palermo and Cagliari Harbours; Elman aerodrome and vis. of Pantelleria.

TA QALI  Severest raids on aerodrome ever had.  Large numbers of incendiary bombs.  All officers proceeded to Camp immediately after first raid, to assist under direction of CO.  Army contacted: immediate repair of aerodrome arranged.  Lessons learned:  underground alternative accommodation should have been provided months ago, both for aircraft and personnel.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali.  Battalions of this Brigade provided working parties for filling up craters on the aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit takes over the Observation Post at Tal Virtu. 

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Extremely heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali aerodrome.  Battalion supplied working party for filling up bomb craters on the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

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

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19 March 1942: 345 High Explosive Bombs on Malta in 24 Hours

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LUFTWAFFE RECORD OF ATTACKS ON MALTA 19 MARCH 1942

  • 1 JU 88**               4 x 250kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 4 ME 109**            4 x 250kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 5 JU 88**             20 x 250kg; 30 x 50kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 6 JU 88**             24 x 500kg (Marsaxlokk)
  • 10 JU 88**             8 x 500kg; 15 x 250kg; 36 x 50kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 3 JU 88**             12 x 250kg; 24 x 50kg (Luqa and Safi strip)
  • 6 JU 88**             20 x 500kg (West of Luqa)
  • 13 JU 88*            44 x 250kg; 100 x 50kg (Positions on South Malta)

*night **daylight

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  No cloud.

0710 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island.  One dives on a submarine in Grand Harbour, then flies over Ta Qali and Luqa at 5000 feet.  Light Ack Ack engage.

0725 hrs  Three gun positions of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one ME 109: no claims.

0740 hrs  All clear.

0957-1027 hrs  One JU 88 drops bombs on St Paul’s Bay and Wardia Ridge.  Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1053-1122 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1128-1143 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol round the Island without crossing the coast.

1405 hrs   Three JU 88s bomb Sliema, Gzira and St Julians. 

One Beaufort heading into Malta from Gibraltar crash-lands at Hal Far, its rear gunner wounded in combat with a ME 110.  The crew proceeds to Luqa.

1443 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty-four 500kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Hal Far and Benghaisa gun position.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  One man is injured at a Light Ack Ack position.  Two bombs hit headquarters of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, demolishing half of the buildings, including officers’ quarters.  2/Lt Wilsher and seven Other Ranks are admitted to hospital.

1500 hrs  One gun position of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claims.  One gun position is damaged by bombing and ammunition is destroyed.  Gunner McDermott is injured by bomb splinters and removed to No 45 General Hospital.

1540 hrs  All clear.

1617 hrs   One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance, followed by six JU 88s which drop 23 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

1630 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 36 HE bombs on Safi strip and Luqa.

1700 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty 500kg HE bombs on Luqa, east of Qrendi and Nigret.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One Wellington at Luqa is burned out, one damaged; one Maryland is slightly damaged.

1705 hrs  36 HE bombs land on Ta Qali camp, damaging two buildings.  One Beaufighter under repair is partly burned out; another Beaufighter, a fighter Blenheim and two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.

1718 hrs  A stick of bombs drops on the area of San Kristu church.

1800 hrs  Five JU 88s drop HE bombs through Mqabba village to within 300 yards of Zurrieq village, straddling headquarters of D Company, 4th Bn Hampshire Regt. 

1820 hrs  One bomb falls 100 yards from headquarters of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt; another near Tal Hniena Chapel.

2120-0016 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea, and on land across Qrendi, Kalafrana and Luqa.  Incendiary bombs are dropped on the Benghaisa area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0151-0306 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea and on land at Tal Qroqq and Ta Giorni.  Night fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by fighters.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Moloney, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Richard Morgan, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Paul Vassallo, age 50. Lija  Paul Azzopardi, age 39. Sliema  Mikiel Borg, age 64.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Spartivento having sunk a U boat and probably hit a large merchant vessel.  Embarked torpedoes and left again non patrol.  Upright sailed for Gibraltar and UK to refit.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims, seven Beauforts from Gibraltar.

LUQA  1536-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF5 patrol

TA QALI  No scrambles.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT CO and Company Commanders visited loading demonstrations at 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.  1930-2200 hrs  Night firing by platoons C Company on Pembroke Ranges.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Vehicle loading demonstration to be inspected by all Brigades.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Exercise attack on Victoria Lines by D and C Companies.  A and B defended.  Fusilier Thompson was hit by bomb shrapnel in Sliema and killed.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1st Bn reports a stick of bombs in the sea off Post MB5.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Demonstration Platoon and Company truck loading.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 1700 hrs  Lecture at Marsa for all officers on “Correct Orders to Forward Artillery in Support of Infantry Attack.”

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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15 February 1942: 20 hours of Air Raids – 41 Killed by Single Bomb

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  • Malta under alert for 19 hours 58 minutes
  • Daytime air raid lasts 10 hours 51 minutes
  • 141 enemy bombers and fighters
  • 175 High Explosive bombs dropped on Luqa and Valletta area
  • Bomb brings down cinema onto audience
  • Mine disposal hero killed
  • Eight enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged

CINEMA HIT DURING SUNDAY AFTERNOON FEATURE

Regent Cinema rescue operations (NWMA Malta)

At 1754 hrs today a single JU 88 bomber turned inland towards Fort St Elmo and aimed a stick of four 250 kg bombs along the peninsula of Valletta.  One hit the Casino Maltese, killing at least eight people, the next struck the Palace and the third smashed into the Regent Cinema.  The auditorium was almost full for the afternoon showing of ‘The North-West Mounted Police’ starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  The building collapsed onto the audience, most of whom were servicemen enjoying their Sunday leave.  Early estimates are 15 civilians and 26 servicemen killed and at least 29 wounded.

Servicemen and civilians who had been sheltering nearby rushed to the scene to help, followed by the Police, ARP squads and medical teams.  According to ARP Sergeant Major John Mifsud:  “…we saw a harrowing scene, with limp and moving limbs entangled between the debris.  We searched for the injured to whom we administered first-aid before rushing them to hospital; our timely intervention saved a few lives.”  (1)

George Boswell was one of the men rescued from the debris.  He had stepped outside to visit the WC when the bomb struck.  A brick wall fell on him, injuring his leg and leaving him in a coma for several days.  

Mr Anton Caruana Galizia was killed in the raid – a man described as “a popular and prominent Maltese” by the Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral:   “I remember the day my father’s brother, Anton Caruana Galizia, was buried.  He had been hit by a splinter from a bomb dropped on Valletta in February 1942.  My father was preparing to leave for the funeral and I remarked on the black tie he was wearing.  He answered, ‘It is not half as black as my heart’.  It was a remark I shall never forget. I was seven years old.”  Anne Parnis, Glenelg, S Australia, 2011

ROYAL NAVY MINE DISPOSAL OFFICER KILLED

Lt Cmdr W Hiscock, DSC, GC

The deaths have been confirmed of Lieutenant Commander William Ewart Hiscock, DSC, and Mrs Alice Beatrice Hiscock.  The bomb and mine disposal officer and his wife were killed by an enemy bomb which landed directly on their home in St George’s Barracks.  Lt Cdr Hiscock, Royal Navy (Retired) was appointed to ‘miscellaneous duties, sea mine disposal’ at HMS St Angelo, where he has served since 1939.  He will receive the posthumous award of the George Cross for disarming a hitherto unknown type of Italian torpedo machine in 15 feet of water of St George’s Bay in September 1941.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 16 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather  30% cloud; bright periods.  Wind westerly.

0745-1836 hrs  One continuous air raid.

0745 hrs  Twelve ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0840 hrs  Five Beaufighters from 252 Squadron detachment at Luqa take off to return to Egypt but are warned to return to base due to an incoming enemy raid.  Some fail to hear the message and one is shot down by ME 109s a few miles east of Malta.

Seven JU 88s approach from the east and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage by Height Control destroying one JU 88 which crashes in flames on land near Bubaqra and damaging a second which left the Island smoking badly.  Ten guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery fire 176 rounds, most guns claiming hits on the enemy.  One gun destroys a JU 88 making its escape.

0940-1040 hrs  Wing Commanders Satchell and Rabagliati lead 242 Squadron and 1435 Flight in an attack on three JU 88s without result.  They then attack five ME 109s.  W/Cmdr Satchell shoots off the tail of one and watches the aircraft hit the water: claims one destroyed.  W/Cmdr Rabagliati attacks one ME 109 which turns over and drops into the sea.

0955 hrs  Bombs on are dropped on Safi landing strip and Ta Karach.  One Other Rank is killed and two injured in the raids.

1000 hrs  While enemy fighters patrol off Kalafrana, three JU 88 approach over Kalafrana to bomb Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  All guns of 225 Light Ack Ack battery at Hal Far engage and shoot down one JU 88 which crashes into the sea south of Dingli.

1045 hrs  Twelve aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali and attacked three JU 88s and one ME 109.  No claims.

The ME 109s continue to patrol south of the Island at varying heights up to 18000 feet in formations of up to six aircraft.

1055 hrs  Hal Far aerodrome is attacked again by enemy aircraft.  Three JU 88s at 4-600 feet are engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns.  Four positions each claim one hit.

1100 hrs  Three JU 88 approach over Comino and drop bombs on the Safi strip from a height of 9000 feet.  Barrages are fired and the bombers split up, one receding north over Sliema and the other two south.

ME 109s continue to patrol off the Island.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 dives to 7000 feet over Kalafrana Bay, is engaged by Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire and drops bombs in the sea.

1415 hrs  One JU 88 approaches over St Paul’s Bay at 12400 feet, dives towards Grand Harbour at 6000 feet and drops bombs on Sliema sea front.  Both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1430 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and dives towards Grand Harbour at 4-5000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; bombs are dropped on St Angelo.

1500 hrs  Enemy fighters continue their patrols off the Island.

1636 hrs  A returning Maryland is attacked by two ME 109s.  One ME 109 is shot down but the Maryland itself is so damaged that it has to make a forced landing in Kalafrana Bay.  All the crew are safe.

1715 hrs  Twelve aircraft under S/Ldr Beazley of 249 and 605 Squadrons are scrambled to escort another Maryland.  They are jumped by ME 109s.  They take evasive action but are not successful.  Pilot Officer Lowe of 605 Squadron is shot down into the sea and reported missing.

1800 hrs  One JU 88s dives over Valetta and scores a direct hit on the Casino Maltese, the Palace and the Regent Cinema.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1951-2337 hrs  Fourteen aircraft approach from the north but only two cross the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0052-0150 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0310-0358 hrs; 0427-0535 hrs  One aircraft at a time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.

0620-0708 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.  No bombs reported.

Military casualties  Leading Stoker William Dempster, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman J W Mills, HMS Cleopatra; Ordinary Seaman W Walker, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman Alexander Barr, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class Ronald Williams, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class John W. Wilsdon, HMS Maori; Stoker 1st Class George Cole, HMS St.Angelo.

Aircraftsman Robert Kemp, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Corporal Gordon Singer, RAF; Sergeant John Webb, RAF; Flight Sergeant Clive Mulholland, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Aircraftsman 2nd Class Arthur Sydney Day, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Granville Jackson, Royal Canadian Air force; Aircraftman 1st Class Henry Gorman RAF VR; Sergeant Alan Largent, RAF VR; Sergeant Daniel Keane RAF VR.

Private Francis Byers, 1st Battalion (Bn) The Cheshire Regiment; Private Frank Wilson, 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment; Private William Dudman, 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Private Vincent Vella, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Thomas Wallwork, 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers; Sergeant Robert Cass, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Fusilier Albert Haunce, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers; Capt Henry Gough, 2nd Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers; Captain Peter Low, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara   Pio Carabott, age 34.  Floriana  Gerald Ciantar, age 19; Giulio Mifsud, age 19.  Hamrun  Joseph Cassar, age 30; Mary Cassar, age 19; Renzo Flores, age 65; Albert Zammit, age 26.  Paola  John Attard, age 20; Toni Farrugia, age 14; Michael Wickan, age 19.  Pieta  Frances Patsy Cutter, age 19.  Sliema  Melita Abela, age 26, Joseph Amodeo, age 24.  Valletta  Dr R Bonello MD, age 52; Dr A Caruana Galizia LL.D, age 46; Joseph Cassar, age 17; Francis Cremona, age 16; Joseph Falzon, age 17; Frank Farrugia, age 13; Raffaele Mallia, age 54; Frangiska (Kitty) Mamo, age 17; Fr Gerald Pace OC, age 40; Manasser Reginiano, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Gretz, 7/LG 1, pilot JU 88 bomber pilot shot down.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire:  Pilot Leutnant Waldemar Stadermann, Observer Oberfeldwebel Walter Hesse, Air Gunner Unteroffizier Martin Knobloch, Wireless Operator Oberfeldwebel Albert Stahl; all of 6/KG 77.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HM ships Penelope, Legion, Lance arrived.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Clare from Cairo; one Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Clare, one Whitley to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to 108 MU; five Beaufighters to LG 10 (two reported missing).

HAL FAR  Night 15/16th  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack an enemy force of four cruisers and eight destroyers.  Hits were observed on two cruisers and one destroyer.  Ack Ack and moderate smoke screen effective.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland special search.  S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special search.

TA QALI  Continuous air raids during the day; many scrambles.  No night operations.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Reinforcements arrived from Middle East:  1st Bn Durham Light Infantry 2 Officers; 4 Other Ranks; Malta Tanks 4 Other Ranks.  1st Durham Light Infantry Fourth Rifle Company which had been expected failed to arrive.  1800 hrs  Bomb scored direct hit on Regent Cinema, Valletta during performance.  Numerous service personnel and civilians buried under debris.  1 Cheshire casualties:  three Other Ranks killed; four Other Ranks injured.  Working parties of 1 Cheshire co-operated with civilian ARP in extricating casualties.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Up to this date 1 Hamps had one killed and two injured as a result of enemy action.  8 King’s Own had one killed and three injured when bomb fell on Regent Cinema.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT During the afternoon the Regent Cinema in Kingsway, Valletta received a direct hit.  There were a large number of service personnel in the building at the time.  Casualties were fairly heavy; exact numbers not yet known.  We lost Private F Wilson and Private F Byers, A Company, killed; Privates Hawksley, Blinkham, Richards and Harrod injured.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that A Company and details of Battalion had arrived from Middle East and were at the dockside.  However, it turned out that only two Officers and four Other Ranks had arrived and the ships carrying the remainder of the details and A Company had been forced to return to the Middle East through enemy action.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  The Regent Cinema in Valletta received a direct hit.  The cinema was full at the time, causing many casualties.  Two men of 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers were injured and admitted to hospital.  Rescue parties from 24 Fortress Coy and 173 Tunnelling Coy RE were sent out and did admirable rescue work for 18 hours.  Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  This was a very sad day for the Battalion.  1750 hrs a bomb fell on Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Among the casualties was the Adjutant, Captain P Low and OC A Company Captain H Gough: they were both killed.  Fusilier Haunce of C Company was also killed.  The bodies were recovered and brought to Battalion Headquarters.  This loss of the Adjutant  Capt Low and Capt Gough, both very popular and efficient officers, is most keenly felt by all the officers and men of the Battalion.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Four men of this unit were injured when a bomb fell on the Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Private A Wilson and Corporal T Langdon were the most seriously injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party.  Bombs at Sliema and St George’s Barracks.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a heavy raid on Valletta a cinema was hit causing a number of Army personnel casualties.  The Battalion was fortunate in sustaining only one slight casualty: Private W Butler.

(1) Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten’, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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