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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

AXIS CONVOY DELAYED TWO WEEKS

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.

ENEMY AMASSING TANK LANDING CRAFT IN PALERMO

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JULY TO DAWN 6 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 5 JULY 1942

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)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JULY TO DAWN 7 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY MONDAY 6 JULY 1942

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.

HOME GUARD READY FOR GROUND ATTACK

“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)

SOLO MALTA BOMBER STRIKES MESSINA

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JULY TO DAWN 8 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 JULY 1942

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.”

FISHING BOAT TO THE RESCUE

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 JULY TO DAWN 9 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 JULY 1942

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

LOSS OF A VOLUNTEER

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)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JULY TO DAWN 10 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 JULY 1942

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. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 JULY TO DAWN 11 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 10 JULY 1942

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.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JULY TO DAWN 12 JULY 1942

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.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 11 JULY 1942

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

 

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

 
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28 June-4 July 1942: Enemy Launches Night Attacks – 37 Killed

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28 June 1942: Soldiers Train as Dockers

Unloading convoy ship Welshman (NWMA Malta)

Malta command has reviewed the unloading of the recently arrived convoy ships and concluded that the involvement of troops was essential to its success.  Military manpower doubled the labour force and ensured the fastest completion of the operation, before enemy attacks could destroy ships and supplies.

Following the review it has been decided to train service personnel as dockyard winchmen and charge-hands, in advance of the next convoy to Malta.  There is no indication of how soon this will be.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JUNE TO DAWN 29 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0513-0555 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for four enemy bombers with a 10 strong fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi, destroying one Beaufort and damaging a Baltimore.  Hal Far is also attacked: many delayed-action and anti-personnel bombs land on the dispersal areas and on the aerodrome, which is put out of use until 1900 hrs.  One Swordfish is destroyed and four Spitfires are damaged and one soldier is slightly injured.

0515-0614 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

0635 hrs; 0700 hrs  Air raid alerts sound for enemy fighter sweeps.

0830-0915 hrs; 1135-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires from Luqa, then two from 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1515 hrs  A formation of six Messerschmitts is reported approaching the Island.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing; they land at 1600 hrs.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert. A formation of six ME 109s carry out a surprise attack on minesweepers off Grand Harbour.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2345-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: F/O Mitchell destroys a JU 87.

0034 hrs; 0505 hrs  Two air raid alerts sound.  A total of 21 aircraft approach the Island in two raids; only nine cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped across Mellieha, Safi and Hal Far, killing two Other Ranks 1st Bn Hampshire Regt and injuring two.

0445 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 10 JU 88s approaching the Island.

0450-0605 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.  The Spitfires observe F/O Fumerton engage one JU 88, which he destroys: it is seen later burning in the sea.  He later attacks and destroys another JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Nineteen mines swept. Sweepers were machine gunned by ME 109s from 5000 feet without causing damage or casualties.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons and two Blenheims from Gibraltar; five Wellingtons from Shallufa.  Departures  Six Wellingtons to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

HAL FAR  1900 hrs  185 Squadron and RNAS stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto Harbour.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Gela, Biscari, Comiso, Noto.  2220-0142 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched on shipping strike but were recalled without making the attack.

TA QALI   53 airmen of 601 Squadron arrived from Hal Far. 0125-0220 hrs; 0225-0310 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol towards Sicily but see nothing.  0330-0415 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol to Cape Passero and attempt to shoot up a beacon without success.

29 June 1942: Malta Fighters Chase Enemy Back to Sicily

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; moderate to strong.  Little high cloud.

Lockheed Lodestar

0715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires Luqa area scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0855 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters and sight eight ME 109s.

0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled and sight two of the ME 109s, but lose them when gaining height.

0910 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the ME 109s near the Island.  P/O Barbour, 603 Squadron, is jumped by two of the fighters: he bales out and is observed safely in his dinghy.

0915-1045 hrs  Two pairs of Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to cover and protect minesweepers operating off the coast.  They guide the rescue launch to P/O Barbour.

1425 hrs  The air raid alert sounds with the approach of four enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali search and locate them forty miles south east of the Island.  They chase the fighters off towards Sicily.

1515-1540 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of 603 Squadron: no combat.

1655-1725 hrs  Four Spitfires Luqa carry out a patrol: no combat.

1935-2040 hrs  Fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne and ready to intercept: no combat.

2130-2340 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.

2245 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept eight approaching enemy bombers.  The Beaufighter pilot F/L Edwards attacks and destroys one JU 88.

2250 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the bombers approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on St Paul’s Bay and on Luqa, damaging a defence post and motor transport.

2335 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Private Edward Green, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment; Bombardier David Lee, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private William Morgan, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, three Wellingtons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from LG 104; One Beaufighter from Middle East.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; two Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 224; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to Shallufa.    Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in sea after combat; pilot safe.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto reports 100% cloud over Sicily and Foggia.  One Spitfire PR Taranto reports naval situation unchanged.

TA QALI  0625-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on a search mission sight a dinghy in the water ten miles south of Cape Passero.

30 June 1942: Clamp Down on Black Marketeers

The Government of Malta is to introduce very severe penalties for Black Market trading.  The new measures include a maximum term of five years’ imprisonment for those convicted.  The new measures take effect from tomorrow.  (1)

AIR RAID STATISTICS JUNE 1942

  • Total number of raids 173
  • Raid-free days nil
  • Night raids 60
  • Raid free nights 4
  • Alerts for own planes 11
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 3 days, 15 hrs, 43mins.
  • Average length of alert 30.4 mins.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  They encounter seven ME 109s over St Paul’s Bay but there is no combat.

1020-1125 hrs  Three Spitfires from Ta Qali patrol over Gozo.  The air raid alert sounds at 1045 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  They patrol 20 miles towards Sicily but see nothing.

1510-1535 hrs; 1900-1910 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne each time to intercept enemy aircraft but raid does not materialise.

1930-2030 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron patrol over Gozo.  Two more Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to provide cover for launches in Grand Harbour.  The air raid alert sounds at 1955 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

2145-2335 hrs; 2250-2359 hrs  Two Beaufighters on intercept patrol: no combat.

2234-0515 hrs   Air raid alert.  Six JU 88 bombers drop high explosive bombs in the area of Luqa, Qrendi, Birzebbuga and Delimara, and on Fleur de Lys.

0410-0515 hrs  Thirteen enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on Safi and Luqa, where a starter battery is destroyed.

Military casualties  Petty Officer Steward Joseph Attard, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Veneranda Scicluna, age 45.  Safi  Concetta Cashia, age 34; Carmela Cachia, age 2; John Farrugia, age 5.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for sweeping.  SS King of England escorted by ML 462 proceeded to Marsaxlokk, arriving 2150 hrs. King of England pumped 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire during the night.  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with by Royal Navy in June: 3.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley, one Blenheim, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; Departures  One Whitley to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224.

LUQA  2151-0605 hrs  Three Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched on shipping search.  Two Malta-based Wellingtons attacked a southbound enemy convoy of three 6000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers, 23 miles from Cape Maria de Leuca.  Near-misses were observed on one of the merchant vessels. Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes, scoring two hits on one merchant vessel.  The pilots observed a lot of smoke and the ship came to a stop.  After the attack, part of the convoy was seen to turn back towards Taranto.

1 July 1942: Malta Bombers Delay Rommel’s Convoy

A Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit yesterday brought back photographs of Taranto showing much enemy activity in the harbour.  Signs indicate that the convoy subjected to recent attacks has now been re-assembled.  The deck cargo from the damaged merchant ship has been removed and transferred to another ship.  Several more merchant vessels were observed berthed in the outer harbour, ready to embark with supplies for North Africa.

Wellington bombers

Overnight, a search was carried out by two Wellingtons in the Gulf of Taranto, to locate and bomb the enemy ships, and guide in torpedo-carrying Wellingtons ready to attack the convoy as it emerged from harbour.  Another Wellington carried out a search to the south of the Gulf to cover a wider area in case the convoy made more rapid progress.  The five torpedo-bearing Wellingtons left Malta at nightfall and circled near Cape Santa Maria di Leuca, ready to strike as soon as the convoy emerged from the Gulf.

At 0135 hrs this morning, three merchant ships and four destroyers were spotted crawling along the coast near Gallipoli, in the heel of Italy.  The Wellingtons bombed and launched their torpedoes, scoring hits on one ship and near misses with bombs on others.  The Italian crews appeared to panic, and immediately turned tail to head back to Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0810-0817 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter patrol.

0910-0930 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy patrol: no combat.

0950-1100 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  At 1002 hrs the air raid alert sounds.  The patrolling aircraft see four enemy fighters but are unable to engage.

1450-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s escorted by 20 fighters drops one large high explosive bomb on the shore near Qawra Tower. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1815-1925 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two approaching formations totalling some forty aircraft, two Cant 1007s with BR 20s, ME 109s, RE 2001s and Macchi 202s.

1840 hrs  Air raid alert.  The first formation of two Italian SM 84s with a close escort of Italian fighters heads for Ta Qali.  The bombers drop twelve 100kg bombs on the Imtarfa area.  A separate formation of German and Italian fighters is spotted to the north east of Gozo.  P/O Hurst, 603 Squadron, attacks one bomber from 300 yards to point-blank range and sees strikes on the aircraft.  Hurst is hit by return fire and loses all his glycol.  Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Parkinson is then jumped by another fighter and has to bale out.  He is slightly injured and is rescued later.

1930 hrs  All clear.

2000-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.

2015-2130 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on dusk patrol: nil report.

2215-2245 hrs; 2330-2335 hrs; 2359-0045 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 25 aircraft cross the Island, including Italian and German bombers with fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Qrendi, Marsaxlokk, Hal Far, Luqa, Kalafrana, Boschetto, Ta Qali, Marfa and Rabat.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0150-0245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Unidentified enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Luqa area, destroying one Wellington and one Beaufort.

Military casualties  Private James Hoare, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Colour Sergeant Thornton Springett, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Carmela Spiteri, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  SS King of England returned from Marsaxlokk escorted by ML 462, having recovered 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Whitley, two Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Whitley from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, one Blenheim from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot safe.

2 July 1942: Fire bombing of Boschetto Camp Kills 7; Injures 11

Boschetto

Seven RAF servicemen were killed when enemy bombers targeted the RAF camp in Boschetto Gardens in the early hours of this morning.  Three high explosive bombs hit the tented camp at 0100 hrs.  One landed directly on a tent and the others exploded nearby, causing considerable damage to tents, marquees and equipment.  Seven servicemen were killed and two were rushed to hospital with extensive wounds.  Eleven more were taken to hospital later, either suffering from injuries or severe shock.

Dozens of incendiary bombs were also dropped in the raid, setting fire to the trees which burst into flames.  Despite the ongoing air raid, all available men grabbed fire extinguishers and sand buckets to put out the flames.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; little cloud.

0830-0920 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron intercept six ME 109s.  F/O Mitchell damages one ME 109.  P/O Hurst is reported missing.

0920 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They engage eight ME 109s and five Cant 1007 bombers.  S/Ldr Lucas and F/Sgt Parkes each destroy one ME 109.  W/O Ramsay damages a starboard engine of one aircraft and sees pieces fly off the port wing.  F/Sgt De Nancrede scores hits on the leading bomber and damages the port bomber.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne and see a Cant 1007 with 20 strong fighter escort.  P/O King and P/O Glazebrook together probably destroy a Macchi.  Both pilots are then attacked head-on and they crash land at Ta Qali.

0955-1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  The five Cant 1007s drop thirty 100kg and five 50kg bombs on Safi and Kalafrana.  Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack.  P/O Smith damages one Cant and destroys one ME 109.  F/O Mitchell and P/O Newman both attack a bomber, leaving his engine smoking.  Sgt Parkinson and P/O Johnson each damage one RE 2001.

1055-1205 hrs; 1205-1245 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron, then two of 603 Squadron search for P/O Hurst.

1245-1400 hrs  Four Spitfires attack a fishing smack south of Kalafrana.

1400 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy bombers.

1420 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88 bombers escorted by four fighters drop bombs on Luqa from 23000 feet,  killing two civilians and wounding two civilians and two servicemen.  One Beaufighter is slightly damaged.  The Spitfires attack the JU 88s.   P/O Spradley damages the centre one; P/O Linton damages another.  P/O Daddo-Langlois attacks the port bomber and the crew bales out 40 miles north of the Island.  F/Sgt Middlemiss spots a ME 109 on the tail of P/O Kelly.  He opens fire and sees the ME 109 dive down and splash into the sea.  P/O Kelly does not return.

1455 hrs  All clear.

1505-1615 hrs  Spitfires of 249 Squadron search for P/O Kelly but find nothing.

1825-1842 hrs  Air raid alert.

1855-2000 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol to cover minesweepers.

1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight eight Cant 1007s with a 15 strong fighter escort.  S/Ldr Lucas damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Parkes also damages one ME 109 which is last seen diving down.  F/Sgt De Nancrede is hit in the engine in a head-on attack and crash-lands at Ta Qali.

1946-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Cants drop 100kg bombs on Luqa, safi and Hal Far from 20000ft.

2300-2307 hrs; 0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Italian and German bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on scattered areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

0055-0154 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft drop bombs on Luqa.  One Beaufighter is airborne.  P/O Fumerton fires a one-second burst at a JU 88 which causes an explosion.  A further burst sets the bomber on fire and it falls into the sea.  Four pilots of 249 Squadron search for a pilot in the sea 10-12 miles north of Grand Harbour.  They locate him and observe the launch completing the rescue.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Norman Clark, Royal Air Force; Aircraftsman 1 Cecil Clarke Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Corporal Gilbert Cruickshank, RAF; Pilot Officer John Hurst DFC, RAF VR, Leading Aircraftsman John Johnson, RAF VR; Aircraftsman Harry Lapish, Mentioned in Despatches, RAF VR; Aircraftsman George Meyrick, RAF VR; Corporal Bertie Nichols, RAF VR; Leading Aircraftsman J Portelli, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweeping in progress. 22 mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Hudsons, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire badly shot up in combat: pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot missing, believed killed.  One Spitfire shot down in combat into the sea: pilot missing, believed killed.  Two Spitfires crashed on landing after combat: both pilots safe.  One Spitfire force-landed after combat: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  Three Malta-based Wellingtons attacked an enemy convoy of three merchant ships and one destroyer, 8 miles from Madonna Isle and heading south-easterly.  The largest of the merchant vessels was targeted and a direct hit claimed, as well as several near-misses.  Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes and a small faire was observed on one of the merchantmen.

3 July 1942: On the Trail of a Convoy

Santa Maria de Leuca

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JULY TO DAWN 4 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud.

0855-0940 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a formation of three Cant 1007s escorted by about 12 fighters.  The bombers drop twenty-one 100kg bombs on Lija and Attard from 21000 feet.

1145-1235 hrs; 1350-1410 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighters on patrol.

1820 hrs   Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched to act as cover for arriving Beauforts.  Eight more are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.

1830-1845 hrs; 1935-1945 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighter sweeps.

2235-2240 hrs; 2330-2333 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

0015-0124 hrs  Air raid alert for 14 raiders; 10 cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa, Qawra and Dingli.  Several delayed-action bombs are dropped near the runway extension and the cuttings at Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Lance Sergeant Randolph Dutton, 10 Battery, 7 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Grace Borg, age 30; Mary Gauci, age 53.  Floriana  Laurence Cauchi, age 26.  Hamrun  Eleonora Apap, age 66.  Rabat  Consiglio Portellil, age 53.  Siggiewi  Laurence Cutajar, age 62; Josephine Muscat, age 52; Emanuel Muscat, age 22; Rosina Muscat, age 20; Mary Concetta Muscat, age 16; Saviour Muscat, age 7; Joseph Schembri, age 50. Sliema  Peter Cordina, age 57.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 3 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Four mines swept. Channel considered clear as far as Zonkor Point.

AIR HQ  Arrivals    Three Hudsons, two Beauforts, one Wellington, six Whitleys from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire suffered engine failure and crashed into the sea: pilot safe.  Two Beauforts failed to return from shipping strike: crew missing.

TA QALI  Corporal Thomas and Leading Aircraftsman Portelli died of their injuries at Imtarfa Hospital.

LUQA  Three aircraft attacked a convoy of three 9000 ton merchant vessels and seven destroyers, thirty miles from Sapienza.  The pilots reported near-misses on two of the merchantmen.  Another Wellington of 38 Squadron attacked with one torpedo but could not see results due to a smoke screen.  Four Beauforts escorted by five Beaufighters carried out a dusk attack on a convoy of eight destroyers and three 7000 ton merchant vessels steaming south east…miles from Sapienza.  One of the merchant ships was hit, causing much smoke and a red glow.  Another was possibly hit.

4 July 1942: Morale Remains High Says Governor

From: Governor & C in C Malta                To:  C in C Middle East                              Rptd: War Office   Military situation report week ending 4 July 42

St George’s Barracks

2.  Enemy aircraft destroyed: by Ack Ack at night 2 bombers.  By Beaufighters at night 8 bombers.  By Spitfires 2 JU 88s, 3 Cants, 9 fighters.  Probably destroyed or damaged by RAF P 7 bombers, 18 fighters.  For loss of 6 Spitfires and 8 damaged.

3.  Offensive air action limited to 11 sorties by Wellingtons against enemy convoys.

4.  Military casualties.  5 Other Ranks killed, 9 Other Ranks wounded.  Training of soldiers as winchmen, chargehands, etc for unloading future convoy proceeding.  Morale remains high.

BEAUFORTS MISSING AFTER CONVOY RAID

This afternoon a Baltimore sent to find the main convoy from Taranto sighted the three merchant vessels with an escort of eight destroyers 15 miles south of the island of Zante, heading south westerly.  Eight Beauforts were despatched to launch a dusk attack.  They found the convoy ten miles south of Sapienza and attacked, claiming at least one hit.  However, the Beauforts failed to return.  Three Wellingtons launched a second attack with torpedoes and bombs, claiming near misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Beaufort crew: no sighting.

0810 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Italian SM 84s with an escort of ME 109s, Macchi 202s and Re 2001s drop bombs between Attard and Luqa, where they destroy the Signals Maintenance section and damaging another building.  The Spitfires spot the Italian bombers and fighters and attack.  S/Ldr Lucas destroys one bomber; F/Lt Daddo-Langlois and F/Sgt Middlemiss together destroy a second and F/Sgt Rae the third.

0855-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron patrol above the rescue launch and then intercept six Macchi 202s.  P/O King is shot up but unhurt.

0905-1050 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron continue a patrol for the rescue launch as it searches for Italian air crew in the sea.

1550-1555 hrs; 1615-1645 hrs  Air raid alert: raids do not materialise.

1730-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1935 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1948 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Cant 1007s with 15 fighters drop bombs on Ta Qali and Musta.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron attack the raiders.  F/Sgt De Lara damages one Italian fighter.  P/O McElroy probably destroys one RE 2001 and sees two others spinning downwards.  Fighters jump S/Ldr Lucas, damaging his aircraft.

2000 hrs  All clear.

2130-2205 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

2215-2305 hrs; 2315-2359 hrs; 0250-0425 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 26 aircraft approach the Island; 18 cross the coast.   Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Mosta, Imtarfa, Wardia, Naxxar, Floriana and Valetta.  Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Edward Walker, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Andrew Coleiro, age 53.  Siggiewi  Concetta Frendo, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed into the sea in transit from Malta to Kasfareet: crew missing.  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 60.  Dealt with: high explosives 31 (3 x 500kg, 11 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg, 7 AP containers); German 2kg anti-personnel (AP) 275; Italian 2kg AP 46; large no of dud German 1kg incendiaries collected.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group, 1994

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21-27 June 1942: An Ounce of Cheese a Day (28g) as Rations Cut

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21 June 1942: Rations Too Low for Physical Labour

Military rations are now too low for physical exertion, according to medical chiefs.  With the failure of the recent convoys, food stocks are now critical and supplies are not expected in the immediate future.  As a result there will be no increase in the daily allowance – and further cuts in rations cannot be ruled out.   

A typical daily military ration now includes just 12oz (340g) of bread, 1oz (28g) of margarine and ½oz (14g) jam or marmalade, with 1oz (28g) each of tea, tinned milk and sugar.  Meals are small.  On a Monday, for example, the lunch allowance consists of ¾oz (21g) of tinned bacon and 1 oz (28g) of tinned cheese, dinner provides 6oz (170g) of preserved meat, 1oz (28g) of onions, 8 oz (227g) of potatoes and of fresh vegetables plus 2oz (57g) of tinned fruit and 3½oz (99g) of flour. 

In a report released today, the chief of Malta’s military Medical Services writes:  “It is agreed that the present ration is insufficient for men carrying out hard manual labour and training, as is the case with an appreciable number of troops.  A supplemental ration scale is considered advisable and has been recommended.  Arduous training and P.T. although not officially countermanded on paper, is not being carried out in practice.” (1)

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TOBRUK FALLS

At dawn yesterday morning an Axis air attack was launched on Tobruk, followed by a heavy ground offensive.  Last night reports were received in Malta that Tobruk had fallen to Rommel’s forces.

MALTA FORCES ON THE ATTACK

Overnight one aircraft attacked a southbound enemy convoy of two 10000 ton merchant vessels and three destroyers 32 miles from Cape Bon.  The leading merchant vessel was hit and a minute after leaving the target a dull red glow was seen.

Nine Beauforts with Beaufighter escort also attacked a convoy of two merchant ships with one escort vessel, to the south of Cape Bon.  Against heavy opposition, five of the Beauforts attacked, scoring two hits on each merchant vessel.  Another aircraft which managed to hit the vessels failed to return.  An escort vessel was also hit.  One of the enemy ships was believed to be the Reichenfels and which was later identified a considerable distance away, enveloped in smoke.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JUNE TO DAWN 22 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0652-0727 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on intercept patrol: no engagement.

0705-0815 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are ordered up to cover the departure of Blenheim aircraft from Malta.

0750-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three ME 109s carry out reconnaissance of the Island at 23000 feet.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept but do not engage; they land at 0845 hrs.

1400-1435 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol Gozo: nothing sighted.

1710-1745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no interceptions.

1910 hrs  Air raid alert.

1945 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  F/SGt Yarra destroys two ME 109s and damages one JU 88; F/Sgt Sim destroys one ME 109.  F/Sgt Conway is shot up and crash-lands at Ta Qali; he is seriously injured.  F/Sgt Terry is also shot up and crash-lands on the Attard Field dispersal area; he is unhurt.

2002 hrs  Alert for one JU 88 and 12 ME 109s.  Spitfires destroy three ME 109s and damage the JU 88.  Two Spitfires crash-land.

2025-2125 hrs  Enemy raiders are reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled too late to intercept and see nothing.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2233-2341 hrs; 0245-0356 hrs  Two air raid alerts for a total of 28 JU 88 bombers.   Luqa is the main target but bombs also fall in the areas of Hal Far, Hamrun, Ta Qali, Verdala, Naxxar and Dingli.  Flares are used to illuminate targets.  A field of wheat is set on fire at Safi.

0445 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Squadron Leader Robert Lynn, Royal Air Force, 217 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 21 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Catalina, one Spitfire, one Blenheim from Gibraltar; two Lodestars from Heliopolis via 121.  Departures  One Wellington, two Hudsons, eight Blenheims to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down; pilot injured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing from combat; pilot safe.  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft during a strike; pilot injured, remainder of crew safe.  Three Beauforts missing from operations; crews missing.  One Blenheim missing in Transit from Gibraltar to Malta; crew missing.  One Blenheim missing in transit from Malta to LG 224.

HAL FAR  2330 hrs  Two Albacores and two Swordfish are despatched on a strike mission; nothing sighted.

LUQA  0600-0918 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted three merchant vessels without escort in the Cape Bon area.  1145-1404 hrs  Six Beaufighters 235 Squadron on escort duties attacked two JU 88s and two SM79s.  F/O Wood and S/L Cook destroyed one SM 79; F/O Underwood destroyed two JU 88s; F/O Eyre damaged one SM 79.  1120-1425 hrs  Eight Beauforts 217 Squadron on shipping strike located and attacked the convoy, scoring two hits on each merchant vessel and one possible hit by one of three Beauforts which failed to return.  1240-1600 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted two destroyers and one merchant vessel.  1713-2100 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search sighted two merchant vessels of 5-6000 tons, two liners and two destroyers.   2245-0518 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search located a convoy of two merchant vessels and three destroyers.

22 June 1942: Raids Increase – Crops at Risk

Flares illuminate bomb targets (NWMA, Malta)

Some 40 JU 88 bombers have attacked Malta since yesterday.  An estimated 50,000 kg of bombs were dropped in just 24 hours, in the heaviest round of bombing raids for many days.    All of the attacks have been in the hours of darkness: the enemy has adopted a new tactic of using flares to illuminate the targets.  Incendiary bombs have been widely used, causing damage to crops.  The Government is planning to warn  farmers and householders to remove all flammable materials into shelter.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JUNE TO DAWN 23 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0530 hrs  Air raid alert.

0555-0630 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover the arrival of delivery aircraft; nothing sighted.

0835 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept three enemy fighters which approach and carry out reconnaissance over Grand Harbour.  The Spitfires do not engage and land at 0920 hrs.

0935-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an incoming plot which proves friendly.

1158-1245 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1252 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled but the aircraft is friendly.

1323-1446 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled for a reported raid which did not come in.

1745 hrs  Air raid alert for six approaching ME 109 fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  The Messerschmitts withdraw.

1918 hrs  Six more ME 109s are reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  F/Sgt Reid destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Ferraby also fires but without result.

2239 hrs  Air raid alert.  27 enemy aircraft approach, including a dozen JU 88s which drop incendiary bombs in the Luqa area, damaging one barrack block, and in the Safi dispersal area, damaging one Spitfire.

0250 hrs; 0322 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for single enemy bombers which drop bombs mainly on Luqa, Safi and Hal Far but also Baida Ridge.  A Bofors gun position in Qrendi is hit, killing one Other Rank and wounding two others. One Other Rank is wounded by an anti-personnel bomb at Boschetto.

Military casualties  Bombardier Richard Clee, 182 Battery, 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Cornelius Falvey, 186 Battery, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Sergeant Francis Hancocks, 186 Battery, 74 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 22 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Eleven mines swept in entrance channels. Two parachute mines reported dropped off Marsaxlokk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, five Beauforts from LG 05; five Beaufighters from LG 224.  Departures  One Wellington to Shallufa; one Wellington, three Blenheims, one Beaufort to LG 224; two Lodestars, one Spitfire to Heliopolis; one Cataline, two Hudsons to Gibraltar; four Beaufighters to Edcu.  Aircraft casualties  One Sea Gladiator damaged on the ground by enemy aircraft.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of Catania, Gerbini, Biscara, Gela and Pachino LG.  One Spitfire PR Lecca aerodromes.  One Spitfire PR of two large merchant vessels, then three small and one large merchant ship in Palermo.  One Spitfire PR Palermo shipping. 

0700-1135 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings, only an oil patch and debris.  1435-1509 hrs  Four Spitfires 129 Squadron act as escort for delivery aircraft: no combat.  2248-0415 hrs  Two Wellingtons (38 Squadron and S/D Flight) on strike mission but made no attack.  2159-0432 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol located a convoy of two large merchant vessels and three destroyers: possible hit on one merchant vessel.  2209-0500 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol on patrol located two large merchant ships and two destroyers with two smaller vessels: a near miss is scored on one destroyer.  2203-0524 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol: no attack.

TA QALI  Flying personnel 89 Squadron arrived and were posted to 1435 Flight.

23 June 1942: Malta Pilots Halt Enemy Convoy

Beaufort 39 Squadron Luqa waits for take-off

An attack was launched from Malta today by twelve Beauforts with Beaufighter escort.  They targeted a convoy of four destroyers and two large merchant vessels steaming eastwards, 31 miles from Cape Spartivento.  One merchant vessel was hit four times and was seen to go down at the stern.  The other merchant vessel was probably hit twice and a destroyer was also hit, causing an explosion.  All ships were left stationary.  A photo-reconnaissance pilot today confirmed that the larger of the two ships is still sitting low at the stern.

A single aircraft launched a solo attack on another convoy of one merchant vessel 5-6000 tons with another small vessel, 30 miles off Cape Bon.  Heavy clouds prevented any report of results.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JUNE TO DAWN 24 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0820-0915 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept nine approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight six ME 109s and get into a dogfight.  P/O Slade damages one ME 109 and another is later seen in the sea.  P/O Glenn damages one ME 109.

1100-1150 hrs; 1125-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires at a time from Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1445-1545 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of Baltimores and Beauforts from their shipping strike.

1700 hrs  A large plot of enemy aircraft is reported approaching the Island, including eight Cant 1007s and seven BR 20s flying in several formations with fighter escort.  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Vineyard damages one ME 109.

1740 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 603 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three Cants flying in tight formation, with an escort of Italian fighters.  P/O Slade damages one ME 109; P/O Glenn damages another.  F/O MacLeod destroys a Macchi 202 and damages another.  Three pilots shared in the destruction of another Macchi.  One Spitfire is destroyed (pilot uninjured) and one slightly damaged.

1815 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  Three BR 20s escorted by fighters get through to drop 10kg anti-personnel bombs and 50kg high explosives on Ta Qali and Mosta, causing civilian damage and casualties. One Other Rank of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment is killed and another seriously wounded by an anti-personnel bomb.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to assist but do not intercept.  F/Sgt McNamara crash-lands; he is unhurt.

2100 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2235 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of JU 88 bombers.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit (MNFU) from Luqa on intercept patrol probably destroys one JU 88.  The remaining aircraft drop bombs including incendiaries on Luqa.  One Spitfire is burned out.

2335 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for another approaching formation, this time of twenty enemy aircraft.  Ten cross the coast and drop bombs, including incendiaries mainly on Luqa but also Qurmi, Ta Karach, Marsa, Hamrun, Zurriek, Nigret and Rabat.  Flares are used to illuminate targets.

2340-0110 hrs  One Beaufighter MNFU is on intercept patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Walter Hillman, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Aircraftsman 1st Class Anthony Vella, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Kalafrana.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Paul Bonnano, age 45; Matthew Bonanno, age 4; James Mangion, age 67; Catherine Micallef, age 57.  Mqabba  Catherine Saliba, age 72.  Zejtun  Laurence Spiteri, age 62; Joseph Spiteri, age 55.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 23 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eleven Wellingtons, one Spitfire, five Blenheims, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; four Wellingtons from 231 Wing.  Departures  One Beaufort, one Beaufighter, nine Spitfires, seven Wellingtons to LG 224; two Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Lodestar to Heliopolis. 

Aircraft casualties  One Wellington in taxiing accident; crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot safe.  One Spitfire crashed on take-off; pilot safe.  One Beaufort shot down while attacking a convoy; crew missing.  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft while attacking a convoy; pilot injured, crew safe.  One Beaufort missing after shipping strike; crew missing.  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot safe.

HAL FAR  Naval Air Service is stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located two large merchant ships and four destroyers. One Spitfire PR Messina, Palermo and Trapani Harbour located one merchant ship off Trapani, three more in Trapani.  One Baltimore PR sighted oil patches; one destroyer appeared to be damaged and in tow.  One Spitfire PR located two motor torpedo boats, plus three destroyers and one merchant vessel in Palermo, and three merchant ships at Pantelleria. 

1138-1535 hrs  Eight Beaufighters 238 Squadron on escort located an enemy convoy of two merchant vessels and four destroyers, plus one Cant 501, two CR 42s and one ME 109: no combat.  1110-1519 hrs  Twelve Beauforts 217 and 39 Squadron locate and attack four destroyers and two large merchant vessels, scoring three hits and one probable hit on one merchant ship and two hits on the other.  All ships were reported stationary after the attack.  Two aircraft of 39 Squadron failed to return; one of 217 Squadron crashed on landing.  Three aircraft were slightly damaged by anti-aircraft fire.  2200-0507 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on shipping search: no sightings.  2208-0525 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight located one merchant ship and a small vessel: no hits scored.

24 June 1942: Solo Attacker Targets Enemy Convoy

Wellington bomber

The damaged merchant vessel observed yesterday in the Straits of Messina is now reported under tow by a destroyer.  Tonight a single Wellington aircraft attacked a convoy of two large merchant vessels and one destroyer 50 miles from Taranto, heading north.  On sighting the positioning flares, the convoy closed in and put up an intense smoke-screen.  The attacker dropped bombs in middle of the smoke-screen but was unable to observe the results.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JUNE TO DAWN 25 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0805-0840 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: no combat.

0935 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy fighters carrying out a patrol: no combat.

1125-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft which proves friendly.

1200-1245 hrs; 1545-1620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, followed by another four are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1724-1815 hrs; 1820-1900 hrs; 2000-2035 hrs  Patrols by our Spitfires 185 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and four of 126 Squadron: nil report.

2330 hrs; 0215 hrs; 0405 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 19 enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack destroy one JU 87: the pilot, an Italian, survives and is taken prisoner.  A Beaufighter of Malta Night Fighter Unit destroys one JU 87 and an unidentified four-engined aircraft.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

0405-0630 hrs  A Beaufighter of 1435 Flight Ta Qali on patrol sights a JU 88.  F/O Fumerton and P/O Bing follow and open fire: the bomber bursts into flames and explodes.

Military casualties  Lance Corporal James Byrne, 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three mines swept away.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Sunderlands from Aboukir; one Hudson, one Catalina, one Blenheim Bisley from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Wellingtons from LG 15.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Blenheim Bisleys to LG 224; one Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two Spitfires, one Lodestar to Heliopolis; two Sunderlands to Aboukir; four Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Wellington to LG 106.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located one large merchant ship and four destroyers stationary plus two small vessels in Crotene Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Trapani, Messina and Palermo, locating five small ships outside Trapani Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Marittimo, Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Kerkennah.  One Spitfire visual reconnaissance Messina observes a tanker and train ferry. 

0703-1125 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on search located one small merchant vessel in Lampedusa Harbour.  1915-1930 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron airborne on search but wireless telegraph equipment failed.  1540-2035 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search Messina Straits: no sightings.  2157-0715 hrs  One Wellington 38 Squadron on shipping search was joined from 0228 hrs by another and three Wellingtons S/D Flight to attack.  One Wellington attacked: no results were observed due to a smoke screen.

25 June 1942: Gunners Help Spitfires in Attack

Pinpoint firing from Heavy Ack Ack gunners helped Spitfire pilots destroy two enemy fighters today.  In recent days ME 109s attempting patrols of the Island have managed to escape pursuing Spitfires before they could engage.

Malta photo-reconnaissance reports that the enemy merchant vessel damaged in recent air raids has reached Taranto Harbour, where it is currently being unloaded and transferred to another ship.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JUNE TO DAWN 26 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0615 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and attack eight ME 109s carrying out a patrol but there are no claims.

0930-1005 hrs; 1050-1140 hrs   Patrols by four Spitfires 126 Squadron followed by two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1320-1330 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to patrol a given point: no air raid.

1340-1440 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover a photo-reconnaissance aircraft.

1625-1735 hrs; 1850-1915 hrs  Patrols by three Spitfires 249 Squadron and two Spitfires 126 Squadron: no combat.

1955 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept ME 109 fighters over Gozo.  P/O Berkeley probably destroys one; P/O Lattimer destroys two.  F/Sgt Tomkins is jumped and shot up over Gozo.  He makes it back to Ta Qali but crashes on the aerodrome.  His aircraft bursts into flames: he does not survive.

2044-2150 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to cover the return of friendly aircraft: nil report.

2205-0035 hrs  Three JU 87s attempt to bomb the Safi strip; one is destroyed by a Beaufighter on intercept patrol.

0317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten JU 88 bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs mainly on Luqa but also on Gudja, Zejtun, Hamrun and Paola. Incendiaries are dropped between Tarxien and San Giacomo causing several fires and damaging buildings, including some of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

0303-0432 hrs; 0331-0506 hrs   One Beaufighter 89 Squadron at a time carries out intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  F/Sgt Maurice Tomkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Stephen Matthews, Royal Air Force VR; Sergeant Wilfred Culbert, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force VR.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 25 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweepers and motor launches sweeping entrance channels. Fourteen mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibralter.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, two Blenheims to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crash-landed; crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.

LUQA  One aircraft on delivery crashed near Luqa and was destroyed.  Pilot F/Sgt Docherty was injured and two members of the crew were killed: Observer Sgt Matthews and Wireless Operator Sgt Culbert.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) sighted a tanker just north of Messina.  One Spitfire PR Taranto, Foggia and Naples located two merchant vessels and one destroyer off the Straits of Messina.  One Spitfire PR in Straits of Messina reported the two merchant vessels and one destroyer; one tanker had left.  One Spitfire PR of shipping Trapani, Palermo, Messina.  One Baltimore on shipping patrol east of Catania.  Two Beaufighters 235 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings except for a floating body. 

2032-2250 hrs  Three Beaufighters 235 Squadron despatched to escort Wellington strike: nothing seen en route.  2100-0520 hrs  Three Wellingtons on search and attack mission located one tanker and two destroyers.  One Wellington attacked with bombs but torpedoes were brought back.  2102-0612 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight and two 38 Squadron on shipping search and attack.  One Wellington attacked a convoy of one tanker and two destroyers: no hits; torpedoes brought back.  2209-0612 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search and attack, attacked two merchant vessels and one destroyer: no results observed.

26 June 1942: Italians Attempt Daylight Raid

Cant Z 1007 bombers

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JUNE TO DAWN 27 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0750 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled but the raid does not materialise.

0915 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter on patrol: no combat.

1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  An enemy fighter on patrol does not approach the Island.

1220 hrs  Air raid alert for another single ME 109.  Six Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

1802 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve ME 109s which approach and carry out a fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert for the main formation, including five Cant Z1007s, 15 Macchi 202s as well as Re 2001 fighters. escorted by twelve fighters.  Eight more Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/O Currie destroys one ME 109.  One Macchi 202 is also destroyed.  Twelve Spitfires 185 Squadron join the attack: F/Lt West destroys one Re 2001.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat.  Sticks of anti-personnel bombs are dropped from Ta Xbiex, Msida, Guardamangia and across to Luqa. Bombs are also dropped in the Luqa area, killing one man who was handling an unexploded bomb canister.

2032-2138 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

0045 hrs  Air raid alert  One enemy aircraft drops bombs in the sea off Zonkor Point.

0045-0117 hrs  One Beaufighter on intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  Fusilier William Wootton, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Anthony Caruana, age 13; Henry Cassar, age 2; Mary Tanti, age 17; Concetta Tanti, age 13. Mosta  Gerald Camilleri, age 33. Msida  Lilian Dimech, age 17; Carmelina Dimech, age 12; Josephine Dimech, age 7; Mary Dimech, age 6; Rita Dimech, age 3.  Qormi  Anthony Borg, age 59; George Borg, age 35.  Sliema  John Attard, age 25.  Ta’ Xbiex  Agnes Smith, age 47.  Zurrieq  Catherine Darmanin, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 26 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Six mines swept.  Surface plot investigated by Beaufighters with any tangible result.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson en route from Gibraltar to Matruh crashed on Malta.  Departures  One Blenheim to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson engine failed and crashed on landing; observer and wireless operator killed; rest of crew injured.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) located three merchant vessels and one destroyer at sea, and two merchant ships leaving Taranto.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron reconnaissance Cape Spartivento and Corfu: nothing sighted.  One Spitfire PR located one convoy of three merchant vessels and one destroyer, then another of one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats.

27 June 1942: Rations Cut Below Healthy Levels

GOVERNOR’S REPORT: WEEKLY MILITARY SITUATION FOR WEEK ENDING 27 JUNE 1942

From:- Governor & C in C Malta               To:- C in C Middle East              Rpt:- The War Office             

1.  Air:  No attempt to bomb merchant vessels in harbour.  Enemy activity over Island by only strong fighter patrols and eight Italian bombers.  At night total of approximately 90 raiders, some identified as JU 87s and JU 88s.  Main target Luqa and many anti-personnel, incendiaries and high explosive dropped by aid of flares.  Military damage very slight. 

Enemy aircraft casualties 15 fighters destroyed.  Two fighters probably destroyed; five bombers, seven fighters damaged by RAF during daylight for the loss of two Spitfires destroyed and two damaged.  Night Beaufighters destroyed four bombers (word corrupt) at night destroyed two bombers.  One Italian prisoner taken confirms other evidence that Italians now flying JU 87s.

35 sorties by Malta-based torpedo aircraft.  At least four merchant vessels, one destroyer hit for the loss of five Beauforts and five damaged.

2.  Military:  Army working parties employed distributing cargoes ex convoy from dumps to consignees.  Working parties on aerodromes decreased by half.  Calorific value of army ration now 2200 calories which necessitates reduced physical exertion.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JUNE TO DAWN 28 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; a few small scattered clouds below the main cloud blanket.

0748 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing sighted.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0945-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, led by F/L Daddo-Langlois, are airborne and jump eight Macchi 202 fighters.  P/O Verrall, F/Sgt and F/Sgt Rae each destroy one Macchi.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys another and F/Sgt Middlemas damaged a fifth.  Three of the enemy fighters are observed in the water, all within 200 yards of each other.

1020-1145 hrs; 1128-1214 hrs; 1220-1330 hrs; 1455-1515 hrs; 1544-1637 hrs; 1620-1720 hrs  Intercept patrols by eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa, two from Hal Far, four from 603 Squadron, two from 601 Squadron, four from Hal Far, then four Spitfires 603 Squadron: no combat.

1755-1825 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are despatched to search for E Boats suspected 15 miles from the coast: no sightings.

1840-1945 hrs; 1930-2050 hrs  Intercept patrols by four Spitfires 601 Squadron, twelve Spitfires from Hal Far: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Sliema  Ivo Falzon, age 37.  Zejtun  Louis Zammit, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 27 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  One mine cut. Sweeping curtailed by unfavourable weather.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson en route from Gibraltar to LG 15 landed at Malta.  Departures  One Hudson to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto, Grottagli and Brindisi observes a tanker in Taranto.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 80; dealt with high explosives 15 (1 x 500kg, 8 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 1 x 35kg; 1 x AP container); dealt with 2kg x 300 plus few 2kg Italian and a large number of German 1kg incendiaries.

(1) Adapted from 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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31 May 1942: RAF Wins in the Skies but Belts Tight on the Ground

MALTA WORLD WAR 2 DIARY MALTAGC70.COM GOES WEEKLY FROM JUNE                              

Next diary appears 6 June – don’t miss your weekly instalment: register to follow maltagc70 (see R)

 

“Rations have during the month been considerably reduced, and it is now a case of tightening belts until the next convoy comes in.”  (1)

Kingsway, May 1942 (NWMA Malta)

MAY 1942: THE ARMY VIEW

At the beginning of this month it became obvious that the enemy were not maintaining as many aircraft on the Sicilian aerodromes.  The attacks on this Island were on a reduced scale.  On 9th the Island received large reinforcements of Spitfires.  On 10th a minelaying cruiser brought supplies of Bofors ammunition to the Island and this ship was heavily bombed by JU 88s and JU 87s during its stay in the Dockyard.

The enemy was surprised to find over 60 Spitfires in the air waiting for him and also the heaviest Ack Ack barrage that has been seen over Malta for some months.  The result was – on that day the enemy lost 63 aircraft destroyed or damaged.

Since that time we have had air superiority over the Island.  Since this heavy defeat the enemy used mainly Italian aircraft and crews in his attacks and, although the raids have been on a much smaller scale, the percentage of enemy aircraft damaged or destroyed has been very high.  Towards the end of the month bombing raids against Italian targets were resumed from this Island.

A feature of the month has been the increase of enemy E Boat activity around the Island.  Undoubtedly some of these boats have been engaged in mine laying but this is probably not the only explanation of their activities.  On 17th some of these E Boats were engaged by our coast defences and one was left abandoned.  Rather than let this boat fall into our hands and reveal its secrets it was bombed and sunk by enemy aircraft.  On 18th an Italian came ashore at post T4 and, from information given by this prisoner, it appeared that the enemy may possibly be testing our coast defences with a view to making a ‘Commando’ raid against the Island.

During the month nearly all the troops… who are not manning key positions have been engaged in construction work on aerodromes, and salvage work clearing up the damage caused by the heavy bombing in the previous month.  The work on aerodromes has consisted of building pens to protect our aircraft and standing by to fill in craters and thus keep the aerodromes serviceable.

AIR COMMAND REPORTS ON STATE OF AIRFIELDS

By the beginning of May 236 pens had been completed in the aerodromes.  This work had to be given priority over slit trenches, because of the delay in the dispersal programmes.  The allowance of petrol to the RAF was 3000 gallons a week and was not to be exceeded.  All airmen living within four miles of the aerodromes had to march to work.  This limitation of petrol was a serious handicap to aerodrome work.

There was a grave shortage of miners owing to the shelter construction programme, and so any possibility of putting workshops underground had to be shelved, and we had to rely more upon dispersal than on underground workshops.  Stores were distributed to 27 houses throughout the Island and 60 per cent of the work at Kalafrana in engine and airframes repairs was moved to Gzira, including instrument, armament, airscrew, coppersmith and petrol tank repairs.

As regards work on the aerodromes there was a very serious shortage of rollers.  Rollers had to be used and manned during the whole of daylight hours with relief crews.  Often during the whole 24 hours when bombing was heavy and aerodromes had to be made usable.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1221-1259 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1340 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of Italian and German fighters.

1345 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the fighters approach the coast.  603 Squadron Spitfires engage the Re 2001s and ME 109s as they attempt a sweep over the Island.  The Spitfires attack but no strikes are seen.  One Spitfire falls into a bomb-hole while taxiing and breaks its back: the pilot is unhurt.

1508-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to search a position east north east of Grand Harbour.  They sight debris: an overturned float and a raft.

1804-1843 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1945 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four of 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft.  They chase the ME 109s but do not engage.

2235 hrs; 2350 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Chandler, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Domenico Vella, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 31 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Trusty Star, Beryl, and ML 126 sent to Marsaxlokk to sweep the approaches to that Harbour.  HM 235 sweeping off Grand Harbour.  17 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Hudsons, two Spitfires, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons, three Hudson to LG 222; one Blenheim, one Hurricane to Sidi Barrani; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

LUQA  2055-0106 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  The raid was very successful: large fires are seen, believed to be commercial oil storage tanks.  Explosions were seen on the jetty and railway lines.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  15 Malta Volunteer Defence Force fired on Pembroke Ranges.  Shooting quite good.  GOC present.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  One unexploded anti-personnel grenade is reported at 526186.  Strengths:  Officers 36; Other Ranks 833; RAOC (attached) 5; RAMC 1.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Strength of battalion: 33 Officers, 654 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Spr Briffa, No 2 Works Company RE, was involved in a motor-car accident and admitted to hospital.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported nil; dealt with 8 (Italian Thermos).  Strengths  HQ Fortress RE 4 Officers, 18 Other Ranks; 24 Fortress Coy RE 5 Officers, 219 Other Ranks; 173 Tunnelling Company RE 6 Officers 204 Other Ranks; No 1 Works Company RE 5 Officers 225 Other Ranks; No 2 Works Company RE 6 Officers 229 Other Ranks; 127 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 20 Other Ranks; 128 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 16 Other Ranks.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.  A Company Jebel Ciantar 4 Officers 131 Other Ranks; B Coy Ta Karceppu 5 Officers 122 Other Ranks; C Coy Inquisitors Palace 5 Officers 133 Other Ranks; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 Other Ranks; HQ Coy Ta Salvator 15 Officers 261 Other Ranks.  Chaplain and Medical Officer attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The unit has supplied several working parties during the month for Ta Qali aerodrome and the work has consisted of constructing aircraft pens, repairing runways, filling in bomb craters and salvage.  Owing to the very heavy raids during the month this has been very arduous work.

(1) War Diary, 8th Bn The Manchester Regiment, May 1942

 

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29 May 1942: Wellington Destroyed by Friendly Fire – Crewmen Killed

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ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY RESCUE SURVIVORS

A Wellington bomber of 104 Squadron returning from a successful bombing mission over Catania crashed today near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the other two.  It is believed that the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, possibly due to being wrongly identified as an attacking enemy plane.

The Wellington crashed on L’Imrihel Feature, killing three of the crew on impact.  Personnel of 6th Heavy Ack Ack, Royal Malta Artillery, managed to rescue the injured pilot, Sgt R Hills, and the second pilot, Sgt E Martin who was seriously wounded.  Before they could return for the final crew member, the aircraft’s petrol tanks exploded, killing him instantly.

MS Reichenfels

MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS SPOT CONVOY TARGET

A large convoy has been seen by aerial reconnaissance loading at Naples.  Three of these ships, the 7800 ton German ‘Reichenfels’ and two 6500 ton Lenici class ships were today photographed off Pantelleria, heading towards Tripoli under protective destroyer escort.

ITALIANS PILOT STUKAS

Four enemy aircraft which dropped bombs on Mellieha and Dingli overnight are believed to be JU 87s flown by Italian pilots.  The aircraft caused some confusion among observers who were at first unable to identify them.  They reported that the shape and markings suggested JU 87s but the aircraft were not operating in the usual agressive manner of the Stuka dive-bomber.

The pilot of a Beaufighter on patrol with Malta Night Fighter Unit later confirmed that he had engaged with JU 87s at the time of the raid, damaging one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MAY TO DAWN 30 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh; haze.

0510-0605 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on shipping reconnaissance but sight nothing.

0820 hrs  Air raid alert.

0822-0926 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island: no combat.

1202 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far and four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1235 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds as the formation approaches the Island.  There is no engagement with Malta fighters.

1305 hrs  All clear.

1458-1622 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to patrol for enemy fighters: no interceptions.

1638-1748 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1715-1825 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled, climbing to intercept the hostile aircraft.  They sight two but no interceptions take place.

1750 hrs  The air raid alerts sounds as the fighters near the coast.  They carry out a fighter sweep.

1825 hrs  All clear.

2310 hrs  A Wellington bomber returning from operations crashes near Tal Hlas.

0009-0244 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol.

0025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a small formation of enemy bombers approaching the Island.  One JU 88 and four other unidentified bombers drop bombs near Mellieha and Dingli.  The Beaufighter engages and damages one aircraft, identified as a JU 87.

0212 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialize.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant George Davis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 104 Squadron, RAF; Sergeant Andrew McColl,  Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Elwyn Roberts, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR), 104 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Kenneth Ross, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 104 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star continued minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; one CW 20 from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  2145 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish of the NAS were airborne on strike mission.  The convoy consisting of three merchant vessels and three destroyers was located off the Tunisian coast but was covered by a thick fog patch 300 feet deep, 15 miles long and 10 miles across.  No attack was possible and all the aircraft returned with their torpedoes at 0320 hrs.

LUQA  0930-1215 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa, Trapani and Palermo.  1505-1707 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  2117-0310 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search Gulf of Gabies.  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched from Luqa to bomb Catania aerodrome.  Bombs landed in the target area: many fires are seen.  On returning to base the aircraft crashed near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the pilot and second pilot.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1230 hrs  Working parties for pen-building and crater filling at Luqa finished and returned to billets.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs  Pte Porter is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 5 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  1230 hrs  Working party of 50 men tin-loading at Luqa.

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23 May 1942: German Air Force Retreat From Sicily

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GOVERNOR REPORTS FEWER LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS IN SICILY

From:  Governor and C in C Malta  To:  C in C Middle East  Rptd: War Office

Spitfires over Malta

Enemy.  Military situation report for week ending 23/5.  Day bombing effort was almost negligible.  Total of five JU 88s, eight Cants only.  Also fifteen fighter bombers – large number of fighter sweeps continue using mainly ME 109s, some Macchi 202s and Re 2001s.  Total of 25 night bombers mostly Br 20s.  Photo-reconnaissance shows further decrease [German Air Force] in Sicily; all JU 87s now gone.  Approx only 100 JU 88s remain.  Considerable decrease fighters also.

Following enemy aircraft claimed during week.  By Ack Ack: damaged 2 JU 88, 1 Macchi 202.  By RAF: destroyed 1 JU 88, 2 Br 20, 2 Cant, 13 ME 109, 1 Macchi 202, 5 Re 2001; probably destroyed 1 Br 20, 1 Cant, 5 ME 109, 2 Re 2001; damaged 2 Do 24, 2 Cant, 4 ME 109, 2 Macchi, 4 Re 2001.

Slight E boat activity continues.  Italian Petty Officer Urisoker taken 19/5.  On special mission recce coast defences Zonqor point to two miles north.  Specialist in Davis apparatus, dressed in diving suit for submerging when fired upon.  Full report through naval channels.  On 20/5 spy with [wireless-transmission] set, rations etc caught.  Pro-Italian Maltese landed by motor boat from Sicily.  Unable to scale cliffs and captured.  Full report through defence security channels.

Own troops.  Large working parties for RAF continue.  500 pen-building; 300 servicing Spitfires; 150 servicing bombing up Wellingtons.  Military damage negligible during week.  Army Bomb Disposal Section disposed 31 UXB totaling six and a half tons.  Casualties one Other Rank killed; three Other Ranks wounded.  Further 17 Spitfires arrived also Wellingtons.

Conclusion.  Enemy air activity slackening further.  Movement of German Air Force elsewhere continues.  Indication that raids by E boats or human torpedoes or landing raids being considered by enemy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MAY TO DAWN 24 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0716 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming plot of five Cant 1007s in ‘vic’ (1) formation with a large escort of RE 2001s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s, approaching the Island from the north.  12 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell, Sgt James and P/O Tilly destroy two Re 2001s and one ME 109.  P/O Jones probably destroys one Cant and F/Sgt Schade one ME 109.  Sgt Jones damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001; F/Sgt Schade damages one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: the pilot is unhurt.

0720 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.

0739-0745 hrs  Cant bombers drop ten 100kg bombs each on Ta Qali, making craters at dispersal points.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0835 hrs  The alert sounds for a small number of enemy fighters on patrol.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They land at 0919 hrs without engagement.

0926 hrs; 0949 hrs  Alerts sound for small numbers of enemy fighters patrolling near the Island.

1400-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1611 hrs  Four ME 109s approach the Island and make a reconnaissance flight over all three aerodromes.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They land at 1654 hrs with no interceptions.

1855-1923 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a fighter sweep: nil report.

1905-2015 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are scrambled for incoming fighters: nil report.

2020 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  The two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.  The four Spitfires land at 2110 hrs without engagement.

2145-2217 hrs, 2145-0010 hrs; 2235-2250 hrs  One Beaufighter each time is scrambled from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

2212-2257 hrs  ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and drop bombs on Hal Far.  JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi, and on Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome unserviceable for the night.

A delivery Wellington crashes on landing: Sgt Merrit is seriously wounded; other members of the crew have minor injuries.

Military casualties  WO II Carmelo Zahra, (BSM), 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; WO II Cyril May, (CSM), 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Kirkop  Spiro Bartolo, age 73.  Luqa  Andrew Farrugia, age 8.  Sliema  Antonia Pace, age 77.  Zejtun  Vincent Axisa, age 68.  Zurrieq  Carmel Axiaq, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 23 MAY 1942

HMS Porpoise

ROYAL NAVY  The Commander in Chief ordered Porpoise to be sailed from Alexandria to Malta with stores.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS went out after a convoy: no sightings.

LUQA  0705-0914 hrs  One Spitfire  photo-reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  All stood down until 1300 hrs except for skeleton staffs.  Inspector General Air Marshal Ludlow Hewitt visits Station.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continued.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Pte Merson was slightly injured by bomb splinter at Hal Far.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 1 Italian Thermos bomb).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Night working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by.  CSM May died in Imtarfa Hospital.

(1)  A tight V formation of one lead aircraft and one wingman close behind on each side – more commonly used by the Royal Air Force

 

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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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19 May 1942: New Spitfire Patrols Keep Enemy at Bay

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Cant Z 1007 bis in Sicily

SPITFIRE NUMBERS DETER ATTACKS

With the successful arrival of 17 more Spitfires, the RAF today maintained an almost constant patrol of Malta’s airspace, ready to intercept any incoming enemy formations.  Having suffered heavy losses since 10 May, the enemy is sending few bombers to attack Malta, and those mainly under cover of darkness.

The few bombers attempting a raid this afternoon were heavily attacked and prevented from landing bombs on target.  Spitfires destroyed two bombers and damaged three more, plus one fighter.

MALTA BOMBERS BACK ON OFFENSIVE

Malta forces launched an attack overnight on a convoy northbound out of Tripoli.  The RAF pounced on a merchant vessel and two destroyers 35 miles off Tripoli.  The enemy raised a thick smoke screen which made observation difficult.  Despite the poor visibility, bombs were dropped from 2000 feet and scored hits on enemy vessels.

MALTESE CIVILIANS COMMENDED FOR BRAVE SEA RESCUE

“The Air Officer Commanding brings to notice the courageous action of Joseph Camenzuli, 40 Anny Street, Valletta, and two brothers, Emanuel and Vincent Mappa, of 42 Fontera Street, Valettta in their rescue of a British fighter pilot.

On Sunday 10th May 1942, during the height of a heavy air raid on Malta, a Spitfire pilot was shot down.  He baled out, coming down in the sea over a mile from the shore.  As he reached the sea, his dinghy opened, and he was soon endeavouring to run towards land.

Despite the fact that there were many enemy fighters in the vicinity, the three men mentioned, without thought of personal danger, manned two boats and struck out strongly towards the pilot who had been wounded.  He was quickly brought ashore and hurried away in an ambulance.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MAY TO DAWN 20 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0840-0905 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagements.

0921-0950 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is reported heading towards the Island.  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  Five ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep: no engagements.

1047 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is plotted heading towards the Island.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no interceptions.

1115 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali.  15 ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep: no engagements.

1145 hrs  Raiders passed.

1226-1300 hrs  One Spitfire from Luqa carries out photo-reconnaissance over Malta, including Luqa and Ta Qali.

1330 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of ten ME 109s.  Both Spitfires open fire at a ME 109 but with no results.  The ME 109s split into pairs over the Island and carry out a fighter sweep.

1440 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of Cant 1007s escorted by ME 109s and Re 2001s. Ten Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are also scrambled from Luqa:  P/O Caldwell destroys one Cant 1007 bis and damages another.  Two Spitfires are slightly damaged in combat.  F/Lt Lawrence, 185 Squadron damages a Macchi 2002.

1508-1550 hrs  Three Cant 1007s escorted by nine ME 109s and five Re 2001s attack Luqa and Safi strip from 23,000 feet.  100 high explosive bombs are dropped but land well clear of the target, several hitting Gudja and Birzebbugia.  Small anti-personnel bombs are also dropped in Ghar Dalam area.  One civilian is killed; L/Cpl Savage, Pte Venton and Pte Holes, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt are wounded.

1515-1615 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagements.

1653-1713 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa on patrol for intercept enemy aircraft: no engagements.

1756-1838 hrs  Four Spitifres 126 Squadron are scrambled form Luqa on patrol for enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1900-2015 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept six ME 109s patrolling near the Island: no engagements.

2026 hrs  The fighters are followed in by a small formation of six JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack (LAAA) and anti-aircraft light machine guns engage: LAA damage two of the raiders.

2045 hrs  Four JU 88s then go on to attack Ta Qali and Zebbug.  Bombs are dropped on the eastern dispersal area of Ta Qali, causing a number of craters and setting one Spitfire on fire.

Night  Five enemy bombers approach the Island singly: all bombs are dropped in the sea.

0320-0400 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne from Luqa and destroys a Cant 1007 bis.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmel Pace, age 30.  Paola  Consolat Bondin, age 6.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 19 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three Albacores attacked a M/V escorted by 2 destroyers and obtained hits on one destroyer and the merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  2230 hrs  Three Albacores of NAS took off to attack a convoy consisting of one merchant vessel and three destroyers northbound from Tripoli.  Hits were scored on one destroyer and the merchant vessel was also probably hit.  All three Albacores returned safely at 0330 hrs.

LUQA  2115-0310 hrs  One Wellington on armed search in area north of Tripoli locates a convoy and drops flares and bombs.

TA QALI  Miss Cottrell commenced work as shorthand-typist.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa: 3 Officers and 100 men on pen-building; 2 Officers 50 men crater-filling; 1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 5 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 250kg, 2 x Italian AP bomb containers).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by.

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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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