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5 April 1942: Rocket Bombs Hit Valletta

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Bombs on Floriana 5 April 1942 (NWMA Malta)

  • 176 bombers attack
  • 280 tons of bombs in four raids
  • Main targets: Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana
  • Five ships damaged

UXB CONFIRMS RETURN OF ROCKET BOMB TO MALTA 

“St Clements Bastion, bomb unit of rocket bomb; fuze recovered”  RE Bomb Disposal 5th April 1942 (1)

The first ‘Rocket Bombs’ recorded in World War II were dropped on Malta in January 1942 when RE Bomb Disposal were called to deal with an unusual UXB in Floriana. Their report to the War Office in London detailed a new and deadly weapon: a heavily-armoured 500kg bomb, made even more powerful by the addition of rocket propulsion.  The extra thrust was designed to aid the bomb’s penetration of warships and fortifications.

In the air the bombs were a terrifying sight, trailing flames several yards long as they fell.  The reintroduction of these bombs against Malta shows the Luftwaffe’s increasing determination to maximise destruction of all targets.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 APRIL TO DAWN 6 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly: slight haze.

0750 hrs  23 JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Dockyard and Floriana, dropping heavy high explosive bombs, including Rocket bombs.  The Victualling Yard is further damaged, another explosion blocks the tunnel leading to No 11 Shelter.  The Cooperage store and houses collapse.  Pinto Wharf and Filippo Sciberras Square in Floriana are hit; the popular First and Last Bar disappears.

1122 hrs  53 enemy aircraft come in from the north and drop bombs on the Dockyard area.  A near miss at the north end of Bakery Wharf causes serious subsidence.  Police Quarters, 27 Store and GD Station are rendered unsafe.  Bombs explode on Store Wharf, the Yard Machinery Shop and another tunnel.  A large bomb hits the side of No 2 Dock puncturing the caisson and flooding the dock.  Two large bombs hit No 1 Boiler Shop and Gunmounting Wharf, which is left with a 20 foot crater.  A large number of bombs land on the Dockyard School area: Corrodino Gate is hit and almost every road is blocked.  A large unexploded bomb is reported near Zabbar Gate.

1145 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs on Hal Far.  They are engaged by five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.

1215 hrs  All clear.

1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept large formations of JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s.  The Spitfires make individual attacks:  F/L Johnston probably destroys one ME 109; P/O Putman destroys one JU 88.  P/O Bisley destroys one JU 87 and damages one JU 88 before he is jumped by six ME 109s.  He is injured in the legs and hand, and lands at Ta Qali with his wheels up, from where he is taken to hospital.

1415 hrs  While 30 ME 109s patrol the Island, 40 JU 88s and 12 JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana, where the Capuchins Friary is almost completely destroyed, killing two.  Bombs also hit St Francis Street, the Granaries (St Publius Square), The Seminary, Great Siege Road and Pinto Wharf.  Several civilians are injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1426 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers approach Hal Far from the south.  Two drop bombs causing craters on the aerodrome.  Two are engaged by four guns of 225 LAA Bty: no claims.

1705 hrs  28 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two JU 88s are destroyed and one ME 109 damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1745 hrs  Six ME 109 fighter bombers attack Ta Qali but miss the runway.  Two others are engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: no claim.

2053; 2119 hrs  One enemy aircraft each time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2337-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island as well as other objects which drop more slowly.

0302-0418 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north: one drops HE and incendiary bombs on Luqa and Gudja, the other drops bombs in the sea.

0513-0605 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops incendiaries on the Rabat and Ta Qali area.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Frederick Barr, HMS Kingston; Thomas Lee, Telegraphist, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Reginald Prince, HMS Kingston; Ordinary Seaman Stanley Sellers, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Taylor, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Stanley Wilson, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Frederick Eager, HMS Penelope; Sergeant John Hawkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Hugh McKee, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Edmund Smith, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Kenneth Thomas, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR).

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Carmela Montague, age 33; Daniel Montague, age 13; Joseph Montague, age 11; Mary Montague, age 8.  Floriana  Antonia Attard, age 50; Joseph Borg, age 70.  Hamrun  Augustine Balzan, age 16; Marianna Borda, age 77; Frances Borg, age 40; Fr Clement Cauchi, age 67; Joseph Farrugia, age 48; Emanuel Grima, age 15; Concetta Sultana, age 6.  Marsa  Paul D’Amato, age 77.  Msida  Joseph Abela.  Rabat  Anthony Camilleri, age 42.  Tarxien  Mary Bonnello, age 11; Amadeo Micallef, age 44.  Valletta  Philip Camilleri, age 64.  Zebbug  Alfred Barbara, age 27.  Zejtun  Angelo Agius, age 29; Dolores Busuttil, age 2.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Havock sailed at 2000 hrs and ran ashore off Kelibia, being subsequently destroyed by her own crew at 0400 hrs on 6th April.  During raids on Grand Harbour, Abingdon and Gallant were damaged and beached.  Lance received a direct hit while in dock and was blown off the chocks and partially submerged.  Kingston and Plumleaf were also hit and damaged.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed taking off: crew and passengers unhurt.  Two Wellingtons crash-landed: crews unhurt.  One Beaufort crashed in flames at Luqa: no survivors.  One Beaufort missing: no further news.  

Arrivals  One Beaufighter, three Blenheims, three Wellingtons, two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Beauforts to Sidi Barrani.

LUQA  1040-1357 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance Tripoli railway-Gabes.

TA QALI  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Work on Pampas cut down to one Officer, 30 OR, 1200-2000 hrs.  Private J Firman injured at RT shed: admitted to hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  4 seater car, motor cycle and fitters shop demolished by bombs at Dockyard School.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and E and part of HQ Companies on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C & D Companies to commence training on 6th.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs on Casemate Bks causing damage to WOs & Sgts Mess.- no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 4 (2 x 500kg; 2 x 250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Working party of 200 Other Ranks and 3 Officers building protective walls for aircraft at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Sgt Ellis wounded by enemy action at St George’s Barracks: taken to 45 General Hospital.

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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4 April 1942: Stukas Dive-bomb Dockyard – 66 Casualties

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  • Bomb blast kills men sheltering in Dockyard tunnel
  • Enemy formations split: approach from north and south
  • Simultaneous attacks on Dockyard and Hal Far
  • Stukas dive singly on Harbour objectives

 

RHS Glaukos (2)

GREEK SUBMARINE SUNK IN GRAND HARBOUR

“The one submarine I worked on more than any other was the Greek submarine Glaukos. She was of French design and had been sold to the Royal Greek Navy some time in the 1930s…I got to know many members of the crew. Among them I recall was my friend Papaconstantinu. He seemed to know everything about the ship and we had to frequently consult him to find a particular hard-to-find piece of equipment and its controls usually buried and hidden from view…

Communication was not exactly easy but we managed using a weird mixture of English, Greek and German substituting words as needed, often with humorous results…we had heard that [Glaukos] captain and three of her officers had been killed in February 1942 in a heavy air attack on the submarine base near Manoel Island. But this was only a foreshadow of worse things to come…on April 4 with another heavy air attack on the base during which Glaukos received two direct hits and sank. I was unable to find out whether my friend Papaconstantinu was among the casualties…”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 APRIL TO DAWN 5 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; no cloud but considerable haze.

0655 hrs  Four ME109s machine-gun the camp of the Kings Own Malta Regiment at Mellieha and Marfa east ridge.

0926 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at 26000 feet.

1108 hrs  35 JU 87 Stukas and JU 88 bombers attack Grand Harbour.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 88 and three JU 87s destroyed, one JU 88 and one JU 87 badly damaged.  Parts of one aircraft fall on St Margerita Square in Cospicua.

Admiralty houses, offices and a WO’s Mess, and part of Admiralty House, Vittoriosa are all demolished.  The Clock Tower and the dome of St Lawrence Church, Vittoriosa are destroyed.  Offices and buildings on top of Sheer Bastion are wrecked; one wharf extensively damaged.  No 4 Dock Caisson is hit, flooding the dock and the pump is out of action due to electric power damage.  A bomb on north end of Corradino Tunnel causes many casualties from blast: 16 are killed and 50 injured.  Among them was the Commander, two Officers and five crew of HMS Kingston.  Bombs sink Greek submarine Glaukos and damage the destroyer Lance and the cruiser Penelope.

St Augustine’s Valletta (NWMA, Malta)

Several bombs also land in Valletta and Floriana.  St Augustine’s Church is badly damaged.  The Royal Artillery Mess and the Central Registry are hit and the entrance to War HQ in Lascaris is blocked by debris.

1140 hrs  Six ME 109s head for Hal Far aerodrome.  Two drop bombs on the airfield, causing craters.  One ME 109 engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claim.

1522-1640 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s come over on reconnaissance followed by twelve JU 88s which attack Grand Harbour area.  Bombs cause considerable structural damage to the Victualling Yard at St Angelo and demolish the bridge.

1800 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of  JU 88s with a large escort of ME 109s, heading for Grand Harbour.  F/L McQueen destroys one JU 88; P/O Sergeant and P/O Daddo Langlois damage one JU 88 each.  Four Hurricanes from Luqa damage two JU 88s.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1818-1917 hrs  46 JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Dockyard area.  St Theresa Tunnel in Dockyard Creek is completely demolished.  The Ack Ack barrage is very effective and numerous planes are seen receding northwards, smoking badly.  Bombs hit streets of Hamrun, demolishing twelve houses, killing nine civilians and injuring three others. 

1820 hrs  B Company platoon of 1 Bn Cheshire Regt working on unloading Pampas receive a direct hit.  There are no casualties but all their kit is lost and communication lines are cut.  Work on Pampas is ordered to cease until 1200 hrs tomorrow.

1832 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers raid Hal Far leaving more craters on the aerodrome – now totalling eight.

1930-1945 hrs  Air alert.  Raid does not materialise.

Night 4/5th  Single enemy a/c raid Hal Far and Kalafrana with incendiaries.

2233-2316 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north east and drops incendiaries, some of which fall on the roof of B Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, as well as houses nearby. Troops of B Company quickly extinguish the fires.

2355 hrs  A Wellington aircraft comes in to land at Luqa without instructions and collides with another on the flare path.  One is pulled clear but the other cannot be moved.

0112 hrs  A Wellington aircraft crashes on take-off into the damaged Wellington left at the side of the runway from the previous collision.  The second aircraft catches fire but only the 2nd pilot is injured.  All three aircraft are written off.

0025 hrs; 0120 hrs; 0355 hrs; 0415 hrs  A single aircraft each time crosses the coast and drops incendiaries on Kalafrana and Hal Far.

Military casualties  Commander Philip Somerville, DSO and Bar, DSC and Bar, Officer of the Order of the Phoenix of Greece, HMS Kingston;  Able Seaman Percy Bristow, HMS Kingston; Lieutenant Peter Hague, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Metcalfe, HMS Kingston; John Murphy, Yeoman of Signals, HMS Kingston; Frank Naylor, Telegraphist, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Walter Stanley, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Taylor, HMS Kingston;  Commander V Arsanoglou, Sub-Lieutenant I Kostakos, RHS Glavkos.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Paul Bartolo, age 24.  Hamrun  George Degiorgio, age 22; Carmel Felice, age 17; Thomas Harmsworth, age 54; Vincent Miggiani, age 38; Micheline Psaila, age 16; Publius Sultana, age 31; Teresa Sultana, age 26; Joseph Sultana, age 2; unidentified female.  Marsa  Joseph Bugeja, age 19; Carmel Saliba, age 20.  Paola  Joseph Caruana, age 43; Francis Frendo, age 15; Carmel Livori.  Qormi  Joseph Ciantar, age 49.  Rabat  William O’Neil, age 22.  Senglea  Joseph Galea, age 77.  St Julian’s  Carmel Sciberras, age 29.  Valletta  Ali Abdul Ben, age 61.  Vittoriosa  Joseph Gatt, age 31.  Zebbug  Teodora Coleiro, age 68.  Zejtun  Carmel Cioffi, age 55.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Glaukos received three direct hits with bombs and sank; Lance two direct hits and Penelope hits and damage from splinters and fire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Beauforts landed Malta from Ops 201; nine Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Gambut; eight Wellingtons, two Beaufighters to 108 MU.

LUQA  2035-0550 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping strike with Beaufort aircraft.  Located a convoy and dropped flares but Beaufort did not arrive: no bombs dropped.  2225-0201 hrs  One Beaufighter on interception: no combat.

TA QALI  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Work on Pampas hampered by water in holds.  No 2 hold almost empty.  Very heavy raids on Grand H during the day: B Company  platoon received direct hit: no casualties but all kit lost.  Bombs in Valletta and Floriana.  MVDF HQ Valletta hit: stores saved.  HMS Penelope chief target.  Communication with B And D Companies cut.  1820 hrs  Work on Pampas ordered to cease until 1200 hrs tomorrow.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome during the day.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 28; dealt with 5 (1 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion pipes and drums  at San Anton Palace for the changing of the guard.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1400 hrs  A Company move from Msida to L’Imsierah.  9 Platoon remain in Msida temporarily.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner Eadie is removed to hospital following a shoulder wound and shock received in yesterday’s engagements.

(1) Former Dockyard apprentice Joseph V Stephens, 2012

(2)  Tal Handaq Nostalgia

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

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

 

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