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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 

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

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2017 in 1942, April 1942, Uncategorized

 

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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

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

 

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26 March 1942: Malta’s Most Intense Raid to Date – Floriana a Furnace

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“Never during the War years was I overtaken by fear more than on the night of the 26th March 1942” (1)

  • Massed air raids on shipping in Grand Harbour
  • Plumleaf, Talabot, Pampas hit as well as Sliema Ferry
  • Breconshire hit again – on fire amidships
  • Targets outside harbour badly damaged – Marsa HAA gun position hit
  • Four JU 88s and three JU 87s destroyed; many more damaged
Talabot is hit (NWMA Malta)

Talabot is hit (NWMA Malta)

LUFTWAFFE PINPOINT BOMBING DESTROYS SHIPS IN GRAND HARBOUR

For nearly six hours today, 120 enemy bombers accompanied by massed fighters attacked in wave after wave, dropping over 350 high explosive (HE) bombs of 250kg and 500kg on ships, docks and gun positions in Grand Harbour and 40 more on Breconshire in Marsaxlokk Bay.

“Unfortunately on this day the German Air Force achieved a degree of accuracy with their bombing which they had never attained either before or since.  Talabot, Pampas and Plumleaf were all hit in a single raid and in the evening Breconshire too was hit and set on fire.

By the evening with Legion sunk, Penelope badly damaged and a large part of the small craft in the harbour sunk or out of action from near misses it was felt that there was little further injury that the enemy could do…Talabot which caught fire and blazed furiously as a result of her hit, had to be scuttled to avoid her cargo of ammunition exploding.  All her holds were flooded and the ship was aground with her gunwale just above water…” (2)

FLORIANA IS A FURNACE

“The odds were that the Talabot with considerable ammunition in its holds would, at any time, explode and damage would have been terrific.  The tragic situation was communicated to us in Floriana with strict instructions to evacuate all in Floriana residing in …the part overlooking the Grand Harbour where the Talabot was anchored.

At sunset Floriana became immersed in a reddish glow, deepening into an inferno-like colour as night set in.  All the surrounding areas in the Grand Harbour assumed a reddish incandescence: the skies were red, the sea was red; red prevailed everywhere – such a scene was never witnessed before.  In the meantime flames were still belching from the Talabot, uncontrolled, and presaging doom.  Floriana looked like a furnace!

As soon as orders for evacuation reached us we [advised] the people to leave their houses and their shelters, move to the northern area and use what shelter space was available.  Many obeyed; others did not as they preferred to watch the flaming scene from vantage points without realising the danger they were exposing themselves to, should the ship explode and blow up vast areas in Valletta, Floriana, Marsa and the three cities.” (1)

“Pampas” ablaze (NWMA Malta)

Desperate attempts to unload the two merchant ships, Talabot and Pampas, were hampered by conditions in the harbour and the constant heavy bombing of ships, docks and salvage equipment.  By the end of today, of the convoy escort which accompanied the supply ships to Malta, HM Ships Legion and Southwold were sunk, Kingston further damaged by bombs and Penelope has serious structural damage from near misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 MARCH TO DAWN 27 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south; 100% low cloud.

0700 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but recedes before crossing the coast.

1022-1610 hrs  68 enemy aircraft – JU 87s, JU 88s and ME 109s – attack Grand Harbour.  Fighters destroy two JU 87s and two JU 88s, and damage one JU 87 and three JU 88.  One JU 88 is shot down in south Comino Channel and four German prisoners are captured in Gozo.  Ack Ack destroy one JU 88.

1210 hrs  S/L Gracie leading six Spitfires from Luqa attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes.  He himself is them jumped and his aircraft is damaged.  P/O Ormerod in a Hurricane chases a JU 88 through the barrage; his aircraft is damaged and he returns to Luqa.

1230 hrs  Talabot is hit by a 500kg bomb which explodes in the engine room, which starts to fill with oil; a large fire breaks out.  Firefighters and crew of other ships join the efforts to control the blaze while enemy bombs continue to fall close to the ship.  Both pumps in No 2 fire float and one in No 1 float are put out of action by the near miss.

Plumleaf at Parlatorio receives a direct hit and is sunk.  Tug West Cocker at Boiler Wharf is damaged and starts taking water. Front walls and doors in B and C Yards, Marsa are demolished with some damage to lighters.

High explosive bombs hit dockyard buildings and wharves.  The verandah and structure of 10-14 Stores on Stores Wharf and No 2 Caisson are damaged; the south end of No 8 Store demolished.  The north end of Hamilton Wharf is badly shaken. No 3 Boiler Shop entrance doors and offices are smashed by blast. Crane No 623 and  2/3 Dock Pumping Station are damaged. Explosions cause a large crater in front of No 1 Boiler Shop and others on Canteen Wharf and the Scrap Ground.

1335 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa.  Sgt Brennan damages a JU 88.

1400 hrs  A stick of bombs falls close to PampasLuqa Spitfire P/O McNair gets on its tail and despatches it.  F/L Johnston damages two JU 87s – both probably destroyed.  F/L Connell severely damages a JU 87 and a JU 88.  P/O McNair destroys a JU 88.

1430 hrs  A 500kg bomb falls down the funnel of Pampas and explodes, flooding the engine room and starting a fire amidships.

1550 hrs  The drowned body of German pilot Winkler is discovered by 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment, washed ashore near Wied Zurrieq.  They also find some naval garments washed ashore at Wied Zurrieq and Ghar Lapsi.

Six Hurricanes from Hal Far are airborne to intercept a formation of JU 88s and JU 87s.  Hurricanes attack the bombers over Kalafrana and later over Grand Harbour.  Sgt Steele (cannon) accounts for one JU 88.  Sgt Broad hits two JU 88s.  F/Sgt Fletcher scores hits on two JU 88s, one ME 109 and one JU 87.

1632 hrs  A raid in three waves:  50 JU 88s drop bombs on Grand Harbour: Penelope is near missed and flooded forward; tug Ancient is hit and beached; submarine P39’s back is broken;  Sokol is near missed; Legion sunk; Avonvale hit (damage not very serious).

10 JU 88s attack Breconshire in Marsaxlokk Bay.  The ship is hit, causing a fire on board.  Fighters and Ack Ack engage.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 87 and two JU 88s, and damage others.

1725 hrs  F/L Connell (Ta Qali) damages a JU 88.  Sgt Brennan damages a JU 88.

1730 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s: one hit claimed.  Post SA4 of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt engages two JU 88s, expending two magazines.

1740 hrs  225 LAA engage three JU 88s: one gun claims four hits.  One gun and personnel transfers to the Nigret area.

1750 hrs  P/O McNair (Ta Qali) damages two JU 88s.

1808 hrs  Bombs land near Fort Ta Silch.

1815 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Hamria.

1915-1930 hrs  An enemy flying boat carries out rescue work to the north of the Island.

2230 hrs  Enemy boats are reported 12 miles south east of the Island.  Beach Companies are warned to keep a strict look-out.

Night 26/27th  No enemy aircraft activity although E Boats are plotted off E coast of the Island. The fire on Talabot is contained but the blaze on Breconshire is getting out of control.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Alfred Keylock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Avonvale; Able Seaman Albert Bowman, HMS Avondale; Able Seaman James Warwick, HMS Legion; Able Seaman Ernest Lynch, HMS Avonvale.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Valent Sammut, age 33.  Mosta  Alfred St John, age 2.  Sliema  Carmel Coppola, age 50; Doris Coppola, age 17; Herman Mifsud, age 42.  St Paul’s Bay  Rita Vella, age 6.

Enemy casualties  Paul Winkler.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 26 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Upholder  returned from patrol, having sunk a U boat and trawler off Brindisi and missed a battleship off Taranto owing to very heavy weather and zig-zag on firing.

AIR HQ  Departures  Five Beaufighters, two Blenheims, eight Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Wellington to Shalufa.

HAL FAR  828 and 830 Squadrons amalgamated as Naval Air Squadron, Malta on instructions from Vice Admiral Malta, pending Admiralty confirmation.  PM  One Albacore on shipping search.  Nothing sighted.

LUQA  0753-1545 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search.

TA QALI  No night operations. 

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company proceeds from Boschetto Gardens to camp at the Pumping Station between Rabat and Dingli.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO attends funeral of SSO1.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A and B Companies changed over: A Company to Marsa, B Company to Luqa.  Private Ryan wounded at Luqa by enemy action.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 22.

(1) Floriana in Wartime, Emanuel S Tonna, Malta 1969

(2)  War Diary, Vice Admiral Malta, March 1942

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Posted by on March 26, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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