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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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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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4 March 1942: Dog Fights in 20 Hour Bombing Spree

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  • Bombing almost continuous for 20 hours from 10 am
  • 28000 kg of bombs dropped on Malta
  • Italian bomber joins Luftwaffe formation
  • Five planes damaged on airfields
  • Hits scored on 16 enemy aircraft

AUCHINLECK GIVEN COMMAND OF MALTA: DOBBIE WILL REPORT TO MIDDLE EAST

From: The War Office                                                       To:  Governor & C in C Malta

Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck

Situation in your command has been very much in minds of the COS lately and we have discussed it in Committee several times in last few days.  We have been carefully considering every possible means to assist you in your difficulties, and have impressed on Auchinleck that defence of Malta is part and parcel of operations in his theatre and particularly in Cyrenaica.

2.  Under present system there is inevitable tendency to regard Malta and Cyrenaica as separate problems to be co-ordinated in London.  We have therefore decided that military garrison of Malta should be put under Auchinleck as Naval and RAF garrisons are under command of C in C Mediterranean and AOC-in-C Middle East respectively.  The three Commanders in Chief and Middle East Defence Committee will thus have joint responsibility for Malta as integral part of whole Middle East theatre, and you as Governor will have your hands strengthened by gaining direct access to Minister of State in Cairo as well as to HMG at home.

3.  We want to make it clear to you beyond all doubt that nothing could be further from our minds than lack of confidence in you.  We are all deeply conscious of magnificent fight you have put up and of inspiration which your leadership has given to Malta garrison and colony.  The more reason to strengthen your hands by every possible means now that you have entered such difficult and testing period.

4.  Apart form this change in organisation which is being communicated to Cs-in-C Middle East you will shortly hear in a COS telegram of various schemes for relieving your deficiencies in supplies and personnel.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MARCH TO DAWN 5 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind north west; slight.  30% medium cumulus/cirro cloud.

0745 hrs  Two ME 109s on patrol near the south and south east coast.

1010-1040 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  One JU 88 with an escort of two ME 109s carries out reconnaissance from 22000 feet: engaged by barrage.

1059-1208 hrs  ME 109s continue to patrol.  Four ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 12000 feet, causing craters on the aerodrome.

1224-1330 hrs  Five JU 88s accompanied by ME 109s drop bombs on Safi Strip, setting three Wellingtons on fire: two are destroyed and four more Wellingtons are damaged.  The Officers’ Mess of 37 Squadron is also damaged.  One ME 109 crashes near F range at Pembroke.  The pilot, Unteroffizier Benedikt Wegmann, has already baled out into the sea.  He swims ashore, where he is captured by B Company of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery claim three hits on one JU 88.

1346-1404 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island and patrol.  Six Hurricanes are airborne: no interceptions.

1415 hrs  Five ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa from 11000 feet.  Five JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa.

1420 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 242 Squadron at Ta Qali under S/L Wells join eight Hurricanes of 605 Squadron scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft as they return from the raid.

F/Sgt Fletcher (605) scores a hit on the rear gun turret of one JU 88, and P/O Noble hits another JU 88 twice, on the tail plane fuselage and the port engine, setting it on fire, before both pilots’ Hurricanes suffer damage (pilots unhurt).  Sgt Gardiner (242) hits the same JU 88.

Fiat BR20 “Cigogna” (stork)

Sgt Wilson hits one ME 109 on the fuselage and wing.  P/O Omerod hits the underside of another ME 109, another on the wing roots and engine cowling, and then hits an Italian aircraft – later identified as a BR 20 bomber – on the tail.   F/Lt Kee and P/O Kidson (242) score cannon strikes on another JU 88 before P/O Kidson dives on a ME 109, damaging its tail and claiming a ‘probably destroyed’.  One JU 88 ditches in the sea to the north of the Island and an ME 109 is shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire.

1515 hrs  All Clear.

1612-1803 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by seven ME 109s approach from the north and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip.  Two Marylands are damaged.  Two billets are demolished and the sergeants’ sleeping quarters damaged.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, damaging one JU 88.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagement.

1902-0239 hrs  21 aircraft approach singly, dropping bombs on Gozo, Ta Silch, Hal Far, Luqa, Lapsi, Qrendi, Hagiar Qim, Zeitun, between Nigret and Bubaqra, Wardia, Ta Qali, Salvator and in the sea.  Cpl Refalo of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is killed and L/Cpl Aquilina injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights expose eight targets.  Ta Qali Hurricane pilot Sgt Wood engages a JU 88 over the centre of the Island, as it fires at a searchlight.  Sgt Wood closes in and lets loose a 20 second burst of cannon-fire.  The JU 88 bursts into flames and crashes on land to the south west of Dingli.

0247-0632 hrs  Four aircraft drop bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0649 hrs  One aircraft comes to within 30 miles of Malta and then recedes.

Military casualties  Corporal Joseph Refalo, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Joseph Dingli, age 15; Tessie Dingli, age 4; Valentine Dingli, age 1.  Birkirkara  Michael Gauci, age 40.  Gozo (Zebbug)  Louis Vella, age 22.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber of 2/KG 66 shot down night of 4/5t March 1942:  Unteroffizier Albert Degenhardt, 2/KG 66 (pilot); Unteroffizier Friedrich Engelmann/Engelbert, 2/KG 66 (observer); Unteroffizier Herman Gessele (wireless operator); Unteroffizier Werner Rehschutz (air gunner).

OPERATIONS REPORTS: WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Kuriat, having hit a northbound tanker, believed sunk.  Unique sailed for Gibraltar and United Kingdom.  An Albacore sent on shipping search south and west of Malta sighted nothing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Catalina to Gibraltar and Lisbon; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

HAL FAR  One Albacore on search for enemy shipping Lampedusa-Zuara areas: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0930-1145 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1010-1353 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron PR Lampedusa Harbour and SF 2 patrol.  2107-0503 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron carried out a shipping search with torpedoes; no attack made.  2128-0508 hrs  Three Wellingtons 37 Squadron attacked shipping in Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Commanding Officer commenced investigations of landing Wellington against orders.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  ‘A’ Company moved to Safi strip in relief of C Company which moved to Gudja Camp.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Five bombs drop in D Company’s area during the night.

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

 

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Posted by on March 4, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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6 February 1942: Malta’s ARP Heroes Save Five Lives

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ARP HEROES SAVE FIVE LIVES DURING AIR RAID

St Pauls Anglican Cathedral

“On the next day the 6th, I was walking back from visiting [King George V] Hospital, believing that there was no immediate danger; just as I got to the Casino Maltese a roaring barrage broke out overhead. I ran for the shelter of the Arcades. As soon as it was over – perhaps three minutes – I continued down Teatro Street for home and saw two huge black columns of smoke of exploded bombs appearing over the roof of St.Paul’s. They had fallen on Manoel, as usual these days. That was a bad day for Sliema. The Gaiety Theatre, a very fine theatre was gutted (luckily it was empty), the Union Club hit, Barclays Bank destroyed, and the cashier who was just wishing to finish a job at his desk, killed.” (1)

Barclays Bank had been hit by a bomb which destroyed the strong room in the basement, killing one and severely wounding five members of staff.  Superintendent C G Jones of the Sliema ARP District rushed to the scene with his men. Despite continued bombing, they gave First Aid assistance to the five surviving bank staff and then rescued them from the destroyed building.  Superintendent Jones would later be awarded the MBE for his work.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 7 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather   Wind south south-west.  30% cloud; little wind.

0756-0825 hrs  Four aircraft pass to the south of the Island but did not cross the coast.

0829-0910 hrs  Two ME 109 fighters patrol south and east of the Island and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  Four Hurricanes are airborne.

1029-1040 hrs  Fourteen Hurricanes are airborne and make an interception, identifying the aircraft as friendly.

1054-1104 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1200-1347 hrs  One JU 88 bomber arrives with a large ME 109 escort, making a reconnaissance flight over the Island while the fighters patrol over the sea.  The JU 88 is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

1230 hrs  Three JU 88s and fighter escort then approach Grand Harbour, dropping a large number of bombs on Manoel, Tigne and Sliema.  One Ack Ack barrage is fired and LIght Ack Ack also engage.

1330-1347 hrs  Six more JU 88s plus fighter escort approach and drop bombs in the sea off Tigne, near the Dockyard and near Zabbar Gate.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: one JU 88 and one ME 109 are destroyed.  The crew of the JU 88 bail out; one is killed on landing, two are taken prisoner.  The pilot is picked up from the sea by personnel of 11th Bn The Lancashire Regiment.  He is suffering from shock and immersion, and is taken for interrogation and first aid.

1525 hrs  Five aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1547-1849 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by a large number of fighters approach from the north.

1620 hrs  A stick of bombs is dropped in the sea between Delimara and Benghaisa.

1705 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hal Far.  Seven bombs are dropped in the Hurricane dispersal areas.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged.  No casualties.

1720 hrs  Two RAF Blenheim aircraft of 21 Squadron returning from an anti-shipping patrol off Libya are attacked by ME 109 fighters and shot down into the sea off the Island of Filfla.

1805 hrs  Four JU 88s attack Hal Far.  Fifteen bombs are dropped on the aerodrome destroying one hangar and the armoury of 830 Squadron and damaging other buildings.  One Albacore is destroyed.  No casualties.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engages; several hits claimed and observed.

1930 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment Ghar Lapsi position reports one aircraft burning in the sea near Filfla.

2038-2102 hrs  Three plus bombers approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea, staying out of range of Heavy Ack Ack guns.

2118-2339 hrs  Eight bombers approach from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage, causing all bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea except one, which drops bombs on land between Gudja and Hal Far.

2355-0015 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack and jettisons bombs in the sea.

0034-0054 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is engaged by heavy Ack Ack and drops bombs south west of Zabbar.

0115-0143 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs near Tal Qroqq.

0246-0320 hrs  One Hurricane returning over the Island from a patrol is redeployed as a night fighter as an enemy aircraft approaches from the north west and drops bombs on the Hal Far area.  A second approaching aircraft is thought to be a returning Wellington but drops bombs west of Baida Ridge and recedes north.

0412-0443 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack fire and drops bombs south of Hal Far.

0641-0730 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped on Safi Strip and a gun position at Ta Karach, where an unexploded bomb is found lying on the surface.  RE Bomb Disposal attend and deal with a 500kg High Explosive.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald Fletcher, Royal Air Force (VR), 21 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Hall, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 21 Squadron; Sergeant George Hancock, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR); Staff Sergeant Cornelius Hourigan, Royal Army Medical Corps; Sub-Lieutenant Maurice Swithinbank, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve; Sub-Lieutenant Richard Thomas, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve; Squadron Leader Russell Stewart, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Pilot Officer James Grieve, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flight Sergeant Gordon Cameron, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Edward Pace Bonello, age 51.

Enemy casualties  Obergefreiter Gernot Hartmann, crewman of a JU 88 bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 6 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Wellingtons to LG224.

HAL FAR  Night 6/7th  Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel and two destroyers north west of Marsala.  The merchant vessel was definitely hit once, possibly twice, despite an effective smoke screen.  Weather good.

Two Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched to attack a merchant vessel of 3000 tons and one destroyer.  One heavy explosion followed by a fire was observed by one aircraft; the other failed to return.  Pilot S/Lt Swithinbank and observer S/Lt Thomas are reported missing.

LUQA  69 Squadron One Maryland SF6 patrol; one Maryland SF 14 patrol; one Hurricane photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian Task; one Beaufighter PR Sicilian Task; one Beaufighter PR Buerat, Misrata.  21 Squadron   Four Blenheims sent to attack shipping at Buerat.  S/L Stewart, P/O Grieve, Sgt Cameron failed to return.  40 Squadron  Seven Wellingtons sent to attack Sirte aerodrome.  S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special search for convoy.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable; all ranks helping with craters.  Movement of HQ to dispersal completed.  All other damaged offices vacated and new offices taken in caves.  Move to evacuate all sections in target area, namely Pottery and Chateau Bertrand, to caves and get caves serviceable.  0140 hrs  F/O Ruthie intruder raid to Comiso: ground mist, saw nothing; returned to Malta but could not find raiders over Hal Far – returned 0330 hrs.  0245 hrs  S/Ldr Westmacott carried out special task according to plan: no Ack Ack, no air activity; attacked large lorry at Lake Lentro, left stationary – returned 0525 hrs.

Tal Virtu

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Permanent Infantry observation posts (OP) established at Tal Virtu and Tal Minsia to be manned continuously by four infantry battalions in rotation.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  OP at Tal Virtu manned by Intelligence Section.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Reports show numerous bombs dropped near the coast in this unit’s area during the last two days.

1800 hrs  New Brigade permanent OP Tal Minsia manned by this unit on continuous watch.  One low-flying ME 109 machine-gunned Luqa working party, damaging Ack Ack Light Machine Gun.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The new Air Mail Letter Card Service is inaugurated for troops in Malta.

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

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta.  Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on February 6, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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