Tag Archives: Operation Herkules

5-11 July 1942: Daylight Raids Return – Malta Braced for Invasion

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5 July 1942: Enemy Adopt High Level Bombing Tactics to Avoid Guns


Port of Benghazi

The enemy convoy which has been under constant observation and attack since 20 June finally arrived in Benghazi today.  Efforts by Malta forces have forced delays in the delivery of supplies.  As a result the convoy has taken sixteen days to reach its destination.


Allied reconnaissance have reported a unusual activity in Palermo this week. The enemy appears to be building significant numbers of F Boats – tank landing craft – being built near the port.  Two or three of the vessels have appeared moored at the quays and have been observed loading armed fighting vehicles including tanks and gun carriages.

As many as 15 F Boats were seen afloat in Palermo harbour at a time.  They left in groups of three or four, taking the western route to Libya via Pantelleria and Lampedusa.  F Boats of a different type have also been seen under construction in Genoa and Naples and have made their way down the west coast of Italy to Messina.  The concentration of such landing craft in southern Italy has revived suspicions of a planned invasion of Malta.


Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0705 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept approaching enemy aircraft: no results.

0717 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by 17 ME 109s drop high explosive and incendiary bombs from 8000 feet on the eastern dispersal area of Ta Qali.  One Spitfire is damaged on the western dispersal area.  Spitfires airborne.

1030-1115 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to provide fighter cover for minesweepers: nil reports.

1605-1705 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  They engage enemy fighters: F/O McLeod damages one ME 109.

1620 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by 15-20 fighters drop bombs from 7000 feet on the eastern dispersal area of Ta Qali, setting one aircraft on fire.

1740-1855 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 603 Squadron are dispatched to provide cover for minesweepers and to intercept enemy aircraft: nil report.

1940 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They engage three ME 109s: P/O Sherwood damages one.

1950 hrs Three JU 88s escorted by 25 fighters drop small bombs from 10000 feet on the centre of Ta Qali aerodrome.  Spitfires airborne.

0001-0010 hrs  Air raid alert.

0337-0440 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 aircraft, including JU 87s and Italian bombers drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali and anti-personnel bombs across scattered areas including Hal Far.  Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no engagement.

0500 hrs  Air raid alert.  Italian bombers drop anti-personnel bombs on Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman John Ciarlo, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Staff-Sergeant Walter Cousens, Royal Army Medical Corps; Lance-Corporal Harry Gardner, 1s Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Fusilier John Turnbull, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Nil.


ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for Fleet Sweepers. Motor Launches carried out sweep of approaches to Grand Harbour. Heavy interference on GL and RDF sets during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.

6 July 1942: RAF best day since 10 May

  • 23 enemy bomber sorties
  • Heavy fighter escorts
  • Bombs on Salina, Ta Qali, Hal Far, Luqa, Safi and Gudja 
  • Spitfires score 35 strikes
  • RAF launch rescues German air crew

    B flight 249 Squadron July 42 (1)

A PILOT’S VIEW                                            “…at 4.20pm we were sent up rather late, and had not got very high when the 88s came in and bombed Hal Far.  We dived down on them, but just as we were drawing near them a number of 109s dived down on us.  A terrific dog-fight ensued, in which the 109s for once stayed and fought.  They were good those yellow-nosed 109s.  We twisted and turned around each other, blazing away every now and then; but most of us could not get away to chase the 88s.  Two of us, Pilot Officers Glen and Carlet, however, had eluded the 109s and chased the 88s right out to sea quite low down.  They got one each…By the end of the day the Squadron had destroyed five 88s and two fighters, and damaged another seven enemy aircraft.  We never had more than eight aircraft airborne, sometimes less, and suffered no casualties, although six of our aircraft had been shot up and damaged.  It was the Squadron’s best day in Malta and the island’s best since 10 May, for sixteen enemy planes had been destroyed and nineteen damaged.” (2)


Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0815-0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They damage on ME 109.  Spitfires of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne: F/Lt Lee claims one Macchi 202 destroyed, Sgt Beurling two Macchi 202s destroyed and one Cant 1007 damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali aerodrome, dropping 275 small bombs and causing craters in the dispersal areas, killing one civilian.  30-40 unexploded bombs are reported.

0912 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching plot of enemy fighters and bombers.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are ordered up from Ta Qali to evade the bombing.  Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the enemy.  P/O Yates lands at Ta Qali with a dead propeller; he is unhurt.  Four Cant 1007s accompanied by twelve fighters drop bombs on the Safi area.

0937 hrs  All clear.

1155 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eleven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled for interception: nil report.

1300-1420 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 249 Squadron are on patrol: nil report.

1555-1745 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron provide fighter cover for the High Speed Launch.

1615-1656 hrs  Air raid alert for five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s which attack Hal Far and the Safi area.  Ten Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne and intercept three JU 88s.  P/O Carlet destroys one JU 88; Sgt Irwin damages one ME 109.  F/Lt Douglas is shot up and belly-lands, unhurt.  P/O Slade is shot up but unhurt.  P/O Glen suffers return fire but is unhurt.

1725-1825 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol see two dinghies 25 miles north of Grand Harbour.  Sgt Budd’s Spitfire is damaged while taxiing in.

1835-1925 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron scrambled to intercept see four Italian Cant 1007 bombers with an escort of twenty fighters.  P/O Glen damages one Cant, Lt Swales another.  S/Ldr Douglas Hamilton damages one Macchi 202; P/O Carlet destroys one and damages another.

2030-2055 hrs; 2115-2150 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Three JU 88s escorted by fifteen fighters drop bombs near Luqa.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and ten of 249 Squadron intercept.  Lt Swales and P/O Glen each destroy one JU 88; P/O Carlet and Sgt Irwin destroy one JU 88; P/O Glen and Sgt Beurling each destroy one ME 109.

2320 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twenty enemy raiders approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on scattered localities, including Luqa.  Beaufighters are airborne: no engagement.

0055-0115 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  One comes within ten miles north of Grand Harbour before turning back.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Edwin Moye, Royal Canadian Air Force; Bombardier Albert Besant, 7 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Killed  Italian S D Antonoise, Wireless Operator, Cant-Z.1007 floatplane. His body was picked up from the sea by the RAF Launch; German Valentin Daus; Karl Kubitski; Walter Prueger; Oberfeldwebel Peter Wilbertz, crewman of JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea off Grand Harbour and died.  Prisoners of war  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea off Grand Harbour and rescued by RAF Launch:  Hans Albrecht, KGr 806; Feldwebel Sebastian Krumbachner; Gefreiter Heinz Stiller, KGr 806.


ROYAL NAVY  Eight mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot drowned.

7 July 1942: Enemy Attacks Suggest Imminent Invasion – Island on Alert

Cant floatplane

  • German and Italian combined formations attack airfields
  • 55 enemy fighters to 13 bombers
  • Spitfires shoot down 24 enemy aircraft
  • 26 more unlikely to reach base 
  • 5 Spitfires lost; all pilots safe.


“I still remember clearly when as the officer in charge of the Home Guard platoon at the city of Vittoriosa I was called and given instructions to await a possible attack.  We were mobilised, given ammunition and food so as to be self-contained, and during the evening I went round myself calling all my men from their homes, and after a pep talk by the area company commander saw my men to their various posts where they were to spend the night so as to be in position for any eventual attack at first dawn, when paratroops attacks generally take place.  When I was asked to stand down my men, I was told that a force of troop carriers had indeed left Sicily, but flew past Malta, obviously to North Africa.  By that day, which was only the tenth one of July the Spitfires had shot down 78 enemy aircraft.” (3)


A Malta bomber dispatched to attack enemy shipping found no sign of his target; instead he decided to attack Messina, where Axis F boats have been gathering in recent days.  The bombs fell in the south west of the harbour and caused a large fire in the vicinity of the goods station.


Weather  Slight southerly wind; no cloud.

0741-0817 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with a 20 strong fighter escort including ME 109s and Macchi 202s drop bombs on Luqa, destroying one Beaufort and damaging two.  One airman is slightly injured.  Eleven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Brennan and P/O Linton each destroy one ME 109; P/O McElroy destroys one Macchi 202; F/Sgt Parkinson damages one JU 88.  F/Sgt Middlemiss is shot up over the sea.  The tail of F/Sgt Parkes’ aircraft is shot off by anti-aircraft fire; he bales out and is slightly injured.  F/Lt Daddo-Langlois is shot up by a Messerschmitt but is unhurt.

0830-0955 hrs; 0955-1130 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time search for F/Sgt Middlemiss.  They find his dinghy and see him picked up by the High Speed Launch.  He is taken to hospital.

1147-1234 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with a fighter escort of eighteen ME 109s drop bombs near Luqa.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron intercept them over Luqa.  P/O Hetherington damages one JU 88; he is hit by return fire and lands at Luqa.  F/Sgt Rae makes a head-on attack on a ME 109: the enemy pilot bales out.  F/Sgt De Nancrede hits a JU 88 from below, striking the belly and wing roots.  He is hit by return fire: his controls are shot away and he bales out into the sea.  He is rescued and taken to hospital with slight injuries.

1240-1515 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for a boat.

1705-1735 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Cants in formation are hit by anti-aircraft fire over Ta Qali aerodrome.  One Cant goes down: four parachutes come out but two fail to open.

2218 hrs-2315 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but do not cross the coast; they drop bombs in the sea.  Beaufighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Haydn Haggas, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Peter Terry, Royal Air Force VR; Lance Bombardier Francis Vella-Haber, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Rose Mary Grech, age 3.  Siggiewi  Joseph Vella, age 14.  Valletta  Francis Ciarlo, age 14; Anthony Vella, age 74.

Enemy casualties  Tenente Francesco Antonelli, pilot of Cant-Z1007 floatplane, shot down and killed with crew Aviere Scelto Giuseppe Buratti crewman; Sottotenente Giovanni Casadio, second pilot; Sergente Calogero Dragotta, crewman; Primo Aviere Gaetano Pisarra, crewman; all of 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo, 9o Stormo, Regia Aeronautica.  Tenente Fabrizio Cherubini 353a Squadriglia, Regia Aeronautica; pilot of a Macchi 202 fighter, shot down.


ROYAL NAVY  Hebe and Rye [mine]sweeping – 9 mines cut.  Unconfirmed plots of shipping during the night.  Naval Air Squadrons attack on shipping in Messina unsuccessful owing to bad visibility. One Albacore failed to return and one Swordfish crashed on landing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in flames: pilot baled out uninjured.  Five Spitfires shot down in combat: two pilots uninjured, one wounded, two killed.  One Spitfire damaged in combat, crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued.

8 July 1942: “RAF Action Inspires Us All” Says Governor

Lord Gort

The following signal to RAF Malta was received today from His Excellency the Governor:  “Please accept my contratulations on the grand work carried out by the RAF during the past 48 hours in defence of Malta.  It inspires us all.”


F/Lt Lester Sanders had a lucky escape today.  He was one of eight Spitfire pilots scrambled early this morning to intercept seven JU 88 bombers heading for Malta.  Sanders spotted a lone JU 88 bomber over Gozo, and gave chase, scoring several hits on its fuselage.  But the bomber’s rear gunner scored a return hit on Sanders’ windshield and he was forced to turn away.

As he headed back for Ta Qali, he was attacked by two ME 109 fighters and was hit in the wings and engine over the airfield.  Too low to bale out, Sanders turned his aircraft towards the sea in a desperate bid for a softer landing.  He managed a successful landing and clambered out to stand on the aircraft, which began to sink.  His crash had been witnessed by two fishermen, Frank and Anton Debono, who rescued Sanders and took him ashore.  He was unhurt.

Three other Spitfire pilots were less fortunate and lost their lives today in combat with the enemy.


Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud – slight haze.

0630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron, Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept seven JU 88s with fighter escort, approaching the Island.

0732 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires engage the enemy over Gozo:  603 Squadron P/O Glazebrook damages two JU 88s and P/O Newman damages one.  F/Lt Sanders and F/O King probably destroy one ME 109, and P/O Mitchell and Sgt Ballantyne each damage one.

P/O King breaks off from the attack to chase a raider but he makes too steep a turn: his wing hits the water and his aircraft crashes, breaking up as it falls into the sea.  F/Lt Sanders is attacked by a ME 109 and shot up.  He lands his aircraft in the sea but is able to get out before it sinks.  P/O Johnson is taken to hospital with slight injuries.

249 Squadron P/O Hesselyn and F/Sgt Beurling each destroy one ME 109; F/Sgt Williams damages another.  Sgt Baxter crash-lands at Ta Qali due to shortage of petrol; he is unhurt.

The JU 88s with seven remaining ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa, damaging one Beaufort.

0800 hrs  All clear.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron search for a dinghy until 0920 hrs.

1210 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1230 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires attack seven JU 88s with fighter escort as they are diving to attack Luqa aerodrome.  F/Sgt Williams destroys one JU 88; P/O Hesselyn damages another.  F/Sgt Beurling probably destroys one ME 109 and damages a JU 88.  P/O McLean damages one ME 109.  F/O Smith and Sgt Gilbert do not return.

1320 hrs  All clear.

1430-1442 hrs  Air raid alert. Raid does not materialise.

1940-2017 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU 88s with an escort of fifteen ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept: no reports.  They land at Ta Qali, where Sgt Dodd overshoots the runway.

2155 hrs  A bus on its way to Ta Qali aerodrome from Rabat turns over on its side on a steep hill, due to mechanical trouble.

0451-0536 hrs  Six enemy aircraft cross the coast singly and drop bombs near Luqa and Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Gilbert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Flying Officer Neville King Royal Air Force VR, 603 Squadron; Flying Officer John Smith, Royal Air Force VR.

Civilian casualties  Paola  Frances Mifsud Speranza, age 17.  Siggiewi  Rita Cachia, age 13.

Enemy casualties  Queisser, crewman of JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Beaufighters from EDCU.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore failed to return from operations: crew missing.  Two Spitfires crashed on landing: one pilot uninjured, one injured.  Four Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued, three missing.

9 July 1942: Malta Has Survived 2700 Air Raid Alerts Since June 1940


Malta’s Spitfire forces lost a remarkable volunteer today when Flying Officer Guy Carlet was killed during an operation to intercept enemy raiders over Malta.  Guy was one of eight Spitfire pilots of 603 Squadron attacking a formation of German JU 88 bombers at around 1 o’clock this afternoon.  Messerschmitt fighters launched a counter attack, dividing the Spitfire force and F/O Carlet was shot down.

Guy Levy-Despas Monument, Amherst College (4)

The son of the wealthy owner of a French chain of department stores Guy – real name Guy Andre Levy-Despas – was sent to the United States by his parents when war broke out.  He was studying at Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA, when France fell in 1940.  Guy immediately volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force, saying “A life without the idea of sacrifice is not worth living.”  He has been awarded the Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre (France). (see pic)


Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.  Visibility poor with layers of haze up to 20000 feet.

0700-0710 hrs; 0755-0835 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

0850 hrs  Air raid alert.  Sixteen Spitfires are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept.

0910 hrs  Six JU 88s dive-bomb Ta Qali aerodrome, dropping 142 small bombs which crater the dispersal areas and approaches to the caves.  One bowser is destroyed and one airman admitted to hospital.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.  Two unexploded bombs are reported.

Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali dive to attack the bombers.  F/Sgt Webster damages one.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are instructed to attack the high cover of ME 109s but do not gain enough height to make contact.

0920 hrs  All clear.

1220 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept seven approaching JU 88s with a close escort of twenty German and Italian fighters.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys one Macchi 202 and with P/O McElroy destroys one JU 88.  P/O Paradis damages one JU 88 before being hit by fire from an enemy fighter; he is unhurt.

1252 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip, destroying one Wellington and a Beaufort, and damaging two Beauforts.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack the bombers but are split by ME 109 fighters.  P/O Northcott probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Carlett does not return.

1324 hrs  All clear.

1720-1805 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to attack a reported enemy plot but are radioed to hold off: no sightings or combats result.

1950 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and break up the close formation of ME 109 fighters escorting seven JU 88s.  P/O Jones damages one ME 109.  The bombers go on to bomb Ta Qali.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack the bombers as they return from their bombing mission: P/O Mitchell destroys one JU 88; P/O McLeod probably destroys one and F/Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.

2040 hrs  All clear.

2055-2110 hrs  Air raid alert: 12 enemy aircraft are believed to be carrying out a search to the north east of the Island.

2320-0055 hrs; 0215-0230 hrs; 0330-0400 hrs; 0500-0515 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of eleven enemy aircraft.  Most bombs are dropped in the sea; some fall on the Ta Qali area.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Guy Carlet, Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre (France), Royal Canadian Air Force, 603 Squadron; Pilot Officer John Hicks, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Charles Azzopardi, 10th Battalion, The King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties Unteroffizier Herbert Schlitt, pilot of JU 88 bomber, shot down and killed, with crew Unteroffizier Josef-Erwin Forster, Observer, Gefreiter Andreas Pollack, Wireless Operator; Unteroffizier Franz Schmidl; Air Gunner.


ROYAL NAVY  Motor Launches clearing south-west leg of channel of shallow draught mines.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Four Halifax from Gibraltar to Kasfareet landed at Malta.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued, one missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from interception patrol: pilot missing.

10 July 1942: Axis Date for Invasion of Malta

St Paul’s Bay

According to military intelligence, 10 July is the date scheduled by Axis high command for ‘Operation Herkules’, the invasion of Malta and Gozo with airborne forces from Sicily.  The Island’s photo-reconnaissance squadron has been monitoring closely the build-up of tanks, motor transport and landing craft in the southern ports over the past two weeks.  Military and civil defence chiefs in Malta are prepared.  Reports of surface craft off St Paul’s Bay today are as yet unconfirmed. 


Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0705 hrs  Air raid alert.

0730 hrs  13 JU 88s with an escort of 25 fighters attack Ta Qali, dropping bombs on the aerodrome.  Fire breaks out in a Hurricane aircraft.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack and fighters engage.

0745 hrs  All clear.

1050 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation of bombers with fighter escort.  The formation flies past the Island to the south east.

1135 hrs  Turning back over the coast, six JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far, the Safi strip and Luqa, destroying a previously damaged Beaufort.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  As the formation turns away from the airfield the Spitfires attack the twenty fighters.  F/O Mitchell and F/Sgt Beurling each destroy one Macchi 202.  F/Sgt Williams destroys one ME 109 and F/Sgt Butler damages one.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne: no reports.

1240 hrs  All clear.

1725 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron and six of 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders.

1754 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve enemy aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.

1810 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Aitken, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant John Harvey, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Bernard Reynolds, Royal Canadian Air Force; Lance-Corporal Gerald Mamo, No 2 Works Company, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Rosario Borg, age 21; Laurence Galea, age 39; Doris Galea, age 30; Francis Galea, age 3 months; Stella Mamo, age 32; Mary Mamo, age 4; Victoria Pisani, age 45; Carmel Pisani, age 10; Mary Pisani, age 8; Paul Pisani, age 3.  Paola  Frances Mifsud Speranza, age 17.  Siggiewi  Rita Cachia, age 13.


ROYAL NAVY  Motor launches clearance sweep. Low visibility scirroco. Swona detonated one mine off entrance to Grand Harbour.  Heavy interference on RDF and GL sets 10th/11th – note on Type 271 or GCI Vague reports of surface craft in St Paul’s Bay area. Nothing confirmed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Catalina from Gibraltar; one Sunderland from Aboukir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from patrol: pilot missing.

11 July 1942: 68 Enemy Planes Destroyed

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  C in C Middle East              Rptd:  The War Office              Weekly Report to 11 July 1942

1.  Increased enemy air activity against aerodromes in attempt to neutralise striking force.  Total of 108 JU 88 and 12 Italian bomber sorties with fighter escorts during daylight.  18 per cent of JU 88 destroyed and these have now adopted high level bombing tactics.  Total of 60 raiders by night.  Little damage except craters to aerodromes.  Occasional jamming of RDF continues.  Good week for our fighters.

JU 88 crashed at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

2.  Ack Ack destroyed 2 JU 88, one Cant, one ME 109; damaged one JU 88.  RAF destroyed 20 bombers, 45 fighters; probably destroyed 4 bombers, 11 fighters; damaged 23 bombers, 30 fighters.

3.  Military casualties nine killed, six wounded.  10 tons UXBs disposed of plus 500 or more anti-personnel bombs.


Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud – slight haze.

Day  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali and Rabat, Luqa and Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack and fighters engage.

0700-0710 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0900 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to attack an incoming formation of fighters escorting six JU 88s.  S/Ldr Lucas damages one JU 88 and F/Lt Daddo-Langlois destroys one ME 109.

0925 hrs  Air raid alert.

1000 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali aerodrome, setting a petrol bowser on fire.

1340-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and search for surface craft.  No engagement.

1440-1513 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no engagement.

1810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1900 hrs  Air raid alert.

1910 hrs  Twelve JU 88s drop bombs, including several delayed-action, on Ta Qali near the caves and on the aerodrome, damaging water pipes.  A/C Catchpole is injured while working on the danger flag.  The Spitfires dive down to attack the JU 88s as they turn away from the airfield but are intercepted by fifteen ME 109s.  P/O Jones destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  F/Sgt Parkes and P/O Paradis each damage one ME 109.  F/Sgt De Lara overshoots on landing, damaging his aircraft.  W/O Ramsay does not return.

1925 hrs  All clear.

2030-2110 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for W/O Ramsay but sight nothing.

2335-2350 hrs; 0045-0055 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Five aircraft approach the Island but only one comes within 30 miles of the coast and drops its bombs in sea before receding.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Corbett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Charles Ramsay, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant Anthony Wathern, Royal Air Force; Sergeant Stephen Woolley, RAF VR; Gunner John Murphy, 26th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Giorgina Borg, age 52.  Birkirkara  John Galea, age 18.  Rabat  Carmel Bugeja, age 47; Pauline Deguera, age 9; Rita Sammut, age 18; Joseph Scerri, age 70.  Zebbug  Carmel Bonnici, age 12.


AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot injured.  One Baltimore failed to return from reconnaissance: crew missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 130.  Dealt with High Explosives 33, including 11 delayed-action (500kg x 13; 250kg x 13; 50kg x 3; 15kg x 1; AP containers x 2)  Anti-personnel bombs 502 plus large number of dud German 1kg incendiaries.

(1)  Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

(2)  The Air Battle for Malta, James Douglas-Hamilton, Pen & Sword 2006

(3)  The Battle of Malta, Joseph Attard, Hamlyn Paperbacks 1982

(4) In his memory Guy’s parents funded a scholarship in French for Amherst College in 1943 and a memorial on campus


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30 April 1942: Axis Plan Immediate Invasion of Malta

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Hitler, Mussolini and Kesselring discuss invasion of Malta

The fate of Malta was in the balance today at a summit conference between Hitler and Mussolini with their military Chiefs of Staff in Berchtesgaden, Germany.  Two days of talks sealed plans for Operation Herkules, an invasion of the Island using paratroops, followed by a seaborne landing of infantry forces.

Believing Malta has now been neutralised as a base for offensive operations against the Axis, ‘Il Duce’ and Air Field Marshall Kesselring proposed the time is right to take the Island.  However, Field Marshall Rommel argued that this new freedom for Axis supply convoys to operate through the Mediterranean provides an opportunity to secure Egypt and the Suez Canal.  

With Hitler hesitating, anxious to avoid heavy paratroop losses on a par with Crete in 1942, Rommel won the day.  Plans for the invasion of Malta have been approved but placed on hold, pending the outcome of offensives in North Africa.                                                                 Film of Berchtesgaden Summit: Click Here


At the beginning of this month the enemy continued his mass bombing attacks on the Island.  The average number of bombers over the Island each day was approx 200 of which anything from 30 to 70 would be JU 87 and the remainder JU 88s.  Large daily totals of bombers of the Island are: 14th April 244; 20th April 297; 25th April 259.  Bomber formations always came over with strong fighter escorts.

Targets during the beginning of the month remained similar to last month: in particular the Dockyard area, submarine base and aerodromes and dispersal areas received most of the bombs.  About the middle of the month the Heavy Ack Ack [HAA] gun positions were singled out for attention and as hits were scored on several of these positions it became necessary to split them up wherever possible.  The enemy also selected as targets large buildings such as stores, workshops, etc and has on occasions made deliberate attacks on Valletta, great damage being done to that City.

It is interesting to compare the success of the various arms in the defence of Malta during this peak month of enemy bombing.  The Ack Ack defence was shared between the HAA, mainly 4.5” and 3.7” guns, the Light Ack Ack Bofors guns, and the Ack Ack light machine guns (Bren and Lewis guns) which were manned by the Infantry.

NWMA Malta

Up to 20th April the RAF had never been able to put more than about 10 fighters in the air at one time.  This was usually a mixed force of Spitfires and Hurricanes and was hopelessly outnumbered by the enemy fighters.  On 20th of this month [came] the arrival of 47 more Spitfires.  Despite this large addition only a fraction of this number appeared to take to the air at any one time.  The reason for this was that there was insufficient protection on the ground when they arrived and the enemy bombers were able to knock out a large number in this way.  This deficiency in aircraft pens the Infantry have since been working hard to remedy.  The RAF experienced serious difficulties in maintenance due to the bombing of their workshops.

Although this increase in our fighter strength undoubtedly caused an increase in the number of enemy planes shot down, the results were very disappointing.  On the other hand the Ack Ack defence was increasingly successful despite the fact that ammunition was rationed.  The Ack Ack light machine guns [LMG] of the Infantry were permitted to fire at low flying aircraft [shooting down enemy planes and contributing] to the destruction of many more.

On 25th of the month the enemy switched his attack to military camps, barrack buildings, hospitals and HAA gun positions in the north of the Island.  There was a great increase in military casualties as a result of these attacks…On 27th of the month Italian bombers made their appearance over the Island and the number of German bombers was reduced considerably.  Since then the scale of the attack was only about one third of its previous intensity.  War Diary, Southern Infantry Brigade, Malta, April 1942


Weather  Wind southerly: no cloud.  Warm haze.

0855-0925 hrs  Six enemy fighters patrol north of the Island.

1110 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept an approaching formation of 30 enemy bombers plus fighter escort.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne from Ta Qali.

1115 hrs  One Spitfire from the interception force has engine trouble and lands at Luqa.

1120 hrs  18 JU 87 Stukas dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome.  Bombs explode on the short runway and in dispersal areas.  Two lorries are burned out and a Beaufort night-fighter damaged.  Luqa personnel with Ack Ack light machine guns engage enemy aircraft: no claims.

Three Spitfires 126 Squadron attack twelve JU 88s.  F/Lt Barton damages one JU 88 and P/O Bailey another.

1120 hrs  Ten JU 88s and three ME 109 fighter bombers raid Hal Far.  F/Sgt Gibbs is killed and other Fleet Air Arm personnel are injured; one civilian is seriously injured.  Bombs are dropped on the barrack block at Hal Far and near defence posts.  The main road is blocked but is immediately cleared by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  The Regt also fire 2800 rounds at enemy aircraft: no claims.

Four Spitfires 603 Squadron attack twelve JU 88s which have just bombed Hal Far.  F/Sgt Hurst probably destroys one JU 88 and F/Lt Buckston damages another.  Many ME 109s attack in a circuit over the aerodrome and one is hit by Spitfire guns.

Four JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by eight guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  Two guns claim hits on two separate JU 88s.

1130 hrs  Three JU 87s are engaged by HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

1132 hrs  four ME 109s machine-gun Delimara Fort and Ack Ack battery.

1135 hrs  Bombs explode near San Pietru.

1200-1210 hrs  Small arms fire from Ta Qali personnel brings down one ME 109 which is trying to intercept Spitfires landing on the airfield’s runway.

1215 hrs  Raiders passed.

1322 hrs; 1346 hrs  Air raid alerts.  ME 109s are observed in the vicinity of the Island but no raids materialise.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1728 hrs  Four Italian Cant Z 1007 bombers cross the north coast and drop 50kg bombs to the south of Mellieha.  They fly on towards Ta Qali and drop further 50kg bombs on Mosta and to the north of the airfield.

1740 hrs  A formation of twelve JU 88s plus five ME 109 fighter bombers and fighter escort approaches the Island.

1745 hrs  Twelve JU 88s and five ME 109s dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome, destroying 69 Squadron wireless section office.  One Spitfire, already written off, is completely destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on the Kirkop area and Loreto Church, as well as Tal Handaq and Siggiewi.

One ME 109 machine-guns Hal Far and is engaged by B Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt. and is later seen to crash in the sea.  The pilot bails out: credit for the plane is given to 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt and 1st Bn Hampshire Regt.

1753 hrs  Two ME 109s are engaged by four guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims a hit on one ME 109 which is observed receding smoking.

1800 hrs  Raiders passed.

1855-1922 hrs  A German DO24 flying boat lands on the water on almost the same spot as the crashed ME 109 and takes off again.

2147-2200 hrs  One enemy raider comes in from the north and drops high explosive bombs on the Luqa and Safi area, and incendiaries nearby which are extinguished by the army.  Eight bombs are dropped from Ta Liebru to Loreto Church.

Night  Five more alerts for thirteen enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Luqa, Hal Far, Ghar Lapsi, Siggiew, Zurrieq, Kirkop and Safi strip.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Harold Gibbs, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Mellieha  Joseph Debono, age 40.  Mosta  Concetta Mifsud, age 80.   Senglea  Mary Zarb, age 10.


ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol off Pantelleria. Nothing to report.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons, three Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Seven Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Hudson to Gambut; one Wellington to Fayid.

LUQA  0945-1100 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Catania, Pachino and Gala aerodromes.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  0515 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” issued by Southern Infantry Brigade.     0600 hrs  Exercise “Action stations” issued.  0815 hrs  Exercise ends and Signal Exercise begins.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths  32 Officers, 190 Other Ranks.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  D Company still employed at Ospizio Depot.  Remainder of the Battalion carrying out administration and interior economy and salvaging their own kit where necessary.  1610 hrs  At last we have got the lights mended after fumbling in the gloom for two days in the orderly room: we can now see what we are doing.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.  Strengths:  33 Officers; 646 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 7 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Guns of A Company, 2nd Bn shot down one Messerschmitt.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Working party of 450 Other Ranks and 15 Officers still employed on Hal Far.  Strengths:  A Company Ta Karceppu 5 Officers, 120 Other Ranks (OR); B Coy Ta Salvatur 5 Officers 122 OR; C Coy Ta Hasluk 5 Officers 133 OR; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 OR; HQ Coy Ta Salvatur 14 Officers 272 OR. Chaplain & Medical Officer also attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Definite lull in mass air attacks.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  1230 hrs  F Troop return from rest camp and occupy their gun positions which had been manned in their absence by E Troop, 196 Battery Royal Artillery.

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Posted by on April 30, 2022 in 1942, April 1942


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