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29 November-5 December 1942: The Siege is Broken

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MALTA WAR DIARY  FINISHES 5 DECEMBER 1942

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29 November 1942: Starvation Rations Barely Eased Despite Convoy

Children in ruinsMalta has been holding its breath for news from the Government following the arrival of last week’s convoy.  The first one subject on everyone’s mind is food.  For many weeks, the Island’s armed forces and civilians alike have been on the verge of starvation.  The want of food has created a greater fear even than heavy bombing.  Children crying for want of food have become a common sight in the streets.  The death rate among babies and the elderly has risen, viral and infections diseases have increased.

Although they could not openly acknowledge it, the authorities knew that without the convoy supplies would have run out completely on 3 December.  Even with the latest delivery, stocks are only sufficient to feed the Island for another two weeks and there is no certainty when the next convoy will arrive.

Today’s announcement outlined the difficult choice faced by the Government: whether to raise rations in the hope of another convoy, or to be cautious until safe passage for supply ships is guaranteed.  In the event rations will be raised slightly, with an increase in the all-important bread allowance targeted at men from 16 to 60 in the first instance, starting 1 December.  For the rest of the population cheese and fats rations will be doubled and sugar restored to previous ration rates.  Any increase in other commodities will have to wait until further convoy deliveries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair.

0740-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to patrol Cape Scalabri as rear cover for returning bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1005 hrs  Spitfires from Luqa are airborne to provide cover for 185 Squadron returning from a bombing mission.

1100-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires of 185 Squadron: no enemy sighted.

1425-1605 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1640-1647 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

1220-1325 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron carry out a sweep over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.

Night  Beaufighters 89 Squadron on intercept patrol over the Island and surrounding area: no enemy aircraft seen.

0230-0505 hrs  One Swordfish is despatched to search for a missing Wellington crew: an oil patch is spotted on the sea, but no dinghy.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Emanuel Carabott, age 53.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1942

P 46 HMS Unruffled

P 46 HMS Unruffled

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 46 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Hurricane from Bone; two Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from Benghazi.  Departures  One DC 3, one Wellington to LG 224; one DC 3 to El Adem; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Bone; one Beaufighter to Algiers via Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort shot down by enemy aircraft: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Italy.  1730-2300 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were airborne to attack the docks at Bizerta in three waves.  Bombs fell near fuel tanks and among buildings, causing one large fire visible 50 miles away.  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were sent to lay mines in the entrance of Palermo harbour:  one was hit by flak and ditched into the sea.  The crew pilot F/Sgt Ellis Walker and Sgts R J McCallough, G R A Duffield and G D Stevens are missing.

TA QALI  0605-1055 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep strafed motor transport and railway in Pantelleria.  0725-0920 hrs  Two Spitfires 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0730-0830 hrs  Nine Spitfires, five carrying bombs, of 249 Squadron on bombing sweep:  bombs were dropped on Comiso aerodrome with good results.  Beaufighters had their most active day of the month, flying 18 sorties against shipping and aircraft in the north east area of Tunis.  1010-1330 hrs  Three Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: one coaster attacked and damaged.  1250-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: P/O Palmer destroyed one JU 52.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

30 November 1942:  Spitfire Bombers Turn Table on Axis

AIR RAID STATISTICS NOVEMBER 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date 3165
  • Total number of alerts this month 30
  • Number of blank days 11
  • Number of night raids 13
  • Raid free nights 23
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to Raiders Passed 10 hrs 35 mins
  • Average length of alert 21.2 mins

MALTA’S FIGHTER BOMBERS KEEP AXIS AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Having suffered for many months at the hands of Messerschmitt fighter bombers, Malta has turned the tables on the Axis with its own Spitfire Bomber force.  Brought into use for the first time at the beginning of this month, the Island’s fighter bombers have carried out many attacks on the southern Italian aerodromes, flying a total of 54 successful sorties in which they dropped 13 tons of bombs.

Main targets for the Spitfire Bombers are Comiso and Gela aerodromes.  Although many German and Italian fighters are still based in south east Sicily, they have shown a surprising reluctance to engage Malta’s fighter bombers.  On the few occasions when enemy fighters have been encountered the close escort of Spitfires has had no difficulty in driving them off.   Their busiest day so far was Wednesday 25 November, when Spitfire Bombers flew 19 sorties.

Today saw 13 sorties: the first this morning was by 185 Squadron.  Four fighter bombers with four Spitfire fighters as close escort were despatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Four explosions were observed to the rear of the main buildings east of the aerodrome.  On the way out, the second pair of Spitfire bombers was attacked from below by a Macchi 200.  Strikes hit Sgt Gunstone in Red 3, who fired three bursts in return, seeing strikes along the Italian’s fuselage and can claim one Macchi 200 damaged.  17 more Spitfires, nine of which were carrying bombs, attacked Comiso in two waves: one Macchi 200 was damaged.

272 SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICER BACK FROM THE DEAD

Two RAF officers walked into the RAF Officers’ mess today to the surprise and delight of their comrades who thought they had been lost in action.  Squadron Leader Antony (Tony) Watson, Commanding Officer of 272 Squadron, and his navigator Pilot Officer C F Cutting were reported missing on 14 November.  During an attack on El Aouina aerodrome, they were strafing a German JU 52 on the ground when their Beaufighter was hit by flak, damaging the starboard engine.  They were last seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis, six miles from the airfield.

S/Ldr Watson today related how he and P/O Cutting set fire to the Beaufighter, then set off to find the Allied lines, which they managed to reach without being captured.  Eventually they were able to hitch a ride back to Malta, where they have been duly given membership of the ‘Late Arrivals Club’.

NORTH AFRICAN VENTURE CANCELLED AGAIN

The proposed Army mission to a French port in North Africa was called off again today.  The move follows the report from the RAF, following a reconnaissance flight yesterday.  The project leader Major H M Vaux, MC, also liaised with 1st Army at present in Tunisia and, having reviewed all the information, Fortress Headquarters decided to cancel the proposed operation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 1 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Variable; local showers.

0705 hrs  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to search for a missing Beaufort: no dinghy is seen.

0755 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squaqdron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of fighter bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1615-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron  Hal Far on patrol Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2359 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on patrol over Pantelleria: no sightings.

0212-0214 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Clark, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Kenneth Gamble, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Laurence Helme, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Howarth, RAF VR; Sergeant Ronald McLean, RAF VR; Sergeant William Richards, RAF; all 39 Squadron.  Sergeant Donald Reeve, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Flying Officer Richard Twomey, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 30 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The move of 821 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (twelve Albacores) from the Western Desert was completed today. No aircraft were lost during passage. Hebe swept P 35 out and P 311 and P 44 in.  P 311 joins Tenth Submarine Flotilla, reporting an uneventful passage direct from the United Kingdom.

P 44 HMS United

P 44 HMS United

HMS Una arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Tunis. On 27 November, she torpedoed and sank a 4000 ton merchant vessel, one of two escorted by a destroyer.  The merchant vessel blew up causing superficial damage to the Una at 1200 yards.  HMS P 44 returned from a patrol off Burat-el-Hsun, Tripoli and Kerkennah areas. At 1845 hrs on 21 November, P 44 entered Burat harbour and engaged a schooner with her 3″ gun, scoring twelve hits; the schooner was considered sunk.

Axis shipping losses November 1942: 19 merchant ships sunk totaling 41,450 tons; 14 merchant ships damaged totaling 29,540 tons.

AIR HQ  Beaufighters on offensive patrols damaged two JU 52s, one SM 79 and two Macchi 200s in the air; destroyed two Cant Z 506s and damaged two more as well as one JU 52 on the ground.  One schooner, motor transport and a train were also shot up.

Two Beaufighters of 227 Squadron attacked a 1500 ton merchant vessel approaching Pantelleria harbour, sighted earlier by a Baltimore.  The two Beaufighters attacked from such a low level that one of them was slightly damaged by striking the funnel of the merchant ship, with its starboard propeller.  Two ME 109s made an abortive attempt to intercept.  Two direct hits were scored, causing a terrific explosion followed by a large column of black and white smoke.  The vessel can be considered destroyed.

Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down over enemy territory: pilot missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.  One Wellington crash-landed: crew uninjured.  Two Beauforts failed to return from operations: crews missing.

HAL FAR  12 delivery Albacores arrived from Middle East.  1004-1701 hrs  One Hurricane carried out a special mission: Hal Far to Bone and return.

Poor House Luqa

Poor House Luqa

LUQA  Strengths:  230 Officers, 665 NCOs, 2079 Other Ranks, 771 Army, 600 civilians.  Personnel accommodation made by fixing up Poor House with steel tubular 3-tier bunks.  Owing to inability to obtain beds from equipment sources, 1500 bunks were made.  Material was obtained from aerodrome obstructions and made entirely by RAF personnel working parties.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering the harbours of Naples, Palermo, Bizerta, Tunis and Sousse.

1425 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 126 Squadron, are despatched to attack Gela aerodrome: no enemy aircraft seen.  1718 hrs  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron were airborne to attack Bizerta: bombs were dropped on target and all aircraft returned safely.  1815 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in Bizerta and Tunis harbours.  Two aircraft failed to return and missing crews were named as: F/Sgt Twomey, F/Sgt Helme, Sgts Gamble and Howarth; P/O Brown and Sgts Richards, McLean and Clark.

TA QALI  0710-0820 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome: bombs were dropped on the runway.  0715-0810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a bombing sweep of Comiso aerodrome: all bombs dropped on and around target.  1155-1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped but results not observed.  Sgt Wendt does not return and is declared missing.   1535-1645 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Green dump cleared and guard dismounted.  Other convoy duties continue.  Company strengths 29 Officers, 788 Other Ranks; 3 Officers, 9 Other Ranks attached.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  For period 11-30 November working party provided at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries for food delivery, servicing aircraft and as mobile repair vehicles; two impressed lorries for crater filling; two motor cycles as special despatch riders; 16 Other Ranks to man above vehicles.  For period 18-30 November the following were working at Zabbar sub-depot:  four 15 cwt lorries, five impressed lorries and 16 Other Ranks for convoy transport work.  Throughout the month two Twin Lewis guns were manned in the anti-aircraft defence of Safi Strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Recce by CO of new central dump at Floriana for unloading of next convoy.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Strength of Company: 5 Officers and 226 Other Ranks.  During the month the CQMS store was completed except for finishing touches to roof and the messroom at camp was covered in.  Part of 2 Section billet, weakened by bomb explosions, fell down and is to be rebuilt.  Hot baths were constructed for the Company in No 3 Section billets.

 

1 December 1942: Another Convoy for Malta

A convoy of four merchant ships with a large escort of cruisers and destroyers sailed from Port Said at 1430 hours this afternoon heading for Malta.  The four merchantmen gathered at Lake Timsah by noon yesterday, when a conference was convened by the senior officer of the escort who had flown in from Alexandria for the meeting.

Glenartney

Glenartney

The merchantmen are named as British ships Glenartney and Suffolk, and the American vessels Agwimonte and Alcoa Prospector.  They are accompanied by the cruiser Orion and destroyers Belvoir, Hursley, Pakenham, Petard and Queen Olga (the Greek ship RHS Vassilissa Olga), who were sailed from Alexandria to Port Said to await the arrival of the supply ships.  Codenamed Operation Portcullis, convoy MW 14 was delayed by fog at Ismailia which has now cleared.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 DECEMBER TO DAWN 2 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

0720-0800 hrs; 0835-0910 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on standing patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1142 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turned back before they are seen, and while still 20 miles north east of the Grand Harbour.

1155-1305; 1335-1425 hrs; 1425-1535 hrs  12 Spitfire sorties 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1330-1350 hrs  Air raid alert for four approaching ME 109s which circle over Grand Harbour at a great height before receding north.  Pointer rounds are fired by six Ack Ack gun positions.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the raiders are too high to engage and avoid combat.

1350 hrs  One transit Wellington from the Middle East carried out an anti-submarine patrol.

1600-1710 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers of 249 Squadron.  They are attacked by enemy fighters and take evasive action: P/O Mowbray is reported missing.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Mowbray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Warrant Officer Class II (CSM) Berkley Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Alfred Syddall, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una swept in from patrol by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Benghazi; one Baltimore from LG 227; one Spitfire from Benina.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crash landed due to engine failure: two crew slightly injured.  One Beaufort missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire believed forced down into sea by enemy action: pilot missing.  One Wellington force landed: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0640-0735 hrs  Four Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 185 Squadron, were dispatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Bomber leader suffered engine cut when still 20 miles south of Sicily so jettisoned his bombs and returned.  The remainder of the bomber formation followed suit.  The escort then set course to Noto and returned: nothing seen.  1000 hrs  Hurricane left for Bone.

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid (c) IWM A161612

1827-0030 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores carried out a torpedo attack on enemy shipping off the west coast of Sicily.  1925-0040 hrs  Two special Albacores and five strike Albacores 821 Fleet Air Arm Squadron were dispatched to attack the same convoy but failed to locate the vessels.  2255 hrs  Fleet Air Arm Albacores damaged a tanker in a convoy of four merchant vessels and five destroyers when fifteen miles south of Marittimo at 2255. Sub/Lt Pratt and Sub/Lt Kendrick scored one hit on a 6-7000 ton tanker which was left ablaze.

LUQA  Personnel arrivals: 25 Other Ranks.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron on aerodromes and harbours of Naples, Taranto, Messina, Palermo and Trapani. 2215 hrs  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron patrolled the area of Gabes-Tunis.

TA QALI  29 airmen detached from Station to 39 Squadron, Luqa.  0800-0905 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Biscari aerodromes: explosions are seen on the airfield.  0905-1325 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted two unidentified aircraft: no engagement.  1040-1145 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1155-1635 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive patrol, one carrying bombs.  One crashed just after take-off: crew uninjured.  1530-1815 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep attacked a merchant vessel and set the deck cargo on fire.  1545-1655 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Gela aerodrome: bombs were seen to explode in the north west dispersal area.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Company billeted at Bahar-ic-Cahaq (less No 1 section on DEL stations with HQ at Haywharf, No 2 Section building pens at Qrendi and Maltese details working in barracks, attached to Bomb Disposal, or on convoy duties).

 

2 December 1942: Convoy Rescues RAF Crew Adrift in Dinghy

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ASSEMBLES IN MED

HMS Orion

HMS Orion

The cruiser HMS Orion escorted by destroyers Paladin, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Aldenham and the Greek Pindos sailed from Alexandria today to rendezvous with the convoy heading for Malta.  Late this afternoon Hurworth was found to have defects; at 1800 hrs she left the convoy to return to Alexandria.

Later this evening Petard spotted a small boat adrift on the sea.  It was identified as an RAF dinghy and its six occupants were rescued and taken aboard the destroyer.

Following a report from Vice Admiral Malta that furnace fuel was urgently required, a last-minute decision has been taken to include a tanker in the convoy.  A vessel which had been originally intended for a later convoy to Malta will now depart immediately from Benghazi.  Destroyers HMS Croome and Tetcott are on their way from Malta to Benghazi to act as escort for the tanker.

MALTA NAVAL FORCES IN COMBINED ATTACK

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

Royal Navy ships have wasted no time in returning to the offensive following their arrival in Malta last Friday.  Destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian launched a joint operation with Naval Air Squadrons to attack a convoy off Kerkennah.

The ships sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to intercept the enemy convoy of one tanker and two merchant ships, escorted by two torpedo boats and a destroyer, as they steered for Ras Turgeuness. At 2100 hrs aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and HM Submarine P 35 attacked the convoy south of Kerkennah and sank two merchant ships, seriously damaging another vessel.

The Force K destroyers arrived on the scene shortly after midnight and sank a torpedo boat destroyer which was engaged in picking up survivors from one of the merchant ships.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO 3 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.

0700-0815 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for a missing pilot: no sighting.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant William Guy, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo; Sub-Lieutenant Colin Taylor, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Trooper

HMS Trooper

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 104; one DC 3 from El Adem.  Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore lost on operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1500 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS which left for Bone yesterday returned: mission accomplished.  1730-2315 hrs  Three Albacores RNAS and eight 821 Squadron were despatched to attack two 5000 ton merchant vessels, one cruiser, one destroyer and one sloop in the Gulf of Gabes.  Both merchant ships were hit and left burning: fires could be seen 70 miles away on the return journey.  One Albacore landed at Luqa; another is missing, along with crew S/Lt Taylor and S/Lt Guy.

LUQA  No operations.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All drivers report to sub-depots for convoy unloading duties.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  COs conference on establishment of new dumps to be formed at Floriana under 2nd RWK called Pink Dump and at Attard under 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers called White Dump.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

 

3 December 1942: Tanker Joins Operation Portcullis Convoy

ESCORT STRENGTHENED AS SHIPS APPROACH MALTA

HMS Tetcott

HMS Tetcott

Minelayer HMS Welshman joined the Operation Portcullis convoy at daylight today on her way to Malta, taking advantage of the escort protection.  Then at 1700 hrs this afternoon the American tanker Yorba Linda, escorted by destroyers Croome and Tetcott linked up with the main convoy north east of Benghazi.  Soon afterwards, Welshman left the remaining ships to speed on ahead to Malta.

To cover the final approach of Convoy MW 14 to the Island, Force K cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus with destroyers Jervis, Kelvin and Nubian were sailed from Grand Harbour this evening.  They will provide protection for the convoy against possible surface attack.

US LIBERATORS ATTACK ITALIAN BATTLE FLEET

US Liberator bombers from the Middle East today attacked Italian ships in the Bay of Naples, sinking the Muzio Attendolo and damaging two other warships.  The Italian cruiser was photographed yesterday undergoing trials in the Bay of Naples, following recent repairs. 

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Major units of the Italian fleet have been observed gathered in southern Italian ports from where they could threaten Allied sea movements through the Mediterranean, including convoys which might attempt the run to Malta.  As well as Attendolo, three Littorio battleships and two other cruisers are presently at Naples; five other cruisers are in port at Messina and three battleships at Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fine; fair.

No air raid alerts.

1030-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1039-1131 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of base at 25000 feet: nothing seen.

1440-1525 hrs; 1550-1635 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Sergeant Everard Aspell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 108 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Semley, RAF VR, 40 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 DECEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hurricane from Bone; one Beaufighter from Gambut; one DC 3 from El Adem; one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington’s bombs hung up and exploded while aircraft was taxiing: two of crew killed, rest uninjured.

Hurricanes at Hal Far

Hurricanes at Hal Far

HAL FAR  1150 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS landed from a special mission.  He was attacked 50 miles off Kerkennah by one JU 88.  The enemy aircraft overshot and the Hurricane was able to counter-attack with several short gun bursts: claims one JU 88 damaged.

1840-0010 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack enemy shipping off the coast of Sicily.  Two 3000 ton merchant vessels were located 44 miles off Zuara moving at 8 knots.  Both ships were hit by torpedoes and blown up.  1900-2005 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack the tanker hit last night and since reported stationary 10 miles west of Marittimo.  The tanker was not located; only two hospital ships were seen in the area.  All torpedoes were brought back.

LUQA No operations.

TA QALI  0835-1330 hrs  Six Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0835-1145 hrs  Six Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted one JU 88 which is destroyed by F/Lt Rankin and F/O Coate.  0445-1000 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron are airborne to act as convoy escort: no sightings.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion provided a working party of 3 Officers and 200 Other Ranks for pen building on Qrendi aerodrome.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.  Three Officers reported daily to APM for traffic duties.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on co-operational duties (maintenance, refuelling, arming etc) with RAF at Luqa aerodrome, taken over from 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  57 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

4 December 1942: HMS Welshman Arrives Safely

WELSHMAN REPORTS MED QUIET FOR PASSAGE OF PORTCULLIS

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour today having left Convoy MW 14 yesterday evening.  The minelayer reported an incident-free passage through the Mediterranean.  Conditions appear favourable for the progress of the convoy.

Force K signalled at daylight that all vessels have joined up safely with Operation Portcullis the convoy and will remain in close escort throughout the day.  The ships are now within reach of Malta aircraft which will mount a constant escort for the remainder of their passage to Grand Harbour.  The arrival of Welshman has already attracted the attention of enemy aircraft which approached the Island on reconnaissance twice, triggering first air raid alerts in three days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0740-1245 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for the approaching convoy (one returned early): no sightings.

1025-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for ten ME 109s which cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area at a height of 25000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and see five unidentified aircraft making smoke trails north and south of Malta at 28000 feet.  On sighting the Spitfires below them, the enemy raiders turn northwards for home.

1100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa searches for the friendly convoy.

1400 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron searches in the Cape Bon area.

1440-1610 hrs  One Beaufighter 227 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to the convoy: nothing sighted.

1452-1507 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109s which approach the Island at 26000 feet and fly over Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they see the three ME 109s over Grand Harbour at 22000 feet.  The enemy aircraft dive away over the coast to avoid combat.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1600-1730 hrs; 1630-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are airborne to act as escort to the convoy: no sightings.

Night  One air raid alert: aircraft are identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Andrew Breakey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 18 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Curtis, RAF VR, 81 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Sidney Greene, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Simpson, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Peter Turner, RAF VR, 81 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept HMS Welshman and P 35 in, and Porpoise out to head for refit in the UK via Gibraltar.  Four MTBs arrived from Bone.  Naval aircraft attacked shipping in the Zuara area. Two merchant ships were hit, one of which sank in three minutes; the other was left burning.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 237; one Beaufighter from Souk El Arba; eight Hudsons, one DC 3 from El Adem; two Hudsons from Gibraltar. Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Algiers; eight Hudsons to El Adem.

LUQA  0900 hrs  Six sorties flown by photo-reconnaissance of 69 Squadron.  1930 hrs  One Beaufighter 39 Squadron patrolled over Comiso aerodrome at 32000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.  1700-2225 hrs  Six Wellingtons 40 Squadron and four 104 Squadron bombed the docks at La Goulette, Tunis.

TA QALI  249 Squadron operating from RAF Qrendi.  Air crew remain attached to Ta Qali for accommodation and rations only.  26 airmen arrived by air from Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HMS Welshman arrived No 5 Dock approx 0830 hrs.  Unloading commenced about 0915 hrs.  Bn provided 200 Other Ranks alongside 100 Other Ranks Dorsets.  Cargo was extremely difficult as it contained fifty 21” torpedoes among a miscellaneous cargo. The torpedoes were unloaded last so the whole operation was hampered.  The ship was not cleared until 1900 hrs.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Floriana Pink Dump and Attard White Dump marked out for reception of convoy cargoes.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

5 December 1942: The Siege of Malta is Lifted

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ARRIVES UNMOLESTED

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

At dawn today the four merchant ships Glenartney, Suffolk, Alcoa Prospector and Agwimonte, and the tanker Yorba Linda were safely in the shelter of Grand Harbour.  Commanders of Operation Portcullis report that, in spite of being shadowed at various times during the voyage, they encountered no enemy attacks throughout the entire passage from Alexandria. 

By 10 am the remaining ships of the convoy escort had entered Grand Harbour, bringing the number of warships and merchant vessels in the harbour to over 40. 

Two of the merchant ships are being unloaded by Army personnel and two by civil labour, who are working with great enthusiasm.  Approximately 3200 soldiers are employed on unloading and dispersing the cargoes to dumps.  A further 1800 are assisting the RAF in maintenance of aircraft and airfields to ensure the protection of Malta’s air space and offensive ops during unloading.  However, no attempt was made by the enemy to attack the ships in harbour, or even to approach the Island on reconnaissance during the day.

MALTA’S SUPPLY ROUTES SECURE

The arrival of a tanker with much-needed fuel relieves the concerns of military leaders.  More importantly, the second delivery of food and general supplies in a matter of days brings the chance of a real increase in civilian rations.  This should improve morale and help to stem the decline in the general health of the population which is giving real cause for concern.  The inclusion of a few long absent luxuries among the essentials brought a smile to many faces.

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

Malta’s commanders are cautiously taking the unhampered passage of Operation Portcullis as an indication that future supplies can be carried through without significant risk.  Since January 1941 two aircraft carriers, twenty warships and several submarines have been lost in attempts to supply the Island.

It has now been decided to run regular pairs of merchant ships for Malta alongside ordinary Western Desert Convoys to the Benghazi area, where surface forces from the Island will reinforce the escort for their final passage.  The supply of Malta – almost impossible a month ago – is now all but secure.  The siege is over.

SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 5 DECEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air: four daylight alerts for enemy fighters on reconnaissance.

2.  Convoy of four merchant vessels and one tanker escorted by cruisers and destroyers arrived safely am 5 December.  Unloading is proceeding well: 3200 Army personnel employed; a further 1800 on aerodromes.

3.  Spitfire bombers successfully attacked aerodromes Comiso, Gela and Biscari.  Spitfire close escort damaged one Macchi 200.  Beaufighters on daylight offensive sweeps area Tunisia destroyed two Cant Z ‘06 and damaged two more at moorings.  One Italian bomber, one transport damaged on the ground.  One JU 88 destroyed; three transports, two fighters damaged in combat.  Coaster 1100 tons, two destroyers, goods trains and lorries effectively shot up.  Merchant vessel 1100 tons set on fire and abandoned.  Two direct hits bombs causing violent explosion merchant vessel off Pantelleria.

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

 

By night approx 45 Wellington sorties docks Bizerta 23 sorties docks Tunisia.  Also successful attacks Catania, Trapani, Comiso and Gerbini.  Bombs dropped areas Ragusa, Augusta, Syracuse, Gela and Castel Vetrano.  Beaufighters bombed railways Tunis and shot up trains.   Reggio di Calabria attacked by two Beaufighters.  Beauforts laid mines entrance Bizerta, Tunis and Palermo harbours.  Albacores on shipping strikes sank two merchant vessels 5000 tons, blew up merchant vessel 3000 tons and set two other merchant vessels and a tanker on fire.  Other results unobserved.  Four destroyers Force K sank one enemy TBD.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy.

No air raid alerts.

0620-0940 hrs  Six aircraft 126 Squadron Luqa maintain a patrol for the arrival of a convoy.

0800-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

0845-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out shipping patrol: nothing seen.

1150-1310 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1335-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1455-1550 hrs; 1630-1725 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrols over the Island: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John MacDonald, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Thomas Mincher, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 35 to sea. P 42 was swept in from patrol by HM 135.  1600 hrs  HMS Welshman sailed for Alexandria with Paladin.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Halifax from UK; ten Hudsons from El Adem.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore overshot aerodrome and crash landed due to engine failure: crew uninjured.  One Wellington crashed into another aircraft while landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100-0100 hrs  Two Albacores 821 Squadron were despatched to bomb and illuminate for Beaufighters at Reggio di Calabria aerodrome.  One Albacore returned early with rear cockpit trouble; the other arrived too late over the target to contact the Beaufighters but dropped its bombs on the new corner of the aerodrome.

LUQA Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires.  1400 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron were despatched to attack Reggio Calabria.  One Beaufighter was slightly damaged by Ack Ack splinters: crew unhurt.  Night  One special Wellington carried out a shipping search in the Marittimo-Cavoli area: no sightings.

TA QALI  One senior NCO and four airmen arrived by air from Middle East.  0955-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1140-1425 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.  1345-1640 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron (one carrying bombs) on offensive reconnaissance attacked an enemy destroyer causing a small explosion and fire near the bridge.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A convoy arrived at dawn.  1100 hrs  The Bn began unloading the Glenartney at Hamilton Wharf in 3 shifts of 84 Other Ranks.  The vessel is carrying 8000 tons of cargo.  Unloading went well during the day.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  6 Officers, 107 Other Ranks unloading M/V Alcoa Prospector.

Agwimonte

Agwimonte

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  The Bn was detailed to provide: 3 Officers, 42 Other Ranks to report at 1000 hrs for traffic control; 5 fire-fighting parties of 1 Officer, 13 Other Ranks each, to live on board the merchant ships; 42 drivers, 6 vehicles, 3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks as general reserve.  2200 hrs  Fire-fighting parties reported to allotted berths and went on board the following vessels:  Alcoa Prospector, Glenartney, Agwimonte, Suffolk, Yorba Linda.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Arrival of convoy: Bn in position on Pink Dump in two shifts of 12 hours, day and night.  Total employed 14 Officers, 200 Other Ranks on Dump plus 2 Officers, 51 Other Ranks on motor transport sub-depot.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8.  Dealt with: High Explosives 1 x 50kg; anti-personnel bombs 8.

 

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

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in 1942, December 1942, November 1942

 

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18-24 October 1942: Malta Key to El Alamein Offensive

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“The rugged and indomitable courage of the people of Malta have been an inspiration and encouragement to the Empire.”  Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet Admiral Sir John Tovey announcing a gift of £1755 from the Home Fleet to the Malta Relief Fund

18 October 1942: Petrol Running Out

Troops use cycles to save petrol (NWMA Malta)

Military chiefs met today in Valletta to discuss how to manage the rapidly decreasing fuel supplies on the Island.  Officers from all Army units were called to attend a Petrol Economy Conference held at the Castille.  With no immediate prospect of a convoy reaching Malta, the conference focused on ways of rationing fuel use in order to conserve existing stocks.  All possible methods of saving petrol were discussed and several measures decided on, which will be put into operation immediately.

THREE AXIS SUPPLY SHIPS HIT IN RAF AND NAVY ATTACKS

This afternoon a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire sighted two merchant vessels with a 5-6000 ton tanker and one 3-4000 ton merchant vessel with seven destroyers to the west of Sicily, heading southwards.  Two Swordfish and one Albacore aircraft were despatched to make a night attack but failed to locate the primary target.  They came upon a single merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons 40 miles north west of Pantelleria and attacked with a single torpedo, scoring a direct hit on the stern.  The merchantman was last seen down by the stern and going round in circles.

Reconnaissance aircraft also spotted the merchant vessel which was attacked last Wednesday night, beached near Homs.  A Swordfish and an Albacore were despatched to make another attack.  The Albacore launched one torpedo by the light of flares dropped by the Swordfish but bad visibility prevented the observation of results.

In another offensive mission tonight, four Wellingtons of 69 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack an 8000 ton tanker escorted by two destroyers, 50 miles east of Point Stilo.  Three Wellingtons found the convoy and attacked, one torpedo hitting the tanker’s port bow and causing a red flash.  Four 500 lb and two 1000 lb bombs were also dropped but the results were not observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fog over the sea in the morning; light showers morning and evening.

0622-1010 hrs  Two Hurricanes Royal Navy Air Service search off Grand Harbour for a missing dinghy but find nothing.

0701-0738 hrs  Air raid alert for about 50 enemy fighters approaching the Island, escorting seven bombers.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  Six ME 109s engage them, splitting up the Squadron formation.  P/O Reid probably destroys one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Mortimer (126 Squadron) destroys one ME 109.  The enemy bombers turn back while still 15 miles north of the Island and only the fighters come near, some crossing the coast.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali attempt to intercept the fighters, which evade combat.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1006-1106 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including a four bomb-carrying ME 109s approaching the Island.  The raid probably includes some JU 88s which turn back before reaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa, eight Spitfires Hal Far and seven of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage the enemy.  Three ME 109s drop six high explosive bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.

1124-1158 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching formation of 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Ta Salib and San Christu Church area.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1335-1430 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers which approach the Island but do not cross the coast.  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attack two ME 109s: S/Ldr Stephens damages one.  There are reports that the fighter bombers break off and return home before reaching Malta.

1547-1701 hrs  Air raid alert for 75 plus enemy fighters including some fighter bombers which cross the coast in small groups.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and eight 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Hamilton 1435 Squadron damages one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far, plus four 229 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  Bombs are dropped on Gharghur and Qrendi strip, and on Luqa, damaging one Wellington on the ground.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.  One Spitfire of 126 Squadron crashes in a field near Gharghur: the pilot P/O Stevenson is killed.

1836-1936 hrs; 2101-2124 hrs; 2227-2258 hrs; 2347-0027 hrs; 0144-0312 hrs; 0350-0450 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 12 enemy bombers of which 9 cross the coast.  Anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries are dropped on Qawra Point, Birkirkara, Hamrun, the Dockyard and Floriana, and in the sea.  Two civilians are killed and three injured in Fleur de Lys.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  HQ Company and billets of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are sprayed with anti-personnel bombs.  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrols. One Beaufighter sights an enemy aircraft which takes evasive action and escapes.  One Beaufighter on patrol over Sicily attacks and damages a JU 88 over Gerbini.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Stevenson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Camilleri, age 40; Carmela Gatt, age 45; Paul Parlar, age 62; Doris Spiteri, age 8; Maria Carmela Spiteri, age 6; George Zammit, age 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER 1942

P 211 HMS Safari

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 211 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in combat crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed: pilot killed.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Spitfire was despatched on a search for enemy shipping from Messina to Cape Rizzuto.  One Baltimore was despatched to search for enemy shipping off the Greek coast.  One Spitfire was despatched on search for enemy shipping Cape Spartevento to Cape Rizzo.  One Spitfire was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours and aerodromes.

10th HEAVY ACKACK REGIMENT, ROYAL ARTILLERY  2/Lt W J Healy was wounded in action at XHE 25.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company takes over guard duties of Wardia crossroads.

19 October 1942: Booby-Trapped Cluster Bombs on Malta

Butterfly bomb

A Sapper of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal narrowly escaped being blown up today when he encountered a new type of anti-personnel bomb.  The Bomb Disposal Section was called out to deal with a number of unexploded German 2kg ‘butterfly’ bombs which have become all too familiar across the Island since June.  The Sapper was following normal procedure to check whether or not the bomb was armed when he noted the fuze number which was 67, instead of the normal 41.  Instead of going ahead and dealing with the bomb, he withdrew and reported the different fuze number to his Sergeant.

The action would save his life and those of his squad.  The Type 67 is a delayed-action fuze: it can be set to blow the bomb at any time from five to thirty minutes after it falls.  The bomb can kill up to 25 metres away and injure anyone within 150 metres.  Although in this case the maximum time had passed, like any clockwork mechanism, if this one had merely jammed any movement could restart the clock – and then there is no way of knowing how long it has left to run.

From now on, butterfly bombs can no longer be considered relatively harmless if left undisturbed.  Any number of them might explode at random, triggering others within range.  The public has been told about the new hazard and warned to stay well clear of any suspect objects.  With at least thirty reports of unexploded butterfly bombs today alone across civilian and military areas, the RE Bomb Disposal Section is now facing the more complex job of clearing hundreds of potential time bombs.

Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

AXIS CONVOY CANNOT ESCAPE MALTA-BASED ATTACKS

The convoy intended for attack by Swordfish and Albacore aircraft last night was again located and photographed this morning by a reconnaissance Spitfire from Malta, 35 miles north west of Lampedusa.

Despite very bad weather, two Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched tonight to attempt another attack.  At 2210 hours they located two merchant vessels and five destroyers which had now reached 53 miles south of Lampedusa.  One Swordfish dropped flares allowing the others to launch three torpedoes.  At least one scored a hit on a merchant vessel, producing a flash and a thick cloud of smoke which obscured the results of the other three missiles.

An hour later four Wellingtons found two merchant vessels and three destroyers some 50 miles south of Lampion and attacked with bombs and torpedoes.  At least one 1000 lb bomb scored a hit on a merchantman.  Then at 0328 hours two Swordfish and two Albacores located the tanker and three destroyers, 80 miles north west of Tripoli.  Of two torpedoes fired at the convoy, one was seen to hit the tanker, producing a large green flash.

During the night three more sorties were made by Wellingtons, one dropping two 1000 lb bombs near the merchant ship which had been attacked by Swordfish hours before and was now stationary.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Frequent showers throughout the day, heavy at times during the morning.  Lightning very early.

0622-0730 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far on a search: nothing seen.

0623-0652 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 plus ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Scott damages one ME 109.  The remaining fighter bombers cross the coast.  Two ME 109s dive on Hal Far airfield and drop bombs damaging two Hurricane aircraft on the ground.  The runway remains serviceable but 160 gallons of petrol are burned out in a pen.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0726-0807 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a high sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s to the south of the Island: the enemy evade combat and flee back to base.

0825-1010 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far searches for a missing pilot, five miles east of Zonqor, north of Grand Harbour and over St Paul’s Bay 20 miles: nothing seen.

0957-1018 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 plus Italian fighters and ME 109 fighter bombers are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and seven 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Walton probably destroys one Re 2001.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on the Gharghur area and on Salina Bay between the Salt Pans and Salina Battery.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1031-1044 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy fighters cross the coast at great height, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1200-1217 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 plus enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attempt to engage four ME 109 fighter bombers: no claims.  Fighter bombers cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali.

1322-1342 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers which come in and drop bombs on Attard.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne and engage the raiders: Capt Kuhlmann and Sgt Gunstone each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot unhurt.

1457-1527 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including several fighter bombers heading for the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa, plus four of 229 Squadron and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the enemy turn away into cloud cover and evade engagement.  Several raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Mosta.

1653-1742 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers which drop bombs on the Luqa area and near Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far plus four Spitfires 229 Squadron and three of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: the enemy is sighted on several occasions but make use of clouds to evade engagement.

1759-1852 hrs  Air raid alert for an attempted dusk raid by 40 enemy bombers and fighter-bombers which approach the Island in two formations.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa with three Spitfires are scrambled to intercept.  One formation is engaged 25 miles west of the Island by three Malta aircraft which force the bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea.  The same three fighters then intercept the other formation to the east of the Island forcing several to jettison bombs.  Only three bombers cross the coast: one JU 88 is pursued by F/Lt Pring of 89 Squadron and destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Hal Far aerodromes; delayed action bombs high explosive bombs land near Bir Miftuh Church.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

2115 hrs  There is an unconfirmed RDF report of a vessel 063 degrees 13 miles from Fort St Elmo, moving 30 at knots from west to east.

0225-0235 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft approaches to within 20 miles north of the Island and drops flares and bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept in P 35 and P 247.

Coast at Madliena

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  2114-0134 hrs  Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack an enemy southbound convoy: one hit with a 1000 lb claimed.  0105-1513 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack the same convoy: no hits observed.  One Spitfire and two Baltimors 69 Squadron despatched during the day on reconnaissance.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company take over guard duties of Qawra Point and Madliena.

20 October 1942: Maltese ‘Spirit of Resistance’ Recognised

From:  Governor (Gen Viscount Gort)                   To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

During the month ended 20th October, total of 134 alerts, 90 by day, 44 by night.  61 bombing raids, 38 by day, 23 by night.  64 people were killed (28 men, 18 women, 18 children), 63 were seriously injured (19 men, 25 women, 19 children).  128 houses were seriously damaged including (repeat including) 48 in Gozo.

Recent recrudescence of enemy air attacks has if anything tended to raise morale by taking people’s minds off continued privations in the shape of shortage of food and other commodities.  From the outset of the new phase of attacks, it has been clear that the spirit of resistance has not fallen during the lull of the previous few months.

NEWS CORRESPONDENT PRAISES ISLANDERS’ RESILIENCE

A news correspondent in Malta said today that the Islanders are becoming used to the almost continuous roar of planes and detonations of anti-aircraft guns. “The people come out into the streets at night, watch the search lights pick out planes, and urge anti-aircraft gunners to quicken their rate of fire.”

An advertisement appeared in The Times of Malta today inviting applications for vacancies on the staff of a school on the Island – one for classics and the other for mathematics and science.

MALTA TROOPS PRACTISE SEABORNE LANDINGS

The General Officer Commanding Troops in Malta attended an exercise today held by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.  The Battalion were demonstrating the results of recent training, particularly practice landings from motor launches.  The GOC also watched an exercise by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment practising assault course techniques.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Frequent showers throughout the day.  Thunder and lightning very late evening.

0640-0711 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft including fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol at 21000 feet east of the Island but do not locate the enemy.  The raiders take advantage of 100 per cent cloud cover at 7-8000 feet to cross the coast and drop four bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.  The airfield’s anti-aircraft gunners open fire, damaging one ME 109.

Wardija

0700 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun St Paul’s Bay.  Wardia Observation Post reports seeing a ME 109 attack and machine-gun a Gozo boat.

0910-0950 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to a submarine: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1106-1150 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which approach the Island in small groups, taking advantage of cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.  ME 109 fighter bombers drop four bombs on the Safi end of Luqa runway, causing craters, and near St Nicola Church.  One Spitfire 1435 Squadron is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1415-1426 hrs  Air raid alert as a small number of raiders approach to within 18 miles of the Island and then recede.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol to the west of the Island and Grand Harbour as cover to incoming aircraft: no engagement.

1700-1805 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Gunner Paul Busuttil, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Vincent Casha, Malta Pioneer Group, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 42 swept in by Speedy, having been met and escorted by two Motor Launches. P 42 claimed hits on two merchant vessels in convoy: her batteries were damaged by an accurate depth charge attack.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two BEauforts, one Liberator, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to Shallufa; two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on a search near Lampedusa for enemy shipping attacked last night.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on photographic reconnaissance Cotrone Harbour.

21 October 1942: Malta Blitz Fails To Stop Sinking of Axis Supplies

Submarines of the Malta flotilla has sunk three enemy merchant vessels in recent days and damaged several others.  The submarine successes follow a week in which the Island’s air forces have launched eleven attacks on enemy convoys attempting to supply Axis troops in North Africa.

It is clear that despite his renewed heavy bombardment of the Island Kesselring has failed to stop its forces interrupting enemy supply lines.  Combined attacks from Allied aircraft and submarines based on both sides of the Mediterranean have halted fuel tankers, caused merchant ships to turn back and sent tons of supplies crucial to Rommel’s war effort to the bottom of the sea.

Ack Ack at Work

ARTILLERY ORDERED: HOLD FIRE TO SAVE AMMO

Gun positions are still restricted to 15 rounds per gun despite the recent increased enemy activity.  Artillery commanders have ordered every gun position to reserve fire for good targets.  At the same time they urge positions which get a good target to ‘engage it hotly’.

QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

Mr William Thorne (MP for West Ham Plaistow) today asked the Secretary of State for Air in the House of Commons how many times Malta had been raided; how many people have been killed, the amount of property damaged and the number of aeroplanes brought down since the declaration of war.  Sir Archibald Sinclair replied: “Up to 19th October there have been 1,660 bombing attacks on Malta, and 1,069 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. I understand that, up to 20th September, 1,386 civilians had been killed and 6,704 buildings destroyed or damaged.”

Commander Sir Archibald Southby, MP for Epsom then asked whether in view of what he had said he does not think it necessary in the interests of the people of Malta, to hit Italy from the air.  The Secretary of State answered:  “We have been hitting Italy from the air, and we shall go on hitting Italy.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  A showery day: thunderstorm and heavy shower early.

0703-0735 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 ME 109s including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: P/O Walton damages one ME 109.  The remaining raiders use cloud cover to drop bombs on the Safi strip and Gudja.  One high explosive lands in Tal Liebru and four on Xlejli.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0847-0915 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 German and Italian fighters including seven ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but are unable to engage. The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs near Siggiewi and on the Safi runway, damaging one aircraft on the ground and one motor transport vehicle.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0930-1030 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 German and Italian raiders including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to join the eight of 126 Squadron still airborne from the previous raid.  P/O Walton destroys one Macchi 202.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Kandia.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

18 pounder gun

1126 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy aircraft including Re 2001s and ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders launch a dive-bombing attack on Qawra Tower post which returns fire.  Bombs land on the searchlight position and the 18 pounder gun position.

1254-1354 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 plus enemy raiders approaching the Island under cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped from a great height on Ta Qali.

1530-1605 hrs  Air raid alert: 25 enemy fighters including fighter bombers drop bombs 10-15 miles north of Gozo.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but see no raiders: none cross the coast.

0435-0515  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach and recede within five miles of Grand Harbour, dropping all bombs in the sea.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne and damages one HE 111 north of the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 247 and P 35 to sea, and escorted P 37 and P 211: the latter reported having sunk one southbound ship east of Pantelleria and P 37 two hits on a southbound merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Wellingtons from Shallufa; one Beaufort from Gibraltar. Departures  One Liberator, one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot runway on landing; undercarriage collapsed: crew uninjured.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search near Greek Islands and photographed shipping in Corfu harbour.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched and photographed Navarino and Tripoli.

TA QALI  229 and 249 Squadrons stood down.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During period 15-21 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motorcycle and five other ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome.  During the hours of daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned for anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

22 October 1942: Luftwaffe Crew Captured After 3 Days Adrift

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

The pilot and crew of a JU 88 bomber were rescued today after three days adrift in a dinghy off the coast of Malta.  The bomber was taking part in a dusk air raid on Monday evening when it was shot down by Flight Lieutenant Pring of 89 Squadron and ditched in the sea.  The crew managed to bail out and get into their dinghy.

Two hours later an enemy search and rescue vessel was spotted searching for the crew but did not find them.  The dinghy was left drifting helplessly until it was spotted today and the RAF Rescue Launch set out in pursuit.  All four crew members survived and were taken prisoner.  They have been named as pilot Oberleutnant Ernst Neuffer, age 27, wireless operator Unteroffizier Fritz Hinterberg (21) and crew members Unteroffizier Hans Ehrentraut (28) and 24 year old Unteroffizier Joseph Stern.

TROOPS BACK TO FULL STRENGTH ON AIRFIELDS                

The number of Army personnel has returned to its former high levels following the recent air raids.  1000 men are now working daily on the aerodromes, repairing pens and filling craters to keep runways open following air attacks.  So far during the recent blitz none of the airfields has been unserviceable for more than a few minutes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0714-0748 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but encounter no enemy aircraft.  The raiders cross the coast at great height taking advantage of cloud cover and drop bombs on Hamrun and Birkirkara, damaging property and causing civilian casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0935-1039 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McLeod destroys one Macchi 202.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McElroy and P/O Lowrey destroy one ME 109; P/O Sanderson destroys one Macchi 202; S/Ldr Woods probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one; Sgt Stead damages one ME 109 and one Macchi 202.  The remaining raiders drop bombs on the Ta Qali and Mosta areas.

1120-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and also Light Ack Ack who destroy one ME 109.

1343-1401 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  The enemy is believed to have turned back.

1512-1619 hrs  Air raid alert for 60 German and Italian fighters escorting fighter bombers towards the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Brown and P/O Walton each damage two Macchi 202s.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but are unable to gain sufficient height to engage.  Many fighter bombers jettison their bombs in the sea.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but see nothing.  About half of the raiders cross the coast in cloud cover: fighter bombers drop bombs near Luqa and Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

Military casualties  William Osborne, Foreman of Stokers, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Calleja, age 37; Mary Calleja, age 11; Anthony Debono, age 54; Carmela Debono, age 42; Alfred Fenech, age 73; Alfred Muscat, age 4; Jennie Scerri, age 17; Filippa Whiddatt, age 12.  St Julian’s  Carmela Sciberras, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 22 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 44 in from patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search along the Greek coast.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and two carrying torpedoes, despatched to attack an enemy tanker sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  All aircraft returned owing to severe electrical storms which make it impossible to locate or attack the convoy.

23 October 1942: Battle For El Alamein Has Begun

Night offensive begins at El Alamein (c) IWM E18467

At 9.40 this evening a four hour Allied ground and air bombardment began targeting Rommel’s forces at El Alamein.  As the shelling subsided, ground troops and armoured divisions began their advance across Axis minefields.  The offensive follows weeks of attacks on enemy supply convoys, designed to weaken Axis troops and reduce their firepower.

LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS STAYING AWAY

Observers report that no JU 88 bombers or other twin-engined aircraft have approached Malta since Monday.  Enemy air raids are now confined to ‘tip and run’ attacks by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  However, the poor weather since Monday has worked to the raiders’ advantage, giving the agile ‘Jabos’ the advantage of cloud from which to launch attacks and escape.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Showers.

0630-0736 hrs  Air raid alert as 35 enemy aircraft including ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island in four quick raids.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Saunders destroys one ME 109, F/Lt Charney damages another.  F/O Lindsay’s Spitfire is shot down and he is killed.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped near St Paul’s Bay, and on Mosta and Imtarfa.  Light Ack Ack guns destroy one ME 109.

0830-0910 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 fighters and fighter bombers which fly round the east of the island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Marshall damages one ME 109.  The raiders then recede.

1010-1038 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approach the Island. Three ME 109 fighter bombers drop high explosive bombs on the south east side of the runway at Ta Qali, and on Mosta, damaging property and wounding one civilian.  Eight fighter bombers drop bombs near Zurrieq village and on St Nicola and Kirkop areas.  Malta fighters are airborne and engage, damaging two ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1240-1301 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  While fighters strafe the airfield with machine guns, three ME 109 fighter bombers dive down and drop six high explosive bombs on the Ta Qali dispersal area.  Malta fighters are airborne; no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1559-1622 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders do not cross the coast.

2210-2300 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders which turn back 35 miles from Malta: no sighting.

Military casualties  Flight-Lieutenant Alec Lindsay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Michael Sultana, age 73; Carmelina Grech, age 9.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Heribert Wagner, pilot of a Messerschmitt BF 109 fighter, shot down and killed.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 23 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol and was swept in by Hythe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, two Liberators from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on land while in combat: pilot killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron sent to search for enemy shipping along the west coast of Greece.

24 October 1942: Rations To Be Cut Again

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 24 OCTOBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy now forced to use fighters or fighter bombers only.  RAF have maintained superiority over Island and little damage done.  Air and submarine offensive against enemy convoys maintained.

Raider over Grand Harbour

2.  During daylight. 37 alerts.  Dusk 19 October 40 bombers approached intercepted by six Spitfires.  Three crossed coast rest jettisoned bombs in the sea.  Two JU 88s destroyed.  Remaining alerts each few fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Total 500 Spitfire sorties against 1245 enemy sorties.  Nine fighters destroyed, four probably destroyed, sixteen damaged by RAF.  Four ME 109s destroyed by Lt Ack Ack, two damaged by small arms.  Only three Spitfires destroyed, four damaged.

3.  By night.  Eight alerts.  18 aircraft approach, 13 crossed coast.  Bombs scattered localities.  Beaufighters damaged one JU 88, one HE 111.

4.  Offensive.  Total five Swordfish, five Albacore, eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  Result one Tanker, two merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one merchant vessel hit by 1000 lb bomb.  Other results unobserved due to bad weather.  Submarines have also been very successful recently.

5.  Admin.  Further economies in motor transport fuel have cut out all mobile training.  Army now existing on less than 4000 gallons petrol per week.  Rations being slightly further reduced on 1st November but calorific value unchanged.  Winter accommodation suffering from lack of petrol and materials.

6.  Military damage negligible; casualties five Other Ranks wounded.

7.  Many unexploded bombs disposed of including 200 anti-personnel and large number of German 1 kg incendiaries.  New type delayed action Butterfly anti-personnel bomb fuze 67 already reported separately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

0635-0740 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 enemy aircraft approach the Island in a series of fighter bomber raids.  The bombers dive to attack Ta Qali and Luqa aerodromes, damaging one aircraft on the ground and injuring three airmen.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light Anti Aircraft fire.

1011-1038 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching at great height.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast at height and drop bombs between Luqa and Grand Harbour, on the Mqabba area and the Safi strip, and on Zurrieq.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1300-1348 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including a few fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Black Section are jumped by enemy fighters and one Spitfire is shot down: Sgt Saunders is killed.  The fighter bombers drop bombs on the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1521 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including a few fighter bombers are intercepted by Malta fighters well to the north of the Island.  Bombs are dropped on the Luqa area, damaging one aircraft on the ground.  One ME 109 and one Macchi 202 are destroyed by fighters and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot uninjured.

1615 hrs  Enemy fighter bombers attack the RAF Station at Burmarrad.  Three bombs land nearby: one on soft ground fails to explode.  Another bomb lands near the motor transport drivers’ billet of 2nd Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment, destroying the ablution facility.  Bombs also explode near their defence posts causing slight shock to ten men manning the posts.

1629 hrs  All clear.

2109-2154 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Private Philip Kanter, Royal Army Medical Corps, No 90 General Hospital;  Sergeant Raymond Saunders, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 247 returned and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two DC3 from LG 224; two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons, two Liberators to Gibraltar; two Beauforts, one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy fighters: pilot killed.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 54.  Dealt with: High Explosives 13 including 3 with unmarked delayed-action fuzes (4 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg); 1 Italian anti-personnel bomb container; 357 anti-personnel bombs; 5 oil incendiaries.

 

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

 
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19-25 July 1942: Malta Faces Starvation

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19 July 1942: Parthian Supplies Unloaded in Darkness

HUNGER

“There it was. A pitiable animated skeleton with ribs nearly protruding out of its sides of what was once called a dog. It was a small creature with what could have been a light brown coat. Its occasional whimpering, hardly audible, eyes glazed, it was shuffling madly with from one side of one shed and then to another, sniffing here and sniffing there, obviously crazed with hunger, completely oblivious to anything else. It did not even notice me, standing nearby a few yards away, just outside the workshop where I worked as an apprentice, near No 1 Dock in the Malta Dockyard in the Summer of 1942…

NWMA Malta

Malta was in the iron grip of a merciless siege and close to collapse. Fast blockade runners such as the ‘Welshman’ and the ‘Manxman’ and submarines improvised to carry cargo would occasionally break through the iron cordon to supply the beleaguered island. But supplies were hardly ever enough.

The Dockyard itself had become a depressing sight with half-sunken ships, ruined sheds and workshops, rubble every where and bomb craters still being filled. Electric power and telephone service was only intermittent and water supply available only in certain locations.  Into this nightmarish, surreal landscape, this pitiable creature, somehow or other, had found itself…

I felt deeply sorry for it. I would have willingly given it a small piece of my own meagre ration consisting of just a slim sandwich, but I was hesitant and somewhat fearful how it would react in that crazed state…the dog probably was a loving pet with an owner who cared greatly for it but being unable to feed it…let it loose blithely trusting Providence or hoping that somehow or other it would find its own food. It must have been a desperate and agonizing decision.

Even though Malta, at one time, had its own share of pet lovers, with pets, nearly everywhere, I have to say that I could not recall seeing any other dogs or even cats during that summer…”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0740-0758 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter three ME 109s: no combat.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert for a second fighter sweep by Italian RE 2001 aircraft, engaged by Malta fighters.  One Spitfire crashes near Luqa: the pilot is killed.

1820-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no air raid develops.

2145-2230 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach the Island but are engaged by Spitfires: one raider is destroyed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Joseph Otis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 426 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian unloading stores at Marsaxlokk during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire overshot when landing: pilot injured.  One aircraft crashed due to enemy action: pilot killed.

20 July 1942: Victory Kitchens

“By July 1942 life had become more and more unbearable. Kerosene (Paraffin Oil) which most people used for cooking, heating and for oil lamps was in extremely short supply. To save Kerosene in order to have a warm or hot meal my mother often turned off the oil lamps and sent us to bed early often before darkness had set in.

Queuing for kerosene (NWMA Malta)

Since a hot meal was now becoming a luxury and an exception, my mother decided to try the ‘Victory Kitchens.’  These were communal siege kitchens originally set up to provide one hot meal a day to people who had been bombed out of their homes, whose ration cards had been destroyed or lost in the bombing and had nothing to eat. But as the situation deteriorated more and more people, including those who still had roofs over their heads, resorted to using ‘Victory Kitchens’, bartering their regular ration coupons in exchange. At one time, I believe, more than half the island’s population were using these siege kitchens since, in most cases, it was the only way to get something hot to eat, little as it was.

It did not take long for my mother to realize that this pitiable fare was no kind of ‘victory’…I remember it was some kind of broth masquerading as soup with a few floating lumps in it that most people could not identify.  Occasionally, two or three peas or beans were added but the portions were never enough and afterwards you were still left hungry…

Regardless of their faults it should be remembered that these Victory Kitchens played a very important part feeding the people during the siege. It required great skills and much dedication by the Food Distribution Authorities in planning, organizing and putting into operation such an undertaking under living condition that were indescribable and against obstacles that were almost insurmountable.”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

“I also remember visiting a ‘Victory Kitchen’ with my mother; this was after my pet goat had been killed and served to me as stew. I was only told this after I had finished my meal!”  Edward Caruana Galizia, November 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JULY TO DAWN 21 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; haze, no cloud.

0555-0605 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach to within 25 miles of the Island and then recede.

0830-0935 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft.  The air raid alert sounds but the raid does not materialise; there are no interceptions.

1345 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne to act as a protective escort to minesweepers.

1356 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with twenty ME 109s and RE 2001s in escort approach Luqa from the south and attack the airfield, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the area.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron spot the raiders and follow them in, attacking the bombers as they release their bombs over the airfield.  The Spitfires struggle to gain enough height to catch the bombers as they turn away.  Sgt Wynn is shot up by a Messerschmitt fighter and slightly wounded in the leg.

1405-1545 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue search: no sightings.

1442 hrs  All clear.

1535-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: raid does not develop.

1640 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders.  They spot 16 ME 109s in line abreast.  Sgt Irwin probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with fighter drop a large number of high explosive bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level.  One motor car is burned out.

1715 hrs  All clear.

2136-2242 hrs; 2252-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Each time nine JU 88s approach singly and drop bombs in widely scattered areas, including Luqa and the Safi strip, and the western dispersal area of Ta Qali.  At Luqa a Baltimore is damaged.  At Birzebbuga five Army Other Ranks are killed and one Army Officer wounded.  Malta’s fighters airborne for both alerts and both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying three Ju 88s.  Searchlights illuminate every target in the second raid.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hugh Russell, Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunner Franky Agius, 3 Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Francis Baldacchino, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Ellul, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Hearl, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Sillato, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Albert Zammit, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Fidele Zarb, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of a JU 88 bomber, shot down into the sea near Gozo: Leutnant Siegfried Sack, Pilot – body was not recovered; Obergefreiter Arthur Blass, Air Gunner, and Unteroffizier Albert Mulen, Observer, were rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down and died: Feldwebel Karl Bonk, Pilot; Unteroffizier Johann Gerstel, Observer; Unteroffizier Josef Pohl, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Gerhard Priewisch, Wireless Operator.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine P42 arrived and entered Marsamxett.  Speedy swept QBB 197 and Marsaxlokk entrance. 1 Cutter cut. Swona swept Marsaxmett entrance.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire pilot seat slid forward on landing, pushing control column forward and causing aircraft to tip up on nose: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued injured; one pilot missing.

21 July 1942: 28 Spitfires Arrive as Bombers Stay Clear

OPERATION INSECT

Three freighters sailed from the UK on 2 July carrying 32 Spitfires to Gibraltar, where they arrived a week ago.  Yesterday 30 of the aircraft, along with four Swordfish and six Sea Hurricanes were loaded onto HMS Eagle ready to embark for Malta.  The carrier was protected by a convoy including Cairo, Charybdis, Antelope, Ithuriel, Vansittart, Westcott and Wrestler.

Italian submarine Dandolo

Earlier today the Italian submarine Dandolo sighted the convoy and attempted to attack but was driven off, damaged in a counter-attack by the escort’s destroyers.  Eagle was able to reach her rendezvous point without further incident and, with the exception of one defective aircraft, the Spitfires took off for Malta.  Another plane developed problems with its fuel tank and was forced to ditch in the sea.  The remaining 28 Spitfires landed safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JULY TO DAWN 22 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, slight; haze, no cloud.

0835-0855 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1005-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1110-1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  They are bounced by Macchi 202s: no damage.

1410-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1540-1650 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered into the air to act as escort to minesweepers.

1755-1855 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They see four or five ME 109s but are unable to catch them.

0110-0150 hrs; 0205-0220 hrs; 0235-0255 hrs  Three air raid alerts for a total of five enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly.  None crosses the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  During the last alert a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Sergeant Lewis Evans, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Gunner Nazzareno Grima, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A surface plot [reported] south of Filfla may have been Submarine P44 on the surface. She arrived at 2045 and was swept in Marsaxlokk by Speedy.  Parthian completed unload and proceeded to Dockyard to make good minor defects.  A further reinforcement of 28 Spitfires from HMS Eagle arrived without incident.  Torpedo-carrying Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an enemy convoy and claimed hits on one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Q.B.B. 271 swept by Speedy and Hythe. 3 mines cut.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 240 degrees Cape Ghergambo, 8 miles course southerly.  The merchant vessel was hit by at least three torpedoes and white smoke poured form it; this was later confirmed by photos.  One of the destroyers was also hit.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington from Shandur; one Blenheim from Gibraltar; four Beaufighters from ECDU.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

TA QALI  Preparations are made for the arrival of further Spitfires: 16 arrived during the morning.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY, ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party from No 2 Section of one Sergeant and two Other Ranks blew a series of holes at water level in SS Talabot (partly submerged in harbour) to release oil which was interfering with cargo salvage work.  Plastic high explosive was used: very effective.

22 July 1942: ‘Fighting Tenth’ Return to Malta

NWMA Malta

The arrival of P42 yesterday may have triggered a false alarm, with an unconfirmed report of a periscope off Grand Harbour.  However, good news has followed the submarine’s arrival, as it signals the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, after an absence of nearly three months.

Known as the ‘Fighting Tenth’, the submarine force left Lazaretto ten weeks ago when the severity of enemy bombardment risked their complete destruction.  Vice Admiral, Malta has now decided that the reduced scale of mining and air attacks and the successful clearance of all approach channels to the Island by minesweepers makes it safe enough to allow the submarines to return.

The Flotilla Captain and his Staff arrived today and it is expected that by the end of the month at least three submarines of the Flotilla will again be operating from Malta.

AJAX MASTER ILL

HMS Ajax

An urgent telegram was sent to the War Office today asking for a replacement for the master of Ajax, who has been ill from prolonged stomach trouble.  A solution is needed within fourteen days, as the ship is expected to embark soon on operations.  Ajax, her officers and crew have been praised for their valiant service during several Malta convoys.  If no temporary relief can be found, the chief officer may be promoted to hold the fort.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; slight cloud.

0805-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders which carry out a fighter sweep: no engagement.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on shipping cover.

1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop high explosives on Luqa airfield and anti-personnel bombs in the Marsa valley, causing some civilian and RAF casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s.

1120-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a search for missing pilots.  They see three oil patches on the water.  As he approaches to land, P/O Paradis is told to stand off until a threatened raid on Ta Qali has passed.  He is not heard of again.

1144 hrs  All clear.

1225-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for P/O Paradis: nothing found.

1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty fighters attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Safi strip with high explosives and anti-personnel bombs, causing civilian and RAF casualties. Heavy Ack Ack fire without result.

1635-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109s which circle the Island. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.

Night  Two air alerts for a total of eight Italian and German bombers which approach the Island singly, dropping 15kg and 50kg bombs on Luqa, Tal Handaq and Wardia.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta night fighters are airborne for both alerts.  During the first raid, searchlights effect three illuminations and a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88 ten miles north of the Island.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Joseph Paradis, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Jack Wallworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Walter Mifsud, age 14; Edward Mifsud, age 12.  Hamrun  Concetta Borg, age 66.  Rabat  Paul Zammit, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S) 10th Submarine Flotilla and his staff arrived by air from the Middle East.  A doubtful report of a periscope being sighted off Grand Harbour was not confirmed.  Hythe and motor launches commenced sweeping new area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter to EDCU; one Blenheim to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing believed killed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Numerous anti-personnel bombs dropped on billets occupied by No1 Works Company, 1 Sapper is slightly injured.

23 July 1942: Dog Fights Over Malta

ITALIAN CAPTURED

Macchi 202 in flight

Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli was taken prisoner this afternoon after being plucked from the sea by the RAF rescue launch.  The Italian pilot was in a formation of Italian and German fighters escorting a raid on Luqa aerodrome at just after four o’clock when his Macchi 202 was hit by anti-aircraft fire.  With six Spitfires of 249 Squadron hot on his tail, Di Pauli decided to eject from the aircraft and was seen parachuting down into the sea.  The Spitfire pilots alerted headquarters and an air sea rescue patrol was launched within the hour.  Di Pauli was picked up and brought ashore where he was taken in for interrogation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 17% medium cloud.

0720 hrs  The ‘usual’ early morning patrol by three ME 109s.

0800-0910 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for reported enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

1010 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1021 hrs  Air raid alert.  While three ME 109s patrol alone, three JU 88s with seven ME 109s and five RE 2001s as escort attack Luqa, dropping many anti-personnel bombs from a high level on the camp and dispersal areas, and high explosive bombs to the south of Luqa village.  Several unexploded bombs are found near the windmill.  Anti-personnel bombs are also dropped between Hamrun and the RAF station.  One Spitfire and a petrol bowser are destroyed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

The Spitfires of 249 Squadron see the JU 88s and ME 109s, and then encounter five RE 2001s covering the withdrawal of bombers after the raid.  Sgt Beurling destroys one RE 2001 and damages a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell destroys a JU 88 and F/Lt Hetherington damages another.

1046 hrs  All clear.

1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.

1618-1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with fifteen ME 109s and some Macchi 202s as escort attack Luqa, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs from a high level and causing craters on the aerodrome: two make the runway temporarily unserviceable.  One Baltimore is damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta Spitfires attack the raiders and destroy two ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy two ME 109s and damage another three ME 109s and one Macchi. F/Lt Watts and P/O McElroy between them damage one ME 109; P/O Round damages another.

1650-1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue patrol.  They see an Italian pilot: he is picked up and taken prisoner.

Night  No enemy action.

Military casualties  Flying Officer David William Kent, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli, Macchi 202 fighter pilot, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl carried out gun trials at sea.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance of Gerbini shows that the number of JU 88s at Gerbini has almost doubled to 23.  One of the satellites has also come into use at the aerodrome, with 12 fighters present.  Two more satellites are under construction which will bring the total to five.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224; three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane engine cut out; aircraft crashed on landing: pilot killed.  One Spitfire missing from patrol: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied by No 1 Works Company, RE.

24 July 1942: Malta Fighters Pre-emptive Strikes

Spitfire re-fuelled, re-armed and ready (NWMA Malta)

PARK’S NEW STRATEGY FOR MALTA

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park is to introduce new tactics in the RAF battle for the skies over Malta.  After reviewing fighter performance over recent weeks, the new Air Officer Commanding has recognised that the Island’s Spitfires have been forced to fight defensively.  Now the AOC has decided to take the battle to the enemy.

Under the ‘Forward Interception Plan’ due to take effect from tomorrow, RAF Squadrons will be airborne to intercept enemy formations well before they reach the archipelago.  Making use of the increased numbers of Spitfires at his disposal, as well as improved radar and faster take-off times, three Squadrons will now take part in each pre-emptive strike: the first to engage advance fighter formations from out of the sun; the second to engage any close fighter escort and the third to attack bombers head-on.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JULY TO DAWN 25 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0800-0830 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack firing pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they chase the two Messerschmitts until they are lost to view.

1030-1120 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the Air Sea Rescue Launch off Kalafrana Bay.

1039 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s with a fighter escort of twenty ME 109s are intercepted by Malta fighters, which destroy three JU 88s and one ME 109, and damage the remaining JU 88 and two ME 109s; Heavy Ack Ack also engage.  As a result many bombs are jettisoned in widely different areas, including Mosta and Ta Qali, as well as Luqa and the Safi strip.  The two Spitfires of 603 Squadron see two of the JU 88s and pursue them for eight miles, then return to cover duties.

1113 hrs  All clear.

1135-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a search but find nothing.  One returns early.

1352-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three unidentified fighters cross the coast from the south west at 25000 feet.

1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire returns early.

1710 hrs  Air raid alert.  One section of Spitfires dives on five JU 88s and four ME 109s.  The remaining Messerschmitts break off their formation to attack the other section of Spitfires, which counter-attack.  P/O Jones (249) has a dog-fight with three pairs of ME 109s with no claims.  Malta fighters damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1752-1819 hrs  Five JU88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, landing a direct hit on the HQ building of D Coy, 2nd Royal West Kent Regt at Ta Kandia, killing one Other Rank and wounding two Officers, including the Company Commander, and four Other Ranks. At Qrendi one Other Rank of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is wounded by anti-personnel bomb splinters.  One serviceable Beaufort is burned out, two other Beauforts and one Spitfire are damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

2215-2245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach singly but do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Green, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Rodney Kent, 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Fusilier John Millar, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Mallia, age 74.  Rabat  Carmela Borg, age 10.  Zurrieq  Josephine Bondin, 10 mths;  Catherine Bugeja, age 13; Jane Bugeja, age 11; Rev Joseph Cuschieri, age 63; Carmel Ellul, age 70; Anthony Gauci, age 60; Joseph Saydon, age 48; Carmel Schembri, age 16; Joseph Spiteri, 3 mths; Saviour Zammit, age 54; Rev Joseph Zammit Psaila, age 68.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down: Leutnant Sepp Hoermann, Pilot, Obergefreiter Josef Popp, Observer, and Unteroffizier Wolfram Quass, Air Gunner, died; Leutnant Heinz Heuser, Wireless Operator managed to bale out and land safely; he was taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Fleet Sweepers cleared new channel except for 100 yards along inshore edge. 13 mines cut.  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked a convoy off Cape Gheroghambo and hit and set on fire one merchant vessel. Three Beauforts did not return.

AIR HQ  Six Beauforts escorted by nine Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy consisting of two destroyers and three other vessels, including a 7000 ton merchantman laden with deck cargo, in position 273 degrees Cape Geroghambo 10 miles.  One direct hit on a merchant vessel resulted in much smoke and flame.  One of the destroyers was machine-gunned.  Photos taken later showed the merchant vessel to be in tow, stern foremost, down by the bows and blazing.  The fire had reached the engine room.  [Subsequently this same merchant vessel was photographed at Argostoli completely burned out.]

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Catalina, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Catalina to Aboukir; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

TA QALI  A signal was received today from Headquarters, Mediterranean indicating that a General Warning is in effect.  Instructions by telephone state that no action should be taken.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied No 1 Works Company.

25 July 1942: Malta Ready for ‘General Alarm’

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 25 JULY 42

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

1.  Enemy air activity fighter sweeps first three days, thereafter regular two main raids daily each about 5 JU 88 and 17 (or 15) fighters.  Anti-personnel and high explosive bombs on aerodromes.  Night raiders average 5 nightly except Monday when Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 out of 16.

Jamming of RDF etc continues.  Counter measures being investigated. 

Enemy aircraft casualties Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 at night.  RAF destroyed seven bombers, ten fighters; probably destroyed four fighters; damaged six bombers, six fighters.

Imtarfa Hospital

2.  Some damage to military billets and Imtarfa hospital.  Casualties 2 (or 6) Other Ranks killed 2 officers eleven Other Ranks wounded.

3.  Increased security precautions being taken on Gozo.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If there is no air raid in progress at 12 o’clock noon today, there will be a test of the new signal for the ‘General Alarm’.  The sirens will be sounded as though for an air-raid five times with intervals of half a minute between each sounding.  Half a minute after the last time the ‘All Clear’ will be sounded.  At the same time the church bells will be rung.  The public should not be alarmed; it will be nothing but a TEST.  If there is an air-raid in progress at noon, the test will be held immediately the raid is over. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JULY TO DAWN 26 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0700-0758 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME109s crossed the Island, and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack with pointer rounds.  Fighters do not engage.

0800-0825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1125-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover shipping near Zonqor.

1128-1155 hrs  Air raid alert. Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are sent up to avoid an approaching bombing raid.  Five JU88s drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali in the area west of No 15 Cave; some are suspected to be delayed action bombs.  Telephone communications are slightly disrupted.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1200 hrs  The General Warning Alarm is sounded throughout the Island as a test.

1325-1435 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol: nil report.

1355-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol.

1438-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron see four JU 88s with an escort of fifteen fighters but are unable to intercept before the bombers carry out a raid on Hal Far.  P/O Glazebrook destroys a Macchi 202; other fighters damage JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1615-1630 hrs; 1632-1700 hrs  Air raid alerts for a fighter sweep by three ME 109s.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1920-1945 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep by three ME 109s.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0405-0425 hrs   Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach but do not cross the coast; bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  New Channel (QBB 273) cleared of mines; 2 cut.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance shows that the number of JU 88s at Comiso has risen to 37 from 11 last week.

Arrivals  One Sunderland from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Sunderland to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 97.  Dealt with: High Explosives 18, including 6 delayed-action ( 2 x 500kg; 11 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg); 400 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, PEG Ltd 1992

 

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1-6 June 1942: Air Supremacy Keeps Axis at Bay – Malta Takes Stock

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HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

  • Spitfires strength up by 27
  • Air supremacy keeps Axis at bay
  • Malta bombers attack enemy airfields, harbours and railways
  • HMS Porpoise brings supplies
  • Army helps farmers with harvest
  • Island on alert for stealth submarines

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 6 JUNE

FROM:-  Gov and C in C Malta  TO:-  C in C Middle East  REPT:- The War Office

1.  Enemy bombing limited to 6 fighter bombers and 7 Cant 1007, in two attacks directed against aerodromes.  Fighter effort also small except on 6 June when escorting rescue parties in vicinity Island.  Enemy suffered majority casualties that day.  Night raids, 1-2 June 15 bombers; 6-7 June 25 bombers.  Enemy using flares but bombs widespread.  Damage slight. 

Enemy casualties: By Ack Ack one JU 88 destroyed at night.  By RAF destroyed two JU 88, one ME 109, one Macchi 202, five Re 2001, one float plane.  Probably destroyed four Re 2001.  Damaged one JU 88, three Cant 1007, three ME 109, five Re 2001.  Own casualties:  Two Spitfires destroyed; one pilot safe; four Spitfires damaged: pilots unhurt.

2.  Reinforcements 27 Spitfires arrived 4 June.  Malta based Wellingtons continue attack targets Italy, Sicily.

3.  Coast watching patrols have been increased and measures taken to counter raids add saboteurs in view interrogation and other naval reports.  Large scale working parties total 2500 men daily for assistance RAF and farmers continue.   

6 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 JUNE TO DAWN 7 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0525 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled along with Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far to intercept enemy aircraft.

0530 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires engage and destroy two JU 88s.  One Spitfire 249 Squadron lands damaged at Hal Far.

0625-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy an incoming formation of Italian bombers and fighters.  One SM 84 is damaged by S/Ldr Hamilton, P/O McCleod, P/O Watts and Sgt Gilbert. One SM 84 is damaged by P/O Glazebrook.  Sgt Gilbert destroys one Re 2001; P/O King and F/O Mitchell probably destroy one each; W/O Guay destroys one ME 109.

0713-0742 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Cant 1007s with the remaining fighter escort drop forty 100kg bombs in the Luqa and Safi areas: all bombs fall in fields.

0820 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

0920-1030 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron jump Re 2001s fifteen miles east of the Island.  F/O Daddo-Langlois destroys one, P/O Jones destroys one, P/O Linton damages one and F/Sgt Butler damages one.

1020-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali also attack the enemy formation.  Sgt Gray damages one Re 2001 and F/Lt Lucas damages on ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol but make no contact.

1325-1400 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1605 hrs  Eight aircraft are scrambled in response to an approaching raid.  F/Lt Plagis destroys two RE 2001s, F/Sgt Reid destroys one RE 2001 and damages another.  P/O Lambert, Sgt Dodd and Sgt Russell together destroy one two-engined float plane, believed to be searching for survivors.

1705-1745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1920-2035 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and engage Me 109s: no claims are made.

Ta Qali: 1942 (NWMA Malta)

2030-2140 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a dusk raid of 20 JU 88 bombers.  They make visual contact but then lose it as the hostile aircraft dive towards land.  Aircraft come in in ones, twos and threes and drop high explosive and incendiary bombs in scattered areas but chiefly on Ta Qali, Luqa and Dingli.  Delayed action bombs are reported on the outskirts of Hal Far aerodrome.  100 bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, causing craters on the dispersal areas and near the caves.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.  An ambulance in front of Cave No 11 is slightly damaged and one decoy Hurricane is set on fire.   Searchlights are active.  Heavy Ack Ack destroy one JU 88.

2220-2255 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

2330 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes near the Chateau Bertrand position at Ta Qali.

0130 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes at Ta Qali between Chateau Bertrand and the Caves.

0435-0620 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol; no engagement.

0450 hrs  Air raid warning.

Military casualties  Sergeant Eric George Martin, Royal Air Force, 104 Squadron; Sergeant Frederick Lambert, 26 Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Antoinette Zammit, age 18.  Zebbug  Anthony Rodo, age 26.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 6 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl sweeping Marsaxlokk. Harbour sweeping Grand Harbour entrance.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; two Wellingtons, one CW20, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts, one Wellington, one Hudson to LG 222; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.   Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire engine cuts out during enemy action: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  0920-1010 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Luqa, Hal Far, Ta Qali, St Patrick’s Hospital, Tal Virtu.  1123-1345 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes, Messina and Augusta Harbours.  2226-0220 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa despatched to attack train ferry terminus at Messina.  A few fires were started around the target.  All the bombs fell on Messina.

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

Military casualties  NilCivilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 5 JUNE 1942

HMS Beryl

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl sweeping Marsaxlokk entrance and approaches.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Hudsons, two Beauforts, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis, one Hudson to Gibraltar, one Beaufighter to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties: missing transit aircraft one Beaufighter from Gibraltar to Malta.

HAL FAR  AM 185 Squadron is stood down for the day.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.  1630-1725 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Malta: photos of St Patrick’s Hospital, Ta Qali and Hal Far.   2135-0303 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack Naples.  Bombs were dropped in the industrial areas of the town causing several fires, three of which were visible 25 miles away.  2124-0447 hrs  Two Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched on shipping search and strike.  ONe aircraft dropped bombs on Marittimo Island, the other located two destroyers but lost them before an attack could be made.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with nil. 

5 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 JUNE TO DAWN 6 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind north westerly, fresh to strong.  100% cloud; becoming brighter later.

0530-0630 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on anti E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

0650-0740 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

0922-1026 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa take off on an air test.

0950 hrs  The air raid alert sounds and the four Spitfires are notified of four approaching ME 109s: they investigate but sight nothing and return to base.

1130 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1645 hrs; 1710 hrs  Air raid alert.

1648-1716 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters: no engagement.

1730-1830 hrs  12 Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

Night  No enemy activity.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome. 

0022-0355 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack Catania aerodrome.  No bombs were dropped on target but bombs were dropped by two aircraft on Syracuse town: a glow was observed but no fires.

TA QALI  1600 hrs  Air Officer Commanding visited.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; dealt with 2 (2 x 500 kg).

4 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JUNE TO DAWN 5 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; 100% cloud.

Day  Seven enemy fighters approach the Island but do not attack and retreat before engagement with Malta forces.

0525-0620 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on anti-shipping patrol.

1020-1120 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

PM  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but the raid does not materialise.

1625-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

Beaufighter

1906-1942 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to escort a delivery Beaufighter: no combat.

Night  No enemy activity.

Military casualties  NilCivilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 4 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl sweeping Marsaxlokk entrance and approaches.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  Missing transit aircraft: one Beaufighter from Gibraltar to Malta. One Hurricane crashed on landing with brake failure: pilot safe.

3 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JUNE TO DAWN 4 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind north westerly, fresh to strong.  50% cloud; medium.

0900 hrs  Air raid warning for ME 109s on patrol: no attacks.

Spitfires at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

0940-1040 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to escort incoming delivery of Spitfire aircraft.

1030-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are sent to escort arriving Spitfires, and to search for a pilot in the sea.

1115-1312 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to provide cover for the High Speed Launch.

1245-1402 hrs  Four more Spitfires 601 Squadron join the patrol, protecting the launch until its return to harbour.  The launch is tracked 8-10 miles north north west of Gozo: no combat with enemy aircraft.

1350-1425 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1400 hrs  Air raid warning for ME 109s on patrol: no attacks.

1510-1625 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali aire airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1530 hrs  Air raid warning for ME 109s on patrol: no attacks.

1750-1845 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Night  No activity.

Military casualties  NilCivilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 3 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl sweeping Marsaxlokk entrance and approaches.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG05; 27 Spitfires, one Hudson, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, four Hudsons to LG 222; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  Missing transit aircraft  Four Spitfires from Naval Op to Malta.

HAL FAR  Six delivery Spitfires arrive at Hal Far.  PM  185 Squadron Hal Far is stood down.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome. Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack Catania aerodrome.  Only one aircraft succeeded in bombing the airfield: the others found the target obscured by cloud and returned to base with their bombs.

TA QALI  0500 hrs  Parade of all personnel at Ta Qali to explain arrangements and allocation of duties in connection with arrival of further Spitfires.  Same organisation which was so successful before will be put into operation.  Arrangments as to meals on Camp to be as last arrival day.  15 Spitfires arrived ex Carrier.  One flight attacked by ME 109s off Pantelleria and one was shot down.  One crashed on landing and broke undercarriage.  Six Officers and seven Sergeants accommodated.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 13 (4 x 500kg, 9 x 50kg).

2 June 1942: Malta Counts the Cost

Senglea January 1941 (NWMA Malta)

REPORT OF DAMAGE AND CASUALTIES

Figures have been released for the civilian damage and casualties in Malta up to 8 April 1942.  Figures would have been much higher without the Island’s extensive rock shelters.  Statistics for the period from 9 April are expected to be considerably higher.

15500 CIVILIAN DWELLINGS DESTROYED

207 PUBLIC BUILDINGS DESTROYED

  • 70 churches
  • 18 convents and nunneries
  • 22 schools
  • 8 hospitals
  • 10 theatres
  • 8 hotels
  • 8 clubs
  • 5 banks
  • 48 other

Regent Cinema rescue operations

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES – ONE IN SEVEN KILLED OR WOUNDED

  • 1104 killed
  • 1318 seriously injured
  • 1299 slightly injured

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JUNE TO DAWN 3 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 50% cloud, colder.

0910 hrs  Seven Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa and six of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three Italian bombers with a fifteen-strong fighter escort of ME 109s, Macchi 202s and RE 2001s. 

0923 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires intercept enemy fighters: 601 Squadron pilot 2/Lt Bartleman claims one Macchi 202 destroyed and P/O Hagger claims one RE 2001 damaged.   185 Squadron engage the enemy at 13000 feet 15 miles east of Kalafrana.  F/Sgt Reid claims one RE 2001 probably destroyed and one Cant damaged.  Sgt Moye damages one RE 2001.

Caproni Re 2001 Falco

The three Italian bombers get through to drop twelve 100kg high explosive bombs between Luqa airfield and the Safi strip. 

0935-1045 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: nil report. 

1015-1055 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to intercept ME 109s: no engagement.

1155-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for a raid which does not materialise.

1540-1615 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa scrambled on interceptions: no combat. 

1615-1715 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa and four from Hal Far to intercept an approaching formation: no combat.

1630 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

1755-1850 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far and four from Ta Qali to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1810 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2120-2347 hrs; 0115-0145 hrs; 0220-0240 hrs; 0310-0340 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne on patrol: no sightings. 

0305 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

0445-0525 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are dispatched on shipping patrol. 

Military casualties  NilCivilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 2 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG 05; three Wellingtons, seven Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Wellingtons to LG 222; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash landed in the sea after combat: pilot uninjured.  One Hudson crashed on landing: crew uninjured.

LUQA  1055-1130 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance over Malta: Fleur de Lys, Siggiewi,  Jebel Ciantar, Ta [Dehotyer], Marsaxlokk; Ta Qali pens and HQ Buffs.  2050-0315 hrs  Five Wellingtons 104 Squadron bomb Cagliari Town.  2058-0330 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for convoy: no sighting.  Bombs are dropped on Pantelleria Island.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 3 (1 x 50kg, 2 Italian AP bomb containers).

1 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JUNE TO DAWN 2 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south westerly; 50% cloud.

0905 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

0935 hrs  The Spitfires attack four ME 109s and are in turn attacked by another two Messerschmitts about 20 miles east of Zonqor.  Sgt Yarra claims one destroyed (crashes into the sea) and P/O Broad claims one damaged.  P/O McNaughton is shot down into the sea and his body is recovered by the Air Sea Rescue Service.

0945-1036 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to cover the rescue launch: no interceptions.

1115-1145 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: nil report.

1220-1310 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali gain height against a possible raid.

1620-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to search Kalafrana Bay for suspicious undersea craft.  The search is carried out with nil result.

1740-1830 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for a raid which does not come in.

2030-2046 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and take to the air to intercept an incoming raid but are recalled.

2045-2245 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol intercepts and damages one JU 88.

2332 hrs  15 bombers, including JU 87s and 88s, drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa, Birkirkara, Hamrun and Ghain Tuffieha, Hal Far and Wardia.  A Beaufighter damages one JU 88.

2336-0120 hrs; 0115-0145 hrs  One Beaufighter each time on patrol: no combats.

0215 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far and Luqa.  Three Wellingtons are slightly damaged.

0220-0240 hrs;  0310-0340 hrs  One Beaufighter each time on patrol: no combats.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Andrew McNaughton, Royal Canadian Air Force, RAF 185 Squadron.  Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 1 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived from Alexandria, being swept to bottoming berth at 0600 by Beryl and ML 126. Sweepers returned to harbour with Trusty Star.  Porpoise surfaced at dusk and proceeded to Kalafrana, to unload cargo.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, one CW 20 from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 22; one Hudson, one Spitfire (photo-reconnaissance) to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed into the sea after combat: pilot killed.  One Wellington ran off the runway on take-off: crew uninjured.  One Wellington force-landed in the sea after an operation: crew safe.  One Wellington crashed on landing from operations: crew safe.

LUQA  1524-1900 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Cagliari Harbour, Palermo and Trapani.  1724-2000 hrs  Seven Spitfires 126 Squadron are sent to reconnoitre enemy shipping Messina and Augusta, airfields Gerbini, Catania, Biscari, Comiso.  2130-0325 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate, bomb and [support] Swordfish strikes on a southbound convoy.  2335-0130 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron carry out a bombing attack on the submarine base at Augusta.

TA QALI  Chateau Bertrand and the Pottery demolished completely.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 6 (1 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg, 1 Italian Thermos).

 

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Posted by on June 6, 2017 in 1942, June 1942

 

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24 May 1942: Malta on the Attack as Enemy Bombers Stay Away

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Wellington bombers

EXTRA WELLINGTONS ALLOW FOR RENEWED OFFENSIVE

The arrival of a delivery flight of nine new Wellington bombers today strengthened the Island’s forces for the campaign against Axis convoys supplying Rommel’s forces in North Africa.

Overnight, three Wellingtons of 104 Squadron assisted by S/D Flight attacked a southbound convoy of one merchant vessel of 5000 tons and one of 1000 tons plus two destroyers 135 miles from Benghazi.  Observers report a successful hit on the the large merchant vessel.  One of the destroyers was also machine-gunned during the attack.

NO BOMBING RAIDS TODAY

Malta’s skies were free of enemy bombers today, as the Axis count their losses in the recent battle for supremacy in the air.  Even the endless fighter sweeps were kept at bay by a constant series of patrols by the Island’s Spitfire squadrons.  One JU 88 reconnaissance aircraft and two Italian Macchi fighters were destroyed and a third Macchi damaged in the two air combats today.

Monitors following Radio Roma heard them describe the plight of the Italian bomber pilots sent to attack Malta by night as “a hard lot.  We are blinded by searchlights, hammered by the AA guns, pursued and ambushed by night fighters.  There is no seeing the enemy till the British guns start spitting death at your bomber.” (1)

Thanks to them, for the first time in many weeks Malta’s inhabitants enjoyed a quiet night, with no air raid sirens.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 MAY TO DAWN 25 MAY 1942

Weather  Little wind; no cloud.

0705-0948 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina Harbour and east Sicilian aerodromes.

0716-0757 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa on interceptions: no combat.

0745-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

0906-1118 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.

0930-1045 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne; nil report.

1056-1153 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa: no combat.

1225-1305 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

1313-1414 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled form Hal Far.  P/O Halford destroys one JU 88.

1445-1530 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne: nil report.

1545-1625 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept three enemy aircraft.  P/O Dicks-Sherwood destroys one Macchi 202 and damages another.  P/O Barlow destroys one Macchi 202.

Night  No enemy activity.

Military casualties  Sergeant Arnold Merritt, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 104 Squadron; Gunner Thomas Hunter, 223 Battery, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 24 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Nine Wellingtons from LG 106; one Lodestar from Heliopolis; two Albarcores from BU-Amud; three Blenheims, six Beauforts, two Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; five Wellingtons to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing: pilot killed, rest of crew injured.

LUQA 2110-0220 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate and bomb convoy then [guide] Wellington force onto same.  2133-0430 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search of Pantelleria, Cape Bon, Marittimo area.  2206-0255 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron are despatched to attack southbound convoy in co-operation with the S/D Flight Wellington.

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 continue.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 28 anti-personnel ‘Thermos’ bombs.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Work completed on Hal Far.  Work in Safi strip began. 17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks widening and levelling runway.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion drums and pipes beat the retreat at Mosta.

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.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group Ltd 1992

 

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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17 May 1942: Stealth E-Boat Attack Repulsed

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MALTA’S DEFENCES COMBINE TO FIGHT OFF ENEMY VESSELS

German Schnellboot (E-boat)

In the early hours of this morning Malta’s early warning systems picked up the presence of enemy vessels close to the coastline.  In an unprecedented co-operative effort, the Island’s coastal defenders, gunners and fighter aces thwarted an evidently top secret mission by German E boats.

0105 hrs  A shipping plot is detected by radio direction finder off the Island: engines are heard north of St Elmo.  Their movements are followed and searchlights are exposed but nothing is detected.  Campbell Battery fires two rounds by the plot at an unseen target.

0204 hrs  Four E boats illuminated by coastal searchlights suspected of attempting to lay mines.  Royal Artillery guns at Tigne Battery engage the boats at 10,000 yards.  The boats retire under cover of smoke.

0215 hrs  The E boats are illuminated again: this time both Tigne and Rocco forts engage, firing 22 rounds. The enemy again create a smoke screen and retire northwards.

0235 hrs  An explosion is heard bearing 050 degrees from St. Elmo and the Royal Artillery claim an E boat probably destroyed and one immobilised.

Daybreak  One E boat is observed stopped in position 073 degrees St. Elmo at 10,000 yards. Fort Rocco engages and scores a direct hit.

0515 hrs  Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far on anti E boat patrol.  One of the Hurricanes returns almost immediately with a minor defect.  The remaining three find and attack an E boat five miles east of the Island.  All three fire from 150 to 50 yards and score many strikes.  Return fire very soon ceases and they leave the boat disabled with no signs of life on board.  Hurricanes land at 0605 hrs untouched.

0600 hrs  One Dornier 24 with strong escort approaches the Island on search.

0610 hrs  Four ME 109s reconnoiter and then attack the immobilised E boat, setting her on fire.  She finally sinks in position 097 degrees 15,800 yards.

Only two boats are detected retreating after the action; at least two are considered sunk.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MAY TO DAWN 18 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-south-westerly; 30% cloud.  Good visibility.

0652 hrs  Fifteen Caproni Re 2001 Falco Italian fighters complete a sweep at very high level, the first time the aircraft has appeared in strength over the Island.  One JU 88 approaches with an escort of ME 109s.

0700-0750 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are ordered to attack the JU 88.  F/Lt Buchanan engages the JU 88 off St Paul’s Bay and destroys it.

0730-0815 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagement.

0806 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy air sea rescue service.  Sgt Goldsmith on taxiing out runs into a partly filled bomb crater and is unable to take off.

0844 hrs  One Dornier 24 carries out a search for survivors of the E boats.  F/Sgt Parks, 126 Squadron attacks the Dornier, claims destroyed.

0912 hrs  An unknown number of ME 109s approach.  One is destroyed by Spitfires.

1008-1112 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far: no interception.

1012 hrs  Five ME 109s approach, apparently searching for the pilot of a plane destroyed in the previous raid.

1110-1140 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagement.

1116 hrs  Two ME 109s and two Macchi 202s approach from the north.  The Macchis machine-gun Hal Far, injuring six RAF personnel working on a pen.

1130 hrs  One Macchi 202 is engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery; no claims.

1155-1300 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron and six 603 Squadron from Ta Qali are ordered to climb up and bounce fifteen ME 109s a Dornier 24 flying boat searching near the Island.  F/Sgt Verrall destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  P/O Nash destroys one ME 109 and P/O King damages one.  Sgt Hurst and P/O Barlow both attacke and damage a Dornier 24 flying boat.  P/O Nash is shot down near Dingli and killed.

1307 hrs  Four ME 109s continue the search.

1347-1411 hrs  Two Spitfires are airborne from Luqa on defensive patrol: no combat.

1450 hrs   One Dornier 24 escorted by twelve ME 109s carries out a search ten miles north east of the Island.

1715-1810 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagement.

1732 hrs  15 Caproni Re 2001 Falcos accompanied by 15 ME 109s and Macchi 202s approach from the north at 20,000 feet and split up into twos and threes as they near the Island.

1805-1900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali and sight the enemy formations.  They climb to intercept the bombers as they head in to attack St Paul’s Bay – but instead turn back without dropping their bombs.

Seven Spitfires from Luqa intercept some eight of the Caproni Re 2001s.  P/O Boyle and P/O Le Bas claim two probably destroyed; W/O Belcher claims one damaged.  Sgt Howard is shot up and crash lands; he is seriously injured.

1900-2015 hrs  Six plus enemy aircraft patrol ten miles south east of the Island. Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: no engagement.

Night  Two alert sound for single aircraft, one of which turns out to be friendly.

0155-0240 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft and destroys one Italian BR 20.  No bombs are dropped on land.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Peter Nash, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Ghaxaq  Michael Abela, age 26.  Mdina  Stella Sant Manduca, age 76.  Zabbar  Mary Fava, age 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 17 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Albacores returned from an unsuccessful sortie against shipping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beauforts, two Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Hudsons, one CW 20 to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.  One Spitfire damaged in combat and crashed on landing; pilot killed.  One Wellington crashed on take-off; crew injured.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.  0905-1154 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours and aerodromes.  2337-0450 hrs  One Wellington on search for enemy shipping.  Located two merchant vessels and three destroyers.  A smoke screen was put up and no attack made.  Wellingtons dropped flares for Albacores.

TA QALI  20 airmen attached to this station from Kalafrana for the purpose of the special operations returned to their unit.  Gallows erected on stations.

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 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with nil.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  4 Officers, 192 Other Ranks and 17 trucks working on Hal Far building pens.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Unit supplied belt fillers, armourers party and a working party of 50 men with 100 men standing by for Ta Qali aerodrome.

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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16 May 1942: Spitfires Claim 137 Bandits in First Week

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MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 16 MAY 1942 

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

MOST SECRET

Enemy attack on HMS Welshman on 10 May received severe trouncing.  Effort thereafter greatly reduced.  Mainly consisted of fighter sweeps in force.  Some night raiding and E boat activity.  Occasional use of fighter bombers with little effect.  Daily scale enemy effort:

  • 10 May 13 JU 88s; 35 JU 87s; 5 Cant; main target HMS Welshman
  • 11 May 4 JU 88s; main targets Hal Far, Luqa
  • 12 May 7 JU 88s; 3 Cants; main targets Hal Far, Ta Qali
  • 13 May 15 JU 87s; main targets Hal Far, Luqa
  • 14 May 10 JU 88s; main targets Luqa, Ta Qali
  • 15 May 5 JU 88s; 3 Savoia 84; main target Ta Qali
  • 16 May 3 JU 88s; 5 Cants; main target Ta Qali

Also as much as 100 fighters per day ME 109s, Macchi 202s, some Falco.  Total of 31 night bombers in addition, bombs widespread.  1 JU 88, 4 Br 20s night raiders destroyed…

40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew Malta 12 May 1942 (IWM)

Aerial photos show steady decrease of German bombers in Sicily.  Possibly accounted for by losses over Malta.  Enemy aircraft casualties:  Ack Ack destroyed 3 JU 88s, 4 JU 87s, 1 ME109; probably destroyed 1 JU 88; damaged 2 JU 88s, 2 ME 109s.  By RAF destroyed 8 JU 88s, 9 JU 87s, 3 Cants, 4 Br 10s, 16 ME 109s, 7 Macchi 202s; probably destroyed 7 JU 88s, 10 JU 87s, 2 Cants, 1 Br 10, 18 ME 109s, 3 Macchi 202s; damaged 9 JU 88s, 10 JU 87s, 1 Cant, 26 ME 109s, 1 Macchi 202, 2 Savoia Marchetti 84.  Total destroyed 55; probables 42; damaged 53.

Own Troops: HMS Welshman arrived 10 May with 82000 rounds bofors ammunition.  Unloaded within 5 hours mainly by Royal Artillery personnel.  Heavily attacked but reinforced fighters, heaviest ever barrage over ship and use of smoke screen surprised enemy.  One stick [of bombs] within ten yards caused slight damage and casualties.  Ack Ack ammunition restriction reimposed 12 May.

Western Infantry Brigade formed and started operating 13 May: located high ground near Rabat; role mobile reserve.  Consists of 4 Buffs, 8 Kings Own, 1 Durham Light Infantry, Commander Lt Col Brittorous.  Infantry working parties on aerodromes continue.  Party for serving and maintaining Spitfires reduced to 250 men on account reduced scale attack but 1500 men now on pen building also.  RE Bomb Disposal Section disposed of 55 UXBs totaling 11 tons.

Military and civil damage slight.  Army casualties: 4 Other Ranks killed; 1 Officer 3 Other Ranks wounded.  Conclusion reinforcement of fighters, improved organization based on experience and large scale assistance of Army to other services have enabled us to obtain local air superiority.  Enemy now concentrating on wearing down fighter strength and bombing attacks almost stopped temporarily.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 MAY TO DAWN 17 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.  Warm.

0610-0710 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0635 hrs  Twelve ME 109s carry out a preliminary sweep to clear the way for one JU 88 to carry out reconnaissance.

0930 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled but land again at 1040 hrs without engagement.

1105 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept approaching ME 109s.  S/Ldr Douglas-Hamilton damages one and P/O Northcott another.  Sgt Johnson is shot up and crash-lands at Ta Qali.

1106 hrs  Six Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Hone and P/O Haggar claim one Cant 1007 bis probably destroyed.  Sgt McConnell claims one Macchi 202 probably destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged; P/O Hagger is unhurt.

1111 hrs  Three ME 109s drop bombs on Ta Qali.  Six Macchi 202s and numerous ME 109s patrol to the west and south of the Island.

1152 hrs  Six Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are scrambled from Luqa to intercept another incoming formation of enemy aircraft.  Fighters are unable to climb to the height of the bombers in time.

1200 hrs  Five Cant 1007s approach from the west and drop bombs on the Ta Qali dispersal area and camp, killing two airmen and one soldier.  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at the same time.

1252 hrs  Raiders passed.

1350-1420 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far: no interceptions.

1459 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept an enemy formation including one JU 88 with ten Macchi 202s and twenty ME 109s.  F/L Buchanan destroys one Macchi 202; P/O Nash and P/O Plagis jointly destroy one ME 109 and Sgt De Namerede damages another.

1516 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  One Macchi 202 is damaged.  F/Sgt Milner’s aircraft is hit by machine gun bullets and damaged; pilot unhurt.

1608 hrs  One JU 88 with ten Macchi 202s and 20 ME 109s drops bombs on waste ground between Hal Far and Kalafrana.

1617 hrs  Raiders passed.

1646-1732 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far: no interceptions.

1820-1915 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali are ordered to jump ME 109s escorting a flying boat 20 miles north of the Island.  F/O Mitchell damages one ME 109.  Sgt Hurst and F/Lt Sanders each probably destroy one ME 109.

1920-2105 hrs  Seven Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa on interceptions: no engagement.

0245-0500 hrs  P/O Daniel on patrol in a Beaufighter destroys three BR 20s.

0301-0445 hrs  Eight bombers approach singly from the north and drop bombs on Hal Far, Safi, Ta Qali and Gozo.  Eight bombs land in the dispersal area at the Safi end of Hal Far aerodrome, damaging one Spitfire starting a small fire burning oil in some of the pens.

0355 hrs  Six bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and eight are dropped between Gudja and Luqa villages.  One Beaufighter is airborne and destroys three BR 20s.  Private Reeves, B Coy, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is patrolling on Hal Far aerodrome during the air raid and is wounded in the right arm.

Military casualties  Corporal Timothy French, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron; Corporal Donald Sussems, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 16 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, two Hudsons, one CW 20 from Gibraltar;  one Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to 108 MU.

LUQA  1033-1310 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina, Palermo, Bocca di Faleo, Trapani harbour and aerodrome, Baglio Rizzo, and Castel Vetrano.

TA QALI  NAAFI opened at Boschetto Gardens.

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 (Luqa and Ospizio) as usual.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 3 Section, 173 Coy, RE moved from St Patricks to Lintorn Barracks and took over bakery job.   Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 2 (both 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks and 17 trucks working on Hal Far aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Lord Gort complimented Lt Col Allen on 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers guard on San Anton Palace.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party as usual.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  One driver of B Coy was injured on Ta Qali and admitted to hospital.  GOC Major General D M W Beak VC, DSO, MC expressed himself as being extremely pleased with the hard work carried out by all concerned on Ta Qali aerodrome last week.  He wishes his appreciation of the work done to be made known to all ranks.

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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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14 April 1942: Round the Clock Bombing – One Raid lasts 13 1/2 Hours

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1-14 APRIL 1942:  Enemy bombers 2391; Bombs 2,779,800 kg (2736 tons); Casualties 340

Bristol Beaufort

ENEMY FIGHTERS ATTACK AIRCRAFT AS THEY LAND

Early this afternoon a Special Beaufort aircraft landing at Malta after operations in the Middle East was attacked on the ground by Messerschmitt fighters.  The pilot was killed and the crew injured. 

Three more Beaufort aircraft of 39 Squadron heading in to Malta from ops. in the Middle East were shot down in the sea south of the Island, as well as two others lost during the same operation.  Other Beauforts later landed successfully under the protection of Spitfires and Hurricanes.  Six airmen are reported killed.

A Maryland aircraft returning from shadowing operations with ME 203 Squadron has been reported missing.  The aircraft left Barrani at 0700 hrs this morning and should have landed in Malta at 1315 hrs.  However, nothing has since been heard of the Maryland, either from the Middle East or Malta.  The last message from the aircraft was received at 0945 hrs GMT.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 APRIL TO DAWN 15 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind cold, north easterly; 50% medium cloud.

0620-1020 hrs  ME 109 fighters patrol round the coast of the Island.

1020 hrs  25 JU 87s bomb  Grand Harbour area while four ME 109s drop bombs at both ends of Hal Far aerodrome and machine-gunning the airfield.

1032 hrs  16 JU 88s follow this plot in and drop bombs on Hal Far and the dispersal area, causing craters on the aerodrome.  One Hurricane is severely damaged and one slightly damaged.One ME 109 is shot down in the sea off Delimara; one Messerschmitt crashes 800 yards from a defence post of B Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt. The pilot is killed and identified from papers as Karl Henry Krahl of Breslau.

1035 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage four JU 88s and one ME 109: two guns claim total four hits on two JU 88s and one ME 109.

1045 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Ta Qali: six of them drop 24 bombs on Ta Qali runway.

1050 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are escorting a Maryland in to Malta when they are alerted to an approaching enemy formation.  They attack a number of ME 109s: P/O Kelly damages one before he is shot down into the sea: he is later rescued.

1140 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA Bty engage two ME 109s: no claims.

1150-1425 hrs  ME 109s keep up a continuous patrol off the coast while a delivery flight of Beauforts head towards Malta.  Spitfires and Hurricanes are airborne, to act as escort for the incoming aircraft.

1300 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to escort another Maryland returning from patrol.  They sight Messerschmitt fighters:  F/L McQueen part-destroys one and damages another; P/O Sergeant part-destroys one.  Three Hurricanes 185 Squadron engage three ME 109s:  F/Sgt Fletcher and Sgt Lee each damage one.

1355 hrs  A Beaufort returning from operations in theMiddle East has just landed at Luqa when it is strafed by ME 109s, killing the pilot and wounding four members of the crew.

1428 hrs  24 JU 87s dive on Grand Harbour, dropping bombs in the Dockyard, Zabbar and St Paul’s Bastion areas, while five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa.  Four ME 109s drop bombs on Hal Far near the Windsock area.

1435 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA Bty engage two JU 88s: three hits claimed.

1440 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Misrah Blandun.

1545 hrs  More Beauforts from theMiddle East come in to land, under the protection of two Spitfires and two Hurricanes.

ME 109s continue to patrol round the coast of the Island.

1800 hrs  Three returning Beauforts are shot down into the sea.  One is sighted by 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  L/Cpl Sciberras of B Company and another man put to sea in a boat and brings in two survivors.

1805 hrs  24 JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area.

1830 hrs  Eight JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa airfield, cratering the runway and damaging equipment.  The camp warning system is put out of use.  Bombs are dropped near Bir id Deheb and Ghaxaq encampments of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.

1830 hrs  Four JU 88s drop fifteen bombs on Ta Qali, including at least one delayed-action bomb.  Craters adjacent to and at the end of the runway make the aerodrome unserviceable for night flying.

1838 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Mellieha Camp of the Kings Own Malta Regiment, including several delayed-action.

1840 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA Bty engage numerous JU 88s: 7 hits claimed.

1952 hrs  All clear.

2042-2130 hrs  Air raid warning for one aircraft which does not cross the coast.  Minutes later another alert is sounded for an aircraft approaching from the west: identified as friendly.

Night to 0540 hrs Continuous night raids by single German and Italian aircraft. Bombs are widespread and indiscriminate. Weather deteriorating.

2052-2135 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

2250 hrs  Bombs are dropped betweenSelmunPalace and Torri Ghain Hadid.  One does not explode.

0124 hrs  Two single aircraft come in singly from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the north of the Island.  Meanwhile several Malta-based aircraft come in to land.

0219 hrs; 0337 hrs; 0445 hrs  Bombs are dropped on theSafi strip.

0220 hrs; 0250hrs; 0354 hrs  Bombs, including some delayed-action, are dropped on Mellieha Camp of Kings Own Malta Regiment and in the sea nearby.

Military casualties  Skipper William Orchard, Royal Navy Reserve, HMS St.Angelo; Flight Lieutenant Robert Beveridge, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 39 Squadron; Flight-Sergeant Stanley Howroyd, Pilot, Royal Air Force VR, 22 Squadron;  Sergeant Thomas Keegan, Royal Air Force VR, 47 Squadron; Warrant Officer Joseph Lee, Observer, Royal Air Force, 22 Squadron; Sergeant Alexander Miller, Royal Air Force VR, 39 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Seddon, Royal Air Force VR, 39 Squadron; Bombardier Eric Blunt, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Enemy casualties  Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Krahl, Pilot of a Messerschmitt Bf 109 shot down by gunfire at Hal Far whilst making a low level attack on the airfield.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 14 APRIL 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Beauforts, four Beaufighters landed Malta from Ops ME.  Departures  One Hudson toGibraltar, one Hudson to Gambut, one Spitfire PRU, oneWellington, twoHudsons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 14/15th  One Swordfish and two Albacores despatched to attack enemy convoy: nothing sighted.

LUQA  Four JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  0959-1320 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron on search for enemy shipping. Sighted convoy and chased by numbers of enemy aircraft: no combat.  2045-0555 hrs  OneWellington on Special Search.  Reports enemy convoy.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs near Four Platoon at Rinella: wireless mast hit.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 6 (1 x 1000kg;  2 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  31 sailors attached to the Battalion.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Lt T Miller attached from 8th Bn Manchester Regt was injured in the shoulder by shrapnel from an Ack Ack shell.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party continued: bombed and machine-gun.  1100 hrs  Our own Ack Ack light machine-guns with others engage and shoot down a ME 109.  GOC congratulates the Battalion.

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1 April 1942: 148 aircraft bomb Malta – 9 ships hit – 62 killed

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Ruins of Franciscan Friary, Sliema 1942 (NWMA)

TWO BOMBS ON SLIEMA KILL 22

Teenager Charles Grech of Sliema was due to meet Fr Diego Galdes when he heard the air raid alarm.  Ignoring the advice of his friend to take cover, Charles set off towards the friary.  He froze when he saw a JU 88 bomber release its load, and two heavy bombs heading in his direction:

“I mumbled a quick Act of Contrition and clung to the corner of the block almost as if to stop the building from falling on top of me.  Then two huge deafening explosions and a tremendous blast flung me to the ground.  There was a cloud of dust and smoke.  Pieces of glass and wood were flying in all directions.  Balconies fell into the street and doors and windows were blown out to the opposite side of the road…The cuts I received from the glass soon brought me back to my senses.  I could not see further than five yards up the street, because of the thick dust cloud and the dense smoke and could not tell where the bombs had fallen… most probably, not more than a block away…I thought that they must have fallen pretty close to the church…[Father] told us that besides the church and the friary many other buildings had also been damaged and that there were dead and wounded everywhere.  I immediately thought of Fr Diego…” (1)

Fr Diego Galdes was killed when a bomb struck the Franciscan friary: he was one of 22 killed in Sliema, who also included Police Sergeant Michael Riviera.

ENEMY’S HEAVY LOSSES

During these 24 hours Heavy and Light Ack Ack destroyed five JU 87s and two JU 88s and one ME 109.  Aircraft destroyed two JU 88s, two JU 87s and two ME 109s; probably destroyed five JU 87s and damaged five JU 88s, one JU 87 and two ME 109s.  None of Malta’s aircraft are missing.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 APRIL TO DAWN 2 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0917 hrs  26 JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers escorted by fighters approach the Island.

0955 hrs  23 JU 88s and fighter bombers attack Hal Far, dropping over 100 high explosive (HE) bombs and destroying one Albacore and damaging three plus a Swordfish, badly damaging four Hurricanes and slightly damaging another four.  Three vehicles are written off and two bowsers damaged.  Private C F Rowe, A Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is killed while working on the airfield. Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery attack the enemy aircraft: no claims.

1005 hrs  Five JU 88s drop 50kg bombs on Safi strip, Mqabba area and south of Gudja village.  One unexploded bomb is reported on Safi.

1015 hrs  JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa aerodrome, cratering the runway.  Two airmen are slightly injured, one Transit Wellington and an ambulance damaged.

1030 hrs  Four ME 109s machine-gun positions of 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regt (KOMR) at Armier Bay, Torri L’Abjad.  They also fire on a Gozo boat in the South Comino Channel.  Seven men from E Company immediately man the bullet-ridden boat and, while enemy fighters were still overhead, they help the boat’s engineer put to sea to rescue one of the crew who had dived overboard during the attack.

1051 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour.

1101 hrs  Six ME 109s raid Hal Far, dropping five 250kg and four 50kg bombs and causing craters on the aerodrome.  One Hurricane is written off.  One large bomb is dropped on Tal Liebru area, near Safi.

1315-1350 hrs  Four Spitfires take off from Luqa and intercept six ME 109s.  P/O Plagis damages one.

1437 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron attack two Messerschmitts and fifteen JU 88s.  F/O Nash and P/O Plagis both probably destroyed JU 88s and S/L Grant damaged one.  One Spitfire is damaged; F/O Lee is wounded in the foot.

1455 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA Bty engage JU 88s heading for Hal Far.

1500 hrs  Nine JU 88s drop dozens of HE bombs on Hal Far, causing craters on the aerodrome.  One airman is killed.

1510 hrs  Four guns of 225 LAA Bty engaged three ME 109s diving from 1500 to 300 feet.

1530 hrs  Nine JU 88s drop 65 high explosive bombs, including six 1000kg, across Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto.  Several houses are demolished in Valletta.  Bombs on Floriana hit Kingsgate, Sliema bus terminus, St Johns Ditch, Great Siege Road, Msida Bastion Quarters, Block B and Lintorn Barracks.  In Sliema the Convent of the Franciscan Minors is destroyed and adjacent churches badly damaged, killing two women and a child.  Nearby houses are also destroyed, killing 22 civilians.

1535 hrs  Two ME 109s attack Mellieha Camp of 1st Bn KOMR.

1555 hrs  Twenty JU 88s approach the Island, dropping bombs on Luqa and the Safi strips.

1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron intercept Messerschmitts and a Dornier 24.  P/O Plagis and Sgt Hesselyn destroy ME 109s; P/O Buchanan and S/L Grant damage ME 109s.

1711 hrs  A large formation of JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s are reported heading towards the Island.

1800 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron sight 25 JU 87s and many ME 109 fighters approaching Grand Harbour.  F/O Buchanan and P/O Nash destroy one JU 87 each and P/O Plagis and S/L Grant probably destroy one each.

1835 hrs  Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron then approach at 8000 feet and join the attack.  Sgt Fletcher destroys one JU 87 and probably destroys another.  Sgt Pawley probably destroys one JU 87 and damages one JU 88.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  The remaining Stukas dive-bomb Grand Harbour, dropping 96 bombs of 250kg across the Dockyard and submarine base.

2000 hrs  30 JU 88s and JU 87s drop bombs on Hal Far, causing numerous craters on the aerodrome.  Three sticks of bombs fall on Safi strip and four on the Tal Liebru area.

Night  Total of 46 JU88s and Italian BR 20 aircraft raid the Island, of which 18 drop bombs.

2035 hrs  One bomb is dropped on the Ta Salib area.

2100 hrs  One Beaufighter takes off from Ta Qali on patrol over Malta.

2113 hrs  Two bombs land on the Tal Liebru area.

2120 hrs  One JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack fire and is seen to drop into the sea.

2140 hrs  Two bombs fall in Wied Has-Saptan and eight on the Safi strip.

2225 hrs  One bomb lands on the San Christu Church area and one on Wied Has-Saptan; a stick of unexploded bombs is reported in the Nigret area.

2310 hrs  One bomb lands on the Nigret area and explodes, severely damaging the Togores Palace.

2354 hrs  The Beaufighter attacks and damages one JU 88 which counter-attacks, setting fire to the port engine of the Beaufighter.  The starboard engine stops but the aircraft lands safely at Ta Qali at 0015 hrs: crew unhurt.

0008 hrs  One stick of bombs is dropped on Ta Karach ridge.

0205 hrs  Three bombs land on the Tal Liebru area.

0420 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Henry Gunn, HMS Penelope; Thomas Lewis, Chargeman of Boilermakers, HMS Dockyard.  Corporal Ronald David, Leading Aircraftsman Michael Ellis, Leading Aircraftsman Stanley Hoskin, Leading Aircraftsman Albert Osborne, Corporal Joseph Pitt, Flight-Lieutenant Frederick Povey, Corporal Dennis Wills, all Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  Gunner Thomas (Edgar) Burfield, Gunner Thomas Richardson, Lance-Bombardier John Scarborough-Taylor, Gunner Ernest Smith, all 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Anthony Mifsud, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.  Sapper Ronald Feltham and Sapper Clarence Weaver, 16 Fortress Company, Royal Engineers.  Corporal Fred Chappell, Sapper Evan Evans, Sapper Henry Hayes, Sapper William Leighton, Sapper Daniel Mizen, Sapper John Sandilands, all 173 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers.  Private Charles Rowe, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment; Lance-Corporal Charles Pearce, Corporal William Foote and Private Ernest French, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Sapper Paul Psaila, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Edgar Zahra, age 3.  Balzan  Walter Farrugia, age 43.  Gzira  John Azzopardi, age 15; Ophelia Colombo, age 25; Concetta Mifsud Ellul, age 43; Mary Anne Miller, age 10.  Paola  Anthony Vassallo, age 22.  Sliema  Carmen Bates, age 6; Imelda Bates, age 5; George Bates, 9 mths; George Cassar, age 27; Vincenza Cassar, age 20; Censa Cauchi, age 80; Hilda Clarke, age 32; Ivy Clarke, age 5; Joseph Clarke, age 2; Albert Fava, age 1; Fr Diego Galdes, age 52; Alfred Gatt, age 50; Giulia Gatt, age 46; Rose Marie Gatt, age 4; Thomas Lewis, age 54; Lonza Micallef, age 50; Michael Riviera, age 40; Josephine Tabone, age 22; Antonia Tabone, age 7; Alfred Zammit, age 50; Marianna Zammit, age 45; Carmel Zammit, age 15.  Zebbug  Carmel Attard, age 50; Frances Attard, age 16.  Zejtun  Carmel Camilleri, age 18; Cristopher Caruana, age 77; Annunziato Desira, age 21; Louis Grech, age 31.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Winfried Gunther, 8/StG 3, Pilot of a JU 87 Stuka shot down by Anti Aircraft fire.  He baled out into the sea, was rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.

P36 – a U class submarine

OPERATIONS REPORTS 1 APRIL 1942

 

ROYAL NAVY  During heavy air raid P36, Pandora and drifter Sunset were sunk.  Havock, Sokol, Swona, Girl Margaret and a number of small craft were damaged and Unbeaten was damaged while bottomed.  Talabot received one hit with a heavy bomb.  Submarine workshops were damaged.  One Albacore and one Swordfish at Hal Far were burned out.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires PRU, two Beaufighters, three Blenheims, one Sunderland, one Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington, four Hudsons, one Beaufort, one Sunderland to 108 MU.

LUQA  1045-1345 hrs  69 Squadron Spitfire Photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  2242-0607 hrs  One Wellington SD Flight Special Search with bombs. One destroyer sighted: bombs jettisoned.

TA QALI  Considerable work carried out on erection of pens for aircraft.  Large numbers of soldiers working on aerodrome and 42 men reported from Hal Far on attachment.  Hurricanes from Hal Far operating from Ta Qali.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0900 hrs  GOC speaks to the troops starting work on SS Pampas.  Work is hampered by lack of power for the winches – and air raids.  Private Camenzuli KOMR attached to us for training was killed by a bomb.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Explosion of bombs on crashed JU 87 kills Cpl Foote, L/Cpl Pearce and Pte French, and wounds LCpl Bell and Pte Garrett.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  During afternoon raid, the garage received a direct hit. Casualties: 173 Company – 6 killed; 24 Fortress Coy – 1 killed.  A further bomb fell at the rear of the Administrative Block, Lintorn Barracks.  UXB  Reported 23; dealt with 11 (3 x 500kg; 1 x 250kg; 7 x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1000 hrs  This unit takes over the Observation Post at Tal Minsia from 1 Cheshire Regt (now unloading convoy).

(1) From Raiders Passed: Wartime Recollections of a Maltese youngster, Charles B Grech (translated by Joseph Galea Debono), Midsea Books, Malta 1998

 

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

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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15 March 1942: Hell on Sunday – 1800kg Satan Bombs on Valletta

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MASSIVE BOMBS ON VALLETTA AS HEAVY RAIDS RETURN TO THE CAPITAL

German 1800kg ‘Satan’ Bomb (NWMA Malta)

Mass bombing returns to Malta today as the enemy responds to the recent success of Spitfires against their raiders.  The city of Valletta became a specific target for the first time this year.  The Luftwaffe chose the heaviest bomb carried by Junkers aircraft for their mission:  the two-ton ‘Satan’.  In five raids on the capital, German bombers dropped over 15000 kg of high explosive bombs on the streets, killing twelve civilians and one serviceman on leave.

Observers report that the number of aircraft in each raid has risen significantly.  Fighter escorts have increased in size, to outnumber the Island’s modest Spitfire force and overcome their recent success rate.

DOCKYARD APPRENTICE FINDS GIANT BOMB

“I was then a 16 years old Dockyard apprentice and Sunday was the only full day off from where I worked… It was a sunny morning and I was outside my home…A detachment of Infantry troops on a route march were coming down the road a short distance away. Suddenly everything erupted all at once. Wailing sirens, dispersing troops and heavy and intense gunfire. Like a second instinct we all dashed to take cover . As usual I was always one of the last to enter the shelter staying at the entrance to see what was going on.

Almost immediately, out of the din, the screaming crescendo of a diving plane filled our ears and, as the noise began to fade, suddenly a loud ”shuuuttle-sshee-shuuuttle ”- the unmistakable and sinister shuttling  noise of a falling bomb. I ducked inside the shelter as far as I was able waiting for the usual shattering explosion and the trembling of the ground under our feet.  But nothing happened.  Another five minutes or so went by and still nothing happened. It was becoming clear that a bomb had come down and had not exploded.

As soon as the noise of gunfire and diving planes had subsided and without waiting for the All Clear sirens, I emerged from the shelter and ran along Zabbar Road to where I thought the bomb had fallen, assuming, with good reason, that the bomb was aimed at the detachment of troops as they marched along the road…I spotted something embedded in the ground right in the middle of the road… a large bomb was clearly visible close to the surface and painted a bluish colour…

Gingerly, and apprehensively with my curiosity overcoming fear I moved nearer for a closer look. It was then that the stark and ominous reality suddenly dawned on me. For a fleeting moment, aghast and transported into a different dimension, I nearly froze rivetted to the spot. What was I doing here so close to this hellish object? Have I taken leave of my senses?  I could be blown to bits in a fraction of a second!

I retreated, hurriedly breaking into a run towards the shelter pointing behind me and shouting at the top of my voice ”Unexploded bomb; unexploded bomb’ and in Maltese,”Emm bomba ma splodiet’ to some of the men now cautiously emerging from the shelter… ”   Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 MARCH TO DAWN 16 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind variable; cloudy at times – deteriorated during the day.

0713-0732 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

0818-0905 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ten ME 109s approach from the north.  Two JU 88s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Ta Minsia and St Julians area.  One JU 88 recedes.

0932-1005 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by five ME 109s drops an 1800kg bomb to the west of Zabbar.

Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron (all armed with machine guns) are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Noble engages a ME 109: strikes observed.  P/O Wigley attacks another ME 109: results not observed.

1020 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by 24 fighters approach the Island.  One JU 88 drops an 1800kg bomb on Valletta.  The other three drop 250kg and 500kg bombs on Valletta and Qrendi strip.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.

1045 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 242 Squadron are scrambled.  Sgt Boyd attacks a JU 88 twice but sees no results.  C Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs in area: three men are slightly hurt.

1100 hrs  A bomb explodes in Francis Street, Valletta: suspect delayed-action.

1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  They are attacked by three ME 109s.  F/L Heppell sees cannon strikes on the fuselage of one ME which is then lost in cloud.  All Spitfires return safely to Luqa.

1135 hrs  All clear.  Three Hurricanes 242 Squadron return to Ta Qali.

1205-1255 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by fifteen ME 109s drop 250kg and 500kg bombs near Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and damage one engine of a JU 88.

1220 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 500kg bombs from below cloud level between headquarters of 8t Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment (Ta Qandia quarries) and C Company at Ta Hasluk.  Kings Own Malta Regiment report a stick of bombs near Wied Babu.

1319-1438 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar, Latnia and Rinella.  Four Spitfires engage.

1421 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by ME 109s approaches from the north.  Seven Hurricanes and three Spitfires are airborne but do not engage.  The JU 88 drops a 1800kg bomb on Valletta.

1515 hrs  A bomb explodes in Ursula Street, Valletta; suspect delayed-action.

1517 hrs  Three JU 88s and two ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Zabbar and Zonqor areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far take off to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1538 hrs  Three JU 88s accompanied by 25 ME 109s drop 500kg bombs on Hal Far and in the sea.  The Hurricanes attack a JU 88: hits are observed on the tail and fuselage.

1545 hrs  Bombs area Della Grazia – Rinella-Maria Tas Silch.

1555 hrs  All clear.

1619-1657 hrs  Seven unidentified aircraft approach above the clouds.  Heavy Ack Ack engage with two barrages.

1715 hrs  W/C Satchell leads four Hurricanes from Ta Qali which join up with four from Hal Far; one returns early.  W/C Satchell attacks a JU 88: strikes are observed on the wing.  The same aircraft is fired on by two other Hurricanes.  W/C Satchell becomes separated from the formation and has a dog fight with a Messerschmitt.  He shoots off the tail of the enemy aircraft: claims destroyed.

1732-1820 hrs  Three JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Hal Far. Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; no claims.

1931-2045 hrs  Two aircraft drop bombs on Gozo and in the sea.  Ack Ack engage.

2122-2140 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the sea.  Ack Ack do not engage.

2354-0018 hrs  One aircraft approaches and recedes when still 15 miles north of the Island.

0028-0058 hrs  Three aircraft approach; bombs are dropped to the north of Zabbar and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Private Dominic Mifsud, King’s Own Malta Regiment, died whilst on leave in Valletta. Leading Aircraftsman Stanley Leavesley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Salvu Borg, age 20.  Sliema  Polly Cannataci, age 26.  St Julians  Christopher Butler, age 21 months, (son of Capt Butler, 2nd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment).  Valletta  Giovanna Attard, age 56; Joseph Bellizzi, age 66; Dominica Borg Bellizzi, age 39; Michelina Busuttil, age 60; Vincent Busuttil, age 30; Anthony Formosa, age 37; Girlamo Fsadni, age 77; Marianna Mayman, age 34; Harold Miles, age 38; Mary Mifsud, age 57; Michael Vella, age 74; Melita Vella, age 35.  Zabbar  Emmanuele Bongailas, age 28; Giuseppe Lia, age 12.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 15 MARCH 1942

LUQA  0745-0920 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out part of SF 5 patrol.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One Man D Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by bombs in area of Qrendi strip.  Two men E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment Paola sustained slight injuries during a bombing raid.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

 

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