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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.

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

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

 

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18 May 1942: Italian Spy Caught – Reveals Invasion Plot

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RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

ITALIAN DIVER CONFESSES

A lone figure scrambled ashore this morning in Marsascala Bay and gave himself up to members of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment guarding the coastline.  Italian navy diver Giuseppe Guglielmo was immediately taken prisoner.  He later confessed that he had been dropped from a naval torpedo boat in the bay during the night, with a mission was to investigate the beach defences.  However, he was unable to locate the boat which was due to collect him.  Faced with few options, he decided to put himself at the mercy of Malta’s forces.

SEVENTEEN NEW SPITFIRES

Yesterday afternoon, HMS Eagle sailed from Gibraltar along with HMS Argus, under the protection of cruiser HMS Charybdis and six destroyers, to deliver of another seventeen Spitfires and six Albacores to Malta.  At 0830 hrs this morning, Charybdis escaped with a near miss from torpedoes, fired from an Italian submarine.  Despite being shadowed by enemy aircraft, some of which carried out a brief attack, the convoy reached the rendezvous point.  The aircraft were flown off successfully but the six Albacores experienced defects and had to return to Eagle.  All the Spitfires arrived safely in Malta.

AIRMEN SUFFER FOOD AND WATER SHORTAGES

RAF personnel at Ta Qali will no longer be able to supplement their diet between set meal times.  Commanders at the aerodrome today announced that the sale of bread and sandwiches in the canteens is to stop.  The measure is necessary due to the serious shortage of food supplies and is expected to remain in place until a significant convoy can reach the Island.  The announcement added that water use is to be rationed to nine gallons per head per day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0545 hrs  Six plus aircraft patrol fifteen miles north east of the Island. Then fourteen Caproni Reggiani Re 2001s and ME 109s carry out a sweep at 12000 feet.

0625 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali and sight four of the Re 2001s.  Sgt Brennan, F/O West and Sgt Gilbert each destroy one.

0705 hrs  Another Re 2001 is forced to land in good condition near Fort Leonardo; the pilot is taken prisoner.  (1)

0845 hrs  An Italian diver comes ashore at Marsascala Bay and is taken prisoner by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

0845-0925 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

0927 hrs  Five ME 109s patrol around the Island at heights between 23000 and 15000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

0940 hrs  25 ME 109s and Re 2001s are reported approaching the Island.  With the arrival of a new delivery of Spitfires expected, five Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Two are recalled.

1028 hrs  The remaining three Spitfires 601 Squadron are jumped by ME 109s.  P/O Scott claims one ME 109 destroyed.  Sgt Farlow is shot down.  The RAF Air/Sea Rescue launch puts out.

1100 hrs  Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far to escort to incoming aircraft. They engage enemy fighters: Sgt Pendlebury is shot down and killed.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to act as high cover for the Hurricanes.  Sgt Yarra attacks four ME 109s, destroying one and probably destroying another.

1114 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to help protect the rescue launch.  P/O Bisley destroys one ME 109.

1145 hrs  Sgt Yarra 185 Squadron runs short of petrol and has to land his Spitfire at Ta Qali.   Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered up from Ta Qali to patrol.  Sgt Gilbert destroys one ME 109; Sgt Gray probably destroys another.

Sgt Farlow and a German pilot are rescued alive by the RAF launch but Sgt Pendlebury is found to have been killed during the air attack.

1300-1340 hrs  Six Me 109s fly over the Island at 18000 feet and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1600-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to patrol over the Island: no combats.

1609 hrs  One Dornier 24 escorted by 20 plus fighters carries out a rescue search to the east of the Island.  Fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1724 hrs  20 ME 109s and Macchi 202s make a sweep over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: one hits and damages a Macchi 202 at 23000 feet.

1750 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1755 hrs  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  They chase several ME 109s.  Two Spitfires (P/O Peck and Sgt Jones) fire at a ME 109 from extreme range; the aircraft is later seen to crash in flames by Spinola Ack Ack battery.

2043-2133 hrs; 2123-2217 hrs; 2340-0115 hrs; 0050-0400 hrs; 0245-0345 hrs; 0340-0445 hrs  Beaufighters maintain a standing patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagements.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Boyd, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Robert Charters, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Pendlebury, Royal Air Force VR, 229 Squadron; Lance Bombardier A Aquilina, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Johann Lompa, Pilot of ME 109 Messerschmitt shot down into the sea, rescued by RAF Launch and taken prisoner; Tenente Remo Cazzolli, 152a Squadriglia, Re 2001 Pilot, shot down and crash landed, badly injured and taken to hospital as a prisoner; diver Giuseppe Guglielmo, Italian Navy: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 18 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  17 Spitfires, 2 Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts, two Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson, one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane shot down in combat; pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea; pilot injured.  One Beaufort failed to arrive at Middle East: crew missing.

HAL FAR  2015 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS were airborne to attack a convoy.  The convoy was not located and they returned with their torpedoes at 0245 hrs.  2224 hrs  Four Albacores of the NAS took off to attack a convoy.  Two returned with mechanical trouble and the other two found their target but did not attack owing to unfavourable conditions.  They returned with their torpedoes, landing at 0340 hrs.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.  1015-1240 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Sicilian aerodromes.  2104-0400 hrs  One Wellington on search to locate and join Albacores strike onto enemy convoy in Tripoli area.

TA QALI  Eight Spitfires arrived ex Carrier.  Consumption of water reduced to 9 gallons per head per day.  Sale of bread or sandwiches in EF1 canteens to be discontinued until further notice owing to shortage of supplies.

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 working parties increased this morning.  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 continued.  D Company moved from Jebel Ciantar to Boschetto Gardens.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  One half of No 2 Section, 1 Works Company RE commenced work at Hompesch (accommodation for RA and Infantry).  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 4 officers and 140 Other Ranks working on pens at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion working parties continue to be engaged at aerodromes doing valuable work.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

(1)  Italian pilot recalls his capture – CLICK HERE

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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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15 May 1942: Governor Gort Wounded by Bomb

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MALTA’S TALLY OF ENEMY AIRCRAFT MOUNTING

In Friday’s raids over Malta four more enemy planes were destroyed and six others damaged with no losses at all to the RAF.  The attack on Friday was lighter than usual and the enemy’s techniques changed completely.  Just a small force of bombers are sent with an extremely large force of fighters to escort them….

Lord Gort

Rome radio states that Lord Gort was wounded by bomb splinters in the left arm, during a raid on Malta last week.  Army News, Darwin, 17 May 1942

CHURCHILL APPOINTS GORT SUPREME COMMANDER

A telegram marked “personal and secret” was sent by Winston Churchill to Lord Gort, Governor and Commander-in-Chief Malta today, appointing him as ‘Supreme Commander of the Fighting Services and Civil Administration in Malta’ until further notice.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MAY TO DAWN 16 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; medium 50% cloud.

0821 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by 12 fighters carries out reconnaissance.

0917 hrs  Three Savoia Marchetti 84s with a strong fighter escort deliver a high level bombing attack on Mellieha.

1050 hrs  Seven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept a formation of 20 enemy fighters carrying out a fighter sweep over the Island.  P/O Booth is shot up by four ME 109s and his aircraft damaged; he is unhurt but crash-lands at Ta Qali.

Another sweep follows by 30 ME 109s.

1156 hrs  Raiders passed.

1212 hrs; 1255 hrs  Two air raid alerts for nine enemy aircraft carrying out a search off Gozo.

1537 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept 20 ME 109s and Macchi 202s with one JU 88 crossing the Island.  No bombs are dropped.  Sgt Yarra destroys two Macchi 202s and damages one ME 109.  Both Spitfires land undamaged at 1620 hrs.

1640 hrs  One ME 109 is shot down near Paola.

1655 hrs  A baler out from a ME 109 lands at Zeitun and is apprehended by a guard from B Coy, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

1704 hrs  Five ME 109s and three JU 88s cross the Island and drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali – one stick on the eastern dispersal area and one stick between Rabat and the western dispersal area, at the back of the caves.  Bombs leave craters on the aerodrome.  One Beaufighter is airborne but unable to intercept.

1811 hrs  One JU 88 drops bombs on the Safi strip and near HQ 4th Bn Hampshire Regt before being hit by Ack Ack guns and crashing near Ta Karach Ridge.

2030-2115 hrs  Six raiders, three of which are identified as JU 88s, drop bombs on the Ta Qali area, Mdina and Rabat, causing some civilian casualties and damage to property.  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

0302 hrs  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island at intervals and drop bombs on Marfa Ridge and in St Thomas’ Bay area.

0345 hrs  24 incendiary bombs are dropped between three defence posts at the edge of Luqa airfield.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Joseph Camilleri, age 16.  Sannat, Gozo  Anton Hili, age 16.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Herbert Soukup, 6/JG 53, Pilot of a Messerschmitt 109 fighter, shot down but managed to parachute down to land, where he was taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 15 MAY 1942

LUQA  0700-0856 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes.

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa working party changed.  2 Officers and 50 Other Ranks to standy by at Luqa from 0500-2030 hrs daily for crater filling.  Party at Ospizio as usual.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 7; dealt with 3 (all 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 5 Officers and 142 Other Ranks pen-building and crater-filling on Hal Far aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit takes over Brigade Observation Post at Tal Minsia from 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  50 strong working party at Ta Qali and a further 100 men stood by in billet areas.  CSM May of E Coy was admitted to hospital after receiving injuries caused by an unexploded bomb which exploded near him.

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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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10 May 1942: The Battle of Malta – Fiercest Attack the World has Ever Known

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  • Enemy fighters destroyed/damaged by RAF 57
  • Enemy fighters destroyed by Ack Ack 8

    JU 87 Stuka

THE FIERCEST AERIAL ATTACK THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN

Royal Navy Commander Edward Woolley was working that morning at Hamrun with Army Bomb Disposal Officer, Lt Thomas Blackwell, where they had just dealt with an unexploded G mine:

“Just as we left a most terrific barrage started right above us. It was so sudden we didn’t even have time to take cover, and perforce had to watch what was probably the fiercest and most concentrated aerial attack the world has ever known. It so happened that during the night a single ship had run the gauntlet to Malta and was being unloaded at top speed. Jerry sent over about a hundred Stukas to get it. Only the day before we had received reinforcements of Spitfires and the Gunners were given unlimited fire and my God did they use it. The air was literally black with barrage, planes and bits of planes. The Spits got so excited they followed the Stukas right through the barrage and we lost a couple. Jerry lost about seventy the highest day’s loss by a long way. The whole affair lasted about twenty minutes and we stood in the doorway to a house the whole time, never been so frightened in my life.”  (1) 

HMS Welshman

WELSHMAN SURVIVES TO DELIVER VITAL SUPPLIES

Minelayer HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour today, bringing spare parts and 105 RAF maintenance crew for Spitfires to Malta as part of Operation Bowery.  She was also loaded to the limit with 540 tons of stores including the supply for Malta of 15 tons of smoke-making compound, as well as 96 Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engines, over 80,000 rounds of Bofors shells, plus medicines, tinned meat, powdered milk and dehydrated foodstuffs.

Welshman embarked on 7 May and, once at sea, was disguised as the French super destroyer Leopard and flying French colours to cover her passage through the Mediterranean.  The disguise fooled French and German reconnaissance aircraft and Welshman completed her passage to Malta unchallenged, entering Grand Harbour early this morning having narrowly missed two mines on her way in.

Unloading HMS Welshman (IWM GM 1377)

“The RAF personnel. were soon on their way and then task of unloading began. I was on watch in the radio room below decks and at about 1000 hours the air raid warnings began. At 1100 hours the ship was shaken by three explosions — two bombs had landed on the quay, demolishing one of the cranes, and the third had landed in the dock, all within about 20 feet of the ship. Part of one of the cranes landed on the multiple pom-pom deck, killing one of the crew and putting the gun out of action… For the first time during the siege a smoke screen was laid over the Harbour and this may well have saved the Welshman”  (2)

British Pathe News: Supplies for Malta CLICK HERE

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 MAY TO DAWN 11 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly: no cloud – haze.  Very hot.

0530 hrs  HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour.  Immediately on berthing she puts up a smoke screen completely obscuring her from view.

0550-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0555 hrs  ME 109s carry out a patrol to the south east of the Island.

0720-0821 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far on patrol duties over Grand Harbour.    

0750 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa on intercept patrol: no contact.

0752 hrs  One JU 88 and ten ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over the Island.  Sgt Boyd, 185 Squadron, fires at two ME 109s without result.

0820-0940 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali on patrol: nil report.

0951 hrs  First reports of formations of enemy aircraft heading from the direction of Comiso.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They engage enemy fighters: two ME 109s are probably destroyed; one damaged.

Island on full alert: Lascaris Operations Room orders Ground Observers to readiness and Anti-Aircraft guns to alert status.  19 Spitfires 601 and 126 Squadrons are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.

First visual reports of incoming enemy raiders from observation posts on Gozo and Marfa Ridge.

Anti-aircraft guns open barrages on incoming aircraft.

1041 hrs  Twenty JU 87s and eight JU 88s escorted by large numbers of ME 109s head for Grand Harbour and attempt to attack shipping through the smoke screen.  They are met by an intense Ack Ack barrage over the harbour and large numbers of Spitfires attacking from above – all operating through the smoke and defensive barrage.  Observers describe enemy bombing as ‘very inaccurate’.

1048 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept enemy aircraft.  A number of JU 87s and JU 88s are attacked in the Grand Harbour area.  Sgt Boyd probably destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  Sgt Dodd destroys one JU 87.  F/Lt Lawrence probably destroys one JU 88.  SGt Broad probably destroys one JU 88 and P/O McKay probably destroys one JU 88.

Spitfires from Luqa 126 and 601 Squadrons claim two JU 87s,and one JU 88 destroyed; two JU 87s and two JU 88s probably destroyed; two JU 87s and two JU 88s damaged.

1050 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron and five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and intercept fifteen JU 87s.  F/Sgt Hurst destroys one JU 87 and damages another.  F/Lt Douglas probably destroys one and damages another.  F/O Holland damages three ME 109s.  P/O Nash destroys one JU 87 and probably destroys another.  F/Lt Buchanan damages one JU 87, F/O Lee probably destroys one, Sgt Brennan destroys one and damages another.  P/O Plagis destroys one JU 87 and damages one ME 109.

One Spitfire, one JU 88 and one JU 87 are seen to crash in the Grand Harbour area.

1115 hrs  Spitfires return to Luqa: P/O Briggs fails to return to base.

1138 hrs  Raiders passed.

1200 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance.

1330 hrs  Unloading of Welshman is complete.

1358 hrs  ME 109s carry out a fighter sweep across the Island.

1430 hrs  Reports come in of a formation of 7 JU 88 bombs with an escort of 30 ME 109 fighters approaching the Island. 12 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons from Luqa and eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.

1445 hrs  Approaching Grand Harbour the enemy raiders are attacked by Spitfires and Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron from Luqa claim two ME 109s probably destroyed, one damaged.  Four Spitfires are damaged; pilots unhurt.

Seven JU 88s drop bombs on Grand Harbour.  The smoke screen is still in place, obscuring HMS Welshman from view and hampering visibility.  Bombs damage a gun mounting store, smithery and boiler house in the Dockyard.  Three bombs land two hundred yards north west of Hompesch.

1453 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron dive on the seven JU 88s as they turn away from releasing their bombs.  S/Ldr Grant destroys one; F/Sgt Hesselyn probably destroys one ME 109.  One JU 88 is seen to crash in the Zabbar area.

1500-1520 hrs  Numerous ME 109s at 300-1000 feet are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA).

1555 hrs  Raiders passed.

1740 hrs  A formation of Italian bombers with fighter escort totalling 35 aircraft is reported heading for the Island.  10 Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.

Five Cant 1007bis escorted by fighters drop bombs to the east of Grand Harbour.  The smoke screen is still in place and Harbour gunners put up a very heavy anti-aircraft barrage.  Spitfires from Luqa claim two Cant 1007 and one Macchi 202 destroyed; one Cant 1007 damaged.

1810 hrs  Another large formation of enemy aircraft approaches, including 16 JU 87 Stukas and large numbers of ME 109 fighters.

1814 hrs  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.

1835 hrs  The JU 87s attack Grand Harbour amid a smoke screen and very heavy anti-aircraft barrage.  Bombing is described as ‘very wild’.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and ten Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali join the Spitfires of 185 Squadron and engage the JU 87s.  Ta Qali fighter F/O West damages one ME 109; P.O Watts destroys one ME 109.  P/O Hetherington probably destroys one ME 109; F/Lt Douglas and P.O Forster between them probably destroy one JU 87.  F/Lt Douglas damages another.  F/O Mitchell destroys one JU 87 and damages another, and probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Broad and Sgt Dodd, 185 Squadron each damage a ME 109.

1850 hrs  Eight Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  One ME 109 is destroyed and one probably destroyed; one JU 87 is damaged.

One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance over the Island.

1905 hrs  Six guns of 225 LAA engage two ME 109s: no claims.

1920-2012 hrs  Seven Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled to escort the air/sea rescue high speed launch.

1950 hrs  Raiders passed.  Malta fighters land.

2004 hrs  Eight enemy aircraft are reported carrying out a search to the north of the Island.

2100 hrs  Another fire breaks out in a cave at Ta Qali, destroying 7000 gallons of paraffin and a large amount of oil.  Three Maltese airmen are placed under arrest.  The Station Commander announces that a gibbet has been erected on the road leading to the caves as a warning to anyone considering sabotage.

2130 hrs  HMS Welshman leaves Grand Harbour.

Night  Two alerts for two enemy aircraft.  Bombs are dropped on Gozo and in the Marsaxlokk area.

2359-0151 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa on patrol chases en enemy bomber but loses contact.

0205-0308 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa to locate enemy forces observes suspected activity 10 miles north of C San Dimitri.  He sees a flashing light is seen which does not seem to be operating in any sequence to suggest a message.  Four units are located: presumed to be enemy vessels.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Lamb, HMS Welshman; Pilot Officer George Briggs, Pilot Officer, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Samuel Conlon, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; Joseph Brownrigg, Artificer, Malta Auxilliary Corps, attached Royal Army Service Corps; Sapper Francis Grech, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force; Bombardier Albert Mengham, 7th Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Michael Sammut, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Stephen Scholey, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier, Christian Appmann, III StG 3, pilot of JU 87 Stuka; Unteroffizier Walter Kern KERN, III StG 3, gunner of JU 87; Unteroffizier Gerhard Nikolia, III StG 3, Pilot of JU 87; Unteroffizier Walter Rauer, III StG 3, wireless operator of JU 87; Unteroffizier Heinrich Schaefer, III StG 3, Gunner of a JU 87.  Unteroffizier Walter RAstinnes, III StG 3, pilot of JU 87 crashed, survived and was taken prisoner.

Primo Aviere Antonio Braschi, crewman of Cant-Z.1007; Sottotenente Salvatore de Maria, crewman of a Cant-Z.1007; Aviere Scelto Celestino Giovannini, crewman of a Cant-Z.1007; Primo Aviere Vittorio Rey, crewman of a Cant-Z.1007; Tenente Domenico Robilotta, crewman of a Cant-Z.1007; Aviere Scelto Giovanni Zancan, crewman of a Cant-Z.1007.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 10 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine P35 sailed.  Greek submarine Triton arrived Marsaxlokk. Considerable enemy air activity during the night, and it is suspected that a number of mines were laid off Grand Harbour.  Beryl and Trusty Star were in action with E boats which were driven off to the north east.  Beryl observed the tracks of three torpedoes.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire straffed by ME 109s when landing; pilot uninjured.  One Hurricane taxied into a bomb crater.  One Spitfire faield to return from operations: pilot missing.  One Spitfire is hit by Ack Ack fire; pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire is shot down over the sea off Malta; pilot safe.

LUQA  0957-1156 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes.  0950-1330 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of the Tripoli coast.  1535-1745 hrs  One Spitfire on special search Messina.

TA QALI  0400 hrs reveille; all on the spot 0530 hrs.  New arrivals at Ta Qali: one Sergeant and 28 Others.  The organisation on Ta Qali aerodrome is excellent and military personnel on the aerodrome do good work.  One crew in pen changed delivery aircraft into operational one in 7 1/2 minutes.  Orderly Room staff manning emergency communications and erecting tents for new pilots.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working party of 7 Officers and 150 Other Ranks for bomb-crater filling on Ta Qali aerodrome.  Working party of 1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks for filling ammunition belts at Ta Qali aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  50 men B Company to stand by at Corradino to keep roads open in and around the Dockyard.  Cruiser HMS Welshman brought in stores.  Same numbers as yesterday on Luqa.  B Company party standing by volunteered to help unolad the cruiser.  Unloading finished by mid-day.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1115 hrs  One JU 87 attacking Grand Harbour is engaged by HQ: no claims.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 8 (4 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  12 Officers and 205 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Ack Ack light machine guns 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt engage low-flying ME 109s.  Hits observed on one which is last seen going out to sea, smoking badly.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working parties continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The unit supplied 10 trucks and drivers for Ta Qali.

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Posted by on May 10, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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30 January 1942: RAF Fight On Through Fire and Storm

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  • Enemy use cloud cover to attack Hal Far five times in four hours.
  • Ta Qali and Hal Far waterlogged: operations restricted to Luqa aerodrome.
  • Successful Wellington attacks on shipping at sea.

MALTA AIR FORCES OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS REPORT JANUARY 1942

Castel Vetrano aerodrome 1942

Squadrons covered the Italian convoy routes almost daily through January.  PRU Hurricanes and Beaufighters of 69 Squadron carried out frequent photographic reconnaissance of Sicily and North Africa.  Marylands destroyed one ME 109 and probably one ME 110.  Our losses were one Maryland and one PRU Hurricane.

Wellingtons of 40 Squadron carried out 26 operations, dropping 152 tons of bombs.  Tripoli was attacked fifteen times causing large fires, destroying buildings and damaging ships in harbour, as well as one 13000 ton liner, three merchant vessels, and possibly a cruiser.  There were four attacks on Catania and one each on Castel Vetrano (14 aircraft destroyed and 3 damaged), on Comiso and on Naples, damaging the railway station and an airframe factory.

Blenheims of 18, 21 and 107 Squadrons carried out seven operations against shipping, hitting one merchant vessel, and on transport and buildings around Homs, Zeiten and Misrata.  Blenheims also played a prominent part in the successful raid on Castel Vetrano.  During these operations four Blenheims were lost.  One ME 109 was probably destroyed.

Swordfish of 830 Squadron carried out 12 operations against shipping, 54 aircraft taking part.  One merchant vessel of 12000 tons was sunk, one destroyer, one 8000 ton tanker and four merchant vessels [of 2000-8000 tons] were hit.  From these operations one Swordfish is missing.

Twenty three Albacores took part in mine-laying operations as well as attacking shipping.  One merchant vessel 5000 tons was hit amidships; another of 4000 tons was left stationary and listing to port.  Three aircraft are missing.

Hurricanes of the Malta Night Fighter Unit began intruder raids over Sicilian aerodromes, with 17 sorties so far.  Two JU 88s were destroyed and a third damaged at Comiso, where a twin-engined bi-plane was also shot down in flames.  Four Hurricanes carried out a daylight raid on Comiso aerodrome, starting two good fires.

AIR RAIDS DAWN FRIDAY 30 TO DAWN SATURDAY 31 JANUARY 1942

Weather  Wind south west, strong and very cold.  50% cloud.  Bright periods; heavy showers.

0911-0934 hrs  One JU 88 bomber approaches the Island via Gozo and drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay and Ghaxaq areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  During the raid a number of ME 109 fighters patrol north and south of the Island.

1112-1135 hrs  Two JU 88s approach the Island: one crosses the coast over Hal Far and recedes without dropping bombs.  The other JU 88 is joined by another bomber which approaches from the north.  Both cross the coast, dropping bombs in the Hal Far area from a height of 15000 feet.  Ten Hurricanes are airborne: no engagement with the enemy.  Heavy Ack Ack did not engage.

1143 hrs  One JU 88 from the previous raid approaches again, dropping bombs on the shore near Leonardo before receding north.  Eight Hurricanes are airborne but do not engage; Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1219-1229 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hal Far, dropping four bombs just off the aerodrome.  Windows are blown out in Officers’ Mess.  No casualties.

1304-1340 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island from Mellieha to Ghain Tuffieha.  It then goes away to the south and re-approaches, crossing the Island from Dingli to Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on Qrendi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack fire six barrages.  Six Hurricanes are airborne but are called in due to bad weather.

1428-1515 hrs  Two enemy aircraft follow a returning Maryland to within 25 miles of the coast and then recede.

1542-1743 hrs  Two JU 88s escorted by eight fighters patrol around the Island.  One JU 88 crosses the coast and drops bombs in the Dockyard area.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1923-2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, crosses the coast near Kalafrana and is met by a Heavy Ack Ack barrage.  The aircraft drops bombs in the Benghaisa area.

2305-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east, drops bombs on the Kalafrana Bay and Hal Far areas, then continues a nuisance patrol at 5000 feet.

0043-0216 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the south of the Island, between Kalafrana and Hal Far.

0238-0314 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island from the north east, passes the Island 18 miles to the east, turns and recedes north.

0348-0410 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east and attacks the Harbour, dropping bombs in the Dockyard and Zabbar areas.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.

0528-0622 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, drops bombs in the Marsa area, recedes and makes three more attempts to cross the coast but each time is turned away by Heavy Ack Ack barrage.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Joseph Aquilina, age 38; Mary Rose Aquilina, age 34.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: FRIDAY 30 JANUARY 1942

AIR HQ Arrivals  Five Blenheims from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Cairo; one Wellington from Burg el Arab. Departures  one Blenheim to LG 224; one Hurricane to Mersa Matruh.

HAL FAR  Night 30/31st Four Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack one merchant vessel of 8000 tons and one destroyer.  Three torpedoes released at merchant vessel which stopped and appeared to be listing to port when last aircraft left. All aircraft returned safely.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF14 patrol; one Maryland special search.  156 Squadron  Two Wellingtons shipping sweep Tripoli-Sirte-Misrata; five Wellingtons attacked motor transport park Benito Gate, Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable later in the day: no intruder operations..  Two Sections of 249 Squadron attached to Luqa for operations.  Concert at Mosta: Raffians “Babes in the Wood”.

1st BN DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs between RA7 and RA6.  No military damage or casualties.

8TH BN KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT MALTA  Bombs in D Company’s area during early morning.  Slight damage to civilian property.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2; dealt with 2 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

 

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11 July 1941: Malta Attackers Destroy Enemy Ships, Aircraft, Railways and Harbour Facilities

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BRITISH WAR CABINET REVIEWS A WEEK’S AIR ATTACKS FROM MALTA

German ac damaged by Malta attacksOn 3 July, an attack was made on shipping outside Tripoli harbour. Three ships, two of 5000 tons, were set on fire.  Other daylight attacks by Blenheims were made on the aerodromes at Tamet, Sorman and Zuara; at least 10 grounded aircraft were destroyed, while others were seriously damaged and personnel machine-gunned.  At Homs the coastal road was bombed, a lorry was destroyed and a reservoir hit. 

On 4 July, six Blenheims attacked a troop convoy of about 130 vehicles west of Sirte, destroying a number of them by bombs and others by machine-gun fire and inflicting heavy casualties on troops. One of the blenheims attacked and hit the barracks at Tamet.

On the 6 July, six Blenheims from Malta carried out a most successful surprise attack on shipping in Palermo harbour.  A ship of 10000 tons was hit twice, her back apparently breaking; three hits on another ship of the same tonnage caused a fire, explosions and dense columns of smoke; two bombs hit a ship of 8000 tons, and two other ships of 5000 and 2000 tons were also hit.  Our aircraft machine-gunned cruisers and destroyers, divisional headquarters, warehouses, dry dock buildings and the power station.  An explosion, probably caused by incendiaries, was observed near the dry dock. 

On 9 July, six hits were made on four merchant vessels ranging from 7000 to 12000 tons in Tripoli harbour, one of which was set well alight.  Hits were also registered on the Mole, and two great fires, followed by a terrific explosion, were the result of an attack on a warehouse.  One Blenheim was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and crashed on a torpedo-boat, setting it on fire; three other Blenheims were missing as a result of enemy fighter action.

On the same day, four Blenheims attacked a convoy outside the harbour; a vessel of 7000 tons, believed to be a tanker, was set on fire and claimed as a total loss, a three-masted schooner blew up and a merchant vessel of 1500 tons was hit and left burning fiercely.

On the night of 9/10 July six Wellingtons dropped six tons of bombs on Naples.  The Central Railway Station and marshalling yards were hit many times, in addition to warehouses and an aircraft factory. 

On three nights, a force of six Wellingtons bombed the harbour, engine sheds and sidings at Tripoli, causing many fires and explosions. Swordfish also bombed the Spanish Mole and laid mines outside the harbour.  Hurricanes made a low-flying attack on the seaplane base at Syracuse, destroying three aircraft and damaging five others, and causing casualties among the crews on the slipway.  Reconnaissance aircraft have maintained a close watch on enemy shipping off the Tunisian coast and in the Ionian Sea, and have photographed Taranto and the Sicilian ports.

BATHING/MINES

Gaps have opened in the barbed wire entanglements along the shores at the following places for the convenience of bathers: Armier, St Paul’s Bay, Bahar ic-Caghaq, St George’s Bay, St Julian’s Bay, Fond Ghadir, Sliema, Marsascala, Marsaxlokk, Birzebbuga, Wied iz-Zurrieq and Ghar Lapsi.

The public have been warned to use only these gaps to gain access to or from the water and are reminded that certain sections of the entanglements contain booby traps and explosives which are highly dangerous. Any attempt to go through the barbed wire except at the gaps indicated by the noticeboards stating ‘Bathing is allowed here’ may have very serious consequences. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JULY TO DAWN 12 JULY 1941

Weather  Hot and sunny.

0730 hrs  ‘Exercise Asia’ cease fire is given. Military commanders review the Exercise, with many lessons learned in the past five days.

1321-1347 hrs  Air raid alert for 40-50 Macchi 200 fighters approaching the Island from the north in three formations at 15000, 10000 and 500 feet. They are believed to come from Catania aerodrome.  15 cross the coast near St Paul’s Bay.  Six Macchis dive down over Luqa, machine-gunning the airfield.  They destroy one Wellington and damage four more, two Marylands are also damaged and will be grounded for up to 6 days.  The raiders are engaged by 12 Hurricanes of 185 Squadron who break up all three formations.  Heavy and light anti-aircraft fire and light machine-guns also engage.  The Hurricanes pursue the raiders in a running fight up to 15 miles north east of Grand Harbour.  They destroy three Macchis which crash into the sea, severely damage four and damage another four.  Five or six others are hit by light Ack Ack fire at Luqa and Safi, one hit is claimed by infantry firing machine guns.  

0235-0253 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which crosses the coast south of Grand Harbour and drops 15kg high explosive bombs near Zeitun. Two Hurricanes 46 Squadron are scrambled but do not reach sufficient altitude to engage.

0402-0431 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross the coast over Grand Harbour and drop 15kg high explosive bombs across four streets of Hamrun including the main street, demolishing four houses and damaging seven more. Eight civilians are killed and seven seriously injured; eleven are treated for minor injuries.  One unexploded bomb is reported.  Two Hurricanes 46 Squadron are scrambled; no engagement.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Ursula and P33 sailed at 1700 to intercept convoy west of Lampedusa.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands patrols to locate convoy north of Sicily; reconnaissance Catania and Syracuse.   

HAL FAR  A Fulmar patrols Catania and drops four 20lb bombs over Augusta on the return.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  After the end of ‘Exercise Asia’ Battalion personnel are left with a large sleep deficit. The day was spent drawing in guns, stores, rations and equipment from defence posts and carrying out complete checks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 4; dealt with 4 (2 x 50kg HE, 2 x 250lb HE).

(1) Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, BDL Publishing 2016

 

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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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